Monday, October 29, 2012

My 'happi'ness

My Happiness

Is when I see his face
Is when I touch his lips
Is when I look into his eyes
Is when every breath is his

Is what I lack
Is what I seek

Is where lies my heart

I fear not death
For I have seen death
When I have no love left
For I have seen death
When I am smug with what I learnt
For I have seen death
When I rot with lack of art

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Good riddance!

I will take a short break from ranting about the books I read. Instead, here I write about those books (some great actually) I could not finish reading. Here is a list (of course I will list for I know nothing better) of those abruptly ending reads:

1. Adventure Capitalist by Jim Rogers

On reading this wonderful work, I was despondent over world status at the turn of millenium. This book is about Jim Rogers' trip around the world with his girlfriend turned wife during the trip. I repeat, the book is a fantastic read but I just ended it after he finished roaming some 100th country (out of 116 countries he visited). 

Me and Rogers just fell apart. May be I was tired of all the information overload.

I look forward to definitely go back to the book from where I left it.

2. The Story of my Experiments with Truth by M.K.Gandhi

I bought this book (I vaguely remember it being a gift by my mom) owing to my childhood fascination with Gandhian principles. More on this here. Our father of the nation gives an account of his life and truth experiments in this autobiography.

By the time I reached midway of the book I started exhibiting symptoms of hypersomnia just so to avoid holding the book for a longer time. I had outgrown my childish fascination for Gandhiji and also did not find any relevance of his stories to my present life.

Definitely not reading in this lifetime. Perhaps I might return to this work for my research (you see the wide chances!)

3. The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind by Joseph Murphy

This book was given to me by my best friend (perhaps he guessed it right! I needed to harness my will power at that time). I hardly read 50 pages and this book entirely put an end to negative self talk in me. Till this day I consciously avoid slipping into the detrimental negative self talk mode. 

I felt fifty pages is all I could take of this super stuffed psychological book. Since I got the jist of whatever Murphy had to convey, I was at peace with giving up this read.

I might flip through the book to say if there is anything else that could capture my attention.

4. Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence by Jaswant Singh

I bought this controversial book spending a lot, I tell you a lot of money as a student. It took my 5 month savings to get hold of this voluminous book. Irony is and as you know I didn't do justice for my pocket money. I secretly stuffed it under a lot of other books to collect dust.

The writing was not captivating and a lot of political and historical information failed to hold my interest for long. The 700 page book was painfully slow and I read less than 70 pages.

I wish to be brave enough to sit through the entire volume and have the satisfaction of reading this carefully documented book by a senior politician.

5. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

Who could have resisted the temptation of laying hands on one of Dan Brown's books? Blown by the brilliance of The Angels and Demons and The Da VInci Code I was eager to read his next big release 'The Lost Symbol'. 50-70 and the book lost my interest!

When 'different' becomes the definition of your writing style and plots its difficult to stay in readers' goodwill unless you keep producing different works repeatedly. This book had the repetition of same style, similar twists, more and more "getting down a mile of stairs to uncover secret" scenes.

I will never return to this book. I am satisfied with having read 3 works of Dan Brown.

6. The Secret of The Veda by Sri Aurobindo

I overestimated my skills of assimilation and bought this book to finish reading in about a week. But it was not destined to be such an easy read. The book high on philosophy and spirituality shouldn't be taken in overdose. 

I am yet to mature spiritually and to understand vedic interpretation of a scholar I need more patience and determination.

My 2013 resolution will be to finish reading this book of immense spiritual content.

7. Word Power Made Easy by Norman Lewis

This is a book every graduate studies in hope to improve his/her vocabulary, to prepare for a competitive exam or to be more knowledgeable about the semantics of English language. 

I have into read and reread this book almost 6 times each time failing to go beyond 200 pages. I was not preparing for any competitive exam and the rote learning of words occasionally tired me out. I took to improving my language through reading books, newspapers and magazines which proved to be a better learning method for me.

I will continue to have this book in my shelf always in hope of learning more words.

8. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien

I became a full fledged reader only in my graduate days. I took up books which I missed reading as a child and Lord of The Rings was one such masterpiece.

The mistake I made was starting with 'The Hobbit' and getting forever struck at the page where Bilbo Baggins' feet hair is explained for a good length. While it is undisputedly a classic, Lord of the Rings is not a breezy read.

I do not think I can bare the very long descriptions of mundane things such as length and hair of people involved. I might venture into watching the films though! Afterall 'The Hobbit' movie is going to be released soon.

9. Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer 

I was evading the many suggestions by my friends to read 'Twilight" series. I was trying to pose as a vampire-series-hater for many years. One fortunate day I decided to give up to the (secret) temptation to delve into vampire series and laid my hands on the third book in the "Twilight" series.

I was a naivete in vampire world and jumping directly onto the third book left me with a lot of questions and finally complete loss of interest in the series. Smugly I gave up on touching the book for another couple of years.

I chanced to watch all the movies in the series and absolutely loved "Breaking Dawn", both as a movie and a book. I read selected chapters in 'Eclipse' thrice. I developed appreciation for many quotes on love and longing in the book.

I declare myself a 'Twilight' series fan.

10. Mr.Sampath, The Printer of Malgudi by R.K.Narayan

After loving classic works by R.K.Narayan such as Guide, Swami and His Friends and Malgudi Days I bought one more of his works "Mr.Sampath" speaking of a printer in Malgudi.

I had outgrown stories and writing style of R.K.Narayan. The language was of a lesser standard laiden with grammatical and spelling errors and the narration was a weakling. I was excited neither by the story nor the style.

R.K.Narayan will always be the author of my first read 'The Guide' and the composer of my all time favourite 'Malgudi Days'. I am never going to mar his impression on my mind by reading 'Mr.Sampath'.

P.S: Share the works which you haven't been able to complete reading and yet remain in your heart. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Book review: Diary of a wimpy kid

Greg Heffley
The definition of 'wimp' as per the dictionary goes like this: "A person who lacks confidence, is irresolute and wishy-washy". If its up to me, then I would call such a person "chicken". All the books in "Diary of a wimpy kid" series are about this extremely (always unintentionally) humorous pre-teen, Greg Heffley. He is a kid you do not want your kid to be like, but the one you yourself want to be like. Thats Greg for you-lazy, manipulative, naive, self acclaimed genius, the wanna-be-cool, always-getting-into-trouble kid.

If you have read "Calvin and Hobbes" and adored the cute monster there, I bet you will hate to love our hero Greg here. You wish to declare that all the things this kid does are lame, however your heart secretly curses you for playing 'Mr.Hypocrite'. The graphical books in the series take a reader back to his own childhood to reminiscence futile attempts at getting famous and looking cool.

The author Jeff Kinney has created a perfect family for Greg-perfect in that it has all the elements that a pre-teen wishes never existed in his life. A dad who wants his son to man up and get high on sports, a mom who doesn't understand the importance of video games in a boy's life and constantly pecks him to read books and make 'real' friends, an elder bully (oops misspelled) brother and an obnoxious toddler for a younger brother all impede Greg's chance at coolness. The goody-good friend of Greg, Rowley is the perfect child-honest, sincere, hard working and is supposedly our Greg's best friend (though he has to pay a very high price every time for that!).
Diary of a Wimpy Kid

All the 6 books take hardly 6 hours to complete and the reader is up for a hilarious ride. How many times we resolve to do something and start with a high spirit? Well Greg has many such "serious" resolutions each failing to meet an end. Be it escaping homework, playing outdoors, babysitting, cleaning, taking up a part time job Greg has a hilarious skill of killing every opportunity at improving his life. I immensely enjoyed reading diary of this innocent idiot. 

The writing has a powerful current which never lets the reader take a break. You can't stop reading one more page, one more and more. It always delights me to read a completely different genre occasionally. The language is laid back (I believe that is the characteristic of any children's book). The cartoons despite being uncomplicated are very endearing and I say very easy to draw them yourself. 
Greg Heffley

I borrowed these books from my niece and after finishing them I wonder how good are these books for children morally. These books are just for fun and the subtle moral lesson cannot be understood by kids. If people continue selling these under 'children books' label then they better append few explicit moral lessons in these. As for adults read these books when sad/bored/happi/angry/irritated/jobless/elated/gloomy, you get my drift right!! Just read it already! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Competitive English exam

The one to deny importance of English in today's world is making a fool of himself/herself. I won't expound upon the importance of English here. I want to urge/press everyone to prepare for at least one standardized English language test. What we miss to learn in our day to day Indianized English conversations can be compensated by such a self study.

Okay Ms. Skeptical! Do you want me to list the benefits of studying for a standardized English test? Here you go. Standardized test

  • Improves CONFIDENCE in your language
  • Clarifies the rules of sentence formations
  • Helps you pick up mistakes in language easily
  • Boosts fluency
  • Mends your vocabulary
  • Peps up your writing style
Sweating out

As I am done with writing a humongous standardized test (Pant!! Pant!!) I beg you all to go through the same short lived torture to reap benefits for a lifetime. Be it GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, GRE, CAT or any lousy corporate English test just go out there and write one already! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Reflection on status of women!!

Indians are well aware of the mentality where girls are forbidden to receive education to their heart's content. Though Indian secular society is not as vile as it's Pakistani counterpart, there still exists a general belief among a considerable portion of the society that "girls are better suited for kitchen work". Although this menial thinking of Indians is up for a change, our neighbouring country faces the devilish wrath of Islamic fanatics who more than discourage women education.

Malala Yousafzai, a 14 year old child who has been nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize and has won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize has done more than what an adult could have possibly done for  advocating women education. During the first battle of Swat (Malala's hometown), taliban had a ban on music, entertainment, shopping and education for women. It was then that Malala wrote a blog for BBC under a pseudonym that put her under Taliban's radar. For 3 years of continuous fight for women education, Malala was gifted with 2 bullets by Taliban-one on her neck and the other on her head. In hope that the activist doesn't wither as a martyr, I pray for her speedy recovery and for Pakistani women empowerment. More on Malala: .

The dire terrorism is not as widespread in India as it is in our neighbouring Islamic countries. However  women still do not live in the egalitarian society which is usually spoken of. There is a harsh realistic distinction between developed India and the actual India. In a recent survey of 128 countries India has been ranked 115 for women economic empowerment. A small portion of the affluent and upper middle class societies have independent free women. But the major chunk of Indian populace- the middle class is bewildered and in a state of confusion. While middle class men want their houses and children to be looked after by intelligent wise women, they haven't yet come in terms with handling an economically independent women sect. The idea of their women not being dependable terrifies Indian men. The double standards of Indian men as well as women is on display below:

I want my princess daughter to grow up as sushil-sharmili and one day become the president of India!
Dude if your daughter doesn't pick up the qualities of assertiveness and confidence during her initial years of growing up how do you think she would look like as an adult? Social, brave and outgoing or gullible, dependent and introvert!!

We do not want her to face the hardships of hostel life; she is going to be fine a doctor without all that!
Mr and Mrs. Helicopter parents,

Yes sure! As soon as your daughter becomes a doctor she is going to be protected 24*7 by the chivalrous good hearted male colleagues. She just needs to know how to handle stethoscope and not worry about handling people. On seeing a female doctor, people will just be super nice and won't give her a hard time.

Yours sincerely
A girl from hostel and the one who believes it was a waste of time living there

My little girl is adept at doing household chores and even helps her brother in his studies. We don't want to burden him with the meagre household tasks!
Such a noble decision. Why would a boy learn to do his work when he has mother and sister to care for him? Even in future his dear daddy would find a daughter in law on whom the son can burden his work! While the daughter would sweat it out in her sasural bringing good name to her parents. Such a happy story.

Honey! Please give up hopes of higher education and get married. We cannot afford yours while we have a son's higher education to look after.
The obliging ideal well cultured daughter should consider it her fate that her parents even allowed her to get a degree. She should now channelize her search for a groom who would sponsor her higher education.

Watching TV
Dad says:
We completely support the causes of slut walk and find these remarks derogatory!
Mom snaps at her daughter:
Don't you have any shame wearing such provocative top; immediately change your dress. And you are not entering our house unless you return the knee length skirt to the shop.

Not to forget the final and most important burden placed on Indian girls: that of looking fair and lovely. How many girls are condemned and deprived of opportunities for not being fair or beautiful? Of course not in the field of glamour but in day to day life. While India has been blessed with education opportunities for women, its high time that education is made good use of. Let the hypocrisy die soon and girls be as free to lead a satisfactory life as boys are.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book review: The Krishna Key

The Krishna Key
When I finished reading Chanakya's Chant I couldn't wait to pick up Ashwin Sanghi's next thriller "The Krishna Key". I quickly skimmed through few reviews to get an idea as to what the book had to offer me. And soon enough I excitedly finished reading this 450+ pages thriller/lecture.

Like Ashwin's trademark narrative style, the plot in Krishna Key also alternates between present and a bygone era which is Mahabharatha. A fanatic serial killer who believes himself to be the tenth incarnation of Lord Vishnu is pretty much responsible for many murders. The protagonist of the novel, Ravi Mohan Saini a history professor is unwillingly pulled into the center stage of the mystery when he is held responsible for his friend's murder. The dead friend has left behind 4 Indus valley civilization seals and the story revolves around finding all of those seals and deciphering their cryptic meanings. The reader is in for a ride through various historical and mythological secrets.

The book was much hyped and critics branded Ashwin as the "Dan Brown" of India, a rather well deserving one. The amount of research gone into the book is truly applaudable. When there is a dearth of Indian authors weaving stories around the vast expanse of Indian mythology, Ashwin Sanghi is a welcomed change. The historical revelations are pleasantly exciting and the scientific angle to mythology is above mediocre. Few spoilers from the novel:

  • Did ancient India knew nuclear technology?
  • What do you have to say about the uncanny similarity between apex of the Taj Mahal dome and the shape of hindu Kalash, mango leaves and the inverted lotus?
  • Was Indus valley civilization period any different from that of Mahabharata?
  • The analysis of shapes of OM, Swastik, the Islamic sacred number 786
  • Similarities between Zoroastrian gods and Hindu gods
While the rich load of amazing facts are the highlight of this novel, the plot and narration die a slow death of sloppiness. The hero (if you want to call him that) is shown true to his profession in that he lectures all the time. There are no conversations per se, but only a question and lecture format followed throughout the narration. The hero is a know-it-all Robert Langdon spoof and the other characters also seem to fall prey to this lecture-giving norm. The characters change their basic nature too soon without any genuine provocation to do so- sidekicks turn into villains, villain turns into a dumb student, metal hard hearts melt down into love deprived souls. God forbid there is also a love story popping out of nothingness at the end. Well to sum it up the author has tried too hard to present readers with awe inspiring research and has sidetracked what is important in a thriller - a good narration. 

I agree it seems surreal that a mafia don speaks of history with the authority of a scholar but this book has far better things to offer in terms of scientific interpretation of history. One has to bear the pain of a boggy narration to reap benefits of a classic Indian thriller. Hats off to the research done by Ashwin Sanghi. I prescribe this book to one and all.

P.S: My next read involves going through all the blogs, websites and books referred by Ashwin Sanghi for his work on Krishna Key.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Woman of content!

A weekday morning 7:00am I wake up to an hour of hassle! I was left on my own since my parents had been on a trip. I experimented in the kitchen for a whole 40 minutes to make myself two chapattis, switched on the heater myself, was mindful of catching the paper at paper wala’s exact time. Not leaving enough time to wash clothes or clean utensils I ran to catch my cab to office. I took a nap for good 40 minutes in the cab.

After a thoroughly demanding day at work, I came home exhausted, only to see the daily chores charging at me again. As I reluctantly prepared myself a meager dinner I got a call from a distant cousin. Speaking to her after long, I found myself deeply engrossed and exchanging stories with her about everything happening or not happening in our lives unto my heart’s content. Instantly I found the hidden extra energy in me to finish up all house chores quickly. I lay on my bean bag, glued to a captivating book which had held my interest for about 2 weeks now. But for a strange reason I couldn’t enjoy reading the awe inspiring facts in the book. My thoughts kept drifting away to my cousin who is a working mother of two. Though she is like any other metro lady juggling family and career in her life, she carries a contagious fire of joy always burning inside her- I could feel it every time I spoke to her. It felt magically energizing!

I resumed reading the book in my hand. But no, it wasn’t meant to be. Once again I started recollecting my cousin’s arguments with her husband about delaying to conceive a baby. She wanted to complete her masters before jumping into this new responsibility. An ambitious girl, married young at 23, defending her dreams and wishes in an orthodox conservative middle class family was no easy task and she awed me no ends. I put away the book and started google-ing her articles. These were her best technical articles which won her many prizes in the blogging contests. Her indefatigable routine when she was a new mom only brought out the best in her. On the one hand she was determined to ensure the finest child care possible for her baby, on the other, the ambition in her refused to consider this a reason to sacrifice her career! The articles had such crisp confidence in them that anybody reading it could easily guess the writer to be an extremely intelligent and focused individual.

One more child in her life did not scare her of the responsibilities of an expanding family. She was a normal being like anyone else, having ups and downs in family as well as career. But she was distinguished in her foresighted reactions to them! She was outstanding at what she did - creating indispensable value for herself at work, yet being the most adorable member of her family. The second child born to her also brought with it a new academic escapade-her PhD dream. By now she had become effortless in achieving her dreams! I was so touched by the excitement with which she spoke of her thesis submission!

Of course it’s difficult for her to make time for the trekking and skiing she loves so much! But when I think of it I sigh to myself- making a lovable home, balancing an excellent career record, producing articles of high technical impact and being the reason for two children’s extraordinary intellectual and emotional growth, being a best friend to your husband and making your dreams a reality is far more important than missing a trekking outing. When managing the house chores for a single day becomes a hectic task for me how much I have got to learn from a lady like her!!

There are often examples of women doing extraordinary things coming from an ordinary background! There is an inexplicable transfer of energies when you see them in action! I went to bed extrapolating and thinking of how a rage of passion could turn into life force of individuals, driving them to extraordinary achievements!

P.S: This is my article published in the women newsletter of our company Deloitte Consulting India. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Out of the frying pan, into the fire!

We have all seen balika vadhu and cried/laughed with Aanandi, the protagonist. While the producers wanted to create an awareness about ill effects of child marriage, Indian villages where child marriage custom is still prevalent were busy making note of the jewellery designs, saree colors for their own young gonna-be-brides. The shock waves hit me when I read the news about a politician supporting khap panchayat statement on the solution for pervasive rapes!!

I digress.

Khap panchayat is the village administrative and judicial body in most parts of north western India. Such panchayats are at their operative best in states of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Even though there is an unequivocal acceptance of the need for older Indian tradition retainment, these khap panchayats are not all glittery golden social service ones. They are day by day proving to be superstition harbours and archaic social law protectors.

I felt like being slapped by a red hot iron hand when I read that a Khap Panchayat from Haryana held child marriage as the solution to avoid rapes. I agree that Haryana is facing a dearth of humanity; what with 14 rapes in a month! But encouraging a less traumatic social problem to ward off another grave social problem is in no way a civilised effort. Add to the flavour - a politician from Haryana Om Prakash Chautala extended his complete support to the panchayat's views.

The problems haunting women have no regard to place, caste or status. While downtrodden dalits are ruthlessly raped in Haryana, educated I.T women professionals are victims to lustful men in Gurgaon and Delhi. While Indian government is begging girls to attend schools, a teenage girl is shot in Taliban for promoting women education. The whole world is striving to uplift the status of women and it is duty of every person as a citizen of the world to provide women their rightful education and safety. 

How wise is this Khap panchayat's judgement of bouncing girls from one social evil to another?  If the powerful learned men of our villages and cities put the blame of rapes on marital status of a girl, should all unmarried girls feel like prostitutes? Is being single an invitation to rape? Is marriage a solution to the lust of freely roaming animals? Just because a kid has all organs to be qualified as a girl should she be traded off in child marriage? Pardon my solutions for the lack of originality. Rapes can be avoided if 
  • boys are taught to respect women
  • girls are stopped being projected as objects of pleasure
  • masculinity lies in protecting the weaker sections and not in exploiting them 
  • femininity lies in being confident about one's own body and not taking the blame
While administrators in other parts of the world are foraying into important issues such as women empowerment, improved work conditions for women, egalitarian socio economic environment Indian politicians should not be enthusiastic about pushing back India into old superstitions. When Indian men and also women stand firm in supporting their daughters' freedom what come may, only then can we hope for some progress otherwise deteriorate in the lack of it!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wise & otherwise

I had previously read 3 books of Sudha Murty and just couldn't get enough of her writing. This book is a collection of 51 short stories each of 3-4 pages. It brings back the childhood days when elders disguise their experiences as stories.

Wise & Otherwise

Filling the book with a lot of anecdotes from her life, Sudha Murty has struck a chord at being a very good story teller. The writing is not sloppy but simple with no overhead of minute detailing and unnecessary complexity. The stories are such that every Indian can relate to them, involve in them to forget the worries and be a child.

Be amusing: never tell unkind stories; above all, never tell long ones.
Benjamin Disraeli

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Octo" minus 2

Wondering what this plain pink image is doing? 
Scratching your head over what the title of this post means? 

Well these two completely symbolize my friend, Anju. Octo (8) ber 6 (8-2) is her birthday and she is psychotically obsessed with the color pink. In a blog dedicated to books and the immense happiness they bring, why should a friend be mentioned? (stop your imagination right there-I don't have an imaginary 'Book friend' whom I call Anju). As I said in the first article of my blog, much of my effort goes in staying happi (intentional spelling error) and Anju is one person who carries with her all the time an imperishable stock of happiness. What one can learn about happiness from tens of books can be learnt by spending one day with Anju.

‘Waking up, now that September has ended’  I am all excited to celebrate her birthday and start my month of 'happiness'. I don't intend to write pages about our friendship but rather explain the world how easily and effortlessly one can be a 'treasure house of happiness'. Here is a list (lately I have been obsessed with making lists) of  happiness mantras from our pink delegate Anju:

  • Be obsessed and frank about the things you like. (No room for pretence)
  • Crack loads of PJs all the time. (No time for sad topics)
  • Giggle heartily for the meanest of the jokes. (Hell I need my daily dose of medicine-laughter)
  • Be a caring listener. (When needed pop in timely PJs and lighten the environment)
  • Have stage fear for singing. (I need one thing to stay imperfect)
  • Be a fast learner. (So as to while away free time in merriment)
  • Be a good friend to everyone. (I need my own trained gang to laugh at my PJs and make me look grand ;) )
  • Be a breath of fresh air everywhere. (Gloomy people stink!)
  • Face every problem with a smile on face. ('Ba noodkotteni' attitude. Rough translation into Hindi: "Aa dekhe zara, kisme kitna hain dum"
  • Be the ambassador of goodness.
A part of Anju's happiness aura has rubbed off on me and I am a happier person than I was before I met her. The greatest lessons of life can come from the most normal of things (forgive the usage of a philosophical cliche!). While most of us are involved in trivial feelings such as irritation, sloth, jealousy, bitchiness and selfishness we need people like my friend Anju who represent childlike excitement, motherly care, boyish enthusiasm, killer humour and heartfelt friendship. She leads a joyful life which requires the highest purity of heart. In this month of October, my month of happiness I pledge to keep myself and my closed ones happi.

Happy birthday Anju! 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Friday, October 5, 2012

Politics for west, poli-tricks for east !!

A presidential election in America affects the entire world in big and small ways. And I couldn't miss to treat myself with reading (yes!! these days due to lack of video watching personal time, I read transcripts of almost everything) the great speeches of leading men/women American politicians. 
Their speeches are filth free in that they speak of only the candidate's contributions, ideology, schemes, policies and business. 
2008 presidential propaganda:

Barrack Obama: Yes we can; we want change

2012 presidential debate:
Mitt Romney: We want dollars; you can keep the change 

While the presidential candidates in America involve themselves in refined intellectual debates, violence free conventions and more than anything display decency in public; our Indian political scenario is something like this:

These cartoons are the creation of Satish Acharya. Many more cartoons can be found @ .

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Not a book review!

Top 10 reasons to not read books:

The time invested in books can rather be utilized:

1. for meditation (in 'shavasana' on the bed for at least two hours - for the lack of a better word it can also be called sleeping!)

2. for travelling (going to a friend's place also involves some travel !! common)

3. for involving in intellectually stimulating debates (it is real important that the best cartoon movie be decided soon)

4. for watching educational videos (no kidding here - hundreds of documentary hours are there for our benefit)

5. for networking (facebooking is a crucial networking tactic-it requires a minimum of 2 hours per day)

6. for shopping (window shopping increases one's knowledge of current market trends and one's own financial stability!!)

7. for pranayama (after all smoking is the modern age India's new oceanic pranayama and one should quickly master the art with a lot of practice)

8. for information gathering (the language snobs hungry of concise expression have named this noble task as 'gossip' !! preposterous)

9. for exercising (what with all the brisk walk to catch bus/cab/auto!!)

10.numero uno reason (well logically numero diez reason)

The only reason to read books:

Blog about what you read and pose like a scholar!!!!!!! 

Book review: The case for India

The Case for India
Over all times spanning different countries, rulers and culture, freedom of speech has had several severe blows. Writers like Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasrin and many others had to face the wrath of fate for speaking out the harsh truth. The books which dare to unfold the naked truth are often banned and burnt. One such book is 'The case for India" released in 1930 which was banned by the British government for it had a powerful voice against the oppression of an entire race and the suppression of humanity. Readers are now fortunate enough to lay their hands on this book due to the efforts of T N Shanbhag, the founder of Strand book stall. Shanbhag put into print, the photocopy of this book which he got from Mohandas Pai (a member of the board of directors Infosys).

Will Durant, the famous historian of 'The Story of Civilization' fame visited India as a traveller. Little did he expect to see one fifth of the world population suffering British governance completely devoid of any humanity. He then thoroughly researched and presented in the form of book, the case for a nation stripped down of its riches and a chance for development. Will Durant gives the statistical proof of how British government raped India's economic and political domains and presents his own views on the Indian revolution in the wake of Independence movement.

The book speaks of the British administrative horrors and mourns over the death of morality in the British raj. The author speaks of crimes in taxation, tariffs, foreign control which pushed India into pauperism and emasculation. A government which conducted 110 wars in nineteenth century alone is scorned upon by Will Durant. A detailed account is given on how much India lost to Britain in terms of exports-imports, how much bribe the East India Company officers were fed, for how much money kings sold themselves to company, how many famines added to the miseries of peasants, how much tax was sucked out of Indian blood and how many other misfortunes struck Indian population. I haven't come across any literary material providing such accurate proofs of destruction and devastation.

The author hasn't left untouched, the topic of Indian independence pride- Gandhi. Will Durant has the highest reverence to our father of the nation so much that he even compares some of Gandhi's sacrifices to that of Christ. What captivates the reader next is how in the following two chapters of the book, the author has presented a case for England and immediately refuted it with the righteousness of a Hindu. The only sad thing with the book is that since it was published 17 years before India attained independence, the reader has missed great insights into events such as 'Quit India' movement, demand for a partition, provincial elections, Indian National Army protests and many more.

Few excerpts from the book:

Clive had set up Mir Jafar as ruler of Bengal for $6,192,875; Clive's successors deposed him and set up Mir Kasim on payment of $1,001,345; three years later they restored mIr Jafar for $2,500,825; two years later they replaced him with Najim-ud-Daula for $1,151,780.

Robert Clive: (Baron of Plassey)
"When I think," he said, "of the marvellous riches of that country, and the comparatively small part which I took away, I am astonished at my own moderation." Such were the morals of the men who proposed to bring civilization to India.

Miss Madeline Slade: (Mira behn)
So this is some of the exemplary behavior of the police...What then has become of English honor, English justice?...Who could dare to uphold as a means of dispersing a non-violent gathering:
1. Lathi blows on head, chest, stomach and joints
2. Thrusts with lathis in private parts, abdominal regions
3. Stripping of men naked before beating
4. Tearing of loin cloths and thrusting of sticks into anus....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Love and hate relationship with Gandhi!

I still remember a very huge paper cutting of Mahatma Gandhi's picture on the back of my room door. That was in 2004 on his 135th birthday celebration and the clipping turned yellow having stood there for almost 6 years (removed when the whole house was painted). I did not look at it often and neither did it bother me. It just had to be there ( like I had A.P.J Abdul Kalam's email ID stuck inside my wardrobe for years). 

I was quite a Gandhian myself during childhood (although my close friend liked to argue that I was more of a Subhash Chandra Bose kind) in that I was fascinated by the ideals such as swadeshi, brutal honesty and simplicity. This influence was by a language teacher in our school V.Ganesh who was a hilarious speaker and whose preaching affected me the most. I was all gaga over Gandhian stories, principles and philosophies. My young immature mind was blown away in the words of a very powerful teacher! I was eagerly waiting to lay my hands on Gandhi's autobiography 'The story of my experiments with truth'. No sooner I came out of school than I began to form my own opinions about Gandhi.

While it was indisputable that Gandhi's way of Ahimsa and non-cooperation won us our independence from British, it is also true that Gandhi could have mended his ways to save a lot of lives, resources and money. I slowly came across articles and discussions which made me wonder should Gandhi be considered as saintly as I previously believed him to be. There were movies shouting at me that my doubt is just. When seen through revolutionist's perspective it feels Gandhi erred with his ways. Sarojini Naidu reckoned "it costs the nation millions to keep Gandhi living in poverty". I started to feel that Indians in general and people close to him in particular paid a dear price to let Gandhi live his life his way.

Did Gandhi not break a pledge that he would rather die than witness partition? Did he not practise unethical and questionable things in the name of Brahmacharya and chastity? How couldn't the father of nation be good to his own family? Why did his noble and saintly decisions always wreak havoc in public life? Did he patronize dalits without empowering them? Did he give away whatever muslims asked for without thinking of the consequences? Why did Indian government wipe out from the face of earth, controversial Gandhi's letters and problematic articles about Gandhi? Was it too essential to keep up an image and not give the citizens naked truth?

I can hurt my colleagues and the entire world for the sake of truth. 
M.K Gandhi
I fail to understand what truth he speaks of.

I tried reading "The story of my experiments with truth" but even with my nature of finishing every book I couldn't complete it. It was utterly boring and at many times revolting. Being a 21st century girl I couldn't fathom the fact that 'Mahatma' couldn't be brave enough to allow individualistic freedom for his wife. Just because she was his ardhangini she had to put up with his outrageous demands apparently termed simplicity. Reading his explanations for everything, at a point of time I witnessed a drain of interest for this man. In his prime youth Gandhi enjoyed all the worldly pleasures and only in mid age did he renounce them and boast of his saintliness to the world.

After a gap of 3-4 years I chanced to read 'Brahmacharya Gandhi and his women associates' by Girja Kumar, a research scholar. From the self explanatory title one could guess what this book speaks of. I was disgusted beyond measure at the blasphemy in which Gandhi involved numerous young women in his experiments of chastity. About his practice Gandhi often said "the greater the temptation; the greater the renunciation". How would sleeping with young naked girls without touching them help beat his carnal desires? Why did it even matter to him that he exhibit to world the highest sanctity of his brahmacharya? Isn't such every single act of his, a mad passion to seek glory?

The great historian of all times, Will Durant has declared Gandhi's life to be on par with that of Jesus. This is beyond my understanding and I have repeatedly failed to admit this. How do I even begin to explain that Gandhi was wrong in thinking that British were excellent administrators and they failed only in India? I could never feel right about him approving Indian soldiers fighting on behalf of British in world wars.

As I respect every Indian who has contributed to our independence and hence even here my respect goes to Gandhi for many good things he did for India (since our teachers have quite exhaustively covered these good deeds in our schools I don't intend to bore you with those details). I just refuse to accept that he was a saint and flawless. I am against the glorification of his personality even though I salute each of his sacrifice for the nation. I bow my head before the half-naked man who gave Indian subcontinent a strong psychological sense of oneness and I raise my voice against his immoral deeds as a person.

Many great thinkers and scholars are of the opinion that a great man's personal life shouldn't be used to belittle the grandeur of his achievements. While I agree to this, isn't it Gandhi himself who claimed that he has no distinction between his private and public life and that he was leading a life for all to see! So the right to question his ways is given to me and many others like me by Gandhi himself.