No Good Men Among The Living-3

Author -Anand Gopal

In my last two blogs , we waded through the muddy terrains of Afghanistan with Author Anand Gopal trying to make sense of the two decades long war and finally an abrupt ,shocking anticlimax with American Troop withdrawl

Author invested four years of his life and lived in Afghanistan as local and interviewed thousands of Afghans .Hence the book is an authentic collection of first hand accounts of those people whose every day life became nightmare , as their destiny changed with change of power at the “Power Nodes “

After Taliban was decimated and Al -Qaeda flew out of Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002 ,Author often wondered in hindsight ,that may be that was the right time for Troop withdrawl for the USA but then again , Who should have been the power transferred to ?

“The Talibans “- who were Afghan centric and did not mind , minding their own business and had a strong hold in Southern Afghanistan but at an insurmountable cost of pushing the country to the back gear .

OR

The forward centric , prowestern ,representing a tiny slice of the population , totally dependant on foreign powers ,easy to topple governments

The ” MIDDLE MEN “, another wrought in the system ,who had amassed wealth and power at the USA’s expense , the only liason between the Afghan people and the USA also played a strategic role in catalyzing the war to go wrong .Anybody from any faction could be branded as Taliban or Terrorist by these middle men, even to settle their own personnel rivalry and that person could be targeted ,tortured ,imprisoned or sent to Guantanamo prison

In the process ,as early as 2005 ,people of the country were weary and hopeless and Taliban resurgency started .They regrouped themselves by tacit support of ISI , Pakistan and Al-Qaeda and by 2007 they had regained control of half of rural Pashtun territory and interestingly author found out that people lived in peace in those areas .Crime had vanished but islamic justices were met with no jobs or development .

Author reported that as a nation ,Afghanistan always had to piggy back on foreign powers for its development and which further divided the nation into an unsolvable jigsaw puzzle .

US’s intent was always well meaning and Afghanistan toking its baby steps towards development , women empowerment and hence Nation Building

BUT

Intelligence failure ,language barriers , rampant corruption , betrayals led the USA towards one misstep to another and some where lost the holding power of the Nation

Author revisited his protagonists in Afghanistan in 2010 and found out the “Ex- Taliban commander , had landed in Bagram prison ; The Pro Karzai commander was shot dead and Heela , the urban turned rural housewife ,became a senator

Author gave us an authentic account of the state of Afgahnistan and it felt after reading the book that not only the country but the US had also exhausted all its options and troop withdrawl was a foregone conclusion

In Today’s Afghanistan ,there is a humanitarian crisis going on and calls for help are intense and we only hope that we as “Humans Of The World “could figure out some solution and do not discard the Country as “Basket Case”

Wishing you all a very safe week ahead

Hoping to be with you all soon

Twitter-shruti_agg

wordpress.com-Twohomes.blog

Instagram-shruti.aggarwal.10

No Good Men Among The Living

America , The Taliban, And the war through American Eyes

Author – Anand Gopal

Historical perspective

The World was in disbelief and shock when US army left the reins of the country to the same foes ,who they had fought for 20 years .The promise of Women empowerment ,Development ,universal education , Peace ,justice seemed ephemeral and the country was sliding back to the Dark ages

To those of us , whose investment in Afghanistan is merely through News Channels and Print media ,its chaotic socio- political history has always left us wondering , that when would an organized society , emerge out of this upheaval ?

Why Economic stability and self empowerment still eludes this part of the world?

Author Anand Gopal’s book gave us quite a few of those answers ,

In 2008 ,he not only moved to Afghanistan for four years but also learnt their languages and lived as one of them and in the process , interviewed thousands of Afghans and got a close view of actual happenings there

Anand Gopal, as a journalist covers , dangerous and disturbed terrians ,the likes of Afghanistan ,Egypt , Syria and contributes regularly to the renowned magazines ,Wall Street Journal,The New Yorker , to name a few

His new book’s title – NO GOOD MEN AMONG THE LIVING – comes from Pashto proverb [,a language spoken in Afghanistan] .

The title seemed very appropriate to him , reflecting present state of mind of Afghan people ,when they realized that none of the sides of the conflicting parties can help them anymore.

Excerpt

His three protagonists one an insurgent Taliban ,another a member of US backed Afghan government and the third a urban turned rural housewife , a civilian ,one from each echelon of society ,belonging to the different warring sides bounce us around through the turbulent years of the country

In order to get a better perspective , we need to delve deeper into the history

GROUND ZERO

To unravel the grand puzzle of Afghanistan , author moves us back almost four decades to 1979 when Soviet Union invaded the country ,that’s the year protagonists felt , was the beginning of it all .

Afghanistan ,those days ,was a largely peaceful country .Though monarchy was overthrown by the then President , Daud Khan ,in 1973 for a one party AUTOCRATIC RULE ,urban part of the country was progressive .Women wore western attires and were allowed education , veils were optional and movie theatres were there

As compared , the countryside was the paradox , ruled by tribal leaders and tribal laws prevailed .

Over the course of time ,urban population was inspired by communism and embraced it and Daud Khan was overthrown and killed

Country saw urban development and women empowerment but to suppress rebellion ,communists also killed tribal leaders ,land lords and religious fighters . A million afghan were killed and 5 million became refugees

These were the times of COLD WAR and Communist influence had to be counteracted .

With the help of CIA money and ISI [Inter service Intelligence] , Pakistan Spy Agency ,Rural Afghanistan saw the making of Mujahideen commanders or War Lords .They were young men from the tribal areas who were trained and armed against the urban elites .Not only violence ,but also a violent version of islam was propagated in their religious seminaries

With the impending collapse of Soviet Union in 1991 , peace deal was signed with Afghan Government in 1989 and the proxy war gave way to CIVIL WAR ,1992-1996 . Horrendous atrocities were committed by the various factions of Mujahideens on each others as well as on the civil society

TALIBAN

A fanatical band of religious students , in 1994 ,came together under the leadership of Mullah Omar to bring a certain law and order to the country .Most of them were from country side ,with minimal formal education but believed in practicing a pure version of Islam .

As per author ,almost 90% of the country was brought under control but it came with a price tag .Music ,films ,photography was banned as it was considered roadways to sin .Women empowerment and education was stalled , and women were incarcerated to their households.

We will continue this interesting conversation in our next blog

Wishing you all a happy weekend

Stay Safe

Twitter-shruti_agg

WordPress.com-Twohomes.blog

Instagram-shruti.aggarwal.10

Ten Lessons For a Post Pandemic World -2

Author – Fareed Zakaria

In my last blog , we did an overview of the five lessons for a post pandemic world .I am happy to be back again , on time , to continue our conversation about rest of the lessons

Lesson – 6

Aristotle was Right – We are social Animals

1. Pandemics can isolate us temporarily but cannot change our basic nature . as human beings ;Social seclusion is not human

2. As humans ,we have deep urge towards social interaction , participation and

collaboration

3 .Cities fulfill those needs in the best possible manner ;Real life interpersonnel relations are source of happiness and meaning

4. Cities play a major role in modelling human beings and hence its citizens

5. Cities and human interactions are here to stay .

6. To succeed in this world , we will have to manage diversity and gain strength from it .

LESSON – 7

Inequality will get worse

  1. Our World is economically efficient but every commodity and service is on sale
  2. The top 10% of America which owns 70%of total wealth of the country will get richer and the other America poorer
  3. Covid -19 has emphasized the divide even more
  4. In the most fundamental sense , we fail as human beings ,if we do not strive to uphold the basic needs and human dignity ,of the mankind as whole

Lesson -8

Globalization is not Dead

  1. Covid does not have the power to kill Globalization
  2. Many structural Forces are pushing globalization further and full scale reversal is not possible
  3. The world is interdependant and would not redo the economic , scientific and technical progress of the past

LESSON -9

World is Becoming Bipolar

  1. We have to accept that though United state continues to perform well on the most basic measure of Global power -” Economically” , but China has arrived
  2. China for all its repressive politics is still a part of Global order . very different from the Cold War Era – with Soviet Union playing a very dissimilar part
  3. China and United States is deeply intertwined economically as trade partners , with billions at stake on every day trade
  4. “The Soft power ” of United States has dimmed but every nation is sensible enough to not to go into a large scale conflict and ruin its economic prospects for the future

Lesson – 10

Sometimes the Greatest Realists are the Idealists

1. We should accept that our present world has multiple power centers and to prosper and sustain , we are interdependent .

2 . America’s significant contribution to international life – Forgive , rebuild and rehabilitate the vanquished . It can be a guiding light for the world

3. History has taught us time and again that give “Peace ” a chance first

4.Idealism underlying realism is simple -When nations cooperate ,people live a longer , richer and more secure life

We would conclude this conversation in our next post

I really enjoyed putting out these lessons in a very simple format for your easy read .hope you enjoyed it too .

Have a great weekend

Shruti Aggarwal

Twitter -shruti_agg

WordPress-Twohomes.blog

Instagram-shruti.aggarwal.10

Ten Lessons For a Post pandemic World

                        Ten Lessons For a  Post Pandemic World

                                 Author – Fareed  Zakaria

,         I have been away from this platform for a while yet every day of this last year, this is where I wanted to be .Life situations do not always let you prioritise .    Family engagements   took me to India in the early part of 2020. When I returned in August of 2020 to the US , I had stepped into an entirely different world of masking , universal precautions , social distancing ,lockdowns , travel restrictions , an alien place

Vaccines came and we heaved a sigh!

But  even after a year ,we still are not in a position to write an obituary of the Pandmic and I feel this conversation is still very relevant

Author Fareed Zakaria , my all-time favorite ,is a journalist ,political commentator and author .He is the brilliant host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS .Besides other honors bestowed on him ,  he has been named one of the top global thinkers of the world .

His best seller , Ten Lessons for a Post Pandemic world ,help us introspect our social , political and economic milieu globally to tackle any pandemic like threats , under the heads of ” Ten Lessons “

It is an extensively researched book with an impressive bibliography and many interesting historical anecdotes . I have simplified the lessons , sometimes over simplified but it would help us to gather the salient points as a quick read

EXCERPT

LESSON -1

                                        BUCKLE UP

Center for disease control estimated that three quarters of new human disease originate in animals .That was the case in AIDS, Ebola ,SARS ,MERS, Bird Flu , Swine flu

Our open fast , on steroid world is encroaching their habitat at a reckless pace

Animals like bats can endure viruses which can debilitate human beings

Wet markets need to be regulated with healthy eating habits with less meat

Our society needs more “Air bags “, “Dousing of the vehicle” and “Buckling up

LESSON -2

What matters is Quality of Government and not Quantity

We should try to have

1.Optimal belief in science

2. Enable Technocratic leaders

3. Trimming down layers of Bureaucracy and Red tapism would definitely bring better results .

LESSON -3

MARKETS ARE NOT ENOUGH

1. Societies should not be “pay to play “

2. Government will have to accept a more active role in Economy

3 .Essential workers are not liabilities

4.Taking Denmark as an example ,Government should try to redistribute tax money amongst its citizens for a more economically equal and an abundant society .

Lesson -4

People should listen to the Experts and Experts to people

1.Science is really about process of learning and discovering with many failures and disappointments

2.Scientists should” lift the Hood ” and show how it works

3.Elites should not have a dominating attitude and should not deaden their empathy and sensitivity towards others as the others” are the people they would be wielding their power on

LESSON -5

LIFE IS DIGITAL

  1. Digital world is proving to be a necessity
  2. Every time a task moves to a” digital realm , it becomes easier to use with softwares automating it and optimise it
  3. Artificial intelligence will be a big part of medicine , at par with human intelligence
  4. AI can do “complicated analytic tasks better than humans but it needs a lot of data to process the resullts “
  5. So we would learn to cherish the” human touch ,creativity ,unpredictability warmth and intimacy “

I hope you enjoyed reading this

I will be back soon with the review of remaining five lessons

wishing you all a very happy Labor Day

Shruti Aggarwal

Twitter -shruti_agg

WordPress -Twohomes.blog

Instagram-shruti.aggarwal.10

Welcome to LAGOS-Book Review

     Welcome   to Lagos, Author- Chibundu Onuzo

My  brief sabbatical was over in India as all good things must come to an end  and I am back to the grind, my work, no pun intended, in the US

Travel during COVID times, well that needs a separate blog and I need to do it soon but I am sure it will be etched in my memory for a while even when” COVID “ itself would be a memory.

I had read this book a while ago and it was again one of those books which you wanted to reminiscence about it long after. We  have come a long way from “Its time for Africa” but the journeys of developing nations are always arduous and trajectories have more” speed breakers” and  “Road bumps” than  “High ways”.

Authors from the African Continent are no more rising stars. They have contributed immensely to the world of English literature and have made their presence felt in a big way but interestingly, I had never read any relevant book till now.

Author, Chibundo Onuzo, gives  us a vivid picture of, city of Lagos, which is  an entertaining  but equally poignant account of  a nation which is still  taking its faltering baby steps

She is a young Nigerian novelist who was published at the age of 21 years. Her first novel “The Spider King’s daughter” won a Betty Trask Award and was short and long-listed for other coveted awards. In June of 2018, Onuzo was elected fellow of the Royal Society Of Literature in the “40 under 40” initiative. When I read this book, she was doing her doctorate at King’s College London. I did not read her first novel but it surely is in my bucket list

Excerpt

In the book “Welcome to Lagos “ five very diverse characters representing very different strata of societies are thrown together on their journey to their dream city the “ city of Lagos. They are in denial with their present and try to dream of a better alternative by risking everything for an” unknown better “

Like the “Colonel’s hair spiraling out of the collar cuff “the army is brimming with misconduct, unfair practices, and power misuse. Chike Amoebi who is a soldier in the army with a “wasted biology degree ”witnesses the excesses of his Boss on civilians as  “Colonel had broken every one of the codes to deal with civilians” and “Colonel’s wildness seemed barely constrained by his starched uniform”. Amoebi with his subalterns” Yemi “, decides to break loose. The next to join them is” Fineboy”, who is a  member of a random rebel group and who has possibly raped the next member to join the group. Fineboy has a hidden talent and nurtures a dream of being a Radio Jockey. Isoken “who is barely a woman” is a vulnerable young girl who has lost her family in the ongoing strife of the country and is seen as easy prey by the society, is taken in the protective fold of this” good meaning group “. Ona, the beautiful homemaker”, “whose husband loved her in the way you loved expensive shoes to be polished and glossed but at the of the end to be trodden “  who meets them on her way to Lagos as she decides to leave her well-ensconced life.

Since the group has no money and no connection they fall in dire straights and have to be homeless for a short while but somewhere cohesive forces develop amongst them and they do not leave each other’s side.

Fineboy, who is resourceful in his own way , comes across an abandoned property which is owned by Chief Sandayo, who is a typical minister of a corrupt nation on the wanted list for economic crimes.

In this property, they come across a sack full of money and here the author’s imagination takes a magical flight where instead of plundering the loot, they concur, that it is ill-gotten money and decide to spend it on up upliftment of education and society, which is the need of the hour, for the country. So one night, when Chief Sandayo walks in to claim what’s presumably his, he is held hostage by the group and is forced into philanthropy with them.

Ahmad, only a journalist child of corrupt and rich parents, another product of the rot, in the society was educated in London but decided to return to Lagos to start his own newspaper and cleanse the system.

                                 Conclusion

As we read the book and characters, situations and plots unfold, I experience that painful “Déjà vu” of being a part of the story of the developing nation. Though the author dares to experiment with a utopian world where the stolen money is used for building schools and buying computers the author” course corrects” into reality and makes us realize that no such miracles are happening yet in the society. An immense volume of evil, immortality, and corruption eventually engulfs the righteousness, and the shameless march over the downtrodden continues.

The first few chapters let you take note of the author’s brilliant skills as her metaphors are clever, dialogues are relevant and humor is prominent but somewhere in the middle of the book, the climactic pull is loosened a bit. In the last few chapters, the plot thickens and realism takes over and readers can end the book with a good aftertaste.

The challenges of developing nations always seem insurmountable but like a “ rising star”  the hopes and aspirations of  even a small part of the population can always be the” Guiding light “ for a better tomorrow

The” purpose of lives “of these nations are clear and as long as” visions are alive”, it is the best “silver lining” for them

“ Welcome to Lagos “ is a” must-read” and I am excited to have found  this brilliant author, who I am sure, would contribute immensely to the world of  English literature

Talk to you all soon

Have a good weekend

                                                     Shruti Aggarwal

                                                    Twitter –shruti_agg

                                                     Word press –Twohomes.blog

                                                    Instagram –shruti.aggarwal.10

In Xanadu – A Quest – Book review –Author William Dalrymple

 In  Xanadu – A Quest – Book review –Author William Dalrymple

 It was the year 1986 when   Karakorum highway opened between Pakistan and China and   William Dalrymple, conceived an ambitious project of following in the footsteps of Marco Polo in his summer break in Cambridge. Still wet behind the ears, all of 22 years, this daunting journey from Jerusalem to Xanadu in China had to be done on a paltry sum of 700 pounds, but possibly enough in those days.

It paved way for one of his best literary endeavors, his first book, In Xanadu – A Quest. No wonder, his book has caught more attention than any travelogues or documentaries made on this famous journey of Marco Polo.

Incidentally, this expedition was planned once before when the author was in the fifth standard with his friend, after reading a” Ladybird “ book on Marco Polo. He had no clue about “England “ or “China “, so they came back home for supper once the evening set in.

A Venetian, young Marco Polo,  came to Jerusalem when he was seventeen years old with his Uncle and Dad in 1271. Christendom was undergoing a low phase in those times and Gregory X[the then Pope] had a whiff that Kubla Khan, grandson of Ghengis Khan was showing interest in conversion to Christianity. Chengis Khan was the then ruler of a vast empire from the Euphrates to Pacific and if he could be made a believer of Christianity, then this could have been the best possible move.

Chengis Khan wanted a sample of oil from the famous lamp which burned in Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and Marco Polo and his team was given this responsibility

Polo was a hard-headed merchant’s son, so his account of travel was neither a diplomatic expedition to save Christianity nor a general account of the lands he passed. At the end of the journey, his goal was simple –“Profit “

This 12,000 miles journey spanning through multiple countries was not a cakewalk in any era. It takes us through Jerusalem, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, and finally ends in Xanadu in China.

Dalrymple was stood up by his friend and companion at the last minute. Though heartbroken, Laura , the substitute companion proved an asset. She not only braved the misogynist behavior and male gazes throughout the journey but proved to be a strict taskmaster for the author in keeping him on this whirlwind tour on schedule.

 The author’s brilliant and personalized kaleidoscope of interaction with the different people en route to his destination made me fall in love with this book, a decade back. I still feel this is the best book of the author, in the genre that the author excels in and so I

William Dalrymple needs no introduction as far as his literary accomplishments are concerned. His books have won many awards and accolades and been made into television series. Currently, he divides his time between New Delhi and London.

He is an authentic, diligent, and honest historian and we are carried in too deep historical recesses of these places, which could have been missed otherwise. It is not about rewriting history but we can form a contemporary image of our own, of these places. His in-depth knowledge of art and architecture shines through the book as he travels through these ancient cities brimming with historical monuments.

Readers’ interest in historical travelogues is quite often porous but the book has been packed with a huge dose of humor and which stands out more so often in the form of anecdotes, incidents, and local dialects which makes it a page-turner.

West Asia has always confounded the world with its paradoxical and intricate neighborly relations. One wonders, how tolerance and intolerance, brotherhood and betrayals, fanaticism, and acceptance can reside side by side for so many centuries in a status quo fashion.

Our world is not fair and Jerusalem, the city of peace, the cradle of many religions including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the holiest place in the world has seen the most bloodshed to date.

History attracts as your mind can play an “action replay “ but the knots of history are not easy to untangle. We as humans will continue to rush towards such “Mission Impossible” as long as challenges would be present to us.

Hope you all had a safe and good weekend

Would talk to you soon

                                                                                 Shruti Aggarwal

                                                                               Insights from my topsy world

https://twohomes.blog

                                                                                   Twitter-shruti_agg

Prescription from the wings-Hardwiring Holistic Health

How to Gut out Poor health – Over view

Ever  wondered about the term “GUT FEELING “.Can the Gut feel?  We will come to that in a minute

A long time ago, when I started practicing primary care back in the United States, I did so the same way most doctors do: by hearing what patients complain of their poor health (maybe a cough, cold, headache, anxiety, stress, etc.) and prescribing them a quick pill to pop. Results are visibly effective with both parties getting what they want   and seeing less of each other. 😉

Heals in the short-term? Yes. Long-term? Not always.

Let me explain. 

 To the “good health” seekers. Gut works! Over the years of staying connected and updated, I have learned to appreciate the wonderfully designed body we humans have and its capacity to self-heal. 

A solid awareness of what is entering and exiting your gut must always be an important consideration. Many of my patients in the US come to me with anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and autism. Sadly, it is to do with their SAD or Standard American Diet (no pun intended) and their lifestyle.

  • Gut health has significant relevance in irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, metabolic syndromes, and behavioral health.
  • Prebiotics and probiotics create better environs for a healthy gut.
  • Natural home remedies, via good gut health, can help with weight loss, metabolic syndrome, and related disorders such as Diabetes Mellitus and high Cholesterol.

Now we will dig deeper into some of these conversations and my personal experience.  

How to gut out poor health – Part 2

Two sodas a day keeps good health away.

That was perhaps the unconscious mantra one of my patients lived by, ignorant of her lifestyle.

A 70-year-old, white female, walked into my clinic to get treated for irritable bowel syndrome and anxiety. But all her blood tests and colonoscopy were normal. She took multiple medications, but to no avail.

Let us investigate her diet.

For the most part, it consisted of a white bread cheese sandwich for breakfast, ready-to-eat hamburger for lunch, and red meat chops for dinner. She would drink at least four cups of coffee and two liters of soda every day.

Bad? Yes.

She was ONLY suggested for a change of diet with oatmeal for breakfast instead of the cheese sandwich. Fresh vegetable salad, soup, fruits, yogurt, sauerkraut, home-cooked chicken or salmon preparations for lunch or dinner. Alongside this, she was asked to increase her water intake and exercise at least half an hour to forty-five minutes daily.

The results were flawless.

After a few months, not only her anxiety waned but her bowel habits were more regular with less abdominal pain, flatulence, and bloating.

How you may ask? Surely, gut.

Gut, which has more than 100 million nerve cells, also called the enteric nervous system (ENS), is being called the second brain. Multiple studies have shown that treating this second brain can treat your brain. They are both parts of the nervous system  and nurturing one, will nurture the other tackling your various behavioral health issues.

Gut health does not bias with age. It is important as much as for babies as for adults. Babies, who are born by natural birth and have been breastfed have more bacterial diversity in their gut. This further gets augmented with diets rich in fibers, whole grain, and fruits in adult life. These bacteria, in turn, produce more butyrate (short-chain fatty acid), which makes the gut lining less porous and hence less entry of toxins in the blood and to the brain, besides having an anti-inflammatory effect and boosting the immunity of the body.

So, the take-home message is, we need more fruits, vegetables, lean meats in our diet along with hydration and exercise. Pre-biotics and pro-biotics create a better gut environment and the key to a better gut microbiome is, greater diversity of bacteria which means a variety of healthy foods.

Holistic and preventative health needs to be our priority in current COVID times and Gut health plays a big role in it.

The gut needs to be courted well and on a long term basis , like  a  good friend ,spouse or girlfriend for a healthy and happy life.

Gut out. Gut going. Stay gutted.

Gut health has had many exciting breakthroughs in the recent past. We would again touch base soon in near future

Till then

Stay Safe

                                                   Dr. Shruti Aggarwal https://twohomes.blog/

                                                                       (Insights from my Topsy World)

The Silent Patient-Debut Novel of Author-Alex Michaelides

“He who does not understand your silence will not understand your words”

                                                     Elbert Hubbard-IAMFEARLESSSOUL.COM

We have shared multiple book reviews on this platform in the past and most instances I have felt “the Nudge “ by those books. I was waiting for that cue, as far as my fiction writing skills were concerned. Ironically, that is yet to happen but in the meantime, I came across this brilliant debut novel and I had this compulsive desire to share it with you.

The protagonist’s single-minded pursuit of “ silence “ of her heroine and his obsessive efforts to solve the mystery surrounding her by unraveling the knots of her mind is worth a read.

Author, Alex Michaelides, commenced his literary trajectory with a degree in English from Cambridge followed by screenwriting. He has written screenplays for the films, “Devils you know “ and the “Con is On “.There was a brief interlude in his writing career by being trained as a psychotherapist. He is of Cypriot – Greek and English descent and currently resides in London.

Psychological thrillers have always touched a chord in me as my patients in primary care have behavioral health issues in multitudes and they are one of the most recalcitrant problems to treat. Navigating the human mind is  an ongoing challenge of present-day medicine and medical challenges are always  thrilling  for me

                                                Excerpt

Theo Faber is a psychotherapist and he is intrigued by Alicia, the beautiful artist, who had gone mute after killing her handsome photographer husband. Alicia had grown up with a mentally unstable family and she has her mental health issues  but is an artist of promise and potential and her only communication to the world after the murder, is  a painting “Alcestis”

She paints “Alcestis”, the heroine of a Greek tragedy by, Euripides, who volunteers to die for her husband, Admetus, and when” Alcestis “ is brought back to life by Hercules, she loses her speech.

Alicia is committed to a secured psychiatric unit “The Grove” as there are concerns about her mental competence in the court of law.

Six years later there is an opening in the “The Grove” and Theo joins the unit though the unit is on the brink of closure due to financial hardships.

Theo’s endeavors to treat Alicia has an unconventional and obsessive quality to it, while he deals with his mental health issues, drug addiction, and infidelities of his wife. He prefers to “Bury his head in the sand” and refuses to confront his wife about it

Alicia reacts violently to Theo’s psychotherapy sessions but Theo’s empathy for Alicia bordering on to infatuation persists. He patiently and steadily prods ahead with his interviews of the people, who, he thinks could be remotely associated with Alicia’s present state

As a last resort, Theo wants Alicia to start painting again.

 I  do not want to be a spoilsport for readers by demystifying the plot, so I would  let them read it for themselves

                              All-Pros, hardly any cons

“ The Silent Patient “ splashed on the” Best Seller” world almost a year back and it is still making ripples on all the major bestseller lists. Author amazes us with  an  amalgam of psychotherapy training and his literary skills

The novel has a perfect opening “Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband “

But the icing is the end when all my deductions and rationalizations come to naught and your “Aha “ moment is way off from the actual story

The greek tragedy “Alcestis” inspired him when he was a school going, kid. His heroine Alicia, the artist, and the murderess undergoes a similar transformation after the intense mental trauma of her unreciprocated love.  Besides readers who love literature, it was an added dimension of storytelling which added mythicism and romanticism to the novel

Despite not many crescendo decrescendo moments, the story hurls forward with plenty of twists and turns and the climactic pull is always intact.

The  interview sessions, bureaucratic   cordons  and  interoffice politics of the Psychiatric unit gives us a perfect backdrop of the novel

The chapters are short and crisp and dialogues predominate [his screenwriter presence] which keeps up the paciness of the novel.No wonder in most of the reviews of the book, it has  been called an unputdownable pageturner

The human mind surpasses supercomputers in its complexities and we are still navigating its mazes. Its defense mechanisms are strong when it protects us from various traumas the mortal world inflicts on us like betrayals, loss of loved ones. But its reactions could be equally varied. On one end of the spectrum, it can be as accepting and forgiving but when the avenger side of the brain predominates, it can be as ruthless, conniving and devious

People are seeking help for their mental disorders if their self-awareness is up to the mark. Mental disorders could be a refuge, a camouflage, a retreat but some times it is a societal threat and if not identified at the right moment, it raises its ugly head in the most catastrophic manner

“The Silent Patient “ has been bagged by the movie makers and I am sure it is going to be a grand success

We are all eagerly waiting for the author’s next venture

Hope to talk to you soon on this platform

Till then keep safe and happy

                                  Blog – Insight from my Topsy World[https://twohomes.blog]