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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Men and Dreams: In the Dhauladhar
Format: Paperback|Change
Price:₹ 226.00

on 5 January 2017
I was provided with a copy of the book by the author for an honest review, however, the review is completely based on my opinions and not biased or paid for.

One of the best books I have read by an Indian author, a well researched and beautifully put together, it is a treat to read about India.

The novel is set in the contemporary India and weaving stories of very colorful characters with amazing back stories going back to almost 100 years from now with their ancestry and in the process shares a lot about Indian history, culture, Indian sub-continent history, how people have travelled to Europe and brings out the vagaries of people, how they have lived and promiscuity is not seemingly an issue and accepted. It's about how people come together in Dhauladhar.

The story is beautifully built with mystery and create that certain intrigue which keeps you at hold with the story and you want to know what happens next though the detail at times get to you and hold you but overall it's an interestingly done with useful information, one gets to know a lot about sheep herding, wool management and how things work around! a very well researched book I must say.

My only wish was the book could have been a little more fast paced and a little less detailed but else it is a must read, grab onto it. :)
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on 14 December 2016
Detailed Review Link -

There are some books which has interesting plot and characters that you forget about other negative points of book. 'Men and Dreams In the Dhauladhar' by Kochery Shibu is one such tale which kept me reading book till last page in-spite of many dull phases.

I don't want to brief about story this time. I will discuss few points I marked through out story. Let me start with negative point first so that positive points will cover up afterwards.

For me book has two stories.
- Story revolves about dam construction.
- Story revolves around terrorist plan to blow dam.

First story is boring and I would say not at all required. No body have noticed even if it is not present. Removal of that part will comprise original story to 50%. Even till last 240 pages I felt that dam construction would have something to do with main plot, but apart from Khusru joining labour camp nothing interesting was there. I was about to finish book because I didn't mind reading technical description but I don't know how many non-engineer/non-technical person can bear it.

Now coming to second story, main crux of the book. Author has cover up the boredom spread over construction details with equally interesting characters and plot. This part shows how deep information author has gathered to write each and every incident and character. Author has created not just main character Nanda, Khusru or Rekha, he created a detailed background for their family as well. Struggle starting from each characters' father or grand father or great grand father to that particular character was given with appealing description. One could visualize beauty of Pakistan Controlled Kashmir or Dhauladhar just by description. Again this story also has few points or detailed characters which I found useless from story point of view.
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I have received this beautiful book from the author for review purpose. So at first, I would like to thanks him. The first thing which caught my attention is an attractive book cover.

This book starts on an interesting note where Nanda, an engineer is heading somewhere, hiding from his past. He comes from the Maithathil Kalari region where revenging the death is a tradition. In hope of that one day, he will be reunited with his wife Nandini.
Another story comes of Khusru, a misguided youth who is born during the Kashmir disturbance in the year 1990. The fate snatches away his family and makes him join a terror group.
The third story is of Rekha, a doctor who is a passionate dancer. She wants to give end number of performance. Her heart is searching a true soul mate, but she doesn’t find anyone who makes her heart goes ‘Dhin dhin ta na na’
The life these strangers come together in the majestic Dhauladhar range in the Himalayas, where the AM Hydro project is going on. Nanda is an engineer, Khusru is a labor and Rekha is lady doctor on the site.
The hydro project is under the terror attack and the NIA people are working on it.
Read this book to know how the destiny unites the life of Nanda, Khusru, and Rekha? How the NIA people going to save the dam?

I think I have never read any book which has such elaborate details of the characters and their history. The author has executed hydroelectric projects and many of the instances in this book are derived from there. The author must have done extensive research to write this book and the same reflects in the book. Apart from the protagonist, I love the stories of Indumati, Mangu Ram and Katariina Herschel. You can find amazing stories in this one book. This book is inspiring, interesting and must read. Do not miss it.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 8 January 2017
The heart of this book is Dhauladhar peaks. The peak stands tall and serene in northwest of India starting from Himachal Pradesh to Kashmir watching over the people of Dhaudlahar range foot hill villages. The tranquility in the milieu of this place gives a picturesque sight until the government decided to start a hydro electric project in the remote Himalayas. The nature conspired against three people and brings them together.

Nandakumar fondly called Nanda came from the lands of Maithathil Kalari (martial Art form). He is an engineer and hiding from his past; works in the hydro electric project. Khusru is a displaced and misguided youth from the hills of Kashmir, working as a labourer on the project site to blow up the dam. Rekha is a doctor by profession and grew up to be a passionate dancer. She joined a group of women trekkers for the Amarnath yatra, and unwittingly arrives at the site.

Author worked on every minutest detail of the story made it surreal. Author himself is an ex-navy officer and worked on hydro electric projects post his retirement. The details and technical content of the novel clearly states he worked real hard on the story. The background look of the characters dwells a passage to the heart of the character. Men and Dreams is his debut novel and the style of his storytelling deserves applause.

To say the least, if I try to wrap up the story in few words, the words echoed in my mind are astonishing, mind-boggling and prodigious.
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on 18 March 2017
The first thing that I would like to mention here is that the title of this book really caught my fancy because I have been to Dhauladhar ranges quite a few times and that somehow helped me form a connection with this book in the beginning itself.
This is a story about three people who are brought together at a dam construction site on the Dhauladhar range in Himachal Pradesh. The story begins with Nanda arriving at the construction site and he is someone who likes to keep to himself and doesn’t really talk to many people. Eventually people around him realize this and they also let him be. Theres an air of mystery around the character of Nanda in the beginning as to where he came from and why he behaves in the way he does. Everything about him is revealed as the story progresses. Then there is the character of Rekha who is a renowned Kathak dancer and is a doctor by profession. Rekha has a very strong character and she is not someone who bends easily. Rekha turns down almost every man who tries to woo her because she just doesn’t feel the connection and she continues to hope to meet a man who would make her heart go “dha dhin dhin na”. Finally there is Khusru, who is a Kashmiri youth displaced from his native village Deran. Khusru feels a sense of emptiness in his heart and he yearns to be with his family. He goes at lengths to get back with his family and even joins Akbar camp which turns out to be a camp for training terrorists because they promise to reunite him with his parents.
The entire story revolves around the dam that is being targeted by a terrorist outfit which plans to blow the dam up and the authorities try to foil their attempts. Aside from the main stories there are several sub stories in this book. Each and every character’s past is talked about and discussed. This makes the story very descriptive. Talking about the description , there are a lot of details about the process of dam construction which was somewhat boring for me to read because there were a lot of pages dedicated just to such description which I found pretty difficult to get through. But just when I thought I couldn’t bear reading about Dam construction any longer, the story would start moving ahead and I would be spared reading the description for the next few blissful pages. I say blissful because the story portion was indeed written very well. Although I strongly believe that had the dam construction description is a little less, the story would have been more interesting to read. However, overall I found the book to be written well because I was able to enjoy reading many aspects of the story and the sub stories kept me entertained too. The writing was somewhat poetic which gave this book a richness that I truly relished.

Saumya’s Bookstation
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on 5 April 2017

The book is basically based in Dhauladhar. It's Name given to outer Himalayas. The book has three main character namely - Nanda, Khusru and Rekha. All three of them are from different field coming together to provide their professional assistance to built a dam on Aher and Motra river. The book talks about mountains, their scenic beauty, about people living their , their aspirations, religion, struggles, caste, dreams, occupation, level of living, their hardships that is about their lives. Author himself has worked on hydroelectric projects in Himachal, Sikkim and karnataka and put his life experiences in the book which becomes evident since page one. There are lots of details being provided by the author. Since author has meet so many different people in different parts of India, so it looks as if it as no hard work for him to create so many diverse personalities. Another thing is that there are bit technical details about project in the book so if you are one of those people who love details and like to know how , when and where of every thing then this book is for you . Pick it up and let me know your thoughts about it. I reviewed it on my you tube channel ( sidbookreviewer) as well so you guys can also have a look at it. These are my personal views about the book your views might differ, but hey after all we all are readers and we like to know and try different books available in the market.
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If you are looking for a story with detailed portrayal of characters, the backgrounds, surroundings and are curious to read how they are inter-wined together by fate or simply in a story. Then this is it. Being an Indian who possibly loves reading the likes of Khaled Hosseini are surely going to enjoy this book. The narrative is marvelous in every aspect and I especially loved how the author has written about the thoughts of each character. This to me helped understand each person a lot better and sympathies with them as I turned the pages ahead (sometimes even going back to re-read).

This is not a book I would have personally picked, but glad that this book found me. I love stories, especially when it has to do with the lives of people. I love to know a person better with their thoughts and the critical points in their lives which made them who they are. So this this book to me was a treat and an adventure. I not only got to read about the people I never might have encountered in life but also learned so much! This book holds diversity and is highly recommended!

I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

Having said all of it, I feel this book could have been 400+ pages. Maybe the next book by this author will be.
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on 28 October 2016
When the author of this book approached me on Goodreads for a review, I was a little unsure, since modern Indian fiction is something that I stay away from. But then, the author assured me that the book is nothing like the works of the contemporary Indian authors that depend on melodrama and cheap titillation to sell their books. I agreed to read the book based on that assurance and a cursory look at the description of the book.

The first 100-odd pages raced away like a rocket. Core characters of the book were all being introduced one by one, like the notes of a Hindustani raga, each given its own gamut of emotions and elaboration. Nanda, the protagonist of the book - or, at least that is what I thought him to be – arrives for work at the hydro-Electrical project site in the Himalayan ranges, escaping a blood-soaked past of gang-wars and revenge killings that have spiraled out of control. Khusru, a Kashmiri youth, separated from his parents in childhood, is recruited by the terrorist groups in Pakistan to assist in the destruction of a dam – the same dam where Nanda is working. Rekha is a Kathak dancer, whose ancestors have all had a bitter taste of the Partition. She is dedicated to her art, a globetrotting independent woman that is willing to wait for the one who will make love bloom in her heart, instead of getting married in the routine manner and spending time like yet-another-Indian-housewife. Now, I felt promises galore in these characters. But alas, the book promises only to deceive.

First, the strong points. Character formation is definitely the author’s forte. He manages to put the reader in the shoes of the character. With vivid descriptions and simple style, the author manages to make the characters come alive. Of course, not all the characters are flawless and necessary but more on that later. Then, sincerity. The author is definitely dedicated to his craft – writing. He tries hard to convey his ideas and thoughts to the reader without any ‘transmission losses’ and it is quite evident in his writing. Also, he puts to good use his wide knowledge gained from past experiences, to depict scenes and situations to make them feel real. Accolades to him for that.

Now, there are many aspects that cause disappointment and deprive the author of a glorious debut. Most important of them all is the plot. I wish the author had given more attention to the plot as well, alongside the characters. With a promising plotline and a bunch of intense characters, he could have worked wonders, but the book does not take off ever. All you get to read are backstories and current experiences of the characters that do nothing to rally the main story along. Nanda gets pulled into a violent life of killings and revenge killings and his backstory is one of the gripping points in the book. But all that he does once he is in the hydro-project is nothing but work. What started off like a burning train ends up as a damp squib. I would have loved to see Nanda’s emotions and yearnings explored more. In fact, his entire story can be developed into a book of its own.

Next is Khusru. Not sure what I am supposed to feel for him, but empathy is definitely not the name for it. Deserted by his parents who run away to Pakistan leaving him behind in his uncle’s care, losing his uncle to the army shelling, recruited by the terrorist groups, his purpose in life is said to be to meet his family again. But his character loses steam after promising much. His promiscuity, for example, is a put-off. He marries a widow - elder than him - from his shepherd group, after saving her from marauding tribesmen. He leaves her to visit Pakistan for training and then sleeps with his Urdu teacher there – an elder and married woman. He comes back to the group to learn about his wife’s death during childbirth. He then marries another girl from the group and consummates his marriage with her. He leaves the group again and marries another Kashmiri girl from the Indian side of the border after some ‘saving’ her. And, then he sleeps with Rekha – again another elder woman. It is as if almost every time the name of a girl pops up in the chapter in which Khusru appears, he is going to marry her or sleep with her. You don’t get to see love or intensity in any of those relationships. And, coming from a character with all the scope for an intense emotional portrayal, this sort of a sleeping around is not only unconvincing but weakens the character’s emotional integrity.

Rekha – just as you think that this character is being woven well and thorough, it falls flat on its face. A woman who is passionate about her art and taking it to new heights, a woman who has been avoiding men all through her life, keeps her modesty intact despite many opportunities to falter, falls head-over-heels in love with Khusru, after she is separated from her pilgrimage group during a terrorist attack and abduction. Oh, she also copulates with him, because it was cold, he is handsome and he pulls off her wet clothes and pushes her down. Any normal reading will prove it to you that it is a rape. But well, he doesn’t even attempt to rape her, as she yields to that ‘musty smell of sweat and his wiry looks’. He abducted her? So what! He is a terrorist obviously? Who cares? He seems young and naïve. What does it matter?! Really??? Are women so easy to sleep with?! The author later on tries to sneak in ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ as the excuse, but that sort of an affinity develops only with some sort of interaction between the kidnapper and the victim. Not just because they kept copulating for a whole night without even knowing one another or having even a meaningful conversation. Also, their ‘love’ that the author tries to push into our brains, towards the last few pages of the book, feels at best to be infatuation or the glee of the woman at finding a vent for all those pent up carnal tensions. Please, let’s not call it ‘love’ and insult that pure emotion!

Another bane is the surfeit of characters that don’t contribute anything to the book except to the page count. Mangu Ram, Sandeep, Rajanish, Katarina, Rafiq, Mukesh, Sherah and a few more come and go, as standalone characters, without being fused into the tale in a meaningful manner. Equally tedious is the technicality crammed into the book. It would have been better if the author had kept the technicalities and jargon to the minimum or stopped with a general explanation of the hydro-electrical projects in a separate chapter. Another dreaded aspect is the italics. By italics I mean the author’s penchant for including the transliterated vernacular words and phrases every now and then. While they help in adding a local flavor to the tale and help you feel in place, they are over-utilized to the extent of your coming across them almost every other page. Beyond a point, it gets annoying to read a word in italics and its explanation filling the next couple of lines. A seasoned editor could have helped the author avoid these pitfalls and trim the book by at least 50-odd pages, improving the book’s tempo.

Then the Dhauladhar ranges. During the run-up to the tale, the author creates a lot of expectations in your mind about the role these mountains, the stage for this grand drama, are going to play. But all that they do is to appear lamely at the end of the chapter, ‘seeming’ to say something to one of the characters and the character ‘wondering’ as to what they mean. Monotonous and lack appeal.

Coming back to the plot, a book that spends almost three-fourths of its length to build its characters cannot end by cramming all the action within two pages. That too through a character that was not given even half the importance of what was given to some of the fringe characters. The climax feels muddled and rushed, just like the writing style in those pages, lacking the smooth flow that made the book a pleasure to read in the early pages. It feels as if an elaborate symphony is rushed to its end with a quick beat of rap, instead of going for a classic crescendo.

If you’re a person that reads just for the sake of reading, to pass time, without expecting to gain much from the book emotionally or intellectually, and a fan of ‘young-adult’ fictions, then this book is for you. As for me, I am looking forward to a much better work from the author, because he shows a lot of promise and potential that remain unrealized in this book.
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on 28 May 2017
(Note: I received copy of this book by author, in exchange for an honest review.)

Characters are the heart of the book here. This book mainly deals with two things- 1. The life story of characters and 2. Technical (engineering/ dam) part.

Book is all about life story of main characters (Nanda, Khusru, Rekha), supervisors at site, head of the site, and many other secondary characters who happens to work on the same project site. This books gives the feeling of reading a documentary that recorded life of each of these characters and other female character who were the part of their life. I was much impressed by the story of Nanda and Khusru. I loved this part the book a lot.

All the details about the life of characters and their family were precisely and deeply narrated. Many places and culture of India and also of Pakistan and Europe has been covered in this book. Hard life of laborers at project site, villagers and their beliefs with little story about them too was nice.

Things that kept bothering me was, too many characters to remember. Some were not even directly related to the main theme of the book. Many times I had to go back few pages to check ‘who is who’ at project site. The plot with engineering details, though it was explained, it was hard to understand for me and have to re-read it. I lost interest whenever that part was coming in the book. So, those who can understand engineering technicalities would love to read this book.

Another thing, I really liked the life story of Khusru, so I wanted that character clear through and through. Why his parents left him in his childhood was poorly explained or should I say I couldn’t understand their mindset!
End of the book- From climax I was expecting many thrilling actions and dramatic end. But nothing like that. It was too rash and sudden and unexpected.

Overall, it's good read. Those who love many stories in one book will like it.
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on 4 June 2017
Basically its a story about construction of a dam and various characters involved.
After reading a few pages,it becomes evident that its a debut novel.There are a few inconsistencies in writing like excessive use of italics,pronouns are not used and some characters are not introduced properly.Half of the book's pages are introducing character after character.Then the story picks up and moves at a good pace.The story is interesting but the narrative is scattered.e.g.Nanda,the lead character,has his story scattered in whole of the book and sometimes I had to turn pages to assemble his life.And finally an index is missing.So the book loses two stars here.
Now on the pros,the presentation is quite different and the writer doesn't hesitate in bringing out someone's grey shades be it sexual encounters,abusing,revenge etc which makes the story realistic.
Finally its an ok book and considering its the author's first book,I am giving it 2.5 stars which round off to three stars.
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