Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Book Reviews By NITISH S. RELE,

The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown The Dalai Lama’s Big Book of Happiness: How to Live in Freedom, Compassion, and Love” (274 pages, $16.95); edited by Renuka Singh; published by Hampton Roads Publishing; (www.redwheelweiser.com)

The spiritual leader of the Tibetan people may not be a full-time writer but he counts among one of our favorite authors. The 14th Dalai Lama once again has a gem of a book compiled of his 2008 to 2012 speeches with Q&As. Kudos go to editor Renuka Singh for arranging the topics into happiness, forgiveness, compassion, reality, wisdom, inner and outer peace, non-violence and secular ethics. We will let the Dalai Lama speak and you can listen or, in this case, read some of his pearls of wisdom: “So, no matter whether you are a believer or nonbeliever, be an honest, warm-hearted person; you will then be a much happier person.” “I think that warm-heartedness immediately brings inner strength and also enables our mind to function more normally, more objectively.” “Genuine friendship is based on trust.” “Material value provides comfort for the physical level of being, but not for the emotional level.” “I think, for good health of the body, one needs to have a calm mind and a warm heart.” “Where there is trust, fear and suspicion have no room.” “Forgiveness does not mean you accept others’ wrongdoing.” “Not understanding the deeper level of satisfaction and depending only on money and wealth does not guarantee happiness.” “Irritation acts as a catalyst for anger to develop into hatred.”

Before We Visit the Goddess” (212 pages; $25) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni; published by Simon & Schuster (www.simonandschuster.com)

She wowed us with such memorable novels as “The Mistress of Spices,” “The Vine of Desire” and “Sister of My Heart,” to name just a few of 16 books. You can add “Before We Visit the Goddess” to that list. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s latest is basically nine stories spanning from 1963 and ending in future 2020. During this period, the Kolkata-born author focuses on three generations of women: Sabitri, a Bengali sweet-maker, who is provided education by a wealthy and influential woman; daughter Bela, who flees to America with a political refugee lover only to end up in a failed marriage; and Bela’s college-dropout daughter Tara, a thrift store employee in Houston. It is no easy task to maintain a steady flow of a story that goes back and forth in time while hopping from India to California to Texas. But Divakaruni brings decades of writing expertise to the fore as she keeps the narration gripping and the reader guessing about her diverse but intriguing characters.

The Yoga of Max’s DiscontentThe Killing of Osama Bin Laden” (132 pages; $19.95) by Seymour M. Hersh; published by Verso (www.versobooks.com)

It’s all lies, alleges investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in his explosive book. In 2001, when Navy SEALs stormed an enclosure in Abbottabad to kill Osama bin Laden, the Pakistanis were fully aware of the U.S. attack, he suggests. In fact, the terrorist was under the protection, a prisoner of sorts, of the Pakistani government, according to Hersh. “An ISI liaison officer flying with the SEALs guided them into the darkened house and up a staircase to bin Laden’s quarters,” he writes and contends that the Obama administration revealed the kill much earlier than it was supposed to only to boost the President’s re-election chances. Burial at sea for Bin Laden? That’s a joke too, asserts the author, while quoting a retired official, “There never was a plan, initially, to take the body to sea, and no burial of bin Laden at sea took place.” One of America’s greatest investigative reporters comes through once again in this superb expose.

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