Saturday, 18 August 2012

Scenes from a Writer's Life: A Memoir

Scenes From a Writer's Life: A Memoir

Ruskin Bond

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd (2000)Rs. 225

Ruskin Bond's "Scenes.." shines with a sense of basic honesty. This sort of honesty is not the type people muster up in order to sell a large number of autobiographies, it's a kind of honesty that reflects an inherent harmony embedded deep within the self. There are no unnecessary revelation of scandals to spur the voyeuristic curiosity of the inquisitive reader…just that enviable sense of satisfaction that one arrives at after spending a good number of mellow years reflecting over all that came and went.
What emerges to the readers is a certainty that the author has been true to himself, a characteristic that is of course vitally important to autobiography readers. His discordant childhood chiseled his sense perceptions, his self confessed laziness helped him emerge out of this ennui and convert the stuff of mundane trivialities into literary masterpieces.
Since I have always envied people who can deftly explain themselves without the use of too many words I find Bond’s language delightful. Very rarely does he employ a complicated phrase, which itself must be an implication of how uncomplicated his thought processes must be. Only a man who can think without the fetters of regret can afford to view his life with such unblinking clarity.
What charms me most is his acceptance of mistakes and how these mistakes are divorced from any sense of guilt what so ever. This is a rare virtue…to look at one’s faults and come out of it all purged and so much more wiser…I guess it comes with age and of course a comfortable home overlooking the luscious Doon valley!
“Scenes…” is a simple book written by a simple man and it talks about a life simply lived. In spite of the tragedies and the frustrations there is hope mingled between every line…a sort of reassurance that everything will ultimately work out in the merciful bosom of the Himalayas. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari
Robin Sharma
Jaico Publishing House
Rs. 250

There are books one picks up for a soulful read, there books one reads to know what love is all about, there are books about a thrilling adventure...about how a single man travels all around the globe to save someone's life and there are books people pick up because of the lessons they teach. Now what if I say that one would no longer need to flip through a variety of books in order to experience love, thrill, laughter, suspense and spirituality? Well that is what Robin Sharma's "Secret Letters" is all about.
The author himself of course needs no introduction, his previous work "The Monk who Sold his Ferrari" had already earned him global recognition.

"Secret Letters" is based on a man's triumph over worldly obligation. Jonathan is anyone who has ever had a rough family life, or one who feels guilty for not standing up for what one believes in, the beauty of this character lies in the fact that he is a reflection of everyone...he is that bothersome part of one's existence which will not allow one to rest in peace, which will hinder one from understanding who one really is and what one exactly desires. He is a weak man enshrouded by myths of his strength, unable to battle his ego he falls prey to its grasps which becomes more powerful with each passing day. The book opens at that point of his life when he is at the verge of breaking his marriage even though he is still deeply in love with his wife and feels helpless towards his little son, his work is all that he can think of and this becomes his only motive for survival,  this as a result takes a huge toll on his overall well being. His mother is devastated to find him in this sorrowful state and decides to contact Julian, the monk of this story, and help Jonathan prioritize his needs and thereby get back to his feet.

With the commencement of his journey around the globe begins his journey within himself. He has been instructed to collect talismans that represent various aspects of life as a whole. Now as he embarks on this quest he is simultaneously ushered into a journey of self discovery that will help him in understanding his flaws and embrace his life like he should have done many years ago. Each geographical destination gifts him with one valuable insight into his life. The journey is full of adventure, solace and self revelation which not only Jonathan but also the reader undertakes along with him.

The person I was before I picked up the book and the person I am after having read it is different. I do not know how would the others respond to it but I feel each little "nugget" of wisdom will speak to each one in a personalized way even though it is a book meant for everybody. This is one of those books that I would love to flip through every now then...this one is for remembering...and this one is definitely for keeping.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Along The Way

Along The Way
By T.G.C Prasad
Rupa Publication
Rs. 295

TGC Prasad's book "Along The Way" took me by surprise. Apparently it might seem like just another book  dedicated to the software engineers and everything else that surrounds their lives but when probed beyond the surface it becomes a book all of us will be able to connect with, the characters are almost three dimensional because we have inevitably come across real life people exactly like them in our everyday lives; their love story becomes our love story, their experiences are things we have read about in the newspapers, the reader begins to feel like the narrator is not only telling his own story but also the stories of every other person that one might bump into somewhere along the way.

Venkat the "hero" of this book and his darling "heroine" Anjali fall in love while they are both in college. Their subsequent romance and cute petty tiffs are stuff that fresh young love is made of. The couple long with Raj and Adi make quite a youthful and dashing group who have chosen to step out of their middle class comfort zones and experience the life that awaits them beyond their homes.

A few incidents from this book, for instance Venkat's attempt to win Anjali's father to his side by bribing him with a bottle of expensive scotch, made me smile to myself because this is exactly what my fiance (now husband) had done when we were dating. Raj's complaint about South Indian food is typical of most North Indians as they all seem to find it extremely challenging to survive down south. Apart from all the fun and frolic the book also touches upon some serious issues like the homophobia and reckless alcoholism.

The author employs this group of youngsters as an instrument to highlight a few vital factors that seem to steadily become a reiterative trait in our society. The social alienation of the ones who belong to deviant sexuality, the steady rise in the number of youths who die because of drinking and driving or attempting to do feats without the required professionalism.

The book has been a good read not because one gets to know about something that one had hitherto never heard of before, but, because it compels one to recall certain personal experiences, or bits and pieces of information that had carried a lot of value for the time being, but which sadly faded away with the years.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Trans Ganization

Trans Ganization

Rohit Arora
Times Group Books
Rs. 225

To begin with let me firstly warn my readers that I had always presumed Management to be way out of my league. I am a student of literature and I was never a genius in mathematics so when I picked up Rohit Arora's book "Trans Ganization" I was not sure whether I was biting off more than I could I asked my fiance Debarata Basu to coauthor this review with me. Thankfully he agreed, the pages kept turning, printed words made meaning and finally I did not regret taking this up.
In his book "Trans Ganization" Rohit Arora deals with a phase in change revolution called “Crisis of Leadership”. Change is the most inadvertently unpleasant yet unavoidable organizational phenomenon. A change however minuscule requires great foresight, belief and determination from an able and adept leader in order to be successfully implemented. A phase which demands a full-scale organizational shift in control from entrepreneurs to professionals calls for a lot of apprehension, confusion and dilemma for the employees. The focus here is to elaborate on “how to” instead of “how I did” make a change. 
Arora's array of pictorial representations, cases, tabulations and simple language is very involving and academic. Unlike other books dealing with similar topics which goes on to narrate the personal victories, and biased point of views of the authors, Arora has successfully managed in maintaining a very textbook-like and systematic approach while narration. The book also comes with a complimentary CD which further graphically explains what the author attempts to communicate.
His book is indeed very simplistic in approach towards a very complex yet everyday need; this at times may make it seem like the author is deliberately following a safely traveled path by adopting a highly measured approach and catering to a wider base of readers and addressing too many of them simultaneously. However he has evidently taken pains to map small chapters and lay down steps to explain, communicate, standardize, benchmark and evolve change. Another unique point about this book is that the author has touched upon topics like 'Non Market Factors' which are rarely discussed whether in books or boardrooms these days. 
 With his impressive academic background and extensive experience as a change leader, in diverse industries, Arora has beautifully scripted the human like journey of an organization through multiple phases of change in crisp concise chapters. Management can be made everybody's cup of tea if authors like Rohit Arora take the initiative of launching books which simplify and explain each terminology instead of complicating it even further.