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December 31, 2014

Quick notes on a book about disability and fighting it in India




Author : Disha
Publisher : Srishti Distributors and Publishers

Rating : 3 / 5

Because Life is a Gift is a collection of real-life success stories of fifteen disabled or differently- abled people as author like to say it. The book is a tribute to their passion, courage and zest for life. Their lives are inspiring to living life to the fullest and making the best use of your limited abilities which life has straddled with you at times.

Author raises pertinent questions in the book - In a county where 2.1% of our population is disabled, why is it that almost all major public places are still not accessible? Why is it that we still do not see them sitting next to us, in our offices, working hand-in-hand as our colleagues? Why such people made to curse their destinies and pitied upon? Biases like these have plagued the lives of millions of disabled people in the world. People have looked down upon them. Governments have failed to provide them infrastructural support. Societies have written them off. What else we can do for them. Well, for starters tell their stories to the world!

Most of the stories are awe inspiring - Hridayeshwar Singh Bhati, 12 and suffering from debilitating muscular dystrophy is India's youngest patent holder and the youngest disabled patent holder in the world. Divya Arora, lady behind Hrithik Roshan's inspiring performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Guzaarish herself suffers from cerebral Plasy. Sukhsohit Singh, suffering from thalassemia (a genetic blood disorder) who was finally able to crack the Civil services examination despite being constantly rejected by the interview panel. George Abraham, who despite having vision problems was instrumental in creating awareness about blind cricket in India.

Keeping the sincere intentions to write this book in mind and a successful attempt to do so, one should mention that in certain portions, the narrative is structurally disjointed. There are lapses in editing and thoughts pertaining to fighting for rights for disabled people in India is zeroed in repeatedly that by the end of the book, it looses some credibility. Author does well in keeping a balance between telling stories of these flesh and blood people but not creating undue sympathy for them which in the end work well for the book

Author does well in keeping a balance between telling stories of these flesh and blood people but not creating undue sympathy for them which in the end work well for the book. Finally, these are real stories which need to be heard, read and absorbed in. It is an effort which needs to be supported for its benign intentions and i would definitely like to read another sequel to this book, if the author decides to pen it down. I am sure, there are many more stories waiting to be told in India.

[Disha also leads the Delhi chapter of the NGO Pick-a-Fight ]

[Review of Disha's first book - My beloveed's MBA Plans here ]

December 30, 2014

Book Review - 180 : Lemon Girl



Author : Jyoti Arora
Published : Pothi.com

Lemon Girl, a self-published book about Nirvi who has huge internal and external demons to fight with. She is scared of her future, and ashamed of her past. She is failing herself, and knows it. She has had a long line of boyfriends, and hated them all. She detests the guy she is living with, runs away from the one she loves , and seduces the one who can never love her

When Arsh first sees Nirvi, she's a free and frank girl in whose eyes sparkle the lemony zest of life. The next time he sees her, she is a voiceless doll draped in clothes that cover her body less and shroud her soul more. And Arsh can't rest till he finds out what made Nirvi give up her own real self. Nirvi knows she is dragging herself on a path from which there can be no recovery. Can her spirit survive the treacherous downfall? Or is the pull of fear and push of desperation just too strong to withstand for a girl who believes she has "nowhere else to go" but down.

Author paints the characters with broad strokes - there is chauvinistic boyfriend, orthodox parents, candle marches, a heavy dose of anti-corruption movement, live-in relationships and a luxuriant lifestyle portrayed at times. To be fair and give credit to author, all this blends well with the story line which gives narrative required texture. The author manages successfully to allow the lead character to ask difficult questions to both herself and to the society. There is an inherent preachiness one would associate with such stories and this one is no exception.

The book is fast paced and the writing dwindles from being brave to pretentious. Since the book is self-published, there are few grammatical and punctuation mistakes which i am sure can be taken care off in the next version. I am going with 2.5/5 for Jyoti Arora's 'Lemon Girl'. If you are worried about women safety and want to dwell into the internal metamorphosis of such people, this may be a decent read.


December 24, 2014

Book Review - 179 : Catching the Departed




Author : Kulpreet Yadav
Publisher : 4 Hour books / Tara India Research Press

They say to grab attention of the readers in a thriller/mystery genre, make the murder happen as quickly as possible. Kulpreet does this within the first 3 pages and that's what intrigues you about the book straight away. As the book proceeds, the plot thickens and even though writing wavers in the middle portions and plot slips, the writing is competent enough to take you through the end.

A ghastly murder in the dead of night at a faraway village in the capital's underbelly sets the motion in 'Catching the Departed' - the first in the Andy Karan trilogy. Andy Karan is an investigative journalist with a mission. Monica, his boss at the New Delhi Today magazine, assigns him to unravel the mystery behind the death of a local lawyer. Slowly, Andy Karan embarks on a life-threatening journey that lands him into the centre of a much bigger conspiracy.

The character of Andy Karan, also ex-Army personnel in the book, is modelled upon one of Mahabharata's legendary warriors and often misunderstood soldiers, Karan. Much like the hero from the epic, Andy refuses to walk the path of corruption and politics. He embodies all qualities of a patriot who is willing to die upholding the virtues of truth, friendship and love; but can never bring himself to live a borrowed life dictated by someone else's terms and conditions.

The author shows an eye for detail in setting up the countryside scenes and there are couple of wonderfully etched out scenes when Andy first starts his interrogation. The story pace is brisk, punctuated with short, saucy sentences and keeps you turning pages to know what lies ahead. As the story progresses, motivations of antagonists and other additional information appear which at times is hazy but do keep the book at a tight leash.

The minor quibbles about the book are what ultimately does not take it to the next level. The female character hardly justify the presence - Monica's presence is mere ornamental and even though at one point she does set off things in motion, it is hardly convincing. The editing with respect to grammatical and punctuation mistakes could have been much better. I also could not get my head around the Vietnam and North Korean connection for Andy. The unnecessary time shifts also creates somewhat confusing experience.

Barring these nitpicking's, Catching the departed is a competent thriller in the first of Andy Karan series. I am going with 3/5 for this one. I hope to read two more books in this series in the future.


‘Catching the Departed by Kulpreet Yadav’ was shortlisted for the DNA-Hachette “Hunt for the Next Bestseller” prize

[He is also the founder-editor of Open Road Review ]

[Earlier review of Yadav books : India Unlimited here and A Waiting Wave here ]

December 4, 2014

Book Review - 178 : Play with me



Author : Ananth Padmanabhan
Publisher : Penguin India

If writing about sex was that easy, there would never have been bad sex awards in existence. Play with me by Ananth has right intentions to create an erotic novel, and mostly succeeds in creating those heavy duty sex scenes, but ultimately ruins it by concentrating only on sex and rarely on the feeling of these protagonists turning it marginally into a pornographic novel.

The book is about Sid, a successful photographer in a boutique ad agency. He is single and has everything he wants - a good job, great colleagues and a hassle-free life. But if there is one thing that has eluded him it is love. Until the gorgeous, free-spirited Cara walks into his life. Sexually obsessed, the two begin a charged affair that disrupts all his notions of love and transforms the way Sid thinks about erotic pleasure. But then something strange happens - Sid finds himself falling in love with another woman.

The biggest issue with the book is that it hardly a 'real' novel. Slowly, scene by scene, it turns into a fantasy novel because author hardly invests time in building some kind of connection between these characters. In the fantasy world of Sid, it is easy to have a threesome on beach in Goa and it is extremely easy to get laid on the first night out with a Turkish colleague. Problem you see, is in details - What makes Sid attractive to them? What circumstances or feelings bring them close? Why Sid prefers to have such a lifestyle? There are many questions and narrative offers very little answers. This is book written with amateur zeal and more to attract people with kinky stuff.

The pace is brisk and thankfully, it does not overstay than required. Cut into short, punchy chapters, it is decently structured and well edited. I personally enjoyed the moments of introspection in Sid's life when he is free of sex thoughts and more concerned on what he is doing with his life. The distinction in characters between the two ladies in Sid's life is more cosmetic than build into an organic flow. There are hardly twists and turns and the climax is deliberately kept open with loose ends, most probably to make a sequel out of it.

I am going with 2.5/5 for Play with me by Ananth. Enjoy the book like you enjoy porn. That is, without thinking too much. Because there is hardly anything of literal value here. Read at your own risk and keep your expectations extremely low.

November 23, 2014

Q&A with Gurpartap Khairah


I read Obsession: Eternal Stories Of Life And Death by Tara press and absolutely loved the anthology. I got a chance to have an email conversation with one of the writers of the book - Gurpartap Khairah

Q1. How was the process of co-authoring the book? How did the collaboration happened?
A1.I have been told that it is a smart idea to get four authors’ compilation for a single book but it wasn’t our idea; indeed we did not even know each other or each others’ works. The people at Tara, especially Sharvani, our reader and editor, came up with this novel concept. She was, I believe, working on our manuscripts and found that there was a thematic link in the stories. Hence the title ‘Obsession’ and the collaboration.

Q2. How long did it take you to pen down the stories. Was it a long drawn process or written in short time?
A2: Each story dictates its own time and language. Some of the stories, the very short ones, were written in one sitting or a single day, while others took a longer while. Sometimes, I had to go back to a story with major editing or changes as demanded by the story.

Q3. Most of the stories deal with darkness and death. Does writing about these emotions come naturally to you?
A3: It isn't really an intention to write about dark themes; some of the stories penned by me, not in this collection, make for a lighter reading. But if a writer is to talk about his/her times, trying to make the stories as real and topical as possible, darkness somehow naturally weaves itself into the stories. Basically it is just the unusual premise of an episode that demands to be penned.


Q4. Do you think people react more passionately for dark, brooding humour as evident in 'Last card' or even 'Yellow tears'?
A4:
 I think any good story involves the readers, irrespective of the genre. If people are able to identify with the story and characters, the tone really becomes just a complement or a vehicle to put the message across. That is also true of cinema where dark, brooding visions are as appreciated as their lighter counterparts. As long as the story captivates, the language, mood and tone all come in for appreciation. If it is true that people today are keen on escapist literature which provides succour from life’s tensions, it is equally true that the dark realities of life also strike a chord with them.

Q5. How has the response been to the book so far? Any particular feedback which may have touched you?
A5.
The response to the collection has been quite overwhelming. The book has garnered excellent reviews in reputed dailies like The Tribune and Deccan Herald and on many blogs also. Individual readers too have been very kind with their response. I have been told that they were able to identify with my stories and found shades of themselves in the characters. 

'The Making of A Married Woman' especially has found sympathy with many readers, especially women. Readers have told me that either they were caught in a similar situation or knew of someone who was. 'Letting Go', I believe, has moved many readers to tears. These two stories have become the favourite of many readers. Someone also compared my tales to Aesop’s fables! These are the kind of compliments that make a writer’s day. But the crowning glory was for me when Gulzar sa’ab, a father figure, told me that he had liked a particular scene in a story and if he got the chance would like to use it in one of his films!

Q6. Any work which you have completed or currently writing in?
A6:
When I was writing short stories and trying to get them published I got very good reviews from publishing houses and agents only to be told that this genre wasn't very ‘marketable’ nowadays. Thus, I started working on a novel, The Unveiling, which is a political thriller and works as an expose at many levels. The novel is complete now and with Tara. I am currently working on a murder mystery, replete with humour, satire, digs and melodrama. I am also engaged with another project, a collection of very short stories that look at different aspects of love. So you can say I am quite busy writing and writing!

Q7 I particularly enjoyed 'My husband's best friend' and the emotional quotient of homosexuals. How did this story originated and flowed in? Your views on Article 377?
A7: I enjoyed writing My Husband’ Best Friend. As in every story, it was the unusual perspective that drew me to the story. Usually when we talk about acceptance of homosexuals it is from the point of view of heterosexuals. Everyone appears to be concerned with granting acceptance to gays as if they are a weaker section and it is something to be condoned. When I first thought of writing about homosexuality, acceptance was a major issue but had I let it remain just like that it would have been just another story extolling the virtues of gays. So the twist came when the question of even well-adjusted homosexuals’ acceptance of their own sexuality was raised. Juxtaposing this with the lives of a married couple gave it a different background.

As far as Article 377 is concerned, as a person, as a writer I am against anything and everything that divides or discriminates. If sex between consenting adults is deemed fine, why shouldn't it be the prerogatives of homosexuals also? They, as individuals in their own right, should also have equal freedom for everything that is granted naturally to everyone else. Besides, I have never understood why the sex quotient is so important for everyone? What and why does it matter to anyone with whom one has sex at the end of the day? It should be the least of anyone’s concerns.

Q8. 'Killing the lizard' brings out one's insecurities but also teaches us how to overcome them. Are you in real life also afraid of lizards?
A8:
I cannot think of any person I know who is not afraid of or at least repulsed by lizards! If one is not afraid of lizards per se, one cannot help a creepy feeling on seeing a lizard; they do make the skin crawl! I am also not scared of lizards even though one fell right on my head in childhood! But when confronted by one, I have to tell myself that it is just a lizard, a creature so much smaller in size and strength.

Although the lizard in the story is a symbol for all the troubles in a person’s life that obsess him/her, the basic premise of the story came to me when I chanced upon a lizard behind the fridge in the kitchen much like the situation in the story! That it developed into an archetype of worries, giving the message of acceptance, is another story altogether!

[Gurpartap Khairah believes a writer should be politically incorrect and while writing, makes every effort to say the worst in the best possible manner. Gurpartap teaches English literature in Hindu college, Amritsar. He loves his job because it keeps him in constant touch with the youth and the current modern lingo]

November 22, 2014

Q&A with Stormy


I read Obsession: Eternal Stories Of Life And Death by Tara press and absolutely loved the anthology. I got a chance to have an email conversation with one of the writers of the book - Stormy (She has co-authored several short stories with Bishwa in the book)

Q1. How was the process of co-authoring the book? How did the collaboration happened?
A1: Bishwa and I were colleagues and both of us discovered we had writing in common. As he writes in Nepali, we worked out a few ideas and I wrote 18 stories. We sent the synopsis for a possible collection of short stories to Red Ink Literary Agency. They liked our presentation and asked for samples of our work. This was put together with stories by Gurpratap and Suraj and Obsession happened!!

Q2. How long did it take you to pen down the stories. Was it a long drawn process or written in short time.
A2 : Writing is a strong passion and once I start, it doesn't take very long to write a story. So, no, the writing didn't take very long.

Q3. How did thought of ripe mangoes came around ? It portrays a sense of lonely and depressed Varanasi...
A3 : Widows in Varanasi are neglected, abandoned and lonely. Yet they all have the usual feelings. The death of a husband does not necessarily mean a woman dies too. Or that she becomes a shadow of what she once was. You ask how the story came around. I would say that there are stories everywhere and in everything. How does one define the creative burst or the way imagination, threaded with a certain reality flows?

4. Most of the stories deal with darkness and death. Does writing about these emotions come naturally to you?
A4 : I think each of us has two sides to the way we think, feel and view the world. In some of us, one side may appear as more defined. There is a lot of brightness in this world but one cannot really ignore the darkness and death. So yes, writing about such things come naturally. This isn't saying that I do not have the happily-ever-after chip within me!!!!

Q5. Do you think people react more passionately for dark, brooding humour as evident in Last card or even Yellow tears?
A5 : For every possible thing on this earth, whether sliced bread or steam engines, there will always be takers and the ones who do not like the thing in question. Fiction portrays life. It is supposed to. I wouldn't say that they react more passionately to this or that. Everyone has their particularly favourite flavour of ice-cream.

Q6. How has the response been to the book so far? Any particular feedback which may have touched you?
A6:
The response has been encouraging so far. Most people peg the book as very readable and extremely well-put together. The characters are drawn from everyday life and perhaps this is what people are liking.

Q 7. Any work which you have completed or currently writing in?
A 7.
I am working on my third novel. My previous work (two novels) is with my agents (Red Ink, Delhi) and I hope to find a publisher soon.

[Bishwa Sigdel grew up in the dusty lanes of Banepa, in Nepal. An early passion for the Classics finally led him to writing. An ardent fan of Marquez and Neruda, Bishwa likes nothing better than hunting for books in dusty libraries or old city bookstalls. Stormy Hazarika grew up in the lush tea estates of Assam]


October 22, 2014

Quick notes on love stories by Ruskin Bond



Publisher : Rupa & Co.
Author : Ruskin Bond

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Falling in love again....Stories of love and Romance is a collection of short stories showcasing the myriad variations of romantic love - fleeting, intimate, joyous and heartbreaking. Ruskin Bond has been writing for over sixty years, and has now over 120 titles in print—novels, collections of stories, poetry, essays, anthologies and books for children.

There is reason why Ruskin bonds work even after so many years. His writing is selfish - he writes for himself first and then for his readers. And there in lies his success and his endurance. The book not only has short stories, there are other forms of writing too - poems, verses, letters and book extracts. I am not sure how many of these are first time works and how many have been published before in other books. But honestly, it does not matter and it should not matter to any readers.

These stories capture beautiful moments of life, interspersed with fleeting emotions.The book also has Susanna's Seven Husbands, made into a Hindi movie by Vishal Bharadwaj whom Ruskin dedicates this book, along with Bhardwaj's wife, Rekha. There are couple of book extracts - The Room on the Roof and Delhi is not far from his earlier books. Read and enjoy the marvel Ruskin bond because he is just one of those writers who have little to do with literary world but to write for this world - its pains and pleasures.

October 6, 2014

Book Review - 174 : Private India




Crimes against women in India over the past two years set off a wave of outrage and reflection over their treatment in the South Asian country. They also inspired the plot of “Private India,” the latest installment in author James Patterson’s best-selling “Private” series co-written by Ashwin Sanghi, an Indian businessman-turned-best-selling author. Private is called one of the finest private investigation agencies with branches around the world, a smart but obvious technique for Patterson to be in cahoots with writers from various countries and churn out Private Berlin, Private LA and Private London.

Private India is India’s biggest and best detective agency, a branch of Private Worldwide, run by the inimitable Jack Morgan. Santosh Wagh heads Private India, though in this novel, Jack Morgan makes a few appearances and has a substantial role. When visiting Thai surgeon Kanya Jaiyen is killed in mysterious circumstances at the Marine Bay Plaza, Private India gets to the scene first since apparently it is employed by Marine Bay Plaza. The police come by later, but they are happy to let Private India get on with it, since they are overworked and have their hands full.

It begins with a murder, goes on to take reader around town in Mumbai (with stops in exotic places like Dharavi and the Parsi Tower of Silence in Malabar Hill), and ultimately tries to find a fine balance between Hindu mysticism, current affairs issues like violence against women and the grit of an all-American spy thriller. Problem with the book is mainly that it tries too pack in too much, sacrificing logical consistency and ignoring fatal loopholes.

It does maintain a brisk pace, but as we move forward in the narrative it fails to maintain that tension despite a very strong and interesting 100 pages or so. The main mystery becomes repetitive (done 9 times to be exact) and that's where it tests patience. I am going with 3/5 for Private India. It would have been much thriller if it was not trying to pack in everything in one book.

This review is a part of the http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank">Book Reviews Program at  http://www.blogadda.com">BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

October 1, 2014

Quick Notes on Devdutt Pattanaik's new book on Queerness




Author : Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher : Zubaan books / Penguin India

Rating : 3 / 5

Shikhandi and other tales they don't tell you reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness. A lot remains hidden and untold in the Hindu mythology in terms of queer people - bisexuals, transgender, transsexuals and cross dressers but take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old, and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife; Mahadeva, who became a woman to deliver his devotee’s child; Chudala, who became a man to enlighten her husband; Samavan, who became the wife of his male friend; and many more.

Pattanaik delves deeper into sexuality of gods/goddess and shows how they shed their original sexuality (if there is any) and molds into other with ease. Lord Shiva becomes a woman to deliver the child of a devotee, Arjun takes the form of a snake to enchant a difficult princess, Lord Ram welcomes hijras to his kingdom, and so on.

Clearly, these stories has been extensively researched and different points of view of modern vs old queerness has been exploited. From same-sex desire to gender-bending behaviour to cross-dressing to bestiality, the range of activities these texts describe is exhaustive. What i particularly liked about these stories is that it reinforces the basic premise - that soul has no gender and really what you make of feminism and patriarchy lies more in you mind than in you organs. All of them are backed up by solid footnotes and clear illustrations.

These 30 short stories push the envelope of sexual imagination, boundaries between man and woman and queer people. It tells about their fluidity and not rigidity of gender - in turn enforcing the basic concept of enjoying life. They are not provocative - and does not enforce any beliefs but just questions them. Some times, in life that is the most challenging thing. Read the book to allow you to challenge your queer notions.



September 19, 2014

Quick Notes on a travel memoir about Egpyt



Author : Douglas Misquita
Publisher : Pothi.com

Rating : 2 / 5

Impressions of Egypt by Douglas Misquita is a short book about his 1 week travel memoirs in 2010. The book is self published and only 40 odd pages. If you are visiting Egpyt, you can have a look at the book just to be familiar with the best places to wander around.

This book is all about the impressions, emotions and implications that no picture can convey, but something that can only be experienced when you bask in the glorious Mediterranean sun in Alexandria, are belittled by the sentinel pyramids at Giza, come to terms with the engineering feat of relocating Abu Simbel, appreciate the historic grandeur of the museum-city of Luxor, or relive the romance of the Nile as you drift past gently-swaying date palms and white-sailed feluccas.

Buy from Amazon or Kindle here. Not a bad way to quickly scan through the thoughts of a traveller to this part of the world.

September 14, 2014

Quote / Unquote


“You're different. You're more perfect. Time is three things for most people, but for you, for us, just one. A singularity. One moment. This moment. Like you're the center of the clock, the axis on which the hands turn. Time moves about you but never moves you. It has lost its ability to affect you. What is it they say? That time is theft? But not for you. Close your eyes and you can start all over again. Conjure up that necessary emotion, fresh as roses.” ― Jonathan Nolan, Memento mori

September 11, 2014

Amar Chitra Katha + Flipkart at Bangalore Comic Con - 12 to 14 Sept, 2014



Flipkart will be in association with Amar Chitra Katha at the Bangalore Comic Con from the 12th of September 2014 to the 14th of September 2014

The broad highlights of the event:

1. 12 Stalls at Comic Con
2. Puzzles, Contests, Quizzes and more at the stalls
3. Storytelling Sessions
4. ACK Ultimate Collection on Display. This contains 315 titles + 10 Special Collections. This is exclusively available with Flipkart. Buy the big bad box set at the comic con and we will very generously give you the 7 inch Digiflip Pro Tablet worth Rs. 5999 for Free!
5. Photo Booth
6. An entire stall built in the shape of a fort - The Flipkart ACK Fort.
7. Kids get to participate in raffles, quizzes, photo ops, storytelling and book reading. They can even give their archery skills a shot at a booth that tests the "Pandava Arjun" in them.

August 7, 2014

Book Review - 170 : Bubble Wrap



Author : Kalyani Rao
Publisher : Harlequin

When twelve-year-old Krishna marries Shyam Singh of Rokhagadh, her grandmother gives her a box filled with jewelry, telling her to sell it in times of trouble, but otherwise to hide it from her parents and in-laws. Krishna's marital home is very different from the house she grew up in - she is not allowed to go to school, but has a female tutor coming home to teach her once a week. She soon learns that her father-in-law, a drunkard and a lecher, who is not above carrying on with a maidservant, is deeply in debt and expects her father to help him out. 


Krishna's fifteen-year-old widowed cousin, Gudiya, accompanies her to Rokhagadh, but is ill-treated by Krishna's in-laws, culminating in her rape by Krishna's father-in-law, on Diwali night. When Krishna's father learns of this, he wants to take both girls away immediately, but dies soon after, in a mysterious "accident" and Gudiya finds herself pregnant.
The Singhs are willing to help her, provided it is a male child. If she is carrying a female child, she will have to abort. Krishna's and Gudiya's responses to the death of the former’s father; their refusal to knuckle under to the Singhs; their decision to fight for their survival against impossible odds and to stand by each other forms the crux of the book

The biggest problem with Bubble wrap is that it is far too predictable. Many will relate this book to the serial  Balika Vadhu but frankly that is it's least problems. Apart from the two main protagonists, none of the characters are particularly developed well. There is flatness in writing and at times, too bland and hardly creates any pulsating moment. Everything including the set-up, the running away, the stopping, the chase - happen in slow frames which as a reader hardly gives you anything to relate with these characters situation. All men are bad in this world but what forces their evil intentions is never explained to us.

It is not that writing is bad, far from it but the construction of the premise leaves you dazzled. The diary pages written by Krishna stuck out like sore thumb because it never flows genuinely with the main story. These flashbacks stand and eventually fall apart alone and as a narrative device do not add to anything to make us understand the tribulations of Krishna. The climax is shocking but that's probably the only intention because the details are never explained nor the situation fully sold to the readers.

I am going with 2/5 for Kalyani Rao's 'Bubble Wrap'. Even if you revel in the familiar stories and set up, it is difficult to like this one. One can just hope that the sincerity of the writing translates into something better from the writer in the next book.

August 1, 2014

Book Review - 169 : The Deliberate Sinner





Author : Bhaavna Arora
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Good intentions don't necessarily make into good books and we have seen that far too often ever since pulp fiction has evolved in the Indian literary scene. The Deliberate sinner focus so much on feminism and celebrating female sexuality that it forgets the most basic rule in a book - to tell a story. The conflicts seem confused and are bounced off every time from the lens of feminism only to appear more shallow and cringe worthy.

Rihana is an adventurous and free-spirited girl, until she marries Veer, an eligible bachelor who comes from a wealthy family. While they appear 'happily married', their strong personalities are at odds. Veer, for the most part, is insensitive to Rihana's physical and emotional needs, straining the relationship and leaving her feeling incomplete. Caught between the two extremes, she has to decide whether to walk out of her marriage and be a victim of society's ridicule, or compromise of her physical needs, which for her are the foundation for a healthy marital bond.

The book is projected as non-satisfaction of women desires in bed but the story takes hardly that route. Instead, it takes too many detours in the form of physical abuse, extra marital affair, dowry and so on. There is too much emphasis and stress on reaching orgasm which seems to be the end and mean of the sexual relationship and the author takes it too far by allowing it to be discussed by other ladies in the house. Someone needs to tell the author that having sex and not having an orgasm every time is humanly acceptable!

Bouncing off an eye-catching cover, the love making scenes and good and bad in equal proportions. Some will pique your interest, some are flat boring even though the climax (pun unintended) scene will take you by surprise. The book tries to grapple with too many serious subjects, in the end not doing justification to any of them. The story never grows beyond the cliches and stereotypes and in the end is a half-hearted attempt in what could have been a decent read had the author concentrated on a concrete story line.


I am going with 2.5/ 5 for Bhaavna Arora's 'The deliberate Sinner'. Read for some strong feminist sentiments but there is hardly anything in the book to take all of that seriously. A one-time read.

July 30, 2014

Book Review - 168 : The Helpline



Author : Uday Mane
Publisher : Frog Books / Leadstart Publishing

Reading Uday Mane's 'The Helpline' is like going to your favourite restaurant and being undone by the signature dish. It is a competent book by a new author, it builds strong characters and settings, only to throw it away with cliches in the reason behind his suicidal tendencies.

Samir is suicidal. Rachel works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir's story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and ye so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery unfolds, Samir will know the answers to most important questions of his life.

The author has noble intentions - He takes research on suicide and dealing with it with utmost seriousness evident from the detailing we get in the initial pages about Samir's condition. The pangs of guilt he experience every now and then, his inner demons which crop up at regular intervals and his unguarded ability to reflect suicidal tendency in the most rare circumstances - all this will move your insides and make you relate to his heartbreak with a warm feeling. I particularly liked Samir relationship with the cafe owner and the back story is heart wrenching.

Problem is, these competent portions are bogged down by over exacting detailing of his dates at a cafe and other famous places in Mumbai never allowing the readers to go beyond the obvious. As you move forward in the book, the mystery is clearly founded way before the climax which is a terrible disappointment. I was also undone that those initial well written portions about Samir's depression ultimately draws down from a heart break and takes the usual, safe route of every other book you will find in market these days. At 230 odd pages, the book is long and will drain you out barring the sincere emotions behind penning it down.

I am going with generous 3/5 for Uday Mane's 'The Helpline'. Chances are you will love the first 50 odd pages, only to be undone by the safe zone author takes to complete this story. In my opinion, an opportunity wasted but i do hope to read more from the author in future.

Note: “Proceedings of Rs. 5 per book will be used for child welfare through The Rotary Foundation”

Note: “This book is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book review Program. To get free books log on to "thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com

July 13, 2014

Book Review - 167 : The Thugs and a Courtesan




Publisher : Srishti Publishers and Distributors
Author : Mukta Singh Zocchi


The Thugs and a Courtesan is on the life of a thug named Firangia and his extramarital affair with a Maratha princess named Chanda Bai. Zeroing on a folkfare type narrative, the story is woven with a historical background that of the Maratha prime minister, Balaji Baji Rao II’s exile imposed by the British. In Chanda Bai, one can see the semblance of a patriotic warrior, who on the face of a foreign invasion attempts to save her motherland. 

With extra emphasis on fanatics, the scope and ambition of the plot stands out in today's time. Mukta raises pertinent questions about the haves and have nots about killing innocent people or polygamy. These are genuine questions pertinent even in today's time, making the story more invested to readers at multiple levels. Bouncing off a beautiful cover, the pace of the narrative is brisk. The travel portions are captured decently with an eye for detail.

But the material is dense and it may take some time getting used to the characters and their obtuse tone. The dialogues are clumsily written and the flow between conversations lack a smooth touch. Multiple sub plots stand out like sore thumbs since they are not properly woven into the narrative touch and act as speeding bumps. 

I am going with 2/5 for Mukta Singh Zocchi's 'The Thugs and a Courtesan'. There are enough clues to judge that there is merit in the writing style but it requires much more compact storytelling and some smooth hand in dialogue writing.

July 1, 2014

Handful of notes 'With a Pinch of Salt'




Author : Jas Anand
Publisher : Srishti Publishers and Distributors


Rating : 2.5 / 5


With a Pinch of Salt is like a 'handbook of everyday humour'. It is based on observations of funny tendencies in people and then creating fictional caricatures and anecdotes around them. The author creates solid characters based on their quirky behaviour - each of them from your every day life and one which everyone can relate to on an emotional level. They talk in detail about each of their quirkiness, vivaciousness and other funny tendencies but at the same time it creates such long, draining stories around them that your patience is tested on reading about them.

 Any one with a good sense of humour will tell you that crisp and to the point humour works best. If you stretch it too far, it will fall flat and difficult to endorse. For a book who is actually feeding off humour as the main lynchpin to tell a story, it is way too long and verbose to start with. Humour books should be easy on the senses, need to be mercilessly edited and it should allow you to turn pages effortlessly. This one fails on those accounts.

Divided into four sections - Stupidity and its derivatives, Matter of hearts, Mind, intelligentsia and pseudo appeal and lastly, Titbits, the book is not long at 180 odd pages but the first three sections stretch too far. You can see that fourth section which is shortest of the lot creates most impact and the maximum LOL moments. You can see the talent, you just wish it was properly packaged and edited.






June 20, 2014

Book Review - 165 : Far Beyond The Dead End




Author : Saikat Baksi
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Millennia ago, the valley of Mohenja-Daro held one of the most organized and advanced civilizations for its time. Discovered in the late nineteenth century, all that was left of it now were ruins, and dead bodies. The mound of the dead, they called it, and rightly so. There were many dead bodies lying everywhere, and there stories were as mysterious as their states. What happened to the city of Mohenja-Daro? 


In a time when the city thrived, Koli was a seductive girl with an enigmatic charm. Sindhu lived with dreams burning in her eyes, and Girad with his burning passion for life. There were others, like the priest who professed to seeing a doomed future, a future cursed for all time. Their love, dreams, greed, mania and delusions formed a part of their lives, and added colour to it all the way. A mysterious series of deaths follows a frantic hunt for lust, gold and glory, and they do not stop until they destroy the very foundation of the city. Or until they venture Far Beyond the Dead End, to be discovered in the remnants of the lost city thousands of years later.

The author starts briskly and as a reader, you are interested in a superficial way - it is set in an era not many of us can claim to be familiar with and there lies its shortcoming - author never fully allows its reader to get used to the smells, sounds and surroundings of this city. Divided into three parts and only 230 odd pages long, it is wrapped up a little too neatly and too quickly for one's own convenience. A lot of people (read feminists) may be offended by the objectification and crudeness towards the female protagonist but more so because it seems forced and almost, derogatory at times.

I am going with 2.5 / 5 for Saikat Baksi's 'Far Beyond the Dead End'. It is set up in an unique world and promised much more at the start, but do not fully deliver on its promise. In the end, it is yet another triangular love story - just set up in a different era.


June 15, 2014

Quick notes on Impulse - a collection of short stories





Publisher : Rumour Books India
Author :  Reekrit Serai

Rating : 2 / 5

Impulse is a collection of short stories based on contemporary India, told with dark and mostly, tongue-in-the-cheek humour.  Most of the stories deal with love, lust, heartbreaks and takes you into a world inhabited by melancholy and at times, utter sadness. Not all stories work though, some are too short to make an impact, some lose their grip in the narrative and some don't have the right punch at the end as intended by the author. At times, author just don't invest into building the right atmospherics or characters and has been too hasty to dive into the main point. By doing this, there is hardly a surprising moment in these short stories.

Just about 170 odd pages and covering 18 short stories, most of the stories are short and crisp but hardly creates any dramatic impact.Coming from a new publishing house, you will find plethora of grammatical, punctuation, spelling and printing errors which i am sure can be taken care of in the future works ( I had the first edition to read). It's a good effort, but just not great to make you go wow!

June 10, 2014

Book Review - 163 : The Emperors Riddles



Author : Satyarth Nayak
Publisher : Amaryllis

The book begins with Om Patnaik, an author who has penned down numerous bestsellers containing scholarly stuff and is one of the most revered authors of the country. He has a bizarre fixation with number 9 and the reason behind it is explained in detail in the early part of the book. Ram Mathur, friend of Om Patnaik and a scholar himself is murdered on the ghats of Ganga. Ram, who is in Lucknow at that point of time is called on by Sia Mathur, daughter of Ram and is asked to be there at the murder site.

Inspector Parag Suri is investigating this case and names the murderer The Scorpion. The Scorpion is one a leash and is killing people across the country.As the story progresses, Om & Sia connect the dots left by Ram Mathur to resolve his murder mystery and while they are at it, they come very close to uncovering an ancient enigma that is so powerful that even Gods would kill for it.

I must admit the book has such an uncanny resemblance to last year's Ashwin Sanghi's 'The Krishna Key', a book i was not too fond of despite its commercial success. A murder mystery to be followed, a trail of mythology clues, the suspecting main protagonist, a serial killer on the loose and a back story involving the mythological/historical characters. Problem is here, the back story interspersed within the chapters (where the main narrative happens) rarely catches your attention. Drawback in Krishna Key was that the story of Krishna was just too familiar, here the material is obtuse, dense and does not provides a logical interconnections with the main narrative. In the end, these portions act as sore thumb in an otherwise taut thriller.

Nayak builds the pace with the solving of trailing clues and as a reader, you are engrossed once the clues keep opening up. The writer keeps a tight leash on its characters, furiously explaining the logic behind each clue and the background on each of it. The editing is water tight and it helps that the author does not over do the explaining of mythological references. Bouncing off an impressive cover, there is not too much time building up characters but straight away you are thrown right in the center of the murder. It grows on you as the pages progress and is saved by a climax which is surprising yet particularly believable. It also helps that writer ties up most ends to avoid any logical fallacies usually associated with such thrillers.

I am going with 3/5 for Satyarth Nayak's 'The Emperors Riddles'. Barring those portions of mythological references, it's a taut book most suitable for mythological fans. A quick weekend read, go for it.

"This review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review. For details log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com"

June 1, 2014

Quick Notes on 'Working Hard is Not enough'



Author : TGC Prasad
Publisher : Random Business / Random House India

Rating : 3 / 5

Why do only a minimal percentage of people succeed and get promoted or become entrepreneurs? Only working hard won’t help, you also need to work smart and need to make a difference in your performance. The book Working Hard is Not Good Enough helps you understand how to deal with the management and move up the ladder.

Having read all books by TGC Prasad, i must admit he does go about writing his books with painstakingly detail and meticulous research only to get undo everything by sloppy and uneven editing. Problem with his books to me has always been length and loose ends. There is no clear differentiation of what is 'done-to-death' and 'what-is-new-and-exciting' portions. 

Prasad, as in the case of previous non-fiction titles, does well when not relying on excessive jargon and business-like language to elucidate his management insights. Rather he concentrates on fairy-tale telling or using real life metaphors to strengthen the points of institutional leadership, diversity, intuition, learning & unlearning and innovation. But how many stories borne out of Apple & Steve jobs are new? How many of these stories about work culture of Google you have not read before? And there lies the most basic problem for me with the book.

With well read people picking up this book, the middle portions are a slog. The examples and stories are boring and done to death kind and even though they are deliberated sufficiently to be put in the right places, they go on for too long and adds too little. With stories after stories and very little practical or theoretical portions to back them up, the book becomes difficult to like.

Working hard is not good enough is an insightful, yet long and draining management book for all who want to make a difference to their performance, potential and life in general - to achieve success and importantly happiness. If you are not into reading management/business books, this can be an ideal start to pick one. For the oldies, it seems to be yet another business book to boost the author's consulting business.

May 17, 2014

Book Review - 160 : An Affair to Remember





Author : Harkeerat Anand
Publisher : Srishti Publisher & Distributors

Filled with cheesy motivational posters, computer workstations crammed side by side, dumb bosses / blonde's and bored employees looking for a career change - ABCDEF Corp., a software giant, rankles with a sameness of a suffocating software giants existence. Until one man and his best friend take things into their hands. What follows is a series of misadventures, flushing both men down a pink-caked urinal of self-destruction. Set in a city that once was, in an IT giant that once was, the two men journey through a cobweb of friendship, ambition, embezzlement, crime and most importantly, love. Will they survive ABCDEF Corp.? More so, will ABCDEF Corp. survive them?

If writing witty one liners and cracking LOL jokes was all about writing a book, this one would have been a winner all the way. Unfortunately, there is little plot movement in this which takes away the sheen from much fun you will obtain from the jokes and the one tone narrative structure will take away the joy from what could have been a compact little book on vagaries of corporate life.


There are multiple scenes which will make you smile - the appraisal meeting of the lead protagonist, the onsite manager visit or even the police interrogation scene when the CNG kit of the boss's car causes a minor blip. But as the narrative goes forward, the jokes dry up, becomes repetitive and in the end, there are too many diversions to end the story which does little justice to either the characters or their initial motivations.

I also couldn't understand the author's fascination with urine. Every second page, there is one reference and by the end of the book, you are completely grossed by it. The Mumbai fables and constant references seems forced and even the old vs new life seems monotonous after a while. The author does make some pertinent points regarding simple vs complex life (comparing 1990s with 2010s for example) but all this humour is weighed down in the end by lack of coherent plot.

I am going with 2/5 for Harkeerat Anand's 'An affair to remember'. It could have been a decent book but is flawed because the author relies more on tone of the characters rather than characters. An opportunity lost.

May 15, 2014

Quick Notes on 'The Love Diet'



Author : Shonali Sabherwal
Publisher : Ebury Press / Random House India

Rating : 2 / 5

In The Love Diet, Shonali Sabherwal, India’s leading and only Macrobiotic Nutritionist presents a refreshing approach to eating by sharing: Food secrets that can make you caring, loving and giving; Tips to enhance sexual appetite in men and women; Magical food and lifestyle factors needed for better sex and and love between the sexes; How to reach a place of love 24 x7 with the food and lifestyle you have; The Love Diet is your "go-to book" for advice and solutions on how to feel happy, healthy and full of love.

It is a unique book in a way to designed to cultivate and improve health and vitality for a happy blissful life full of love on all levels. It serves as an overall guide to healthier and happier life choices that can make you caring, loving and giving. It also provides recipes, insights and tips on effective workouts and how one can attain overall balance, both in your life through healthy eating.

I must admit reading books based on cooking or dieting is not my cup of tea and after reading this book, my views hasn't changed much. Don't get me wrong, it is a book written by an expert, launched by famous Bollywood celebrities and marketed extensively. But solely going by my low expectations, i still found it to be verbose, overwritten and took little solace in getting something out of it as an health benefit.

Problem here is that the material is too dense for a common person. It is written in jargon filled way suitable only for people who is extensively into training/dieting about their food habits. Multiple times during the book reading, i failed to connect the dots. I even found the complex relationships between sex and food way over the top and LOL variety.  There are no clear examples based on a certain point and at times the non-fiction narrative completely loses the point and delves into personal relationships of the writer.

I am sure there will be people who will benefit more by reading this. Solely going by my reading expectations and experience, i found it to be a slog. Try it, if it suits your reading sensibilities, you may find it quite appealing.

May 4, 2014

IPL Fan report for ESPNcricinfo


Here is the link for the Fan report i wrote for ESNPcricinfo for the 3 May match between Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals played at Firoshah Kotla in Delhi. Feedback welcome!


April 30, 2014

Quick Notes on 'The Bad Touch'



Author : Payal Shah Karwa
Publisher : Hay House India

Rating : 3 / 5

The Bad touch - The true story of Harish Iyer and other thrivers of child sex abuse is a disturbing, yet enlightening stories about survivors of child sex abuse. Primarily focusing on Harish Iyer, an award winning social activist who first shared his disturbing story of his sexual abuse on the television show Satyamev Jayate and who gave voice to the issue when most would be silent.

Half of the book concentrates on his story - his background, how he was first abused and how it continued over the years, how he first decided to say no and confront his abuser and how he was able to finally overcome it. His story is ironic and horrifying in equal measures, he is castigated by society; his own father believes Harish to be at fault, his sexual orientation constantly linked to his abuse as a child and a lonely solo battle to help other sufferers like himself. It is tough journey and the author tries to bring this in as detail as possible within the realms of non-fiction book.

There are others noted film director Anurag Khashyap, a victim of incest and sexual abuse, not once but many times over. Jai, living in a Mumbai high rise suffers abuse and a now 34-year-old mother who suffered sexual abuse as a 12 year old. Nidhi, who is raped within premises of a Catholic school by a peon and how school authorities try and curb the matter. Story of Lata who is abused by her own uncle during the days when her mother is pregnant and many more.

But keeping the noble intentions aside on this important topic, the book is exacting with under narrative at numerous places, yet giving over-worked wordplay and clunky descriptions. The book (apart from Harish's Story) is not overtly graphic in its sexual abuse scenes which takes away from some of its effect of the crime. It was also surprising to see no story from a female sexual abuser, which even though less prevalent is still important. It leads to a dangerous, indirect conclusion about only male abusers which i am sure was not the intention of the writer.

Having said that, all the stories in the book will shock, horrify, sadden, repulse and numb the readers. But underlying them is the small ray of hope that if the immediate family is sensitive enough to the signals a child may send out, he or she may be rescued from being victimized. This book is a mission to help ebb the trauma of survivors and inspire them to create awareness of the issue of child sex abuse amongst parents/guardians.

March 20, 2014

Book Review - 154 : Timmy in Tangles




Author : Shals Mahajan
Publisher : Duckbill Books
Illustrations by Shreya Sen


Timmi’s life is full of tangles: Her mother expects her to go to school even though she’s a raja; Idliamma eats up all her idlis and everyone thinks Timmi ate them ... and why can’t people understand that if you have a giant for a friend you can lift the roof to let the rain in? 

Timmy in Tangles is a small little children graphic book which will sweep you away with the sincerity and sweetness of its lead protagonist. The writer's approach of storytelling to tell the narrative from the point of view of the child brings in a fresh perspective on the table. In just over 70 odd pages, author sweeps you away with Timmi's emotions - sad, sweet, funny and distressed. The book can engage readers of all ages, which is no mean feat in this age. The lines between reality and fiction are seamlessly blended in a contemporary, urban India where her experiences are told in an easy, impeccable manner. She comes from an non-orthodox family but that point is never forced into the story, but told with ease and finesse.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Shals Mahajan's 'Timmy in Tangles'. Read it for your child or read it with him/her but don't miss it.

[Update : 28 May, 2015 - Book was nominated and won at the Vodaphone Crossword Book award 2014]

March 15, 2014

Quick thoughts on 'Supertraits of Superstars'




Author : Priyanka Sinha Jha
Publisher : Rupa & Co.

Rating : 2.5 / 5 

Supertraits of Superstars....Success Secrets of Bollywood's Brightest by Priyanka Sinha Jha looks at 11 stars from Bollywood, and the attribute that is perhaps most responsible for their success. She details their stories, their struggles, their efforts to overcome setbacks, and what it is about them that made them not just reach the top of their game, but stay there. Be it Amitabh Bachchan's discipline, Aamir Khan's perfectionist nature, Salman Khan's generosit, John Abraham's enterprise or Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's grace - each star has one unique quality that others can learn and move forward in their lives.

As a journalist for eighteen years and now the editor of an entertainment weekly –Screen from the Indian Express Group, Priyanka Sinha Jha has met and interviewed many stars from the Bollywood industry, but it was a blog by the Bollywood stalwart Amitabh Bachchan that compelled her to think what goes behind the making of a star. The author employs the medium of pithy observations and conversations done with these stars during her journalist days.

Keeping my personal observations apart about the hard work film stars need to put in and the constant scrutiny they are subjected to, the book do provide some keen observations about the lives of these stars. For example : How SRK used his networking skills to rope in all the advertisers to invest in Ra.One rather than financing the project by a big studio which he could have been done easily. Or how Vidya Balan was bold enough to reject Anurag Basu for under-appreciated serial 'Love story' so that she can debut in Parineeta.

My major concern with the book is that it overlooks the fact how standing for these values, actors have suffered in one way or another for a long duration and somehow with passage of time they have been able to make peace with it. Take instance of Aamir Khan who was shown the door by Late Yash Chopra when he was constantly cribbing about joint narrations with Sunny Deol for Darr (1993). It's a fact of the matter than Yash Raj films did not worked with AK for years till Kunal Kohli directed Fanaa happened in 2006. The author fails to connect all the dots and is keen to delve into the positive side of these stars.

You want to know more about the business/emotional side of these stars like John does when he asks the author about the circulation of the magazine he is about to give an interview. There are small nuggets about filmi trivia which you would enjoy - like Ranbir acting in India, 1964 a short film directed by Abhay Chopra before making his big screen debut in Saawariya in 2007. or how Aishwarya rai who was shown the door for Mangal Pandey for asking too much money from the producer Booby Bedi.

But i am afraid these nuggets are far and few in between. Most of the qualities of these film stars are well known and stretching them over a book look laborious and borderline boring. I was also not particularly impressed by the numerous quotes inserted every now and then in the narrative which serves no purpose than breaking the flow of knowing about these stars. Read it if you know little about the film industry or Bollywood stars.

The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.

March 14, 2014

Notes on Carnival



Author : Multiple
Publisher : Litizen.com


Rating : 3.5/5


'Carnival' is a collection of fifteen short stories written by multiple authors in various genres. The initial idea of bringing around these stories is to put them on the website 'Litizen.com' where authors seek feedback on the content and overall quality. The best of the lot is then published in this book named 'Carnival' (first being 'Labyrinth' released earlier).  As a personal opinion, i am not a great fan of multiple genres anthologies. I feel as a reader they demand greater concentration and you tend to drag the book into multiple sessions which take away slightly from the overall experience of enjoying the book. However, the quality of short stories in Carnival is overwhelming and most of the stories stand out for their unique storytelling style.

Rishabh Chaturvedi, who has written 3 stories (also the co-founder of Litizen) explores sci-fic genre the most- 'Rhode Island' is about an oil millionaire hunting for pleasure and the detailing of the imagery of the island is well captured. 'Carnival' as the last story explores sci-fic genre and time travel through a father and a son. 'Morarka House' is a bitter sweet tale about the greed of lawyers and property dispute of two brothers.

'Opportunity knocks but once' by Sheela Jaywant throws in an interesting premise of choosing between bad and the evil while keeping your morals tucked in a medical world. 'Agni' by Sreelatha Chakravarthy take us back to the times of Ramayana and show us the mind of Sita before the Agni Pariksha she has been unscrupulously subjected to. 'Ayesha' by Vivek Banerjee explore the dark machinations of the mind and eagerness to draw wrong conclusions. 'Grandma's Secret' explores the schizophrenic mind of the head of a family looking to bond ties with her granddaughter.

However, my personal favourite vote goes to Sharath Komarajju' who shows great potential in dealing with diverse genres. 'The Music Shop' deals with the concept of time travel while pushing your luck to infinite limits. 'Envy' deals with the last person/robot on earth and his personal taste in music. 'End of an Era' deals with college crushes and the writer keeps the narrative tight, peppered with humour not to allow the story to sunk into stereotype romance.

Overall, the book delivers on providing us quality short stories even though the number of stories exploring science fiction and time travel sound repetitive and borderline boring at times in the narrative. Couple of stories seems underdeveloped and does not delve too much exploring the emotional quotient of their lead protagonists. But these are mere nitpicking's in an otherwise solid anthology exploring different genres. If you are a short story fan, it is one book you should not miss this year.
.

February 28, 2014

Quick notes on a business novel inspired by the Mahabharata


Publisher : Jaico
Author : Avinash B. Sharma

Rating : 2/5

Yogic Manager - A business novel inspired by The Mahabharata by Avinash B. Sharma was written to bridge Yoga-Vedanta and Management in one place. The story is the medium by which several new frameworks, business models and management principles are explained incorporating the philosophies and teachings of the Bhagavad Gita , Mahabharata, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras.

The book is a modern retelling of the ancient mythological epic, the Mahabharata, set in today's world of business. The epic's war of Kurukshetra has been recreated in the world of business at a consulting firm called Characterra Consulting. The protagonist is Arjun Atmanand who faces a crisis when his conscience clashes with the instructions of his boss and Characterra's founder, Raja Sahamkar.

To help him with his crisis, Arjun receives advice from Yogi, a being with supernatural powers. Arjun learns Yoga and Vedanta from Yogi, which he uses to build a bridge between Yoga-Vedanta and Management. Arjun develops a set of Yogic Management frameworks and principles that are the foundations of this bridge: 1. Reality-Consciousness-Bliss Framework 2. Knowledge Work Equation 3. Motive-Mind-Means Framework 4. Purposeful Life Framework 5. Principles of Yogic Management 6. Yogic Management Mantra 


The book takes a difficult path to navigate and is extremely dense and seriously long. Points are stretched to the point of breaking and without any practical examples, it's a test of patience. It also doesn't help that author decides make impractical suggestions and offer very little solutions.  Read it if you must!