Thursday, 22 March 2018

Review: Transit Lounge

Transit Lounge Transit Lounge by Sunil Mishra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The world is a wonderful place. There are countless cultures, customs, dialects and ways of life. There is no one right or wrong way. This book gives as a glimpse of the diversity around the globe.

This is a travelogue and written as a non fiction mode. Sunil Mishra is fortunate to be a software engineer, which allowed him to circumvent the globe for his work. Africa is amazing and so is Middle East. Iran I liked in in particular as they are so anti American and they have an equivalent of almost all American products.

US of A has got the detailed mention. I liked the analysis of American way of life and Sunil’s theory about rise of Trump. The X=X+1 hypothesis is wonderful and funny for Indian immigrants as he keeps thinking to return to India next year.

The horrible service at UK hotels is appalling. Eastern Europe is so dull and it seems time has frozen there.

The book is written in simple English a la Chetan Bhagat style. The coverage is brief and it can be more interesting. The emphasis is more on facts and less of scenic beauty and emotional connect. There are many typos in book and the pictures are drab. It must have been color photographs.

4/ 5 stars.

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Review: Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts

Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts Prithviraj Chauhan: The Emperor of Hearts by Anuja Chandramouli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prithviraj was the last Hindu ruler of India before Muhammad Ghori established the Muslim rule in India. There are many myths associated with him. Chanderbardai, the court poet wrote “Prithviraj Raso” which project him as a legend. This book is not a copy of Bardai’s work.

The book does not start with Prithvi as a king. That comes much later maybe after half the book is done. This shows his father and uncle and how he grew up from a kid. There is palace intrigue, wars, assassinations and his training. His uncle Kanha is not ambitious and is happy to serve his brother. There are rumors that Prithvi is his son as he is very handsome unlike his ugly father. He saves a girl named Yogita from bandit like thugs and brings her to his palace. They fall in love only to grow apart. Then there is attacks from Shabuddin Ghori and famous battles.

The book is pretty thick and cannot be finished in one sitting. But that is all right. I came to know many new things, which are against popular myths. Alha Udal for instance have legendary status in this part of India (I live in Meerut UP). They met their death from Prithvi’s hands. Then Yogita is not Sanyogita and Prithvi never kidnapped her from Jaichand’s home. She was not even his daughter as per popular myth. Prithvi was also not against Muslims as such but only fought bloodthirsty plunderer Ghori. He never pardon his life but it was a mistake that Ghori was left alive.

The horrible practice of showing the blood soaked bed sheet after first night to prove virginity of bride was a new revelation to me. So were dialogues of Prithvi and Chisti. The sufi sect represent soft peace loving Islam which is different from the Islam practiced by the likes of Ghori.

There are few hiccups as well. The book took too much time to come to the point. The book is about Prithvi but Anuja wasted (harsh word but true) almost half the book till he ascends the throne. That left very little time to show him in action. Also the character of Ghori and other adversaries got just passing mention and they were not fleshed out. Prithvi and Ghori are like Ram and Ravan and Ghori needed more detailing. Then Jaichand and all others were given no importance whatsoever except when Yogita comes to Prithvi in fag end. I am also sure that Anuja must have done her research (the references are given in theend) but the story is slightly deviating from the popular stories of Prithvi. Then the story was too slow at many places where not required. On the other hand it was rushed at some important junctures. One instance is the climax where Prithvi is executed.

I have read mythological books from Anuja and I can’t resist the comparison. I read to historical fictions from Anuja: “Padmavati” and “Prithviraj”. The overall quality as compared to her myths is lesser. The book has inferior language and plotting. However I liked this one better than “Padmavati”. Maybe these books were written in deadline pressure.

All in all a very enjoyable read barring few hiccups. 4/ 5 stars.

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Thursday, 8 March 2018

International Women's Day

In India women is either a goddess or a doormat. We worship her as Goddess Durga and in the form of mother. But when it comes to real life ours is a patriarchal society. It is a paradox. We kill her in womb or treat her as a slave in our homes.

During International Women's Year in 1975, the United Nations began celebrating International Women's Day on 8 March. This is to affirm the principle of equality between women and men.

Equality is all we need. She is neither worse nor better than men. She is equal to men and we have to ensure equality of opportunity for her. But sometimes the second wave feminism takes things to extreme and that is also counterproductive for equality of sexes. There are a plethora of laws to protect women from Dowry, domestic violence and workplace sexual harassment. These all are necessary but sometimes these are misused.

Somewhere the balance is missing. The law sometimes is misused and other times it does not reach the intended beneficiaries. Both cases are equally bad and this skews the equation.

Equal opportunities and safe society for women is must and then they can do wonders.

Happy women’s day.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

My worst nightmare

Aayush was in 8th standard. He was fond of toys like every kid. But he was from a lower middle class family so his father could not afford many fancy toys. His father felt necessary to spend on his education whatever limited means he had.
Amit came to his house one day.
“Aayush come I want to show you something” Amit said. Amit was friend of his and from a financially well off family. Aayush went with him and Amit showed him a brand new football. It was beautiful beyond words for him.
“Can I hold it, Amit!”
“Why not”.
Aayush took it in his hands and he had no words to describe the feeling. He had no metaphor for it. But one fine day he will have it.

Time passed and both of them went their separate ways. Aayush completed his MBA from IIMA and got a handsome package. He met Ramya during MBA and both of them married. Ramya was into books and one day she was reading Hindi novel “Sati Maiya ka Chaura”.
“How can you read such thick books? I get head ache after five minutes dear” Aayush asked Ramya.
“If you like something you don’t get tired. Just like I love you and tolerate all your idiosyncrasies” Ramya teased him.
“Is not it the time we should start a family?”
“Why not?”
Aayush was in front of the delivery room of Max hospital. Finally the doctor came out.
“Congratulations. It’s a girl. The burse will bring her out in a short while.”
“Thank you doctor. How are they?”
“Both are alright Aayush”
Aaysuh was waiting impatiently for the nurse to come out. Finally the nurse came out and asked “Who is the Father?”
Aayush came forward and she handed over to him the most beautiful girl of the world. Aayush was speechless and overwhelmed with emotion.
“When can I meet Ramya?”
“In a short while sir.”

Finally he went inside to Ramya. She was weak but beaming.
“Thank you for giving me the most beautiful gift of the world” Aayush kissed her on the forehead.
“Thank you too” Ramya replied.
“Ramya! When Amit gave me the ball that day I had no words to describe it. But today I can. It felt like when a father takes his first child in his arms.”
Ramya smiled. Aayush was overcame with emotion and there were tear drops in his eyes.
“What happened Aayush? Why the tears?” Ramya asked.
“One day when we were playing the ball came under a car wheels and it burst. We were sad for weeks. If something happens to my little daughter? Then what? It will be a nightmare. My worst nightmare.” Aayush looked into Ramya’s eyes.
Ramya held his hand and said “Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to her.”
They both embraced the small bundle of joy.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Business of anti-corruption

Vishnu Sharma told that once upon a time in the land of Mahilaropya there was a crusader of anti-corruption named Anant. He was an army veteran who commanded a lot of respect. People even called him second Mahatma Gandhi.

His right hand was Amar who was very talented and disgruntled bureaucrat. There were 29 princely states under Mahilaropya and Vivek headed one of them in the western part. Shyam, the king of Mahilaropya ruled it from Indraprastha, the capital. Anyway Anant protests bore fruit and Shyam was overthrown. Vivek became king and Amar became head of Indraprastha.

One fine day Mitesh, a crony of Anant fled Mahilaropya with  a lot of public money. There was a lot of hue and cry in public. To divert attention Mitesh sent his emissaries to Amar. Amar had a trick up his sleeve. He staged a drama where his ministers pretended to rough up a public servant. Now everyone forgot about Mitesh and all the media was busy talking about assault of democracy. Everyone was happy again. To top it all they accused Vivek of abetting and aiding Mitesh in first place.

Moral of the story: Vishnu Sharma said that as happens both were paying lip service to anti-corruption and talks of development were farce. People should keep their eyes and ears open and use their common sense and brains rather than to fall for fancy words.

---to be continued

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Karma or Destiny or Neither

I immensely liked this post and wanted to add something to it. I accept what she wrote but the concept is not totally useless.

कर्म प्रधान विश्व करी राखा, जो जस करई सो तस फल चाखा ।।

Firstly  I know that I have to pay for my bad deeds, I will refrain from that. Similarly my good deeds will be rewarded so I will try to be a do-gooder. This is the law of cause and effect or “As you sow as you reap”. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s third law). So Karma principle can be a natural deterrent against bad deeds as it has religious sanction.

Secondly this places emphasis on action rather than on luck or destiny. So it inspires us to work hard to achieve goals. Karma principle doesn’t let us become lethargic and fatalist. Instead of waiting for God’s grace we should strive to achieve things/ success by our own hard work. God help those who help themselves.

So far so good. But and this is a big but. What she writes is true. The theory is only god as a theory. There is no direct cause and effect relationship. There are many factors which decides the outcome. We can only work hard but we have no control over the results. Even Lord Krishna says that:

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ४७

कर्तव्यकर्म करने में ही तेरा अधिकार है फलों में कभी नहीं। अतः तू कर्मफलका हेतु भी मत बन और तेरी अकर्मण्यता में भी आसक्ति हो।

So we have no control whatsoever on the results. So it all boils down to God’s wish, destiny, luck, providence or kismet.

But this is not the real catch either. The real catch is as given below:
वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि |
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही || 22||

 "As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones."(Bg 2.22)

So there is a cycle of life and death which is never ending till we break free from it. So even if something bad happens to good people it can easily be attributed to bad karma from past lives. Nobody knows what happened in past lives (or if these is such a thing as past life) so this has to be accepted at face value.

This theory also propagates the most heinous system of caste. This is Varna dharma based on Guna and Karma, lower castes can easily be said to have bad karma from past lives. Later on it degenerated in birth based.

So I agree with Harpreet partially. This system has good and bad shades both.

Monday, 26 February 2018


My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Sometimes, it is not love that propels us in life. It is hate.”

This is a post-apocalyptic story. The earth is dying and so is human race. But the good news is that there is another earth like planet which has 90% water and 10% land mass. So NASA launches an evacuating earth mission. Rafshar Alizen choose Zaria Pebel to be a part of the mission. Zaria has her own agenda of taking revenge

When the planet is dying what matters. Nothing. The story is gripping. I understands Zaria motives and she is absolutely right in what she did. Denash and Misha (though I think Misha was caught in cross fire of Zaria and Denash) deserved their fate.

The story is short and there was so many unanswered questions. The pace was quick and it could have more detailing. I enjoyed it very much. 5/ 5 stars.

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Friday, 23 February 2018

Padmaavat the movie review

So much is written about the movie even before its release that I felt no reason to write anything else. Then I read this wonderful review.

I agree with almost all the points in the review by @Lavanya Nukavarapu but I liked the movie nevertheless. I am adding my view point in continuation of her review:

1. Ranveer Singh was hamming and over acted. Way over the top…. He was a caricature of Allauddin. Ranveer reminded of Shahrukh from Devdas. I liked both of them. Shahid was inadequate and Deepika was optimum, big watery (or was it glycerin) eyes notwithstanding. Rest of the cast was just ok, especially GORA and BADAL. They are mythical characters and Sanjay Bhansali casted unknown actors. Malik Kafur was given too much importance and the Gay angle was unnecessary to the plot.

2. Bahubali has set the bar so high that other filmmakers will take at least a decade to reach there. CGI and war scenes were so poor in Padmavat when compared to Bahubali. Even casting is poor comparatively. Bahubali is the BAAP of all period/ fantasy movies. Padmavat fell woefully short.

3. This movie is at the cross hairs of left and right both. I read this article from Swara Bhaskar I think this misses the point totally. Padamavati is the feminist of 13th century AD. It is true she was the second wife but that was acceptable at that time. She married Ratan Sen on her own volition. Her decision of Jauhar is not about Vagina. This is about consent. She said no to Khilji but Khilji would have raped her and would have stripped her off from her dignity. At point of time there was no court, police, women commission to protect her from evil attackers. The king was the Almighty. Khilji killed her husband and was only one step away from raping her. She had no other way except Jauhar and it was her choice. That is the act of supreme defiance. Padmavati is like Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev and Chandrasekhar Azad. It was not suicide. It was true example of “NO MEANS NO”. Her act of asking permission from Ratan was out of love. Otherwise she has shown her own independent thinking throughout the movie. Be it showing her reflection to Khilji or traveling to Delhi to free him.

4. The protests by Karni Sena were unnecessary. The movie was best possible extolment and glorification of Rajputs. If somebody should protest, they should be admirer of Alauddin (if there are any), because his portrayal was one way dimensional.

5. I liked “Binte Dil” the best. Arijit keeps amazing me. Other one was “Naino wale ne” by Neeti Man.

6. By now everyone knows Padmavati was the figment of imagination of Malik Muhammad Jayasi, a Sufi poet. Padmavat (or Padmawat) is an epic poem written in 1540 by Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi, who wrote it in the Hindustani language of Awadhi, and originally in the Persian Nastaʿlīq script. The philosopy is called “Tasawuff”. The whole poem Padmavat is symbolic. Padmavati is God and Ratan Sen is Sadhak. Raghav Chetan is Satan and Allauddin is illusion (Maya). If we get a Guru we will attain Padmavati i.e. Nirgun (Formless, omnipresent and omniscient God) after defeating Maya.

"तन चितउर, मन राजा कीन्हा
हिय सिंघल बुधु पद्मिनि चीन्हा ।
गुरु सुवा जे पन्थ दिखावा
बिनु गुरु जगत को निर्गुन पावा ।
नागमती यह दुनिया धन्धा
बांचा सोइ न एहि चित बन्धा ।
राघव इत सोई शैतानू
माया अलाउदीन सुल्तानू ।"

So much for the hullaballoo about honor and pride. The whole poem was symbolic which by the way even Sanjay Leela Bhansali failed to show. He is a good director never the less.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Review: Fate's Design

Fate's Design Fate's Design by Subhashish Dey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I will start this review with the author’s introduction as given on Good reads.

Subhashish is a 14 year old student of Chinmaya Vidyalaya Anna Nagar. He has been regularly contributing short stories to his school magazine. An avid reader, Subhashish believes that books open the doors to some wonderful insights in life. An inquisitive boy, Subhashish loves to explore different places and spends time trying to understand the culture of the people there.

The reason is the age of the author. He is just 14. This book sure reads like it is written by a much older person.

The story starts in Moscow, Russia. Anastasaai is a alcoholic loser who cats as a hit man of a mysterious Mafiosi. He is given the job of kidnapping an infant girl and then kill her after getting ransom. He kidnaps Natalia and they get ransom as well. Her father Andrei Federoff is third wealthiest person in town. His wife Irina Federoff is devastated after the kidnapping. After they pay the ransom a corpse of a two year old girl is found floating in Moskva. Their marriage which was already shaky, could not stand this blow. She leaves him and goes to USA. Their son Felix remained back with his father. But there is a twist in the tale. Ansatasaai though a scum on earth could not kill Natalia. He develops cold feet. He grows her up with the help of her old mother. She considers him her father. When he dies Natalia gets a letter from him which tell her the truth. Meanwhile Felix also come to know about his sister. What happens next?

The language is first rate and there are no mistakes. Story flows smoothly and the descriptions and vivid. The plot is tight and doesn’t waver. It keeps you engrossed from beginning till end. Young author Dey has a long way to go.

4/ 5 stars.

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Review: I think I know you...Karunya, Do I?

I think I know you...Karunya, Do I? I think I know you...Karunya, Do I? by Ajit Panicker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Rebirth and terrorism can make a good story. Who cares if we are born again and again? However Geeta says that we have countless births till we attain freedom from cycle of birth and death. However there is no scientific proof of the same. But then again this is fiction and can have fantasy.

There are three tracks in the story:

1. Boy (Karunya) meets girl (Aasma) in Gurgaon DLF cyber city office. They fall in love as expected and make out. Aasma keeps seeing visions which troubles her. They set out on a journey to a small town of Rajasthan.

2. Vishal was studying in IIT but was thrown out because Dimpy complained against him of sexual harassment. He picks up his life again and goes to Mumbai to be a professional photographer.

3. Varunya is elder brother of Arunya. He is in Indian army. There a terrorist plot being hatched to hit India hard at many places at once. STF is formed and they try to neutralize the threat.

These tree tracks run in parallel and nothing wrong in that. but these should intersect somewhere in the second half. That happened (for track 1 and 2) but the link was tenuous at best and seemed forced. Love story of Karunya and Aasma had a ludicrous rebirth angle. Vishal was also forced into that who was clearly a misfit. Third track was totally independent of first two and added nothing to the story. this just slowed the pace down.

Language is just ok. There were many mistakes and Hinglish is used even at places where it is not required. At some places whole dialogues are written in Roman Hindi for no particular reason. Translation given at end is not helping the cause.

It seems the book is publicised directly from the author’s desk and there was no editor. It lacked coherence and has a haywire story as explained above. The ultimate revelation i.e. the identity of sleeper cell head was surprising but there were no clever hints in between.

2.5/ 5 stars.

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Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Review: Three Minutes of Eternity

Three Minutes of Eternity Three Minutes of Eternity by Alon Amir
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Israel is surrounded by hostile countries. Pop culture there is also affected by this. When their delegation goes to Azerbaijan they have remain under security whole the time.

Yarden is a young talented singer who is representing Israel in Eurovision. Yanni is the head of press who is her support. She is not liking all the restrictions on the movement. Then they are taken to Russia secretly and all the weird things happen. Will Yarden come out on top?

The book gives an inside peek into the lives of famous pop stars. This is not all hunky dory and it is a tough life out there. Everyone covers their own ass and blame others when they fail. The strategy of press handling is very cunning. They send out a press release and let the media talk about it and play the youtube clip of the interview.

The book is funny and witty. 3.5/ 5 starts.

A quick search on Google told me that Azerbaijan, the nation and former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and Caucasus Mountains, which span Asia and Europe. Its capital, Baku, is famed for its medieval walled Inner City. Within the Inner City lies the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, a royal retreat dating to the 15th century, and the centuries-old stone Maiden Tower, which dominates the city skyline.

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Sunday, 11 February 2018

Review: You Don't Know What Love Is

You Don't Know What Love Is You Don't Know What Love Is by P. David Hornik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The love after marriage is a taboo. It is called affair for a reason. Why do people do it? Maybe because of lust, boredom or adventure. Sometime we marry and then the flame of love and sex dies down after 4-5 years. Then someone like us enters into our life who is equally desperate and the game of lust and sex starts. It is like a forbidden fruit which tastes very sweet initially. Bit sooner or later things takes a nasty and sinister turn.

Lou and Hettie has their own affairs in past but somehow they did not undergo divorce. Their three wards Treenie, Ross and Alan has their own affirs/ pass time. Then Hattie goes for a wallk in the woods and tragedy strikes. What happens next?

The book has many characters and their affairs. The reasons are sometimes vague. But that is understandable because that the way extramarital affairs works. The crime of passions are common occurrence. The things described in the book are real and may touch many lives. 4/5 stars.

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Review: Money: Physics and Distributive Justice

Money: Physics and Distributive Justice Money: Physics and Distributive Justice by Oded Kafri
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has a very interesting premise. Physics is the study of laws of nature. Economics is the study of money and finance. Can it be explained through the laws of physics? More importantly distributive justice.

Oded Kafri says that the concept of money has not been defined and hence economics is centuries behind the hard sciences. Now he presents the concept of money as two of physics principles:

1. Money as Energy- the Gas Economy : This is similar to Maxwell-Boltzman bell curve. But this concept has many issues.
2. Money as Heat: This is a better system.

There are many interesting concepts like in near future there will be no cash transfers. The distribution of money of a nation is universal and independent of total wealth of a nation. The system of constraints weather by Governments or religion or moral principles tries to limit money’s movement.

The author claims that it is widely agreed nowadays that wealth should not be equally distributed.

The book is interesting but somewhat farfetched. There may be a parallel between energy or heat and money movement but it made the book very complex. It assumed that the reader is well versed with both Physics and economics. Though the author gives a disclaimed that this knowledge is not required, that is not correct. The book is more for an academic exercise and amusement and not for general readers.

Still the book gives some interesting points to ponder. 3/5 stars.

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