Saturday, 28 July 2012

Connect the dots- Handmade For Wannabe Entrepreneurs


If there's an entrepreneurial keeda hiding somewhere within you, then reading this book will definitely kick the keeda out of its slumber- And I tell you, the keeda will roll, riot, and root its way out, until you reckon its presence.

Yes, that's the effect the book will leave on wannabe entrepreneurs. Not to mention the generous  mix of English and Hinglish, that makes 'Connect the dots' a pleasurable read . The author has put in so much jaan into it. There is so much to chew on, specifically for those who wish to start something anew. Loaded with pithy one-liners that linger on your hearts and minds for days together. Honestly, this book has whetted my appetite further, sans any second thoughts.  Yes! Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish, I have a dream, Poor Little Rich Slum, here I am coming. The one line that is going to stay with me eternally is "Kuch Karne hai, tho marna padega.

Yeah!, I am going to have my hands full with Rashmi Bhansal's books in the coming days.  First Things First. Talking about the book, it has been divided into three categories  - Jugaad, Junoon and Zubaan.

Jugaad - A series of stories on enterprising entrepreneurs with absolutely zero background in business. In fact some of them are rags to riches stories. Say for instance, Prem Ganapathy - a dishwasher to Doza Plaza owner. Today, Doza Plaza has 24 outlets across India. Each story, about nine of them in this category, is exceptional and abundantly inspiring. For once, I too was tempted to take the road less travelled. But isn't business meant for the brave hearts?
Story about Kunwer Sachdev, the founder of Su-kam inverters, is sure to capture your imagination… a non-engineer creating ripples in the engineering industry and making it really big. Then there is Hanmant Gaikwad of BVG (Bharat Vikas Group), a facilities management firm that not only serves India Inc clients, but also holds the fort at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Then of course, of all the stories, the one that pulled my heartstrings was that of Suresh Kamath of Laser Soft Systems. Kamath, strongly believes that social responsibility and sound business can go hand in hand and his company is a testimony to the fact. The company currently employs many physically challenged people helping them climb the corporate ladder. For well-heeled women who wish to something with their 'not-much' happening lives, Sunita Ramnathkar story is sure to fire up your imagination.

Junoon – Literally, a breadth of fresh air. Seven entrepreneurs driven by very distinct dreams, dared to do something, never done before. R. Shiram, a non-graduate, fired by his passion for books, opened the popular chain of bookstores -Crossword; Satyajit Singh commercialized makhana, an unheard of product; Chetan Miani, driven by his passion for electronics, produced an electric car.

Zubaan – All stories in the section are thoroughly inspiring, especially the avatar story.  Had witnessed live Krishna Reddy's unique brand of mythology – inspired choreography on India's Got Talent, so, naturally, I was all excited to see his name appearing in the zubaan list. Having said that, I am not trying to underestimate other's achievements. Kalyan Verma's story, if not more, was equally impressive.
Go ahead, check out this book for many more names.

Seriously, this book is a must-read for wannabe entrepreneurs. MBAs, non-MBA's, anyone and everyone who wish to start a new venture.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


Why Midnight Children is Called the Booker of the Bookers


For those looking for a racy, rousing read, kindly keep your hands off 'Midnight's Children'.

Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children - Winner of Best of the Booker, needless to say is a masterpiece in magical realism, brilliantly unfolded at a snail's pace. However, the novel's beauty lies in its style and not action. Nonetheless, a little familiarity with Indian history will make the novel a tad more interesting, given the allegorical references to India's social-political events strewn all across the story.

Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure, the story revolves are two children (in fact midnight's 1001 children) who were born at the precise instance of India's arrival at independence. Little wonder, their destinies were inextricably intertwined forever, thanks to the time of their births.

Saleem Sinai, the protagonist, when tumbled forth into the earth on Aug 15, 1947, was greeted by none other than Mr. Prime Minister's letter. Yes Saleem was destiny's child. Born as an illegitimate son, he got all the good things that life had to offer, thanks to the nurse who without forethought swapped children just after their birth. Baby Saleem, naturally benefited in the process as he was entitled to all the care and riches of Shiva's household, Shiva, one of the 1001 children born at the same time, on the other end was relegated to the darkness of slums.

Noses and Knees, Nose and Knees. Saleem with his powerful nose could smell  every damn emotion on this earth, be it the smell of anger or jealousy. Interestingly, he could read other minds and was endowed with the power of telepathy. Shiva on the other end had preternaturally powerful knees, knees that were exclusively used for pushing, shoving and crushing others. Though royal blood ran in his veins, his actions spoke otherwise. He turned out to be a brutish killer. Saleem, however, is portrayed as a nice fellow. His aberrations are shown in lighter vein, while Shiva's aberrations make you feel sick.

The use of the term 'optimism' is anesthetizing. The analogues employed are breathtaking. Numb as ice, clean as a slate, main fresh-water pipes which were city's lifelines began to blow fountains into the air like giant steel whales, tiny grain of grit in the sea of old age and so on. Philosophy dealt in the form of Snakes and Ladders. For every ladder you climb,a snake is just waiting around the corner; and for every snake a ladder will compensate. Very descriptive, simply explains the painstaking efforts put in by Rushdie. The story some time may seem long-winding, the language used may seem incomprehensible, but carry-on is the catchword here.

The political scenario post- Indian independence is nicely interwoven into the story. That's makes you wonder about Rushdie's brilliance. Rushdie dishes out everything history, politics, myth, food, magic, wit and dung all in one book, the partition of India and Pakistan, the power of "The Widow" Indira Gandhi, war and, finally the enforcement of martial law in the country.

A Thousand Splendid Suns - A Soul-Stirring Novel-Unputdownable

Indeed, your heart-strings will be pulled by Khaled Hosseini's first novel, 'The Kite Runner'. While, 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' will squash all your notions on female jealousy. So, obviously women might even find the latter far better.

The book indeed is Soul-stirring and Heart-wrenching, to the core. High on emotions and melodrama, the book brilliantly chronicles the sorrowful saga of the Afghanis, crippled by constant wars waged by the insiders and the outsiders.

A poignant tale of two women on the whole, Mariam and Laila, though not blood-related; nevertheless related by circumstances. Mariam, born a harami- illegitimate child-is married off to a short tempered, bitter Rasheed, 30 years her senior, a man of extremely disagreeable temperament. Two decades later, Laila, born in a highly influential family, is forced to join Rasheed's unhappy household to be his second wife.

Mariam is living a troubled life with Rasheed, and Laila's presence is troubling her a lot more, akin to a salt rubbed on an open, raw wound. However, Laila tries her best to win over Mariam with her friendly gestures, and finally manages to win over her confidence. The bond between them grows so deep that both wives conspire to flee Afghanistan together, and thereby free themselves from the clutches of their abusive husband, Rasheed.

However, their escape attempt flops and conspicuously both wives have to bear Rasheed's wrath. As time passes on, there are other innumerable events, both ugly and lovely, dotting the women's life. Laila and her children become Mariam's only solace when her own womb ditches her time and again. The bond between them the two women grow so deep that on one fateful day, when Rasheed under his fury was suffocating Laila to death; Mariam pulled a shovel from nowhere and hit it right on her husband's head.

Rasheed lay on the floor dead, and Mariam was persecuted for the crime. On Mariam's insistence, Laila fled to Pakistan with her children and lover, but with a heavy heart, constantly reminding herself of the sacrifice Mariam made for her.

The flow of the narrative is mesmerizing; moreover pregnant with metaphors, the book keeps you hooked and goads you to continue reading till the end. Humans' self-sacrificing nature is brought out well in the book.

Quotable Quotes

Like a compass needle that points north, a man's accusing finger always finds a woman. Always.

In Laila's head, Mammy's voice rang out. "Like a myriad bird in your hands. Slacken your grip and away it flies". (pg. 153)

The 3 Mistakes of My Life - It's No Mistake If You Read The 3 Mistakes of My Life

The book opens with an interesting dialogue by Chetan, the author, "I don't want to be India's most admired writer, I just want to be India's most loved writer. Admiration passes, love endures". And this line of his strikes a chord right away. And interestingly all his novels have done just that. He has become the darling of Indian masses. His simple, lucid language has got the entire nation reading; forget about grammar and punctuation folks, it's the concept that gets you hooked big-time, specifically when it comes to 'The 3 mistakes of my life'.

Yes, the concept used is unabashedly Indian. It talks about young, ambitious and passionate Indians. The backdrop is the city of Ahmedabad (where Chetan took his MBA degree) though urban is no where close to its metro counterparts. The city still retains its small town flavour, which one can find in pols, conventional households and eateries. The story revolves around Govind, Ishaan and Omi. Govind is best known for his acumen for accounts and business. Ishan is insane about cricket while Omi believes in what his friends believe in. He has no opinion of his own. And if at all he has one, he expresses it, but finally gives in to his friends liking.

The story opens on a dramatic note. The author receives an email from Govind saying that he had taken sleeping pills and is waiting for death to embrace him. Chetan was so hit by the mail that he makes it a mission to track down the boy and finally finds him in an Ahmedabad hospital. Fortunately, the boy is still alive to tell the tale. The book revolves around the three mistakes Govind made in his life.

His first when he takes a loan from Omi's uncle to sets up a sports shop and is unable to pay back, as earthquake strikes Gujarat, and ends up losing everything in the process. His second mistake, when he makes love with Ishaan's sis Vidya. The third, when he fails to save Ali's wrist from an attack from Hindu hardliners. Ali had to go through a painful and expensive surgery to get his wrist back in shape and play cricket as usual.

A mix of cricket, religion, business, love and friendship, the story is spell-binding. The melodrama involved gives you goose bumps. However, one cannot stop noticing the regular use of f*** in almost all the pages. Overall, an interesting read. Just hope, he churns out more of such stuff, for his books touches the heart effortlessly.

2 States - Read 2 States, to Develop a Broader Outlook In Life


Interesting read, a book written out-and-out for the Indian audience. Highly melodramatic yet mesmerizing, incredibly comprehensible yet compelling.  So this makes you complete the book in one sitting. The book has two hooks to be very precise. One, it more or less revolves around the IIM-A culture, offers a few insights on the sort of food, the kind of lifestyle students lead within the campus. Second, the book obviously speaks about the two states- Punjab and Tamil Nadu where Krish and Ananya respectively hail from.

Anyone and everyone who reads the book will able to relate with the characters effortlessly, given that every second couple in India has to unfortunately go through the same experiences. Little wonder then a Bollywood film is in the offing based on the book.

The book talks about the struggle, Krish, a north Indian Punjabi boy, had to undergo to convince Ananya (Tamilian Brahmin girl) parents to let them marry. Krish influences future bro-in-law with his charm first, by and by he captures the hearts of Ananya's father and mother as well. Once Krish succeeds, it's his girlfriend's turn to influence her future in-laws. However, Ananya fails miserably, for she is a bad cook. Anaya has never entered a kitchen all her life, let alone do some cooking. Come to think of it, a female who is into cooking and stuff, can she manage the heavy-duty stuff of the IIMs.

The catch is that both don't want to elope and be married, rather the duo wish to solemnize their marriage with the blessings of their parents. As a result, both Krish and Ananya had to go great lengths while convincing not just their parents, but in-laws as well. In addition, the thought that in India, you don't marry the girl or guy, in fact you end up marrying the family is nicely brought out. For instance, Krish gets 4 gold rings to propose girl's entire family. Chetan has taken digs at both the Punjabi and Tamilian culture. When it comes to Punjabi's he speaks about the obese women and their cravings for food. On the contrary, south Indian's are more into classical music and are studious types, who love to keep a study silence more often not.

The premise is realistic and draws your attention to the cultural differences in diverse India. One should read the book once, if only to be reminded of what lovers from diverse communities go through at the hands of their families. How love is invariably at the mercy of societal, familial norms. And how a man perpetually finds himself torn between his girlfriend/wife and mother?


A chapter a day to keep laziness at bay


AN OFFICE BIBLE

‘Self awakening’, one word that defines Robin Sharma’s book “The Greatness Guide”. And ya, be mindful of your reading habits, as each chapter starts and ends ASAP. Chances are there that you will drive yourself to complete the book in one or two sittings. However, it is only when you read, re-read, chapter by chapter, line by line, and word by word that you get to understand that the book is an absolute stunner-a fodder for personal and professional growth. In short, AN INSPIRATIONAL POWERHOUSE, AN ABSOLUTE FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

It is interesting to note that all the three books of Robin:“The Greatness Guide-Part I,” “The Greatness Guide-Part II,” and the “Who Will Cry When You Die,” hinges around same philosophies and rationales. Being a Leadership Guru, I believe this is a conscious endeavour by Robin to drum the same message again and again into our forgetful, failing, human minds.

Nonetheless, all the three books are interesting to read, inspirational and full of energy. Somehow I found this book ‘The Greatness Guide” more inspiring than Robin’s debut book”The Monk who sold his Ferrai”.
Undoubtedly, the debut book received rare reviews and was a huge commercial success worldwide, but the succinct, yet strikingly powerful style of “The Greatness Guide” is what it makes it a compelling read. And i am sure, this book will strike a perfect chord with his ardent fans and needless to say, will expand his admirer base.

Say, for instance, Commit to First Class, Be a Rock Star at Work, Drink Coffee with Gandhi, Be a Merchant of Wow, Make a Dent in the Universe, Be Wise Early Rise, How to Live for Ever etc are some of the chapters that will probably leave a lasting impression on the minds of readers. Thoughts are very well laid-out and ideas doled out can be easily put into practice.


FAVOURITE QUOTES

"To earn more, learn more. Out-read your competition. Out-study them. Out-improve them. Out-succeed them".

"Robin, be so knowledgeable, competent and brilliant at what you do that this firm can't run without you. Become indispensable".

Investing in learning and getting your skills to world class is the smartest investment you'll ever make. Master your craft and you'll get to greatness.

We'll all be dust before you know it. So live your potential now.

Chinese saying : "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. But the second time is today".

Imagine that today is the last day of your life and you are lying on your deathbed. Then ask yourself:

Did I dream richly?
Did I live fully?
Did I learn to let go?
Did I love well?
Did I tread lightly on the earth and leave it better than I found it?

Nothing Fails Like Success. Success actually breeds complacency, inefficiency and -worst of all- arrogance. Because the moment you stop doing the very things that got you to the top of the mountain is the very moment you begin slide down to the valley

When you're making money and good margins, you tend to get sloppy.

"I'm sorry for you; your lives have been so easy. You can't play great music unless your heart's been broken.

Focus plus daily improvement plus time equals genius. Understand that formula deeply and your life will never be the same.

Push the envelope. Refuse to accept anything remotely close to mediocrity. Commit to excellence. Become massively innovative and wear your passion on your sleeve.

It's Not About the Bike



Lance Armstrong - “Give up or fight like hell”

Won Tour de France, the Holy Grail in cycling, seven times in a row: 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005
It may be one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book, but Lance Armstrong’s life is a classic case of ‘never say never’ zeal.

A powerhouse biker, who went on to wage a silent war against his worst enemy, and came up trumps, eventually. In fact when this invincible and uninvited enemy called testicular cancer, “the bastard,” as he disgustingly referred to as, threatened to take away the only love of his life, Armstrong being Arm-strong, decided to go after it, all hammer and tongs. Initially, unaware of his somber condition, Lance used to literally stand and practice hard on his bike, for sitting on his bike made him feel miserable, thanks to the spreading cancer.
 
It was only at stage four Armstrong came to know of his illness and rather than becoming hysterical, he braced toward challenging his enemy head-on. “Give up or fight like hell” became his life-mantra. He went after cancer, with the word ‘go’. Like drank 15 glasses of water everyday, rather than the mandatory five, though down and out after the chemo’s, he kept a tab on all the doses that was released into his body by the dutiful nurses, when peeing hurt him, he endured the pain thinking that he was throwing out cancer from his system, when he coughed out sticky, tar-like material from his chest, he coped, imagining he was throwing out charred tumors.


Life was a suffer-fest for him, literally, but he had achieved mastery when it comes to enduring pain and suffering. He had rode continuously in freezing conditions, wet conditions, to scorching heat conditions; but nothing cease to stop him. He knew he will conquer cancer like the tour de France tours, the most grueling cycling event in the world, and once again would stand on the podium of Tour-de-France triumphantly.


However, his high-voltage comeback was met more with skepticism than euphoria. Sponsors, spectators, press all who written him off, couldn’t believe his inspirational comeback. He must be on drugs, they said. But Armstrong went on, ignored all the bad-mouthing, punched above his weight and went on to add two more titles to his credit.

His struggle is live example of old saying: tough times never last, but tough people do. Armstrong’s ‘never dying attitude’, his ‘passion to perform’, his ‘do or die’ mind-set, is truly overwhelming. Even as a teenager, regardless of the injuries on his head and feet, he kept participating in events. In fact his passion to perform was so much so that he literally made holes in the soles of his running and bike shoes so that his raw wounds won’t rub against the shoes.

Yet another event that shows off his greatness was, when the nurse ripped of the catheter from his chest, once his cancer medication was complete, rather than dumping it as a bad memory he made it into a memento and stored it in a zip-lock bag.

Yes his life is a truly uplifting and inspirational and would leave anyone and everyone thoroughly inspired.









The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

This Booker prize winner was on my bookshelf I don’t for how long. Attempted reading it before, but then dumped it because t...