Book review, Received for Review

Malhaar: When it pours, soak yourself in poetry by Ambica Uppal


Format: eBook 020-6x9-Table-Top-Book-Coffee-Template-Mockup-Prev1-01-min.jpeg

Length: 120 pages

Genre: Poetry

Publisher: Notion Press

Rating: 5/5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Malhaar is a collection of poems by Ambica Uppal. The author contacted me over Instagram before the release of her book with a request to review. I haven’t read much poetry and after my first experience, I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to. However, I always love to experiment and decided to give this a try and Boy! was a glad that I did. I absolutely loved the book and connected with Ambica right from the first poem.

The Author

Ambica is an Indian Canadian writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. She was born in Aizawl, an eastern city in India. Her father was in the Indian Army, and like most army kids she moved with her family from one city to another quite often. This fostered nomadic tendencies in her. For a child who moved every few years while growing up, writing accorded the much-needed support she needed before she could acculturate herself in her new environment.

Today her writings are manifestations of what she feels while experiencing things around her and poetry is just one such form in which she likes to express herself.

Her work include:

  1. Splashing word dreams (2012)
  2. Malhaar: When it pours, soak yourself in poetry (2018)

The Blurb

“Beneath every cloud

There is a story.

A story waiting to burst,

A story of love,

A story of grief,

A story to inspire,

Let it pour!


The Book

Malhaar is a hindi word that represents one of the ragas in Hindustani classical music. It is the raga associated with torrential rain. Tansen the legendary singer, when asked to sing raga Deepak for King Akbar to light the lamps in the court ended up creating so much heat in his body that he needed the Gujarati sisters Tana and Riri to sing raga Malhaar to cool him down. This association of the word Malhaar with rain and music is the perfect title to this collection of poems.

Malhaar contains numerous poems that show the growth of the author from a naive fresh faced young girl to a mature woman who is ready to face the challenges of the world. The poems talk of love lost and love gained, the ecstasy and the misery associated with falling in and out of love and the selfless gestures that we all undertake when in love. Many of the poems were set at the beach. Being a Cancerian myself, I love anything and everything that is associated with the sea. I really enjoyed the feeling of waves and the spray of surf that was obvious in the pages.

Some of my favourite poems were-

  1. Let yourself love and be loved: Isn’t this what everybody wants? To love freely and to receive love in return? This poem talks about the pain that is felt by broken people who go about their day looking for love to make them whole again. Is this what the rhyme Humpty Dumpty was all about?
  2. Oh love: This is where the sea references begin in earnest. I loved the comparison of the waxing and waning of attraction being compared to the fickle minded waves at the beach and the heartache being compared to the grains of sand being pulled in with the tide.
  3. The right love: This is a poem that managed to hit the spot with just four lines. For an introvert like me, people assuming that I am rude because I don’t talk is an everyday occurrence. The same holds good in the beginning of relationships where the other person does not know your quirks well enough to read you without words being spoken. For someone who prefers silence over words, this could spell disaster.
  4. Rendezvous with yourself: Here the author talks of the emotional pain that a person has to deal with after a break up. The absence of external scars leads to the assumption that the person is hale and hearty. The inner turmoil they have to overcome is a journey that they have to undertake alone in order to achieve a  miraculous recovery.
  5. Live in the moment: This poem talks of how we wish only the best for the person that we love. We wish to take away their pain and be the balm that heals all their wounds. It is beautifully written and reiterates the selfless sacrifices that everyone makes for their relationships.
  6. To know me: Four separate poems with the title ‘to know me’ talk about the initial judgement that we pass based on external appearances and behaviour. It urges people to look deeper and find the real person hidden under layers of ‘society acceptable behaviour’
  7. You have some control: Here the author compares our lives to a painting that is pre-decided. Although most of the painting is predetermined, we still have control over aspects such as the shade and the brush strokes. It answers the age old question ‘if everything has been predetermined by fate, why do we pray/work?’ It says that we get to decide the direction that we want out life to move in rather than sit twiddling our thumbs and watch the world go by.
  8. Take care of yourself: This is the talk of the hour. Hashtags like #selflove are making the rounds all over social media and for good reason. In this day and age where external appearances and the number of likes and follows decide the value of a person, it is very important to know who we really are and what makes us happy despite the entire world trying to dictate how we should live our lives.

The book is peppered with Illustrations that speak to the reader. My favourite was the heart with band-aids that shows our resilience and our ability to trust, believe and love again after suffering major setbacks. I also liked the boat with ripples behind it representing how we should move on from situations that are beyond our control. Just as the tiny ripples from a boat do not change the mighty ocean, so too the tiny upsets that we face in our everyday lives do not have a role to play in our lives in the long run.

TL;DR: A beautifully crafted book that turned me into a poetry lover. The reader is sure to go back to it for plenty of re-reads.

Do you like poetry?

What do you recommend to a novice like me?

Tell me in the comments below or on my Instagram @the_food_and_book_life

1 thought on “Malhaar: When it pours, soak yourself in poetry by Ambica Uppal”

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