Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Personal ROI : Discover The Way To Inner Wisdom by BK Jayasimha.

Title: The Personal ROI : Discover The Way To Inner Wisdom
Author: BK Jayasimha
Publisher: Adhyyan Publications

Genre: Self help

Date:  2016

Price: INR 187 (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 140

This is the second book of BK Jayasimha that I am reviewing; unlike the first, which was a mix of a knowledge and realization based treatise, this one is an out-and-out soul searching self-realisation. At the outset let me make it quite clear that this is neither an easy book to read, nor to understand; it requires the reader be already on the “path” in order that the contents be fully understood, imbibed and acted upon with vigour.

The concept is deceptively described as “Reverse Order Enquiry”: but entails something that ought to be called a 360-degree analysis. The reason for this is that any internal introspection is bound to give confusing, incomplete or misleading results unless the external factors are under a reasonable amount of control of the individual’s mind. The reason for this is that the external factors tend to taint the individual’s perception of the internals this book focusses on, a point that this book completely ignores, or rather – neglects to specify in so many words. As a person who has walked this path of deep self-introspection, I can testify that this is hard to do, letting go of everything to meet the real you.

The concept entails this as a starting point – the real you; the who am I. If this doesn’t make sense to you, or fails to kindle even a minor chord in you, or gives rise to ridicule in your mind, my advise to you – stop reading, and move on. I mean no insult; you may be already equipped, or you may not be ready for it. Either way, you would be better off walking away. This isn’t for you. But, for those to whom this first question – who am I – makes an immediate connect, read on!

The book sequentially takes us through various pertinent parameters, which will, to the perceptive and thinking person, be an invaluable guide. If you are, like me, already on this path, then it will also serve to point out further developments to you & to guide you in a direction. These parameters are : The quintessential starting point : Who am I; Pattern Paralysis; Your Comfort Zone; Psychological Time; Idealism; Self Vs Selfishness; Forgiving; Happiness & Peace; Trust & Simplicity

Straight off : this is one of the hardest books to review, as the code of life of each individual is different; each mind is different, and each perceptive reality is divergent from others. There can be no right, no wrong in this, the realm of introspection; only ideas, directions, morals & ethics – and your values. And that brings me to my first but minor grouse – the relative lack of emphasis on Values & Beliefs in this excellent discourse on the mind. This is a constant problem I am finding with people from the field of Psychology and matters of the mind – they tend to ignore Values, and Beliefs. That doesn’t make any connect or sense to me, as thoughts, perceptions, realisations and actions are defined by your internal value system, and belief matrix.

Unless you as an individual come to terms with, and accept your value system, understand & clearly identify your beliefs, I cannot understand how deep self-realisation is possible. This may be regarded as obvious by the experts in the field; my humble submission to them – trust me, please; it isn’t obvious, not by a long shot. You need to be very, very specific and clear on this point. Now as to whether this means that during this introspection you can challenge, question and alter your values – this is not a question I can answer, for the simple reason that I haven’t yet found an answer to that yet!

As to the rest, the book is an excellent teacher, guide, resource on become more self-realised, comfortable in your skin, and calm-collected. The part on Pattern Paralysis, for example, is the piece-de-resistance of the book, as it correctly identifies the penchant of the mind to fall into the pre-judged belief-led responses, a pattern of behaviour & responses, so to speak. It also tantalizingly raises the possibility of change in the underlying beliefs, but that is beyond my level of perception, as I am currently struggling in this phase, having just recently clearly identified my own value/belief system in clear, specific terms

Every chapter in this book is pertinent; every chapter gives a deep learning, of that there is no doubt. This is an excellent value addition to the discerning individual, and comes highly recommended. I  recommend reading it as and when your mood permits; force-reading is pointless. I took well over two weeks for a book that is just a 60 minute read for a fast reader like self. Further, while the book is written in a specific order – that does not mean that your learning will progress in that order; you can simultaneously be growing in various parameters at the same time.

The other chapter which has the strongest connect, the most powerful message is the one of Self Vs Selfishness, with its superb examination of the the concept of self, of a deep inward examination of one’s own strengths and weaknesses; and one’s own effort to grow from Self-awareness to Self-Mastery. Of even greater interest to me was the segment on getting in touch with your inner self, and the lovely heart-warming concept of a balance between survival of the fittest with being provided for from the nest : a touching look at today’s reality of cut-throat competition, which is in dire need of balance.

There are many other small tit bits & gems hidden away in these pages; nearly each chapter has at least one of two memorable observations, deep learnings, and powerful social messages. Collectively, these prove very helpful in giving you ideas, new directions, refreshing and re-energising your existing efforts; and all of this is achieved with a minimum of words, in a short but very sharp book. This is a very eminently readable book with a powerful central theme of self-realisation, and a connected but minor theme of social awareness. 

Readers Cosmos Rating: 4.5/5

The book review has been written by Vishal Kale. He has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Book Review : My Journey With Vadapav by Venkatesh Iyer

Title: My Journey With Vadapav
Author: Venkatesh Iyer
Publisher: TV18 Broadcast Limited (CNBC TV18) 

Genre: Non-Fiction/ Business

Date:  2016

Price: INR 216 (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 150

Before I begin to write about the content of this book I would like to tell you that its rare these days for a book to have a great feel, like a product would give you, made with perfection, keeping its entire feel in mind . The hard bound edition of this book is one such creation after a long time in the business genre.

Its coverpage design, giving the feel of Mumbai, the city where the dish originated, where a lot of lives survive only on vadapav in the struggling days; drawn in sketch (I am a fan of what sketch can do  to depict a concept in my opinion is ideal for concept depiction), in the colours of vadapav gives you a feeling of being at the place where it all began.

For a brief introduction "Goli Vadapav" is one of the most unique business concepts that put indian vada-pav on a pedestal similar to the western burgers (like Mc Donalds and KFC) did. It's success as a business model is depicted by the fact that Harvard teaches it in its B-school and so do many other good business schools worldwide. All this happened because Venkatesh Iyer was a non-classical thinker in his family and had a crazy dream of doing "the one thing" worthwhile in the Indian food industry.

Venkatesh Iyer begins his story from the beginning, a description of his own traits in early life and career and his love for one dish that was central to Mumbai "vada-pav" as opposed to "idli sambhar", the more expected choice from anyone hailing from the south of India. He begins to describe his idols in people even bollywood film stars which makes you immediately connect to him as a person, for nobody in India cannot be left untouched by the fevers of Indian cinema. Despite being a tycoon his entire story has this tone maintained, that of a commoner which inspires one emphatically. 

The  story then ofcourse moves into the details of successes and failures in creating this venture. The lessons to learn are to go on despite no matter what, to believe in your niche idea, where and where not to take suggestions, the challenges and merits of collaborations from his point of view and his journey. What I however found extremely bizzare in the story was "how did they not thing about uniformity of formulation problem before starting it all?". 

Overall it is the journey of a common man in making a street food product hygienic and standard. Read it for the love of vada-pav.

RC Rating: 4/5. 

Grab a copy here:

Book Review: The Mask Diaries by Abhinav Goel

Title: The Mask Diaries
AuthorAbhinav Goel
Publisher: Bennet Coeman (Times Group)

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2017

Price: INR 193/ Kindle- INR 206

Pages: 232

The Mask Diaries begins with the story of a child, a not so bright one who has various issues. His life has no love as he losses his mother at a very young age, is not valued by his father for being below average at grades, has a slight limp in his leg, so on and so forth. Like every being he wishes to be loved and adored. One day while facing a circumstance, he discovers a friend that helps him conquer his monsters. The sad part is this friend is within him and calls himself "the mask". The entire story then moves around the relationship of this boy with this mask as his life progresses and how it evolves or changes him. The boy both loves and hates the mask and the same is true for the mask. They have a relationship of being symbiotic and parasitic beings for each other.

The concept begins beautifully as the boy discovers this mask, their initial conversation, understandings etc. are very philosophical in nature. The whole concept of giving "the mask" an identity of "a being" is amazing. The story then take various turns which challenge the character and the mask getting the reader intrigued. Right in the middle of it all when you think this book is a perfect philosophical endeavor all goes on the downhill slope. I believe the author is lost here unable to expand the concept, the battle and it just becomes a mundane story. Also the entire path of conversation, growth etc. just stunts at this phase and there is a huge disconnect leaving a huge craving emanating from the hope the author himself created in the beginning. I found the style very similar to the trajectory Paulo Coehlo takes often with his philosophies, but in my opinion justice isn't done to the concept that looked promising in the beginning. On the whole story did have a potential to be a good work but it misses the point in the second half.

The plot is amazing and the book should be read by everyone who likes a philosophical jigsaw puzzle or is planning to write one. For the author I can just suggest a thinking through and a good agent at this stage.

RC Rating: 3/5. For the concept and the effort. Read it when you need a different flavour in your story. 

Grab a copy here:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Giveaway!!! The THC: Under A Gibbous Moon by Manoj Jain

Hello Readers, hope you are reading amazing books :) :) :). We bring you a chance to win one more for your collection "The THC: Under A Gibbous Moon by Manoj Jain"


About The Book:

“Now look at the person in the mirror and tell her that you love her.” 

Sanjaneka stared and stared, unable to utter the simple words aloud.
Why is Sanjaneka unable to love herself? What past is she running away from? 
How does an Uber ride help Samar to save his marriage?
Why does the dull moonlight of a gibbous moon trouble Varun so much?

Three lives. One Utopian centre.
The Total Holistic Centre (The THC) welcomes the broken and those looking for closure through its doors and works its magic to return them to the world fulfilled. This is the story of these three troubled souls who seek solace at the centre, indulge in its unusual treatment and find the cures to their ailments in surprising places.

A book on loss, longing and changing circumstances, The THC dives into uncomfortable topics that are usually swept under the rug: fragile relationships, deteriorating marriages, addictions, impotence, and the delicate bond between fathers and sons.

Welcome to the THC...

All you have to do to win a copy of this book is tell us about "a fear you have and how do you overcome it?" in comments answers win!

We have 5 copies of the book to be given what are you waiting for???

This contest is open to Indian residents only. 

The contest ends at 11:59 pm on 10th May 2017...hurry!!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

People Called Ahmedabad: Creators, Critics and the Curator – Part 2

The readers of this portal by now are familiar with the project called "People Called Ahmedabad", if not please check this link:

Since we could write only about a few very talented individuals who have been involved in the project in the last article, I am writing about a few more in this article. Lets hear their story in their own voices...

Shivani Mehta is a 22 year old, final year architecture student, studying currently in the KamlaRahejaVidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai. Her internship at Sangath, under Balkrishna Doshi brought her to Ahmedabad for six months. She loved writing and so began to pen stories that were around her waiting to be told, here is hers: “People called Ahmedabad happened during the six months I was in the city and got me interested instantly because I have always enjoyed writing. Exploring a new city not only through photographs or sketches, but understanding it through conversations with people seemed like a concept too beautiful to miss.

There were no stories I actually went in search for. I don't think I really felt the need even to do that because I was surrounded by so many all this while. I just came across so many interesting stories during visits to exhibitions or heard about them from being part of conversations with colleagues,that it became even more exciting then to discover more about Ahmedabad from people whose stories they were.In 'Khaman : A tradition', almost a century old shop talks about the love for food that the city has. The story on a family in Ganesh Galli, titled 'The Limbodicolouredbasti' delayers life in an informal settlement in the city and brought out aspects beyond just their livelihood.'Weaving heritage' is a story about Shahidhusain Ansari, a zardoshi artist and his unusual way of capturing the heritage of the old city.

It surprised me how much I could learn every time I happened to have a five minute conversation with people I didn't know and might not meet again. Heritage, the food culture, occupations of people, might be regular ways of describing the city of Ahmedabad. But having met people who have actually had parts to play in forming this description, only deepened my understanding of the city, made me feel closer to the people who reside here, but more importantly made me realize there is just so much more to explore.”

Abhishek Jain (The world’s a Stage… or Screen), is considered by many to be one of the pioneers of modern Gujarati cinema, yet he hardly takes any credit for that. All he knows is that he wants to bring people home, to Amdavad, through cinema, and empower others to do so...not riding the waves of Bollywood. Films are big budget- audiences for regional cinemas are small, especially in Gujarat. But his hard work and commitment meant one of Cineman’s latest productions, Wrong Side Raju, was co sponsored by AnuragKashyap’s Phantom films.

At Seva café, there was passion and compassion in subtle service. It was homely, welcoming and warm. Service is not just defined by the scale of acts, but also by the love it brings out. One really desires to wash dishes, clean the floor, cook food, serve food, without any expectations, but out of love and joy, and Seva café offers such a space

At Clay Club, what inspired me was the organic way creativity flowed from being a passionate college club to full-fledged business. Again, art is a hard niche to sell in, but unfazed by college credits and career prospects, the artists pushed on, now creating stuff out of clay and in another initiative, banana leaf paper.

With theatre artists such as Aditi Desai (The World’s a Stage.. or Screen) and DakxinChhara(Finding a New Identity), there was confidence in the change that they could bring. Both had quite different upbringings, and different styles of theatre. Yet both believed that no obstacle is too great that it can stop the effort on bringing out social equality and awareness. I remember the fierce energy in their eyes, the belief that people need to experience theatre as a form of self-empowerment, of social awareness, of helping victims of abuse, of activism. Lack of money, social stigma, etc could not faze them.”

Pramada Jagtap is a final year student of KRVIA, an architecture school in Mumbai. She did her Internship in February 2016, with professorNeelkanthChhaya that got her toAhmedabad. Herbachelors thesis that I am currently working on revolves around the inner city ahmedabad, for which she was out studying the area during most of my free time which she incorporates into the book lovingly. In her words it is all a work of passion:
 “I came across the project and seemed very interesting because unlike the mapping methods that I have adopted in school, this involved mapping through people's stories. It was a newer exercise for me, that didn't involve documenting through drawings, which was something that i was comfortable with. Since I wasn't from the city, it was an opportunity to know it better through these interactions. 

Each story allowed me to understand the city a little better. Professor Chhaya gave me leads to a lot of stories, some which couldn't be included in the book, but have left a lasting impression on me. The interview with Kartikeya Sarabhai was one such encounter. His stories and observations about the city were particularly interesting, especially a magazine he had curated during the 90s called 'Amdavad Ma' which was similar to the people place project, but during a different decade. Each story led me onto my next and yet another. The best part of being a writer for PCA was undoubtedly my interactions with the interviewees.”

Pray Bavishi is an “amdavadi” (hails from Ahmedabad) and holds a Masters degree in economics and is currently pursuing second Masters in Public Administration. His journey with Ahmedabad and its story has been more intense and began much before the book. He has many to tell, his own to begin with, “Writing has always been my passion so somewhere about a year ago I decided to put my writing into a good use and started the blog called Humans of Amdavad on Facebook where I started to document the stories of Ahmedabad city.  I decided to write about unsung heroes of the city and so far I have covered more than 100 stories for my page and have more than 10,000 followers and my stories have been published at national as well as International media platforms.

When Nisha approached me with the idea of the People Called Ahmedabad, I was thrilled and excited to be part of the book as a co-author. For me it was an honor to be a part of this project where I could write about the people of my city. It has been an amazing experience and so far the journey has been beautiful. People Called Ahmedabad made me realize that Ahmedabad isn’t just a city but it a feeling in itself and it made me show that Ahmedabad too has a big heart.

The stories which I have covered show how beautiful the people are in the city. While covering stories for my own blog I come across number of stories but these stories were something which had a huge impact on me and they were close to my heart. These people made me realize that people are much more than their outer appearance and it’s their work that speaks out loud.”

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories by Debashri Banerjee

Title: The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories
Author: Debashri Banerjee
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction(short stories)

Date:  2017

Price: INR 199

Pages: 138

First of all the cover-page of this book is very attractive and that combined with it being a short story collection, makes you pick it immediately. The book has 13 stories, each with very real characters aimed to as if show a reflection image of the society, we the people make back to us. It is true that all of us, humanity is neither white or dark but we are shades of grey. However, if you further dissect the grey is layered and in some corners of our heart the darkest shade spills its colors all over our lives and its decisions. Be it a woman's plight living as a prostitute in "Janani's pride" to that of a widow in "Widows of Shivoham", the later being my personal favorite, the twist being more than what one could ask for. The layers of emotions of being a parent hood expressed in the stories "The Bobby Pins" or "The Story of 'IT'" will leave a mark on you. "The Road to Salvation", "The Limping Girl at NH-64" and "Oh! Silly you!" etc. tell us about the evolving shade of humanity.

The writer has a great flair of combining the mundane with the  bizarre, only a pinchful to blend perfectly into some stories, making them real and yet unreal in some parts at the same time. The stories are all delivered crisp with a streak of darkness that the writer effortlessly delivers in each story. The darker flavor gains mildly over a subtle plot, suggesting the maturity uncommon in such a young writer. Though comparisons are unfair, as each one has their own style of writing, when writing short stories I have had the utmost pleasure of reading Sangeeta Mahapatra, the next book, surely is this one! Debashri Banerjee is a writer to watch out for. 

Rating: 4/5. Great delivery for a debut. Highly recommended. 

About The Author:
Debashri Banerjee is a writer by profession for last seven years and currently associated with an IT company as a lead content writer in Noida. She has been writing since the age of 16 and has ventured into areas like poetry, short stories, interviews, features on lifestyle topics and several blogs on miscellaneous issues like online business, relationships etc. She is an active blogger and writes on her portals and and platforms like 

She loves reading, writing, listening to music, watching short films and involving into healthy conversations.The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories is her debut novel.  She strongly aspires to become the best-known feature writer, scriptwriter and an author in the country someday

Book Review: Jim Morgan and the Seven Sins by Bharat Madan

Title: Jim Morgan and the Seven Sins
Author: Bharat Madan
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2017

Price: INR 299/99 (Kindle)

Pages: 308

Jim Morgan is a character not unheard of, a best-selling popular writer who shuns away all popularity for focused writing. He has no personal life, seperated from his wife and no family. He lives alone and does only one thing"writing". He has however trouble writing the next book and approaching deadlines from publishers. The story begin with an unusual day where he suddenly one day he receives an unusual visitor, God. God tells him that his sufferings are due to the karma in his past life and he must get over and rectify them to be able to live better. The formatting and the feeling of the book at the beginning is amazing. It makes a reader, especially a mature one instantaneously connect with the book for the character sketching is just perfect. The recluse perfectionist is projected so well that you could almost predict his next move.

God tells him that he had a past life where he committed seven sins. These sins should be paid of in this birth, in the next seven days. The best part of the story, the clue for each sin is in the writers previous books. So Jim begins reading them trying to identify his mis-deeds. What then unfolds is a gory story, connected through his previous books, each piece delivered to him like a puzzle.  Up til this point, the writer ensures a large literary landscape for his plot and the book gives an impression of a literary pursuit, however what next happens with the "sins" part turns it towards a thriller. The entire build I think could have been a better platform for something more psychological or literary, I wish the author could release a different version of the same story post the first half. However, that was just my tasteful expectation and many may appreciate what further unfolds. 

The book has certain minor logical flaws, like its many characters being extremely familiar with Hinduism, though none of them really is one, but these can be overlooked as the story still remains gripping. It is definitely a book that gets you hooked on to it and ensures itself to be a one shot read. Bharat Madan adds to my list of new Indian writers to watch out for.

Rating: 3.5/5. Highly recommended.