Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Dear 2016, You live only once!



Dear 2016….The world is all set to welcome you with open arms. Zealous citizens of the planet are bidding adieu to 2015 and in spite of the hard times it gave us, we loved being around 2015. The year 2015 had a difficult time dealing with some serious issues like terrorism spreading its venomous influence in many parts of the world and catastrophic natural calamities happening somewhere else. It also had to witness gruesome collateral damage of civil wars among and within nations as refugee crisis became a global concern. But 2015 will also be known some significant happenings that changed the World for good.

2015 had been exceptionally challenging and remarkably benevolent for India at the same time. Though there have been claims of rising intolerance within the country, the Nation has surged ahead on the global platform under new political leadership. The World had already started acknowledging India as the rising super power of the decade in the last few years. 2015 reinforced its prowess and placed it in the forefront. Socio-economic indicators are indicating a better future in spite of the present day shortcomings. What lies ahead will be revealed gradually in the future but it seems 2015 put us on the right track. Even as some stray events on the ground tried putting a dent in communal harmony of the country, the scientists in ISRO worked persistently and silently as they eyed Mars and made the Nation proud. 2015 had planned nasty hardships for the “anna-data”, the farmers, in some parts of the country but it was met with benevolence and compassion from fellow countrymen. The year 2015 also intended to test the spirit of Chennai as unprecedented floods engulfed the IT hub. But as it prepared to hand over the baton to you, 2016, it knew that it had hugely underestimated that valiant spirit of the city and that Chennai would bounce back mightier in no time. So no matter how vehemently 2015 threw challenges in our face, we loved it and would always remember it as the year of lessons, losses, accomplishments and rewards.

But now the baton is in your hand 2016. And the bar has been set very high by your predecessor. It has been proven time and again that we are not intimidated by mighty and impossible looking tasks, neither are we pulled down by hindrances and failures. However, we, the citizens of the Planet Earth, fervently wish that our efforts are met with some generous rewards. As we resolve to curb the terrorism in the name of religious fundamentalism and extend humane compassion towards those affected by war, it is your duty to reward positively for these struggles. Please don’t let innocent children bear the brunt of cruelty and please don’t make men and women wary of their neighbors’ religion. 2015 has also made the giant nations of the World realize the need to work in harmony towards a sustainable future. 2016, you have to set the path right for them and take their synergies in the right direction.

2016, you have been assigned an important task of making the World a more beautiful place. With every passing day in the calendar, make sure that you do your best to bring symphony and prosperity to the World. Remember, there will be no other 2016. You live only once.

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”

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Monday, 9 November 2015

The BestSeller She Wrote- Book Review



Ravi Subramanian has been in my favorite authors list for very long. And with The Best Seller She Wrote, he just managed to bag a lifetime membership there. Though The BestSeller She Wrote was significantly different from his earlier works in terms of plot and mildly predictable at certain points, it does not miss the thrill, the twists and superlative storytelling which are Subramanian’s trademark. There is also an uncanny similarity between the lead character and famed author Chetan Bhagat. At some point during the first few pages, I had to stop and check that I wasn’t reading his bio. However, the character developed on its own as the story progressed.

Aditya, is a successful banker and an illustrious author. He has had a near perfect personal and professional life till Shreya Kaushik comes into picture. This vibrant, aggressive and aspiring author initially criticizes Aditya for considering books as product that need to be marketed. Later on, she falls in love(?) with the banker cum author. Now the feeling mentioned here is genuine or derived out of the prospective benefits that this relationship could bring to Shreya is for the reader to decide. Aditya, completely in awe of Shreya’s youth and beauty finds himself falling for her almost instantly.  The thrill of this illicit relationship soon overtakes the guilt of cheating on his wife. The story takes amazing turns as the manipulative character of Shreya slowly over-shadows Aditya’s life so much that he risks everything. The turning point was where you find out that it was someone else who was playing the master here and cashing in on the vulnerabilities of Shreya, Aditya and his wife. This twist was the high point of the plot.

The BestSeller She Wrote for me was a notch lesser than any of his older works. At many points I felt that the story was highly predictable. Now this may also be due to the reason that when you read an author over and over again, you start thinking on the same lines. But all credit to the author to maintain the thrill and brownie points for the pace at which the story gushes forward. Love,betrayal, redemption at its best.

I think that I as reader I have come at a level where I prefer profound and meaningful books rather than thrillers. But I confess here unabashedly that I will never be too old for Ravi Subramanian’s works.

My Rating- 

About the Author:- Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bengaluru, has spent two decades working his way up the ladder of power in the amazingly exciting and adrenaline-pumping world of global banks in India. For Ravi, The Bestseller She Wrote, marks the beginning of a new chapter in his writing. A significant departure from his usual fare, this is Ravi’s first book on romantic intrigue. He is the award winning author of seven bestselling books :

If God was a Banker (2007),
I Bought the Monks Ferrari (2007),
Devil in Pinstripes (2009),
The Incredible Banker (2011),
The Bankster (2012),
Bankerupt (2013).
God is a Gamer (2014).

If God was a Banker won him the Golden Quill readers choice award in 2008. He also won the Economist Crossword Book Award for The Incredible Banker in 2012.  "The Bankster", released in 2012 won him the Crossword Book Award in 2013. In 2014 he won the Raymond Crossword book award for Bankerupt.


I am reviewing ˜The Bestseller She Wrote™ by Ravi Subramanian as a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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Wednesday, 21 October 2015

I told my Son to get out!



Yes…I told my son to get out. And he was happy to comply.  In fact, I tell him to get out every day…for at least an hour. I tell him to run and play and jump around. I hope you know what I am referring too. I am talking about spending time away from TVs, mobiles, laptops and books too. And more importantly spending time away from over-protective family and get a taste of not being the “most pampered person in the house”. Its ok if he bruises his knee, gets a sun tan, breaks a couple of toys, soils his clothes (and hands and face) and fights a little with his friends. I know he is just being a kid and that is what is more important.

My son sometimes complains that there is nobody to play with. Some kids go to activity classes, some have tuitions, some are sick and some just like to play indoors. Well, I totally understand. It is a competitive world out there. Kids need to be prepared multi-dimensionally. Life would be very brutal for an average(?) kid. Grades, certificates and accolades define their destiny to a very large extent. But then I wonder, if these kids are so busy working towards a picture perfect future, when will they enjoy being kids? Shouldn’t they enjoy rolling in mud, climbing trees, running around before any of those grown-up inhibitions develop in their minds? There are numerous studies that link outdoor physical activities to overall mental, physical and psychological growth of a child. Yet, in a bid to protect our kid and mold his future we tend to overlook its importance. Just to emphasize my point here, let’s have a quick look at the some benefits of playing outdoors:-

Outdoor activities built stamina and boost physical development in the growing years.
Physical activities make kids naturally hungry and boost their food intake.
Playing in natural air and sun provides vital supplements such as Vitamin D which in turn is imperative for good health.
Believe it or not but kids too are under stress. Running around and having no directions to follow can help them release this stress and focus their energy.
Different weathers help develop basic immunity in a human body and though it can happen at any age, it has best influence during the growing years.
Having some unsupervised interactions with other kids helps develop social engagement skills and helps them understand the importance of socially acceptable behavior.
Physically engaging games amplify team spirit and help build a sense of belongingness.
And most importantly, playing outdoors with other kids deposits some wonderful memories in the memory bank for the kid to cherish lifelong.


Now let me be very honest here. Letting kids play outdoors is easier said than done. I am highly impatient during the time when my son is unsupervised and vulnerable to the unimaginable dangers. I become highly responsive to slightest of sounds (read screams, shrieks, and howls) and run outside to check, only to find the kids playing merrily and completely unaware of the storm in my head. I am also aware of the health hazards that kids are exposed too when they play out in the open. But I also realize that bringing up a kid in a highly sanitized environment will only do him harm in the long run.

And yes, I have fondest memories of playing outdoors during my childhood. They still make me want to go back to those wonderful times. It would be so unfair if my son is devoid of such memories to look back and smile upon when he grows up. And hence, I am going to ask him to get out again. I am sure he would not mind.

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Friday, 18 September 2015

Ganapati Bappa and Benevolent Future

Though Ganesh Chaturthi always held huge importance in Hindu calendar, its widespread popularity can be accredited to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The valiant freedom fighter turned this domestic festival into a public celebration in 1893 with an intention to bring people together and garner support for freedom movement. However, Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav which was meant to bring people together and alleviate all communal discrimination has turned into a foul display of power and authority in the recent years along with having bizarre effects on the ecosystem. Every corner in every city has a different Ganapati, each one trying to belittle the next one with a bigger idol and over-pretentious decorations. Blocked roads and electricity theft become flavor of the season. Irrelevant obscene songs from the blaring loud speakers make everyone cringe in disgust and discomfort. Well, it would be unfair to say that purity of the festival is completely lost. There still are communities and groups where Ganesh Utsav means traditional celebrations without hampering the peace and tranquility of the society but yes, they are rare.

The aftermath of the festival is all the more horrifying. The filth lying around the Ganesh pandals makes the streets unbearable. And what happens to the idols is just heart-breaking for me. These are immersed in water bodies but since most of these idols are made of plaster of paris, they do not dissolve. It’s really heart-breaking to see my favorite deity left to rot in filthy waters. It makes me think if that Ganesh idol (and Maa Durga, who undergoes the same treatment during Durga Puja) would actually want to come to stay with us next year.

Well, not everything is as gloomy as I have pictured it here. People have started realizing the harmful impact of such celebrations on the environment and community. More and more awareness is being spread about alternatives to age-old customs which need re-adjustment to the current ecological needs. It’s also heartening to see the younger generation embracing traditions with a progressive and sustainable approach. And I am sure, the God of wisdom, Ganesh, will lead us to a future full of prosperity and benevolence.

Lets not wait for the change. Bring about the change. Just do your bit.

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Book Review- Johnny Gone Down

 Author: Karan Bajaj
 Publisher: Harper Collins (April 2010)
 Genre: Fiction, Thriller
 Price : INR 91 (paperback) and INR 99 (ebook)                              

When I finished reading The Seeker by Karan Bajaj, I was in awe of the author. So I picked up Johnny Gone Down. I can’t say I didn’t like the book but it was nowhere near The Seeker in terms of storyline and passion. Still worth a review and a few good words.

So you take one Ivy league scholar all set to start his career with the coveted NASA, add some unbelievable twists and turns to the plot, add some thrill to it along with a pinch of drama….and voila! You have Johnny Gone Down. And when you have all this in one dish, it can be anything but boring. I practically finished this book in 6 hours (spread over two days). It was so gripping that I was thinking about it even while driving and working . For me, that is good enough.

          Nikhil Arya or Nick aka Johnny, our hero here, has everything planned for his life. Already graduated from MIT, he has a job offer from NASA. He plans to have a glorious career and an envious life. Except that life has different plans for him. On an impromptu visit to Cambodia with this close friend Sam, life takes a wrong turn and Nick ends up as a captive of Pol Pot but not before he has heroically helped Sam along with a few others escape the dreaded land. From here starts a roller-coaster ride which takes Nick through life-altering events. Nick has been a Buddhist monk, a drug mafia, online gaming Moghul, a doting husband and an excited father to be and a fatal game survivor. You won’t even need any coffee to stay awake while you read this one.

Some plus points for me were the starting of the novel and easy-to-comprehend language. The ending, however, was very abrupt and a let-down for me. But worth a read over a weekend. And I might now pick “keep off the grass” to finish Karan Bajaj Series.


My Rating: 

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Thursday, 25 June 2015

Book Review- The Seeker

 

Can a man walk on water?
Can he see the future?
Can he read minds?

As a passionate book lover, I am always on the lookout for good enlightening reads. I pick up bestsellers, classics, books with good reviews etc. It is seldom that I go on a “blind date” with a new release of an author whom I have not read before. Because disappointment of bad choice in books is hard for me to handle. With “The Seeker”, I had the same “to do or not to do” dilemma. I decided to plunge in….and believe me I am so happy I did.

The Seeker takes you on a journey which makes you look deep within and beyond the horizons at the same time. Max, a New Yorker with an enviable career decides to seek the eternal quest to liberate from the cycle of death and suffering. With just a few pointers derived from blogs and internet about some Gurus in India, Max comes to the mystic land. From the mighty Himalayas to the harsh plains of Southern India, he travels everywhere seeking a mentor to guide him through the unknown journey. As he discovers the powers of yoga and meditation, Max also surrenders to the knowledge hidden within him. Max, a materialist New Yorker, finally transforms into a Yogi through a soulful voyage of physical suffering and intellectual uproar.

 A beautifully written tale of what every individual thinks at some point in life. While some chose to ignore it as a superficial passing thought, some consciously decide to tread on a journey which might or might not even lead to a destination. It happened after a long time that I was almost in a state of trance while reading a book (last time it happened with “The Thousand Splendid Suns”). An absolute must read for the “seekers” out there.

My Rating:- 

About the Author :- Karan Bajaj is a  bestselling novelist and striving Yogi. Born and raised in the Indian Himalayas, he now lives and works in the US. He was selected among India Today’s “35 Under 35 Indians” and nominated for the Crossword Book of the Year, India-plaza Golden Quill and Teacher’s Indian Achievers Awards. (Courtesy – Karan Bajaj’s Blog Http://www.karanbajaj.com/about/)

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Friday, 5 June 2015

Maggi-less Kitchens and MSG-less kids




I could almost feel tears of pride in the corner of my eyes when my 7 year old kid woke up yesterday morning and asked for the newspaper. So he has finally picked up the good habit, I thought. I handed him the paper and looked at him lovingly as he scanned the newspapers for “something”. And then, “oh no”, he exclaimed loudly. Maggi is UNSAFE was what he read. And that's when it hit me, he was worried about Maggi’s future!

The recent furor over Maggi has validated the fear of so many mothers like me. We didn’t know anything about MSG till now but we were sure that there was something wrong with this 2-minute snack. And every time we surrendered to the kids’ demand for Maggi, there was a tiny bit of guilt about it which led to us to cook something super-nutritious and make up for the “damage”. Though Maggi was “born” in India around the same time our generation of “young mothers” was born, I don’t remember myself or my friends having Maggi. Once in six months may be. Our lunchboxes mostly contained parathas, pohas and upmas. The lunchboxes have undergone phenomenal changes over the last three decades. Parathas have been replaced by sandwiches and every fourth lunchbox has some variant of Maggi (and that’s where my son tasted his first Maggi). The times have changed a lot. Mothers have taken up more responsibilities and some fathers have also found their way to the kitchen. Maggi has full marks for being convenient and hassle free, and is a savior for those instant food cravings. Also, as more and more kids and young adults stay away from their homes for various reasons, nothing comes more handy as affordable  2-minutes Maggi (by the way, does it really cook in 2-minutes. Mine never took less than 5-mins). It’s just understandable that Maggi takes up more and more shelf space in our kitchens.

But what about MSG? Now that it has been proved scientifically that there is “something” wrong about the instant noodle, will it be the same again for Maggi. Even if it gets a clean chit from the authorities, how many kitchens will welcome Maggi with open arms? And even if they do, it will always get ugly stares from neighboring apples and laddoos . Will we be able to put some more MSG(and probably some lead too)  in our kids and families? But I say, why only Maggi. Why not get all others from the instant-noodle rack tested. And while we are at it, let’s make Lays, Kurkure, Crax also pay a visit to the lab. I mean we could at least learn a new scientific term if nothing else.

But seriously, when will the authorities and companies start taking us seriously. I guess around the same time we take ourselves seriously. I know my kitchen has become Maggi-less and no MSG is going into my kid henceforth. What about your kitchen?

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Monday, 11 May 2015

The Book of Ram

                                                             
 

A book of the most celebrity deity of Hindu mythology will have high expectations and is bound to be judged critically. But “The Book of Ram” has passed the acid test with flying colors. I, like many other fellow Indians, love to read about Ramayana in any form. Simpler the better. I had been lingering about the decision to read the series by Patnaik for quite some time now. Though I have read snippets of his many works including his blog, this is my first book which I have read in entirety. And I am not regretting.

Initially I was skeptical that inclusion of analysis between the small stories (or incidents) will disrupt the flow and spoil the storytelling. But the author has done a wonderful job of weaving the legendary story with some enlightening information about characters and justification of events. Though it is The Book of Ram, many characters are explained and analyzed in detail. I particularly liked the way every characters’ importance in Ramayana was brought to light. For instance, Ravana and Kumbhakaran were Vishnu’s gatekeepers cursed to be born as Rakhshasas on Earth who were then released by Vishnu, incarnated as Ram. Many such snippets revolving around the core Ramayana that we know, is the biggest plus point of this book.

Mythology is a tricky subject. It can easily become monotonous and heavy for a naïve reader. Patnaik does a great job of making a legendary story with profound inferences so interesting to read. I know I started late with this series, but happy to have “The Book of Ram” on my book shelf. And looking forward to having the whole Patnaik series here.

My Rating:  


About the Author:- Devdutt Pattanaik is a renowned author, mythologist, and leadership consultant, whose work focuses on deriving management insights from mythology to reveal a very Indian approach to modern business. He has authored over 30 books, many of them best-sellers like Myth = Mithya, Business Sutra, The Pregnant King, and Jaya: An illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. Many of his books have been translated in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Marathi (Courtesy: Devdutt Patnaik’s Blog)

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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Writer-Reader Corollary



I was a reader long before I even thought that I could be a writer. I used to read a lot. I still do.  And I realized that the craving for something to read, which I presumed had already reached unreal levels, has become intense after I started writing.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Future Group & Bharti Retail to Merge Their Retail Business

          The two popular home-grown retailing giants, Future retail and Bharti enterprises have decided to come together for a deal that could re-design the retail industry in the country. Future retail that owns popular brands like Big Bazaar, Food Bazaar, Home town, e-zone has announced acquisition of Bharti Retail, known for its popular easy-day hypermarket chain. According to the Press Release, the new entities, Future Retail and Future Enterprises, will operate almost 570 stores across 243 cities in the country which is a mighty boost to Future Group’s existing number of 350 retail stores. Future retail, which will handle the retail operations, will get access to 77 new cities where they don’t have a presence as any of the Future Retail outlet. Future Enterprises will be responsible for infrastructure, investments and assets of both the companies

                 Kishore Biyani, who seems to have an amazing insight into Indian customer mindset, has revolutionized the grocery experience for an Indian middle class customer. “As Indians, we like to bumping into people, chat, gossip and eat all while we shop. Shopping is a form of entertainment for us”,says Biyani in It happened in India. The “organized chaos” and the “butt and brush effect” are intentionally created characteristic of the stores.

                 Industry experts are already anticipating the magnitude of scale and reach of this acquisition. This could also induce some optimism in retail industry which has failed to attract any foreign investment in spite of reforms in FDI for multi-brand retail. The consolidation counts on on building scale and benefit from the synergies of common services like sourcing, logistics and infrastructure.

                      We, as customers can look forward to better shopping experience and more products under one roof.  Lower marketing and operational costs could also mean more discounts and offers for us.



Other Related Links:

http://profit.ndtv.com/news/corporates/article-future-groups-retail-business-to-merge-with-bharti-retail-760350

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/retail/kishore-biyanis-future-group-acquires-bharti-retail-in-an-all-stock-deal-valued-at-rs-500-crore/articleshow/47148446.cms

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Net Neutrality! Your right to free internet.

The term was practically non-existent till a few weeks back for users like us. We have been using internet to freely roam about in the virtual world. Some of use it for business; others are glued to FB and watsapp. But in any case, if you think this state of this internet utopia will remain the same….you should read the rest of this post.

Net neutrality, which refers to transparency on the web, is the basic guiding principle of internet. It is responsible for making internet the largest platform of communication and expression. Also known as open inter-working, net neutrality in simplest terms means that users should be able to access all lawful content on the internet equally and without any interference from the service providers. For instance, if you are paying the basic data charge, you should be able to access youtube, facebook or any other website without any extra cost and theoritically should have same speed. Same rule applies to different apps. Net neutrality also refers to your right of expression and openness on the internet which means that you should be able to express your disagreement freely (as long as it is not offensive or obscene). Though Chile, Netherlands and Brazil have lawfully enforced net neutrality; interestingly, the concept does not have a legal standing in a lot of countries including India. It has been followed as a norm because nobody thought against it. Until now.

With apps like watsapp and hike cutting down on revenue from messaging of the ISP and sites like youtube and Netflix consuming more bandwidth, ISPs are now considering “reclassification” of internet content. If it goes as planned, internet service providing companies would have different charges for accessing different websites. Companies may provide websites in which they have vested business interests at a higher speed while non-prioritizing the others. For instance, Airtel Zero plan offers free access to mobile apps registered with the company. Hadn’t Flipkart walked out of this deal, you could have accessed Flipkart app from your mobile even if you had zero balance. However, under this zero rating plan, to access websites which are not a part of this deal you would need to spend some extra.

Issue of net neutrality has been brought into limelight recently when TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) released a consultation paper to see how apps and services could be regulated and weigh the possibility of discontinuing net neutrality in the country. Though the telecom operators like Airtel and Vodafone defend the model; prime facie, it is violation of basic right to lawful internet content. Not to forget the extra bucks that you will have to shell out to use internet freely (well, almost).

Links you can use:

http://www.netneutrality.in/

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/flipkart-pulls-out-of-airtels-net-neutrality-violating-airtel-zero/articleshow/46916966.cms

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Book Review - When She Smiled

Title: When She smiled
Author: Ritoban Chakrabarti
Publisher: Notion Press
Genre: Fiction/Romance
Language : English
Price: Rs. 215
Pages: 212


Mritunjay Roy who has come back to his school in Shimla after spending 2 years in Sainik School falls head over heels for this exceptionally pretty girl, Akanksha. He befriends her and spends as much time with her as possible in school and tuition. Roy is completely smitten by her and Akanksha also seems to like Roy’s company. He writes poetry for her, buys her whatever is possible with his meager pocketmoney and grabs every opportunity to spend time with her. Everything seems to be going fine when Akanksha starts behaving weird and ignores Roy. All of Roy’s efforts go in vain as she doesn’t even seem to notice his presence. Raj, Roy’s loyal companion, puts some sense into him and brings him back from state of desolation and desperation.  Heartbroken Roy is shattered initially but takes control and leads himself to a better and rewarding life away from Akanksha.

“When She Smiled” is a simple story of teenage infatuation and heartaches. It reminds you of all the Bollywood movies with the same mushy story line. Even the title and the cover page hinted towards a sappy romantic tale. Most of the story is pretty predictable as almost every one of us has either gone through this phase or has witnessed our friends go through it. All the characters of Roy’s school seem like they were picked from our school. Anybody past that age will sit back and smile upon the phase where small issues meant life and death. Author’s description of Roy’s father as a strict disciplinarian is very apt for Dads of that era when cars, mobile phones and restaurants were considered luxury and Rs 50 for a School Picnic was considered more than enough. Sid is the coolest big brother anybody could wish for and Ashima, Roy’s elder sister, sounds like fun to be with. Ashima’s death in a bus accident at the end of the story, however, was a blow and the only unpredictable twist in the plot.

Written in a simple language with a generous dose of “freaking” and “Ram’s sakes”, the book can appeal to the younger lot of Mills & Boon reading club. It is the author’s maiden attempt at book writing and the scope of improvement is huge. However, if there is something that scores brilliantly in the plot, it is author’s splendid description of Shimla and Shivalik Hills. The reader is almost transported to the picturesque locations of the snow laden hills. Another positive about the story line is die hard optimism of Mritunjay Roy who faces all failures and personal losses and emerges strong out of all situations. I also liked the ending where “when she smiled” finally makes sense and shows him direction.

Though this book would not find a place on my list of great writings, it certainly qualifies as a light laid back read which could be finished in two sittings. And 1.5 out of 5 stars is what “when she smiled” gets from me.

My Rating:



About the Author: Ritoban is an entrepreneur, author, internet marketer, and bathroom singer. He ran an internet marketing company for five years, before trying his hand at writing. His first novel, “When She Smiled “, a coming-of-age fiction released in 2014. He is a freedom fanatic and an avid traveler, and believes in a life without boundaries.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Laughter of a Murderer- Revisited

A couple of years back there was a “ laughter of a murderer” (Read https://cognitivespirits.wordpress.com/2013/09/01/laughter-of-a-murderer/)  that echoed in my ears. It was very upsetting. The burst of debates, arguments, opinions (some of which were outright blasphemous) that followed also echoed on the TV channels for a long time after 16 December 2012. Some were important as they dared to say which was unsaid till now. Some were unwanted. And some were just there to justify the TRPs. But thank God(?) for the short-lived memory that we have….it was all soon forgotten amidst new crimes, new hate stories, new stock of regressive remarks made my our politicians that crawled the newspaper pages and TV channels.

And all of a sudden…we have Mukesh Singh being interviewed. Mukesh Singh? Who? Aah…yes. He is one of the six men who raped and brutally murdered an innocent and helpless 23-year old girl in Delhi in a moving bus on a cold night in December 2012. We might not recall the name “Mukesh Singh”, but all of us remember that ruthless rape and murder very vividly. It still gives me shivers right through my spine. It will take another couple of sleepless nights before I am able silence the “laughter” of this murderer in my subconscious. And why am I, along with all other people who are boggled by this interview, being subjected to this torture again.

Because Leslee Udwin, a British filmmaker, thought of making a documentary on Nirbhaya Rape incident and wanted to see if Mukesh Singh had any remorse for his actions. I am very sure that Ms Udwin had only the best intentions to highlight the plight of rape victims in India. I totally appreciate her efforts. But if you ask me, if I want to listen to what a culprit of one of the most heinous crimes wants to preach about how an “ideal girl” should behave. The answer is big and bold “NO”. (After all we have our distinguished politicians for that.)

With all due respect to Udween, I don’t want Mukesh Singh to have his 2-mins of fame. I don’t want him to think people want to listen to him or care for what he thinks about women. And I certainly don’t want him to rob me of my peace of mind.

Yes, we know our society hasn’t always been fair to women so far. But we are moving in the right direction. Aren’t we? On Women’s Day, it is our duty and responsibility to applaud the women who fought this battle and refused to surrender. It would be inspiring to watch stories of women who set an example for others.

Mukesh Singh can go and rot in a dark cell for all I care

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Book Review- Ramayana- The Game of Life: Shattered Dreams








“The only permanent factor in this world is temporariness. Everything melts away in the course of time. Time is a deceptive magician with a sardonic sense of humor.”                            -        p. 346


Many such profound lines are strewn on the pages of Ramayana-The Game of Life: Shattered Dreams. In this sequel to the first part Ramayana-The Game of Life: Rise of the Sun Prince, Shubha Vilas has once again done the magic of retelling the classic in an absolutely fresh perspective. A serene image of Rama and a helpless king on a chariot drawn by donkeys (instead of horses) on the cover page are perplexing and dramatic. The captivating narration in the 387-odd pages makes the read an absolute delight. The poetic imagery, enlightening footnotes and relating the preaching of the ancient saga to the present are the highlights of Shattered Dreams.

Almost everyone knows the basic plot and central characters of the Epic. Shubha Vilas, however, does an amazing job by throwing more light on the history of main characters such as Dasaratha, Dasagriva (Ravana) and Kaikeyi. The story is carried forward from the first part of the series in which the Sun Prince is born, trained as a Prince and married to Sita. Shattered Dreams is a vivid account of Manthara and Kaikeyi’s scheme of Bharata’s coronation as the King of Ayodhya instead of Rama, helplessness of Dasaratha to change the course of events and Bharata’s efforts to evade the sin that has come to him unknowingly and unwillingly.

The story opens with of Dasaratha’s anxiety about Rama’s coronation and his fears coming true as keikeyi’s asks for Rama’s exile and kingdom for her son Bharata. Heart-touching depiction of feelings of Muni Vashishtha, Laxmana, Sumantra and the people of Ayodhya adds to the dramatic narration.  Eka-vachani, eka-patni and eka-bana Rama does not flinch from giving away the prosperous Ayodhya and spending 14 years in exile. Kaushalaya and Laxmana’s attempts to stop Rama only strengthen his vow to fulfill his Father’s command followed by a gripping description of Bharata’s desperate measures to bring back Rama to his Kingdom. Rama, however, convinces everybody that the course of events decided by destiny is inevitable. He also reveals that Bharata was the rightful king of Ayodhya due to Dasaratha’s promise to keikeyi’s father.

The book is full of wise teachings which are significant even today. The five management concepts of an ideal leader- respect management, decision management, reputation management, team management and character management- as advised by Rama to the naïve Bharata are extremely relevant to the contemporary corporate leaders. The lines like “The decisions to make decisions has to be made in moments of strength not in moment of weaknesses” and “Even to breathe, one has to let out and let in air. There is nothing but giving and taking” have profound wisdom.

Shattered Dreams is an absolute must-have for the book lovers. And the best part about it, one can read it over and over again and still be assured of finding a new underlying meaning in one of the pages. It makes to you wait desperately for the next sequel and certainly deserves a 4.5 on a scale of 5.

My Rating-

About the Author: Shubha Vilas is a spiritual seeker and a motivational speaker. He holds a degree in engineering and law with specialization in IP: Patent Law. His leadership seminars such as Secrets of Lasting Relationships’, ‘Soul Curry to Stop Worry’ and ‘Work–Life Balance’ are popular with top-level management in corporate houses. He also helps individuals deal with modern-life situations by applying the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Ramayana and other dharmic traditions.

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Saturday, 24 January 2015

BABY- Not a review-Only Applause

  



 
"Woh jo religion wala column hota hai , usme hum capital aur bold mein INDIAN likhte hai”


Superb dialogues like the one above is just one of the many,many good things about Baby. Absolutely intelligent story line with power packed performances by actors like Akshay Kumar, Danny Dengongpa, Anupam Kher and Rana Dugubati. The real surprise package was Tapsee Pannu who showed that she could be more than a show piece in skimpy clothes. The twists in the story kept coming till the end and practically glued the audience to their places. This is one of those movies where you would not want to leave your seat in the interval to grab popcorn and risk missing even a single scene. The movie has a good dose of well-designed and “reasonable” action sequences. And by reasonable I mean you won’t see ripples in the muscles when punched or the hero emerging absolutely unharmed out of a blast but could certainly see the effort and training of the actors. And needless to say that nobody does action better than Akshay Kumar. Kudos! Anupam Kher…..well, do I really need to mention anything. He always has something new to deliver. I also particularly liked the background score placed strategically to enhance the thrill.

I am glad I watched it …..and I am sure anyone who does will be too.