Book Review: Mélange of Mavericks and Mutants

Review by Feby Joseph

Mélange of Mavericks and Mutants Kindle Edition
by Ramendra Kumar (Author), Santosh Bakaya (Author)
Publisher‏: ‎Blue Pencil
Kindle:  ₹ 99.00 INR

A wet Thursday marks the Onam of 2022; as I sit down to write, my table with a melange of books, crockery, forgotten coffee cups, a comb of bananas running to the darker spectrum, reminds me of the missing Onam Sadhya, partly due to my lack of festive culinary expertise and partly due to a busy work schedule. Seeing my spirits pointing due south, I decide to tackle it the best way I can – The antidote usually is music and this time my chosen piece – Beethoven’s 4th Piano concerto in G Major. As the German genius sooths my guilt pangs for dishonouring the great King Mahabali, I wonder at how little credit we give to antidotes. They come in many forms and all transform our lives by doing one simple thing. Relax and soothe our nerves. 

Feby Joseph
One form of literary antidote is Humour. Recently I had the good fortune to encounter a compact little book which served as a perfect antidote to my bad humour which I had been carrying with me like a homing pigeon that refuses to depart. This economy sized humour pill, came in the form of a collaboration between two people – One, a writer whom, I unfortunately had never read before and another a writer, I had read who, partly due to the nature and contents of “the book” and partly due to verbal acrobatics we had exchanged on facebook, I am convinced, is a few cashews and almonds short of being the famous Christmas-Plum-cake on the Display in my Uncle Charly’s Bakery in Kottayam. 

Now, onto the two authors and the things I can get my teeth into – reader! Notice I mention teeth for very specific reason. Author No. 1 Ramendra Kumar is a humourist with razor sharp observational skills and the juxtaposition of mortality with the hidden laughter in everyday life is brilliant. Author No. 2 [only because she appears in the second half] is my dear frenemy Santosh Bakaya, whom (and I thank Dr. Ampat Koshy for mentioning my skepticism of her Homo-Sapein’ness, and stern belief due to certain past events, in the Foreword) I believe, is the answer to Dorothy’s perceived question “Are you a good witch or a Bad witch?”. Reader, I beg you to look at the cover image [Ramendra Kumar and Santosh Bakaya, presumably at a table] and the set of 64 teeth smiling and gleaming in gluttonous glee; Ramen (-as her partner in crime likes to be called) on the other hand is more sedate; of the proud pair, his pleasure at the pulchritude of the moment captured by Avijit Sarkar, is portière(ed) behind a profuse purdah of onyx lip-curtain. Of the two, doesn’t the mouth-furniture of the latter strike anyone as ominous? Perhaps it had to do a bit with the background music – The Piano concerto has reached it’s strange, almost morose and brief 2nd movement. 

The book is simply called “Mélange of Mavericks and Mutants” and from the cover one can deduce that the contents are of the ha-ha variety. Beautifully divided into two halves one for the anecdotes of Ramendra Kumar and the other for the accident…, I mean anecdotes of Santosh Bakaya, this book, while no PG Wodehouse, is nevertheless very funny. It is not in my nature to give the contents and story away but here are a few highlights – Mr. Ramendra Kumar’s wife’s exceptional skills at shopping and bargaining, a cute little doggy story not just for canine lovers, redefinition of certain abbreviations, a humorous mother-daughter car ride, a husband obsessed with the ease of ordering via Amazon. These are a few of the delicious morsel that await you.

As Herr van Beethoven concludes his Concerto-masterpiece, the piano and orchestra rousing to a thrilling conclusion, I can only say, whole heartedly, I recommend this delightful book. Go get it today.

Santosh Bakaya (Bio): Winner of Reuel International Award for poetry[2014]  a die-hard romantic,  on a perennial quest for an idyllic world, of love and untethered freedom, acclaimed for her poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu, Santosh Bakaya, Ph.D., a poet, essayist, novelist, biographer, Tedx speaker, has written twenty books across different genres. Her latest book is Runcible Spoons and Pea-green Boats [Poems, AuthorsPress 2021].  Morning Meanderings is her column in Learning and Creativity. Com.    

Ramendra Kumar (Bio): Ramendra Kumar (Ramen) is an award-winning Writer, Performance storyteller and Inspirational Speaker with 45 books. His writings have been translated into 30 languages and have found a place in several textbooks and anthologies, both within and outside the country.  He has written across all genres and has   been invited to Indian as well as international literary festivals. He was General Manager (Corporate Communications), SAIL, when he took Voluntary Retirement in 2020. He is now a Cancer warrior and an inspiration to many.

Feby Joseph (Bio): Hailing from the beautiful state of Kerala, the poet’s name is an anagram for forbidden meat in his country. Feby Joseph works as a Piano teacher in Mumbai & was the winner of Reuel International Prize - II, Poetry, 2020. Some of his works have appeared on Café Dissensus, Foreign Literary Journal, Riddled with Arrows and The Bangalore Review.

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