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.

-R-

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


BOOK DETAILS:


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


-R

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cherry On Top



 "What is the best part of a cake?"

If someone was to give me a share and ask me this question, I would gladly pick and gobble the cherry on top and give away the rest of it! I believe we all have our 'Cherry-On-Top' moments now and then, it feel like ages I blogged about some of mine. Things have been quite frenzied in the last couple of days, its been a month at my first job post my Masters. Being busy has become quite the routine but what keeps me going is the "Thank you Doctor" that I get to hear, you know that feeling when a decade and more of learning feels worth it, one of my favorite 'Cherry-On-Top' moments.

Do share some of yours!

Cheers! :-)

-R.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

God Is A Gamer - Book Review

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“Burger and Vada Pav in my plate!”

Very amusingly my feeling was similar to this while reading the book ‘God Is A Gamer’ the first ever bitcoin thriller authored by Ravi Subramaniam,a story set against the backdrop of financial service industry. This was my first read of this author’s work after having received a copy from Blogadda under the Book Review Program. His other works- If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013) are on my reading list now.

Looking at the titles of his previous works it is but obvious to expect some money and trade in the story. The author has ventured into deeper aspects of running gaming companies, corporate sectors, finance ministry, politics and personal issues. Multiple characters and situations run in parallel in the United States and India in this story. Assassination, deaths, ATM robbery, game launch, drugs, parties, affairs and many other intriguing things keep a reader glued to the suspense, so many incidents in different parts of the world happen simultaneously.

The ‘UNPUTDOWNABILITY’ of this book is due to the twists and turns, and probably the selection of readable words. Few aspects mentioned are well researched and interesting, like Socrates Death and the Misznay Schardin effect. That was some general knowledge gained. The first few pages are more like connect the dots, till you find your way through the maze with the short chapters. The tension is highly escalated through each page and the people in the story are portrayed with their own vulnerabilities, like any of the usual thrillers of today.

What puzzled me was the subtitle, while the book asks “Is Revenge A Crime?” I could only figure out the revenge element of the story in the epilogue which seems to be hurriedly written. As in what, why and how it  happened is being summarized in a couple of pages, although for a moment in the end you know Varun is up to something at Tanya’s house, for me the plot was a give away at that point when he throws something in her cupboard. I wouldn’t be giving any spoilers in this review. As an Indian reader who is reading an Indian author the book left me hungry for more, maybe for an inspirational character or a memorable dialogue. I was a little disappointed about that, you know the kind of impression one gets when you read the last line of the book and close the cover” Tch! Just an another brave attempt at an Indian thriller!”  plainly it was just that. Also there are a few grammatical and spelling errors in two or three places, I wish they were avoided. I did enjoy the book while travelling to work last week, and I do plan to read more of this author. If God is a gamer, we are his players indeed. If there are more books, they are worth reading indeed.

A few of my favorite lines from the book:

“Career longevity is more important than career enhancement…If you live, you get to fight your battle another day”


“Success is not always measured in terms of dollars earned or turnover. It is measured in terms of the difference you have made to the people around you.” 



”The problem with theorizing on the basis of incomplete facts is that we end up twisting the facts to suit the theory. We should be doing it the other way round”


Last but not the least, one from Ravi himself:
KEEP WRITING AND SMILING YOU TOO ! :-)






Book Details:

Title: - God Is A Gamer
Author: - Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: -Penguin Books India
Publication Year: - September 2014
ISBN 13:- 978-0-143-42139-9
Binding: - Paperback
Number of pages: -  324 
Price: - Rs 299

My rating: - 2.5/5

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


-R.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

www.MARRYAGHOST.com -Book Review

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Stories based on paranormal concepts are difficult to believe, and more difficult to write. I haven’t changed my opinion about this genre after being done with this book www.MARRYAGHOST.com’ by Abhimanyu Jha today, I am as perturbed as ever about them. Apart from the honest appreciation for the author’s attempt for going out of the way and making ghosts seem as normal as possible there is not much of a positive impression that I have had. I wouldn’t regret giving spoilers in this review firstly, and then the “to be continued…” in the last page only left me dumbfounded. What could have been a beautiful thriller turned out to be a dud with its average choice of words and events.

Two friends Veeru and Jerry open a website for ghosts, and the one who relatively believes less in them, Veeru ends up encountering one, the way the transition in his belief is presented by the author seemed quite obtuse. The discussions between them in the first few pages of the book especially about females when they are opening the website only made me shudder, such rotten talk! When people stand for and talk about Indian authors in the literary scene I would definitely want to hide or burn these pages! And then enters a ghost who does not know who she is, for the time being named ’Maahi’, she wants to finds her unknown estranged lover and  then an Indian Institute of Science Professor, Dr. Burman who is equally strange arrives to help her!

Veeru and Maahi travel to Goa then to Pondicherry in search of her ‘Hrithik’ a golden haired man, so named after the most handsome Bollywood heartthrob around town because she does not remember him either. Veeru does these things out of no obligation and when he starts seeing his invisible companion he falls in love with her in the process. He even goes to the extent of calling her ‘Miss Dark Chocolaty’ because she remembers she loved dark chocolates! That was something hilarious to read, a girl ghost who neither remembers her name nor the person whom she wants to search does remember that she loved dark chocolates and that there is a Bollywood hero by name Hrithik! Someone pinch me please! Veeru has eight days to save her, and to help her get into her oblivion. Also there is one Marquis, a five-hundred-year-old Portuguese ghost making mysterious appearances.
Ghosts going through emotions- crying, laughing, giggling, talking naughty and feeling an intense pain is something too impetuously presented in the whole story. Not every reader is Veeru or Jerry fortunately.

For example, a small excerpt of what Veeru thought of the ghost Maahi, more so her nose:

“The tip of her nose was my favourite place. Of course thinking about various ways in which I could knock on it added spice when I focussed on it”

I seriously could not appreciate the vocabulary and  would not have continued if not for the suspense. The story for me started with mystery and ended with one, going by the last page it seems like there is a sequel to the book. When Blogadda came up with giving away this book for review it said:

Join the age-old battle between good and evil-a race between time, freedom and love that will eventually put the entire world in danger”

What was the battle and danger about??? I would be glad if anyone enlightened me about what I just read! 

-R.

Book Details:

Title: - www.MARRYAGHOST.com
Author: - Abhimanyu Jha
Publisher: - Srishti Publishers
Publication Year: - 2014
ISBN 13:- 978-93-82665-19-9
Binding: - Paperback
Number of pages: - 246
Price: - Rs 195

My rating: - 1.5/5

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


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Big Hug & Kiss



One of my favorite smell is that of an old book, that musty sweet odour does take some of us to another world.  And like a cherry on top some of them have a postcard, an invite, a sketch, a bookmark, a date or a note. They are like a window to somebody's world, It is always a pleasure to read these personal messages in old books, I found one today right under the cover written with a pencil that made me like the book all the more . Especially the last line "Big hug & kiss", you know when you actually relate to it as though someone wrote it for you, that feeling :-)

Good night
-R. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

PiZZa Effect


"This now qualifies as free right?" I asked him. He gave me a sheepish smile and said "Yes Ma'm". For once there was a pizza delivery boy at the door without any spontaneous reasons. It was half past five and I remembered one of those somber voiced girls on phone telling "Your order will be delivered by 4:35 pm, thank you for placing the order Ma'm, have a good day!" after which I had waited and waited.

This boy, there was something peculiar about him, the look of a new kid on the block. He did not explain, he did not argue, no reaction unlike his peers would have given, not everybody is of the same make you see no matter how much one trains them.I looked at him and I looked at the bill, I wondered if the management would cut it out of his pay. The way things work in this jet set age and our oblivious attitude to the same, aren't we happy that we get what we need in a call or a click, need anything more? He constantly seemed to avoid eye contact, bending his head down under the cap looking here and there at the floor. I handed him the amount along with the bill and asked him "Are you new to this place?" by now it seemed like it.

"Yes Ma'm" he replied again, nothing more. I knew he wasn't lying and all the yelling that I was contemplating to do somehow did not happen. He thanked me with a brighter smile than the previous and ran down the stairs to his bike, I guess he had more boxes to be delivered. He looked to the right, and then to the left and then finally up. He must have sensed someone watching him. "Ma'm if you don't mind, can you tell me how do I reach the main road?" he called out. "Go straight and take a left" I replied and waved from the balcony. He waved back with one of the nicest smile I shall remember for a long time to come.

For those who are not aware of the PIZZA EFFECT, it is a term used for the phenomenon similar to the one in which the Americans reshaped the Pizza and sent it back to Italy, making their own Pizza a very popular food. Strange ain't it? When someone else has to tell us the value of what we own? It has been happening with most of us as well. We see, read, hear, judge and opine about everything and everyone in and around us with suspicion, GREAT suspicion unless someone from outside gives a greater deal of assurance. Just like the way we half open the doors for these pizza delivery guys, we do so many things half-heartedly. It is sometimes okay to let go off our inaneness and inhibitions and make an extra conversation with a stranger or give a kind smile, who knows it may make somebody's day :-)

PS: This post is for all those delivery guys under the rain and sun who make our lives easy :-)

-R. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Teacher's Day

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To all those people who tread the less chosen path so that the others acquire enough insight and discretion about the working ways of this world. To all the good Miss Wormwoods of our lives from kindergarten to college, we are because of what you are, a Happy Teacher's Day :-)

-R.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

60 Minutes - Book Review



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“Revenge is a natural instinct…But there’s more often than not too much collateral damage and in most instances we miss the point in the process, and hurt ourselves”

That’s something from the book which aptly sums up its concept. 60 minutes is the second of the triumvirate novels of Upendra Namburi, a contemporary Indian life thriller. The story is set in the background of current urban life of those who reign at the top of corporate set ups. The high intensity drama happens in a span of sixty minutes. On one end there is a kind of fanatical rivalry between two chief marketing officers, jealousy and competition drives their actions in a battle of their product launches, and on the other there are gross personal failures. The author has tried to make the story as realistic as possible. The issues that emerge, at the office and back at home, and how the characters-Agastya, Maithili and Sailesh deal with it in a constant rush is the matter of the book.

Professional networks and game plays, stock market and millions of money, relationships and stress, domestic violence and infidelity-the author highlights all aspects of their lives. The characterization is from an insider’s perspective and that adds to the realism the plot tries to convey. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad in this game which is more than a cold war. Everyone goes through the process of survival of the fittest. One can almost feel the pulse of their office rooms.

The pace of the book is another impressive point; the events unfold as the reader turns the pages. I finished the book in about two reading sessions. The flashbacks in between kind of adds to the movie like feeling and the reader can understand the motive behind the character’s actions and decisions. An another opinion about it is that the scenes are a bit off from the title of the book, in the sense if the happenings of the previous weeks, months and years were not highlighted there is not much of drama, without the background what happens in the 60 minutes is just an another incident. When I began with the book I was excited and curious to know how the story would unfold in 60 minutes, the rewinds were a big disappointment.


Obsession and revenge carried from the past is all what drives the scenes in the sixty minutes. Some happenings do seem without purpose, some of the flings and fights in particular. What happens in the concluding chapter is beyond a reader’s expectations, the two rivals portrayed in the story meet during a holiday at the beach watching the sea and the setting sun, having a conversation like estranged lovers, a weird but an interesting ending.  I did not put down this book nor did I like it overly. The last line of the quote in the preface ”The truth lies in the shades of grey” is quite what I felt about this book, very grey.  A one time weekend read and a good addition to the genre of Indian corporate thrillers, this one.

Book Details:

Title: - 60 minutes
Author: - Upendra Namburi
Publisher: - Westland Ltd
Publication Year: - 2014
ISBN 13:- 978-93-84030-24-7
Binding: - Paperback
Number of pages: - 361
Price: - Rs 350

My rating: - 2.5/5

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose


...whether you give it with your left hand or right, so I argued with one of my friends way back in school. It was during one of those functions when we had to go up the podium and give each of the teachers sitting there one. And me being left handed, it was quite scout like, surprisingly the teacher smiled too. Well, that's the magic about a rose. It conveys everything that you feel - how many ever you give, however you give and whichever colour you give, it really doesn't matter. I am sharing a few of my favorite rosy quotes today. I hope they make you smile too :-)

"What's in a name ? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

-William Shakespeare



"The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose."

-George William Curtis



"A rose can never be a sunflower, and a sunflower can never be a rose.All flowers are beautiful in their own way, and that’s like women too. I want to encourage women to embrace their own uniqueness."

-Miranda Kerr



"One rose says more than a dozen."

-Wendy Craig

And last but my favorite: 


"Anyone can love a rose, but it takes a lot to love a leaf. It's ordinary to love the beautiful, but it's beautiful to love the ordinary."

-Unknown-

-R.