Swati believes Akanksha, Ajay’s colleague, hovers as a ‘third’ between them. Ajay is certain his faithfulness is beyond question, yet it has upended his relationship with Swati. With his marriage at risk, Ajay decides to go for a trek in Ladakh, only to be stranded, as the region experiences the worst floods ever to consume it. Forced to seek shelter in a remote monastery in the Hemis Sanctuary, he meets its charismatic abbot, a man unlike any other, and Anna, a young scholar, who is in search of a lost manuscript on the ‘missing’ years of Jesus. Gradually, the uncertainty over Ajay’s marriage turns into an exploration of love and sexuality, against an unusual backdrop of spiritual practices as he realizes that passionate restraint can sometimes produce greater fulfilment than consummation. Evocative, soulful and reflective all at once, Hemis is a powerful reminder that nothing else defines us more than our capacity to love.
Hemis by Madhu Tandon is supposed to give Paulo Coelho feels but ends up as a tangled mess of emotions, philosophy and loose ends.
Hemis sounded quite promising to me when I read the blurb, but the book is a disappointment mainly because the author has tried to copy Paulo Coelho’s style of storytelling and has failed to provide us with anything concrete to relate to or believe in.
Hemis is about a guy who is stuck in a monastery in Ladakh. The protagonist, Ajay is trying to run from his marriage and the problems associated with it. He meets another woman, Anna whose sole purpose in life is to finish his spouse’s life’s work. Among other events, the protagonist learns more about life and its purpose, and finally finds a way to deal with his problems.
The one thing I hated about the plot is the randomness of the events, especially towards the end. Ajay suddenly realizes the solution to his problems and the manuscript that was being sought by Anna is lost somewhere in the plot. The book fails to offer closure, even though the storyline is strong and the writing style is gripping at places. The ending has been left unexplained for the readers and its difficult to understand what the author wants to convey. The book also talks about emotions and that there is no escaping them. Philosophy is definitely predominant, but a few of it is certainly unrelatable and out of context.
I didn’t find much to love about this book, especially the protagonist who has been presented as a shallow person, who can’t handle his marriage well and is dealing with issues he would rather avoid. Every character has a backstory which dives a bit of depth to the story and acts as a positive boost to the plot.