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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian


 

 



Book: God is a Gamer

Author: Ravi Subramanian

No. of Pages: 314

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense

Publisher: Penguin Books India

 

BlogAdda does it again; sends me an author-signed copy of a novel that was a delight to read. It is always a delight to receive an author-signed copies and I can imagine the joy-ful pain the wrist the authors might be undergoing to actually sign a large number of books. Just yesterday, I saw an FB post by an author who signed a 1000 copies of his latest book.

I have read several of Ravi's novels and I have always found them enjoyable. He has his style of writing. Short chapter, events spread across seemingly unconnected characters (and you, as a reader, keep searching the connections, with enough amount of suspense built into the writing … all coming together to make the novel a nice racy and pacy read.

I have written about an earlier novel of his … that it could be made into a Bollywood movie. I would say that again for God is a Gamer … maybe I could even stretch it a bit and say that it could even serve as a plot for a Hollywood movie. Pretty awesome I would say !!

There are times when you find it difficult to hold all the different threads of the story in your head. But eventually Ravi ties them all together (a few were tied in unconvincingly though) and alls well that ends well. The clincher is the climax where you are not only surprised but shocked!!

The multiple threads are pretty interesting ... Bitcoins, drug trade, ATM heist, money laundering, politics, banking, gaming world and Facebook integration/partnership, various relationships and characters .... it does get complex at times. But you just to be patient and try and hold all the threads in your head … as they converge in the end.

While the situations and plot lines are complex, even the characters in Ravi's story are complex individuals who are not easy to read and form opinion about or make judgment. They have their demons and their complex personalities along with their own motivations and hidden agenda. They are driven by greed, revenge, desire … making them do things with far-reaching consequences.    

Ravi's style of writing in short chapters and leaving some-parts explicitly hidden ... like a conversation or referring to something as an 'object' or talking about a person without revealing his/her name in the chapter. its an interesting instrument to use ... often irritating but nevertheless I enjoyed it ....

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

 

Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.5 / 5

Writing Style: 4.0 / 5

Characters:     4.0 / 5

Story / Plot:     4.0 / 5

Climax:            4.5 / 5

Overall:           4.0 / 5   

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The INKy experience

 

First Things First … What exactly is the INK Conference and what is INK Live?

The INK Conference is an annual conference that aims to fuel innovation and foster knowledge by bringing together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers on a global stage. The ideas that these speakers put forth are shared with the world, inspiring thought, conversation, and ultimately action.

(source: http://www.inktalks.com/conferences)

INK Live is a unique and stimulating experience to witness a real-time telecast of the INK conference live and uncut. The experience is designed for students and young professionals, and is very affordable. The event hosts interactive workshops, speaker interactions, inspiring and engaging discussions, and other fun-filled learning activities with peers. For speaker interactions, selected speakers are brought to the INK Live venue for face-to-face interaction with the attendees.

The workshops are designed to be fun-filled, conducted by professionals and subject matter experts on interesting topics. Past conferences included workshops from MIT Media Lab, Nokia Research, Autodesk, Levis, and many others. The event is created to stimulate, educate and inspire the leaders of tomorrow, in a setting that fosters creativity, it encourages you to explore new ideas and is built around surprising experiences designed to inspire the youth.

The 3rd edition of INK Live will be held in Mumbai, from October 31st – November 2nd, 2014.

(source: http://www.inktalks.com/conferences/inklive2014)

Now let's talk about how I ended up getting INK'ed

Well, Thanks to BlogAdda.com, I not only came to know about INK but also got a chance to attend the event. Along with some fellow bloggers, I got a chance to attend the INK Live (missed the chance to make it for INK Conference but a dear friend, Dr. Roshan made it).

TED event was also during the same weekend and so was the Tata Literature Fest … and since I was returning from Kuwait after 3 weeks, my family was also expecting me to spend some time at home. So it was a touch call and I was just hoping that I would be able to attend the entire event.

The date coincided with my return from Kuwait so I wasn't very sure but still wanted to give it a shot. I landed around 7 in the morning of 31st October feeling all groggy and zombie'ish after an over-night flight (and I don't sleep well in flights). Came home, took a short nap and reached the venue. I knew I was late and only hoped that I would be allowed entry. I had heard that they won't allow late entrants. Thankfully I made it to the venue before the deadline of 11 AM.

Also, my phone went bonkers that day so I was not able to communicate with fellow bloggers using twitter or take any pictures of the event. I felt handicapped. Add to that the sleep-deprived groggy and drowsy feeling … I was beginning to think I should have passed on this opportunity to another blogger.

I have been to a couple of events in this genre but nothing prepared me for the security arrangements at the venue. I wasn't very sure if the security was for the event in specific or for the venue in general. We were anyway given guidelines in advance discouraging us from photographing the venue.

The event turned out to be part intellectual and part entertainment – a nice balance, I would say. It was like a TED Talk event plus some entertainment.  

Singers Shantanu and Monali set the tone of the conference while Usha Uthup made the energy levels hit the roof. Other performances at the event were by Dharavi Rocks, Bickram Ghosh

Ramesh Rao's talk about the "dance of the heart" was a very interesting one and it reminded me of something that I had read a long time ago, 'Successful people usually walk faster than the others'. The dance of the heart talk centered around the variability of the heart rate. It was interesting to hear the insights and inferences. Personally, I always thought heart rate varies with mood, thought process and general state of mind, but this talk definitely gave a different dimension to it. Somewhere in the talk, the inference was that the secret to success was linked to prayers and social interactions (and meditation too).

There were many other talks and all of them were good, but the 'dance of heart' will kind of remain in my heart for a long time to come.

The talk by the sisters from the Green School of Bali was very impactful. Their initiative - 'Bye Bye Plastic Bags' – is something we all should learn from. Something the kids said is what will forever remain in my heart (now that I am a father of a 6 month old daughter) - "Kids maybe 25% of the present. But they are 100% of the future!"

Shashwat Ratan sent out a strong message about the state of education in the country where knowledge is gained by not utilized. The practical utilization and application of acquired knowledge is what is sorely needed in our education system. Shashwat's talk was not negative; he was actually talking of the examples of application of knowledge resulting in some real good innovations.  

Preeti Shroff talked about Cultural Quotient which gains currency in a world where we end up interacting with people from different countries as part of our work life or when we travel to other countries or relocate for work etc. We live in a highly connected world and the term 'global village' is more relevant now than ever before.

The talk by Ben Nelson was an interesting one but I got into conversation with another attendee on the very interesting topic of books and missed it.

A distinctive feature of INK live was the workshops for the participants. Every INK Live participant was given an opportunity to take part in two workshops. I wanted to participate but knew that I had to spend some time at home too (else my family would ask me to shift to a hotel and return when the event is over). You can find the details of the workshops on the INK Live website http://www.inktalks.com/conferences/inklive2014/program)

Workshops

'Design Differently, Design Anywhere' by Autodesk

'Street Art and Visual Storytelling' with Shilo Shiv Suleman

'Crowdfunding 101' by Wishberry

'The Art of Origami' with Rajvardhan Kadam

'How to create your brand on social media?' by Dell

Since I could not attend the workshops, I talked to some of the fellow bloggers who did and got some key highlights and take-aways from from them.

Crowdfunding is not a long-term solution to funding a business (although there might be a few cases). It is simply to collect enough funds to start up, launch the product or service and get some paying customers in place. Now, with a running engine which serves as a proof of concept, you approach the 'investors', 'VC' etc for the actual large size funding to boost you into the big league. An interesting thing the blogger told me was the Indian Government does not allow you to raise funds through crowdfunding 'online'. You may only do this offline. This somehow did not make sense to me. I will probably have to find out more about this aspect.

The people who attended Origami session were also very impressed. They said that their takeaway from the session was much more than Origami. It gave them a different way of thing, a different perspective of things.

Overall, the event was pretty insightful and some fun too. I would have enjoyed more and gained more had I been more attentive and less distracted. I just hope to be far more attentive and active in INK events of 2015
Thanks to BlogAdda.com once again for the opportunity ...