BR #9 | Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar | Kochery C Shibu | Niyogi Books | ★★★★★

Book - Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar
Author - Kochery C Shibu
Publisher - Niyogi Books
Rating - ★★★★

Author Bio: (from book) Kochery C. Shibu is a retired naval officer. A graduate from the National Defence Academy he has held several important posts in the Indian Navy. Post his retirement he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and lately Teesta river basin in Sikkim. He holds a postgraduate degree in Defence Studies from Chennai University, and MA in English Literature from Pune University. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is his debut novel. The technical content of the novel, namely the setting up of a hydro-project is drawn from his experience in these projects since 2005, as are many of the characters inspired from those whom he encountered at the project site. Kochery C. Shibu was born in Kochi and now lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.

Book Review: "Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar" by Kochery C Shibu is a tale of adventure and thriller. This book centers around the construction of a dam in the vicinity of the Dhauladhar range. The author has skillfully developed the character sketches and events of the men and women who ultimately get involved in the project. The story has at least three main protagonists, a few antagonists and a bunch of other well-created characters in supporting roles.

The timeline and location descriptions of the story are commendable. We read about incidences taking place before independence, the crisis of the 1980s and resolutions during modern times. All these are carefully interwoven to develop the characters as they play along in the story. Geographical highlights have been south India, Pakistan and of course the Dhauladhar. These are the places where most of the story-telling takes place. We begin with Nanda, a kalari from Kerala who is on the run due to his vengeful past. It has made him run away from his family for their safety and his own. The author brings in a host of other well-versed characters contributing greatly to the plot. Finally, we have Khusru whose journey is not of the usual antagonist one can think of. He has been a terrorist, a son, a good man, a lover and finally sought solace in redemption. Or was that all a part of a bigger game? One must read this story to find the answer.

The construction of a dam and the terrorists' looming threat to destroy it creates adequate tension to hook the reader into this book for long. It is a well-researched story that describes in detail the procedures undertaken to successfully build a megastructure. How it affects the surroundings? Pollution? Lives lost? Costs and Benefits? Threats? Work life of labourers? and moreover, a sense of thrill in reading an adventure book. It intrigues me how the characters have been developed over the entire length of 250+ pages with their humane experiences of life that can be true and relatable with any chance of occurrence. This book begins with isolated storylines of many characters but there is a great convergence at the end where all characters ultimately meet and interact as if destined by fate. Many seek solace in observing the Dhauladhar, trying to comprehend its shades at deciphering what awaited them.

This story is a must-read for any adventure lover who wishes to read a thriller based around beautiful mountains. The work life at the construction site coupled with the adventures of Nanda, Khusru and the female protagonists will be a delightful treat for the readers. The climax creates a wonderful atmosphere of fresh new tension as we are finally faced with a situation. The author has built up so much hype over the construction of the dam that it's hard to even think that it's under terrorist observation. We pity for even the meanest of characters. Is the government successful in thwarting the terrifying danger looming over everyone involved in the project, or do they fail? Do all characters make it till the end? Are redemptions enough to save you from God's justice? Grab your copy and find out!

Grab your copy: