According to a sleep lab research, we have at least four dreams every night. We all know that if we were to listen carefully, they tell us something about our anxieties, desires and feelings. What we perhaps don’t know is that they also can tell us about our health and healing, anticipated events and if used intelligently, aid in problem solving. Then of course there is the spiritual voice of the dreaming mind that addresses the eternal questions of who we are and what is our mission on earth.
Alfred Hitchcock’s most thrilling plots are said to have their genesis in his dreams. He routinely advocated dreamers to keep a pen and paper ready, to jot down sequence of events and composition of thoughts before the waking mind could get preoccupied with other details of living and existing.
Rushing to the railway platform and finding the train chugging out of the platform, leaving you behind; falling from a staircase; seeing a snake, usually a cobra, uncoil and raise its hood—are common dreams that most of us have dreamt. While many brush them aside, there are others who seek an interpretation of their dreams—whether they are a warning for things to come.
After eight years of research, Madhu Tandon, in Dreams & Beyond, her second book after Faith and Fire—A Way Within, offers her analysis that she claims goes beyond that of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. If Freud’s was a fragmented view where dreams were pieces of buried memory, related only to sexuality, Jung’s was a more cohesive argument that aimed at wholeness. And Tandan’s view? “You don’t need a trained person to tell you what your dream means or has in store for you. You can have an analyst help you understand it, but the dream must ultimately be returned to you—the dreamer,” says Tandan.
She elaborates with an example. You see cactus in your sleep. It is growing in the Arctic. You wake up and your first thought, is “How ridiculous can I get.” Not quite end of story if you just probe a wee bit. Isn’t cactus supposed to thrive in the hot desert whereas the North Pole is a cold desert? So, is the desert, the metaphysical message of the dream that points to aloneness, being jilted, isolated or abandoned? Worth thinking over.
Tandan’s simple advice: Pay more attention to your dream; locate the central theme and see it as a lead metaphor; know that there could be many meanings to your dream.
Dreams & Beyond:
563 pages, Rs395.
There’s a single chapter in Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line that spans 13 viewpoints across 2,800 years in 9 different locations. One paragraph, you’re in Tibet 1935, and a few pages later, you’ve already jumped three other timelines to reach Kalinga in 800 BC.
Surprisingly, by that stage in the book, you’re used to this sort of time and space hopping, and the often overwhelming onslaught of historical fact and fiction (the book attempts to blend both). But the approach underscores the important question of how much you take away from this oft-silly, oft-entertaining book. The unfortunate answer: Not too much.
Cut from the same cloth as Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and the Da Vinci Code, and with shades of Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games— The Rozabal Line is a thriller. It attempts, like Brown, to unravel giant, global, usually religious, conspiracy theories with a melange of factual information garnished with liberal flights of fiction.
Set in 2012, the racy plot jumps from location to location, and across time, and while interesting in parts, never adds up coherently. There’s a secret army plotting the end of the world, another equally secret organisation plotting the first one’s downfall, and a third...you get the idea.
While the writing is simple and straightforward, this is prose written not tersely, but with the overwrought dullness of a general knowledge book—entire pages of descriptions seem straight out of an encyclopedia, and are rarely compelling.
The characters are also a problem—some are potentially interesting such as a Japanese assassin, a RAW agent, a spirit medium but the structure of the book gives them so little time to develop that none of them really resonate.
The Rozabal Line is for those interested in eclectic conspiracy theory. It drags in Indian religion and myth into the Da Vinci code stage, combining that lore with some subcontinent history. But, coming as it does in late 2008, when the wave of post-Da vinci code resurgence in exploring early Christian history and the inter-connectedness of religions has more or less subsided, it feels a little late to the party.
The Rozabal Line:
357 pages, Rs250.