Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review : My Mother's Secret

Title : My Mother's Secret
Author : J.L.Witterick
Publisher : IUniverse
ISBN : 9781475962574

A lot has been chronicled about the events that led to World War II, the barbarity that many underwent during that time, the unhealed scars, the aftermaths of the war and widespread destruction that those years caused. This period is nothing short of a black mark on the face of humankind.

Having said that, if times like these bring out the worst in many, many rise much above the rest, forgetting their personal security and survival to epitomize a true human. These ordinary individuals with their compassion and sympathy become angels for others. And the more we read about such individuals the lesser it is. J.K. Witterick is one author who wanted to write to make a difference. Through 'My Mother's Secret', she brings out a courageous story of a mother and a daughter based on a true story in the times of Holocaust.

Franciszka takes a firm decision to leave Germany and her Nazi sympathizer husband for Poland when Hitler became chancellor in 1933. Her elder son Damian and daughter Helena are more than pleased to leave their father. Poland at that point was a melting pot of people who were Polish, Ukrainians and Jews, though all mistrusting each other.

Piece by piece Franciszka built a decent life for her children but it was not lost on them that Poland would soon be taken over by Germany and that happened in 1939 with complete invasion in 1941 disrespecting the pact that was signed by Hitler and Stalin.

Franciszka and Helena were not immune to the happenings around them either. They could chose to save their skin over being philanthropic but magnanimous hearts find it hard to see helplessness and yet remain inactive. They ended up hiding two Jewish families and  a German soldier in their house for not just a day or two but for 20 odd months. All through this time Helena had to undergo a pain in the heart for hiding this secret from the love of her life, her fiancé.

The stories of Jewish families and that of German soldier build up separately and it is amazing to read how their paths led them to the house of their benefactress Franciszka. The foresightedness, intelligence and selflessness of the mother saw all of them through this difficult time and eventually all did come out from the hiding to lead their normal lives.

The book though set at the most unfortunate of times manages to evoke warm and uplifting feelings. After the story ends the readers are left with hope and belief in the goodness of individuals rather than bad taste for the savagery which dominated that time. My Mother's Secret is one of those books that are perfect to introduce young adults to the historical happenings. It is supposed to be the author's first creation yet she handles the subject with utmost care and sensitivity. A wonderful piece of writing.
Worth mentioning quotes are sprinkled all over the narrative and this goes on to reiterate how adversity brings out the best in people and how sometimes smooth sailing makes a race impassive.

A few excerpts from the book -
"If you choose to do the right thing,  it’s a conscious decision at first. Then it becomes second nature."

"I always thought that courageous people were those who were not afraid. Meeting Franciszka and her daughter, I realize that
courageous people are afraid like everyone else. They just act despite the fear."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Book Review : The Alchemist

Title : The Alchemist
Author : Paulo Coelho
Publisher : Harper Collins
ISBN : 9780061233845

There is time for everything. Nothing happens by chance because there is the force of universe that makes things happen the way they happen and when they have to happen. I must confess that though I have heard so many good things about the book 'The Alchemist' as well as the author, - Paulo Coelho, it took me a long time to pick this book up and read it. It has been on my reading wish list for the longest period of time. But it is indeed true, there is time for everything and nothing can pre-pone or postpone the natural occurrence of that happening.

Now after having read this book, I can say sometimes delay is for good. Perhaps it was waiting for that space and attention in my mind which it deserved and I am happy that it could get its worth. Even after having read it a couple of weeks back, I have taken so many days to write about the book. I wanted the written matter of the book to sink it, get digested and get soaked in my self. This sinking, digesting and soaking is perhaps one of those things which Paulo Coelho categorizes as "It's the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary" and the extraordinary-ness of the same is understood only by experiencing it.

The Alchemist is a story of a young shepherd boy who ventures to follow his dreams of treasure in a distant place. On the journey, many experiences, incidents and people await him to transform him into a wise and enlightened individual. Paulo Coelho beautifully accentuates the significance of the journey over that of the destination. The treasure could be anything - riches, love or divine wisdom but the same becomes secondary compared to what all is gathered and what all is assimilated on the way to reach the destination. And once that is done, it becomes immaterial whether destination is actually reached or not as the pleasurable journey itself becomes the goal.

The Alchemist is one of those unique books which are packed with insightful acumen without overwhelming the readers.  The ability to listen to one's personal legend, understanding the closeness to the Soul of the World, utilising the positive force to achieve the personal legend is what this life is all about. And universe ensures that to an individual who is determined enough, the Personal Legend does get revealed.
"When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it."
"Everyone when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend. "

The enthusiasm to take every moment as it comes, the dexterity to give the best to that moment and then the gratification of  having given done one's best, is all that is required for a successful living. Its when we try to steer our life's sail against the tide because of innumerable fears and apprehensions, that the problem begins."We are afraid of losing what we have, whether it's our life or our possessions and property. But this fear evaporates when we understand that our life stories and the history of the world were written by the same hand."

The author talks about significance of various other aspects in our lives like - voice of heart, dreams as God's messages, role of an individual in the cycle of life and positive force working its magic strangely. The written text would inspire you - to follow your intuition no matter how illogical it may sound to others, to unlearn a few things in order to make room for new, to explore beyond obvious, to see past prejudices and perceptions and much more. 

Undoubtedly, a 'must read' book.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Tech Review : Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Storage Device (1 TB)

The Seagate Wireless Plus Mobile Device Storage is a boon for people who are looking to enhance the storage capacity of their devices. If you want a safe location to consolidate your media collection, you can’t go wrong with this device. It worked beautifully for my media storage needs; one secure location to enjoy my music, photos, books and other content anywhere, any time!

Seagate Wireless Plus : First Things First
Seagate Wireless Plus : Fill It, Take It, Enjoy It
Seagate Wireless Plus : Cost Benefit Analysis
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