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December 31, 2011

Yun Hota to Kya Hota....

Of all the words of tongue and pen, the saddest are: 'It might have been different'. 

It might have been different if i was this, if i was that. if i was there, if i was here. I would have done this, i would have done that. How many times have you heard this from others? How many times have you heard from yourself only? It's killing after a time, a repulsive feeling towards thinking what could have happen and what actually happened. Just imagining the unlimited possibilities of unbridled magnitude about your life, its various options, its various streams. It's fun most of the times, but sometimes it is just a bit of pain in the ass. 

It might have been so different if i was shorter or taller. It might have been different if i had brown little eyes or black shiny hairs. It might have been so different if i was stronger to overcome dirty politics or be at least immune to it. It might have been so different if i was more happier to destroy all the pieces of heart-break and agony. It might have been different if i was richer to buy another car or a piece of necklace. It might have been different if i did something different in this year, something unique. It might have been different if i did something correct, something right. 

Another year passes by, i look around. Everything remains same. I change, for the worse, for the better. Not Sure. But what i definitely knows is: 'It might have been different'. 

Wishing everyone a rocking, fun-filled, prosperous and lovely 2012!

December 30, 2011

New Year Resolutions - A Reality Check

Every New Year people talk about resolutions, changes, promises, goals and dreams. We will do this and we will do that. So many things to cater to, so many results to be achieved. And then in nothing less than a month, people forget those resolutions. They fail to make those changes, keep those promises, finish those goals and follow those dreams. Why? Well they give lots of excuses. And those excuses always include, usually blaming everyone and everything but themselves!

While it's true that the choices others make affect each of our lives to a certain degree, in no way do they decide your life as a whole. No one has that level of control over you. No one! Well, except yourself. You control you. And you are fully responsible for you, for your life, for your choices. Period.

Making new year resolutions is a fad, not following them is a bigger fad. And making a big issues out of it is sick and at times, quite disgusting. We live in a finger pointing, shame blaming world. People hate taking responsibility when they mess up and fail. But they love taking full responsibility when they succeed! It's a selfish kind of love. It's why I roll my eyes when I read a blog post about someone who goes on and on about how much ass they are kicking in life, but they never share how much they've had their ass kicked by life. It's just not a pretty portrait to paint, therefore they don't paint it. Not only is it not a realistic portrait of who they truly are, it's not beautiful. There is beauty in struggle. And there's even more beauty in having the courage to share one's personal struggle.

If you really want some kind of new year resolution - make the one to share your own story. Your own personal struggles to make things meet, show how they finally reached this front of year. And that is indeed my new year resolution, after completing the dream, will share my own struggle story before the end of 2012.

December 29, 2011

Book Review - 63 : A Romance with Chaos

Author: Nishant Kaushik
Publisher: Rupa & Co

Meet Nakul Kapoor, a 20-something corporate executive, who gives you a hilarious account of how he struggles through a cobweb comprising an unacknowledged position at work that leaves him with nothing but the feeling of being an objectified resource, a stupid boss who thinks he is a smart Alec, a gorgeous girlfriend who can't think below D&G and Gucci when it comes to shopping with his credit card, and an extra pious room-mate who thinks that watching sleazy films and lusting after material comforts are trivialities that one needs to rise above. And then, one day, a few random sketches drawn by an acquaintance seem to give him the answers he has been looking for. Does he manage to wriggle out of the muck?

If you can look beyond the abundant stereotypes from the corporate world, there is fun in exploring the world of Nakul. There is a dickhead boss, a punch-you-in-backside colleague, an all-beauty-no-brains girl friend, a friend who is secretly in love with him, a random stranger who turns out to be an acquaintance and many more. The author neatly packages all the elements of love life, corporate politics, chaotic youngsters life and most importantly, life as an IT professional. It does not fall into the trap of touching the daily life of IT industry on the surface, but delves into the quotidian activities with depth, and abundant details. Those teleconferences, those outlook messages, those water cooler conversations, those back-room gossips; it all adds up.

To me as a reader, the chaos portrayed in the life of Nakul was extremely mature and delved with utmost sincerity and simplicity. The author portrays this chaos through sketches, making you instantly recognize what is exactly going wrong in his life. It does help that the author keep the tone straight and simple, though an undercurrent of humour is sprinkled all through the narrative. It is only in the final act that the author let us down with abundant coincidences thrown in. The boss and his daughter Natasha sub-plot is done conveniently, it looks contrived and so out of place. It makes very little sense and it appears writer was running short of ideas or time or both.

I am going with generous (2.5+0.5) = 3/5 for Nishant Kaushik's 'A Romance with Chaos'. Look beyond the usual stereotypes characters, and there is a good heart beating in this book. Not a bad way to spend a lazy weekend, and specially reliving those moments as an IT professional.

December 28, 2011

I want to sleep with you....

I want to sleep with you. I’m not implying sex.

I just want to sleep. Cuddle. Just the two of us, beneath the thick warm blankets, feeling each others heartbeats. I want my arms around your waist, your head on my chest, the wind howling outside the open window. The colder it gets, the closer we get. The moonlight shines upon the curtains. Silence before sleep, happily, blissfully, alone, eternal.

I want to sleep with you. I'm not implying sex.

I just want to sleep. Snuggle. Just the two of us, floating in the lake of emotions, feeling the warmth of each others fingers. I want your fingers entwined with me, my legs on your side, the light flickering in the room. The warmer it gets, the closer we get. The nocturnal smell wafting through our bodies. Silence before sleep, quiet, creepy, fragmented, oblivious.

I want to sleep with you. I'm not implying sex.

I just want to sleep. Embrace. Just the two of us, buried under the carpet of feelings, feeling the strokes, the squeezes, the grazes. I want our hands all over - above and below, the music floating in the room. The hotter it gets, the closer we get. The early morning rays through the windows. Silence before sleep, perspiring, tainted, persistent, ageless, timeless.

I want to sleep with you. I'm not implying sex.

I just want to sleep with you. Clasp. Just the two of us, disowning each others from our lives,clinging, clinching to the last thread. I want your company , me beside you, love smelling in our room. The harder it is away from you, more closer we get. The sun shining bright beyond the curtains. Silence after we sleep, eerie, continual, undying, unyielding, perpetual. My Love. Your Love. Our Love.

December 27, 2011

Book Review - 62 : Harbart

Publisher: Tranquebar Press
Author: Nabaun Bhattacharya
Translator: Arunava Sinha

Harbart Sarkar, sole proprietor of a business that brings messages from the dead to their near and dear ones left behind on earth, is found dead in his room after a night of drinking with local young men. He has killed himself. Why? Was it a threat to his business which brought him money, respect, a standing in the family, more clients and fame? Or was it a different ghost from his shadow life, where he was constantly haunted by his own unfulfilled dreams and delusions? And as the explosive events following his suicide reveal, as in his life, Harbart remains a mystery in death.

Based on Nabarun Bhattacharya's eponymous Sahitya Academy award-winning novel Herbert (1997), this translation by Arunava Sinha is a challenge to the rational mind. Herbert, who grows up on the charity of his relatives, is made out to be a good-for-nothing dimwit, thereby denied a normal life. He is an orphaned member of a crumbling household, who eventually becomes a metaphor of the collapsing city. He finds himself as someone who talks to the dead, is accused as charlatan by the Rationalists' Society, and the harmless do-gooder commits suicide. The multiplicity and the polyphony of the narrative is the most difficult matter to grapple with as it constantly moves from the comfort of a known world to the realm of the unknown. Despite a large sense of skepticism at work, when Herbert is dubbed an impostor, it is heartbreaking.

Literary translations are always difficult to do with as you not only have to recreate the milieu, but keep the basic essence of characters and the story intact. It is important to understand the story within the cultural context and make sure those regional touches are not lost in the translation. All this majorly remains in place, with elements of dark humour, sarcasm and wit present throughout the narrative. However, there are clunky transitions in the book where poems appear and at many places, where there are conversations between the characters. All this leaves you a bit unsatisfied with the final product.

I am going with 3/5 for Arunava Sinha's translation of Harbart. It is a difficult read in a few places, but in the end keeps you glued for a major portion. Read it because it is different, set in a unique time period/milieu and makes you hooked up with the intriguing central character. In the end, it is an almost rewarding read.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

December 22, 2011

Quote-Unqoute of Love

"Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn't it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life...You give them a piece of you. They didn't ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like smile at you, and then your life isn't your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like 'maybe we should be just friends' turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It's a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love" - Neil Gaiman

"Have you ever been in love? Beautiful, isn't it? It makes you so secure. It makes you want to give happiness to others and creates happiness for others. It means someone can make you feel suave from inside and melt you like no one ever has. You build up walls to stop people from coming in, so that no one comes and be selfish with you. Then one extra-ordinary person, no different from any other ordinary person, wanders into your ordinary share a piece of yourself, uninhibited, without even thinking. They do something stupid one day, like kiss you, and then your life isn't the same anymore. Love makes you hostage, a parasite living on others life. It dissolves inside you. It bobbles up your enthusiasm and leaves you possessed on to something, so simple a phrase like 'may be we can be more than friends' turns into a rose petals throwing fragrance wafting all the way into your heart. Love swells and roars. Love fly and kicks. Not just in the heart. Not just in the mind. Not just in the body. It's a soul-stirring, a real gets-inside-you-and-robs-you-apart touch. I love love" - Amit Kumar Gupta

December 19, 2011

Notes on 'Unusual People do things Differently' by T.G.C.Prasad

Author: T.G.C Prasad
Publisher: Penguin India

Rating: 3.5/5

Unusual people are ordinary people who strive hard to do extraordinary things. They are sensitive to nuances, look to provide lateral solutions, dare to think out of the box, and often end up changing the rules of the game. The book mixes both the traditional and modern outlook for bringing changes in our lives by providing a sharp, concise way of dealing with tough situations.

T.G.C. Prasad presents the views and experiences of sixty-five individuals, from well-known names like Mike Lawrie, Azim Premji and Mother Teresa to a chef, a masseuse and a service boy, with whom he has had meaningful interactions and who have inspired him. He includes people from a broad professional spectrum; CEOs, doctors, the director general of police, realtors, an attorney, a chartered accountant; a consultant and a sports coach are among those who make his list. Singling out a dominant factor from each person’s story, he outlines the journeys these people undertook and the behaviours they exhibited, and shows how these links up to the results they achieved.

The book has been divided into six themes all dealing with lessons that one must learn from the business world. The author has given a number of examples in each of themes as each chapter talks about one of the individuals he met or worked with. The stories that have been jotted down are interesting and the book provides the dos and the don’ts while in it or planning to go in it!

The author does not fall into the trap where most non-fiction authors generally delve into; telling long boring corporate stories. Instead, the length of each chapter is kept to a minimum, crisply edited and does not hammer a view on the readers to the point of boredom. Essentially entrepreneurial in nature, the narrative even enjoys showing the human side of a few individuals. I particularly enjoyed the stories from the lower strata of society, they somehow makes more impact and are deftly dealt by the author.

Unusual People Do Things Differently is full of pithy everyday management lessons and offers valuable insights to everyone who aspires to grow manage and lead.
Read the book in short bursts, looking for that kick-start to be inspired in your own field. Go for it!

December 17, 2011

Book Review - 61 : Prey By The Ganges

Author: Hemant Kumar
Publisher: Wisdom Tree

There is an inherent pleasure to read a book with little expectations and be pleasantly surprised with it. Prey by the Ganges by Hemant Kumar maintains a consistent tone over the course of nearly 400 pages and provides a tight thriller that is hard to put down. It helps that the author is sure-footed with the milieu the story has panned itself and brings an ensemble of engrossing characters that are difficult to get out of your mind even after finishing the book.

Set in 1948, during one night on the bank of Ganges, Vaidya Shambhu along with his servant, Hariya, are waiting for his friend, Ravi, who to had gone to Janak Ganj to trade with Thakur Suraj Singh. Shambhu, helplessly, watches his friend getting beaten to death. When the bandits leave Ravi on the brink of death, Shambhu brings the dead body, washes it and buries it. Intrigued to find the reason of his death, he starts a journey to Janaj Ganj to take on the evil Thakur, Gajanan. Both the Thakurs are competitors and are loggerheads with each other. What follows is a fascinating story about dealing with these two characters and a blood-curling heist for an exclusive diamond.

From the word go, with the nerve-wrecking description of killing of Ravi, the author barge in the point that it is not going to be an easy read. Over the course of the narrative, we are introduced to an eclectic mix of characters - the psychopath among Thakur's men, the nubile girl having immense sexual prowess, the well-knitted thakurain, the lusty babe whose piece both the gangs want and many more. All these characters interwoven seamlessly within the narrative brings about a roller-coaster ride that will engage and enthrall you no ends.

The book flirts with such themes as the compromises of village politics, the price that must be paid for integrity, and the loss of innocence. Even these revelations aren't of an earth-shattering magnitude, and the book feels naive for presenting them as such. But despite its shortcomings, the book works as a tight thriller that sustains dramatic tension throughout. The only time it falters is when all the blood-curling and abusive scenes starts to appear repetitively, almost sequentially making you feel like skipping the pages and get on the climactic deal.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Hemant Kumar's debut novel, 'Prey by the Ganges'. It is written with love, care and affection albeit portraying emotions of lust, revenge and power. A fresh voice on the Indian fiction circuit, which needs to be loved, nurtured and protected to provide us even better work in the future. Go ahead and get absorbed in a world of gory details, highly recommended!

December 7, 2011

Book Review - 60 : Charliezz

Author: Trupthi Guttal and Zeeshan Farooqui
Publisher: Frog Books

Welcome to the world of sorrows, tension and pressure the typical office, where employees come, do their jobs just for the money and dash back to their homes. The office here is an engineering firm which is in the process of making its mark in the world. This story revolves around two main characters working for this corporation - Zahir Pathan and Khushi Patil - and their struggle to prove themselves as worthy employees.

Work, work and work!

Well, a wave of relief is brought by Zahir. He travels into his yesteryear's in college giving Khushi a glimpse of what he experienced during his nourishing days. Phase one begins with his five college friends, including Zahir, who are invited forcibly by one of their not-so-friendly-friend to his ancestral home where they created havoc but managed to survive the wrath of his parents. These five have an insatiable hunger for creating problems. Amidst the roller coaster ride, Zahir manages to find love in a lissom girl called Rashmi, his college friend, which unfortunately ends up disastrously. What is the reason? Will they reunite or does life has a different plot ready for them? And where does Khushi fit in?

The story begins in a typical corporate set-up with a stereotypical boss and subdued colleagues. Boss erupts, colleagues listen. The conversational format is unconventional but other incidents interspersed within the narrative are not seamless and leaves a lot to be desired. There are couple of incidents of the college days which engages the readers but are soon frittered away as none of them are interesting enough to be sustained. It becomes a typical cross-religion/cultural love story which eventually makes very little impact. It gets minimum footage in the narrative and that too only towards the end.

I am going writh 2/5 for Trupthi Guttal and Zeeshan Farooqui's 'Chaliezz'. It starts promisingly but soon becomes a mis-mash of a love story, corporate politics and college adventures, none of them strong enough to make an impact. Read it if you must.