Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The Big Switch - Book Review

 

The Big Switch by John Thomas is the story of Keith. Keith is a software engineer who has a nasty boss Mathur. Both promotion and the expected pay rise elude Keith for a very long time. Work is becoming monotonous and Keith is losing the love for his job. His personal life is on the rocks too. He has broken up with his girlfriend. Then one day a chance encounter with Ramesh changes everything for Keith. This life coach rekindles Keith’s passion for life. How? To know this you will have to read the The Big Switch by John Thomas.

The Big Switch pays a tribute to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, but smartly deviates from being its carbon copy. The writing is clean and the editing is good. The author uses simple language to narrate the tale. While reading the book, you keep on wondering if this is the personal tale of the writer. This is because there is a budding writer in the story and his first book is autobiographical.

I didn’t really enjoy the football part in the story. I have never played the game, so I was unable to understand most of the stuff. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing part though. I feel the romantic angle involving Kyra could have been avoided. The book appears to be a realistic. Any working class youth can identify with the protagonist. Yet towards the end the book takes a melodramatic turn, which is difficult to digest. The grey colour of the font in the kindle edition makes the reading difficult. I wish it was standard black.

I liked the following lines from the book. ‘Everyone starts small. Be positive.’ ‘The destination is just an illusion. It is the journey that matters. Think about all the stuff that you have learned. Think about all the new people that you have met. I am pretty sure it wouldn’t have been possible if you didn’t follow your heart.’ ‘I understand that nothing seems to be falling in place for you. But you shouldn’t be scared. These setbacks are inevitable. The path to one’s dream is loaded with setbacks. These tough times, shouldn’t worry you.’

The Big Switch is a simple, motivational tale. That is the reason why it is highly recommended.


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Transit Lounge - Book Review

I love travel writing. It gives the immense pleasure of visiting the most wonderful places in the world. No wonders an arm chair traveller like me lapped up the book Transit Lounge. It documents the travel experiences of the author across thirty countries. This book is his personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argenina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belguim, Georgia, Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand.

The write ups are small. Neither too long to bore you, nor too short to leave you high and dry. The book is full of nuggets of the authors experiences. The author tells us how in Ghana the funeral is actually a sendoff ceremony rather than a mark of sorrow and grief. The writer is quiet in awe about motor cycle taxis in Africa. He seems to be unaware that in the tiny state of Goa these motor cycle taxis are a ubiquitous affair. Speaking of the middle east countries he says that Most of the times we do not realize that the world knows these countries from the lens of the western media which is not very kind to them. He says the family bondage in the small towns in US is as good as in any middle class family in India. London tubes he says need substantive investment to be called anywhere modern. London is a city of walkers, it has a widespread city transport too which helps people move around easily. His experience of checking into an unmanned Western Europe hotel is both harrowing and intriguing.

The author tells us how the imported goods, that were most sought after a few days ago, have lost their sheen. Denmark he says is the most prosperous nations in the northern Europe, where some people commute every day to work by flight. European cities are very tourist friendly he says. The common saying in Singapore he says is -irrespective of the economic status, everyone has a house, mostly built by government.

He bursts the bubble of prosperity by keeping the immigrant’s life stark naked in front our lives.

The book though very well written is ridden with mistakes. These typographical errors play a spoil sport. So incident becomes inddent, civic becomes dvic, class becomes dass and the crest jewel – click becomes dick. I wish the book was well edited and these mistakes were avoided. Yet I loved the book. It didn’t disappoint me.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Carthick's Unfairy Tales - Book Review

As a child I loved fairy tales. As I became an adult I started thinking over those tales. The flaws were apparent. The good people were always fair and beautiful, while the evil ought to be dark and ugly. The sole aim of the heroine's life was to win the heart of the prince. The tales were fatalist and some where even downright sadistic. Do we wish to tell such tales to our children? Certainly not.

Against this backdrop Carthick's Unfairy Tales comes as a bright change. This collection is a retelling of seven tales. To be honest out of the seven I had heard only three that of Cinderella, Pipe Piper and the frog prince. So the rest of the stories were brand new for me.

I really liked the way the author has shaped up the Frog Prince's story. He gives the Princess a spine. She comes across as a strong woman who can make intelligent choices and whose aim is certainly not marrying a man only because he is a prince (read rich and powerful in the modern connotation). I am sure I will be more than happy to tell such a tale to my toddler. Undoubtedly this is the best story in the collection.

These stories are told in unique voices. While the rat's narrative works well in the Cinderella's story, some voices appear inorganic, like a patch work just to sound something different. Also the Pipe Piper's story offers nothing new. Its just the same old story. With Cindrella and the Frog Prince the author had raise expectations. I wish there was a novelty in other stories as well.

What I liked about the book is that the writing is clean, the editing is superb. The author succeeds in maintaining a pace. The stories are of appropriate length. They are neither too short nor too long to lose attention span of the reader.

Carthick's Unfairy Tales is a unique book and you should not miss it.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Some Stories



I am glad that I came across her writings. 
M S Manaswi enchants you with her tales.



Hundred Flames of Injustice

 “Mama, Sarang got a second serving of the ice-cream and when I and Rashmi went to ask for it, we were told that the ice-cream is over. This is unfair.” Hearing this from my mouth, my aunt cuddled me and said, “Don't worry my child I will get you some more ice-cream when I go to the market in the evening.” I was just five year old then and the flame of justice had kindled in me.

Mama, aunt Ruhi sends Sarang to an English medium school because he is a boy and she sends Rashmi to a Marathi medium school because she is a girl. This is wrong.” No moment had I uttered these lines as a fifth grade student, my aunt thundered. “You shouldn't poke your nose when adults are speaking.”
But what is wrong with what I am saying.” I asked. At this moment my mother pulled me a little aside and asked me to keep quiet.

My aunt then turned her words towards my docile mother. “It is all because of you that he was become so arrogant. Look at the way he is speaking. See our children, they never back answer the adults. You have given him too much of liberties and spoilt him.” My words had hit my aunt at the place where it hurt the most.

I never understood what was wrong with what I said. But slowly people had started branding me as an arrogant, argumentative boy who back answered adults.

That day when the teacher had distributed assessed answer sheets of science, I noticed that me as well as my friend had written exactly the same answer for a particular question. But while the teacher had assigned me only four out of five, my friend had scored five on five. I took both the answer sheets to the teacher and brought it to her notice, very humbly, very politely. Still that enraged the teacher, and my reputation of being arrogant and argumentative travelled beyond my family up to my school.

I could never tolerate injustice. My blood would boil and I would raise my voice against it. I was right, but my age wasn't. “When elders commit mistake, we don't call it mistake.” My mother had told me once. But I simply could not understand the logic behind it. “Isn't law the same for everyone? How can the same act not be a mistake merely because the person doing it is an adult.” My mother had no answers to my logic.

My life was turning miserable. On one hand I couldn't handle injustice and on another when I protested against it, I was called arrogant.

Then one day I got a loving teacher as my class teacher. Her name was Mrs. Apte. She loved me like her own son. Rather she loved all children like her own. She understood my predicament. One day she told me. “Logic and reasoning are not everybody's cup of tea. You are blessed with it. Put it to better use. I am sure you will be a firebrand lawyer one day.” Until then I wanted to be a doctor. But those words of Mrs. Apte ignited another flame in me. I had never thought that these qualities in me which were branded as bad by others were in fact skills.

I took up law and my life changed 360 degrees. I was appreciated for my keen acumen. My argumentative nature was now termed as my good reasoning skills. I topped the examinations and won all the debate and moot court competitions. My name started appearing in the newspapers. Now all those detractors, including my relatives and school teachers started appreciating me for my skills. #AhundredLittleFlames made me into the person who stands for justice and equality.