Tag Archives: War

Anuja Chauhan’s Baaz: Definitely not a Turd

The first time I heard about Anuja Chauhan was in my favourite bookstore, sipping on coffee, when my friends and I were talking about books we’d read and loved. It was 2013, and she’d just read The Zoya Factor, and I was a literary snob (aka a dumbshit who needed a whacking from the present me). Since then, I’ve spent a year studying Indian Writing in English, and now I read anything that’s not Chetan Bhagat (I still have some taste).  This year, blessed with a New Kindle, and the glory that comes with it, I read, for the very first time that book that intrigued me all those years ago with my favourite people at my favourite place. To be honest, I was quite disappointed. It was quite shitty, according to me.

Cut to five months later, I heard she’s coming out with a new book. I really didn’t want to read it, but I thought if people don’t shit on her as much as they do on Chetan Bhagat, she must have done something right (sorry, it’s been a long time since I’ve read Chetan Bhagat, maybe I forgot how bad he is- I probably shouldn’t compare). So I read BaazAnd it was the opposite of what I thought it would be.

Baaz is the story of an Air Force Pilot- the very best one in his batch. Ishaan is Baaz, for his eagle-like flying abilities, but also because he’s a bastard. His step father is a zamindar who hates his guts. His maternal grandfather sowed the dream of being an IAF pilot in young Ishaan, who as young impressionable boys wont to do, internalised this dream without questioning it. The fact that he was a naughty (stupid​) little boy who did reckless things for adrenaline rush probably helped. Point is, he enrolled himself in the Flying College, got through it effortlessly, and inculcated the values and ideologies of Defense personell. This is not just a plot point, but also the major conflict in what is, primarily a romance.

In stark contrast, Tinka, born and raised in the US (the reason why this is important gets clearer later in the narrative), influenced by John Lennon’s Imagine, is completely anti-war and anti-violence. She’s a Parsi, a photographer, and she unapologetically stands up for what she believes in. Her father is an ex-Army personell, and much of her family is in the Defence Forces, including her brother who dies, and is taught about in the Defence Academies. (Spoiler Alert: The truth of his death made me close the book and shed a quite tear). Her father cuts her off because she runs away to Bombay, instead of getting married. She becomes the model in the very first Indian advertisement featuring a bikini. She does it for the money to continue photography. But, of course, she gets slut-shamed for it.

This is as much the story of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 as much as it is of Ishaan (Shanu) and Tinka. A direct nod to the Military, and a simultaneousfuck youto the very concept of war. Multiple times in the text, Chauhan (mock?) praises the bravery of the Military, while juxtaposing the individual in battle who ultimately suffers. Ishaan and his friends gets lost. One of them loses a limb. Jimmy, Yinka’s brother, kills six Pakistanis after his tank becomes useless. He kills them with his bare hands. He becomes the hero of the nation. Then he shoots himself in the head. Many we know througout the novel die. Chauhan, through Tinka asks what’s the point? She talks about the kind of people who enter this workforce – the poor, looking for a Middle class alleviation. The army brats who are forced. The army brats who probably don’t know better. She questions the rationale of war.

“Tinka- I shot him down, I cut down his body and yanked the clothes off his charred corpse. I do not want to look at pictures of his daughters.”

“Why the hell should I feel guilty, anyway? Sure, I chewed up Bilawal Hussain – the others ejected, I saw their chutes, so I know it was just the one guy. But what about Raka? They shot him up so badly, he’d be better off dead, the poor chap.”

She raises her chin, her face mutinous.

“Raka will get better,” she says firmly. “Also, that’s bullshit logic, and you know it.”

 

Throughout my reading of the entire book, a single quote ran through my mind.

The world is run by one million evil men, ten million stupid men, and a hundred million cowards… The evil men are the power–the rich men, and the politicians, and the fanatics of religion–whose decisions rule the world, and set it on its course of greed and destruction.
There are only one million of them, the truly evil men, in the whole world. The very rich and the very powerful, whose decisions really count–they only number one million. The stupid men, who number ten million, are the soldiers and policemen who enforce the rule of the evil men. They are the standing armies of twelve key countries, and the police forces of those and twenty more. In total, there are only ten million of them with any real power or consequence. They are often brave, I’m sure, but they are stupid, too, because they give their lives for governments and causes that use their flesh and blood as mere chess pieces. Those governments always betray them or let them down or abandon them, in the long run. Nations neglect no men more shamefully than the heroes of their wars.

 

What I personally enjoyed about the book was some of those terrible puns (Kuch Bhi Carvahlo, for example). She literally made me laugh out loud at a couple of points in the book. (I’m surprised nobody ever called Ishaan Baaz Turd, though. But then again, my terrible puns are the worst kinds of terrible puns). I also loved how much time she spent describing Ishaan (delish, that boy). Physically and his cockyness. (Right up my alley, if he weren’t in the military). I’ve never gotten to read physical descriptions of guys in this much detail, while the girl’s physique was thoroughly deemphasized. (Of course she wears a bikini and guys go crazy, but we don’t know what colour her eyes are, or what she’s wearing at the moment, which almost never happens). I like how Ishaan gets confused about basic (to me) English words.

I’m not calling this the best book I’ve read this year. I’m not calling it flawless, or a literary masterpiece either. But it was a definite cheap thrill. Anuja Chauhan has definitely grown as an author, in my opinion (should I be saying shit like this? Idk. But we’ve established I’m a snob). This is much, much better than The Zoya Factor. It’s got me piqued enough to consider reading more of her. It does have a certain je ne sais quoi.

 

TLDR Definitely better than ‘turd’. If you want to read something worthwhile for fun, read it. If you want a literary masterpiece, don’t. If you like The Zoya Factor, you’ll like this too. 

  • Release Date: May 1, 2017
  • Page Count: 432
  • My Rating: 6.5/10  (I cried and laughed).
  • Average Goodreads Rating: 3.77/5

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unfinished Thoughts: Part 1.

Soulmates at opposite ends of a barbed wire
Ancestors’ decision to war gave them bullet holes while looking for love

…………………………………………………………………

Rust and stardust at the beginings and the ends
And everything in between a void of empty expectations and hopeless misery.

…………………………………………………………………

A heart shaped face everyone appreciated
But her eyes were vacant.

…………………………………………………………………

Stardust, hope miracle, wonder
His eyes tell a million beautiful stories
But his poker face was the only defence against the rest of the universe

…………………………………………………………………

Fire ablaze in the neighborhood street
Scarlet limbs, hot tempers, loud chants
Did not stop him from laughing at his failed attempts to flirt.
Innocence had not yet been torn appart.

…………………………………………………………………

As the midnight oil burnt through her window
Her love lay colder than her metal heart.

…………………………………………………………………

Best Friends, Love, Marriage, Children, House
His dreams were numerous
Her heart couldn’t take it anymore
But it was he who was left bleeding.
…………………………………………………………………

The letters danced in front of his eyes
Big words, complicated phrases,
And God forbid them pragmatics
Dancing is not the first step towards falling in love everytime.

………………………………………………………………..

Dependant on father, brother, husband, son
She moves through life overprotected
The diagnosis said Dependant Personality Disorder
In India she was just another woman.
…………………………………………………………………

A solitary man in a movie theatre
Now he can laugh with a snort
And hysterically sob, as loudly as he can.

…………………………………………………………………

Have exams starting tomorrow. What best way to procrastinate?


Elements: Earth

There’s the fourth one! There is a slight change in form, but hope you guys like it. Also, hello all you amazing new people who have subscribed to this blog. 😀
              Title: Knight.
              Element: Earth

‘James!’ she called out. ‘JAMES!’

He looked around, with an expression so cold, it knocked out the air in her.

‘James, please!’

He continued running. She ran after him.

‘STOP. PLEASE!’

He stopped suddenly, as if by instinct, and she ran right into him, as his arms instinctively wrapped around her. ‘Please. Don’t do this. It’s not right. It’s not safe. It’s-‘

‘Lily. Please go back. Let me do this on my own. You’re inviting death for yourself by coming with me. Go back to the safety of your dorms. Please!’

‘No. I won’t. I’m coming with you. I will be there for you. I can’t let you go alone!’

‘Lily. As much as I love the fact that you’re feisty and everything, this is not the right time. They won’t even blink before they…’ James choked.

‘I know. But you aren’t any safer than I. Your parents have fought against him. You’re a Blood Traitor. They’re as bad as us, Muggleborns!’

‘Lily…’

‘Don’t. Please.’

‘I need to go. I need to see who all has he recruited. I need to see what he wants from me. If he had intended to kill me, he wouldn’t wait for me. He’d have done it before, right? So, stop thinking I’m going to die.’

‘I’m not thinking that you’re going to- uh… I’m just worried, alright? Please take me with you. I want to know you will be alright.’

James sighed. He took out a cloak from his backpack, and gave it to Lily. ‘Don’t EVER remove this. And run, if they try to attack. Get some help. Don’t, please, don’t fight all by yourself.’

‘What? You think I’m that stupid, huh?’ said Lily, cracking a broad smile. James couldn’t help, but smile back.

 ……………

‘Oh look who it is! James Potter! Welcome, welcome my boy. Have a seat.’

He conjured a chair out of thin air, and shoved James into it. ‘Ah, potential head boy. Brilliant mischief maker, plotter of plans, and a natural leader! Full access to the student body, and the insides of the castle. Just what I needed.’

James looked around, trying to recognize people around him. Bellatrix Black. Regulus Black. Lucius Malfoy. Yaxley. Goyle. Crabbe. Brilliant.

‘Potter. Let me introduce you to some of my followers, here. We form a society to kill the Mudbloods, to wipe out the impurity of the Magical Race. We form the Death Eaters.’

 

Lily looked through the thickets of the trees, wondering what Riddle is talking to James about. Honestly, she was a little frightened. She couldn’t, wouldn’t be able to stand it if anything happened to James, especially since she was in close proximity to him. She thought of what a great friend he had turned over the past couple of months. She smiled thinking of what a great team they formed, perfectly able to anticipate the other’s course of actions, perfectly supplementing each other’s skills and interest. She knew, at that instant, that she wouldn’t be able to bear it if she lost a friend. Don’t kill him, please.

Suddenly, she saw a flash of red, and James writhing on the ground with pain. She tried to see harder what was going on, and she tried not to scream. Her instincts told her he was going to be okay, so she waited. Soon, she heard eight faint pops and Riddle and his friends disappeared.

She assumed it safe for her to walk ahead and check on James.

‘James?’ She whispered. ‘James?’

She heard a quiet moan and rushed towards him. He was left, half buried into the grounds. He had mud all over him, as if he was pushed into a muddy stream. He had grass stuffed into his mouth. And he refused to open his eyes. Lily looked at him and panicked. The more she stood, the more he went into the ground. She sent red sparks into the sky, hoping someone would see her. Then, she conjured up an parchment, and quickly wrote to Dumbledore. She didn’t want to try any counter-curse on him. She urged him to keep breathing, and not to give up.

 ……………….

The next thing James knew, was waking up to a comfortable, white bed that was not earth. He dared to open his eyes, which weren’t stinging anymore. He put on his glasses, and looked around to chocolate frogs, cards and bouquets. He picked up the one closest to his spectacles, and smiled as he read the name of the sender. His smile grew euphoric, as he read the actual content.

You know that place between sleep and awake? The place you can still remember dreaming. That’s where I’ll be waiting.

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