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Once Upon an IAS Exam – by Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan, a book review

Once upon an IAS exam, by Dr. K Vijayakarthikeyan

There are two disclaimers here. The author is Commissioner,  Coimbatore Corporation, and is a well known motivational speaker. I wanted to review this personally as I thought this will be a different one coming from the author / speaker I know and have had the opportunity to listen to.

The story is a very simple one of a IAS aspirant and the way to his success amidst the whole drama of his personal life, the change of syllabi and how he handles them with elan. Vishy is he aspirant and he doesnt make his cut the first time, and then what does he do? Simple propose to his girlfriend for marriage… It might look very cinematic but Vishy is a different character who makes the cut understanding the context.

The narration gets top marks because this could have been a 400 page story. But the author nails it in such a straight forward narration and gets us closer to the characters with ease. The usual tribulations of boy in love and the parental pressure apart, the positives makes this story a very easy read.

The anecdotes on Dhoni perhaps is the best in terms of trying to bring home the point of equanimity. That picture that has Dhoni not being on high even after winning the World cup is a big motivation for everyone to take life as it comes.

The other side of the story is the idea of time management especially during the exams is worth emulating. The Never Never Give up idea is very well presented here and this applies to any of the situation that we are in not necessarily in the context of preparing for the civil services exams.

The love story part is very cinematic in a way, but thats ok given the way the story moves and yes you could expect people in Delhi too without any hint of whats in store.

I loved the characterization of Vishy’s father and mother, and the way Vishy responds to the medical emergency two times when he has to take the exam the next day morning. I think there is a message for the parent folks out there on how to respond or rather react to the kids exam results or how to take decision for the career.

I am sure Dr. Vijayakarthikeyan has more up his sleeves and wish him all the very best for his future works. Looking forward to having his next work at the earliest.

So here you go click on the links to pick up your copy Amazon | Flipkart

Senthilkumar

The Peshwa – War of the deceivers by Ram Sivasankaran – a book review

    Ram Sivasankaran’s The Peshwa – war of deceivers

    • Language: English
    • Binding: Paperback
    • Publisher: Westland
    • ISBN: 9789387578654, 9387578658
    • Edition: 2018
    • Pages: 496

    A terrific tale of war strategy that was a hall mark of the Marathas during their period and the story is a classic thriller which ever way you look at it. A page turner with a historical approach makes it easy to be with all the characters. The author Siva Sankaran has done a wonderful research on this subject to churn out this book.

    Intrigue and backstabbing and the ruthlessness of the warfare tactics and the infiltration among the sides make it very fragile. The pace at which the story goes is pretty fast and makes it a compelling read. Everything is fair in love and war was the phrase but you get to see it in real in this book. The details of gruesome warfare tactics, the manipulation at every turn and the twists and turns make this an unputdownable book.

    Just as you keep wondering what is the Peshwa Baji Rao Bhat thinking or if he is being outsmarted, you are led to a black hole in the real sense. The author has a knack of pointing your thoughts in a different direction and leading you through the maze.

    The intricate detailing of the mercenaries and their ways of destruction and also the way the Scorpions deal deathly blow to the Marathas are worth the research and the author has taken pains to take s through the age and also make us revel in the time frame that he narrates the story.

    The story is also very personal in a way the relationship between the characters are concerned. There is this father’s love, a daughters love, and on the other side we have doting lovers in Peshwa and his wife.

    I think the build up and the suspense has been absolutely taken care by the author and he leaves no stones turned to keep us riveted to the story through out. The narration of going back and forth also has been very well handled. The author packs a full fledged historical thriller into a book of almost 500 pages and sure has the sign of being made into a movie.

    Pick up this book and you will enjoy a bit of war time history, some real history, and if you love twists and plots…

    Pick your copies here : Amazon | Flipkart

    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

    Baaz by Anuja Chauhan – book review

    baaz-original-imaes6byr9xhndau

    • 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

    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.

    One Indian Girl by Chetan Bhagat #bookreview

    One Indian Girl

    You got to give it to Chetan, for once there is a semblance of the characters and not much melodrama which we found in his earlier works or atleast thats what I thought so. To be fair I have read all his works even the non fiction he wrote. His work as a screenplay writer is very much in display as much as he has worked on the characters.

    The story is that of Radhika who is working in a financial MNC and is rising up the ladder and ofcourse in those times of her life going from the Indianess to being the global woman that she becomes, this is a story which is narrated in the first person.

    I loved the character and its doesnt seem like Radhika is a girl in the way she approaches life and also makes it liek she is living her life on her own terms. I am sure there are many Radhikas in here and probably you do know some.

    The story is a well knit one, you dont have to keep tab. It opens in Goa and ends in Goa in a matter of some 48 hours and the past sprikled in measures and doesnt take much time to finish it. I finished it in one go over six hours. You don’t have to probably think about what is ahead sometimes its so predictable.

    One thing which is presented well is the feminist approach and the author takes a middle path when the character in Brijesh who is supposed to marry Radhika says its more good to be human first.

    I think the author has taken pains to define the feminist in the protagonist which I think was unnecessary. So too are the explicit scenes of love making which ideally could have been avoided. It looked like it has been planted.

    On the other side I also wonder how a male feels when he is ditched, thats for another day.

    But like I said this is a nice presentation and going by Chetan’s way of teaching English in his conversational style this is a nice book to read.

    A fast paced love story gone wrong in the corporate corridors and a great deal on woman’s perspective of how she thinks and feels. I would give it a 3.5 stars on 5.

    The characterisation of all the players in this book are worthwhile and you can easily relate to some characters you have come across.

    Senthilkumar

    Friendships are for life… Yaroon Ki Baraat!

    Three idiots

    Three Idiots 😛 L to R: GopaKumar, Me & Karthikeyan

    It’s been long years of friendship, say we have known each other for over 30 years and except for a brief period in between we have always been in touch. When we look back, it has not been the one of the best goody type besties we are known for, but what we know of each other is the fact that we respect each other for what each one is, as an individual, probably that makes this relationship more special.

    We talk about the people in our lives and also about those who missed out on that. Quite often we share the same empathy when it comes to people and their issues and how we can help.

    We were a generation which sang this song Mustafa Mustafa…

    We have been through tough times, some real tough times literally in terms of personal (esp mine) and professional life. And through that we could take in what is the best and come out trumps and even today those are the moments that we relish simply because we didn’t have control over what was happening but yes we stood our ground to do what we intended and only what we love to do.

    An ideal situation which presented before us to say: times do change. A tea stall / bakery that we used to frequent and a part time office place in our not so good days is now replaced by a big apartment, a telling fact that times do change and we should not lose hope. Being together in testing times perhaps is the most important thing for us. Probably that event taught us that change is the only constant.

    The careers changed for better and now we are entrepreneurs (so I think) and professionals in a way. The practical aspect of running a business and the way how it affects your looking at life is also another lesson we both learnt in different spheres and contexts.

    I know friendship across ages has defined only one thing for sure- being trustworthy and reliable and more so to be frank if you ask me. Those traits make or break a relationship. Standing by you is a phrase you will understand when the worst happens and there are people standing beside you inspite of all things broken around you.

    kuselanThis would have been a slice of life for every one in the world. There is a beautiful and a successful movie in Malayalam titled – Kadhaparayumbol starring veteran actor Mamooty and the most versatile Srinivasan in lead roles. Perhaps the untold story there is that Mamooty donning a super star role as Ashokan has his friend in his memories ever so long. That he decides to bare his past to the audience is the climax that makes people teary eyed making it must watch movie. So moved was the Superstar Rajnikanth that he wanted it remade in Tamil which unfortunately bombed at the box office.

    It might not be that the friendship is a toast or talk of the town but the richness lies in it being simple or in its simplicity sometimes. And that you can be taken for granted inspite of years that go by even without being in contact.

    Wedding...L to R: Me, Gopa & Suresh

    Now I am waiting to watch the stories of friendship that made the silver screens much larger than life and people longed to see the duos winning every time in reel and in real. ZEE TV’s Yaaron Ki Baraat looks promising to give us some real stories probably we have never heard before on friendship. The Show will celebrate friendship through a test and fun way and I can easily imagine how its gonna be on screen. Quite possible for the fact that we have taken friendship for granted.

    PS: The two pictures at the dining hall are years apart but the common factor to it is having the lunch after the show is over. 🙂

    Best Sports biopic in Bollywood

    I know this week saw MS Dhoni the Untold story release. It might be nice to sit and watch the movie with Sushant Singh donning the lead role and doing the batting with a flourish like only MS Dhoni can do.

    Travel back some days if you remember the flying Sikh, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and the way Farhan Akthar transformed himself to get to the speed Milkha Singh did. It’s not that easy as donning a regular role for any other kind of movie. These characters are about grit and determination and getting to the role in the finesse that can be seen physically tough and emote the way as a sports man would be a great stuff.

    The likes of Mary Kom and Milka Singh is a great inspiration for biopics, and this trend should continue so that many generation to come can have a look at how these greats contributed to the sports.

    Also some bio pics like Azhar could have been handled better in my view. The Dhoni becoming a raging success is an attribute to the man himself.

    But what of those sweat and training of the likes of Priyanka who did the Mary Kom part or Sushant Singh Rajput who did Dhoni or Farhan Akthar who did Bhaag Milka Bhaag.

    It needs the same strength and tensile ability to bring life to those characters which would be lifeless without the intensity that comes to ghe fore in a real sport. That perhaps is the challenge that these actors come upto. Farhan Akthar’s role as Milka Singh will remain one of the best performances in his career as an ode to the man who missed the medal.

    Coming back to Sushant Singh here, he really would have loved being a cricketer after the movie it can easily be judged not  as to how he has evolved as an actor but as a cricketer. I would bet if he can be bought over in a an IPL he would be an easy target from some of the best teams.

    Imagine getting into Captain cools shoes, you will know what I am talking about. Probably getting to terms in executing a helicopter shot would perhaps been one of the biggest challenge that’s so Dhonisque.

    The success of biopics is the ability to get the audience inspired and it need not be all the time at the movie but even if there is a 1% inspiration that counts because we don’t know how it will playout in an individuals life.

    As regards the physical regimen it makes it all the more alluring and that’s one component that’s a lifetime for a sportsman but a year or so for the actor. Here read this story of Sushant Singh and  have a look at this video!

    The Tantric Curse by Anupama Garg – a Book review

    Book Review The Tantric Curse Anupama Garg

    The Indian spiritual tradition is always a mystery and that is kept so because people have heard of them only by hear say and never ever tried to find the real body of knowledge.

    Quite often it gets twisted simply because the people who want to know it don’t have the patience or would not like to go through the rigour of knowledge seeking.

    In this book the author who is a spiritual seeker herself makes a nice attempt to impart those basic understanding of spiritual and the tantric sciences with this novel.

    The characters of Krishnam, Rhea make the story and the life and times of Rhea is central to the narration that we have here. The author takes extra care in getting us understand the real meaning of some of the things that are just not true and gives an insight into the lives of sadhaks, gurus and tantra tradition.

    The portrayal of Rhea as a common girl and then later getting transformed is one that will leave you  thinking. It’s a rare attempt and a brave one, simply because the author has shown the female as the lead in the story and that helps remove much of the stigma that comes attached to say a Shakthi Dham or a religious place.

    The descriptions and definitions at the right places gives us an insight into the real spiritual pursuits rather than those which are highlighted in the normal world and media gets it.

    A nice read and a fast paced one could have been a little crisper at places but makes you turn the pages as you go.

    Pick this book to know about the real vidya of tantra and how it is practiced and you could remove a lot of misconceptions about the religious and spiritual aspect of tantra.

    On a sidenote I really liked the cover page and its got so many things covered.

    Buy this book here at Flipkart: http://www.flipkart.com/tantric-curse-english/p/itmecb8fnhc49myu?pid=9788129137524

    Amazon link here: http://www.amazon.in/Tantric-Curse-Anupama-Garg/dp/8129137526

    Silent Valley – the reservoir of everything pristine…

    This has been on the list and not that am a heavy traveller but I take the road leading to Silent valley whenever I am driving through the Palakkad Mannarghat Road. That has made me look through where I want to go.

    This coupled with tales from friends have always had me in charm especially the way, the place is still intact or so they claim and I just want to witness the serenity and the overflowing green wetness they describe in just walking through the forest or getting your toes wet with small rivers across the valley.

    Imagine this picture and I am sure you can imagine what I was trying to convey..

    FOREST_BY_NIHAL_JABIN

    Pic Courtesy By NIHAL JABINOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31595034

    This is a no-mans’ land literally making it one of the most green spaces in the country with little to zero human imprint. The flora and fauna of the place are rich and some of them are in the list of endangered species.

    It is one of the best case studies of human intervention and human might to conserve the forest and will remain so for times to come.

    I would like to trek those accessible areas and places where we can just be the self. I am sure this place has the affinity to make you change the perception of life. Being in the midst of nature in a way that you cannot imagine.

    It would be a great trip in the lap of nature and immerse yourself with the surroundings. I think this would be the real nirvana for a traveller who can see himself in the nature around him.

    Imagining, I can actually feel the warmth flowing out of the wetness of the water and the music flowing through the rustle of the wind and brushing of the clothing against those green shrubs and twining climbers on the trees.

    So its like I should get on this before I make the next trip on the Palakkad road which will not just be seeing the Silent Valley on the direction board but all the way ending up there in the lap of mother nature.

    Ofcourse you need to check when you could visit and the ecosystem there is fragile as a glass you hold on a tight rope walk. But kudos to the project and people behind making this a one of a kind.

    As a mythology fan this place has a Mahabharatha connect too. Well its the place where Panchali or Draupadi as we know her was in exile in the last year of their exile.

    I am hoping to see the Macaque an endangered species, some antelope / deers and more of fauna and flora only at the Silent valley.

    Pic Courtesy: http://www.nikhilchandra.in

    I am sure this will happen sometime soon.

    I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!

    Senthilkumar