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Friday, 27 January 2017

Who am I?

Who am I? A young man in the early thirties. A man who has had no fun of any sorts. A man who has a paunch and a bald patch. A man who has aged prematurely. A man who gets irritated by the slightest of the thing. A man who has anger at the drop of the hat. Anger with the establishment. Anger with the office politics. Anger with the genetics that caused me lose my hair. Anger with my family members who unlike me are able to enjoy the joys of life. Is this me? Unfortunately yes.

Once I too was a little boy with dreams in his eyes. Concentrate on your studies. You can dream later my parents told me. So I studied. I studied day and night, and gave up all play. I wanted to impress my parents. I wanted to make them happy. I wanted them to be proud of me. Thanks to my preparation, persistence and perseverance, I was extremely confident of my performance. Yet there was no denying that there were butterflies in my stomach when the day of results approached.

The result was out. I got 99 marks in mathematics out of 100. I stood second in the school for there was another boy who had scored 100 out of 100. ‘Where did you lose one mark?’ My mother asked me. By losing one mark I had robbed her joy, her pride of being the mother of the boy who had scored cent per cent marks. I felt terribly guilty. I felt like a failure, while those who had just scraped through their exams enjoyed their success. I had stood second, but still I was a failure when it came to securing the first spot. Yet I completed my education from a reputed college.

Then I fell in love and married the girl I loved. She was an exceptionally beautiful and bright girl. She had an image of her prince charming in her mind and I did all that I could to fit into that image. I did the things which I didn’t like and the things which didn’t suit me, like spending a fortune on that ludicrously expensive suit in which I felt like a clown. But I did it. I even severed my ties with my parents because my wife did not like it.

I did everything that I could to make other happy, to make others like me. But the end result was that neither I was happy nor did I like myself. 

Then came the #MagicOfWarmth. I stood before the mirror and said. ‘I love you very much. I love you irrespective of the fact whether you stand first or second. I love you the way you are. So what if you don’t fit into that nonsensical image of prince charming? I love you, and remember one thing it doesn’t matter if anyone loves you or not, I will love you until my last breath and my love will not reduce like that of the waning moon.’

“I’m blogging about my #MagicOfWarmth moment at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed Hot Oil

My irritating mom

What are you doing? What are you eating? Where are you going? Whose call was it? What was he saying? My mother and her questions were irritating me. It was not that I didn’t like her. But I certainly didn’t like her incessant running commentary over every thing. That day I was watching a movie on TV. She came and sat next to me on the sofa. ‘Is that Deepika Padukone?’ She asked me referring to an actress on the screen, who by no stretch of imagination bore any resemblance with Deepika Padukone.
I have retired as a teacher. I have been speaking for all these years and it has become a habit.’ She told me once. Her logic was that having served a long tenure as a teacher, she was accustomed to giving long, boring lectures. But why I was her victim? Because I didn’t have a room of my own? Because though earning in lakhs I was still staying with my mother? Didn’t I wish to have a space of my own? I never went out with my friends for a vacation or even for a drink. It was always my family for me. But now my mother was making my BP shoot all the time with her over interference in my life.

Why don’t you join some club. May be a pensioners’ club or a women’s club or a bhajan mandali. Women of your age spend time in religious activities and you have no other work but to irate me in some way or the other.’ I told her one fine morning.

Do I irate you?’
Yes you do and I have been suffering it for all these years.’ I said, banged the door and went for a walk. I could feel the rise in my body temperature. I was perspirating. I walked very fast as if I was in a hurry to run away from my home, from my mother. When I felt tired I sat for some time on a deserted bus stop. Finally having no other place to go I returned home. It was evening and my mother was sitting in the dark.

Why are you sitting in the dark?’ I asked her and switched on the lights.
Nothing I irritate you all the time. Now I have decided that I wont speak much.’ She said.
I guess you must have resolved this for hundredth time.’
But this time I am going to follow it scrupulously.’ She said.
What’s that in your hands?’ She asked me.
I have got samosas for you like it.’ I said as I placed the samosas from the packet into her plates.
Why don’t you have one?’ She offered me her samosa.
You know very well that I hate samosas.’
Then too you brought it for me?’ She asked.
Yes, I got it because you like it. I got it because....’
You love me.’ She said completing my sentence.
Yes, but only when you don’t irritate me.’ I said and both of us had a very good laugh.

“I’m blogging about my #MagicOfWarmth moment at BlogAdda in association with Parachute Advansed Hot Oil

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Where the river parts - book review

Radhika Swarup's Where the River Parts is a story of unrequited love set in the times of partition. This is the story of Asha. Nargis is her best friend and neighbour. They reside in what is present day Pakistan. Firoze is Nargis's brother. Asha and Firoze fall in love. Firoze even asks for Asha's hand to her father. He tells Firoze to wait until the conditions of the country are normal, especially for the Hindus. He even turn's down Om's marriage proposal for Asha. Asha's mother wants to migrate to India, but her father is reluctant to do so. Om has already migrated to Delhi. Sensing trouble Asha's mother gives Om her jewellery for safekeeping. Circumstances force Asha's family to migrate to India. Asha has a secret buried inside her. She loses Firoze's child by miscarriage in transit. Asha's entire family is killed on the way. Only she survives the massacre. A kind hearted Muslim couple shelters her secretly. One fine day Asha manages to get a lift for Delhi. She wants to go to Om, who has her gold. Asha reaches Om's house which is flooded with refugees seeking help. Om who always loved Asha marries her. Asha is unable to conceive. She houses a Muslim maid Sanam who too has survived the atrocities of partition. She is impregnated by that unknown miscreant who was amongst those who raped her. Sanam is unable to get rid of the child in the womb. By a secret pact Asha raises her child saying that it is her own.

Now the novel moves fast forward, Asha's granddaughter in New York in in love with Hussain who is Nargis's grandson. Asha’s daughter unaware of the Muslim blood in her veins, opposes the relationship. But Asha is for it. Nargis is dead but Firoz is alive. Asha and Firoze meet in New York. They know that they cannot come together. But their love for each other hasn't dried. As a result of which Firoze has been an eternal bachelor.

Radhika Swarup does a decent job with her debut novel. She recreates the partition era very well. She weaves friendship, love, loss in a very poignant manner. The novel falters once it takes a fifty years leap and reaches New York. Description on page 79 and following chapter 13 gave me an impression that Papaji is dead. But he resurfaced (alive) in chapter 14. But that doesn't mean that the novel is no good. Apart from these discrepancies the novel flows like a river, soft and smooth. The author weaves poignant tales of suffering of partition. This novel entertains and tells a story of love which is spread over decades and continents. It is a nice read for sure.

Monday, 23 January 2017

13 steps to Bloody Good Luck - Book Review

Ashwin Sanghi is a name associated with thrillers. As a result the name of his next book 13 Steps to Bloody Good Luck, was a huge put off. Plus I didn't find the cover attractive. But once I started reading the book, it kept me hooked.
These 13 steps of bloody good luck are not about placing nimboo-mirchi on your door. They are about intrinsic characteristics which you should have and if you don't have you should develop in order to be lucky.

The author starts with his own example- how he had not written anything until the age of thirty-five, how there were no takers for his first book and how the first step of luck - networking helped him get published his first book. The book is full of examples of great men and women, of the past and the present. A lot is to be learnt from their examples. The author says that lucky people are thick skinned. They are not affected by temporary failures and others opinions about them. This was a revealtion to me. I liked this step and incorporated it in my life. The author also stresses upon emotional intelligence and tells how remaining calm in all sitations is an important trait to become succesful.

What I liked about the book is that it is an easy read. It is not preachy. The writing keeps you interested in the book and by the time you reach the last page, you remain unsatiated, hankering for more. Read this book. It will change you, change for the good.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Netaji living dangerously : Book Review

Netaji's life as well as his death has been an enigma. Kingshuk Nag's Netaji living dangerously tries to infer some of the possibilities through limited available material.

According to the author the Indian government made believe that Netaji died in the air crash. However latter communications revealed that this was totally false, for no any air crash had taken place on that given day. The government even spied upon the Bose family believing that Netaji would try to establish some kind of contact with his family members.

The book tells us how desperate Netaji was to make India free. He hoped that he would get some help from other countries including Russia and Germany to free his motherland from the shackles of British rule. The book speaks about the power struggle between Netaji and Nehru too. It also speaks as to how Netaji was forced to resign from the coveted post of Congress President by Gandhi Coterie. The book says Gandhi was a master politician.

The book reveals how now one from India lobbied for Netaji's freedom and why Netaji was forsaken by his own government. The book says that 'Official sources also aver that intelligence officials in their various reports have in the past have demonised Netaji. For instance, intelligence reports claim that Bose never married Emilie Schenkl and she was just his live-in partner. Moreover, Netaji has a passionate affair with a lady politician from Bengal and later with someone in Burma. Most of them are based on hearsay and have no bearing with reality. These reports were just to character assassinate Subhas Bose and to portray him poorly vis-a-vis Congress politicians like Nehru who came to rule the country after Independence.’

The author states how as per many accounts Netaji languished in Russian jails. Perhaps he died or was killed there. The book enumerates how despite Hitler's poor opinion of Indians, Netaji tried seeking his help in India's freedom. INA and Azad Hind Government form an important part of the book. It tells us about the success and even failure of these institutions. The book tells us how Lord Mountbatten would use his wife to convince Nehru.

The book mentions Justice Mukherjee caught on TV camera admitting that Gumnami Baba was indeed Netaji.

What if files relating to Netaji are declassified. The author says, 'Declassification of files may illustrate in detail the attitude of successive Indian regimes towards Netaji but may not throw lights on his whereabouts.'

After reading the book, I realized very little is known not only about Netaji's death but also his life. There is no denying that he was a great freedom fighter, who perhaps did not receive his due during his life and t even hereafter. Read this book if you want to know more about him. The journalistic streak in the author keeps the writing objective. But Netaji life and the questions shrouding his death is far more interesting. As a result this wonderfully crafted book is thrilling and entertaining. You will not repent buying this one.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Cut the crap and feel amazing - Book Review

Feel amazing is the mantra that Ailsa Frank Cut the crap and feel amazing offers. Yes feeling amazing is very important aspect of this book which offers techniques to solve all your problems pertaining to money, health, relationships, parenting, depression etc.

What I liked about the book is that the book doesn't say that simply feel amazing and don't do anything else. Thus while discussing money issues the author stresses the importance of budgeting, living within one's means and cutting down unnecessary expenses. While speaking of relationships she says that we should live with our spouse as if we are friends living together, like room partners. She says we should live with our other family members, the way we co-exist with our neighbours. Respect each other, cut down expectations and co-operate. This aspect of not taking our loved ones for granted is very novel aspect and I liked it.

She offers nice techniques in each chapter. While discussing relationships she says when you are having a problem with any person, have his photograph in front of you. First speak to his photograph and then speak to him in person. No wonders that this technique will reduce the intensity of acrebity and other emotions when you meet that person.

This book is indeed amazing. It comes up with new, interesting solutions. It offers summary at the end of each chapter. It also gives three steps at the end of each chapter and various techniques which will help you to feel amazing. I loved this book. It holds the potential of changing your life for sure. Isn't that a very good reason for buying this book?

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Start Up Stand Up - Book Review

These are the days when everyone wants to be an entrepreneur. Startups are mushrooming and we keep hearing stories of how a start in a living room or garage went on to become the next big thing. But at the same time we cannot forget that seven businesses out of ten get closed in their first year. So something is required to sustain the business. In her new book Start Up Stand Up Nandini Vaidyanathan provides a step by step guide for growing your business.

The author choses to call these lessons as sutras. She starts with why you should chose your first customer carefully. Creating an innovative business model and acquiring customers form parts of the following sutras. Finding a mentor and importance of organizational behaviour are stressed in the next chapters. Getting customers addicted to your products sounds interesting. The author has some sutras relating to this as well. Building a high performance culture, design thinking and its need as an entrepreneur are some important aspects in the book. Investors, types of equity investments, care to taken before investing and choosing investors are too discussed in the book. Art of negotiations and benefits of networking are stressed too.

The author cites a few case studies to make her point. I liked to read how naturals ice-cream began. It was given for free with snacks when it started. I was unable to understand few acronyms like B2B used by the author. The same stands true for some other jargons used in the book. This book is a sequel to the book Entrepedia. While Entrepedia was all about how to start your business, this book is about how to grow your business. May be that was the reason why I did not understand few concepts in the book.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Songs of the Cauvery - Book Review

Kalyanaraman Durgadas does a wonderful job with his debut novel Songs of the Cauvery. This book is set in south India of the 18th and 19th century. Panju is the protagonist of this story. He is battered as a child. Hence he takes up to wrestling and becomes a strong man. His sister Janaki wants to complete her education and then think about marriage. Panju, however is married young and his child bride will join his company after attaining puberty.

Panju goes to the big city and is drawn first towards a devdasi Ranjitham and then towards freedom struggle. Jayanti falls in love with a Christian man in her class but can’t think of marrying him for she has family responsibilities to attend to. Her parents are old and ill. Panju’s wife has now come of age and stays with them. Panju has become a revolutionary and is wanted by the police. Jayanti has no option but to become son of the house. Panju is assigned the task of killing the erstwhile British Collector. In a thrilling climax he kills not one but two British officers and even takes away his own life.

All the freedom struggle stories that we have read and seen were set in the north India. The South Indian setting in this novel makes the novel a refreshing read. The way the author carves his characters is absolutely brilliant. They stand dangling in front of your eyes when you are reading the novel and even after you have finished it. The author succeeds in writing a believable fiction story and that is the reason one can relate to it. The track of Jayanti going to Pondicherry in search of Panju was not properly developed. I also did not understand why Panju decides to take his own life at the end. Yet this novel is refreshing, thrilling and entertaining. Go and read it.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

M S Subbulakshmi the definitive biography - Book Review

M S Subbulakshmi the definitive biography by T J S George is a fine example of how diligent research on an interesting personality can create magic. M S was born to a Devdasi. There are disputes as to who was her father- a famous musician or a lawyer? She plainly rejected her mother’s proposal of she being comfort of a wealthy chettiar. This is when much married Sadasivam entered her life. The two started living together and married on his wife’s demise. It was his dexterous hand that took M S’s career to unprecedented heights. However that doesn’t rob away credit from her mother who single handedly brought her talent up to the rasikas of Madras.

It would have been easier to confine this book to M S alone. But the author goes an extra-mile and tells us about the origin of Carnatic music, the divide between Carnatic and Hindustani music. He also introduces us to contemporaries of M S, political clout of Sadasivam, socio-political scenario of the nation, cinema and many other things. Even the lives of passing characters like MS’s sister and Sadasivam’s wife too are very well articulated. You are able to get into the psyche of these men and women.

The author has filled this book with great nuggets of information. He tells us how Violin, a western instrument, became an integral part of Carnatic music. It tells us how M S who was drawn to Carnatic music devoted herself to the cause of Tamil isai. Her failed affair with GNB finds a mention too. For the first time I came to know the complete name of M S. It is Madurai Shanmmugavadivu Subbalakshmi. The tale of how dassi attam was renamed Bharatnatyam, that too quite recently is equally interesting.

The author says that conformism was usually deprecated as an inhibitor of initiative and a tranquillizer of the mind. But in Subbulakshmi’s case it proved a pillar of strength. The advantage of a life circumscribed by tradition was that it left no gaps to be filled. One knew what had to be done, how to do it and who would do it. There was no room for loneliness; there was no lack of direction. He further says that in musical terms, she was not among the maestros in the front row. If there was anything distinctive about her style it was that she sang heart to heart.

There is a submissive wife and a dominant husband, but both compliment each other perfectly. This book is as much about Sadasivam as it is about M S. This book recreates an entire era in front of your eyes. It entertains you, encourages you and even makes your eyes moist. This book is certainly not to be missed.

Monday, 2 January 2017

From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom - Book Review

Income of most of the Indians is increasing with every passing day. But unfortunately the same cannot be said regarding the financial literacy. As a result most of us are creating assets which are actually liabilities. Hence any book which offers financial education is welcome. Manoj Arora tries to impart some advice on money matters in his book From the Rat Race to Financial Freedom.

The book begins with Wealth Myths. The author enumerates the myths which we carry and bursts them. The second chapter is titled technical concepts in financial independence. I found this chapter both interesting and uninteresting. Interesting because I was able to understand few of the concepts and uninteresting because I did not understand rest of them. (fortunately they can be easily calculated using online tools.)

In the following chapter various investment tools, right from the humble FDs to complex stocks and commodities are discussed. The next chapter is devoted to various types of insurances. In the chapter titled Principles of Wealth Accumulation various simple tips and age old advice are offered. The next chapter guides you as to how to alter your portfolio according to your age. Thereafter the author enumerates eight steps for financial freedom planning. The author also gives some interesting tips to save tax.

I liked the book for some of the concepts mentioned in the book are really novel. What I did not like is the language of the book, which is both boring and banal. Yet, given the dearth of books that offer financial education, this book must be welcomed.