Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review: Chanakaya’s New Manifesto

I was going through “The Bankster” when I got hold of this book and the title and the cover page seemed very interesting so I kept “The Bankster” on hold and started with “Chanankaya’s New Manifesto” by Pavan K. Varma.

Now one thing is for sure, St. Stephen’s graduates can write very well and have a command over the language and it wouldn’t be too much to say that it is the breeding ground for the academicians, top bureaucrats and politicians.

Although the author has written many books but this is the first book of his that I am read.

If I have to put the review of the book in one sentence I would say that the book is very well written and good yet so boring that if you are not interested in Indian politics or are fed up of listening “what’s wrong with India”, this book will bore you to death.

Certainly this book is not for everyone, probably it can be part of an academic text-book/guide.

The author begins by giving a brief about the great Chanakaya and his work Arthashastra. And based on the principles and teachings of Chanakaya, he tries to suggest solutions to problems within India today.

According to the author there are 5 main problem areas in our country:

  1. Governance
  2. Democracy 
  3. Corruption
  4. Security
  5. Inclusive Society

He goes on to explain the current problems in each area and then lays down the a manifesto (I wish it was a political party’s manifesto)  to deal with problems in each area.

Now the good part of the book is – the book reflects how experienced the author is that if he is suggesting some measures to fix the issues it’s not just any suggestion, they are well thought over. The author knows what works in India. For example when the author mentions that Presidential form of governance is often suggested and is good but might not work in India. He just doesn’t suggest any ‘ideal’ solutions but what can work for India.

The other good thing is he didn’t take up everything (as India has millions of problem areas) but concentrated on few most important, which if fixed will reflect the changes in other problem areas too.

The language is simple and reader can go through it quite easily.

Not so good part of the book is – again like I said before this book can bore you to death if you are not interested in reading about politics or all. Plus there is nothing earth shattering that is revealed in this book. If you live in India you probably know most of the  issues that are mentioned in the book plus you might also have come up with some of the fixes to the problem suggested in the book (off course not all,  the solutions are pretty comprehensive but still…).

At various points in the book the author sounds judgmental and the solutions itself starts seeming like a “AAP” party’s manifesto.

The author could have made this entire book more interesting in many ways rather than serving it so bland that readers have so hard time finishing it. Also in the times when all the time you hear the same thing about nation’s problems and people suggesting some or the other variations of what the author suggests, you don’t want to read another 250 pages of idealism.

Probably author should take a cue from another alumni of St Stephens Shashi Tharoor as how to write an interesting book Pax Indica even with a bland topic such as Foreign policy.


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Week 45: the book this week is The Bankster

Probably it’s late but then I am hardly finding time, nevertheless I did manage to start a book. A book that I have thought for sometime and is making waves and is by an Indian author.

The book this week is “The Bankster” by Ravi Subramaniam. Now isn’t the name so intriguing and adventurous (may be not adventurous) and exciting.

The author has got rave reviews for his books (this is not his first) and is actually thought to be in the league of Jeffery Archer, John Grisham (I honestly have no idea, I don’t read either of them too much).

But yea all of this has set my expectations high and even the first few pages that I have read seems promising. So just wishing I find enough time over the weekend to finish this book.

You guys have a great weekend ahead,

Happy Reading!

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Review: Many Lives, Many Masters

manylivesThis  is one of those books that I took up by reading an excerpt (I rarely do that) and partly because it was much talked about. I never knew if was written long time back.

The book Many Lives, Many Masters tells a true story that happened with the author Brian L. Weiss, a psychiatrist with one of his patient  ‘Catherine’.

The message that this book gives in one sentence is “Aatma amar hai woh mar nahi sakti, shareer nashvar hai” or that the soul or spirit never dies, it is the physical form that dies.

Yes this is exact same thing, if you are Indian or know about Hinduism would have heard sometime. Krishna gives the same message to Arjun and Hinduism (and probably a few other religions too) talk about this. Life beyond Life.

When Catherine approaches Weiss, she is very disturbed and her anxiety level is very high. Weiss treats her for 18 months but doesn’t achieve much and then suddenly he tries something different. Once Catherine is hypnotized she starts revealing things about her earlier births which initially doctor was reluctant to believe but slowly and gradually he understands that she is not faking any information. Through her other spirits (who are called the “Masters”) starts communicating with the author, starts giving him insight into the life and death question.

It is then that author realizes that there are things beyond our understanding and beyond science and he starts investigating more and starts learning more. He however initially was reluctant to discuss this information with others but then despite the doubts about the consequences he starts talking to others. To his surprise many other people have had such incidences in their lives and have developed Psychic powers for which there was no logical reason.

Later in his career he decides to come out with this information so that it can benefit others. If humans understand that the life doesn’t end her then we might start doing things differently. We might start building endurance towards pain, we might become better human beings.

Now irrespective of the controversial subject I liked the book. I liked the ease and simplicity with which the author explained this complex topic of rebirth and spirits not dying, etc.

The book doesn’t get boring at all, you can understand author’s predicament when he is narrating all these stories yet he is forced to believe the unbelievable.

I personally do believe there are things that can’t be explained by science and rebirth does seem possible. However I do not tend to form opinion about any such thing that I have no complete information about so will leave it at that.

However Weiss has written a good book and probably with his experience he can write so authoritatively.

PS: This book (and not the review) was sponsored by MySmartPrice

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Review: When the signal turns Red

WHEN THE SIGNAL TURNS REDI managed to finish another book over the weekend and it was by another first time Indian writer. The second book this week was “When the Signal turns Red” by Jayanand Ukey.

I will put it plain and simple, the book was a below average read. And the writing also wasn’t too interesting.

Sentences like these can never earn you good reputation as a writer “…she washed her face with plain water.” or “she looked as if she had fallen from the sky – handmade by God”.

The book starts with the main characters Girish and Prajakta bagging ‘big’ IT jobs (really in 2012 big IT jobs?) and planning to marry. Both the families agree. And then suddenly the job offers of both get refused by their prospective employers (on the same day, the news is on television, they both receive the letters on same day, etc. etc. unbelievable) and girls father refuses to marry his daughter and tries to marry her to his friend’s son. But the guy gets the job in the same company in the BPO division and with a Masala ending (gun shots recorded, other guy having a wife, security guards following the girl) wins the girl back.

That’s all there is to the story. I felt that there should have been a concrete story at least. 

The writing needs much work. The book (like many other new ones) is full of hyperbole and statements that you might not even comprehend. The pace is painfully slow. There isn’t a good story. Characters are addressed throughout the book as “Mr. Chitre”, “Mrs. Chitre” (which is not a very good way to keep the characters in the readers conscious) and so on.

After reading the previous book “Just Married, Please Excuse“, I was hoping that I might get another good new-gen Indian writer but it was no where near to it.

It amazes me that why we as a nation can’t come out with a few good stories? Why we are stuck up at IT, IITs, Love, Marriage stuff? We are a nation full of stories, wherever you can see you will find a good enough story but we are unable to see it or unable to translate it into a good book.

I sincerely hope the new gen writes think of a good story before they decide to write and think it a hundred times before they think of getting published.

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Review: Just Married, Please Excuse

just_married_please_excuseI do not remember exactly who was the author (or was that an author or someone in my circle?) who has read this book and gave it a thumbs up and so I thought that I would read it someday.

I got a subscription to a new library justbooksclc and got first lot of my books delivered and this book was part of it and on instinct I picked up this one first from the 4 that were delivered and it turned out to be a good decision.

The book this week was “Just Married, Please Excuse” by Yashodhara Lal (when I first read this name I was under the impression that the author is a male, how silly of me now that i read the name in complete conscious).

In this book review journey with me you must have observed that there are many books by upcoming Indian authors that I have read and reviewed and so you would know how I feel about the new breed of Indian writers.

Yashodhara Lal also belongs to the same category of new gen Indian authors, Just Married… is her first published book.  But 5 mins into the book and I was in for a pleasant surprise.

In one word if you want me to sum up this book and her writing, I would say”Good” and those who follow me know that I don’t say that often about new-gen Indian writers (hardly ever).

This is what book writing is all about, first attempt and she got it bang on target. Bravo!

The story is drawn from author’s own life where she deals with an early marriage and early parenthood. How things unfold in her life once she is married (although initially being reluctant about it) and then how difficult it was for her to deal with pregnancy and post pregnancy depressions.

The good things: There are many, considering that this is the first book by the author, the first half is sheer brilliance. Her comic timing is so good that you actually smile/laugh many times while reading the book. And it’s not crude humor or absurd humor, the writing simply  tickles you. And as I mentioned in an earlier review that I think making people laugh is the most difficult thing but Yashodhara does it so nicely.

The characters she describes in the book are good, funny. The writing is crisp, the tempo is good (for the first half) and you don’t feel bored in most parts. The manner of writing, the word selection are all dot on target.

The not so good things: The second half kinda gets slow and there was some further editing that could have been done in the post pregnancy, bringing up the baby part. Some minor parts were left unexplained (or not explained properly) such as why after being so vehemently opposed to marriage at the age of 23, due to one incidence she decides “let’s get married”, that twist in the end that her husband finds a text message of her to another guy due to which he starts behaving weirdly was unnecessary (probably author trying to bring in some Masala or reasoning). Lastly, nothing exciting about the story.

And that’s how the book sits. As I mentioned earlier I would rate the book as ‘Good’ and probably if she keeps on writing we might see some very good writing from her in future.

I would advise all the new-gen Indian writers to take a cue from Yashodhara lal and her book as to what good writing is all about. There is nothing new to the story and probably if written by someone else, it might not have turned up so well.

Well done Yashodhara, I am happy I picked up your book and I will again whenever you are in print again.

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Review: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Men-Mars-Women-Venus-CoverThe book this week was one that I had thought about many times to read but didn’t get the opportunity, as I mentioned in my previous post that this book is so famous that you might have either read this book or would have heard about it. It’s an international best seller.

The book this week was: “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” by John Gray. 

As I mentioned in the earlier post that this book has been many a times referred to as “The Relationship Bible”.

The book begins well with author mentioning the incident which changed his outlook towards opposite sex and created a deep understanding from that point onward and he went on to pass this understanding to thousands of couples who were having relationship troubles.

Overall I felt the book to be an average read. I had high expectations from it (because of it being a bestseller and people referring to it and all) but it turned out to be an ordinary read and in the last few chapters a pretty boring read. The one quintessential change that the book requires is its length. It’s 3oo pages book however I thought that throughout the book things have been repeated many times and all the author wanted to say could have easily fitted in 150 odd pages.

One best thing (probably the only thing) one can easily take away from this book is its title. In my view the title is good enough and if one understands the title itself reading the book is not a necessity. The author explains and stresses that Men and Women are essentially from different planets and do not share the same values, feelings, likes and dislikes and whenever we are dealing with opposite sex we should realize that and act accordingly.

What could be showing affection to a female might be understood as controlling by the men, men  needs their private space and women misconstrue it to they being rude and detached, women expecting men to listen and men instead suggesting solutions to the problems (which is the last thing they need), so and so forth.

There are some good examples and good situations that author cites to clear up his point that Men and Women are different. And then goes on to explain the dos and don’ts in the relationship.

At many points I found the book to be overly patronizing and preaching and sometimes there are so many examples to make you understand one simple point that at times you might blurt out “I got it Mr. Gray, let’s move on”.

Initial few chapters like “Men are like rubber-bands”, “Men go to their caves and women talk”, “How to motivate opposite sex” are decent but the last few chapters I felt are unnecessary with the same information getting repeated every now and then.

I found “Writing love letter” chapter to be most annoying, there are so many unnecessary examples and statements that you get so bored. I almost skipped 40-50 pages in last few chapters as I wasn’t able to bear reading it any further.

I almost never like Self-help books and this one too makes it to that list. Had the author just stopped at “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” this book could have succeeded for me but he goes on to elaborate how they can transform themselves to stay on planet Earth and there he lost it.

At one point he mentions that applying these techniques might feel that you are manipulating and that is exactly I think of most of the Self-Help books that they try to teach you how to manipulate which will never work.

If you are back from your office tired and your wife starts arguing about some thing, at that point you don’t remember that Mr. Gray said that understand the opposite sex and walk away for sometime, give time to cool off. At that time you just burst out and you might end up having a fight and that is alright.

You can’t change your inherent qualities and should not just start practicing something because the book says so. Either one has to compromise at sometime, it’s a give and take in a relationship. However I do agree that understanding that the other person is from a different planet (not literally) might help. It might just change your responses automatically without having to refer a book for that.

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