Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thar express - eBook eReview

The book began with a bang. A man found in a landslide, in a very precarious condition at a very  disputed site and with no memory whatsoever - this is the beginning of a story that you can do so much with. And this is probably a very Bollywood style story too. 

The first third of the book is little slow with our protagonist (Mano, he remembers it in a while) trying to find his bearings and beginning to understand his problem.
The second third of the book runs and pulls you along with it. It gets better and our Mano is a man with a mission to go around the country and figure out who he is and where he comes from. And all this while the police, the NIA, the army, everyone is looking for a potential terrorist on the run.
Is Mano an ordinary guy caught in the extraordinary? Is he an insurgent helping the militants bringing supplies across the border? Is he pretending or has he really lost his complete memory? When he gets his memory will he turn dangerous? How did he find himself in Kashmir that too so close to the border? All your questions are answered in the last third of the book. The last third is actually an exaggeration. The entire story comes clean and clear to you only in the last 10% of the book. A bit too much story in one go. And a bit too late.
Now coming to the writing style, I don't know if this is the author's first book but you can see that he is a little green behind the ears. It comes across in the length and breadth of the story. While he has great imagination, he is a little impatient to make an impact. Like the urgency with which he explains the story to us in the last 10% of the book. He forgets that he is telling us a story and he doesn't need to explain it. He rushes through it like he had a deadline to meet or like he is worried that the reader might have been a bit bored with going around the country and with little story to go on because the author spent a little too much time getting to make the book a page turner that it's not filled with enough information to actual keep the pace of the story consistently. I can assure him that the reader is not bored. The reader enjoys travelling across India into little corners to figure out the truth behind the UFO. It is an exciting page turner and could have been some 50 pages longer 
The writing too is a little naive. Not that it's grammatically wrong but on occasion it falls short of good writing. The repeated use of the phrase "some time back" or "few minutes back", had hit me jarringly while I'm completely absorbed in the story, throwing breaks in my pace. The phrase is not wrong but it's odd because you don't expect colloquial phrases in a description. Similarly, Mano is not his nickname as Mano explains it to be. It is his pet name. 
In any case, writing style is a personal style. It is occasionally an acquired taste as well. While writing more would help the author evolve into a more matured writer, the reader also would develop a liking for an author on repeated exposure to the style and format. 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

#UseYourAnd - Things that define me

It's hard to say what defines me. Passions define people. I love to read.  It's almost like travel, I keep going into different worlds with the help of different books. I love to write. Although I haven't written as much as I would like to due to lack of time, I'm so engrossed in it when I write that I get hyper when I'm interrupted. I love travel. To see new places, understand the culture, learn a few words in their language, and then write about it. I love to sing, all the time. As I grew up I've learnt to sing in my head but I'm happier singing aloud at the top of my voice. I love acting, especially monoacting. I loved math when I was growing up and in engineering I realised I don't love math enough to love all the hypothetical math, but I continue to love it in its simplicity and use that at work everyday. I love the internet. This may be a slightly odd thing to say but I love to search for things and read up on them. Once I get into Wikipedia looking for something, I get lost going from link to link to learn more and more and gosh! there is so much to learn in this world. I also love breaking down legal language. To read a legal document and make sense out of it makes me feel like I cracked a secret code or solved a smart puzzle. One thing I always regretted was being terrible at sports. But a couple of years ago I found a sport that I'm not completely terrible at, indoor archery and my bow is pretty cool.
And if I had to choose just one thing from the above list of things I love to do, and do it forever, I couldn't. I couldn't even pick three. I think all of these make me who I am. Not a person who writes but a person with many dimensions and perspectives. The Margerison-McCann TMS personality wheel showed as a split wheel, which means the three most significant behaviour traits I have are not fully related to each other. (It does not mean I am a split personality). It only means I have different perspectives on ideas and I can look objectively from various points of view. I think it's a useful trait to have.

Here is a collage (bordering narcissism):

I urge you to use your 'and', and do what you love, all of them. I think it's a great campaign. Check it out. And UseYourAnd.

This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.

#UseYourAnd - A Journey from OR to AND

'And' is such an interesting word.
At a people management course, I was once asked to replace 'but' with 'and', and suddenly things that you disagreed with became things that you could potentially agree with if improvised upon. Now Gillette is asking us to replace 'or' with 'and', and you no longer need to compromise.
This post is a part of #UseYourAnd activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette Venus.

When I decided to write about my journey from OR to AND, I thought about it and I couldn't come up with a story. And then I realised that, I had shut my ears to anyone who told me that OR was an option. It wasn't. I had been taking the route of an AND since I was a child.

Schooling defines who you become. I absolutely love my schooling and my school friends. It is the place where I grew up and learnt to have confidence in me, to speak in front of people, to lead people. I owe my school a lot. But it was not always the case. There was once a time when it was necessary for me to change schools. And my parents were trying hard to get me admission into a good convent school which my older sister attends. But the convent school had little faith in my previous school and agreed to give me admission only if I repeated a class. My six year old self refused to even consider that proposition. Following that my parents had to find me another school.  And this time, I attended the school for 2 days, came home on the second day and told my parents that I am not going back. And yet again I had to move but this time, I stayed on for the next 8 years.

Fast forward a decade, I woke up on the day of the IIT JEE results would be announced. I know there was a lot of pressure on me because my older sister was already at IIT Madras pursuing her degree in computer sciences, and I have been among the star students at my coaching centre and my parents and teachers are expecting me to perform incredibly well. I thought for a couple of minutes about what I was going to face that day. I knew it in my heart that I would not clear because I knew that I had performed badly in one subject. But I also knew that I had performed incredibly well in the other two subjects. And I considered my options and decided that I did not want to let one bad day in one subject ruin an opportunity that I have been working for and I shall appear again for the exam a year later.
The results came in a few hours later. I did not clear it. When I told my parents I will clear next year, my parents tried to console me and said it's too soon to make a decision. As it goes in India, I have also written other competitive exams and I was bound to get another good option. The following few months, I was counselled by many of my well-wishers regarding all the other options that I had. My friends thought I was crazy to "waste" a year on a "wild-goose chase", especially when I had other options. But I honestly could not see another option.
If I didn't drop a year to go to IIT, my life would have turned out alright. But if I did not follow my heart, I would have always wondered if it would have been different and would have blamed the world for it. At least if I made my own decision,even if I failed, I would only have myself to blame. As I said, I would have been alright if I didn't go to IIT. But it was in IIT Madras that I spent the best four years of my life and made friends for a lifetime. It's also at IIT that I started my blog!

Here is a picture of me in my hostel room, during phase when I just went crazy with my camera clicking everything I saw. Read more on the IITian life label on my blog.
[Update: Turns out this is the 99th post labelled the IITian life! Cheers to that!]

I think it's a great campaign. Check it out. And UseYourAnd. I would like to tag  "qurious quester" on this quest from OR to AND. She has inspired me in many ways and I hope she will inspire many more with her extraordinary story.