Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Words and Winter





This Post is shared with Postcards from Paradise.



And Smiles

gifts and cakes
little boy dreams of Santa
and smiles

and smiles
the pavement where he sleeps
now a mansion


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Expectations.




This Vote Is For You, For Your People, For India




All those present at the Ramlila Maidan on 28th December 2013 witnessed the making of history in a brighter hue, when a common man, elevated to the post of Chief Minister, addressed the people of Delhi, and the nation, saying that “not just Arvind Kejriwal or six ministers have taken oath, but all of Delhi has been sworn in as CM and minister”. The tricolors fluttered gently with the wind, as people traveled from all across the country to draw inspiration from this change of politics, that till not so long ago, had turned out into a potboiler of corruption and scams, but now, promised to be refined and cleansed of all its impurities.
What really stands out in Mr. Kejriwal’s address is the power that he bestows on the common man, urging them to come forward, and play their roles as citizens of this democracy. True, we have been subdued for long by ugly political games. True, we have been made prey to the muck that has surrounded us all. But not anymore. We dream to progress, with truth, and integrity.

And that’s where the youth of this nation comes to the forefront. Politics can no longer be isolated from the Gen-X and Gen-Y, as their contribution as voters in recent times have really made a significant change in the governance of this country. They have stood by idealism, supporting the anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare, and voting for the political party that they could relate themselves with.

Today, youth does hold a lot of power. However, how can you get them to exercise that power in a positive manner? In this modern era, time is a commodity that not many can relish. People are busy with their professional and personal lives. What can you do to draw their attention towards their role in choosing the right government for the nation?

This is exactly where Social Mobile Apps come into play. However busy today’s youth might be, most of them are connected to social networks via mobile apps, which have flooded the market, a few also gaining popularity and fame due to their features that are trendy and makes communication easier, and all the more fun.

Well then, how can social mobile apps inspire and mobile India’s youth to vote in the Indian General Elections 2014? Read on.

Chat Upfront with the Election Candidates


The youth, as the voters, have the right to know their candidates better. Keeping this in mind, social mobile apps can come with a feature where a voter can directly interact with the electoral candidates, ask themm questions upfront, and listen to their answers. The Video Call feature can be used in this regard and an interactive and healthy discussion can take place. This will further lead to a better understanding of the election process, and will help the youth in making up their mind as to which candidates to vote for during elections.

Debate With Candidates and Voters



A group chat, with several voters, and members of political parties, can serve as a platform for an insightful debate. The voters can question the party representatives regarding their agenda, and the latter can in turn put forward their proposals regarding actions that would prove beneficial to the country. The key areas that needs to be addressed can be identified in this process, which will help the parties in re-framing their agendas if the need arises. It would also give the youth voters a chance to recognize the merits and demerits of each party.

Have A Look At Others’ Opinions


WeChat, a popular Social Media App, has some interesting features like Look Around and Shake which can be used specifically for this purpose. These two functions can help to build connection between people who are not there in friend list. They are absolute strangers. Yet, when you use these features, you can readily get in touch with them, and start discussing about the political scenario of this country. Ideas exchanged will surely lead to a clearer opinion regarding the candidate or the party you are going to vote.

Survey Election Trends


As a youth voter, one needs to be aware of the direction where the wind is blowing. If there is a feature where the voter can cast a ‘dummy’ vote, and then check what others have voted for, it would lead to a higher excitement building up before the actual election process. Thankfully, WeChat comes fully loaded with this feature, named Drift Bottle. It’s anonymous and fun, and it surely would lure the youth towards the General Elections.

Emoting is Fun


Finally, why not have some Emoticons that would make the process all the more attractive. Emoticons representing symbol of political parties can be added, along with icons of eminent political leaders of today. The youth loves to use new emoticons, and in this process, they will invariably be discussing a lot about politics more than they realize.


Social Mobile Apps like WeChat can prove to be a trendsetter in this regard as they have most of the features discussed above. The only thing needed is to implement them in the right direction and context, and we will have the enthusiasm of the youth channeled towards the Indian General Elections 2014.

However, whoever you vote for, remember always – this vote is for you, for your people, for India.
Vote for India, always.


This is my official entry to Vote For India contest organized by Indiblogger in association with WeChat.

Check out the official Page of WeChat below:
http://www.wechat.com/en/



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Warming My Winter

she smiled
and the roses bloomed
warming my winter


This Haiku is shared with Haiku My Heart Completely.




Circle Of Life

a seed
nourished by nature
bears fruit

~ o ~

a thought
planted by need
an idea

~ o ~

evolution
completes the circle
we call it life


This Haiku is shared with Carpe Diem - Circle Of Life.



Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Yogic Manager - Review

The Yogic Manager is a business novel that was written to bridge Yoga-Vedanta and Management. The story is the medium by which several new frameworks, business models and management principles are explained. The author, Avinash Sharma, has incorporated the philosophies and teachings of the Bhagavad Gita, Mahabharata, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras.
The book is a modern retelling of the ancient mythological epic, the Mahabharata, set in today’s world of business. The epic’s war of Kurukshetra has been recreated in the world of business at a consulting firm called Characterra Consulting. The protagonist is Arjun Atmanand who faces a crisis when his conscience clashes with the instructions of his boss and Characterra’s founder, Raja Sahamkar. To help him with his crisis, Arjun receives advice from Yogi, a being with supernatural powers. Arjun learns Yoga and Vedanta from Yogi, which he uses to build a bridge between Yoga-Vedanta and Management. 
Arjun develops a set of Yogic Management frameworks and principles that are the foundations of this bridge:
1. Reality-Consciousness-Bliss Framework
2. Knowledge Work Equation
3. Motive-Mind-Means Framework
4. Purposeful Life Framework
5. Principles of Yogic Management
6. Yogic Management Mantra
By reading and studying this book, you will:
—Start to challenge conventional ways of thinking about business and gain a new, holistic perspective of Management;
—Learn the principles and frameworks of Yogic Management, which you can then apply immediately to your work;
—Become a more productive knowledge worker by learning how to control and channel the power of the instrument of knowledge work, your mind;
—Gain fulfillment through your work and, in the process, contribute toward the betterment of society and all life on Earth;
—Gain practical advice on how to build physical, mental, intellectual, and spiritual strength;
—Live a balanced and purposeful life by going through the four phases prescribed in Yoga-Vedanta; and
—Join, should you wish to, the evolution of Management, a movement that will elevate the human condition and restore harmony to an imbalanced planet
The frameworks (as high resolution charts in full color) and other resources have been made available for free on the website.
About the Author
Avinash Sharma is a senior consultant for strategic programs at a large Canadian bank in Toronto. He earned his MBA from the Queen's School of Business (Ontario). From 2008 to 2012, he researched Sanskrit texts, including the Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads and Yoga Sutras, to determine how Yoga-Vedanta can be applied to Management. The Yogic Manager is the product of this research.



The principles of management can’t be defined under a single head – they vary from people to people, organization to organization, each following a certain set of rules and procedures that highlight their management policies. Some organizations focus on serving their clients, while many aim to get the maximum financial gain out of a transaction. A number of firms target profit-enhancement in the short run, and a few also look at the benefits that are provided to the employees. However, in most cases, the fundamentals of practical management aren't absolutely flawless, and thus often lack purpose and direction that can be beneficial to the society.

‘The Yogic Manager’ by Avinash B. Sharma talks about applying the philosophy of Yoga-Vedanta into the system of modern management. It differentiates between a normal manager and Yogic Manager, highlighting the shortcomings of the former and how they can be attended to by the latter, using the tools of proper judgement and integrity. The power of human conscience, combined with proper understanding of the environmental factors that affect, and are in turn affected by business decisions, play a big role in shaping the future of the society.

There are four major characters in the book. Arjun Atmanand works as a manager and consultant in Characterra, a consulting firm. He is hardworking and intelligent, but lacks the guidance that’s needed to perform a task keeping in mind the benefit of all. He is lured by materialistic riches offered by Raja Sahamkar, his boss, and thus readily agrees to whatever he has to say. Raja practically rules Characterra and often takes decisions that serve his hunger. He is not concerned about goodness, morals or high values, and believes that these are mere words and can never help you achieve your goals in the real world scenario. Arjun, in a confused state of mind, comes across Yogi Dharmaraja, an advanced spiritual being with supernatural abilities. The Yogi guides Arjun on his path to righteousness and good deeds. Karan Atmanand is Arjun’s brother, a genius with numbers and a financial guru. However, he ignores the betterment of the society and uses his skill to enhance his own richness and fulfill his greed.

An interesting thing to note here is that the characters are derived straight out of the Mahabharata. While Arjun Atmanand resembles Prince Arjuna, his brother Karan Atmanand is a modern day personification of King Karna. Raja Sahamkar has qualities similar to the unrighteous King Duryodhana, and Yogi Dharamraja’s character can be said to be inspired by that of King Yudhisthira.

The narration, comprising of quotes from the Bhagwad Gita, and also sayings of several eminent personalities, like Swami Vivekananda, is insightful and helps us delve deeper into the maze of human emotions, where we always fight a battle between what is lucrative and what is right. Mind is a complex entity, and in business and management, it is the key to ensure success. However, Avinash defines success in a totally different manner, highlighting the actions more than the rewards, and as we read on, we realize how true he, and every word spoken in the book, is.

The cover of the book states – “A Business Novel inspired by the Mahabharata.” However, as a lover of the epic, I was a bit disappointed as I had expected more substantial references to the Mahabharata other than the quotes from Bhagwad Gita. True, the Bhagwat Gita is also a part of the Great Epic, and the teachings imparted through it are really beneficial in every sphere of life. Also, there are some other episodes as well that are referenced straight from the Mahabharata. Yet, presence of more characters, and incidents, similar to the Mahabharata, would have found favor from me on a higher scale. Perhaps, on a second thought, those episodes might not have fitted the basic premise of the book.

All in all, this is a book that provides a relatively new concept of Yogic Management in a simplified form, and serves to be a good learning experience. If you love reading business novels, then 'The Yogic Manager' should surely be your pick.



Title: The Yogic Manager
Author: Avinash B. Sharma
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Business
No. of Pages: 220
Price: Rs 225
My Rating: 3/5




Friday, December 27, 2013

Yuvraj Singh : Powerful Elegance - Review

At the Under 19 level, Yuvraj Singh was touted as the most gifted Indian cricketer since Sachin Tendulkar. Yuvraj had flair, power and a dazzling range of strokes that had critics and fans heaping encomiums on him. While he may not have quite lived up to early expectations, especially in Test cricket, Yuvraj has been brilliantly devastating in limited overs cricket, winning countless matches on his own. There is more to the Yuvraj story than just his exploits on the pitch. There has been no more stirring saga in modern Indian sport than his comeback to international cricket after a year-long fight with cancer that had threatened to finish his career prematurely. His six sixes in one over, off Stuart Broad in the 2007 T20 World Championship, is testimony to Yuvraj's innate batting prowess, though this comes with a vexing poser just why could he not replicate such form in Tests too? Perhaps, considering his new vigour, that time is now.

About the Author
Ayaz Memon, one of India's most prolific journalists, brings with him 33 years of experience in sports writing. He started his career covering sports and went on to edit newspapers like Mid Day, Bombay Times and DNA as well as magazines like Sportsweek. Ayaz was also sports editor for the Times of India and the Independent at various stages.



‘Powerful Elegance’ is certainly an apt description for the man who has seen it all, and has faced the hurdles with style. Whether you talk about his career or look deep into his personal side, there has always been elements of doubts and misfits that have proved to be unwanted obstacles, hindering his stride to glory in occasions more than once. However, it is this uncertainty and the unpredictability that makes for a rather interesting characterization of one of the most talented and powerful batsmen in modern day Cricket. Yuvraj Singh, the middle order batsman for India in limited overs Cricket, certainly needs no introduction.

Ayaz Memon and C. Rajshekar Rao pens down the story of this left handed stroke player. He is the son of Yograj Singh who was considered to be one of the most talented players to have played during that era. Unfortunately, he couldn't represent India for a longer run. He did show a lot of promise in domestic cricket, but his skills couldn't result in a berth in Indian team on a regular basis. The frustration and this lack of opportunity lead to hurt and pain, and Yograj dreamt of his son living up to his aims and aspirations of playing for the country and becoming an integral part of the team.

Yuvraj, who was initially interested in other sports, was almost forced to abandon them. His father wanted him to devote single-mindedly to the game of Cricket, and Yuvraj didn't disappoint him. His success in domestic matches earned him repute, and soon he moved onto the national side, proving his mettle against one of the best bowling attacks in those times.

However, success has never been a consistent factor in Yuvraj’s life, and his form dipped regularly. He did show sparks of brilliance, but his inconsistency proved to be a vital chink in his armor. He promised a lot, but most of the time, his fans only got disappointment in return.

And then came the 2011 World Cup. Yuvraj played the best Cricket of his life, helping India win the trophy and fulfilling the dreams of a million cricket lover. All were happy and the time seemed to be finally running in favor of Yuvraj. However, his poor luck gripped hold of him again when, soon after the World Cup, he was diagnosed with Cancer.

The book traces the journey of success and failure, promises fulfilled and unfulfilled, and dreams savored and lost. That lazy swagger on the pitch, the sixes hit with aplomb, the one handed diving catches that looks so easy when he is on them, and those slow left arm spin that troubles and surprises the opening batsmen – these define Yuvraj. Like an ardent Cricket fan, I have always loved watching him bat, bowl and field, and have always wished for him to be successful, to taste the fruits of glory, ‘cause that’s what he deserves.

Alas, only if the world could have been perfect, and ideal, and hardships had never been his companion. But then again, could we have known and respected him as a fighter, as we do now.


Whether you score or not Yuvraj, you have definitely won the hearts of millions of fans across the globe. A true fighter. A real inspiration.


Title: Yuvraj Singh : Powerful Elegance
Author: Ayaz Memon and C. Rajshekar Rao
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Series Book
Series Name: Jaico Cricketwallah by Ayaz Memon
No. of Pages: 96
Price: Rs 125
My Rating: 3/5



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Almond Tree - Review

Against a background torn from the pages of todays headlines, The Almond Tree, by Michelle Cohen Corasanti, recasts the Palestinians in Israel and Gaza, a people frequently in the news, but often misrepresented and deeply misunderstood. This stunning debut conveys a universal story of human courage and perseverance. Comparable to Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, this novel delivers an inspirational story of unfathomable pain and an incredible perseverance. Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ahmed Hamid struggles with knowing that he can do nothing to save his friends and family. Living on occupied land, his entire village operates in fear of losing their homes, jobs and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ahmed's twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family's home and possessions confiscated and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict, Ahmed begins an inspiring journey using his intellect to save his poor and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence and loss and discovers a new hope for the future. The Almond Tree humanizes a culture and brings characters from a distant land to life. 

About the Author
Michelle Cohen Corasanti has a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem and an MA from Harvard University, both in Middle Eastern Studies. She also holds a law degree. A Jewish American, she has lived in France, Spain, Egypt and England and spent seven years living in Jerusalem. The Almond Tree is her first novel.


You read of loss, pathos, and pain, and then, you realize that it’s real, and not just the streaming pages of a fictional narrative. In fact, nothing in 'The Almond Tree' can be termed as a fiction in the inherent sense of the word. Though the characters might have been sketched by the author’s imagination, they portray the condition and the hardships of the Palestinians in Israel and Gaza. It’s the hurt, and the open wounds that speak aloud in the novel, the narrative bringing forth the realism of modern day conflicts.

'The Almond Tree' marks a remarkable debut by Michelle Cohen Corasanti. It is the story of Ahmed Hamid, who, infested with a feeling of guilt and shame every time he meets his father in the prison, decides to get rid of this life of poverty and make a mark, which would make his father happy. His early years are spent amidst trying to earn whatever little he could for his family by means of labour, in slaughterhouse and other sites. With the help of his siblings, Ahmed does all sorts of menial jobs that ensures his family at least gets something to eat, even though it doesn't quench their hunger totally.

However, Ahmed, always a bright student, decides to continue his education and seeks advice from his father, who, always a man of courage and determination, urges him to go ahead and live his dreams. Times are tough and Ahmed doesn't find favor with the teachers, professors and students owing to his background. The book displays how Ahmed fights against all odds, giving his total effort and concentration to his goals, to which he is so single mindedly devoted. He faces resistance from his family members, specially his mother, as he decides to leave them and go to university for higher studies. However, his father has full faith on his abilities, and urges his son to carry on the path of his aspirations. What happens hereafter, and how Ahmed moves on with his life, along with his family, and love, forms the crux of the story.

The narration provides impetus to the story, and helps it flow smoothly. Though the ambiance is laden with misery and helplessness, there is always that tiny bit of hope that keeps the positivism alive in the book. You derive strength from the characters, learning from their struggles, and determined you become, standing bold and firm amidst the face of adversities. In fact, the backdrop makes you believe in the authenticity of the characters, ‘cause reading about them, you really that there are similar people, struggling out there in Israel in Gaza, misinterpreted and misunderstood.

'The Almond Tree' has one of the most powerful opening chapters that I have ever come across in a book, and instantly draws you towards its vortex. Sentiments and emotions play their parts well, and the author does a great job in painting the images right before our eyes. The scenes seem real with the words drawing the colors in the horizon.

A book that is adorned with smiles and tears, living with hope, and with failure, ‘The Almond Tree’ makes you see life in an all new perspective, and more.


Title: The Almond Tree
Author: Michelle Cohen Corasanti
Publisher: Prakash Books
Imprint: Fingerprint Publishing
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
No. of Pages: 352
Price: Rs 295
My Rating: 4/5


This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books visit thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.




Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gifts

red plastic bag
not just held her gifts, but also
failed promises


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Gifts.



The Bird Will Be Free



when two hands meet
the bird will be free
unfurling the wings
it will fly to thee
feed it with grains
and nuts and love
trap it no more
in the sandstorms of dusk
let it kiss the sun
let it run the beach
why do we cage our dreams
when nothing is ever out of reach?


This Poem is shared with Picture It And Write.





Friday, December 20, 2013

Sachin Tendulkar Master Blaster - Review

From his appearance on the firmament as a 16 year old, Tendulkar has been a beacon for the new India. When India won the Cricket World Cup in 2011, an abiding image from the celebrations was of the Indian cricket team carrying Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders around Wankhede stadium. Tendulkar was not the captain of the team and the victory had been a team effort But for the players, the victory was a gift to a man, arguably India's greatest cricketer and in-arguably one of the very greatest in the world. Sachin Tendulkar's story may have been told many times but it never stops delighting the cricket fan. In the 25 years that Tendulkar has played cricket, there is almost no existing batting record that he has not broken or no impossible record that he has not set. He has even changed the way money and endorsements entered the game. At the same time, his incredible batting skills have kept him rooted in the fine traditions of cricket. Some say that one runs out of words when describing Sachin Tendulkar's prowess and achievements. Others may more emphatically claim that there simply aren't enough words to talk about this incredible cricketer.

AYAZ MEMON, one of India's most prolific journalists, brings with him 33 years of experience in sports writing. He started his career covering sports and went on to edit newspapers like Mid Day, Bombay Times and DNA as well as magazines like Sportsweek. Ayaz was also sports editor for the Times of India and the Independent at various stages.

INDRANIL RAI is a freelance journalist with an undying passion for sports, especially cricket.



So much has been said and written about this man in the last few weeks, and also in all these years, that we know almost everything about him. He has ruled our hearts for over two decades, a perfect ambassador of the game of Cricket, and a true gentleman to the core. He has stayed away from controversies, his honesty and integrity standing out always, differentiating him from the rest of the world. He is a legend, a star, and an icon. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, is, and always will be, a Hero to millions of Cricket and sports lovers around the globe.

'Jaico Cricketwallah Series with Ayaz Memon' is a quick read documenting the lives and careers of several cricketers. 'Sachin Tendulkar – Master Blaster' penned by Indranil Rai is one of the books in this series. In less than a hundred pages, the writer paces through the journey of this great cricketer, starting right from his childhood when he started wielding the dhoka as a cricket bat, gradually moving into the limelight in domestic cricket, and finally taking the world by storm in an illustrious international career spanning twenty four years.

Twenty four long years – and that’s a testimony to his dedication and fitness.

The book is filled with snippets of Sachin’s formative years, and are really pleasing to read. It’s always intriguing to know how a hero is born, and brought up, and here, Sachin, who hails from a non-Cricketing background, is a perfect example of dreams and passions shaping up your life if you truly work hard on them.

Indranil Rai lists the various phases of Sachin’s life in 9 chapters. He writes about a young Sachin, who, thanks to his brother, gets to meet Coach Ramakant Achrekar, and from there his life changes. After his stupendous success in school level cricket, he gets drafted into the Ranji trophy team, and performs impressively. Soon, destiny unfolds a bigger plan and Sachin debuts for India against Pakistan. His resolute spirit and determination earns him accolades from all quarters, and from then onward, the world witnesses the emergence of a new star.

Indranil also writes about Sachin’s marriage to Anjali, and their beautiful relationship, the bond getting stronger with each day. Doctor Anjali decided to sacrifice her career as she realized that Sachin would need more support from her, and she performed her responsibilities perfectly. They have two children now, Sara and Arjun.

The book traces the ups and downs of an icon, and performs well in almost every front. However, I feel that it would be better if this book is now updated, keeping in mind that Sachin has already played his last game for India (this book lists Sachin’s Test appearance as 198 tests, two short of his retirement match). Also, a few pages featuring Sachin’s farewell speech will be an added bonus.

All in all, you would really love reading this book, as we have all adored the exploits and success of the Master Blaster throughout the year. Sachin made us love the game, and this book will surely make you miss his brilliant drives and strokes all the more, albeit with a smile.



Title: Sachin Tendulkar Master Blaster
Author: Indranil Rai
Publisher: Jaico Publishing House
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Series Book
Series Name: Jaico Cricketwallah by Ayaz Memon
No. of Pages: 96
Price: Rs 125
My Rating: 3/5






Will You Cut Through My Frozen Heart



will you cut through my frozen heart
devoid of sun and all the warmth
I feel numb, the veins don't throb
trapped in the crystals of hurried past
sweeping by in motions ablaze
the audience around, stands and claps
a hundred tears answer my call
like faithful servants, they wait for my fall
as I fly down the hill, valleys embrace
I hear me cry, I hear me shout
the voices within aren't too loud
choking my dreams, that once had wings
now chained amidst chaos and din
I pray for answers, and hope and love
wishing to not wish again
my frozen heart shattered and bleeds
walking on them, bare feet
I laugh, and I weep


This poem is shared with The Mag - Mag 198.




Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Gal On The Hunt For A Winter Sale

A gal on the hunt for a winter sale
checked out every corner without fail.
Her old habit returned -
shoplifting, people turned,
and she had to spend her Christmas in jail.


This Limerick is shared with Limerick Sale (Limerick-Off Monday).






Monday, December 16, 2013

Dew

the poor ant
trapped in winter dew
waits for sunrise


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Dew.




Sunday, December 15, 2013

Terms and Conditions Apply - Review

There are books that feel like a book while reading, and then there is Terms and Conditions Apply. The simple and lively stories compel you to take a look back at your own life, and remember when you put these incidences at the back of your mind. Its not just a collection of stories and a true incident, but also a reflection of what every one of us has seen sometime or the other, in our lives. The characters come alive, time and again as people we may have met, or as a persona of our own self.
Not too many works in recent years have managed to capture the nuances of ordinary, daily lives as effortlessly and fluently as Terms and Conditions Apply has done. A wonderful assortment of 13 short stories and a true incident, Whether it is highs and lows of a relationship, chaos and bedlam of school life, petty or harmless office gossips, or the buzz of a salon; all stories are strongly steeped in reality and yet they take a superb flight of fancy in the hands of a master craftsman. Rich in imagination, broad in its scope and elegant in its style, Terms and Conditions Apply is arguably one of the best debut works in recent Hindi literature.

About the Author
Born and bred in Lucknow, Divya Prakash Dubey successfully completed his Masters in Business Management from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management (SIBM), Pune, a premier B-school of the country and is currently associated with a prestigious firm in telecom sector. An Engineer and an MBA, the combination has been going on for far too long to bring a refreshing picture in our minds. But that is what Divya Prakash is, a break from the existing molds of factory made pieces coming in the market. Humorous down to his very core, and equally deep in his thoughts. A voracious reader of Hindi and English literature, he already has a few poems, short stories and screenplays to his credit. Terms and Conditions Apply, is his debut collection, though once you have read it, you will have serious trouble believing it.



Allow me to be direct, and not beat around the bush, and I will say the following – “Terms and Conditions Apply”, according to me, is one of the best collection of short stories that I have ever come across. No kidding. Irrespective of the language, I would rate it alongside the collections of greats such as O’Henry, Saki and Ruskin Bond.

And come to think of it, the author, Divya Prakash Dubey, is a complete newbie, and “Terms and Conditions Apply” marks his debut. What? Seriously? You wouldn't believe it if you read this book, just like I am having trouble accepting the fact.

The reasons are aplenty. The book is a collection of fourteen short stories in Hindi, each belonging to a different genre. That’s a big plus point, ‘cause often reading tales that fall under a single genre can turn out to be a bit monotonous. Just like you long for varieties in life, a reader’s mind too hunts for different plots satiating his / her taste buds. That’s the first thumbs up this book gets from me.

Talking about the plot makes me question the mind of the author. How can a newcomer come up with fourteen plots, all totally unique, all absolutely different from each other, without even a tinge of similarity between them? However, there is one common factor that binds all these stories, and that is none of the stories fail to enchant you, and enamor your senses. Let me tell you what I thought when I started reading this book.

As I finished the first story, ‘They Lived Happily Ever After’, I honestly felt that the author and the publication team should have kept the best story for the last, and thus, I thought, that the other stories might not live up to the beauty of the first one. Then came ‘Class 9th B’, and for a few moments, I couldn't believe that this was written by the same author who penned the previous tale. Both stories were so different, in content, language, and style, and yet, both were brilliant. Kitty, Saloon, Lolita and the rest followed, and I, an avid reader, became a total fan of the author Divya Prakash Dubey.

For the first time in my life, I picked up a collection / anthology where I loved ALL the stories. Normally, I like to rate each of the stories whenever I finish such a collection, but I failed in this department this time. Each of the stories score a perfect ten. In fact, I couldn't even choose my favorite one out of the lot. Mr. Dubey, you really confused me.

But I would really love to be in this state of confusion. I wish we have more such books, in Hindi, English, and in every language, which entertain you, and cater to the taste of every person. True, purists might comment regarding the use of a few English words here and there, but I would debate and say that those were needed, and went in perfect sync with the stories.

“Terms and Conditions Apply” is an epitome of perfection, and sets a high benchmark for the world to follow. I hope that this book is read and re-read by all.

This collection is as novel and refreshing as it could get. I wouldn't even have dared to rate it, as that would spoil the beauty encased in this book. Actually, this book, and its stories surpasses all sort of ratings.

And yet, for the sake of convenience, I conclude the review by rating it a perfect 5 out of 5 (and no, there are no terms and conditions applied in my verdict).



Title: Terms and Conditions Apply
Author: Divya Prakash Dubey
Publisher: Hind Yugm
Publication Year: 2013
Language: Hindi
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
No. of Pages: 168
Price: Rs 95
My Rating: 5/5 (I wish I could rate it more)


The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.



New Day

new day
I will pack the
candles in my blue bag
that Santa gifted me last year
along with the sweets and chocolates
wrapped in boxes, red, blue and green, yellow
and walk to the dark alleys of sadness
where Christmas isn't a luxury
neither a need, hence I'll
light up the candles
share smiles
new day


This Poem is shared with dVerse Poetics - Candles and Lights.




Saturday, December 14, 2013

Love And Lokpal - Review



To read the full review, click here.


Title: Love and Lokpal
Author: Pooja Wanpal
Publisher: Paper Clip Books
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
No. of Pages: 224
Price: Rs 100
My Rating: 4/5



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nightmare



I wake up every night, in sweat and blood, falling down from stairs, spiraling along the metal that plays music to my bleeding ears. The dark clouds mock at my arrival, my nose damaged, and the winds cursing the wounds with all its bitterness. Where am I to go, where am I supposed to live? Survival is a necessity not only in the real world, but also in dreams; and again, how can we know what is real?

Some term it as nightmare; I refer to it as a life sold to monsters, vague, unreal, and yet so true.


This 5-Sentence Fiction is shared with Picture It And Write.





Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday, December 09, 2013

Dreamtide

come
let's sprout wings
and fly

beyond
everything, nothing
and play

musical
strums, in my heart
and dream


This Haiku is shared with Carpe Diem - Dreamtide.



Sunday, December 08, 2013

Rivulet

O blue rivulet
would you listen to my stories
that I wish to forget


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Rivulet.




Friday, December 06, 2013

Ambi Pur - Five Ways In Which You Changed My Life ! Phew !!!

1) Is this my home, or a lounge



"Wow buddy, I love this place."
"Come let's have a round of drinks before we head for dinner."
"Office was so stressful. Thankfully we have this place to chill."
"Let's watch a movie. It's just 1am dude."

Damn it! It's my home after all, no freaking night club or lounge, but then friends never listen. Trust me, N-E-V-E-R. And why would they? Had I been in their place, I too would have done the same.

Who wants to leave the cozy ambiance of a house freshened with Ambi Pur Air Effects. It's soothing. But...

"Why don't you guys too buy it and use it in your home?"

"We will yaar, we will."


2) My Wife With A Knife



"Who the hell are they?"

"They are my friends, dear."

"Ahaa, girlfriends you mean." And she jumped at me, and I raced out of the window. (Thankfully, my flat was in the ground floor).

All you married folks, this is bound to happen with you too, when your female colleagues wouldn't like to leave your place even after twelve. (How I wished to be a bachelor now)

Even if they are married, they wouldn't budge. You either need to call the police, or the ambulance.

Better have an ambulance ready. You can never trust your wife with the knife.


3) To And Fro Driver



My wife goes back to her parents' home, exasperated by the above two factors, and the bachelor dreams come rushing back into my mind. Plans are made, and deals are struck. And then ...

She calls me, "Pick me up from the station."

I start the car engine, and drive. She, like any normal person, couldn't stay away from the beautiful aroma that Ambi Pur gifts to my home, but how does it help me?

It hones my driving skill, let's be optimistic under all situations.

So, I am now a to-and-fro driver, but, I do not get paid for this service.


4) Promotion, but ...




Finally, a good news.

"Man! You are promoted," my boss beams, and my eyes gleam.

"Thank You Sir. Thanks a lot."

"You deserve it man. We really appreciate your work (and the refreshing fragrance in your house), and whatever you do for this organization (read all the points above)."

I nod silently, too eager to call up my wife and give her this great news.

"So, a party this weekend at your home, ok?" and the bomb lands on my head

I decide not to call my wife. Time to be a driver again.


5) Meditation and Moksha




To rule away my worries, I walk towards the Himalayas, meditating and thinking of the beauties of life. My wife is back to her parent's house, and I know, for sure, have to pick her up again.

But my cell phone is at home. Wicked me.

I move into my makeshift hut, in the heart of the mountains, close the door, and take out the bottle of Ambi Pur from my bag.

The nectar is sprayed all around, and I sit down on the mattress, my eyes closed.

Sheer bliss I experience. Is this Nirvana?


A couple of days later, I return home, and the cycle continues.

Cycle of Life - This is it.

Phew!!!


Note: All the images are taken from various sources in the Internet. Clicking on the images will redirect to their respective sources.

This is my official entry to Ambi Pur Home Range contest organized by Indiblogger in association with Ambi Pur.

Check out the official Facebook Page of Ambi Pur below:
https://www.facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia


Ambi Pur Smelly to Smiley - Runner-up





Baramulla Bomber - Review

Fight your destiny, Build Hope and Make it HAPPEN! 
More than a billion people are praying for India's new fast pace bowler Mansur Haider from Kashmir to succeed. One politician is making sure the Indian subcontinent is at peace while another is trying to get forgiveness from his nation. One Swedish intelligence officer is trying to decode a puzzle by a fanatic who is making one last ditch attempt to bring chaos to the world. And all of them are connected to Mansur Haider and Kashmir. As a result a secret will be revealed.
With a plot that revolves around Kashmir, Pakistan, China, cricket, ancient secret societies, and espionage? Baramulla Bomber is one heady cocktail that will make for page turning reading and introspection.
Baramulla Bomber is book eka (one) of Svastik Trilogy, a trilogy which looks into the origins of universe, Vedas and the destiny of human race.

About the Author
Clark Prasad, alter ego of Suraj Prasad, could be called a mixed citizen. Born in a leap year (year of Rocky, All the President's Men, Omen, Hera Pheri and Kalicharan) in Lagos, Nigeria he lived most of his life in New Delhi and had his education in Lagos, Delhi, Mangalore and Kozhikode. His family background is from the town where George Orwell, author of 1984 (a dystopian fiction) was born, and where Mahatma Gandhi had re-ignited India's freedom movement - Motihari.
A pharmacist with a management degree who believes in conspiracy theories, Baramulla Bomber is his first book. His first education o he mysteries of the universe came via Carl Sagans Cosmos, and since then he never looked back on reading, watching and discussing about the universe. He grew up during the cold war days with BBC radio was one of his mysterious companions as a kid, when his father played the news regularly every day. World War II news and documentaries on CIA-KGB tussle kept him engaged that time.
As a kid he wanted to be an archaeologist or an astronaut, but fate had its own road and he got involved with Mr. Carbon aka Chemistry. Currently he is a healthcare management consultant, based out of Bengaluru, Planet Earth.




“Quantum Physics meets Bible and Vedas in Background of Kashmir and Cricket” – so says the cover, and I ask, my left eyebrow touching  the roof of my temple – “Really?” A few breezy pages follow, and I get my answer. Yes, we have our very own ‘Indian Dan Brown’ among us.

Welcome Clark Prasad. Welcome to the mind, and heart of readers.

I am a sucker for thriller, and anything related to this T-letter word makes me drool. Thus, it was no surprise that my mind started playing tricks on my heart, insisting me to get this book as soon as I heard of it. One look at the cover, and God, you just couldn't resist the temptation.

A hell lot of difference can be made by the cover, as it is the first thing that grabs hold of your attention. If the cover isn't as per your liking, your senses feel dejected, and your fingers quickly move across to the next book on the shelf. It, however, won’t happen with 'Baramulla Bomber' though. It has one of the best cover designs that I have ever come across.

'Baramulla Bomber' is a ‘Science Fiction Espionage Thriller’ and marks the beginning of the Svastik Trilogy (yes, there will be more to come in this series). However, the word ‘Fiction’ stands as a misnomer here, as many events seem related to theories we have heard for real, in subjects ranging from science, technology, politics and religion. Clark has done his homework well, and it shows perfectly in the manner he has depicted the scenes in the book.

The plot moves across several locales, from India to Pakistan to US to Norway, and many more, the strings tightly connected, and the movement harmonious. Like an orchestra where the members play notes in sync with each other, the characters and the happenings in this book gel along nicely, making the book fluent and lucid to the mind.

Talking about the story-line, it is as unique as it can get, and that’s where Clark scores a perfect ten. How can you relate Cricket to an ancient weapon from the Vedas and the Bible, and recreate the history of Nazis with grains of Quantum Physics adding flavor to the whole meal? Impossible, I would have said, but not anymore. Clark Prasad does full justice to the idea, bringing out a novel that’s unique and one of its kind.

This guy really has miles to travel. Surely, there are a few areas that needs improvement, character building is one of them. Though there are several characters, none of them really leave an impression, except apart from Mansur Haider, but perhaps, that’s what the author had intended, to let the characters not take domination ovr the plot. And if that’s the case, then I would be absolutely ok on that front.

There is no denying the fact that Clark has a lot of potential to take the Indian thriller genre by storm. If this debut is anything to go by, we will surely love the rest of the parts in this Trilogy. I am really looking forward to them. Are you?

If not, give a try to the ‘Baramulla Bomber’, and you will know what I mean.







PS: I loved it when I received the review copy in a beautifully wrapped gift paper. Gifts are always so welcoming, isn't it?


Title: Baramulla Bomber
Author: Clark Prasad
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Detective, Espionage
No. of Pages: 316
Price: Rs 395
My Rating: 4/5


This book review is a part of The Readers Cosmos Book Review Program. To get free books visit thereaderscosmos.blogspot.com.




This Friendship Starts, Today

brief though it was
the meeting held promises
of friendship, loyalty, trust
we often crave for
in neon loneliness

you insist
and I obey
orbiting the sun
the moon smiles
but did you notice
there are two moons here
on either side of the table
they tease, mock, play, fight

the kids within expose themselves
running around the park
as autumn gives way to spring
and we smile

yes
this friendship starts
today

always
forever







Wednesday, December 04, 2013

It's All About Smiles - Review



To read the full review, click here.


Title: It's all About Smiles
Author: Ranjani Iyer Arumugam
Publisher: Alchemy Publishers
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, Humor
No. of Pages: 244
Price: Rs 195
My Rating: 4/5




Wrapped In Velvet

wrapped in velvet
you gift me colors
and when I dabble with my canvas
you take them away

like a breeze that caresses
in a warm sultry noon
turning into a hurricane
me, bereft, losing it all

gifts can't be bought
they are carriers of love
faith promises and hope
of warmth, a subtle
rainbow

alas
only if gifts could be bought


This Poem is shared with




Monday, December 02, 2013

Rainbow

in my playground
I slide down the rainbow
then, we climb again


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Rainbow.




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Harbour Moon

harbour moon
the loneliness of fishermen
under lighthouse cliff
                     (Joe of Flat Frog Haiku)

My Continuation -

harbour moon
the loneliness of fishermen
under lighthouse cliff
counting marbles in their tray
childhood days, and a glass of beer






Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks

reading you all
I learnt to write, and dream
thanks


A Happy Thanksgiving Day to all my blogger friends. It's your constant support that motivated me, and made me write day in and day out.

A Big THANK YOU to each and every one of you.


This Haiku is shared with Haiku Heights - Thanks.




Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kabuko the Djinn - Review

Kabuko the djinn is the evocative story of a djinn who journeys through human life in search of occult knowledge. Wishing to study the dynamics of the human species for himself, in order to unearth the secrets of human power, Kabuko enters the body of Ajee Shah, a boy born in post-independence Punjab, Pakistan. As Kabuko loses himself to the trials and tribulations of living an ordinary yet intrinsically exceptional human life through Ajee, sex and the supernatural collide, entangling them both in a cataclysmic event that is to change their lives forever. Woven throughout this tapestry of youthful yearnings and a desire for transcendental knowledge are real secrets of the Islamic occult, true stories of Muslim saints and the folklore of the Punjab.

About the Author
Hamraz Ahsan is a seasoned journalist and syndicated columnist with over 30 years’ experience in Urdu print media. He has researched and written on various social and anthropological subjects, including work on the remote tribes of Punjab. He is a published poet and is author of Tibbiaan Uttey Chhaavaan (Shades on Dunes), a collection of Punjabi poems; Muqeem Bi Masafar (The Settler is also a Nomad), a collection of Urdu poems; and Par Samundraan Walley (Trapped on the Other Side of the Ocean), Punjabi short poems about the immigrant experience in Britain. He is also the author of Harf-e-saadaa (A Simple Word), a collection of his Urdu newspaper columns. His most recent poetry book is a book of Punjabi Sufi-inspired quatrains. 
He currently lives in London and writes for newspapers around the world.



There are three things that influence my decision of picking up a book and read – title, cover and the blurb. To some extent, I also do get biased by authors whose works I have read and admired since years, but for newcomers and debutants, we can disregard this fourth point. So, when all the three mentioned parameters click, you can be assured that the book that you are holding in your hands is titled ‘Kabuko the Djinn.’

A title that is unique, a cover pic depicting a young child with fiery eyes, and a blurb promising a story that I have never heard or read anywhere (considering the fact that I am a book addict and a voracious reader), my heart was compelled to pick up this book, and man, did it satisfy me?

Absolutely, the book simply rocked.

This is the tale of Kabuko, a djinn, who wants to have first-hand experiences of a human’s life, feeling the emotions that are felt by the human species, and thus shares the body of Ajee Shah, a boy born in post – Independence Punjab in Pakistan. He settles into the body of the boy, when he is in his mother’s womb, and stays with him for thirty years of his life, learning and narrating the events in the boy’s life, as he grows and experiences the thrills and the charms of childhood, youth and adulthood.

What really stands out in the book is the way the events have been described. Though the plot is complex, the author narrates them in such a simple manner that you can even read the whole story with your eyes closed. The author, Hamraz Ahsan, certainly has a keen eye for observation, and that shows in the descriptions that cross the boundaries of space and time, often engulfing the readers in the beauty of its words that we are left spellbound, and addicted to its essence, we continue reading.

If you ever want to delve into a world of fantasy and mysticism, then this is the book to explore. The way the author talks about spirits residing in human bodies, djinns, paris, and several other magical beings, is simply engrossing. He weaves his words in such a manner that they convey the minutest of details, but doesn't bore you with unnecessary descriptions. The author creates a perfect balance, highlighting what is necessary, and painting a dimension so unbelievably believable that you do not want to go out of its realms. That is how the author binds you, and you don’t mind even a bit.

Hamraz, you have simply done an amazing job with this book. This flowed so seamlessly, lucid, just like a crystal clear stream of water, rippling on its own course, obeying the current. Along with that, you have also given your readers an adorable character in the form of Kabuko. Perhaps, djinns do exist, and someday, I wish I get to meet Kabuko the djinn in real, though not as a part of my soul, but as a friend.

On a serious note, this is a real refreshing read. So friends, after a hard day’s work, if you want to get rid of your tiredness by having a cup of tea, and then remember that you already emptied the tea packet the previous night, do not panic. Get on the bed, relax, and start reading this novel. It will serve as a perfectly soothing balm to your tired body and mind.


Title: Kabuko the Djinn
Author: Hamraz Ahsan
Publisher: Prakash Books
Imprint: Fingerprint Publishing
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
No. of Pages: 292
Price: Rs 295
My Rating: 4/5






Sunday, November 24, 2013

Lightning



I love the lightning
And the thunder that it accompanies
'Cause it reminds me of you
The moments that flew
As you clutched my arms tight
In the shady rainy shed
The leaves sheltering us from the rain
And we drenched, completely
In sacred passion.



This Poem is shared with Poetry Jam - Lightning.



Gathering Seashells

gathering seashells
while ocean tide rise and falls
two sisters bicker
                    (Sun)

My Continuation - 

gathering seashells
while ocean tide rise and falls
two sisters bicker
over the colors they choose
one loves red, the other blue






Saturday, November 23, 2013

Life's Like That - Review



To read the full review, click here.

Title: Life's Like That
Author: Prashant V. Shrivastava
Publisher: Blackbuck Publication
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Fiction
No. of Pages: 224
Price: Rs 150
My Rating: 1/5




Friday, November 22, 2013

A Country For Men - Review

This book tells the ugly truth about India. A girl born in India is considered to be a liability right from her birth, she has to suffer at difference stages of her life from the very people who are supposed to love her, cherish her.
The increasing number of incidents of rapes and other dreadful acts against women had made things worse for them. now they aren't safe even inside their homes. 
The book is the historical, geographical and social view of the hate culture that the women are forced upon. 

About the Author
Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon (RKSJ) has always taken a keen interest in travelling and the questions about life, which are hard to answer. An engineer by profession and a writer by passion; after being in and out of many jobs his passion have taken over his profession and he is now totally driven towards writing. After the success of his first book, A Short Affair Called Life, he has written a much bolder book. This book is all about the injustice the women of this country face every day.




The author clearly states “This book isn't another entertaining story; it’s the ugly and terrifying truth of Our Nation.” So be prepared for hard hitting revelations instead of candy floss romances. Get ready to delve deep into the evils of modern society, and pray for the emergence of a savior who can rescue us from the drugged mentality that has chained the countrymen since time unlimited, ‘cause only a miracle can be our messiah, and guide us to the light.

Author Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon, better known as RKSJ, narrates the misdeeds that have been happening in this country against women since years. Rapes, sexual exploitation and violation of women rights have always been a black spot in our nation. We feel proud to call ourselves Indians, but the reality lowers that pride. How can we call ourselves as citizens of a progressive nation if we cannot take care of our women?

RKSJ highlights the incidents that have shamed the beautiful culture of our country that we often boast of. While we pray to Goddesses, we harm the women who are supposed to be reflections of those Goddesses. Contrasting, but true. The so-called ideologies of providing equal opportunities to women are fake, ‘cause safety also comes directly under the list of opportunities. If the women do not feel safe in their own nation, their motherland, where will they go?

And think of it, we still refer India as our MOTHERland – again, a sharp contrast to the actual plights of mothers and sisters and daughters and all girls and women in this country.

What could be the reason for the increased rate of crime against women? RKSJ points one of the reason to be the patriarchal mind-set of the society. He says that since women are also pursuing jobs and making a career of their own, men often feel threatened and to showcase their own power, they perform such dastardly acts.

Why can’t we all live in peace?

Though there are several men who are good, the country is still an unsafe place for women due to some who ruin the image of the society. The number of rape cases in the country has seen an exponential rise in the last few years, and the numbers keep increasing. The Government has made several bold talks, and planned to implement measures that would probably curb this evil, but unfortunately, most of them are still in the planning stages, and the ones that have been executed, have failed to really come up with positive results. Crimes are still happening, and in larger numbers.

What should we do then? Where are the loopholes? Perhaps it’s in the way the criminals were brought up in this society. Perhaps, there are flaws in the current system that fail to curb the animal instincts of these men. Perhaps, a better education system, or perhaps …

This book is an eye – opener. We can be proud of India winning the World Cup, but we should be equally ashamed of the atrocities carried out to women in this nation. Perhaps, it’s time to weave miracles, and believe in the power of good, to eradicate this evil from the society.




Title: A Country for Men
Author: Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon (RKSJ)
Publisher: Blackbuck Publication
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Genre: Non - Fiction
No. of Pages: 150
Price: Rs 130
My Rating: 4/5