Murder in Paharganj by Kulpreet Yadav – a book review

Murder in Paharganj

Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury India; First edition (10 October 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9386826615
ISBN-13: 978-9386826619

First things first, this is the first time I am reading Kulpreet Yadav and happy that we have a series with someone called Vicks Menon, it definitely is a nice idea to get a Journalist don a detective’s hat.

The story opens with a murder in a hotel in Paharganj, of a foreign lady, and the hotel staff invariably a friend of Vicks Menon informs him before he actually calls the police and that’s where it all starts.

The man in the story Vicks is a journalist albeit this time he is jobless and wants to show his boss that he has made a mistake and that’s one reason why he decides to take this on his own instead being a help to the police. Also in the story is his live in partner and lover combined  Tonya who is a psychiatrist and helps the police unravel motives for crimes.

The story travels across half the continent atleast from Israel to Iran to Afghanistan to India to Bangkok. Though most of the happenings is at Paharganj and Udaipur for a bit, its shadow casts across the other places mentioned earlier.

There is also the farther daughter story which comes to light with an introduction of an Israeli spy in Ariel.

The contours of the killer who is Jalauddin in real and with a name of Jamie and how he is an agent for Iran is well crafted but the scenes that unfold are quite cinematic in the way it takes shape towards the end.

The unravelling of the plot could have been more intense. The trace that the police are after looks pretty amateurish. It could have been much more scientific and today there are enough things in digital that is happening. I would expect much more from a spy thriller.

Easy and a fast paced read but could have been more gripping, because it was left to someone to finish of the killer, somehow doesn’t seem true to the plot. I think the character of the psychiatrist should have been chiselled in a way that could have a bearing on the case.

There are too many characters to contend with and we have to sympathise with them too. And their roles get limited when the author tries to give each a bit of the focus on them. A good read overall.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review. Thanks FLipkart for the copy and you may pick up yours here!

Senthilkumar

Celebrating the Super Connected City #celebratingsuper

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The spirit of entrepreneurship runs through every chaiwala, every kulche wala bhaiyya not to forget the golgappa wala bhaiyya. These are times when entrepreneurs are changing the landscape of the economy in more ways than one. The best part is that it is encompassing every sphere of life right from childhood to youth to the rest.

And it’s no surprise that Delhi or the NCR region is home to some of the best of the entrepreneurship fairy tales that we see today. What we see is what we seed. Quite often the strength of the network is what is the strength of the individual, that perhaps defines the spirit of New Delhi as it spawns new set of techies and expands frontiers of success stories across a variety of disciplines from food to classifieds to real tech to AR to VR.

With a heavy push on Digital India the roads are now more than crowded with many a startup competing to be there, to be heard and to win. The journey is a tough one because the ideas are easy but the execution is difficult and at times like these we have some real super help from the like of Vodafone.

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You heard it right the #CelebratingSuper Vodafone actually helps the startups with initial packs that can go upto over 2 lac rupees that a huge huge amount of money if you ask me. This is not new, and some of the most celebrated successful startups like Zomato and Oyo rooms have tasted this before.

The entrepreneurs know how each of these measures will help them overcome initial difficulties and gain momentum especially in the first few days of starting up. You will be ridiculed because we still don’t know how it is going to be and people can easily say things when it doesn’t happen.

But its the story of persistence, like once I read about the founders of LinkedIn wherein they said our over night success had to wait over 14 years when Microsoft took over LinkedIn.

So this attitude of persistence is a strength of the entrepreneurs we see today. There is so much of similarities when we think of these things with respect to the City of New Delhi. The city has a never say die attitude and is giving itself a shot in the arm whenever a crises hits and that when you see the resilience at display.

The Vodafone network  has these quality that you can easily relate with in terms of what it is supposed to deliver. To make it interesting the city today boasts of 120 hotspots across Delhi & NCR such as DLF Mall of India, Fortis Hospital, Delhi Haat, Khan Market, Airport, etc

And when you thought the air is unbreathable Vodafone decided to create the first Air-Purifying bus shelter in the city so that people could breathe non-polluted air while waiting for a bus. Innovating to get the best for the people of Delhi.

It is in such small details that God aka Network resides today. So Vodafone apart from making us talk is making it easy for us to breathe and more over look to making it cleaner. That’s the secret to making Vodafone the choice of 1.2 crore customers in Delhi and NCR and Vodafone receives 1 customer appreciation every 30 seconds.

Times are a changing so too is the Network!

What Kitty Did by Trisha Bora – a Book Review

what kitty did

Book: What Kitty Did
Author: Trisha Bora
ISBN-13: 9789352644476
Product Code EBK0398371
Binding: Paper Back
Publishing Date: 2017-06
Publisher: Harpercollins
Number of Pages: 288
Language: English

For once, the don’t judge the book by its cover doesn’t work for me personally because the cover is designed very purposefully and as you read the book you will know the fitment that has come to fruition in terms of the prose and the design team which did the cover. Well that’s the designer in me before I get to review the book.

The central character of this book nick named Kitty (Ketaki Roy) has a roller coaster of a life as a journalist. You get a peek into her life during the course of her covering an incident about a death of a movie star. That forms the part of the story because what Kitty thinks it to be a small assignment that will have an impact on her promotion and money part later seems to be different than she thought. In between you have flings, romances and everything peppered in.

The author has a style of her own and the best part she does is get funny with her own antics and making us laugh in the process. Its Delhi all the way and if you have been in Delhi you would know how to empathise with what she says about Dilli.

I would probably look at it as a view of a Delhi girl’s perspective in a way and in short a profiling of how young girls there get to live their life. A millennials perspective as the cover says.

The English is straight forward and conversational and ofcourse I don’t know if its because of her background in literature that she loathes so much, nevertheless. I think the book should have got atleast some pages less say may be 20 odd pages. As for the pace the book manages to keep you going. I took three sessions to finish this book.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program. To buy your copy click here : Flipkart | Amazon

The Demon Hunter of Chottanikkara – S V Sujatha a Book Review

 

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Aleph Book Company
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9789386021090, 9386021099
  • Edition: 1, 2017
  • Pages: 200

The story of the demon hunter of Chottanikkara is a super natural  thriller in a unique way. Probably if you know the place and the temple you would more than easily understand the background and appreciate the story telling. That was one of the reasons that actually got me to read this book.

This is a very interesting read because it bares the human limitations and weakness to a level that it is really scary what people can do in some instances.

The portrayal of Devi is a classic case of the super natural among the human and it is very vivid and down to earth and makes her a hero of the masses with an earthen attitude. The all powerful and the rustic portrayal and especially the food habits etc make it a part of the folklore and how the temple manifestation is a pointer in a way. I loved the fearlessness that is so easy going with the character which makes the people worship her. The background and the minute details especially of the rituals and the way the demon is hunted makes for a great reading. I think the story of Kannappa – a thief turned father here adds to the emotional drama.

The characters are so well sketched to make you sit up and though I would say the plot could have been a bit intense towards the end, the story at some point midway almost give away the secret.

I liked the interlude of Parasurama, for me the mythological aspect of him being a Chiranjeevi and his relationship with Kerala are quite folklore and so loved the aspect of his characterisation.

The author has written a beautiful prose and the story telling is fast paced but could have led to the climax and plot in a more intense way and it would have been a better presentation. As for the pace I took three sessions to finish this book.

I was also wondering the date of this story. Absolutely vivid story telling, and simple narrative prose for reading, this book gives you a different perspective on exorcism and rituals.

This is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book Review Program. Thank You Flipkart for your copy!

Best Stories From Around the World by Deepa Agarwal – Book Review

 

book cover

  • Reading level: 8 – 12 years
  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India (2 June 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8129147386
  • ISBN-13: 978-8129147387
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm

Absolutely a delightful read, each of the stories took me back to the childhood. Timelessness is not easy but then the authors in this collection are not ordinary human beings for that matter. So when you get to put some of the best names in a collection the result obviously is going to be something extra ordinary and to that effect I am very thankful to the Editor Deepa Agarwal here.

She has chosen some of the best works from around the world literally. Who can ever forget the Gift of the Magi, or Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, I liked some of those stories that will remain etched in life for the sheer magic that they create and make you spell bound when they close.

The story Open Window  by Saki is a classic example of narration and holding you by the wits with the childish innocence that can transform things in a great way! The little girl simply knows what she was doing or does she?

I relished the Freedom the story which actually looks at the present set of police and how the Freedom fighter thinks he can be the same as against the British.

You cant miss the Red Room by HG Wells or the story Dare for its narrative excellence and how it gives you a twist.

One of the relatively longer stories is Saritha Kamakshi makes a mistake by Jerry Pinto makes for a wonderful reading and just gives us glimpses of lives of people around us.

The Accursed House makes for a wonderful reading especially how it makes fun of the character and how things go for a slide, very well articulated and the story stands out for its sheer black humour.

All in all a great set of stories with varied background and delivered by masters story tellers. One thing about the Short story collection is you don’t have to go page by page, you could start reading a new story at will and so I did not read it in sequence as a matter of fact but got to read all the stories. Some were known and had that affinity to re read it at a fast pace.

The editor  Deepa Agarwal has taken pains to present the same without any changes in the way it was told.

Thanks a lot Rupa / Red Turtle for the copy and I am sure this will brighten the days of many who read and those around too!

Pick your copy here: Amazon

Looking for the Rainbow by Ruskin Bond – Book Review

 

Ruskin Bond_Looking for the Rainbow

  • Language: English
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Penguin Random House India
  • Genre: Fiction
  • ISBN: 9780143441076, 0143441078
  • Edition: NA, 2017
  • Pages: 96

Little did I know that the impact of the book will continue to linger forever,  I cannot express in words which  I am trying here, the sheer magic this book will weave on you. I am sure this is gonna be a classic that will be held for long even after we are all gone. Yes you must read this book to know how it feels and the experience will transform you for sure…

That the master story teller had such an emotion hidden so long is itself a mystery and the way it has been presented in such magnitude to us is sheer charm with a wonderful streak of innocence and boyhood that can only be the signature of Ruskin Bond.

The story of a boy who lost his only relationship worthy of emulation and the year that he got to be with him is beyond compare in the way the story is narrated.

The story telling gets you riveted till the last page and tears well up as you close the book, the God here has been so cruel in the way it made the decision to call his father back. The way he reacts and the story of the stamps and how it ends up will linger long.

After a long time, I just got immersed in this book, it was like living close to the author travelling with him, the innocent narration of his world outlook as he decides to mingle with his friends on the street or get better off with his friends at the boarding school.

The illustrations add life to the narration and we have to complement Mihir for his work. Some pictures actually show the emotions so well you would easily take it for real.

I read the blurb at the back of the book after the book has been finished actually and then it dawned on me that I was literally having a Classic in the making in my hands.

I think after a long time, after R K Narayan’s Swami and Friends this one was perhaps the most engaging with some parallels in time – the pre independent India and the like. The letter to be written also was a part of Swami & Friends’ climax.

On another side you will relive some of the childhood days where there was no digital stuff say a phone like now or a TV or internet. Collection of stamps was a big hobby and it was a window to the world as much as the author explains. Hope some of those traits gets to our generation.

A word of thanks is due to the Flipkart Review Program for their copy and this opportunity. Thanks a ton Flipkart (Vivek), this will remain special! I suggest you must definitely pick a copy if you have kids at home. The more I read Ruskin Bond, the better I realise things as a parent, perhaps that is the best part of the master story teller.

You can pick a copy here : Flipkart

Anywhere But Home by Anu Vaidyanathan – a book review

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  • 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.

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Senthilkumar