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Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Shoes of the Dead by Kota Neelima

Book: Shoes of the Dead
Author: Kota Neelima
No. of Pages: 285
Genre: Fiction / Political
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Kota Neelima introduces you to the grim world of farmers and their plight leading to suicidal tendencies with the influence, local and state politics has on it besides the direct impact of the local moneylenders and other powerful people have.  
Kota grabs your attention right from the first few pages giving you a perspective of the farmer suicides that you probably never had – that of normal deaths being labeled as farmer 'debt-related' suicides in a bid to get compensation which the government offers to their families.
As the story moves forward, you are introduced to a host of characters. A reporter trying to figure out the truth behind the farmer suicides, a politician trying to save his skin reeling under his father's reputation as a seasoned politician, a lady social worker whose husband has vested interests in the village where farmer suicides are increasing, a new member of the farmer suicide determination committee – he is the brother of a farmer who committed suicide and fights tooth and nail to award compensation to the families under consideration, other members of the suicide committee with their own vested interests and thought processes behind voting the cases eligible or ineligible for the compensation. Kota has done a good job at defining the characters and although the story had a slow and sad pace to it, I actually enjoyed reading the book.
As the story moves forward, you discover different shades of the characters and some characters remain elusive – you are not really able to make up your mind regarding their virtues. The book brings to life the 'reality' of the farmer's conditions and the host of natural as well as man-made causes for their plight and suicide.
The book gives you an insight of the state-of-affairs of the Indian farmers and you tend to worry at some point – if more and more farmers were to endure these conditions – they will educate their kids and send them to the towns and cities for jobs … who is going to grow crops in future if farmers turn away from their suicidal profession. Where will the food come from for the 1.25 Billion population of India? Will the handful of prosperous farmers be able to supply the countries food grain needs?
When will the government wake up to the plight of the farmers and actually put in place measures which work rather than apply band-aid AFTER they are hurt. Doesn't the government (politicians/IAS officers/govt. machinery) realize that prevention is better than cure … and if we do end up in a very worse situation, we might be in a situation where the cure will no longer work?
How many suicides will it take for the Govt. to take this up on priority and war footing?
In spite of being a serious book raising too many uncomfortable questions, Kota Neelima manages to make it an enjoyable read. She has a unique style of writing which paints a picture of her writing in front of your eyes.
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

April Reading Summary

It has been a busy time and I haven't had time at hand to write about my April reading yet. So here is just an interim post to list down my April reading without any comments on individual stories/novels etc.

I will prepare the detailed posts about the stories and novels as and when I get time and post them in coming month along with May Reading posts.

 

1        Novel: Tantra by Adi

2        PKD Shorts: The Cookie Lady by Philip K Dick

3        PKD Shorts: Beyond the Door by Philip K Dick

4        PKD Shorts: The Cosmic Poachers by Philip K Dick

5        Novel: The Rozabal Line by Ashwin Sanghi

6        O Henry Shorts: How Willie Saved his Father by O Henry

7        O Henry Shorts: Simmon's Saturday Night by O Henry

8        O Henry Shorts: A Strange Case by O Henry

9        3I Series by MZ - Short: Christmas in Rocky Beach by Mark Zahn

10    Short Novel: Trouble Up Finny's Nose by Dana Mentink

11    ACD Shorts: An Iconoclast by Arthur Conan Doyle

12    ACD Shorts: The Coming of the Huns by Arthur Conan Doyle

13    ACD Shorts: Giant Maximin by Arthur Conan Doyle

14    Prof. Shonku Short: The Mysterious Island by Satyajit Ray

15    Novel: Salvation of a Saint by Keigo Higashino

16    WGS Shorts: A Dead Woman's Secret by Guy De Maupassant

17    WGS Shorts: An Unreasonable Woman by Guy De Maupassant

18    WGS Shorts: Lost by Guy De Maupassant

19    WGS Shorts: A Little Dinner in Bittlestone Street by William Makepeace Thakeray

20    WGS Shorts: The Quest by Hector Hugh Munro (Saki)

21    Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide: Deadly Fantasies by Marcia Muller

22    Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide: The Unlikely Demise of Cousin Claude by Charlotte MacLeod

23    Hitchcock – Home Sweet Homicide: The Moonstone Earrings by Herbert Resnicow

24    3I Crimebusters Novella: Rough Stuff by G H Stone

 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Irony of Life

What an irony of life ... 


Tour companies provide Honeymoon packages with 'per person" prices 

AND 

tucked in 'terms & conditions' u see 'prices on twin sharing basis' 


Friday, May 24, 2013

Book Review: Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

Book: Chanakya's Chant

Author: Ashwin Sanghi

No. of Pages: 441

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Westland

After 2 disappointments from Ashwin Sanghi and an assurance from a good friend Abhishek Khetan – that this one will not be that bad – I picked up the only remaining novel of Ashwin Sanghi. To my surprise, Ashwin has actually done a good job at it. Wonder what happened to him while writing The Rozabal Line (TRL) and The Krishna Key (TKK). All through Chanakya's Chant (CC), I was imagining it as a movie (very much on the lines of the Bollyood movie - Rajneeti) with a similar star cast and look-n-feel.

CC is a 2-in-1 novel with 2 separate storylines in two different ages. One story is that of Chanakya from 2300 year ago while the other is that of Gangasagar who belongs to the present times of the 21st century. Both stories are well written and well executed with enough twists-n-turns with interesting surprises written into the plot. The old as the new story intrigues you and compels you to re-think politics. Chanakya was a ruthless politician and a Kingmaker … Gangasagar is just the same.
Both stories are related in the sense that there are a lot of parallels between the two tracks. You are indeed reading 2 stories at the same time, simultaneously. It reminded me of Matthew Reilly's "Temple" where he has 2 storylines running in parallel in different ages.
The story is well written except for the numerous one-liners that Gangasagar and Chanakya keep using throughout the book. It somehow lessened the appeal of the characters (for me). Especially since I knew that most of these one liners have been said by others and some of them assigned to Chanakya may not even have existed in those times 2300 years ago.
If the novel is indeed converted into a movie or a TV serial, the one-liners will definitely be enjoyable and will be a major draw for the program. Personally, I wouldn't want the movie to focus on the Chanakya story - just the present story of Gangasagar would be cool.

Definitely an interesting read. I would recommend. Finally an Ashwin Sanghi novel that I liked

FYI - The copy of the book was ordered online more than a year ago and not obtained from any agency for book review. It had remained forever on my to-read list but just did not get picked up. After reading TKK, i decided to read TRL and almsot gave up on CC ...

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Book Review: Business Sutra by Devdutt Pattanaik

Book: Business Sutra
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
No. of Pages: 432
Genre: Management
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
I have read Devdutt Pattanaik (DP) earlier but those were the Mythology related ones – the Seven Secrets of Shiva and Myth=Mithya kind of books. I did know about the Management books by DP but never got excited enough to actually pick them up. When Business Sutra by DP came up for review at BlogAdda, I got my chance to lay my hands on this non-mythological work of DP.
Seriousness of the book is distinctly communicated with the hard-bound nature of the book. The seriousness is lightened by the numerous illustrations and writing style of DP making the book easy to navigate and understand and assimilate and relate and apply. The difficult part is patience. This book can be compared to a slow novel where the author spends a lot of time developing the plot, the characters, bringing out their complexities and inner demons and their inter-relationships. It's only in the last few pages that the action really takes place and you suddenly see the design in its full glory.
One thing though: Those looking for management gyan in the form of answers to "What should I do …?" shouldn't read this book. It is useless from that perspective.
DP does not serve you Business Mantras or Sutras to you on a platter for you to pick and choose and apply at leisure. DP does not offer you quick fix management (the western management style often gets blamed for being a quick-fix approach). The 'management' which most of us 'study' is the American version of management which is influenced by their society, structures and their very own distinct 'mythology' and 'religious beliefs'. What we 'see' and 'experience' as management in India is our own brand of management with roots in Indian culture, religious beliefs and upbringing.
What DP put forward in the book is the underlying thought process and feelings and beliefs behind what business and management is for the Indians. He does not give you 'tricks and tips' of managing business and managing people; he helps you understand how we operate at the sub-conscious level. He explains you how the western management style and the Indian management style differ through the caselets which are a reflection of today's typical workplace situations.
It is interesting how DP relates Indian mythology and the various characters in there as symbolic representation of business mantras and different facets of business. DP has a different way of looking at things and at times it is refreshing to read a very different approach to Business and management.
Westerners need things organized while we can thrive in chaos in confusion. Chinese on the other hand is altogether different ballgame. DP makes a lot of comparisons between the western, Chinese and Indian culture and management styles.
DP's approach to Management is that of it being a philosophy and way of living rather than a set of tools and techniques to effectively run organizations. For DP, Business is like the ancient Indian Yagna where an individual makes offerings to a deity/god and expects favors from God in return. The foundation of our religious beliefs has shaped the way we think which eventually impacts our 'very Indian' approach to management.  It is also interesting to see how DP brings out the Goal or the Objective behind the business – and how it differs from those preached in western philosophy which we all study and follow.
No review about this DP book will be complete without mentioning the following:
1. Illustrations across the book effectively play their role in helping you understand the concepts visually and also lighten the overall mood of this otherwise serious book. When was the last time you read a serious book with illustrations? DP's illustrations have a unique style with line drawings of the different characters and symbolic explanations of the concept. We all know that illustrations are a great way of communicating concepts but how many business books have utilized this? All you end up seeing in management and business books are boring flow charts and schematics models of problem solving. DP's illustrations are in fact like a breath of fresh air in the stuffy boring world of business and management books.
2. Caselets across the book. Every fundamental concept and theory is explained through small caselets in gray boxes across the book which helps us understand the relevancy and applicability of ancient wisdom to 21st century ground level problems and conflicts. These caselets are not problems to be solved … but situations to understand. They don't offer a solution, they give you an insight.
I am divided on the opinion of whether I would recommend this book to a fresh MBA who may find it heavy or frivolous or at loggerheads with their western management knowledge. This book does need a certain level of maturity and work experience before you can begin to appreciate DP's message.
If my review confuses you more than enlighten about the book, then you will appreciate that Business Sutra is not an easy book to digest or to review. I am sure you will see a lot of divided opinion on this one – some claiming it to be a deep down masterpiece while others rubbishing it as a waste of time. Some will definitely be irked by the lack of clear management and business gyan while some will have a deep down satisfaction having read something that they believed was always true but did not find it in management literature.
If you are contemplating reading this book, I would suggest you first read several reviews of this book which will give you different perspectives of this book and enable you to make an informed decision of whether to read it or not – after all the book costs upwards of 450 after discounting on the MRP of 700 and its around 432 pages to go through. That's quite some reading time and a bit of money too J
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program  for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!