A hydel power project in the remote Himalayas. Three people brought together by fate. Nanda, an engineer from Kerala at the dam construction site hiding from his past, from the law, torn between the love of his dear ones and the traditional kalari code of revenge. Khusru, a boy displaced from his native village in Kashmir, a gambit in the terror plot threatening to blow up the dam, working as a labourer at the site. Rekha, a Kathak dancer in heart, a doctor by profession, arrives at the campsite as the consort of Khusru. A village that accepts the dictates of modernity with a heavy heart, its population steeped in superstitions and religious beliefs.
All throng the campsite like moths to a flame, some escape untouched, successful; some, miss a step, and perish. Each has a story to tell and a dream to realise. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is about the aspirations of these people with their cares and worries woven into the site life. The fury of nature and the hardships of project life have no mercy for the weak and no time for the dead. Like an eternal spectator, the Dhauladhar watches as men risk life and limb in a quest to fulfil their dreams.
The enrapturing view of the majestic Himalayas looking out for you fills you with a sense of calm and serenity and lures you into a world far removed from the regular humdrum constantly engulfing you. You open the book and enter into an altogether different realm that strikes you with both its intricacy and its simplicity as you realize “Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.” You travel places, imbibe in the cultures and traditions, ranging from the foothills of the Dhauladhar to certain towns and districts of Kerala.
I would like to thank the author for providing me with a review copy of the book. This extremely well-researched book, with its wonderfully built-up plot, posed a bit of a challenge for me because of all the technical information about the dam construction which the author has described in great detail. However, if you are well aware with the workings you would find it pretty engaging. Though the background information on the characters serves the purpose of giving a clear view, at times it becomes somewhat monotonous and seems to drag on. Moreover, the multiplicity of characters and events sometimes confuse one and tend to become a bit repetitive. However, what makes up for this is the plot itself with its richness seeped in Indian diversity and culture and some usage of the local language which helps you form an unspoken bond with the characters. The ending, where things reconcile and the people strive forward towards a future of uncertainty, appealed to me. A very important issue, the ongoing clash between Mother Nature in all her primal glory and the dictates of human intrusion, has been touched upon by the author.
Men and Dreams In The Dhauladhar is a book that draws you in to become a witness and leaves you satiated, yet hungry for more, while you are left wondering “What could they (the snow-clad peaks of the Dhauladhar) be speaking about”. “Was it ‘Que sera sera'”?