Anywhere But Home by Anu Vaidyanathan – a book review

anywhere-but-home-adventures-in-endurance-original

 

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Harper Collins
  • ISBN: 9789351775249, 9351775240
  • Edition: 2016

This is one book for anyone who is into running the Marathon as a hobby and then there is some serious stuff if you ask me beyond that. The basic premise about the Marathon and the attitude and the practice that makes it perfect is all there with wit and a narrative that will be so light on you as you read the book.

As for me the book is a narrative in inspiration of can do and must do and how you overcome the odds that present itself when you want to do it. It’s an inspirational first person account of how you should go about things in your pursuit of your goal, not necessarily the one – the marathon or the Ultra Marathon that the author does it as the first Asian woman to finish the race.

When you do things you love, everything gets relegated and especially your weaknesses and then there you are running and fighting it out. The result will make you wonder how did you do it and that’s the best part of the whole training and marching all the way to the goal.

Anu Vaidyanathan is the first Asian woman to complete Ultraman Canada: a punishing 10-kilometre swim, a 420-kilometre bike ride and an 84.4-kilometre run. She placed sixth. Which is breath-taking. But what is your typical good Indian girl, super-nerd doing at the Ultraman?

This book is also a go to guide for the best Marathon that you may want to run the world over. There are experiences from Canada to New Zealand to US of A. Infact there are stories that will teach you to be a good negotiator, be spend thrift and also gives you ample access to what you can expect at these marathon races.

This first person account will help you get off your seat and try some real active life and can work wonders that way. May be its not the Ultraman but yes go kick yourself to be a part of the Marathon or a Half Marathon happening across the country. Make it a habit and I am sure it can be addictive as the author says.

Pick your copies here at Flipkart / Amazon 

India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan Book Review

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Paperback: 263 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India (14 February 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8129145219
ISBN-13: 978-8129145215
Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm

From the blurb

Sreedharan’s expertise and foresight on behalf of those not as richly blessed as he ensured that political will was converted into a multipurpose railway project. The Chithoni railway link bridge was completed eleven weeks ahead of schedule and proved to be helpful to one and all.

Two key railway projects changed the way India travels by train the 760-km stretch of Konkan Railway and the Delhi Metro. Both the projects were up and running in seven years flat and the man in charge was Dr Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, popularly known as the Railway Man. He has been hailed as the messiah of new-age infrastructure projects and his success stories have become railway engineering benchmark

Respected, loved and equally hated, this book covers the amazing story of one man – his perseverance, beliefs and public and private battles. India’s Railway Man: A Biography of E. Sreedharan is a tribute to this extraordinary man.

My Review!

I was doubly delighted when Team Rupa sent me this book, on a personal level he is an icon par excellence especially when I learnt all the stupendous and excellent work he did was after his retirement

Indian Railways owes as much to this man as much as to the British for the first rail network. The first of its kind from the horses mouth and the diligently narrated biography is a breeze to read and its a journey in itself. I took upon myself to make sure I read this book only during train travel. The Coimbatore to Shoranur and back become a habit after my marriage and it has indeed opened up a new perspective to see Indian Railways in a new light

So the other day I took the Sabari Express back to Coimbatore and I had a few of retired and working railway staff to discuss Dr. Shridharan. They were in awe and held him in a pedestal equivalent of God. Someone said he had seen him working close during a visit and his engineering talent was exceptional

The best part is that he is still that down to earth person who goes to the Kochi Metro camp office and still commands the aura that only Dr Shreedharan is worthy of

Right from the Rameshwaram Bridge to the Konkan Railway to the Delhi Metro, he had left an indelible mark in the history and geography of the country. It was awesome to read how he rallied the teammates and how he is one of the most responsible man ever

The classic act of resignation for the Delhi Metro accident and his resignation ( which was not accepted) makes him a Karma Yogi of all times. You need to read these the Guru Shishya relationship and the way he negotiated for Railways and for the future to be the best, Dr Shreedharan will be a case study in all these aspects of management especially when it comes to project management and execution

Its a wonderful read and the author has taken pains to list out some of the bibliography and its vast, I was astonished to see his daily routine and was feeling so bad that at my age I wasn’t even doing 10% of what Dr Shreedharan is doing now

An inspirational study of the man and his strengths and weakness (that I don’t see them as one) will make you get up and go work and get things done

And as he celebrated his birthday yesterday 12th June, I am dedicating this to his feet, with love and salutations

Do pick up a copy here : https://www.amazon.in/Indias-Railway-Man-Biography-Sreedharan-ebook/dp/B01N5SASVW

Senthilkumar R

Veerappan Chasing the Brigand by K Vijay Kumar book review

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Paperback: 263 pages
Publisher: Rupa Publications India;
First Edition edition (10 February 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 8129145359
ISBN-13: 978-8129145352

From the Blurb

No other bandit in recent times has captured the public’s imagination as much as Koose Muniswamy Veerappan. Be it his trademark moustache, stories of his daring escapades or his ruthless massacre of officers, Veerappan continues to fascinate, even thirteen years after his death. Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand is a lucid and incisive account of the rise and fall of India’s most dreaded forest brigand. Chronicled by K. Vijay Kumar, IPS, the man who spearheaded the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force (STF) that planned and executed the dreaded bandit’s killing, the book relives the various incidents that shaped Veerappan’s life – from his birth in Gopinatham in 1952 to his death in 2004 in a shootout in Padi. It traces his dramatic rise from a small-time poacher and sandalwood smuggler to a brutal fugitive who held three states to ransom for two decades. The ruthless killings and high-profile kidnappings masterminded by Veerappan, including the 108-day ordeal involving Kannada cinema superstar, Dr Rajkumar, are described in fascinating detail. Veerappan: Chasing the Brigand is the most authentic account of the life and times of the dreaded outlaw.

My review:

The book is perhaps the most exhaustive account coming from the person who made it happen makes is interesting to the core. The background of the story has lot of intricate details that otherwise are part of the police stories or files. The story analyses the human ingredient in the man on the run Veerappan and how he manages to escape inspite of STF running him down almost everyplace he goes.

The narration assumes significance for the fact that these incidents were happening right under our nose literally. On a personal note I was really stumped to see some parts of the story happen in my town and my locality to be precise. I wonder if we had seen the police or his wife. This is the one last chance he gave a miss to the STF before the dreadful final clash.

That the word Salem being misspelt was a note I remember then when the news appeared. The preparations have been meticulous and the results incidental. The narrative of the Rajkumar Kidnap and the after math and the familial relationship of Veerappan is laid threadbare in this account.

The account of human lives lost in the STF and on the civilian side makes for a sad reading simply because its was really tough terrain and search was intense in the dark alleys and forest could not give away your presence even if you are two meters apart.

The author could have shown little more light on the Vachhati incident, closing it in a couple of paragraph does no justice to the people involved, I understand the limitation under which the para military forces work but nevertheless this should have been clearly made note of.

There is clearly a political role that helped nab the brigand. That being shown as a well wisher clouds the reality of the politics behind Veerappan. The movie Captain Prabhakaran seems to be spot on the way the guy never lived to tell his tale come true.

Over all a great narrative and a must read to understand the way para military forces work under constrained environment and appreciate their duty inspite of all odds.

Pick up this copy here: http://www.amazon.in/Veerappan-Chasing-K-Vijay-Kumar/dp/8129145359 

 

Baaz by Anuja Chauhan – book review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: HarperCollins
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9789352644124, 9352644123
  • Edition: NA, 2017
  • Pages: 432

This is the second work that I am reviewing for this author and she doesn’t fail to impress. I think now she’s got that style of that Haryanvi, Punjaban or whatever you may want to define the language part and its pretty interesting when she puts them in simple and sometimes rustic way of dialect delivery and it actually adds spice to the story telling.

So here we have a story of the Air Force officer Ishaan Faujdaar aka Shanu and the opening in itself is pretty revealing of what you can expect in terms of adventure and I think there are instances that are very close to what the author has seen and it shows in the narrative peppered with real life takes.

It also is a kind of historical in the sense that the story has the war as a background and how the air force pilots played a huge role in making it happen. It is also a kind of life and times of an Air Force Officer. We get to see a glimpse of those days especially the way those days of war with Pakistan. It would be worth remembering that Air Force was an integral part in securing the win.

The protagonist in the novel and the lead characters are strung together with their work life ideations and the female characters with their assertive traits are Anuja Chauhans style of presenting the best in the plot.

And do you remember the Liril ad – the first one under the waterfall, you get to know how it was shot.

It also is worthwhile to remember this comes at a time of political up-manship in terms of nationalism and warmongering if I may put it that way. You can read it at a go and there are places you would feel its a bit lengthy but keeps the pace fast overall.

One more addition to her work, Anuja Chauhan characteristically makes it another work look so easy for her. Pick it up if you like romances especially the fauji ones and ofcourse some with advertising background.

Get to read why its also called or titled BAAZ!

This is a part of Flipkart sponsored Book Reviews. Thanks to Flipkart for the review copy.

To pick the book on Flipkart go here

Senthilkumar

The Rich Labourer – Parthajeet Sarma & Sibani Sarma – a book review

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At the outset let me thank the personalised message from the authors with the copy of the book. Except that I have not been able to rewrite this review, unfortunately because I lost out a folder of files.

So here we have a set of management objectives and how that is being implemented to suit the person who is handling it. This is very much a new kind of project management with an insight into how people and process will make things happen.

Its a very open discussion rather than a book according to me. The authors have taken themselves to identify an approach to understand issues and get solutions across with people  and organisations issues. You can easily relate to your workplace the kind of setting the kind of people and the kind of process that we come across.

I feel this is a learn and do book and you will experience that if you start putting those theories into practice in every walk of life. Use the 3P method, Probe, Ponder and Prove!

The best is it has been designed with design thinking process and that means a lot of work has gone into the book on ground and thus a manifestation of those insights  is now in the pages of this book.

One feedback perhaps would be to have an activity page under each of those workable chapter that can be for self assessment making it a very practicable book.

A very easy to read and assimilate format, language that is simple makes this a great buy and that makes it easy for everyone to implement those things that are discussed in the book.

Look forward to many more titles from the author duo and wishing them all the very best in the writing of the next title.

You can buy a copy here at Amazon

This book review is a part of “The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program”. To get free books log on to thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com. Thanks to Nimi Vashi for the opportunity to review such a nice book! Also apologies on the delay of the review.

Senthil

Jeera Packer by Prashant Yadav #bookreview

jeerapacker

 

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Fingerprint! Publishing; First edition (26 December 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8175994185
  • ISBN-13: 978-8175994188
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.3 cm

I am glad that I accepted this invitation to review this book, its a breeze of a thriller and cuts like a knife through the butter. Every page adding to the excitement of who would be the villain of all.

The author has a grip of the plot till the very end. Taking the story with a rush of twist and plots it has the essential element of surprise and politics intertwined in a manner which obviously helps move the book at a pace that I loved.

The first person narration is also at its best and has a very unique charm as it moves between characters and places. The one best part is traversing the characters role in more ways than one.

Its got a filmy shade to it with the politician nexus and  the twist which happen at the most unexpected moment. I would also add that its is very relatable to the state of UP and suddenly it felt like living in the present especially during the last election.

The way the story progressed to its logical end or rather not so logical depends on who you want to support, its a nice wonderful script that make for a nice Bollywood movie.

The characters of the story make you live their life in front of your eyes. The Jeera packer has a history so too the other characters who are inter twined with the fate that could unravel their very existence but then there has to be a story that will also work to what they want.

There are some nice anecdotes you will love if your a Bullet fan well the Enfield kind if you know. The author has a way with words for such niceties that every rider will understand about the bike.

Well written and fast paced, this is a cracker of a political thriller and we don’t have much of these books in this genre and happy to have read this book and hopefully Prashant Yadav will come back with more only thing the title would be intriguing, will wait for the next work.

Go here to pick up this book at Amazon

Thanks to the author for the review copy and wishing him all the very best!

Senthil

Think With Me by Saharasri Subroto Roy Sahara #BookReview

think withme

 

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India; Latest edition (10 November 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129142252
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129142252

This is a nice attempt at creating a discussion on making an ideal country. To that extent, Think with me makes a valiant effort to look back or sometimes look within the system and try to get some answers.

Here the author takes five important topics, if Indian decides on these it might lead to a new transition of sorts and would make the country an ideal nation. The topics are

1. Electoral system & Leadership
2. Population
3. Education System
4. Media
5. Religion

Here there is a concerted effort to take the discussion seriously but then we need to see if they can be effective, and it needs so much of real work on the ground and needs some constitutional amendment and that is not easy.

The best part if you ask me is the topics which has been chosen and they very largely contribute to what you see in the country whether good or bad.

The Electoral system still can be autonomous and I remember when TN Seshan then Chief Election Commissioner brought about the changes with implementation. Till then no one knew that EC had such powers and it can be the master when it comes to conducting elections. Since then there has been an ideal way of looking at elections and the accounts are scrutinised to a great extent but Indians being Indians we have a jugaad for everything you see.

I am happy that the author took the issue of population, which is very very sensitive subject since it also involves religion for some people. Its a fact that whatever development happens in the country gets offset with the population making it ineffective. Somewhere we need to make this heard and let people know that having more kids leads to productivity is an idea whose time has gone.

Think With Me

Education System is long due for overhaul. I still don’t know if we can get back to rehaul the system in the way we want. The suggestions seems unreal in part though. Anyways a good try if we can inculcate moral values and ethical issues in education with the past being taught the way it was.

Media the so called fourth pillar has become the den of corruption and the role which it was supposed to envisage has now become defunct and its time for a change that will see a lot of uprising and breakdowns in structure.

Religion was good as long as it was one mans personal space. But its a sensitive topic today unfortunately so much so that Supreme court has decided that you cant use religion for election, whatever that means…

As for the solutions offered we can take it with a pinch of salt, given the authors proximity to politicians and we would not judge them unless if it was tried and tested.

A good effort ideally, but lacks the punch when it comes to implementation at the ground zero. Probably if it was possible for common man to achieve things then it would have been different.

Senthilkumar

Small Towns, Big Stories by Ruskin Bond a Book Review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • ISBN: 9789382277545, 9382277544
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

How do you write a review of one of the most enigmatic literary figure this country has ever produced.

Words fail in its sincerity to appreciate the thought process and the innate innocence that the type writer of those days churned out. All I can see is the relationship between childhood and innocence is laid thread bare for you to enjoy. It’s sheer magic of the storytelling that keeps you turning pages wishing that the story shouldn’t end. The pages goes on, sometimes to an end which is a mesmerising, an aspect of story telling by this Bond, Ruskin Bond!

The first story Big Race was a charming one and would take you to your childhood, ofcourse we may not relate it in the city here, but the story evinced such innocence in Koki the character and the way she wins is pretty about the character and the beetle too.

I don’t know if I should miss some stories in appreciation, but for want of space I am sure we can be suggestive enough.

Up the spiral stair case is the story which is quite reminiscent of how innocence and old are twinned wonderfully in a narrative.  The Story of Bina,  in A long Walk for Bina takes u through the hardships but ever loving character whose trek to school is well documented. The best part being that the scare of leopard and wild animals hanging over their head and they live the life to the fullest.

The Night train at Deoli, is another train story that will make you go back to the old charm of the author.

Another old one – Time stops at Shamli is also imagination par excellence. This story will continue to be remembered all through our lives. The characters are enigmatic and they are etched with the background of quite a rural Indian saga. I did love the notes on this by the author in his foreword.

I loved the Ghosts stories and the Murder stories apart from the other classics. I could sense a new way of looking at things when the author says Small towns are sure playground for big stories. It’s so true in all his creative works. The magic and charm that he weaves with the prose so sublime, you will start loving the place and the character. The repartees are good and you should actually be a witness to those.

The new stories also exemplify the way the author recreates magic with his words and those are going to be celebrated as much as the old ones are. I feel a sense of deja vu actually writing this review simply because, you don’t stand a chance to review but submit this as an endeavour in my trying to write rather than review the book.

Thankful for the copy from the publishers Aleph, made me go through the string of pearls. I am sure this will keep inspiring the readers and many new authors for days to come.  Be sure to check out the copies on Amazon here!

The Story of Hanuman – Mala Dayal #kids #bookreview

the-story-of-hanuman-original

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129137173, 8129137178
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 76

Hanuman is an endearing character for all of us. Much to the delight of the kids his avatar has been retold with the kid like Hanuman or the Hanuman who is kiddish overflowing with innocence.

The story which we all know is vastly enhanced in presentation by the illustrations that are beautifully rendered by Taposhi Ghoshal.

The illustrations add the charm to the character that is already a lovable one, I must confess this pictures actually make Hanuman an adorable cute little God.

This book is a art manifestation of the story and the texts compliments the illustrations at times so well that you keep to the page. The kids also love the way the baby Hanuman starts flying into the sun to everything that’s been pictured so beautifully.

You can read this to the kids and also attest the same with the pictures.

For little grown up kids there is a test of what they have got to know of the story in the pages in between. I know its tough to put the whole story into such a small session but the author has been successful in bringing out the Hanuman that we all cherish from the kid to the one who helps Lord Ram rescue Sita from Ravana’s Lanka.

You will be happy having this copy and for sure this will be an entertaining retelling of one of the most loving stories ever heard for us. Being a parent now has made this book a must have / wonderful collection.

You can pick a copy of the book here at Flipkart / Amazon. Am sure you will thank me for this reco.

4 ½ stars out of 5 :)

Senthilkumar Rajappan

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

EXILE a memoir by Taslima Nasrin

  • Language: English / Translated
  • Binding: Hardback
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India
  • Genre: Biographies & Autobiographies
  • ISBN: 9780670088744, 0670088749
  • Edition: 1, 2016
  • Pages: 336

I know Taslima Nasreen from what I have read in the newspapers and especially the incident at Hyderabad where she was attacked and had to be rescued. And ofcourse from the twitter world where she keeps talking as an independent voice unfettered by trolls whichever religion they may belong to.

I now know the reason why she is fiercely independent or rather she has her reasons and she perhaps lives to exemplify those statements that she makes unlike the so called liberals who she has called out in this book who take refuge of the situations and then give enough excuses on why they cant take a stand or show having a spine.

Reading the preface in the book gives us enough of how this book has come to life. It perhaps is the way with all her other books too. Thanks to the translator, I am sure this must have been a challenge in a way as much for the author.

The title should have been hard one for Taslima since you cant be in exile in your country and worse in the place that you wanted to be back ‘home’ and how that can be shattered by politics and fundamentalism.

The book spares no one in this narration of events that lead to her exile and how she was lost in time if I can put it that way. If there is a place called nowhere probably thats where the people wanted her to go.

I am for the first time taking a political stand on a book and a review probably I am at odds with what the left liberals have done to the fabric of the country and no one needs to read anything else than this book to show their hypocrisy. A stark reality of how even the media is hand in glove with liberals when they cant take criticism or feel like offended is glaringly revealed with the way they held themselves outsing Taslima from Calcutta the now Kolkatta.

Fundamentalism doesnt have a religion its got only a reason to be what it is.

The book is got different styles and it takes time to get into the groove, simply because the events described there are so much of disturbance and those we didn’t know first hand. Some places the narrative changes to poetry and then to instances given as it is in a dialogue format a part of diary which the author had.

I would recommend this book for its retelling of our times from a perspective of a free woman and will help understand the psyche of the world when it comes to fighting truth and the uglyness it creates in the society on its own.

My admiration for translated version have gone up considerably after reading this book and kudos to the translator for having done a fabulous job here.

Buy your copy here : Flipkart

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Review Program and thanks Flipkart for the copy.