Category Archives: Motivation

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

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

The Story of Hanuman – Mala Dayal #kids #bookreview

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  • 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

The Calling – Unleash Your True Self By Priya Kumar a book review

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  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Books That Inspire; 1St Edition edition (2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 935258970X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9352589708

At the outset let me thank the author and her team for a very personal way that they sent the book. Yeah that beautiful mug too.

Ever since that I have been following her on twitter and other social media, its has been a great way of looking at her work.

Here let’s look at the book The Calling – Unleash Your True Self, her latest one in print, I am sure she is working on the next, the cover design was a give-away on that.

In everyone’s life there is a purpose and we live half our life not knowing if we are working towards that or if we even think about it. This book will reveal that there is a calling everyone needs to heed. The one calling that will make all the difference and gives you meaning in life. The story of Arjun a corporate honcho who comes across some surprises and ends up doing a trek to Hemakund.

Along the way he gets answers to some of the most perenially thought of pretenses that we have acquired for ourselves. Confusions that we were thinking as clear answers simply because we want to assure ourselves that everything is fine.

Even the so called meditation that we know has a different connotation at that height, if I may put it that way. The heights of the mountains are in a way an ideal to suggest that meaning might differ and you might get to know something that you always thought you know.

The best part is we want to escape from this mundane existance of family for some, career for some and literally run away from all this and expect answers to be what we are and find out the real us.

Quite often till the time we come across those moments of calling all those activities that are tagged spiritual have a totally different meaning and perspectives. Those moments come unasked and unexpected and thats the beauty of this.

The characterisation of Arjun, then Chandu and the sadhu all make for a nice reading and well to get the most of the book I think it should be read and digested and made notes of.

The author has a way with words and its quite straight to the reader and that makes this book easy and relatable to everyone at first instance. We probably don’t know what & how things will be, but if we know the true calling I am sure that will have a bearing on the way we look at this world, the way we interact and they way we live our lives.

We are all Arjuns except that we are in a different role professionally / personally but then the Calling is there for everyone of us.

A great read! You can buy the book here at Amazon or Flipkart.

Senthilkumar

PS: Thanks to the author Priya Kumar for this opportunity and for that wonderful personal message of yours in the book. Feeling happy and that mug will sure serve the message time and again.

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 :P 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. :)

My #ChotteKadam for a healthy heart with Saffolalife

I started my career as a copywriter and one day my senior told me we work from the head up – think. Sometimes, it’s been so true not even having to even get up while the coffee comes to your table.

The work style has changed since then, but the age has got the better of me. The place where I work now has two wonderful human beings and they believe that doing exercise is an assault on nature.

Coimbatore Marathon

So the last year we actually enrolled to run the Coimbatore Marathon and successfully did the 5KM run. This year we missed the deadline with each one at the different places.

But last few days have been a revealing process, I have been to hospital for different reason to visit people and also sometimes on occasions like slight fever not to mention the panic about even the normal fever that grips these days.

I have noticed I have put in a lot of weight literally some 4 kgs from the last time. It might be an easy joke to say round is also a shape. But it has some very dark secret inside that shape. And that shape isn’t for the likes of the heart!

Whenever, I promise to wake up at the time that the alarm goes, the promise goes for a toss. Then one day I realised that its not going to work. So get to work the way we can in small measures, yes that can ofcourse not be compensated the way you hit a treadmill, but yes calories counts a lot and if you can stop that it is a #ChotteKadam for sure.

Some of the #ChotteKadams now in practice

1. No Chai shop visits.
2. Eat only home food, I have been doing this maximum time possible.
3. Walk short distances whenever possible.
4. Make black chai at office.
5. Oily food to be avoided.
6. Opt for low cholesterol food.

So it’s true when they wrote a journey of thousand miles starts with a small steps. But those small steps need to be sure ones and steadily we can go about having them made into real results.

Some more things which can be more positive about healthy life will be to be associated with people who care for their health both physical and mental. So check out friends who are health conscious and be around them I am sure thats gonna be infectitous in many ways.

There are some more easy and chotta kadams that can make you hale and hearty. Get a fitness band, you know what you are doing with your fitness, it gives you an estimate of how much physical activity you undertake in basic ways as in steps and distance covered. Increase them by a few steps or few metres distance to make it count.

There are lots of bands that don’t cost so much even an MI Band would do to start off. Probably if you decide to be on a serious note go for GOQii with a subscription that gives you an access to a personal coach. That makes it really committed simply because someone is watching over you.

Ok heres the last but one effective morale bossting stuff I have come across, so how many days of an activity becomes a habit, scientifically they say if you can do it over 38 days you can continue to do it forever.

I usually say make it count as day 1 everyday and it will last a year!

As for being happy, let me tell you something its your birth right and no one can take it away from you.

So here’s to the #ChottaKadam that you want to take.

I am joining the Saffolalife #ChhoteKadam initiative in association withBlogAdda and follow these small steps for a healthy heart.

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!

Faster, Smarter, Higher – Managing your career by Utkarsh Rai Book Review

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  • Language: English
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Publisher: Rupa Publications India
  • ISBN: 9788129137500, 812913750X
  • Edition: 2016
  • Pages: 199

A career crisis is a phase everyone goes through at some point in time of their life. The earlier one gets it, it makes you better to anticipate somethings for yourself. In this book the author Utkarsh Rai takes us through some of the most mind boggling times when we should have had the real experience of being faster, smarter and think higher.

The author has made the book into 8 parts and each one is a testament on how you can manage different sets of values and sometimes people.

  1. Managing Self
  2. Managing your Manager
  3. Managing your Team
  4. Managing your Peers
  5. Managing your Managers Boss
  6. Managing Managers Peers
  7. Managing Others
  8. Managing the Acrobatics of the future.

The book provides ample insights in giving us the solutions in the form of What can you do? Quite often it’s this question that needs to be answered and that’s how it is done.

The book quotes extensively from the experience and situations which we may come across and this holds very true in case of people to people interaction we may come across in the daily routine.

I think this is an encapsulation in a very fine format which young budding managers need to learn a bit especially about managing their managers and their peers, this I think is a very new way to look at the career prospects and the people influencing the same.

The quotes which accompany the chapters are very thought provoking and mostly application driven and has the ability to propel you to achieve what you want in your career. In hindsight when I look back I feel things could have been different if I had read something like this before early in my career and it could have really made a difference.

I think this book is a go to guide for you whenever you need to go back and check and how you need to work on the situations that you come across. It’s more about people and how we manage them to get the best out of them.

It’s a fast read in a sense but will hold your thoughts for a while and sometimes you might take time to digest and flip through to the next page.

Another aspect is the simple straight talking language that is akin to speaking straight to you, making you comfortable and talking to you in a way that makes it easy to understand and help ourselves.

Pick this book and this will be an immense help for yourself and will turn to be a go to guide for times to come.

This review is a part of Flipkart Sponsored Book review program. To pick up your copy of this book just click here

Senthilkumar