Saturday, May 12, 2018

Review: "The Blue Umbrella" by Ruskin Bond

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Author: Ruskin Bond
Type: Fiction 
Pages: 82

Publishing House: Rupa Publication

There were three things that prompted me to order this book:
1. Ruskin Bond
2. Catchy Title
3. My Amazon pay balance was just a bit more than its price :D

The package got delivered on 25th September 2017 and I was so disappointed. It had just 88 pages with font sizes of somewhere between 14-15 points. Even the dimensions of the product that Amazon shows were not anything near to okay.  There were pencil sketches on few pages just to illustrate the developments.There were seven chapters or parts of the book.

 I read it in one stretch. And in the end, I was more than just satisfied. It was a great, short and sweet story. After reading the book, I googled the same and that was when I came to know that a film based on the book of the same name had already been released in 2005. It was directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. The film also received National Film Award for Best Children's Film in 2005.


The story revolves around the girl named Binya. "Binya belonged to the mountains, to this part of the Himalayas known as Garhwal." She lives with her mother and her brother - Bijju. She often grazes her cattle around valleys and returns to home by evening. One day she finds 'holiday-makers from the plains' picnicking on the spur of the hill. She spots an umbrella. "The umbrella was like a flower, a great blue flower that had sprung up on the dry brown hillside" She trades her pendant (tiger's claw) for the umbrella and finally she owns it. The only shop owner of the village 'Ram Bharosa' gets jealous of the umbrella and wants to seek one. In fact, everyone in the village wants to have an umbrella of that kind. Binya never leaves her umbrella and always carries it wherever she goes.  Ram Bharosa offers money to Binya for the same but she refuses it. After a while, Ram Bharosa employs a boy named Rajaram for all washing up and various errands. He senses his masters' desire for the umbrella and asks whether he would pay him extra if he managed to get him the umbrella. Ram Bharosa agrees and Raja Ram plots to steal the umbrella.

But it ends in a fiasco. He is ultimately caught by Bijju and Raja Ram speaks up about Ram Bharosa and how he wanted the umbrella so bad. Everyone in the village cames to know about the evil plot and they stop going to Ram Bharosa's shop. Villagers now used to walk an extra mile to another shop for their daily needs. Ram Bharosa repents over his actions. In the end, Binya herself walks into his shop for toffee and then gives her umbrella to Ram Bharosa. She says that she doesn't need the umbrella anymore. In return, Ram Bharosa gets her a new Tiger Claw pendant. The villagers' starts to walk in his shop again.

"She walked home through the darkening glade, singing of the stars; and the trees stood still and listened to her, and the mountains were glad."

Verdict: As of now, it's of Rs 50 on It is worth of every penny spent.

Review: "Bookless In Baghdad" by Shashi Tharoor

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Book: Bookless In Baghdad

Type: Non-Fiction 
Pages- 236 
Publishing House: Penguin Books

The book is divided into 5 parts:
1. Inspirations
2. Reconsiderations
3. The Literary Life
4. Appropriations
5. Interrogations

There are 40 articles divided into 5 parts and the pieces range eclectically from cricket to politics and from Indian History to the challenges facing the United Nations. Leaving few articles, the rest of the pieces are so elite and Stephenian in class that at a moment of time, I was just reading words without comprehending anything and having any purpose. The topics are way too beyond the perception of the common man. That may even mean that I am not good enough to understand this literary piece. But as of now, keeping in mind the common class, this book doesn't serve the purpose as the title suggests and sounds. 

Verdict: You can skip this one. No offence Dr, Tharoor. 

Review: "Grit" by Angela Duckworth

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Book: Grit
Type: Non-Fiction 
Pages- 277
Publishing house: Vermilion 

This New York Times Bestseller has got 3 parts:

Part 1: What Grit is and Why it matters.
Part 2: Growing Grit from the Inside Out.
Part 3: Growing Grit from the Outside In.

If we go by the definition of Grit on the web, it means mental toughness and courage. But the author in her book wants to portray Grit as something else and more important. According to her, Grit is more about stamina than intensity. Grit has got two components – Passion and Perseverance. And she further explains each and minute things related to it and around.
She asserts that highly accomplished ones are paragons of perseverance. She questions the basic notion of ‘being talented’ and conveys how people prefer ‘hardworking over intelligence’. She pitches in the question about what is more important to success? Talent or effort?

Is talent a bad thing? Are we equally talented? No and no. The ability to quickly climb the learning curve of any skill is obviously a very good thing, and, like it or not, some of us are better at it than others. So why, then, is it such a bad thing to favour ‘naturals’ over ‘strivers’? Whats the downside of television shows like America’s Got Talent, The X-factor, and Child Genius? Why shouldn’t we separate children as young as seven or eight into 2 groups: those few children who are ‘gifted and talented’ and the many, many more who aren’t? What harm is there, in a talent show being named a ‘talent show’? In my view, the biggest reason a preoccupation with talent can be harmful is simple: By shining our spotlight on talent, we risk leaving everything else in the shadows. We inadvertently send the message that these other factors- including grit- don’t matter as much as they really do.

She also writes about What talent means and why we use that word that often?

With everything perfect, we do not ask how it came to be. We rejoice in the present fact as though it came out if the ground by magic. Our vanity, our self-love, promotes the cult of the genius. For if we think of genius as something magical, we are not obliged to compare ourselves and find ourselves lacking. To call someone ‘divine’ means: ‘here there is no need to compete’

She believes that Talent * Effort = Skill and Skill * Effort = Achievement. Eighty percent of success in life is showing up, is what she tells as she quotes Woody Allen. She has also developed Grit scale which determines how gritty you are. Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare. One of the underlying notions of her theory is that one should stick to the cause. It is perseverance and endurance that is going to make this journey more wonderful and amazing.

Fireworks erupt in a blaze of glory but quickly fizzle, leaving just wisps of smoke and a memory of what was once spectacular. What Jeff's journey suggests instead is the passion as a compass- that thing that takes you some time to build, tinker with, and finally get right, and that then guides you on your long and winding road to where, ultimately, you want to be.

She also believes that grit grows. Many believe that grit is like height. You can’t train height and alike is the grit. But she explains in further chapters about how Grit can be developed and mastered. She lists down the psychological assets that mature paragons of grit have in common. There are four:
a.       Interest
b.       Practice
c.       Purpose
d.       Hope
She further explains each asset in detail in 2nd part of her book. Though I would like to brief about the first one as it is more unconventional and groundbreaking.

Follow your passion was not the message I heard growing up. Instead, I was told that the practical realities of surviving “in the real world” were far more important than any young person living a “sheltered life” such as my own could imagine. I was warned that overly idealistic dreams of “finding something I loved” could, in fact, be a breadcrumb trail into poverty and disappointment. I was reminded that certain jobs, like being a doctor, were both high- income and high- status and that these things would matter more to me in the long run than I might appreciate at the moment.
As you might have guessed, the individual proffering this advice was my dad.
“So, why’d you become a chemist?” I once asked
“Because my father told me to,” he answered without a hint of resentment. “When I was a boy, history was my favourite subject.” He then explained that he’d enjoyed math and science, too,  but there was really no choice when it came to what he’d study in college. The family business was textiles, and my grandfather dispatched each of his sons to study trade relevant to one stage or another of textile production. “Our business needed a chemist, not a historian” As it turned out, the communist revolution in China brought a premature end to the family textile business. Not long after he settled here in the United States, my dad went to work for DuPont. 35 years later, he retired as the highest-ranking scientist in the company. Given how absorbed my dad was in his work- often lost in reverie about some scientific or management problems- and how successful he was over the arc of his career, it seems worth considering the possibility that its best to choose practicality over passion.

Angela challenges the notion of “follow your passion” in her book and writes about different factors that help shape one’s.

I have a lot of sympathy for the thirty-something who wrote this post. I also have a lot of sympathy for the twenty-somethings who come to me for career advice. My colleague Barry Schwartz has been dispensing counsel to anxious young adults for much longer than I have. He has been teaching psychology at Swarthmore College for 45 years. Barry thinks that what prevents a lot of young people from developing a serious career interest is an unrealistic expectation.  “Its really the same problem a lot of young people have finding a romantic partner. They want somebody who is really attractive and smart and kind and empathetic and thoughtful and funny. Try selling a twenty- one-year old that you cant find a person who is absolutely the best in every way. They don’t listen, They are holding out for perfection.
What about your wonderful wife, Myrna?” I asked
“Oh, she is wonderful. More wonderful than I am, certainly. But is she perfect? Is she the only person I could have made a happy life with? Am I the only man with whom she could have made a wonderful marriage? I don’t think so.”
A related problem, Barry says, is the mythology that falling in love with a career should be sudden and swift: “There are a lot of things where the subtleties and exhilarations come with sticking with it for a while, getting elbow-deep into something. A lot of things seem uninteresting and superficial until you start doing them and, after a while, you realize that there are so many facets you didn’t know at the start, and you never can fully solve the problem, or fully understand it, or what have you. Well, that requires that you stick with it” After a pause, Barry said, “ Actually finding a mate is the perfect analogy. Meeting a potential match- not the one-and-only perfect match, but a promising one- is only the very beginning.”

It's not about falling in love but its more about staying in love. Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.
Grit is a wonderful book with passages and thoughts that could be and should be quoted again and again. Paul Tough explains about the book more beautifully. He says “Fascinating. Angela Duckworth pulls together decades of psychological research, inspiring success stories from business and sports, and her own unique personal experience and distils it all into a set of practical strategies to make yourself and your children more motivated, more passionate, and more persistent at work and at school”

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is her writing style. Angela Duckworth seems to be exploring alongside us(reader) as we flip through the pages. She gets surprised by the notions, seems to be intuitive about the discoveries and tries to get the reader through the conundrum. Ultimately you have a pleasant and smooth experience which is the main and ultimate motto for every writer.

Verdict: Solid One. it helps you to build a strong foundation or strengthen the same for your goals and aspirations. Grit gives you a new perspective. 

Review: "The Five-Dollar Smile" by Shashi Tharoor

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Book: The Five-Dollar Smile
Author:  Shashi Tharoor
Type: Fiction 
Pages- 238
Publishing house: Penguin Books

It is a collection of 14 early stories and a farce in 2 acts. The act is quite satirical and based of during the times of emergency in India. The act revolves around the story of Kutta who goes on to become a man after a surgery. The act is quite nice and wonderful.

The stories included have already appeared, like in JS, The Illustrated Weekly of India, Eve’s Weekly, Youth Times, The New Review and Cosmopolitan. Few stories are too good while the rest are quite nice. The literary prose is at its class and one with average dictional knowledge may need to refer to the dictionary quite often.

Verdict: If you are an avid reader, then you should go for this. If you read only 9-10 book in a year, then you might go for better fictions and Nonfictions, given that you would love to get as much as you can from a book. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Review: "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek

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Author:  Simon Sinek
Type: Non-Fiction 
Pages- 225
Publishing house: Portfolio Penguin

There are 6 parts of this book.
Part 1: A world that doesn’t start with why
Part 2: An alternative perspective
Part 3: Leaders need a following
Part 4: How to rally those who believe
Part 5: The biggest challenge is success
Part 6: Discover Why

In the initial pages, he talks about human behaviour. He says that human behaviour can be influenced in 2 ways- by inspiration and by manipulation. He states that companies do stick for manipulations. Manipulations like the price drop, packaging, advertisement do work but do have short-term benefit. But they should be seeking for the loyalty of customers who would stick with the organisation thick and thin. Simon further goes to explain the reason for the same. He very confidently puts it that aiming at ‘Why’ is only the reason for long-term success given that the product is already at its best. He attributes biology for the reason of same. He explains the theory of Golden circle which can be best understood by this well-received TED Talk. He says that Golden circle is not so easy. Authenticity matters.

What authenticity means is that your Golden Circle is in balance. It means that everything you say and everything you do actually believe. This goes for management as well as the employees. Only when that happens can the things you say and do be viewed as authentic.

He tries to differentiate between the meaning of motivated and inspired. Motivated are those who are manipulated by the promise of massive payouts.  Inspired are those who work in the best interest of the whole. He also states Law of diffusion of innovation in his later chapters and does aid the theory with ample examples. He also explains an interesting metaphor, he uses in the chapter- ‘Split Happens’.

“The school bus test is a simple metaphor. If a founder or leader of an organisation were to be hit by a school bus, would the organisation continue to thrive at the same pace without them at the helm? So many organisations are built on the force of a single personality that their departure can cause significant disruption. The question isn’t if it happens- all founders eventually leave or die- its just a question of when and how prepared the organisation is for the inevitable departure. The challenge isn’t going to cling to the leader, it’s to find effective ways to keep the founding vision alive forever.”
Simon Sinek is full of praise for Apple Inc. throughout the book. He has used the organisation for instance to aid his points and theory. Though he has used it ‘many times’. He even personally admits this fact.

The reason I use Apple so extensively throughout this book is that Apple is so disciplined in HOW they do things and so consistent in WHAT they do that, love them or hate them, we all have a sense of their WHY. We know what they believe.”

The words are quite easy to understand and don’t challenge your verbal ability. Pros are it is based on a unique theory supplemented by great examples that convinces you to believe in. Simon Sinek is extremely well in telling people what he wants to tell. Just watch his TED Talk or his interview with Tom Bilyeu (Impact Theory) and you will be full blown by the personality and charisma, he possesses. Cons are that though the videos may be extremely good and well received, one may struggle to go across the chapters. I mean, there is nothing much on the theory side to talk about. You propose a mind-boggling on a page, you try to explain it multiple times, you aid the theory with multiple examples, sometimes even same, these all things make you feel dragged down and not swift enough while reading the pages.

Verdict: It has a great theory and book deserves a lot of praise but the writing style isn’t compelling enough. I don’t expect a nonfiction to be as compelling as a fiction. Though the chapters are heavy, and you feel a bit slow. But in the end, it’s a nice book. Watching his TED Talk may too summarize the things that he wants to say. So, it depends on the age group and class, for which they want to go for.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Fighters Fight

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There is this heart. It's aching. You want to get rid of that feeling. But you can’t. The more you fight, the more you will fall for it. Let it be there. Practice living along with that ‘feeling’. There is nothing much that you can do. But it's not the worse. At the corner of the path chosen by you, there is this ‘Life’. Not with the box of chocolates, but with a big brick. And Life is goanna hit you straight with that brick in your mouth, leaving you helpless, leaving you bleeding alone. You have been dizzy and your mouth full of blood. But you don’t give up. You rise. Because it's not about getting hit. It's about how much you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take those blows to your face and still keep pursuing the dreams and aspirations that not a single soul other than yours can believe in and not a single pair of eyes other than yours can see. The worse is yet to come. So hone your skills. Build yourself for those worse times that are still around. Because it's your inner you that would let you along in those worse times. Fighters fight. They don’t ask why and they don’t ask when. We fight. We fight people. We fight pain. We fight emotions. We fight tears. We fight this society. We fight our surrounding. We fight and never give up. Each and every single day. Each and every second. Each and every damn moment. That's how we have been built. That's how it is going to be. I wish I could tell you the alternative. But I fear, there ain't any as of now. Meanwhile, Keep fighting and keep punching. 

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Review: "The Oath of the Vayuputras" by Amish

Author:  Amish
Type: Fiction 
Pages- 575
Publishing house: Westland PressBook: The Immortals of Meluha

There are too many characters. You had it in the 2nd part itself. You have already laden your mind with those. Along with that, you have complex warfare tactics involving the geography of the area leading the reader to scratch his/her head to understand it more better. These setups are unwelcoming and make you rethink if Amish, really is India’s first literary pop star. There are flaws but, in the end, one couldn’t understand and imagine what’s there, as the reader inches closer towards the end of the novel. I wouldn’t much discuss about the prose and the characters but in the end, the book has much to offer than a beautiful story and characters. It gives you a strange sense of peace, and tranquillity lingers over your soul. Chapter 45: The final Kill, It is from where the real emotional ride starts and doesn’t break for a moment from then. The book has 54 chapters meanwhile. The book explores the vulnerabilities of relationships. It depicts, how as a human, we can be so immature and mature too. It explores and touches too many topics along the line up that in the end, you feel a bit numb. You feel to have got a sort of redemption by reading it. You get down with the characters and wish if you could have changed the course of the fate. But alas!! There ain’t any fairy tale. More or less, it gives you the feeling of reading a scripture. Because the feelings that you carry after reading the series is, it can be only felt after reading great books indeed.

Om Namah Shivaiy. 
The Universe bows to Lord Shiva. I bow to Lord Shiva

Verdict: Would strongly advocate for this book to everyone. It is a must-read for those who believe in God. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Truth is not always true

There is an old Indian story about Truth. It seems that in ancient times a brash young warrior sought the hand of a beautiful princess. The King, her father, thought the warrior was a bit too cocksure and callow; he told him he could only marry the princess once he had found the Truth. So, the young warrior set out on a quest for Truth. He went to temples and to monasteries, to mountaintops where sages meditated and to forests where ascetics scourged themselves, nut nowhere could he find Truth. Despairing one day and seeking refuge from a thunderstorm, he found himself in a dank, musty cave. There, in the darkness, was an old hag, with warts on her face and matted hair, her skin hanging in folds from her bony limbs, her teeth broken, her breath malodorous. She greeted him; she seemed to know what he was looking for. They talked all night, and with each word she spoke, the warrior realized he had come to the end of the quest. She was truth. In the morning, when the storm broke, the warrior prepared to return to claim his bride. ‘Now that I have found the Truth’ he said. ‘what shall I tell them at the palace about you?’
The wizened old crone smiled. ‘Tell them, ‘she said, ‘tell them that I am young and beautiful.’
So, Truth is not always true; but that doesn’t mean Truth does not exist.

This article is an excerpt from the book “Bookless in Baghdad” by Shashi Tharoor. You can check out this book here-
Know more about me @ 

Review: "The Secret of the Nagas" by Amish

Author:  Amish
Type: Fiction 
Pages- 371
Publishing house: Westland Press

This is the second book in the series and just like the previous one, doesn’t disappoint you a bit. The characters are more vivid but there are too many characters. Sometimes you may need to flip pages behind or check the “List of characters” page to recall the person being talked about. Though that’s not an issue at all. The fiction unravels skin by skin as every chapter is consumed by the reader. It keeps you off the edge and doesn’t make it boring. Though there are certain grey areas where you may find yourself willing to skip pages. The compelling writing style dozes off sometimes but in a whole, it is as good as the first one. As Anil Dharker had mentioned and I quote “Furious action jumps off every page”. It is true to the verbatim to the most of extent. The incidents are written with detailing and have been paid attention just like the first one. The mythological characters have been introduced and given spin-offs to accommodate them in the storyline. For instance, Parshuram has been introduced in the latter pages but his history of parents has been penned completely different. Though in the text, he is an adamant follower of Shiva; does carry battleaxe resembling much to that of Sixth Avatar of Vishnu, Parashurama; have parents named Jamadagni and Renuka and similar few more attributes. But the character in the text has been given a slightly different history to match with the story line up. The prose is like the previous one. Many other issues have also been dealt in this book and they have been handled beautifully. Sati and Shiva do have interesting chemistry though there comes a moment when they have rough patches too.

‘Shiva…’ pleaded Sati. ‘Please don’t go. Please…’

Verdict: The second part is also as good as the first one. The story line up has been knitted very finely. Perfect pinch of masalas has been added to the recipe throughout the book and overall what you get is a satisfying repast. Amish does let you wonder what may have happened next and you surely crave for the rest of the story written in the 3rd part. So just go for this one too.

Will be completing the next part soon and will review it here itself. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Review: "The Immortals of Meluha" by Amish

Author:  Amish
Type: Fiction 
Pages- 417
Publishing house: Westland Press

I wish I could tell you and convince you about how wonderful this book is!!!!!!!! 
In short, It is just beautiful. The words are easy to comprehend. Prose is quite easy to understand and doesn’t challenge the literary knowledge of an individual.
The story revolves around Shiva who is a Tibetan immigrant to Meluha. 

I will try to make it as simple as possible. Human civilization was not as great as it could have been. People were more selfish, and Lord Ram who was a Suryavanshi, tried to establish truth and justice. He even succeeded to some extent. Though Chandravanshi had evil intentions and they were trying to disturb the balance and harmony of the society. Lord Ram, being mortal, did as much as he could in his lifetime but couldn’t establish his ideals throughout and across the country. Though, the legend said that Neelkanth will carry on the unfinished task of Lord Ram. Neelkanth will transform all of India in line with the ideals of Meluha- a land of truth, duty and honour. His leadership can help suryavanshi end the Chandravanshi crisis once and for all. All the agonies will be over, and the unfinished task of Lord Rama would be completed by the chosen one. But how they will identify Neelkanth? According to Meluhan Legend, Neelkanth will be a foreigner. He cannot be Meluhan or from the Sapt-Sindhu. And that his throat will turn blue when he drinks the somras. Somras is a magical drink that allows human to live for centuries and more. Shiva drinks the somras under certain circumstances and the Meluhans come to know their Messiah.
The story also revolves around Sati, the daughter of the emperor of Meluha. Shiva or Neelkanth does fall in love with the lady. Their chemistry has been handled very well by the author. There is just the adequate amount of attention that the duo should receive and prevents the work from being called a book about love.
The book is not only about mythology but also addresses many other issues like untouchability, women empowerment, love, caste system and much more. Overall this book is a treat and repast for all the book readers and they are really going to enjoy this one. The initial pages may be bumpy, but the rest of the plot is as smooth as butter. It has got a compelling narrative style. Though the prose part is a bit less literature oriented but the story telling is much more commendable and that may compensate for the literature part.

The battle scenes have been written with detailing and attention. The warfare mechanism does remind of movie like Bahubali. Though the book was released earlier than the blockbuster. :D The next 2 books in the series were also well received, though I will try to let you all know my thoughts about those in recent weeks. 

Verdict: Meanwhile, I may just advise that “Immortals of Meluha” is definitely a book that every shelf in the world deserves a place to be kept as of now.

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