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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita - Book Review

Amazing Secrets of the Bhagavad Gita by ED Viswanathan has a catchy title. When I read the author’s bio, I thought that this book is going to offer me some new insights about the Gita. But this book just aims to cash in on the popularity of the Gita.

The book is not about the Gita. The author does not appear to have studied the Gita or done any serious research about it. He just wrote whatever he wanted to write and sold it under the garb of the Gita. Abortion, homosexuality, Sati, menstruation have nothing to do with the Gita. They don’t even find any mention in the holy book. Yet the author devotes chapters to each of these topics. There is no harm in discussing these issues. But selling it under the name of the Gita is certainly misleading.

The author attributes Lord Krishna saying in Mahabharata that non-violence is the ultimate Dhrama. So too violence is in service of Dharma. This jihadic interpretation of the verses is dangerous.

Having said that let me tell you what I liked about the book. The author says that Hinduism never forbids anyone from criticizing it. Unfortunately this unique aspect of the ancient religion appears to be forgotten in today’s modern times. Not even one Hindu has been banished or killed because he or she preached against the Vedas or made fun of the God. Through this book I learnt about Charvaka school in Hinduism, which did not accept the authority of the Vedas and which believed in materialism. The author also tells us that according to Sankhya school life on the earth is not a miracle worked by God but a creative process that passes through different phases of change and transformation. The author also claims that the order of the Dasa Avatars tallies with Darwin’s theory of evolution.

I also liked what the author has to say about salvation. He says the Bhagwad Gita asserts that salvation is for everybody. The only difference between people is the time salvation will take. The best among us will attain it in one lifetime and the worst will attain it only after many lives. The author also states that Hinduism does not glorify poverty. The author says that once you step on the ladder of spirituality you will only go forward, never backward. With regard to the references regarding caste and women in the Gita, the author says that Veda Vyasa has stated the prevailing beliefs of that time. Again the author makes a highly controversial statement by saying that Veda Vyasa has written the Gita.

You may like few concepts set out in the book. But this book is not about the Bhagwad Gita and it does not reveal any secret. So don’t judge this book by its cover.

The Reengineers - Book Review

Indu Muralidharan’s novel is named the Reengineers. It has a young man, who with his well kept sideburns appears to be an engineering student. The initial impression which the book gives is that this is yet another love story set in the engineering campus. But thankfully it isn’t.

The Reengineers is the story of Chinmay who is contemplating suicide. His parents are undergoing a divorce and it is taking a toll in his life as well. I could absolutely relate to Chinmany’s emotions. The author has done a good job in articulating his feelings, his insecurities.

One day Chinmay and his friends go to his uncle’s library. From the window of the library they enter into another world which is the Seeker’s school. I feel this transition should have been smooth. As a reader I was having difficult time comprehending what is happening. How a realistic novel suddenly turned into a fantasy or was it a dream? I could not find answers to these questions even when I reached fag end of the novel.

The Seeker’s school exposes the big spiritual market. It tells us how spirituality has become a lucrative business. I liked this part of the story. How people come in search of something and get entangled into another materialistic pursuit, is narrated quite well. Then there is Siddharth who too has gone through the same fate as Chinmay. He has written a book with Chinmay as protagonist. Chinmay finds some advice through this book.

Too many cooks spoil the broth is an old English adage. The author mixes too many things albeit unsuccessfully. Siddharth’s angle should have been explored more. Chinmay’s sudden transformation is hard to digest. Naked couple behind the bushes near the lake, bizarre looking people try to create a fantasy around the Seeker’s school. Unfortunately the fantasy ends there itself. Had the author written the book in more linear fashion, the book would have been effective.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


Zapstore wants to create a single platform for all e-commerce sites like flipkart, amazon, paytm, snapdeal etc. On Zapstore you will find the best deals. These deals are not picked up by Zapstore. But they are picked by common users like you and me. So the benefit is that real users are sharing the best deals for you. Online sales are becoming cofusing. The mission of Zapstore is that it does not want us to get confused. Picking one jeans from lakhs of search results would be difficult. So Zapstore wants to show us the best products from all online portals. 

I visited Zapstore. Let me honest. Initially I found the website to be very confusing. But I searched for a few products in a few categories. I absolutely loved this red and black watch. Its colour combination, which is tried and tested set it apart from other watches. It grabbed my eyes immediately. Plus it comes from the trusted company of Daniel Clein. So Zapstore gave me the direct link to the best deal which was Zabong. I am waiting for this watch to be delivered to me. You can find this watch on my profile You will get the best deal and I will get some points. So its win-win situation for all.

I require mouse even when I am working on a laptop. Call it a habit, a conditioning or whatever you want. I cannot live without my mouse. Let me tell you that my laptop touch pad is working superbly. Yet I want my mouse when I am working. It makes scrolling the page easier. I had never thought that a mouse could be as trendy as this.

I found this colourful, zebra like mouse on Zapstore. It is wireless. It comes for the best price. It is for deals like this you must visit Zapstore. You can find this mouse by clicking on my profile.
Laptop with an intenet connection has become my fourth need of life. So when I found this wonderful deal for this superb laptop I thought of sharing it with you. Indeed Zapstore is offering the best deals for its visitors.

All of you know how much I love books. So when I came to know about this book which was about secret lives of thousands of men and women, I wanted to buy it immediately. Again Zaspstore offered me the best deal. You too can visit my profile and find the best deals. 
I am making my own store for the #BestZapStore activity at BlogAdda in association with Zapstore. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Betle nut and some advice

I want to become a pilot.’ I had answered when the class teacher had asked me what I want to become when I grow up. I was in second standard then. It was my dream to fly the plane into the sky. I had flied it in my imagination a thousand times. I would pass through the clouds. From the sky the mountains on the earth looked liked matchboxes and houses were just specs. I wanted to grow at the earliest so that my dream would shape into reality. So I would eat all the vegetables including those which were leafy and drink milk. ‘If you eat leafy vegetables and drink milk daily you will grow soon.’ Aai, my mother had told me.

As I grew something changed. Something changed within me and something changed around me. I became a victim of partiality. My teachers were highly partial towards those students who took their private tuitions. They paid more attention towards them. They also gave them extra-marks. I still remember when I was in eighth I had written that betel nut was a monocot plant and my biology teacher had marked it as wrong. I went and requested her to reconsider my answer. ‘betel nut is a monocot plant.’ I told again.

Your tongue has started to waggle too much. Still there are marks of internal assessment in my hands. Do not forget it.’ She said. I was disturbed. What sin had I committed. I had just told her that my answer was correct. But she became defensive and even threatened to assign lesser marks in the internal assessment.

I was disturbed. I cried a lot. I did not feel like going to school. Going to school meant facing those obnoxious teachers again. I lost all the interest in studies. But my parents compelled me to go to school daily.

But I couldn’t live with injustice. One day I went to the Principal’s cabin. I told her all that had happened. ‘If this is the case then it is very wrong.’ She herself was a biology teacher before she became Principal. She knew betel nut was a monocot plant. She summoned my biology paper. The biology teacher was summoned. She took the defence that I was very argumentative and did not respect the teachers. ‘But betel nut is a monocot plant.’ The Principal said and the biology teacher was silenced.

The Principal said, ‘My dear Mahesh, I am glad that you stood up for justice. For others it may seem a very small thing. But you had a valid point. There is no harm in raising voice when things are going wrong. Many time adults do not like pointing their mistakes. They feel that they are always right. But the way you presented your case was excellent. These skills will take you a very long way. I think you should become a lawyer. You have inborn skills for that profession. When I am saying this I am not joking. I am offering you serious advice. Think over it.’

“I am blogging about my dreams and the people who helped make them true for the #AdviceThatMattered activity at BlogAdda in association with Stoodnt.”

Advice that changed my life

It would not be wrong to say that I was a star in my college. I was tall, fair, had green eyes. Regular exercise in the gym ensured that I had a good physique.
He is directly out of the Mills & Boons novels. He is my hero.’ I had overheard a girl say about me. That day my chest swelled with pride and I did extra rounds in the gym.

I wasted the entire year in flaunting my flamboyance. I hardly studied. Now exams were nearing and I was afraid of failure. I resolved not to appear for exams.
Your exams are starting tomorrow. What shall I make for breakfast tomorrow? Shall I make rice pudding? It is filling and gives energy.’ Aai my mother asked me.
Do not prepare anything. I am not appearing for exams this time.’
What do you mean?’
I will take a drop this year. I will appear for the examination the next year.’
Just go and appear for the exam. Let us decide what to do next after the results are out.’
What if I fail?’
You wont fail.’
How you know? I have hardly studied.’
Do not over think. Just go and answer your papers.’
Aai you don’t know how difficult this year’s syllabus is.’
Not only syllabus but life also offers difficult examinations and there is no option of dropping out.’
What do we do then?’
Don’t think of the result. Don’t worry of the final outcome. Just do whatever needs to be done. Many times the dreadful outcome never happens.’
Be clear.’
Open the book and start studying. Write your exams. Its simple.’

I had no other option. Moreover Aai had more experience of the world then me. I opened the book. I hadn’t read anything. I became tensed. For I was afraid of the failure. Don’t think of the outcome. Aai’s words rung in my ears. I kept on reading loudly. Reading loudly diverted my attention from my thoughts.

The next day I appeared for my exams. Of course the paper was difficult. But I was able to attempt half of the questions on the basis of what I had read yesterday. I wrote the paper and returned home. I stopped fretting over the thoughts of failure and just read all that I could. I answered all the papers. When the results were out, I had passed. I hadn’t topped the examinations but I hadn’t failed either.

Aai’s advice helped me to complete my studies. I got a good job. Had Aai not advised me that day, my life would have been different. I thank Aai and her advice for changing my life for good.

“I am blogging about my dreams and the people who helped make them true for the #AdviceThatMattered activity at BlogAdda in association with Stoodnt.” 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Panorama - book review

I love short stories. Unfortunately this genre is not very popular with the publishers. They chose to publish short stories collections only of established writers. So when I saw Shilpi Chaklanobis’s Panorama a collection of short stories I immediately grabbed it.

Shilpi’s collection opens with the story Wok. Here a poor housemaid gives her daughter money to have fun at the fair. Instead the daughter returns with a wok for her mother. Shilpi makes a wrong choice with the opening story. This story bears uncanny resemblance with one of Munshi Premchand’s famous stories. So after reading the opening story Wok, I developed a negative outlook towards her writing. Fortunately the other stories were very well written and my perspective towards Shilpi’s writing changed.

The second story Peanut is about the man-dog relationship. In the story the thirst, Shilpi articulates the dynamics of a mother-daughter relationship very well. Her description of the daughter who longs for the company of her mother and who doesn’t hesitate while drinking the poison offered by her mother brought tears into my eyes. This story is very well written and is a nail biting thriller.

Selective secularism talks of the double standards which people harbour. The story bribe revolves around the question which we adults ask our children often ‘Whom do you love more, Mummy or Papa?’ The wait is a story of a young bride whose husband has gone missing. The protagonist in the story successfully hunts him, only to find that he has become a eunuch. The second tsumani is the story of an orphaned brother and sister. The example deals with the teacher-student relationship. It exhibits how teachers can positively influence their students.

In the story the meeting Shilpi demonstrates how financial conditions change the dynamics of friendship. The mirage deals with the thoughts of a child, who has been raised by a single parent, towards the other parent.

Destiny is the weakest story in the collection and I didn’t understand what the author wanted to convey through this story. The Untimely death is about the atrocities faced by the Sikh community post Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The story is narrated from the perspective of a school child, who is not a Sikh. Before it is too late speaks of busy men who always have an excuse for not giving time to their families – I am slogging for you people. All the family members move on and the protagonist finds out that no family member has any time for him.

The sealed wish, the last story of the book is the best story in the collection. Shilpi charms the readers with the suspense revolving around the urn. It reminded me of O Henry’s writing style. Shilpi, in the next edition of this collection, please put the opening story at the end and vice-versa.

Most of Shilpi’s stories revolve around human relationships. She touches almost every relationship. Her stories are set among the poor as well rich. Her writing is poignant. She has good knowledge of human behaviour and relationships and it shows in her writing. I felt she has used the word frequency incorrectly on page 53 of the book. Also I did not understand what she wanted to say by using words she said emotionally on page 54. There are multiple emotions. Which emotion was she referring to?

Yet I liked this collection. It brought the charm of short stories back. Such collections deserve encouragement. Only then the big publishers will realize their potential.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Destiny of Shattered Dreams - Book Review

Behind every great fortune there is a crime, is the iconic opening line of Mario Puzo’s the Godfather. Unfortunately the line stands true even today and applies to teh corporate world too. Nilesh Rathod’s Destiny of Shattered Dreams depicts the ugly picture of the corporate world. Atul Malhotra starts his career as an employee of a telecom company. Soon he starts his own company. His company becomes one of the topmost companies of the country within fifteen years of its inception. But how? Through black money pumped by the politicians through their Swiss bank agents. Through murders of honest employees. At the cost of Atul’s marriage and equally unsuccessful romantic relationship. Ultimately Atul, the winner of the entrepreneur of the year award lands in jail. Was it worth it? Wasn’t he more happy when he drew mere thirty thousand rupees salary as an employee of the company? Destiny of Shattered dreams tries to answer some of these questions.

The plot draws a huge inspiration from the spectrum scam which shook the country few years ago. It is hard to believe that this is the debut novel of the author for it is exceptionally well written. The writing is incisive and point blank. The author does not waste any ink for unnecessary explanations. He delivers a racy story. Ironically at places this becomes the flaw of the book. On page 160 the protagonist feels things are happening too soon, too fast. I echoed this emotion since the beginning of the book. Things happen so fast in the novel that at times you have difficulty comprehending as to what is happening.

Not just the corporate happenings, but the author also articulates Atul’s relationships very well. Be it with his best friend, wife or girlfriend. The way the dynamics of Atul-Aarti’s relationship change post Atul’s ugly divorce is absolutely brilliant. The author has a good understanding of human emotions.

Unlike what is stated in the book, ED officials do not take statements on Oath. Also the book cover says that a beautiful wooden bookmark worth Rs.125 is inside the book. No one would pay more than Rs.10 for that bookmark.

Yet I pardon the author, for Destiny of Shattered Dreams sets forth a stunning, realistic and fresh story which will entertain you, disturb you and make you ponder over the question how much does a human need to be happy.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A broken man - Book Review

A broken man by Akash Verma is one of the best books which I have read this year. This is the story of Krishna, a dalit boy and Chhavi who is a mighty Brahmin politician’s daughter. Chhavi is active into student politics. Krishna is used by the rival party to disrupt Chhavi’s meetings. Her clout in the university is increasing. Then one day Chhavi is doused in petrol. Krishna is being told that it is only to create a fear in her mind. But the flames soon start to consume her body. Krishna saves her and they fall in love. But Krishna has two enemies now. The rival gang who wished to kill him and Chhavi’s family who will not approve of their alliance. So he runs to Mumbai where he gets a job at a copy-writing agency with Chaavi’s reference. His secret diary paves way to make him the writer of a Bollywood movie. But he still longs for Chaavi who is now married to someone else. Will their paths meet again? To know this you will have to read a broken man.

The title on the cover in toggle case says it all. In this story the writer has placed the same utensils on the same rack but in a different manner, different order. It is different yet the same. The student politics backdrop coupled with the dalit angle makes the story poignant. The story brings to the fore the plight of dalits in modern India. Krishna’s parents, their house all brought tears in my eyes. My respect for such children who fight against all odds to gain education, enhanced by leaps and bounds.

The book is interspersed with Krishna’s Hindi poetry and Chhavi’s grandmother’s stories. The scene where Chahavi tells Krishna over the phone that she chose her family over him and the scene where they are reunited show the writer’s command over his medium.

Who says pulp fiction is all about marketing? Who says only love stories set in IIMs and IITs work? Here is a story rooted in the real India, revolving around real people and is yet positive, motivating, encouraging and even endearing. This is a book not to be missed.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Break Free - Book Review

Most of the problems of the world are either due to wrong communication or lack of communication. So proper communication is very important, be it at work or home. V. Rajesh’s Break free is a book which will help you become a better communicator, in the words of the author  a Virtuoso communicator.

The author incorporates many examples to make his point. He draws stories from Mahabharata as well from his real life with equal ease. The stories help us to understand the point. Though some of the stories are known to us some are new. I liked the story of the car that liked Vanilla ice-cream.

Through these stories and anecdotes the author tells us the vital aspects of communication. Clarity of thoughts, conviction, sincerity and honesty, listening and comprehension are some of the important aspects of any good communication. Similarly tone, pitch, volume, brevity as well as relevance and timing also affect communication. The author underlines the point that men and women communicate in a different fashion. Similarly age and ego states also affect the communication. The author elaborates the ego states in a very simple language.

The author also provides special guidelines for communication through the digital medium. At the end of the book he summarizes the entire book. If you want to become a better communicator this book will help you.