Category Archives: Book reviews

A Review of Mumblings and Musings- a poetry collection by Anirban Bhattacharya

I have attempted a poetry review first time as a writer. I don’t claim to be a poet, never thought it was my forte and find quite a lot of poetry difficult to grasp. Still I did try some ocassional scribblings in the last two years.These short verses, though may not be of exemplary poetic value, perhaps were inevitable emotions coming out from my deep within durign the pandemic. That is how poets are born I guess. I am now more regular in reading poems and trying to decipher their meaning between lines.

poetry review

I chose to do a review of poetry collection by Anirban Bhattacharya because of two reasons. I got introduced to him when I pitched my manuscript to Penmancy’s pitchfest in April-May 2021. After I got to know that he is the producer of my favourite crime TV show Crime Patrol on Sony TV , who was going to interview me as one of the judges I was awestruck and thrilled and considered myself fortunate. His non-fiction India’s deadly dozens is best seller on amazon. My fascination and curiosity about his work made me pick up his newly released poetry book and try this review.

The poetry collection of Mumblings and Musings by Anirban Bhattacharya is awe inspiring and deeply touching. Going from page to page each poem reveals life in such varied shades and colours filtered through lenses of diverse men and women that hit your heart with razor sharpness as much they leave you stunned with open jaws. Certainly the poet has fascination for death as much as for life. Going from page after page, he makes the reader feel, touch and smell death and darkness very closely. Though not a surprise coming from the author of the best seller The Deadly Dozens, and producer of Crime Patrol and Saavdhan India,  he clearly is a talented writer wearing many hats.

His tone of melancholy and morbidity run through all his poems that is intricately woven with his empathy towards the poor and underprivileged. I was particularly besotted with the lines

concrete hands search skies
bound by asbestos souls
Voices rebound off broken walls…, in the snippets of conversations.

The world seen
Through photo chromatic lenses
Watching green grass
Sitting on knees…, in the world now

Fingerless palms greet you
A beatific smile
All is well with the world
The tethered throne is a piece of land that she calls her own.. in The Tenth leper

My other favourites are Clothesline, The fly, Feelings, Final Chant , Merging, The Butcher, The Madman on the street. His memories – often harking to past make one in many of the brilliant literary tools he uses to depict life’s ephemerality, pain and poignancy. The same prevail in some of the tales from his musings and monologues  which though seem like his personal experiences the themes are compelling and resonate with every reader. The accompanying photographs give a visual complement to every poem with the incisive depth of its emotions.
Reading the collection I got the notion of wasteland and other poems by the famous master poet of all times, TS Eliot. Certainly Anirban is a master in his own right. 

Book Review of The Indian Clerk

My tribute to the great mathematician S. Ramanujan on his birthday, 22 Dec, National Mathematics day in India .
The Indian clerk by David Levitt is a novel (published in 2008), based on life of S.Ramanujan the renowned Indian mathematician. The tome is a highly engrossing narrative of lyrical prose that alternates between frames of imaginative lectures by GH Hardy, himself a brilliant English mathematician of the last century, and a third person fictional drama based on true events in England in the backdrop of World War-1.

The novel begins with an innocuous letter from an uneducated Indian clerk that Hardy received in early 1913.  His first reaction was to ignore and possibly let it burn in a fire this one in many such letters that came his way but had a change of heart on closer examination of the scribblings on stained pages of the letter.  The originality of the mathematical works on the pages that appeared to hold promise of solving some of the most unsolved mathematical problems of all times, set him on a path that led to coaxing the English authorities to bring the Indian to Cambridge,  become his close associate, mentor and collaborator of the most brilliant mathematical works of the time.

Once, as an answer to the question, as to what he would consider his best contribution to the field of Mathematics, GH Hardy famously quoted Ramanujan’s discovery as his best work.

The remarkable research that spans four years of Ramanujan’s stay in London at Trinity College Cambridge also dwells on lives of people around Hardy in Trinity College Campus, their gay relationships, Hardy’s own private life and his sister’s, and that of his close work associate -Littlewood, and working of a secret society that they all belonged to during the War. Also featured in the book are other famous personalities of the time including Bertrand Russell and D.H.Lawrence. As a first- time reader of Ramanujan’s life story, eager to know more about life details of the math genius, his inspiration and perspiration for math, I felt little disappointed with the narrative often veering off from the main subject of the book. However, I do see now, the author’s objective in bringing out these details. For a reader the explicit detail helps to put in perspective the life of the young Indian, belonging to an orthodox Hindu family, married and vegetarian in a foreign land.  

While trying to get his ideas through and a recognition for himself in the English territory where racial discrimination wasn’t an unknown word, there was an undercurrent of softer, human side of the society which helped Ramanujan overcome his adjustment problems be it food, etiquette or weather. Other than Indian community comprising of students and professionals, there was an astonishing amount of affection for him displayed by Alice Neville wife of Eric Neville, and other English colleagues and womenfolk who went to the extent of even learning south Indian vegetarian cooking to make him comfortable.  

The two years though were tough living away from his young wife in India, but it was time well spent in Cambridge under Hardy who drilled in him the importance of having proofs for any hypothesis; it resulted in publication of papers, in collaboration, in leading mathematics journals. The highly composite numbers, partition formulae, mock theta functions and many others were his ground-breaking work which continues to baffle and inspire mathematicians for further work even today.

Life took an unexpected turn when Ramanujan developed a chronic dull pain in his stomach which was first diagnosed as cancer and later rejected and understood as TB which made him leave Cambridge and  spend nearly a year in Sanatorium and a private hospital and his work on Reimann hypothesis remains unfinished.

Reading the book my heart filled with pride for this brilliant mathematician who brought so many laurels for himself and for his country and has evinced interest among the western writers to research on his life story but  finished the book in tears as the life of a rare genius was cut short, at the the very young age of 32, by cruel game of destiny. 

I highly recommend the book to know about the legendary math genius. One must also watch  ‘The man who knew infinity’ to know his life story,