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Spook between the lines

Blame it on the end-of-the-year doomsday predictions, which came to naught, but the mood was set. We were happy to snuggle up with two books on paranormal activities albeit with different perspectives. Paranormality: Why We Believe The Impossible by Richard Wiseman is a scientific take on what happens during seemingly paranormal events like out-of-body experiences, planchettes, automatic writing and the like. The second set in our neighbouring state is Jessica Faleiro’s Afterlife: Ghost Stories from Goa, a fictional, researched account of ghostly tales.

At the core of Paranormality lies the author’s search to understand why do people believe in ghosts and what does this belief in the paranormal indicate about human behaviour. The book is a breezy read, thanks to the interesting topics it covers — fortune telling, out-of-body experiences, ghost hunting, talking with the dead, mind control and prophecy — as well as the numerous anecdotes, quizzes and the humorous writing. The book scores in that Wiseman was a magician who took up studying Psychology to understand human behaviour and thus, has been on both sides of the phenomena.

While delving into the reasons behind the strange occurrences, Wiseman clarifies what we have always known: it’s all about the mind playing tricks on you. While it may take away the charm to the ‘unknown and unexplained’ out there, the author emphasises that it should free up our wonderful minds to ponder over even more surprising events.

While the stories in Afterlife may be fictional, in her afterword, Faleiro admits that it was after a paranormal experience that she started collecting stories from people, which eventually made its way to the book. From exorcism to possession and haunted mansions, the stories cover several topics. At times, it dragged what with the story-within-a-story format. It all comes together in the end, albeit a tad unconvincingly. Read it for its individual stories, which also tell you about Goa’s history, which is often overlooked thanks to its fame as a tourist hub. This Goa with its decadent and dilapidated mansions, acres and acres of green and a laidback lifestyle that sits uncomfortably at times with its history of Inquisition. Perhaps, it is this contradiction that sails us through Faleiro’s book.  

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