Resonance - by Ajay!

Over the last few years, I have come to read and admire Indian writers like Ravi Subramanian and Krishan Pratap Singh, who have ventured into the genre of new-age thrillers (tackling new age themes like cyber-crime, banking scams and even Indian politics) set against the backdrop of contemporary India. 

With this in mind, I picked up 'Resonance', a thriller by debut novelist Ajay. It was a deliberate pick! It has been on my list for a while, but has never come by. This time however, I picked up Resonance with the dual intention of reading a new author and trimming my ever growing reading list.
And I must say I was hooked from page one. Indo-pak terrorism and terrorism originating on Pakistani soil is nothing new, almost as stereotypical as it can get. However, what stands out is the rich plot, replete with twists and counter twists and an entirely new conspiracy theory. 

My observations about the book:
1. For a first-timer, his novel is bold. It attacks the theme with elan, never shying away from weaving twists and turns into the narrative. He even gets away with it.
2. The transition from one scene to another, from one place to another is smooth and seamless. The chapters maintain a flow which is one of the biggest challenges a debut novelist faces and one of the biggest frustrations the reader faces with a debut novel.
3. The research is thorough and manages to hold your attention. Recent historical events, like the assasination of Zia-ul-haq and the Mumbai terror attacks are stitched seamlessly in the narrative, often forming the focal point of the plot. 
5. In some places, the description is long-winded and even repeated (like the mode of destruction being explained to different people at different times). Even the trail of destruction is difficult to follow if you are not familiar with the terrain (anything more I say will be a spoiler). One of the things that I felt would have helped, specially with the elaborate description of the destruction that would be caused would have been an illustration in the form of a map, much like the one that highlights the journey of Heinrich Harrer in "Seven years in Tibet". It would have made it easier to understand. 
4. The climax (predictable as it is) is a nail-biting finish. Ajay gives us another lesson in Physics with a well researched anti-dote. 

Ajay has definitely done his research and what comes out is a well-baked thriller, that keeps you turning pages right up to the end.
Do read, if you love thrillers with an Indian twist!

Fond memories from Kasaragod!

Kasaragod has nothing to offer the regular tourist.
It offers clean beaches by quaint fishing villages but without the crowds and commercialization. 
It offers a fort that affords stunning views of the Arabian Sea, but lacks a commercial guide who will tell you the stories.
It has people who will speak to you in Kannada and Hindi just as fluently as they converse with their neighbours in Malayalam. 
It is a distant cousin to the nearest backwaters, Nileshwar and Valiyamparaba 30 kms away.
You will most likely end up exploring it on foot or being driven around by friendly auto-drivers or those local buses that embrace you with their warmth (not literally though)  
It presents you with locals who are not too tourist-smart. They are not forever trying to sell you tacky souvenirs or make that extra buck.
The locals will often subject you to random acts of kindness. They will accompany you (by foot) if you are unsure of the route. They will help you buy tickets from the conductor who does not understand you. They will help you catch a seat if the bus is crowded. They will consult friends to let you know where you need to get down to go to some place that you have only heard of from Google. If they are getting down before you from the bus, they will hand you over to someone else to ensure you don't miss your stop.
And most of all, they will not only remember you but give you a friendly smile too, when they see you the next day :)
There is the waiter at the non-touristy restaurant who will ensure you understand what is red boiled rice before you order for it.
And then there is the curious bus conductor, who wants to know where you are from, how you are going back and why you are not taking the cheaper option of taking a train back home. He will also check on you every few minutes during your 40 minute ride to the town. 
They are simple and loving people who will not look at you with those wary and suspicious eyes. 

And to reiterate, Kasaragod has nothing to offer the regular tourist, but everything for the discerning wanderer!