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Friday, October 30, 2015

Valmiki... The one, who began it all...

Years ago, when I was barely five, I got to read Ramayana. It happened to be the first ever longish story that I read. Of course, not that it was long at that stage, but only a comic book. Two years, later my grandfather, bought me the Bala Ramayana. Of course, after that I got to see Ramanand Sagar’s epic on TV, Ramayan. 

But Ramayan never interested me. But nowadays, I get to read, ‘Asura: Tale of the Vanquished – The Story of Ravana and his People’, an Anand Neelakantan perspective with Ravana’s point of view and one from Sita’s viewpoint, in ‘Sita : An illustrated retelling of the Ramayana’ by Devdutt Pattanaik. Both these books are brilliant in the own right, due to the willingness of the authors to experiment with the book and give us all a whole new perspective. 

But, in all this, I was reminded of Valmiki, and the ACK comic, I had read about him. Valmiki, who was born as Ratnakar, a dacoit, one day, comes up on the Saptarishis, who stop him from stealing and teach him to say ‘Mara’, which is what he repeats for many years. The seven rishis then return, and Valmiki who is covered in an ant hill, is now ready to undertake his spiritual power.  

Years after, Sage Narada pays him a visit and tells him the story of Rama. And Valmiki, upon hearing the story, begins writing the Ramayan. He is the poet of Sanskrit literature, and wrote 24,000 verses and 7 cantos. Incidentally, his birth anniversary is celebrated on Ashwin Purana.

So, this year on 27th October, occurred Valmiki Jayanti, when I started wondering about Ramayana, and thinking of a man, who all those years ago, gave us all a story, which we have read and re- read for so many years and thought about in so many different ways.

Wow, I wonder what Valmiki would have said if he was to reappear again, today. Would he lap up, all of them? Would he like the new books, the one from Ravana’s perspective and the one from Sita’s and also the one from Lava - Kusha’s?

Not to say, that he had not thought of all these, or would he have written so much, that gives all the authors, newer ideas, newer thoughts, and whole new books, with all the different outlooks.

Do you think that he could possibly agree with half of our views of the Ramayan? Do you think he would ever watch them on TV? Or like them? Would he be happy with the views people have today? And the reasoning of them? Or the justification or not of them?

You think he would be happy if he saw the world, today? Or if he saw women or men, today?   Or if he saw students with all the learnings today?

Now, that is something to think about. Nowadays, we get to see so many views and counterviews of whatever we write. Wonder what he would say, if he sees even half of them… :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review : 'Empire of the Moghul : Traitors in the Shadows' by Alex Rutherford

'Empire of the Moghul : Traitors in the Shadows', the sixth in this series, is probably the only book, which actually stood alone, and I do not mean that in a good way. Of course, it does start from the part where Shahjahan is already in prison, and Aurangazeb has taken over the Peacock Throne, ably supported by his sister, Roshanara. But it really does not have the same kind of grip, which its earlier parts had.

As we move ahead, we are caught in Aurangazeb’s bloodied war with his brothers, and him taking on the kingdom. He finds himself isolated, and depending on Roshanara at first and Jahaanara, towards the end only. The interesting part is the one with Shivaji, as his imprisonment and eventually his escape along with his son, that make for good reading. 

The account is caught between the way Aurangazeb rules his nation, he seems to be battling the demons of all the people he had gotten killed, and also his decision to base everything on religion, despite Jahanaara opposing his views.

The second half of the story seems like a war, between himself, and his son Akbar and the indecision between Muazzam and Zebunissa and himself, too. Opposing views rule the roost, as Aurangazeb attempts to keep making his views supreme. His only support seems to be Udipuri Mahal, his wife who again is trying to raise support enough for her own son, Kam Baksh.

This book, despite its attempts failed to grab my interest as the earlier ones had. There is a zeal, which could have been brought in, considering Aurangazeb’s views and the people who had to suffer due to them. This book definitely is not at the bar, where the earlier ones are at. It probably ran off before I could catch up with it...

Monday, October 26, 2015

Author Interview : PC Balasubramanian, author of ‘Ready.. Steady.. Exit' (Part 1)

PC Balasubramanian

Read up, the first part of the Interview with PC Balasubramanian, the author of 'Ready.. Steady.. Exit'.


In this one, he tells us how it was that ‘Ready.. Steady.. Exit’ first happened, how Gautam, the main character came about, how he came about with the core idea of the book, before developing it and what the challenging parts of the book were. 


There is  more to come in the second part of this Interview, Folks…


You can Read my Review here, and Buy the Book right here.



How did ‘Ready.. Steady.. Exit’ happen? Could you describe the journey? 

It was just a desire to tell a story and though I have written two books earlier, including ‘Rajini’s Punchtantra’ and ‘Grand Brand Rajini’, ‘Ready.. Steady.. Exit’ is my first fiction. 

One of the objectives was to narrate a story around CAs usually, one doesn’t get to read many books, where the protagonist is a CA. I also wanted to tell a story that has a lot of humour and also a story that everyone could relate to, especially young entrepreneurs.

How did the main character, Gautam come about? How much of you, was in there?

It is pure fiction. Except, for a couple of facts that Gautam in this story is from Pondicherry and he also clears his CA course after a few attempts, there is nothing of me in him. Gautam is a tall, dusky handsome guy as you may notice.

What according to you is different about your book?

I think it is difficult to narrate a serious story in a humorous way and that’s the difference here.

Also, as one reads this story, one would also realise that there are some important lessons and learnings for young entrepreneurs, especially at start-up firms.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?

I love all the characters here and if I have to pick one, it would be Anand, as he is such a support for Gautam and in fact, he is the one who in a way, is instrumental in unravelling the suspense at the end.

How did you come up with the core idea and develop it?

I had the plot in mind and I wanted to put it across, that the value systems in business are very subjective and relative. And, everyone has a right to one’s opinion as regards, the means to making money.

Once I had the plot in my mind, I wanted to develop it in a manner that many would find interesting to read. They could relate to it and at the same time, pick up a few important lessons.

I also wanted to add some suspense in the story and I think I fairly achieved it as many seemed to love it.

What was the most challenging part about writing ‘Ready.. Steady.. Exit’?

The most challenging part is telling a serious corporate story in a very humorous way and also, in way any kind of reader could understand.

More challenges actually emerge only after you finish writing !!!

How did the today’s corporate environment affect your writing?

So much can be written from the current corporate environment. The more and more people you see, the more experiences you go through…there are several stories to be created and so, many lessons to be crafted.

Clearly, one could write fiction as well as non-fiction with what we experience every day.

The only thing is with so much to do at work, it is increasingly becoming difficult to spend time in writing.

Could you tell the readers about your experiences and how it was related to what you wrote?

I think I have already explained it in a different way. One comes across several characters in our day to day life and each one is a specimen.

This helps in characterisation, when you write fiction. And some of one’s own experiences could be crafted into a story with some creativity. Stories are around all of us, just pick them up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Author Interview : Jaydeep Khot, author of ‘50 Miles : A Reverse Journey' (Part 2)

Read up, the second part of the Interview with Jaydeep Khot, author of '50 Miles : A Reverse Journey'. 

In this section, he talks of the most fulfilling parts in the book, the character he felt most close to, his next book, and also his favourite authors, and then a little more, Folks...

What are the most fulfilling parts in your book?

The entire book is the most fulfilling experience of my life. I never thought, I could ever finish the book completely, because I am good at short stories and essays. Well, there is always a first time.

Though, If I am told to choose, I would go for the part where there is the teaching scene. As it is a personal experience, it is very close
Jaydeep Khot
to my heart.

Which particular character did you feel most close to? Why?


This is because he is very confused in life. I have a lot of friends and family members, who have been like this.

On a personal note, I was the same way, when I was a teenager in school.

But this does not mean Haria is my reflection. He isn’t. He is completely different from me. We are poles apart.

The confusion he has in his life, brings me closer to him on a sympathetic front.

Do you have another book planned? If so, what is it about?

Yes, It is Envisage - Looking into the future. It a about a girl, Kasak who has power to see the future and therefore, she prevents crime with the help of these powers.

Kasak was also a character in ‘50 Miles - A Reverse Journey’.
But they both are unrelated. Or are they? Who knows?

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Which book are you currently reading?

I am reading ‘Business as Usual’ by Deepak Chawla. It is a collection of short stories published by The Write Place.

I completed reading the first short story and I am totally awestruck by the author’s command over the language and creating a thinking process, which is very rare in Indian authors.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

J.K. Rowling because she knows how to touch children’s hearts and that is something I would love to have one day.

Chetan Bhagat, because of his simplicity of English language. He knows how to communicate even to the sectors of the society, which don’t have good command over the language.

What else do you do on a daily basis?

I am a final year CA student. I attend classes for six hours a day. Study for an hour every day. Read as much as I can. Go to the and practise running for the SCMM 2016 21.1 kms, which I am hopeful I will be running.

Help my sister in her 9th grade history and civics. Watch TV shows and tweet about them.