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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!

February 21, 2014

Hot notes on Eighteen Plus short stories

Author : Apurv Nagpal
Publisher : Rupa Publications

Rating : 3 / 5

Eighteen Plus - bedtime stories for grown ups by Apurv Nagpal is a mix of wicked, desi and steamy short stories with an interesting mix of characters thrown in from every strata of society. There are bad, good and average stories in this collection, but what binds them together is a fantasy thread in upper middle class society without any guilt feeling. There is no holding back here (pun unintended) which actually works better for setting up the tone of the book.

A computer programmer about to fly finds his least likely to be fulfilled fantasies and his mothers predictions coming true after a smoking hot woman takes the seat next to his. Tauji, a politician, kidnaps a sexologist couple from their house on the Delhi-Haryana border, but he wants much more than ransom from them, as The Sexologist Reveals. Meenu Verma addresses the Ladies Kitty Party Group, North Zone and shares a Power Point presentation of how she went down to rise up to the very top. Manoj invites Malti over for some fun and a little work, when they have the house to themselves in The Mice Shall Play.

The book works in spurts - there are some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments like the one in which friends join in to hear sex on speaker phones or the one in which friends join in a marriage and try and find moments of privacy. But couple of chapters - one, a guide on sex and another one on sexting are dull, boring and don't really fit into the larger scheme of things.

But in the end, there is enough juice to keep you going in this book. Read whichever way you want - one short story at a time or at one go. There is something erotic to be enjoyed in each of them - i just wish it had struck more a balance in fantasy and real life, either side would have been more fun.

February 14, 2014

Book Review - 151 : Bankerupt

Author : Ravi Subramanian
Publisher : Penguin India

I was critical about Ravi Subramanian's last work, which i thought was a tight thriller but somehow it does not transcends the banking boundaries author has self imposed. Bankerupt, author's latest offering take first minor step in moving away from an all-bank-based narrative and explore other dark side of business in India.

The book runs in three parallel, but interrelated tracks. Cirisha Narayanan is about a research associate in Social Psychology at MIT who is extremely passionate about her career and vocal about her morals and ethics and doesn't like people around her breaching safe territories for their personal benefits.  Aditya Raisinghania, an investment banker at Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) in Mumbai who takes liberty to turn things his way whenever required. He is always more concerned about the end results without paying much heed to the practices involved in achieving the same. And third track is about Narayanan, Cirisha’s father who runs his business in Coimbatore. 

Narayanan first met Aditya at GB2’s office when he required a whopping 50 crore rupees to expand his business.The basic concept of the book taken from the Adidas-Rebook franchise fraud, which forms the major portion of the book. The writing is taut, well edited and keep you on your toes with twists and turns.  The author makes subplots interesting by investing in hot burning topics - whether it is Gun Act in US or EMU farming in South India. The portions of internal politics of MIT are bit tedious and stays for a little too long. It is always difficult to join all the dots in the climax, but barring a few hiccups the end is done pretty conclusively. Most characters have a grey shade around them which eventually makes the narrative interesting.

I am going with 3.5/5 for Bankerupt. If reading tight, page-turning is your liking, there are good chances you will enjoy reading this one. And as far as Ravi's writing graph is concerned, this is a step in the right direction.

[Review of Ravi Subramanian's earlier works - I bought the Monk's Ferrari, The Incredible Banker, The Bankster ]

[Update - 3 May, 2015 : Bankster won the Crossword award in the popular fiction category]

February 1, 2014

Book Review - 150 : Nazaqat

Author : Sasha.H.Singhal
Publisher : Half Baked Beans Publishing

I have never completely understood the fascination of writers using pseudonym when they themselves promote it by their own name. Considering solely on Indian standards, the content of this book may be considered as 'bold' and may be that prompted the decision of not using your own name on the book cover. But that does not take away from the fact that it is still a book waiting to find its own identity.

Naazani, a shy girl with a lonely childhood, was born and brought up in Dehradun. She moves to a metropolitan for further education and gets absorbed. In a series of events, she decides to adopt prostitution and becomes one of the most successful high profile escorts of the city with the help of her manager Sharat. In a quest to be successful, she leaves her friends behind and dedicates more time to her profession. Nazaqat witnesses a police raid at a nearby place and the real scenario of prostitution terrifies her. She decides to take a stand and do something about it.

However, Sharat convinces her that she is not powerful enough to make a difference. Nazaqat retires and pool all her money and starts a restaurant 'Joy foods' in partnership with Sharat. The business grows and soon enough they have numerous outlets in various cities and Naazani Singh Shekhawat emerges as a significant entrepreneur of nation. To cherish the old memories, she organizes a group together and calls all her old friends. 

Next morning, it is found that something drastic happened the night before. Meanwhile, she invites an author Matthews, who is an old acquaintance to pen down her own biography. He visits her each night and in a series of ten nights, her story finds its crescendo. Will prostitution be legalized? Whats her intention with the biography she is planning? What shall be the fate of Naazani Singh Shekhawat aka Nazaqat?

Set in 2030 India, so that presumably we will be more 'bolder' and 'modern' then (though hardly anything happens in the story which makes you believe we are that far ahead in time), the book should be praised for approaching the sexual themes with full throttle - even touching on homosexuality, gender discrimination and need of prostitution with confident, but broad strokes. The lingo signifies the latest fads and cuss words, but what is lacking here is lack of finesse to take the story to the next level. Instead, there is underlining of each emotion, there is hardly any thing left to the imagination of readers and soon, it becomes one preaching lesson on prostitution.

The length of the book also don't help much. At 200 pages and plot material so thin, it will taste your patience. The poems/snippets interspersed within the narrative act as speed breakers and hardly contribute anything additional to the story. I am going with 2.5/5 for 'Nazaqat', it's a brave mess. But mess, nevertheless.