Category Archives: Stories/storification

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

Small Towns, Big Stories by Ruskin Bond a Book Review

small-towns-big-stories-original

  • 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 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

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

faster-smarter-higher-managing-your-career-400x400-imaegbqs2rxytptr

  • 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

The 5th P of Electoral Marketing

Superstar Rajinikanth addresses after casting his vote during the South Indian Artists Association’s SIAA Election in

Let me admit this, this post has been long overdue, and procrastination has had an undue effect on this and I thought what better topic than the voter as a consumer. This is the season of election where I am living and my neighbouring state of Kerala.

My professional assignments have taken me to see how the political parties see these voters as consumers and fool them into buying their promise and come up trumps.

So I went back to see how these have evolved in the last few years and how one last election has changed the landscape to a different plane of activity as far as election is concerned.

How do you actually define your consumer. Work backwards, that might be the philosophy.

A party looks at the voter as a consumer. And the best part is the market or the target that it is all about. The product here is a 5-year government that is being sold to a very heterogeneous set of population.

The parties used to profile the market and differentiate in their own way not until the matrix of social studies came into play.

The matrix of 4Ps in play in elections is quite evident from the way they start announcing the candidates. Price, Place, Packaging and Promotion.

First P : Price
The Price here refers to the amount the candidate is willing to pay for the Party quite easily becomes the preference which they think can make up for the rest of the next three Ps. Quite obviously, this took a different dimension in Tirumangalam in Tamilnadu where each voter was given a price say ranging between 1000 – 2000 rupees to cast his vote in favour of a party. This was significant because it was also a bye election. This later came to be known as Tirumangalam Formula and was widely used by the opposition and won elections handsomely.
So what’s a little few crores when you can earn as much and more when you get to power in the next five years.

Second P : Place
The next P is the Place, its actually a suggestion by the Electin commission that makes it a reserved category seat in some cases. But otherwise the candidate needs to be a local. The national Parties are very strict about this sometimes, they believe the son of the soil card can be played to the advantage. So clearly in Kerala when Sreeshant was announced a candidate the opposition which no real issues picked on him as an outsider.

The Place factor also can be historical, say the DMK Stalwart contests from his hometown a bit of psychology and emotional appeal as if the constituency is going to be changed to a capital anytime soon. Mind you need to fool all the people only for that few days when the electoral code is in force.

Third P : Packaging
Let’s move to Packaging, what’s a product without the real deal – packaging, the inherent psyche of the consumer is that however good the product may be it is enhanced to the next level with some packaging and we see how important it is when it comes to FMCGs, I would rank the votes under the same category except that its once in five years.
The Packaging these days have now come to be done by professionals who can crunch data for you and give you a presentation that will floor you down and make it look like a book titled how to win elections by engineering a social divide across caste, community and religion. Again the closest the parties come to is the packaging of the castes, communal and religious overtones in subtle and sublime way that people think its ok for us to be hoodwinked and a sense of righteousness fills them when they are told that they belong to a clan of warriors or fighters or sometimes they will be known for their hard-line stance on caste or community lines.

Fourth P : Promotion
Now let’s talk about promotion. Those were days when you can actually do paid advertising but then today Election Commission thinks it’s got the rights to enforce at least some of the important statues and try to get an un influenced by media election. Of course you can discount the party owned and other media outlets, especially with reference to Tamil Nadu where I belong, I still wonder how Election Commission will be able to ideally have them accounted as a cost.

The last Parliament election made Social Media the darling of every party and the way Narendra Modi used it apart from his whirlwind tours made it an important instrument in his victory.

So we have digital making a great impact and there are different patterns appearing even Meme’s making it to the forefront. Whatsapp, Facebook, twitter are all used extensively to create touch points for communication. Ofcourse there are apps too which are making it happens. The digital with its targeting is making it a wonderful instrument. Even SMSes are being used across.

Fifth P : No guesses Its Prashanth Kishore
Now the post 2014 has given birth to a new P. It’s called Prashanth Kishore and that P has been able to make waves after Mission 2014 Its been easy till now with the Bihar elections in his bag The 5th P in election marketing is on a roll. Time will decide how it will fare in the near future.

The winner needs to get these 4Ps together in appropriate measure according to the place he is working on the ground. Not to forget the 5th P.

Urban has a social media edge meanwhile rural has the other side of offline marketing which also includes bribing with liquor, biriyani and money.

Now you might be asking me what will the consumer here aka the voter get. He gets to be laughed at for another 5 years. :P

Now in case you are any of the state are in election mode and reading hope you did your sacred duty of voting!

Senthilkumar

PS: Incase you are asking me about the Picture its about an election but yeah nothing to do with the article, as much as citizens plight for the next five years

The Joy of Building with TATA TISCON

tiscon-profile

‘So Dad what was here before you built this house?’ Asked the Kid, an innocent question

‘It was a parched land son.’ the father answered.

‘From a land to this beautiful house, how did you build it?’ the kid again asked.

‘That is a joy of building my son especially the home for your beloved ones!’ the father replied.

Like in the anecdote above, a home is a dream come true and there is a certain emotion attached to building homes. Not for the same reason that they call it home otherwise every building would remain a house.
There is an inherent dream that is passed by in families or Indian families to say. Owning a house is a dream that everyone has and it’s a basic trait, a country where millions live and look to make their own roof, the ones who accomplished this enviable task would be relishing the joy of building that dream, however small that may be its his Taj or Antila for sure.

Now looking back, there are times when we would have known who are behind those building that we raise to build those nest for ourselves. Apart from the masons and the workers we have pretty much the cement and the bricks. On the concrete it’s the iron bars that hold the dream in literal sense.

Quite often the director in a movie is the man who holds the script together and extracts the performance but he remains in the background obvious to the star attraction the lead gets. Something like that is the role of the iron bar and there have been brands and brands but TATA the name which speaks trust and confidence has been in the business since long and has been the strength of some of the iconic structures that have been built in India.

delhi-metro lotus stock

On a personal level, the tryst with TATA happened when I was a part of Narain Karthikeyan’s F1 team in India in 2005. It was TATA which catapulted him to the F1 world with its sponsorship for the year. The year that followed and that preceded has taught me the value of trustworthiness, integrity and responsibility.

Each iron rod come with all these for TATA knows that you are not building a house, it’s a dream that is being built. And there in all these they know the joy of building.

TATA Tiscon is the result of some of the best technology being put to use. The technology extends to manufacturing Super Ductile (SD) rebars that are specially designed for construction in seismic prone zones. TATA TISCON 500 grade is the one in case you are building heavy-duty structures.  They provide superior strength even while reducing the quantum of steel required.

You have the Fe 500 D grade of steel, which ensures minimum sulphur and phosphorous content leading to fewer harmful impurities in the steel. TATA TISCON corrosion resistance steel (CRS) is made to a unique chemistry – which helps in resisting corrosion and is the used best in coastal areas, or where groundwater is brackish and areas where toxic gas emissions seriously impact the environment. As much as the challenges are given there is a solution that TATA Tiscon delivers.

We all know the joy of building and seeing the house completed is an emotion probably unparalleled… I can relate to it with house that was being built when I was young, I had the privilege of playing in the sand and spraying water to every little wall that was raised, the concrete and the final whitewash though it was in stages and to the place that we call home.

Today, we have a choice to make it with something that is known for its trust worthiness and make it an integral part of the building or rather the building blocks for the home.

An yeah the house has been built on a vacant space of land and home is imagination taken shape to include everyone and that’s all the more better when wireframed by ofcourse TATA Tiscon.

“This post is a part of the #BuildingBlogsOfJoy activity of TATA TISCON in association with BlogAdda.com

Ramayana The Game of Life – Stolen Hope by Shubha Vilas #bookreview

cover page with back page_stolen hope

 

Publisher Jaico Books
ISBN-10 8184958242
Edition 1
Publication Year 2016
Language English
ISBN-13 9788184958249
Binding Paperback

This is indeed a great pleasure personally for me to be reviewing the book. As usual the book is replete with lot of insights in ways of stories from all the versions and make for a great read.

The best part is we get to see a lot of folk tales also very well embedded and weaved in to the story and the rhythm of the story goes one step notch more with those inclusions.

On the other side its reflection of our way of getting our life organised in a way that is harmonic with ourselves, the family , the society and more so the nature around us.

This is the third in the series of Ramayana – Game of Life by Shubha Vilas, a retelling of the epic with life lessons that it gives in every page that you read through. Continuing his work of getting the meaning out of the words to get them close to reality, the author gives an insight into how the epics actually gives a taste of the real life.

The reading of this Series had evoked a great interest into the original works of Ramayana – Valmiki Ramayan, Tulsi Ramayana, the tamil original Kamba Ramayana etc. The gathering of stories and the life lessons that it offers to us in real time is what Shubha Vilas brings to the table in a easy to underst

and and appreciate format with references in case you want to look up.

In fact on a personal level I have been lucky to be reviewing these books and I am sure this is a part of the design if I may call it that. This is a must read and I am sure this will help us understand life and its mystical nature and also make us more proactive individual than a reactive individual that we are.

Stories can be just stories just that, but here the author elevates the story to a life transformation mode for those who seek it, and Ramayana and the story of Lord Ram is in full glow and the way his relationship to Lakshmana, Sita and his brothers are all so beautifully  engraved in words for us to enjoy.

The world out there is a bit of deception the maya at work. The way we look at it and how we react makes our life success or failure. Life is about relationships, those relationships that are sometimes ephemeral to the core and yet we need to preserve the aura and work to keep it live.

Even in business relationship we tend to have the loyalties and ethics close to the heart and work it accordingly. It is also a test of managing our conflicts within and come to solutions.

Inner Peace is guaranteed for sure. Pick this up and unravel the Ramayana in a new way, the easy to digest way and also help yourself with some tips to implement the learnings on the go.

Thanks to the author for sending me a nice autographed copy with a message. Will cherish them Shubha ji.

Go here to order this book : Flipkart | Amazon

Senthilkumar

On Wordsworth’s ‘To The Cuckoo’

Dideric-Cuckoo-0010

That’s his name Wordsworth;
Each line of his – gold in worth.
Every reader will rejoice,
At this simple natural choice!

It is his greatness of course;
To make a poetic source,
Of a cuckoo – a common bird,
In its sublimes I have ever heard.

His profound love for nature;
The poetic definition of its stature,
All mixed perfectly in a blend,
To celebrate it would never end.

To me it opened the door,
To a new world a floor,
That a cuckoo – the spring singer,
Can be a subject to linger.

For me seeing the nature so keen,
To laud the creator to be seen,
Those lines of his proved that
A poem can be written on a black cat.

Yet to see, what other cant;
And  try if you want.
That’s the secret of the great poet
William Wordsworth!

Senthilkumar

(Circa – 1995 post reading the poem To the Cuckoo )

Stone or Statue

A stone lay there on the roadside,
None would care to look,
Nor was there any sculptor who took;
It to his imagined world aside.

It lay still for days unseen,
A burden for the earth it had been.
For all who saw it black and hard,
Had never tried to become a bard.

Time did pass, till one day a man;
Saw this large stone as everyone can.
But he saw something more in,
That into his dream world he took the stone in.

Then day and night he worked on,
Till he felt tired and torn.
And for days did he toil,
Like a farmer who does for his soil.

He carved and carved till,
It did his picture fill.
Then, one fine day when he finished-
The people gathered there were astonished.

All gazed and gazed, yet one
Curious, and worthy of none,
Asked the sculptor how he had been,
Able to see the form in the rock hardly seen.

Answered the humble sculptor “I see,
Also the Almighty Lord in thee”.

Senthilkumar R

(Based on stories – Circa 1993)