Chain of events

Chain snatching is a common phenomenon in India. Indians are obsessed  with gold and what better way to make some quick money than snatch the gold chains from unsuspecting ladies walking down the street.

csNot only do these thieves snatch the chains but also harm the women. To avoid getting into such situations most women these days resort to artificial jewellery.

Recently when Me and my roomie were trading our chain snatching stories, we came across one where the guy snatched a chain went off on his bike. Very quickly he found out the chain was not real gold so he came back, threw the chain on the girl’s face and slapped her hard :O Talk about misplaced sense of entitlement.

Talking about  misplaced sense of entitlement, the one that takes the cake is MCPs who believe to rape is a man’s right . Check out the recent statement by Mulayam Singh Yadav on Shakti Mills rape case.

God save our country from such #idioticLeaders. Hopefully God is listening. In the meanwhile we can do our bit by voting responsibly in this elections.

Such leaders have snatched more than just gold chains during the last 60 years. Now time has come to act. Please Vote and vote responsibly!

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Single in the City

I had read a BBC article(not able to find the link now)  which said “Americans are obsessed with movie and rock stars, British are obsessed with football stars, Italians are obsessed with food, French are obsessed with fashion and Indians are obsessed with Marriage!!!”

The observation was spot-on! What else can explain the billion+ number. Our society is hell-bent on seeing that everyone gets married and stays married.

A disclaimer before we proceed: I am not against marriage. I believe in the institution of marriage. And  someday I want to get married too. Only I do not believe that it is the raison d’être of our existence.

Being single in late twenties is synonymous with explaining  my status to all and sundry and a host of other issues.  Add to it the task of finding an accommodation on rent in a city. We received a phone call from our landlord today saying that we have vacate the flat as the society is now not allowing “bachelors” anymore. Only families. 🙄 Although our owner has no problems with us staying they can’t flout the “society rules”. Some societies even have a board on the gate saying “No bachelors allowed” Sigh!

This isn’t new. Such rules exist even in big Indian metros like Mumbai. Being single or “bachelor” as they say is like being a leper when it comes to real-estate here. I had heard about real-estate brides. But I thought it is for places with exorbitant rent like Manhattan or for people who couldn’t earn enough to make the rent. Never had I thought I might have to think about being one someday.

I was just lamenting about our society and our ways when I heard someone wax eloquent about Indian values and Sanskaar. 😡 Trust I wanted to punch that person in the face, make a ping-pong ball of him and hurl him into outer-space.  We are F’ed up society with messed up values. Don’t glorify that!

I tried making peace with the situation by thinking about how one day these(the ones who look down upon single tenants) people will send their kids to work in a different city and karma will haunt them or about how many months the  flats will remain empty because they can’t find a “family” tenant to occupy it but none of these things are helping me feel better. Their karma striking will not help my situation in any way. I still have my problem. They can go to hell and be deep-fried like a Punjabi samosa for all I care.

Sounds rude? How about the people and society being considerate too. That no bachelors allowed board sounds like the “Dogs and Indians not allowed” boards during the British rule.

Now please excuse me, I have to go hunting for a decent place to stay in Pune lest I end up on a railway station bench!  :/

Ganapati Bappa Morya

Rockstar_Ganapati

Rockstar_Ganapati

This is the time of the year when we all welcome The Elephant God – Lord Ganesha with full festive fervour. I had written about the story of Ganapati’s head and our trip to Mumbai’s favorite Ganapati Lalbaugcharaja. I can’t get enough of The Vignaharta(remover of obstacles). Years ago during the British Rule when people were prohibited to gather in large numbers, Bal Gangadhar Tilak came up with this brilliant idea of Sarvajanik Ganapati(community Ganapati) festival. He brought the Ganapati out of people’s house and made it a public celebration. This helped people develop a sense of belonging and helped the Indian Independence Movement. This year I am at the birth place of this trend  – Pune.

Even years after Independence people continue to celebrate the festival with equal gusto. In fact even now the festival is used to depict current events or raise social awareness. For me the best  part is the creativity shown in the decorating the mandaps and the Ganapati idol.  The mandaps can be Mysore palace, mythological backdrop, garden, The Himalayas, an egg shell!!, or even a dinosaur. Imagine going inside a dinosaur to see the Ganapati idol.

Jute_Ganapati

Jute_Ganapati

The expression of human creativity while making a Ganapati idol has no limits. It can Ganesh in the form of other Gods like Vishnu with a seven headed snake, shiv or others, it can be Ganesh made of mustard seeds, sesame seeds, coconut fiber , Cadbury gems, leaves or at times even recyclable material like the cycle parts. At times it can highlight current issues  or just be fun like I remember seeing during my childhood – a Police Ganapati, a lawyer Ganapati, a rockstar Ganapati, a software engineer Ganapati, a judge Ganapati ans so on. Use of technology to improve on story -telling for Mythological stories is yet another interesting aspect of this.

People from all walks of life and even different religions celebrate the festival. And the best part is people enjoy this festive season in all its forms with no discrimination and God is seen in his innumerable avatars too. Just like the way the Lord almighty exists in many different forms.

Ganapati_Mandap

Ganapati_Mandap

Ganapati_Corruption

Ganapati raising awareness about corruption

Saibaba_ganapati

Saibaba_ganapati

No wonder the Elephant God is so loved and revered. It is time to bid adieu to this year’s Ganpati at most homes. Hope you had a great Ganesh Chaturthi and have a great year till a the God appears in his new forms. Next time lets see if we get to see a robo-Ganpati as well.. 🙂

Ganapati Bappa Morya, Mangal Murti Morya, pudhcha varshi laukar ya…(Dear Ganesha we pray to you and request you to come again next year with lots of blessing and love)

English Bites – Book Review

English_Bites

English_Bites

My earlier post Crazy English was all about the silliness and awesomeness of the English language and how daunting it can be a to a newbie. But with the right tools nothing is out of reach. English Bites is one such tool. Although when I wrote the post, I didn’t know the book is such an apt response to the questions at the end of the post.

English Bites: My Fullproof English Learning Formula by Mr. Manish Gupta hopes to provide easy solutions to problems faced by English language learners.  Whether you are a vernacular speaker, a GRE/GMAT/CAT/XAT aspirant or just a language nut, English Bites! endeavors to expand your vocabulary and improve your verbal ability. And also help you love the English language a little more.

Manish Gupta is a banking professional. When not crunching numbers he is examining the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of the English language. He also likes trivia, travelling, adventure sports, delving into human psychology and giving professorial discourses to colleagues, family and friends and practically anyone who can give him a patient hearing.

The book is the result of the author’s own journey with the language. The struggles and the triumphs generously sprinkled with anecdotes, learning techniques and witty comments. The book started as a journal of the author’s efforts and turned into a guide. It clearly has gone through a lot of iterations over the span of all these years and it reflects in the writing and the quality of the book.

The USP of the book is the footnotes explaining the meaning of the words, their origin and interesting trivia. Who doesn’t know the pain of running to the dictionary for every new word and losing the flow thus spoiling the fun of reading. Although for most part I skipped that section and referred to it only when I didn’t know what a word meant or when I didn’t understand it from the context. I will be reading the book again for the footnotes. Anyway this is not a book which you read once and relegate to the shelf. This is a kind of book which you will keep coming back to every now and then.

Also, you cannot read it in one go. It takes time for you to read and assimilate hence one chapter a time is a good reading pace. Although I broke this rule the this time, I will rectify it in the subsequent readings of the book.

I would strongly recommend this book and this one goes right along the books like Word Power Made Easy. You need not be a GRE aspirant to read this book. Anybody who is interested in increasing one’s vocabulary or learning new things or just like the author puts it  – loves examining the vagaries and idiosyncrasies of the English language will love this.

An excerpt from the book:

“While sharing a cosy corner with her current heartthrob, Sarah suddenly held John’s hand and looking up, announced: ‘The firmament is azure, let’s go to the shore.’ At first, he was not sure what she was suggesting. And just as they reached the destination, the firmament began to roar, and they were caught in a downpour. While running to find some shelter, she suddenly stopped him and looking into his eyes, said, ‘Let’s get bedraggled.’

“Poor John was unable to decide if it really was a flirtatious overture (courtesy the ‘bed’ in bedraggled) or if she meant something else. By a mischance, he decided to go with his initial hunch, and the stinging slap he received ensured that for the rest of his life he would remember that to get bedraggled is to get drenched in water.”

Final Verdict: 10/10 🙂

Title: English Bites: My Fullproof English Learning Formula
Author: Manish Gupta
Publisher: Penguin Publishers
Pages: 344
Price: 125(on Amazon India). Mine was a review copy from the author

The Redeemers – Book Review

The_Redeemers

The Redeemers – cover

The author Suresh Taneja is a chartered accountant by profession.His first book came out in 2010 and this is an improved version of the book. This one specifically targets youth and children. The author intends to create awareness among the young minds of India to take up an active role in the nation-building and fight the vices of corruption and malpractice.

The Reedemers is an optimistic tale of four kids who are on vacation when they see the ugly side of India. They come face-to-face with the corruption and malpractices that are common knowledge in our country. Instead of getting disheartened or finding of ways to leave the country(these have the means to do so), they decide to take action. And within a span of few years time, the situation gets reversed. Rs. 1 = $100(I know a little hard to believe in the current situation), India gives aid to US and you find an India that really shines. The G4(as the kids are known) relive their memories years later in 2030 in Washington and recount the story of transformation to their kids. The introductory page says Imagined by ‘Suresh Taneja’ but some day I hope that becomes true.

For now, the book and approach sound too rosy and over-simplistic. But since this is meant to get kids excited to work towards making India a better place, take action, take responsibility the story makes sense. What I would have liked to see is some struggle encountered by the kids and they coming out stronger and better. Also, including a few more characters in the book; probably someone who came from a diverse background, that would have made it more convincing. After all it takes whole of the country and lot of different kind of people to bring in a revolution. A little more thought into characterisation and this could have been a ‘Rang De Basanti’

A novel approach to tackle problems plaguing India.

Title: The Redeemers
Author: Suresh Taneja
Publisher: Frog/Leadstart publishers
Pages: 229
Price: Rs.145

Chanakya’s New Manifesto – Book Review

The author, Pavan K. Varma, is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, where he studied history and took a degree in law from Delhi University. He is at present India’s Ambassador in Bhutan. Prior to this he has worn many hats and held many important positions. He has been press secretary to the President of India, official spokesman of the Foreign Office, and director general of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

He has authored many bestselling books including  Ghalib: The Man, The Times; Krishna: The Playful Divine; The Great Indian Middle Class; Being Indian: The truth about why the 21st century will be India’s; Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity and When Loss is Gain. He has also translated works of Gulzar, Kaifi Azmi and Atal Bihari Vajpayee into English.

Pavan Varma is hailed as one of the greatest social commentators of contemporary India. I had missed reading his previous works, so when I came across a chance to read his book “Chankya’s New Manifesto” through Blogadda I grabbed the opportunity.

The book aims to apply the Chanakya’s strategy (Chanakya neeti ) to the woes of contemporary India. What would Chanakya do if confronted with the various crises that beset contemporary India? forms the basis of this book. “Chanakya (c. 270-380 BCE) was classical India’s greatest thinker and teacher. Through his unparalleled ability to devise result-oriented military, political and administrative strategy, he overthrew one king, crowned another and paved the way for the establishment of India’s first great empire. His seminal work, the Arthashashtra, arguably the world’s first comprehensive treatise on statecraft and governance, was written approximately two thousand years before Machiavelli’s The Prince.”[From the book]

History is testimony to the results of Chanakya’s strategy and not utilizing such a great resource as his work can only be termed a crime. His work is relevant and also most required today when The Time called the most important man of our country an under-achiever, when we start everyday with news of a new scam, most of our leaders tainted and trust in the system is at its lowest. An urgent action is needed on our leaders’ part and an equal need for others to question the system, to ask for answers, to ask the right questions and debate on the right ways of bringing about a change and infuse a fresh lease of life into our system and country to really make it a Shining India.

Pavan Varma’s book has taken the first step towards that change. In his book, divided in five parts, he has analysed the current situation in detail and provided the solutions that he thinks can be used to overcome these problems. The five parts he has focused on are

  1. Governance
  2. Democracy
  3. Corruption
  4. Security (of the country from external threats )
  5. Inclusive society

The best part about the book is that there is great focus how can the situation be remedied instead of just detailed problem analysis.  Plus, the points are not dry theory or wishful thinking but practical implementable, and workable solutions. His rich experience shows in the analysis and the solutions devised. However, neither the content nor the language overwhelms the reader and in fact the book is quite a light read in spite of the topic at hand.  The book made me run to Google plenty of times to get the facts, to verify something, to counter a theory or to defend my counter-views. And, for me, any book which can make you think in such a manner is a winner. He provides his perspective on the important issues and even when you don’t agree you’ll find the views and theories quite intriguing. The book makes you think deeply on all the issues.

Anybody who thinks about being a part of social change, changing the status-quo, interested in current politics, interested in statesmanship or knowing the art of statecraft and governance should read this book.  Also, anybody who wants to read a great piece of non-fiction with practical outlook should pick a copy of the book. Not for casual readers though. Be ready to rack your brains if you want to read the book and some amount of patience is required to understand what is written if you aren’t very familiar with the ways of governance.

Final Verdict: 8/10

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

Book details:

 Name: Chanakya’s New Manifesto: To Resolve the Crisis within India

Author: Pavan K Varma

Publisher: Aleph Book Company(2013)

No. of pages: 248

 

RIP – Mukul Deva – Book Review

RIP - Mukul Deva

RIP – Mukul Deva

The author, Mukul Deva, is an alumnus of La Martiniere College, Lucknow, the National Defence Academy, Pune, and the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Mukul was commissioned in the Sikh Light Infantry of the Indian Army in 1981. After an eventful Army tenure, which included a decade of operational service in India and overseas, he turned to corporate battlefield and then to writing. Mukul is acknowledged as India’s literary storm trooper and one of the pioneers of the Indian thriller novel.

The story is of a team of ex-special Forces officers called as K-Team, headed by Colonel Krishna Athawale, who see the plight of the country and rally to protect the country from the enemies. Only this time the enemies are within the country. They call themselves R.I.P – Resurgent Indian Patriots – The Self-appointed guardians of a nation seething with anger at the endless scams and scandals rocking its very foundation. Vigilantes who vow to stop corrupt politicians and colluding civil servants. Even if it means killing them.

There are other characters like Raghav Bhagat, Vinod Bedi, Reena Bhagat, Payal and a couple of young boys whose fate is also deeply affected by the RIPs operations and the outcomes.

This one surely is a thriller. Through out the book, I was on edge trying to gauge how this would end. Would it be a Rang De Basanti or a Wednesday? The romantic angle in between adds to the story and provides a nice break from all the tension of the killings and chase. One thing that is very evident from the book is the author’s pride in being an ex-army man.

As far as the story is concerned a very timely story and well-developed one. Only a little Bollywoodish at times when our heroes walk unscathed every time and the villains get unlucky every time. And some loopholes like chalk markings on the target’s car- how did they manage to do that and the target is known to change cars randomly, how do they know which car to mark?. Nonetheless it is a great tale of how the corrupt political class and bureaucratic machinery use the system for personal benefits  and rob the nation in broad daylight. I am sure many people will associate with the story as with the recent public sentiment that mob justice is the only way of the current situation in our country.

I was a little worried of the misuse with all the details of security arrangements/layout/weapons provided in the book. But when I read the author’s note( I read it in the end) that these details are deliberately vague/incomplete/inaccurate to avoid the misuse(intentional or otherwise), I was relieved.

A gripping tale of resurgent patriots doing their bit to protect the nation. A must read for all interested in thrillers.

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