Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Bullet

While I sleep tonight, I think of the angels
Who left this earth towards heaven’s gate
What would they remember of yesterday?
The prayer at school? The food in the box?
The homework to do? The games to play?
The fond kiss and hug their mother gave?
Or their father’s pat and  good bye wave?
If they knew this world was such a place
Where terror spreads in a thousand ways
More than love and peace and harmony
And all that good their teachers taught
In those hundreds of stories and lessons
Hours every day, all untrue, all unreal
What would remain in their memories?
Maybe that one bullet that ended it all.


Friday, December 5, 2014

The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret -Book Review

“History was once somebody’s present” one of my teachers back at school used to say. If one remembers ‘Alexander the Great’, he is someone whom we all have always admired about. Reading ‘The Mahabharata Quest’-The Alexander Secret authored by Christopher Doyle just gave me a different perspective. Not all great men are good, and when someone gets ambitious beyond the necessity there is nothing but peril, well that's some lesson I did get through the storyline.

The story begins by giving a reader some curiosity about why Alexander proclaimed himself as God and invaded Indus, and he died two years later. There is also a bioterrorism and scientific research angle to the plot, things that happen in a hidden laboratory suddenly seem to be connected to Alexander’s quest. And there is the critical Mahabharata connect-Samudramanthan. Amidst this are a set of people who work in different fields who are entangled in the loop, between Greece to India, the caves and the valleys and the roads and the museum.  Too much coincidence to believe, Alice in Greece finds a cube and Vijay in India reads his parents journal, Radha and Imran run an investigation after a fire accident at Titan Pharmaceuticals, Alice is Vijay’s ex girlfriend, Radha is Vijay’s fiancĂ©e, and all these characters meet each other, bang on in this adventure! Not very convincing for me.

History, science and adventure in combination is one thing that every second author writes about these days but not everyone manages to pull through it. While the retrovirus and bacterium aspect interested me because it is my area of professional expertise, the Macedonian history took me back to those times. The science and history bit is well researched, especially where he writes about how retroviruses replicate and how Alexander dealt his expeditions and treated his fellowmen.

On the flipside, what brushed my flow of reading is the language and the dialogues between Alexander and the other characters. Imagine one calling the other “filthy scum” back then in 334 B.C; it somehow does not please my idea of history. Also frequent references to the incidents of an adventure in his previous book, now and then in this story only made me think, “Is this a sequel?” and it stopped there. It did not add to the mystery nor did it change my perception about the characters, just another bunch of protagonists. ‘Page turner’ is an overused adjective for books of this genre in my opinion. No doubt I liked the book, for the efforts of the author is quite evident, the scenes and situations are quite movie like. A perfect blend of thrill, action, history and science to keep one engaged for a couple of hours on a ride or during weekend or bedtime.  I would recommend this one only for that. Most of us readers would be satisfied for these reasons, but for me I am still waiting to find a book of recent times and say”Oh that one, that’s A MUST READ Indian author!”

It seems like it is going to be a long wait.

Title: The Mahabharata Quest: The Alexander Secret 
Author: Christopher C. Doyle
ISBN-13: 9789384030599
Binding: Paperback
Publisher: Westland Publications
Number of pages: 308
Genre: Fiction
Language: English
Price: Rs.295

My rating: 2/5

PS: This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reviewing It My Way! - 'Sachin Tendulkar-Playing It My Way: My Autobiography'

“…Cricket is played best when your mind is at the opposite end…”

-Sachin Tendulkar-

So writes Sachin in his autobiography ‘Playing It My Way’ I finished reading it a few days ago. On similar lines, I am of the opinion that a book is read best when your mind is at the author’s end. When you read about someone who has made it big in life in his own words that too, there are always more than a hundred lessons to learn. Another thing I am glad about is that this book is one of the best gifts I have given myself on my birthday this year, pre ordering a copy was a good thing that I impulsively did. It reached home on the release date itself, November 6th. Thank you Sachin for making my birthday a little more special!

People told me while I was reading this book “He is a great cricketer, but he is a good businessman too!” contemplating the millions of copies that would be sold, thankfully those comments did not affect my judgement. When I opened the book and saw the dedication: 

“To all my fellow Indians”

And where the author’s proceeds would go to, I was filled with immense pride. I am sure Sachin’s father up there too will be proud because he has lived up to his words- ‘a good human being first, a great cricket next’. No autobiography can document every detail of the authors life as Sachin himself puts. It is quite bit obvious for someone who has played cricket close to quarter of a century to write about the little tricks and tips that helped him in his game. The many cricket match details right from his first match to the last fortunately did not bore me, given my technical knowledge of the game is way too limited and cricket is not something which I am interested in. I read this book with a completely different intention, to know Sachin not as a cricketer but as a person. 

What was touching about Sachin’s writing is the straightness with which he has put across his thoughts about the many incidents and controversies, although at places I felt there are fans who would definitely want to know more, especially what Sachin must have felt about them. This has wisely and rightly been avoided, for he has always let his game do all the talking he intended to.

The book begins with anecdotes from his childhood, Sachin being a naughty child was one surprising revelation. His bicycle, his love for Chinese food, his pranks in the neighborhood, his love for music, his naive adamancy, him watching John McEnroe play, him stealing mangoes, his relationship with his siblings, father and mother are wonderfully recalled. He had a complete Indian childhood, something we all can relate to. But what transformed his life and our lives as fellow Indians and fans was Achrekar Sir’s coaching camp. His one set of uniforms and wet pockets, crowded bus and train rides four times a day, rude comments from conductors that he took on his stride, his personal commitments as a son, husband or a father are things which we never saw on the field when we expected a century every time he came out to bat. If one had to make a list of inspirational Indians for unwavering focus and constant practice Sachin has to be somewhere top in the list, a true Bharat Ratna at that.

He also writes about his fears like the first match jinx, him not able to give his complete best in certain situations in different tours throughout his career. The captaincy stint and how unceremoniously he was brought down, the different World Cup games- the losses and the abuses; his umpteen injuries and hardship- back pain, toe fracture, finger fracture, hamstring trouble, groin surgeries, allergies, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, stomach upset and what not. It is the same man with a hundred centuries in cricket, Bradman’s Bonzer! 

If there is anything that can’t be taken away from him it is his cricket is what Sachin says, die if you disagree! Another interesting aspect is the Greg and Ian Chappell saga, brave of him to write about it now in his autobiography, if it was brought up back then it would have only lifted his stature more. Also he mentions about his little friction with Dravid over a declaration when he was at the score of 194, this is not very surprising, when there are stalwarts with their own strengths and ideas at the top of a sport in which players are idolized, there are bound to be differences and it is quite righteous of him to write about that. His respect for Kumble is also worth mentioning, Anil according to him is one of the greatest players to have represented India, true that!

To say Sachin was not behind records it would be untrue, the frenzy the media and fans created for him was enough to boost his morale and raise his expectations for himself. As he rightly puts ‘hundreds do not come easily’, one can feel the pressure he has been through while reading what he has written about them. The hundredth hundred in particular! For Sachin, his personal milestones were never before playing for India. For the records he was also the first batsman to be given out by a third umpire, call it luck on his side, good or bad!

The lighter moments on and off field are an interesting read, some being very hilarious like Sachin wearing a Burkha to get scans done, Ajit not letting him eat duck, Harry’s Challenge of eating fish, his first bottle of champagne opened on his daughter’s birthday, his co players throwing him to a Jacuzzi, his strategy with Dravid to deal Chris Cairns on predicting which way his ball would swing. He also remembers the many Indian families who have made him and the Indian team feel at home in their part of world. He also writes about his fans like Sudhir Gautam and the many commoners who have helped him. Read his autobiography to know more, Sachin the person off the field! 

Another important necessity to be successful is the support system that one has, a matter in which Sachin is blessed; right from his father, mother, brother, sister, coach, friends, wife and children. Also when your heroes call and talk to you for forty five long minutes when you are down like how Vivian Richards did, or when they send 34 champagne bottles as a small gift on reaching their record like how Sunil Gavaskar did it says more about the person who is loved so much. What touched me immensely was his son’s reaction on his decision to retire and his mother watching him live for the first time in his last match, very emotional. And to write an entire chapter on his wife ’Anjali’ calling it ‘the best partnership of life’ only a gentleman will do that.

He writes that celebrations do not come naturally to him but when winning a World Cup- that moment when life seems complete, one deserves to! That was the most joyous Sachin I had ever seen on television! If his first match was ‘Baptism by fire’, his last was ’Retirement with fireworks’. Nobody can deny that we miss watching him play today. 

Now for the things I have learnt from Sachin, I am extremely grateful for all the positivity I have gained from his words. ‘Playing It My Way’ for me has served its purpose.

• Set smaller targets, try to set a mark
• Sense of reason is the biggest virtue
Practice makes you perfect and hone your God given abilities
• Do not repeat mistakes
• Never take credit for what you have never done
The ability to withstand pain does not mean you should expose yourself to unnecessary conditions
• Presence is a very important thing. It is one thing being there in the middle, another thing making people aware of your presence
Take a stand
Love your family
Be there for your country
Be a good human being
Be yourself


Title: - Playing It My Way: My Autobiography 

Author: - Sachin TendulkarBoria Majumdar (Contributor) 
Publisher: -Hachette India And Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Year: - NOVEMBER 6th 2014
ISBN 13:-9781473605206 
Binding: - Hardcover
Number of pages: -  486 
Price:- Priceless!

My rating: - 4/5