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Harp Paperback – April 25, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Nidhi Dalmia is an alumni of St Stephen's College in Delhi, and pursued his post graduate education at Oxford University. Thereafter, he graduated from the Sorbonne and Management education at Harvard Business School. Born into one of India's oldest industrialist families, he was brought up surrounded by a business and industry culture since childhood. However, it is the spiritual environment prevalent in his home, where Vedas, Upanishads were a part of his home schooling, that Nidhi most cherishes.
A member of several prestigious professional bodies, Nidhi has received extensive professional training across the world. His professional life exposed him to diverse business responsibilities especially in the manufacturing sector.
He is a sports enthusiast -- from tennis, swimming to chess. Nidhi also travelling, Western pop music, Indian and Western classical music and playing the piano.
He divides his time between Delhi and Paris. Harp is his first novel.
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Review by Arati Bhargava, a Delhi based columnist
Authors Up Front
Harp is part fiction part travelogue as the author, an impressionable young man travels through Poland and the Scandinavian countries in the late 60s. Nidhi Dalmia’s imagination is deeply influenced by the age of Free love, Rock and Roll and the Beatles.
At the very onset, Nidhi captivates the reader by the passion of his characters, Ashok and Lauren. Though madly in love, they discover that their future together is marred by the slippery slopes of the contrasting cultural forces of East and West. The author’s insightful understanding of the differences makes the reader more empathetic of the outcome.
After drifting for almost two years in Europe, Ashok returns to India and dives into the family’s dairy business. The author describes the frustrations of doing business in India at a time when the country is rife with corruption, inefficiencies and red-tape resulting from the “License Raj”. Normally a discussion of business and management practices would be far removed from a narration of an intricate and passionate love story, but the author successfully weaves them together as a continuum.
Dalmia’s writing style is provocative and holds the reader’s interest from start to finish. As each idea is a small chapter in itself, the book makes for an easy read.
Harp is a must read for baby boomers. If you loved Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, I assure you that you will love Harp.
Harp follows Ashok in his coming of age, understanding management principles and yearning for love. Having met and dated several girls in Europe, he ends up with the Polish Lauren for whom music is the ultimate calling. To add to the complexity there's Arapna, an Indian girl also thinking of Ashok as the ideal husband, but trading India for the U.S. Harp blends the love for music, literature, the clash of generations, value of work and love, and personal identity, set in the late 60's, early 70's of the 20th century.
Will tradition win, and Arapna and Ashok finish the novel as love couple? Will Lauren and Ashok overcome their resistance to leaving their home turf, sacrifice for love and end up either in Poland, India or somewhere in between as compromise? Or is Harp a tragedy with an abundance of fatalism and naturalism with only losers in the end?
Dalmia has put a lot of couleur locale in this novel using expressions in several languages (a glossary is included), lyrics from songs belonging to the era. The author repeats himself often, and at times it's not at all clear whether the story's still in the 60's or 70's, since time lapses are made to the 80's or even more contemporary situations. Mentioning management principles or techniques without explanation is another weak point in the book. Not all readers will be familiar with JIT, SWOT, and TQM. Despite these remarks, I was hooked to the end and praise Dalmia for the harmony looked after in Harp.