Book Title: Men and Dreams In The Dhauladhar
Author: Kochery C. Shibu
Total Number of Pages: 284
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Publication Date: 3 Aug 2015
A hydelpower project in the remote Himalayas. Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge. Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labourer at the site. Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru. A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the campsite like moths to a flame, some escape untouched, successful; some, miss a step, and perish. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realise. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people with their cares and worries woven into the site life. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Like an eternal spectator the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in a quest to fulfill their dreams.
“Men and Dreams In The Dhauladhar” is the story of three people from three different backgrounds, with different pasts and one place where all their lives coincide.
There are a lot of characters involved in the story but three main characters stands out. They are : Nanda, Khusru and Rekha. They are the main characters around whom the plot revolves. They have their own parts assigned to themselves where they get a chance to tell each of their stories.
The book covers a lot of places and isn’t set only in one place. Kashmir, Kerela, France, Russia, they all find mentions in the story. But, in the end, it’s mainly Dhauladhar where they meet their fate.
The plot isn’t really twisted or obscure that it would be hard to figure out. The story caters to a plot that involves a hydro electric power dam which is being built in the Dhauladhar area. Nanda, one of the protagonist, is chosen as a team member to work on this AM Hydro project. Nanda manages to cover the distance from Delhi to Dhauladhar in an AC bus. As his character is introduced into the story, the beginning gives a hint that maybe Nanda has had a dreadful past. He is always on guard and ready to fight…always feels that danger is following him. Okay, so here’s the twist. Apparently, the dam they are working on is put to target by a group of terrorists. The workers are notified of the fact that the terrorists have planned a bomb blast.
“The sound of footsteps close by startled him awake. Once again his fists clenched, his jaw tightened as he sensed danger.”
Every now and then, Nanda would see faces from his past sprout. But then when he compares the faces from his past to present, he is relieved that he isn’t acquainted with any of the present faces. Nanda is a master of Kalari, a type of martial arts which originated in Kerela. He is always alert and ready with his combat stance. The author does reveal what really happened in Nanda’s past but I’ll refrain myself from spilling the beans. He is an engineer by profession and is originally from Kerela.
Now time to introduce the second main character. Khusru is a is a Kashmiri boy who missed out on his parents’ love since he was given away to his uncle. It was unfortunate for Khusru that his uncle died in a mine blast. He was later discovered by a group of terrorists where he grew up learning to follow their instructions and ultimately became a part of them.
The third main character is Rekha who happens to be a doctor but dance is her bloodline. When she went to the well–known Amarnath Yatra, she was kidnapped by a terrorist, in the end it turns out to be Khusru. Well, I don’t think this really happens in real life (unless you’re suffering from Stockholm Syndrome) but, Rekha falls for her kidnapper, Khusru. She starts to dream of an happily ever after with him but life isn’t that easy, is it?
The knowledge of the author that went into the making of the story is clearly visible in the narration. The hydel power project has been described in details. The scenic views of Kashmir has been described vividly that I actually felt as if I was transported to Kashmir and it was me looking at the snow-capped mountains. The writing style is very smooth and I would say serene. The language is easy but didn’t feel amateurish at all. For a debutante, the author has done a great job.
I don’t really this of this as a negative point but, at times, I felt that the vast descriptions could have been cut down a bit. The pace became a bit slow due to the descriptive narration. So, some readers might find it boring by the time they get to the dialogues. Another thing is, apart from the three main characters, there are a lot of characters who are introduced into the plotline. They were rather abruptly brought into the story and since they were not main characters, they didn’t get enough time to develop for which it felt that their inclusion was unnecessary or a bit more screen space could have been allotted to them to give them time to develop. So, the story felt a bit crowded to me and while concentrating on one character, I started to forget about the other.
MY FINAL VERDICT
I loved the narration mainly. The scenes were so vividly described. Though the plot isn’t that complex, the characters made up for the complexities.
There are many more sub-plots which I didn’t discuss because it’s better not to reveal them. You would know when you read it.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book.
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING: 🌟🌟🌟.8 / 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kochery C. Shibu is a retired naval officer. A graduate from the National Defence Academy he has held several important posts in the Indian Navy. Post his retirement he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and lately Teesta river basin in Sikkim. He holds a postgraduate degree in Defence Studies from Chennai University, and MA in English Literature from Pune University. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is his debut novel. The technical content of the novel, namely the setting up of a hydro-project is drawn from his experience in these projects since 2005, as are many of the characters inspired from those whom he encountered at the project site. Kochery C. Shibu was born in Kochi and now lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.
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