Saturday, April 27, 2013

F?@K Knows - Book Review

About the Book:

What do you want from life? Are you on the right track? Are you truly happy? If your answer to these questions is ‘F?@k knows!’, then this book is for you. Find the answers to life’s most important questions with the help of uber-successful entrepreneur, Shailendra Singh, co-founder of Percept and inceptor of Sunburn. Told with sparkling, flavourful and in-your-face humour, this book will advise you on how to:

*Find yourself (Because you’re probably lost. Admit it.)
*Follow your heart (Because if you don’t then you’ll die unhappy, you stupid f?@ker.)
*Achieve your goals (You know you want to.)
*Live life like you give a f?@k (Because…why not?)

Candid and thoughtful, F?@k Knows will show you how to really live life on your own terms, to do what you want to do and not what you have to do just because your father said so!


Leave me alone in a bookstore and you can spot me browsing through every single section, but the self-help section. I’ve never really been a big fan of them. There was a Prof in college who was gung-ho about Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and I guess, I did not move beyond 50-odd pages.  But when Shailendra Singh's  F?@K Knows came in for a review; one was obviously the title spelt as Fuk Noz, second was the gist of the book. So, I decided to give it a shot.

The title of the book is actually pronounced as Fuck knows. Old school junta like me still opt for God knows. The bright yellow cover with red graffiti fonts makes it an instant pick me up, especially when you want to read something very light.

The book true to its title has the F word written all over the place. I mean, every chapter has a reference to that particular word. I have a feeling, this was included to make it more readable for first time readers or to grab eye-balls or just to pique the reader’s interest. All said and done, it serves the purpose in some places, while in other’s its completely unnecessary.  The language is really simple and down to earth, you don’t really have to rush to the dictionary or anything. The tone is first person and he takes through the journey of his life; the ups and downs and how he managed to make the most of it.  

What I really liked about the book is that; instead of preaching something that beyond comprehension or throwing in too much funda, the author has taken the personal route to storytelling. It’s heart-warming to know that made that attempt to come down to the level of the common man and speak to them in their language. Kudos to that! That in my opinion is precisely what makes the book different and endearing at the same time.

Content-wise, the author does not tell you anything more than what you already know about the vagaries of life.  The USP of the book lies in the presentation and narration, full marks to that. Sublte humour combined with a little bit of sarcasm seal the deal.

On the whole, the book is good for a one time read. It will not change you unless you let it influence the way you think and function.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

R.I.P: Resurgent Indian Patriots – Mukul Deva – A Book Review

How many times have you put down the newspaper seething with anger or turned off a news channel because it got a little too disturbing? How many times have you read about scams and wondered how politicians of the world’s largest democracy can swindle thousands of crores of tax payers’ money and walk away scot free? How many times have you wanted a revolutions of sorts turning the nation upside down and to make way for The Great Indian Utopia; all of us have been waiting for?

The book R.I.P: Resurgent Indian Patriots capitalises on the same sentiments.  Five ex-Para-Military officers who call themselves the K-Team are out on a mission to cleanse the nation of all the wrong doing by the politicians. They are technically sound and are intellectually strong. They are self-confessed vigilantes of the nation; who’ve been waiting for the right moment to strike. Their emotions aren’t any different from yours or mine; they are the same. But it is just that they’ve decided to fight it out while you and I are waiting for a miracle to happen.

Plot: K-Team, led by Colonel Krishna Athwale, selects six politicians embroiled in scams of different magnitudes. The scams have a wide range; technology-fodder-arms dealing and the likes. Their targets are spread far and wide across the country.  K-Team, wants to rid the nation of all these unscrupulous people and make way for a transparent nation where you and I can live in peace.

Set in present day India, the scams, people described and the plot sounds very close to home. Every time a politician or a scam is described, we can put a finger on who it is and how it has affected the nation.  K-Team is successful in Round-One of its mission; by successfully bringing down second-rung politicians in Patna, Chennai and Pune. They then issue a nationwide statement, warning people from the three pillars of the society namely; Army, Justice and Politicians.
At this precise moment, the home minister wants to track down the RIP members who’ve claimed responsibility for the attack; he involves Vinod Bedi, Special Director, CBI, his assistant Nandakumar and finally a rouge para-military commando Raghav Bhagat.  

Raghav Bhagat is Krishna Athwale’s anti-thesis, and he is hired by the politicians to track the K-Team down.  All these characters are oblivious to each other’s presence.
Whilst the politicians grapple with the demands of the RIP team, they move on with their plan and successfully bring down a Judge and an arms dealer amidst tight political security.  Will they be able to bring down their last and final target? Will they be successful  in bringing about a revolution. Will they survive attack, is the rest of the story.

Writing: The writing is simple and very easy on the reader. The author has taken an effort to understand the psyche of military officers and politicians alike. The plot is fast paced and entertaining, and it's very hard to put down the book. Loved reading it!

When you read the book, you can understand the kind of mental turmoil these politicians go through. Their records are full of scams, their hands so dirty and the roots are so deep that unearthing each one of them is going to be one hell of a task. The politicians cover up for each other simply because; if one person lets them down, then all of them will go down together. Such is the magnitude of today’s political scams.

Final Words: Special thanks to the author for going that extra mile by giving us an insight into the minds of highly trained Para-Mililtary Officers and also giving us hope that if we put our mind to cleansing the nation, we can.

If you’ve enjoyed watching Rang De Basanti and wanted a revolution to take over the nation, then Mukul Deva’s  R.I.P, should give you enough ammunition to want one real soon.

Go ahead and grab your copy now! Totally worth it and highly recommended.

This review is a part of the biggest" target="_blank"> Book Reviews Program.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Change of Perspective

This post is a part of an initiative by Chennai Bloggers’ Club; a Facebook community for likeminded bloggers. Around 30 odd bloggers are writing about, What Chennai Means to Them.
This tag was previously taken up by Sahi Sridhar- Sahithya who writes to the Rythm of the heart and thoughts of the mind.!!!

When Amma moved to Madras in 1985, she walked into a completely different place. For somebody who spent 23yrs in a carefree place like Bombay, she was in for what the modern world calls – Culture Shock.  I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like moving in here, because her only connection with Madras was her maternal relatives and she hadn’t really spent a lot of time in this part of the world.  So, every time I asked her, she told me the same thing; everything around me was different, people dressed differently, spoke differently (she has a prominent Palakkad accent, and I have inherited parts of it), nobody spoke English or Hindi, the roads were different, and even the water tasted different.

Once she finished telling me this, I would give her the tightest hug and say, acho pavame! Then she would feed me in with dreams about a wonderful glorious place called Bombay, where; you were free to do anything, you din’t have to pump water from a hand-pump at 2 in the morning, you could bunk college and travel by local trains, Panipuri, tasted like Panipuri, nobody cared about how you dressed or how you spoke, roads were made of concrete and the rains were beautiful. And we would finish this conversation singing – Madras otta Madras, Bombay nalla Bombay.

So while growing up; Bombay was my city of dreams, I always wanted to live in Bombay, go to the school right opposite the colony, travel by local trains, shop from the streets, and eat vada pav and  kala-khatta gola all my life.

You get the picture right? This stuck with me through my formative years in Bangalore and even for half a decade after we moved to Madras. When we moved back to Madras from Bangalore in 1995, yourstruly was in for a shock.  I couldn’t fathom why the house we chose to live in did not have my playmates and not have a garden or a swing.

In the meantime, I was doing my bit of exploring the city, I literally drove a van driver and conductor crazy by making them show me all around, Adyar, Besant Nagar and Indira Nagar in vain to spot the apartment my Perima was staying. And also by bunking Hindu School in class 3, and walking aimlessly through the streets of Indira Nagar not knowing where my house was. That’s when some Good Samaritan spot yourstruly and dropped me back home. (this time I had the address written in my handbook).

My real experiences began when I was enrolled in a stricter school which penalised students for having one little brown spot on a white canvas shoe. The discipline they instilled in me still runs in my blood.  This place was a real eye opener, I spoke English which I enjoyed and also learnt proper Madras-Tamizh. I met a lot of likeminded people, read lots of books, honed my skills and generally grew up. I loved that place and never wanted to leave.

My next life changing experience was one school in the IIT Campus. If I were to describe it one  Madras Tamizh word and get done with –it was plain Galeej. It was all that my previous one was not. This showed me the other side of Chennai city.

So by the time I started college, I was your proper Madras Ponnu, with an unmistakable Tam-brahm twang and a penchant for prim and proper English. I loved everything that was Madras; food, music, language, culture and people (mostly). I started spending more time on the streets than inside classrooms. I was experiencing a whole new wave of change and I quite liked it.

This is when I started feeling for the city, I started bonding more and it felt like home. Bombay suddenly had lost it charm, or atleast diminished by a huge margin. I started feeling more at home; I was one among the Tamizh speaking junta around, I knew the city like the back of my hand. I could recommend places, things to do and be an encyclopaedia in my own right.

Today, 17yrs down the line; I cannot imagine life outside this city. I know that I can be safe at 10 in the night,  a walk on the beach can clear my head, that praying in Ratnagirishwar Kovil can have a burden heaved off my chest, that I can buy a fortune on the streets of T-Nagar, and I can have the best Panipuri in Nungambakkam!

I’ve spent a fair chunk of my life roaming around the streets, soaking up whatever it has to offer and I know that this my city, my home and the only place on planet earth where I will feel comfortable in my own skin without any pretences.

As I finish writing this, I realise that I have to pack my bags and move to a city that’s like 1700Km away from home in exactly 3 months. I’m filled with the same kind of apprehension Amma would have felt 27yrs ago when she was moving to Madras.

Until then, I’ll catch up on the bits I’ve missed out, visit places I’ve loved visiting again, I’ll soak in the unforgiving sun, run on the beach, eat cotton candy and molaga bajji, will swear in chaste Tamizh at as many auto drivers and motorists as possible.

I will carry a part of the city with me and I will look back at it with the fondest memories. I will do what Amma did to me; spin tales about a place that has world’s second longest beach and where you could walk into somebody  you know at every street corner. I really will.

This post will be followed by Shashi aka Virtual Citizen India; he blogs at - > Shashi who loves to write Haiku, poetry and about great books and enjoys spiritual journeys along with a camera and meditative mind

Monday, January 14, 2013

13 Things, I will Avoid This Year

This post is for the contest conducted by Chennai Blogger’s Club, in association with Cuponation.
Chennai Bloggers Club, is a group of likeminded bloggers from Chennai, who write about things close to their heart.  It’s quite a fun place to be in, wherein you can interact with people who share the same mindset.

So here are 13 things I will try and avoid doing this year. I’m going to try my best to stand by each of these,

1 I will not procrastinate – ideally the procrastinator in me would have pushed this post to the 19th then  20th and finally given up on posting. So, this year I will not procrastinate and finally forget things.

2 I will not talk until my throat goes dry – this is to give Amma, Adi and my best friends some respite from my incessant chatter.

3 Staying in line with my previous point, I will not talk unnecessarily or say things that could have been avoided. This will save me a lot of trouble and embarrassment later.

4 I will try and stop giggling like school girl and be more lady-like, say cupping my hands over my mouth and laughing very softly. On that note, I will also try and keep my roaring laughter to myself. And if somebody told you deafness runs in my family, you know who is to blame.

5 I will not wait for Amma to prompt me every single time, I will be more proactive, like loading my clothes in the washing machine, washing my coffee tumbler, cleaning the kitchen,  keeping my room clean and most importantly, wear a bindi every time I step out of the house. (I’ve considered tattooing a bindi on my forehead).

6 I will not whisper random things like *Oppa Gangnam staaayle* when somebody is doing something very seriously.

7 I will not sing item numbers on moving vehicles / when am at a friend’s place. Added bonus would be, not dancing shamelessly to these tunes.

8 I will not set alarms anymore. I have never woken up to any of these tones; all I have managed to do is wake up the rest of the family and earn their wrath.  

9 I will not wake up or disturb people when they are sleeping. I have a very strange habit of running my fingers thru their hair or singing into their ears or generally screaming *ezhundru Anjali ezhundru* when they are fast asleep.

10 I will not over analyse and ruminate over things. When I know, something is beyond my control, I’d rather let go of it than hold on to it for dear life.

11 I will not stop being conscious about my health, hair and skin. Sounds very narcissistic, but I’ve realised the value of taking care of myself, and I don’t intend to stop doing it ever.

12 I will not let anybody take advantage of my goodness or kindness. I will also try and maintain a safe distance from folks who can suck the happiness out of my life.

13 Finally, I will not be too busy or unavailable for the people who make my world a better place to be in.  I will not let my zest for living ever diminish.

Thanks a bunch Susan and Gitanjali for reminding me about the contest!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

2012 Round Up Post

I missed out on the customary or rather boring and uninteresting 2012 round up post. I dint miss it intentionally though, it just happened. And when I was looking out for different ideas, I came across this tag. 
It has a question and answer format, which in my opinion sums up the entire year. 
Here we go =D

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
Quit my job with no back up plans and slightly let go of the control freak in me.
2. Did you keep your new years resolutions, and will you make more for next?
I have finally decided that I don't believe in resolutions any more. So, I see no point talking about it.
3. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
A date in November, that was the biggest move of the year.
4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finding my feet and realising the value of people.
5. What was your biggest failure?
There is no such thing as failure unless you let it affect you. I call them stepping stones.
6. Did you suffer illness?
Yup, you should go back to the archives and read about how I survived stomach infection. And a month ago, I hurt my left hand.
7. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Appalled – a lot of them. Depressed - nobody.
8. Where did most of your money go?
Clothes, shoes, bills and then engagement shopping.
9. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
So many things! Cooking,  meeting people, shopping and surprises. Sometimes, all I need is a bar of chocolate.
10. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Gangnam Style! =D Idea's you are my honey bunny as well. ( I still haven't gotten over it)
11. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?
Definitely much happier
12. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Watched more movies, read more books and prayed a little more.
13. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Cribbing and being cranky in general.
14. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Every single day. Ok, most of the days.
15. What/Who was your greatest musical discovery?
Nothing in particular.
16. What did you want and get?
A Platinum ring.(I had a mild heart attack when I swiped the card for a measly 50k)
17. What did you want and not get?
Silky shiny hair and flat abs. Looks like we aren't meant to be or maybe I dint work enough hard.
18. What was your favourite film of this year?
I don't have a favourite movie, but the movie I hated the most is - Neethane en ponvasantham.
19. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Got dressed, went to work, slogged my ass off and that's all. Ate out. 25.
20. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A better work environment would have made life much easier to deal with. I would have spared a lot of people with less drama and tears. 
21. What kept you sane?
Sleep, chocolates and food.
22. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
You don't have to get to the end of every damn thing, and not everything in your life needs to work the way you've planned it in your head. People may not live up to your expectations. Finally, the best thing to do when  you are upset is to let go.
23. Which new places did you visit in 2012?
Marriage halls across the city.
24. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
I really can't think of any right now.
25. Tag some bloggers you would love to read these answers from.
Please take this up if you feel like it!
PS: I'm only 13days late :P It's never too late than never no?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review - Winter Evenings - Navtej Sarna

When I saw Winter Evenings by Navtej Sarna up for review on Blogadda, I had no second thoughts about picking it up. A book on short stories is always a welcome change from long drawn novels. In all these years of reading, I've probably read a couple of books solely dedicated to short stories; one was Jeffrey Archer's - thereby hangs a tale and the other was a book by Sudha Murthy called Wise and Otherwise.

What drew me to this book was the premise; the plots described in brief did sound really interesting and intriguing.

The book is a compilation of 19 short stories, which are more like vignettes spread across the world. Each story is unique, it talks about the life of ordinary men and women cut across different segments. Every story has a different emotion attached to it.  Guilt, despair, love, greed, loneliness, despondency are all described in detail. 

The stories are set in different places; Geneva, Moscow, Shimla, Delhi, Paris and Bombay.
The stories sound very real and practical. Some stories hit you hard, while some of them fail to make an impact.

What stands apart in each of these apart from the author's simple style of writing is the description of different landscapes. If you put your mind to it while reading, you can imagine yourself walking alongside these characters. 

Language isn't complicated or fancy. The words are used very sparingly, it gives the reader a chance to interpret what the author is trying to convey. I quite liked the way he's put across his stories. Some stories are conclusive, while others just hang in mid air. I don't know if I was the only one who couldn't come to a conclusion.

Here are a bunch of stories that caught my attention (In the order as published in the book):

Winter Evenings: Story of 2 men from different backgrounds, living in a small town, who are forced to endure each other’s company. They yearn for other people and better experiences; will the onset of summer of change their lives?

Raya: A dying woman calls up a young official with the same name looking for a man whom she met a 50years ago. Will a young officer be able to able to fulfil the wish of a dying woman in Russia?

The superintendent’s Formula: What happens when an honest-to-God superintendent is lured by greed into the world of bureaucracy and bribery.

Madam Kitty: A man appoints an old lady as a nurse to take care of his ailing mother. He 
initially finds her a little off the track, what happens when he unravels her true identity.  

A Death in Winter: Story of a Grandson revelling in his grandmother’s strength and tells us a story of a woman who survived the partition, of the scars which never healed and of the event that haunted her until it eventually took her away.  

Delhi: Story of a young couple entwined in the vicious cycle of money brings happiness.

Masterpiece: Story of a painter who reminisces about finding paints during wartime. A widow offers him, paints left behind by her husband. In the end, she hands over a box of expensive paint, which had been set aside by her husband to paint his masterpiece. Will the painter paint his masterpiece with it?    

Brute: A young official is head over heels in love with a young woman. He pursues her till the very end, but she isn’t ready to tie the knot yet. He gifts a German Shepherd pup as a parting gift. The dog grows to be wildly possessive of her, never letting another man come into her life. What happens when the lady falls in head over heels in love?  

Rumki: Story of trainee spent in a distant village, who gains the respect of everybody in the town. He sets his eyes on a beautiful girl named Rumki, he wants to do his bit for the betterment of her future. Will he succeed?

Barrier Beach: A heart-broken man on a vacation trying to get over his heartbreak meets a woman who intrigues him. But what happens when she confesses that she is an elegant escort, a high-class prostitute.

On the whole, the book was definitely enjoyable. Some stories could have been a little crisper. I would have also loved a little bit of conclusion in each of these stories.

Do read it if you like reading vignettes and short stories.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at . Participate now to get free books!