Instead of reading the whole book in one go, as I so often do it, I deliberately made myself read only one chapter at a time, so I could savour and relish each bite and swallow the morsel whole before forming my opinion on the whole dish (book).
The book kicks off on a modern and unlikely note that had me wondering how on earth Indian gods would fit in. As soon as understanding dawned, I found it to be really well written, witty and entertaining. And these three words can be applied to the other stories too. They switch from contemporary to historical, from funny to dramatic, from human-centered to godly in every way. It made me feel glad that I had chosen to read each story separately, for although there is a common thread holding them all together, they do not form a ‘composite novel’ like "Crossed & Knotted". I thoroughly enjoyed all the mythical tastes I got, although viewed together the many characters and different styles are a bit overwhelming. The readers need to concentrate, which isn’t a bad thing because that way they’ll discover a few gems along the way – among them the title story "Rudraksh" by Ayan Pal, "Come Back As Anyone" by Paulami Duttagupta, "The Woman Who Prayed!" by Deepti Menon and "One Woman, Many Forms" by Sanchita Sen Das.
Ultimately, the books shows the hidden human sides of the gods and the hidden godly sides of the humans, which in itself is no easy feat. I’d describe this collection of mythological short stories as alike to those delightful bags of spicy Indian snacks. Filled with various nuts, bits and pieces, some a little bitter, some slightly sweet, some astonishingly hot, some crunchy and some soft, some round and puffed up and some small slender sticks. Each bite is a difficult to define mix of flavours, and no bite the same, although there is an overall sensation of satisfaction.