The Hunt For Kohinoor By Manreet Sodhi Someshwar – A Book Review

Suspense thrillers based on historical theories and conspiracies seem to have become the norm these days. Buoyed by what I call the “Dan Brown” effect, a whole new lot of authors have emerged who practically follow the same plot- There’s a time linked crisis to be solved, the protagonists face either a rogue agency or a legitimate agency running after them, and all this time, the protagonists ( mostly an art expert or historian) are required to solve some ancient mystery or a puzzle based on the same, to save the planet from its inevitable doom. This book is somehow both, a run-of-the-mill abstract of the same concept, but interesting at the same time.
This 425 paged novel is Manreet’s fourth book and second in the Mehrunisa Khosa series. The first part, The Taj Conspiracy, was critically acclaimed. Unfortunately I didn’t review it or read it but yes, they were pretty good (from what I could gather from the opinion of the people whom I know who have read it). The basic story is that Manreet creates an interesting character who is an art and history expert who ends up helping Indian intelligence agencies crack codes which are based on historic puzzles or facts.
The Hunt For Kohinoor revolves around an impending terrorist attack in India within a timeline of 96 hours. Mehrunisa is reconciled with her long lost, assumed dead father Harry Khosa aka The Snow Leopard, a legendary spy in the Indo-Af-Pak region. The plans are hidden away and are addressed as the Kohinoor as Mehr struggles to search for it and find it.
I won’t give away the plot though I’ll tell you the small little things whose presence or lack thereof disappointed me slightly. The narration, although vivid, sounds bland and forced. To put it in other words, for a thriller-suspense based on a deadline of 96 hours, I could not experience the urgency or the building tempo in the book. Another factor that ticked me off was that the book had an idealistic tone for a major part of the narration, which just doesn’t add up to plot which is near reality.
To sum it up, yes there are some narration issues with the book, but overall, it’s a decent read. From what I have heard, narration is Manreet’s forte so I would definitely try and check out her other books. I would recommend this book for first time readers or people looking to foray into the world of reading or for someone who wishes for a fusion of Dan Brown, Steve Berry, Mathew Reily and the mysterious, affable subcontinent of India.
Like: Good basic plot, Brilliant mixing of fiction, myth, history and logic
Dislike:  Idealistic, Style of narration
Click here to buy from Amazon or Flipkart

From Pakistan, With Love

NOTE: This article was written by me for the newspaper Education Times (http://www.myeducationtimes.com/article/79/201209102012091011592217627a4cd78/From-Pakistan-with-love.html)while I Interned there. Here is the link to the PDF of the actual newspaper article(http://www.4shared.com/office/eyiy0Tub/TOIM_2012_9_10_32.html) 

Sometimes, life leads us down a path which figuratively changes us. I recently embarked on such a journey to Hyderabad which left me amazed as it changed some of my dominant preconceived notions that I had been harbouring since childhood. The impact this experience had on me was even more profound simply due to the current relevance of the matter. 
The purpose of my trip to the City of Nawabs was an international conference with students from over 21 countries participating including those from Pakistan. Unfortunately, this conference occurred around the time of the August 11 protests at Azad Maidan which accentuated the communal and anti-Pakistan sentiments already existent amongst many Indians. However, my interactions with students from our neighbouring country gave me an opportunity to view Pakistanis in a different light contrary to public opinion. During the course of a week, I had multiple conversations with my fellow students from Pakistan about a range of topics varying from terrorism to politics and even cricket! 
I distinctly remember an incident at a mall that made me realise that Pakistanis are similar to us in a number of ways. After a great team lunch, all of us were looking to hire an auto rickshaw back to our hotel. Being the typical Indian city it is, we couldn’t get anyone to agree on a fair price for the ride. After a lot of innate Indian haggling, we finally got into one, still not satisfied with the decided fare. However, I saw my friend from Lahore smiling. She turned to me and said, “We have the exact same tendency to haggle in Pakistan!” That was it! The big moment of realisation! 
I realised that despite being at each other’s throats for years, India and Pakistan are truly like fraternal twins with just different perspectives and ideologies. However hate-filled and prejudiced the thoughts of our leaders, or for that matter, our elders may be, we (the youth) have a radically peaceful outlook. Over the years, we have witnessed religious discrimination or fanaticism. Yet, we, the youth, have brought about a silent revolution that runs deep within our mindsets. This effect is that of religious indifference. We understand nationalism but with a cool head. To our minds, not every Pakistani is a terrorist nor do we believe that harmonious existence is a myth. Although our politicians constantly make efforts to mask nation-based hatred, the grim reality is it always resurfaces with biased and illogical anger. Just as we overcame religious borders, it’s time to bond over actual borders. 
I returned home a changed teenager. I’ve returned a person with some great friends across the border and with a vision in my mind, a vision of eternal peace and harmony. Because for the first time in seventeen years, when a Pakistani hugged me I knew that the vision was not Indian nor was it solely mine. It was a shared vision of some youngsters not as citizens of two different nations, but as humans living in a global civilisation.

From Pakistan, With Love in Education Times,Mumbai Edition


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