The cover of this book looks very dreamy, mystical, quiet and beautiful. Now let me decribe the content within the book to you.
The plot of the book goes like this: AM Hydro project is the common thread between three people brought together by fate: Nanda, Khusru and Rekha. If you notice the cover image very carefully, you’ll also figure out the dynamics between these three people.
Nanda, from Kerala, has a terrible past to hide, and a bloodthirsty vendetta group to hide from. Putting his engineering skills to use, he escapes to the peaks of the AM Hydro project. There he finds peace, and little reason to be wary of strangers.
Khusru is a youth displaced from his native village, Deran in Kashmir. Previously used as a gambit in a terror plot that threatens to blow up the dam, his destiny and conscience helps him make decisions that lead him to the Dhauladhar.
Rekha, a kathak dancer at heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru.
These three and many more throng the campsite like moths to a flame, some escape untouched, some miss a step and perish. Each man has a past to share, a future to dream about. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people, with their cares and worries woven to the site life.
What I liked about this book is the way the author has executed the individual backstories of each of the characters. The story of Rafiq makes you cry, while the story of Mangu Ram helps you understand what it really means to be a man from the hills. The tragic life of the talented Khusru makes you wonder whether the world is ever fair. The kalari tradition explained in Nanda’s backstory made for an interesting read, and I sincerely hope that the vendetta system described in the book is only fictional. The stories seem so real , and you can’t help but get involved in the narrative.
What I didn’t like about this book is that there were too many unnecessary facts like mechanical stats and engineering nerd stuff. I appreciated the details during the beginning and middle of the book. But when the overload of facts comes very near the climax of the story, it did feel like a dampener.
All in all, I give this book a 4/5 star rating, and recommend it to lovers of Indian fiction. This is one book you must give a try, and if you’re and engineering nerd, it’s a brownie point!
I would also like to congratulate the author, Kochery C. Shibu on his fantastic debut book. Kochery C Shibu graduated from the prestigious National Defence Academy in 1981. He has served in the Indian Navy and commanded two warships. Post his retirement he has also executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and Teesta river basin in Sikkim. Talk about having firsthand knowledge to base an entire novel on!
Note: I received a fee and a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.