Life and the Grey Notes by Mayank S Sengar is a book that most of us have within us. Anyone of us can write it, but not many of us write it. Mayank picks up slices of life through those moments where we sometimes stop and reflect. Most of us let that moment pass – the moment that can potentially change our perspectives of life and sometimes even its direction.
Mayank picks up one human trait like greed, deceit or ambition and then weaves a story around it. He begins his story by talking about one of the traits. Basically, he shares his views on the subject and then after a pause starts the story. Most of his stories seem to be inspired by his own life. His hometown Varanasi remains at the core of each story although it hardly plays any role in the story. It could have been any small town in India, but author categorically mentions Varanasi. Personally, Varanasi is one of my favorite cities, a city where I have spent good one year of my life as a child.
All stories have a sense of simplicity. You can relate to more or less everything the author says if you have lived in India. I liked the way he brings out relationships, especially the ones that teach you something in life without really being a formal teacher. His story about a father whose connection to his son is through a phone and how he dies waiting for a phone call is touching. His story about a Chai Wala who chooses to remain honest even when life presented him with the best opportunity to be not so is endearing. And his story about the appearance of a relative to show him guidance is something a lot of us have experienced. Though we let it be a matter of fantasy than deep connections.
His story about a friend who was always envied for his luck till in one stroke he became the most unlucky guy tells you about the checks & balances in all our lives. In this story, I had a disagreement with the author – it is not a story of deceit as he has interpreted. But a story of how we all have the same quota of luck and opportunities. We should not envy anyone who seems to be lucky at this moment to us.
His story about Pets is something I hope every pet owner reads. How pet owners take away the freedom of their pets for their own lack of companionship. I also liked his story on how the religion sometimes pushes us to have more faith in ourselves. Even when we continue to blame the religion for not giving us what we prayed for.
Overall, the author Mayank S Sengar comes across as someone deeply spiritual. He is someone with an ability to see the God in the most mundane places, in most life situations. Is it to do with his growing up in the divine city of Varanasi? Did he have to move away from the city to realize what the city is meant to teach?
I liked reading his simple stories. I wish there was a bit more garnishing – some flavor of the cities the stories are based at or some more character etching of the characters.
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Take your own call.