Monday, October 31, 2011

The Habit of Winning by Prakash Iyer

Title: The Habit of Winning
Author: Prakash Iyer
Publisher: Penguin India
Price:INR 299

"When faced with the challenge of walking on a thin log across a stream,make sure your mind does not get filled with thoughts of falling into the water."

Charlie Plumb,Karoly Takacs,Roger Bannister,Tyrone Bogus : Do these names ring a bell? Ok how about Sachin Tendulkar,Marvan Attapatu ,Mahatma Gandhi,Randy Pauch ? Better still, I hope you must have seen baloons,kites rabbits and cockroaches.These are the names of people and things who have been winners in their lives.Each of these teaches us an attribute like ,breaking mental barrier,perception of goals,working in a team,hard work,handling pressure,value for money and the list goes on and on which helps us in our practical life.

Are you tired of management books which sound preaching and try to force in ideas to your mind? Everyone loved stories when kids and at the end of the story we talked of the moral of the story.This book is a short story book and each chapter has fodder to inspire,motivate and unleash the winner within.I have read few self help books and had to leave a few midway but I found this one very easy going and inspirational at the same time.The author correctly points out how some things are not taught at B-schools and how the rather trivial act of flying a kite is an important management lesson.

The author also shares some personal stories and also presents a perspective to a better life.He seems to be a great lover of cricket and many of the stories are from the game of cricket.I appreciated the fact that he picked so many examples from the game because those stories easily sink in and would remain with us for a longtime.I liked the chapter on kites where the author points how pulling the thread makes a kite soar higher.I would recommend readers to pick this book for those lessons,after all we all want to be winners.

Rating :4/5 

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Changing waistlines,bankruptcy and a dip in the river Jamuna

On the Diwali night the train i boarded was remarkably empty and so were my pockets.The last two months of no mobile usage had saved those precious 200 hundred bucks which would definitely be handy. I was happy on the thought that one of my friends was also traveling,after all some company never hurts.It was quite natural to think of previous Diwali nights. A year before last, FK and me had landed up in a dormitory whose other 6 occupants were 60 year old friends, spending some time on their own away from their families.It was friendship that bound 20 year olds with 60 year olds.In my first year at college, I sat in a general compartment of Howrah mail for 3 days to attend Diwali with my family and in my final year I returned back to college with a burnt hand,a painful Diwali night spent with my hands dipped in ice.

Standing in knee deep water in Vrindavan, I experienced one of the most beautiful sunrises ever.Don't know whether the goosebumps were due to the cold or in anticipation of a the day that lay ahead.Vrindavan has always been a spiritual destination for me where I spend a day or two with the sages eating only once a day,sleeping on mattresses,bathing in the river Jamuna and meditating.The place has more to offer than an experience,sometimes it makes me ponder on the importance of seeing things for the purpose they serve e.g. the purpose of food is to provide nourishment and energy for one to carry day to day activities.Succumbing to earthly pleasures is quite easy and spending sometime here makes me more aware of the frailty of our minds.After the bath I parted with half of the money in my pockets which would serve as a source of ration for the sages for a few days to come.

You can say that my pockets were double empty  as i boarded an overcrowded bus bound for Delhi.The reduced waistline has caused a bring dent in my pockets and I am currently managing with just 2 pair of jeans.I would have had a third pair but then this trip would have not happened.I would like you to be in my shoes someday just for an experience,you will appreciate money as you would have never done before.You will definitely realize a purpose beyond buying pizzas and shopping in malls.I stood for the next 5 hours on this damned bus hoping to meet my friends soon.

I had booked the Metallica show tickets on the first day they were out.I read their biography , listened to their songs,browsed for the cheapest possible Metallica shirts and downloaded 3 live concert videos.But with every km traversed there was a mixed excitement,one of the concert and the other of meeting my friends again.Slowly the latter started dominating but the conflict remained until we lost our show tickets.Standing against the wall you could see 4 people laughing and enjoying a moment in which many others would have behaved differently.The sad part was not that we lost our tickets but that the show got canceled.It is sad for North India and sad for many people who had made sacrifices to see something great.

The day which had begun with a holy dip ended in high spirits on a Gurgaon rooftop. I realized that my friends are like wine who get better everyday though their essence remains the same.It was heartening to see that nothing had changed except for the waistlines.The next morning walk for breakfast brought me back to college days with the usual companions Bhale,Hula and FK replacing Chola.The rs.15 bread pakoda seemed  too costly as i explained my last 14 months to FK.I told him,"I read somewhere how it is important in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong."Sitting on that table with friends i was a stronger person who had earned respect for himself.

"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand ,nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship;it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when they discover that someone else believes in them and is willing to trust them."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Turn the Page

So how was your 4 years of college? Well,I had a cycle without breaks and it circled the institute successfully for 4 years.As a matter of fact I thoughtfully gifted it to a security guard and it is still doing its rounds in the holy place.Actually I got the brakes repaired umpteen number of times but the cycle wanted to break free so it remained brake free  most of the time.This will probably be the last week as a student here and plausibly the last late night at in the lab.On my way to the hostel I ask myself the question raised at the beginning of this paragraph and the answer is this cycle,we both survived and freewheeled the place.

Financially, these days are a nightmare owing to the outrageous rules of the hostel administration.I light the remaining half of the Godam Garam and thank the Germans for inventing a smoke which lasted so long.In fact I did time myself once and it lasts almost 1.7 times longer than a normal classic milds.Not only do I feel less guilty lighting 2 of these rather than 4 of those but also it has helped a lot in my budget.I feel hungry and curse myself for not stuffing some more rice at Andhra Mess.I have mastered the art of putting a lock on my door while I am inside the room.This is very important for me because if the newspaper guy finds me I will be more than a broke.I will have to sleep now because even a fifteen minutes delay in reaching Nandini means fair chances of the cheapest item getting over.Sometimes I laugh at all this but still continue living the way things are just for some fun , some experience with a pinch of salt. 

There are two kinds of people on this globe , one who listen to the same song over and over again and the others who  can sing at the top of their lungs to any goddamn song. I have missed these two types the most for  past few days.Probably I have missed the noise , the laughs and fun.Even the monkeys have deserted the place for lack of life in the wing.Ranvah and Hula have made these last days worth living and Topa has provided the occasional kicks one needs to keep living.Everyday I sleep in the hope that someone would knock and wake me up for the breakfast, at least it ensures a peaceful sleep.

"The clock is ticking" is scribbled on a wall in my room I read it once again as I switch off the lights.

Note: Had written this post during the last days of college but never got the time to edit and print.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This is not that Dawn by Yashpal

Title : This is not that Dawn
Author: Yashpal
Type: English translation of Jhoota Sach.
Publisher: Penguin books 
ISBN 978-0-143-10313-4
Pages :1119 
Price:479 (Flipkart)

"Jeevan ke rang" was one of the very few serials I used to love on Doordarshan and I remembered Yashpal from that serial.Most of the episodes were based on the short stories by him.He was considered as the Tolstoy of Hindi literature and probably Jhoota Sach was the most definitive amongst all.Written in 1958-1960 his work was translated in English in 2007.This work of his is the most profound work on the partition of India.He has written over 50 books of short stories , essays ,novels.He was the proponent of social reform and social protest and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1970.

Summarizing thousand pages of a book is no easy task.The enormity of the book actually makes it so special. .It delves into the life of every character in minuscule details and deals with the political,social and cultural consequences of the partition.The best part is the balanced portrayal of the Hindu and Muslim story.Divided into two volumes, first in Lahore and the second  in India the book offers a complete picture of a historical event which has its repercussions till date.Reading the book makes me wonder what our ancestors had gone through and leaves a big question for humanity, not only the atrocities during the partition but also about a prejudice which cost millions of lives.

"An immense cloud of flies hovering over the heads of the refugees alighted on the convoy.The flies swarmed so thickly that one had to use both hands to ward them off,so as to avoid breathing them in.With them came the smell of death,a gagging,retching smell,as if their bodies continued to decay as they walked."

The book tells the story of two families but in the long run their story summarizes the lives of millions affected by partition.Our protagonist Tara and Jaidev live in the Bhola Pande's gali in Lahore.Jaidev marks the generation pre partition where the youth went to jail for freedom and took part in social protests and reforms.The life of Tara is a compassionate portrayal of the condition of women in the society then.Life was normal in the Bhola pande's gali where people considered that place to be their home.Life was normal until some prejudiced leaders decided to divide people on the basis of religion.This started chain of barbaric events  and savagery.People flee their homes,millions died and the women were the center point of belligerence.Not only did the demography change , in fact it was a life changing event for many.

The first part of the book deals more with the day to day life in two families.Socail status , money and society played an important part in their lives.It reflects how woman from time immemorial had to bow to social pressure and the discriminatory attitude of educated people.Apart from the day to day struggle in Jaidev's life there are stories of love, hate and infatuation.People living ordinary lives, making their ends meet had to leave everything behind for their lives but to in the process of saving their lives many lost a life they had.

A person's character is tested the most in times of tribulations.People were parted from their families and each  had to take a different course of action.Some fought hard and adjusted to the new life while others gave in.But the book made me thinking that how could a human being become so inhuman, what was it in them which made them so barbaric and why were the women treated so ruthlessly? What is it in us which makes us so strong to fight hunger and save our lives and how does one desperately end one's life?How does one feel to leave all everything and run for his life and especially how can one take the life of a neighbor out of hatred.Was it a war,or is a war like this?Who started all this and was the purpose sufficed? The book raises a lot of such questions and probably answers them in the stories of the character' life.

The second part of the book can be aptly called the rehabilitation story.It marks a totally new life for many.It marks the beginning of a free India which had to deal with millions of refugees, the very first test of the worthiness of  its leaders.It throws more light into the socio-economic condition of the society and unemployment.But amongst all this many families are re united, while some never go into their pasts for their good.The book talks about Congress party,Mahatma Gandhi and discusses the course of action taken by the leaders of free India. Amidst  the good it talks about the advent of political corruption.

Yashpal speaks a lot about the lives of woman in that era.The atrocities in the partition , the restrictions imposed by the family members,their independence has been dealt in great detail.This book depicts that how institutions of morality are sacrificed at the cost of greed and love survives in the worst of conditions,how one changes his character to gain undue advantage.

Born almost 40 years after Independence this epic novel leaves me in awe and amidst thoughts.Do read this wonderful masterpiece on a topic which will stay in our lives for generations to come.  

Rating :4/5

Friday, October 7, 2011

October Quote

Patience isn't an easy thing,but the alternative is much worse.Love will triumph if you let it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

So which book is it ?

A fun game for readers.Here is a list of 10 lines picked from books you would have definitely read.Let's see how many of you can identify the book.

1) I was looking for the key for years but the door was always open.

2) To a person sitting in the office or a living room,a picture of winter mountain sunset is just a picture.To me,it was the experience of taking the picture.

3) It is our choices that show what we truly are,far more than our abilities. 

4) Wandering around our America has changed me more than I thought.I am not me any more.At least i am not the same me I was.

5) May you not rest,as long as i am living .You said i killed you-haunt me then.

6) Nothing in any life,no matter how well or poorly lived, is wiser than failure or clearer than sorrow.And in the tiny precious wisdom they give to us ,even those dreaded and hated enemies,have their reason and right to be.

7)Man's greatest virtues are to be found in what is called  the gutter;the underworld;and what gangsters do is sometimes the same as what heroes do.

8)What is good,Phaderus and what is not good-need we ask anyone to tell us these things.

9)I was surprised,as always,by how easy the act of leaving was,and how good it felt.The world was suddenly rich with possibility.

10)We can never lose the things we live for.We may have to change their forms at times,if we have made an error,but the purpose remains the same and the forms are our's to make."

11)Boys ,Laila came to see treated friendship the way they treated the sun:it's existence undisputed;its radiance best enjoyed ,not beheld directly.

Would love to know the books you were able to identify.