Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fight Club - Complete Mayhem.

The First Rule of Fight Club is that you do not talk about Fight Club.

The Second Rule of Fight Club is "You DO NOT talk about Fight Club".

Well, I am gonna break both of them and talk about it, because this book is like my Punch Bag. Yes, the bag you hit repeatedly to remove your frustrations. It’s the book I would read when I am most frustrated, when I want to boil the scum of this earth and shatter every window I see. Yes, this cult classic is my Catharsis. You must be knowing what I am talking about, because this book was adapted into one of the most brilliant and complex films of our generation - a cult of its own - Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

Chuck Palahniuk - the creator must have been in one of his most devastating moods when he started his first book. Or probably his hatred for this Hypocritical Life we lead must have been at its Zenith. Whatever it may be, his passion for destruction, his frustrations, his knowledge of the forbidden and the trivial, come out in words as sheer vengeful literature. Yes, I would go so far as to say its modern or futuristic literature, modern philosophy.

Fight Club is narrated through a Nameless character - he could be you, me or any person living this monotonous, routine life trying to go one up on his competition, trying to mimic the fashion, lifestyle, career of someone else, trying hard to be something he is not. This character works, buys every damn luxury item in trend and creates the ideal life - one he believes to be ideal, but he can't sleep. In insomnia - everything is a copy of a copy of a copy, everything is distant, you can't touch anything and nothing can touch you! He goes to various support groups faking to be terminally ill and in their misery he finds solace, happiness, blithe and indeed, sleep. Until, one day, another faker - Marla Singer comes into his life. She's the indigent, suicidal types. Then he meets Tyler Durden - who's everything he isn't, everything he wishes to be. Together they start Fight Club, their medium to channelise their pain, their frustrations and their fast track to nirvana. Every night they die and are born again, as new, invigorated men. Fight Club has 7 simple rules and its popularity grows; so does its reach - throughout America.

The story takes a twist when Tyler starts Project Mayhem. When the Club Fight sessions take an ugly turn, when the arena become the city, targeting the rich, the fortunate, the government, the system. Our nameless hero realizes that things have gone out of hand, but it is futile to resist, because this uprising consists of people who serve food, who do laundry, who protect people while they sleep; they are in the system to break it. He tries upsetting their plans, which he believes would have disastrous aftermaths, but the evil twist towards the end completely takes him off-guard. You yourself are thunderstruck with what happens because it transcends beyond your comprehension or belief. Finally, our Nameless Hero finds a way to suppress Tyler, once and for all, and save Marla - who he loves. But Mayhem continues, as Tyler successfully creates separate pockets of his army, completely capable of acting independently.

This Book is a cult, because it’s a revolt against the things we take for granted. The book says "You are not the clothes you were, you are not the books you read, you are the same decaying organic matter as everyone else, and we are part of the same composite pile! " That’s philosophy for you. Give up all the worldly pleasure, give up your vices and only when you hit bottom will you truly be free. Only when you have given up everything, that you fear nothing. Only when you are close to death do you have a Near Life experience. I think so passionately about this that I could go on and on and on. The book is full of amazing little fundas. Added to this, Chuck Palanhiuk has written this book in a chaotic manner. Lines appear between sentences from no where. The premise itself is chaotic and its accentuated by the style of writing. And within the chaos you find tranquility.

Many would find it complete and utter crap and many more would fall in love with it. After you read the book, you want to hit someone --> for completely different reasons. But that’s the point, either you love it or you hate it, but you can't ignore this piece of modern art. Get a hold of it and let your imagination go wild. I am sure one read will make your mind work in the fight club mode. Its the fight club effect. I myself stay in the Fight club mode for hours, sometimes days. Most of my best pieces of work come after a quick read of an inspirational excerpt from this book or after watching a scene from the movie. Enjoy complete mayhem. Enjoy.

"The first step to eternal life is you have to die" - ChUcK PaLaNiUk

The Google Story

By David A Vise

This book takes you inside the creation and growth of a company that has become so familiar its name has become a verb recognized around the world.

In 1998, Moscow -born Sergey Brin and Midwest American Larry Page set out to 'change the world' through a search engine that would oraganise every bit of informatoin on the web for free. Through the creative use of cutting -edge technology and series of groundbreaking business ideas,they were soon taking on microsoft and winning.Despite the bursting of the dot-com bubble they have turned to a start-up investment of US$1 million into a market value of over US$40 million.

You will learn about the amazing network of computer kept in specially chilled,secret rooms which store over four billion web documents.

But even as it rides high, Goggle wrestles with difficult challenges in a business that changes at lightning speed. It was able to continue expand and innovate while sustaining the guiding vision of its founders mantra : DO NO EVIL ?...

A must David A. Vise
If you want to know how GOOGLE function read this

First Among Equals

By Jeffery Archer

I tried to read this book, but succeeded only in third time. The reason was I couldn’t comprehend the parliamentary jargon of Britain, used exhaustively in the book. The story is all about ambition and destiny. There are four central characters, which came from very different backgrounds. One is blue blood, second is from top notch political scion, the other two come from very poor families.

The style of Jeffery Archer is same as of Kane & Abel. Initially, every chapter focuses on only one character, consecutively and the sequence goes on, till these guys meet. Owing to the common burning ambition, they come in way of each other and then the real story begins.

Each one of them is brilliant, shrewd, kind hearted and brutal at the same time. Their brilliance overshadows their dark part of life. Each one of them gets one standing ovation in the British Parliament, which is one of the most moving moments in their lives. They all are friends but the deadliest enemies.

To project the story realistically, Archer weaves the story around history. Their number of events elaborated in this story like attack on Mary Thatcher, terror attacks by IRA ( Irish Republic Army)………… While reading it, I forgot that its fiction. I am sure, these four men must have existed in the mentioned times.

As a whole, story is very thrilling, fast and informative. This is my favorite, out of all the Archer’s creations. The best part about the story is that the real life political experience of Archer in British Parliament, makes story more vivid and expressive.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Book of Five Rings

By Miyamoto Musashi

It was written in 1643 by Miyamoto Musashi, undefeated dueler, master less samurai, and independent teacher. He was professional men at arms born into a long tradition of martial culture that ultimately come to dominate the entire body of Japanese polity and society. His writing is relevant not only to members of the ruling military caste, but also to the leaders in other professions, as well as people in search of individual mastery in whatever their chosen path.

The rise and empowerment of the samurai class in Japan may be seen in the two terms used to refer to its members, samurai and bushi. The word samurai comes from the Japanese verb saburau, which means “to serve as an attendant”. The word bushi is Sino Japanese and means “armed gentry”. The word samurai was used by other social classes, while the warriors referred to themselves by the more dignified term bushi.

Musashi in this book decries empty showmanship and commercialization in martial arts, focusing attention on psychology and physics of lethal assault and decisive victory as the essence of warfare. His scientifically aggressive, thoroughly ruthless approach to military science, while not universal among Japanese martialists, represents a highly concentrated characterization of one particular type of samurai warrior.

Musashi abandoned an ordinary life to exemplify and hand on two essential elements of ancient martial and strategic traditions. The first one of these basic principles is keeping inwardly calm and clear even in the midst of violent chaos. The second one is not forgetting about the possibility of disorder in times of order.

According to him, “The true science of martial arts means practicing them in such a way that they will be useful at any time, and to teach them in such a way that they will be useful in all things.”

The book is divided in the form of four scrolls:

  • The Earth Scroll
  • The Water Scroll
  • The Fire Scroll
  • The Wind Scroll

These scrolls describe the different perspectives of practicing martial arts, which all are essential to be unified in a true warrior while using the art to achieve decisive victory.

The best thing about book is liberating martial arts from the war. The author describes the basic element of martial arts in a way that they are applicable to any art. This style of description is accomplished by describing the four scrolls by means of comparing the art of “Swordsmanship” and “Carpentry”.

The author says that to have an attitude proper to a real sword means to be deadly serious. “Shinken shobu” are the two words describing this attitude, which literally means a contest with real swords, means something done in deadly earnest. That is the true sense of martial arts.
So, by reading this book we can get stimulated to learn and apply any art in a deadly earnest way. The art could be computer programming, journalism, law, writing......................................

Saturday, May 26, 2007


by Ethan M Rasiel

Whenever I think of consultancy firm; the first name that strikes to my mind is “McKinsey”. Why is this company-a dream company for most of the MBA’s? The only answer to this question is MK's style of working and ability of its solutions to get things work for their clients, isn’t it? Believe me this book is very easy to go through as it used best possible & simple language and well pointed anecdotes.

This book is all about the way MK handle its business. However author claims that it is very easy for you to use MKW in your own business or profession, and I found it realistic. The way author has written this book is fantastic. The book has been divided into parts.

How MK think about the business problem
How MK work to solve the business problem
How MK sell its solution
Life at MK
The cardinal rule that McKinsey-ites can never forget is MECE (Mutually exclusive collectively exhaustive). This is the best thing; however most of the time gets ignored by non- McKinsey-ites; that’s what I claim. Whenever you work on anything you should keep this MECE in your mind, this helps you to be equipped with all possible ways towards the solution to any kind of problem and reduce the confusion by avoiding repetition. While studying any business problem McKinsey-ites study it in structured manner. Indeed this helps you to boil down at the crux of the problem; it is essential part as your solution needs to fit the clients’ requirement. Putting the client first is one of the most important key to successful client services. McKinsey-ites form the initial hypothesis, which determines the approach towards solution. So keep in mind that McKinsey-ites never go with blank slate, they have their structured approach to think about business problems, what do you do? The next thing that book talks about is 80-20 rule, which is one of the best rules in management. This rule helps to expedite the solution process; as keeping this rule in mind you can get the 20% things (key drivers) which contribute 80% to the output and this makes it easy for the McKinsey-ites to keep the wheel rolling. I really love this rule.

Here comes the focus on marketing part of MK and how MK does it. Your solution becomes valuable only when you sell it to your clients. But author claims that “MK sells because MK markets”. At this juncture McKinsey-ites are expected to be prepared with their recommendations which must be supported by the facts & figures and outcomes from the research. Before going for any kind of research you need to streamline on particular issue, again use MK structure with MECE. If you forget doing this then you may end up collecting things, which may digress and confuse you. Gathering data for the research purpose plays vital role in coming up with best possible recommendation for the problem. Interviewer should possess the skills to absorb the required information in least possible time. Now let’s see how MK makes its way towards solution. Brainstorming is considered as one of the best way to solve the problem, same works with MK. At MK there is no bad idea, but this doesn’t mean that speaking on irrelevant topic will be entertained- beware of it. Each and every idea gets respect, which is the quality of good working environment which is conducive for the growth of the employees and in turn organization (hierarchy gets sidelined when McKinsey-ites are involved in brainstorming session). Book also focuses on the importance of the team; success of MK in the field of consultancy depends on the success of the team.

Now here comes the importance of all the presentations you have made in front of your class, boss or clients. Really presentation skills plays very important role in the career of any management trainee. Same is true at the MK. Book has given one kind of chart “Waterfall Chart”, as author says it is best way to present your data and I am fully agree with him. I have never before seen this chart and to my dismay it’s not available in MS Excel-2003; if anyone of you knows how to use it then please inform me. Internal communication at MK, working with client and its importance, this part is relatively slump. Last part is all about the life at MK and how to find the balance between work and life, one of the biggest management discourses.

One best thing about this book is that while reading the book you get the feel of how theories are implemented and customized to suit the organization and business.

The Origin of Brands By Al & Laura Ries.

I did like to start with the preface. Without it I don't think I will do justice to the review. They take origin of species as their basis for the book. The most important line they emphasize "Divergence the least understood , the most powerful force of the world." This is what they are trying to convey throughout the book. The opposite convergence had always been the buzz word for the market, hence the concept is neglected through n through. As the evolution does not explains for the unusual and diverse species of the world. So do the term strong exsisting brand does not explains for the emergence of new brands and new categories in market. They explain the process throughout the book. For the starting of a brand name, appeal and acceptance of consumers is very important. A brand is not created in exsisting market. We have to define new markets. The rule of divergence says that dont mix different things ( convergence) like the one in all computer TV, a major failure despite the money spent on it. To create a new brand the company should not divegre from the main theme. This means Coca Cola is a cola drink and it can't be a fruit drink later on. The Swiss Army Knife concept which still rules millions of hearts usually ends at drawers which never open. To create a new brand diverge from an exsisting brand just like Ford did from 1908 model T Ford to 2004 model Tauras. Its still a car with its wide range of ten models and a common ancestor . Definately not a sports car. To bring divergence at its best divide categories and conquer. Do what Coca Cola ( The cola drink), Microsoft (The computer operating system)and companies like IBM, Disney , McDonald, etc. did.

Despite of their failures the bad ideas return so companies have to be concious. To build a brand create something whose market is zero and not in millions. Like Rolex the high priced watch and Maxima the low priced watch. There are always two phases in brand building the innovative product and the mature one. The middle one never survive. The first to enter a market will always be the first despite the second is better. So its better to be no one then NO. 2 , 3 , 4. The best strategy to beat the leader is always do the opposite and not be a copy cat. Be Red Bull in energy drink market and not KMX a late entry. The better is not a gurantee of success but the first entry is always first. Finally to launch a brand bring enough excitement about it through advertising and leaking the product news also. Build enough anxiety among the consumers. Then launch it. Always be opposite of wat your competitors do if you are second. If you are the first remain what you are because your image will not change over time. All in all a book covering every aspect of creating a brand. Though may be sometimes slow but still a must read.

Friday, May 25, 2007

We The Living

by Ayn Rand
It was a rage among my group of friends. One might say that I had just three friends, but it was a rage nonetheless. And I used to wonder what is so outrageous about it. I set out to discover. Thus I got my copy of ‘We The Living’, the first one by Ayn Rand. The woman must have been quite headstrong herself to have written such a novel (for the lack of a stronger word).

This book holds within itself the lives of three people. But it has no intention of just holding them in because the three people are embodiments of the three characteristics attributable to the extremities of the human race.. The three characteristics are extreme love, extreme love and extreme love – though the recipient in each case is different. One is extreme love for freedom and life – that the protagonist Kira embodies. She wishes to be an engineer in a fighting country where her class is looked down upon. Amidst the hypocrisies of socialism, she gets into the institute. Her will to live freely is consummate, so is her perseverance against all odds. In the institute she becomes close friends with a fellow student, Andrei – who embodies extreme love for idealism and honesty. He is also a member of the socialist party. Both Kira and Andrei have the highest respect for each other despite their difference in political opinions.

Then comes Leo- who is the embodiment of extreme love for the self. Kira chances upon him one night and immediately falls in love. Both own a free spirit, which , it shows later, was much exaggerated in Leo. Both hated the socialist totalitarianism. By crook, they are able to escape the oppressed city. They are passionate in the beginning until differences start to creep in because of Leo’s extreme views, verging towards the foolhardy and Kira’s realist. Amidst all this Kira is expelled from the college because of her anti-party opinions which she was not afraid to voice. Cash starts to get extinct. To add to the woes, Leo develops tuberculosis. Kira wishes to turn to Andrei to help but Andrei is avoiding her for a reason that escapes her. She later confronts him and gets to know that the reason was that he has fallen in love with her. Andrei knew nothing about Kira’s relationship with Leo, so with no intention of hurting him but rather for Leo’s sake she accepts. She keeps visiting Andrei and each time they make love. Then one day Kira musters enough courage to ask for the money. He is more than happy to give.

Here Leo is cured and comes back – changed. With the help of some friends, he opens a shop that runs an illegal business and earns a lot of money. Kira is not happy with all this, she also tries to correct Leo. Incidentally, unaware of Leo’s identity, Andrei sets out to discover the truth about the shop he had been hearing bad things about. He solves it and on the day of the arrest, Andrei raids Leo’s house and finds, in the drawers, panties that Kira wore when they made lave. Things become clearer now. Kira explains to him that it was all for Leo’s sake as he was suffering. Andrei is hurt but her respect for her grows even more. Andrei goes against himself to get Leo out for Kira’s sake. Because of this, he gets expelled from the party he was so loyal about. He commits suicide.

Leo is free but suspicious about Kira's relation with Andrei. Leo decides to go to another city to earn more money. He tells her about the Decision and asks if she had slept with Andrei. Kira confirms but asks him if would still have taken the decision had she not slept with him, he says ‘Yes’. Kira feels no need to explain him the real reason. Now her ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ heart yearns to escape to her home, her country. She is just a step from the border when she is shot. Till the end she was faithful and loyal to Leo. And Leo, he goes ALONE to the other state and becomes a gigolo.
The story is so powerful that you start feeling so strongly for the characters. Kira, who had been the epitome of strength and the will to live, dies. Andrei, the idealist, the honest, commits suicide after he gives in to the corrupt. And Leo – one might think he lived, but I think living can not be worse. He probably just survived.
I fell in love with it and would love to see a HUUUGE fan-list of the book from among the people I know.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

This is the first Kafka Story I have read and already I belong to the Kafka clan or the cult. Its only fair that I start with a brief introduction of our Illustrious author.

In his short career, Kafka wrote some of the most amazing pieces of literarture ever put on paper. He died when he was just about 41 years of age but his sheer artistry with words is mind boggling.

The metamorphosis is one of the few short stories which Kafka wrote in his brief career. His brilliance was only recognized after he died and most of his work is posthumous work which his friend got published, though Kafka wanted it all to be destroyed. If his friend would have listened to him, we would have been deprived of this mans profound juxtapositioning of the real versus the imaginary, his vague analogies, his deft touches in each and every word he chose and paradoxically his savagery with them, using the words as a chisel to cut piece by piece or a sword to slash with one clean swipe. Kafka seems to delve into the depths of the human psyche with ease and delivers stories in the first person.

Metamorphosis is about a young man - the bread winner of the house, who gets up one morning and realises that over night he has become a Bug - like a cockroach. What transpires after that is sheer poetry in words. The Human cockroach's each and every thought is layed bare in front of us. His helplessness, his pain, his delight, his effort, his shame, his guilt, his sorrow, his crazving and his ultimate death.

After the man - Gregor gets up that morning, he is already late for work. He is worried that if he does not go to work, he might lose his job and then his family would go hungry, but his sheer helplessness to move and his dreadful appearance prevents him from doing his duty. When his family sees him in this condition, they lock him up in the room. They are ashamed and scared of him. His food is thrown into the room when he is out of sight, no one enters the room and his room's not cleaned for a long time. Basically he is marooned from this world. Kafka delves into the helplessness of this person, who has suddenly metamorphosized into a cockroach and has become reproachable. Even his mother finds him abhorable. His father beats him up with his boots, wounding him, when Gregor tries to come out of the room. He craves love, he craves for belongingness, but dies in loneliness and gloom. His family arrange for the Maid to dispose off his body and only then their normal diurnal activities resume.

It might seem weird; telling a story of a man whos turned into a Bug, but its just an analogy. It might be some disease - like leprosy which had no cure or vaccine in that era. Its the helplessness of a diseased man, shunned by society and his family, which is depicted with such deftness, dexterity and profoundity, whats amazing. Its as relevant today as it was almost a century ago.

This is definitely not for the average reader, for they would be bored or confused at the end of page 1 or might find it some weird concoction of an insane mind. If you skim the surface you would find it to be weird, but if you swim the depths - you would realise the profundness of the analogies. If you do read it, do notice how KAFKA plays with words and your thought process. You would probably have to read everything twice or thrice to really know the real meaning of what Kafka wants to say and I think he wanted it to be that way. He did not care for the ordinary or the frivolous, but the meticulous, the artistic and the intelligent.

Enjoy this classic repeatedly. Its like a sugarcane which has juice in its every straw. The only thing is that you need a big machine - concentration and passion, to squeeze out each and every drop of the nector.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

To Kill The Mocking Bird

By Harper Lee

This book is one of the greatest classics of all times. Harper Lee, the author has won The Pulitzer prize for this book and the book even till today has been one of the bestsellers across the world. It was recommended to me by my brother. I am really glad he did that. It was one of the best books that I have read.

The book revolves around one family, Atticus Finch and his two children, Jean Louise, the narrator of the story, and James Finch, her elder brother. Their mother has already died and a maid Calpurnia takes care of them. They live in a town, Maycomb County, where everybody reveres Atticus because of his talents, magnanimity, modesty and his success as an honest reputed lawyer. He brings up his children with utmost care, inculcating self discipline and an attitude of “respect for all” in spite of the general atmosphere of racial discrimination. He makes them understand the value of human dignity.

The book mainly talks about two things-1) How the children are brought up and prevented from abusing or making fun of someone, even when the other person did wrong to them. His father explains them the reason for their behavior and helps them develop empathy for that person, which is really appreciable. He also helps them understand that power should only be used for other’s benefit and not to dominate someone. He creates an atmosphere of openness, helps them express all their doubts and never hits them no matter what, but for sure creates a fear among them. This is an ideal situation which is created with sophistication.
2) The case of racial discrimination which actually shows the bitterness among the Whites for Blacks. There is shown a case where a white man, Mr. Bob Ewell accuses a Negro Mr. Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. Mr. Atticus defends the Negro, and gets a lot humiliation from his peers for saving a Negro. But he stood by the cause he took up with sheer self confidence as he knew he was doing something right. Even after giving the strong evidences in favor his client, the jury was bound by their discriminatory policy to convict Tom Robinson. This actually shook the children. But they were proud of their father. But it highlighted before them the true picture of the society.

Hence the book mainly deals with the upbringing of the children, their evolving thought processes and the conditioning of their mind to respect the individual dignity irrespective of their race or financial condition. That is the underlying message of the story.

The book derives its name from one of the incidents in the story where Atticus tells his children not to kill a mocking bird as it is harmless and sings for us. It depicts the message of the book because the book deals with protecting the powerless and using the power appropriately in the right context. The book has a lot to do with human behavior and is quite interesting to read.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Cosmic Dance

by Joyce Rupp & Mary Southard

The writer in me that has been hard done by his shear ignorance…has today decided to vindicate himself …..and as I sit on a matrix laden with all kinds of small knick knacks…that due to my laze and there bad luck could not find there deserved place in my retiring area that I dear not call a home ….as it does not have any remotest of resemblance to it…..I once again find myself trying to give words to a void…..
Because all the mirth is long gone …n all that is left is a void…
Is it that ‘been there done that’ thing....nope I think am very far from it..Guess I am waiting for something or rather I should be waiting for something..Because its neither my age nor my prerogative…to sound tired as if I have seen a lot….
But what else is there to see apart from an unending cycle of joys and sorrows…...
However small or big..Whether it be a life of a rickshaw puller…or..a corporate leader… be a rag or a business attire..that is what all of it ultimately boils down to…
Dark nights and Bright days….

This is ME….but HE was somebody else…
..Have been reading lately about Lord Krishna …a perfect embodiment of a person that had won both the worlds , who denied nothing ….neither this world nor that ..and everything was so very simple for him…who would not shy away from playing a trickster nor from revealing the inner most secret of life.. who could compete without pride…who could fight without anger…who could love without possession …Who would live where he had arrived and nowhere else…who had no friends …and still reflected back the love he received seven folds….who was not a sadhak.. because he had nothing to achieve…
A mystic that is the most difficult to understand…….He was different from any other mystic and had found a way that was different from any other and all the more complete…a mystic of highest caliber who had mischievousness of a child intact in him till the very end…a complete paradox…a festivity in the name of a man..who knew the art of ‘just being’ the wind, the water ,the sun…and he said ..let Man be one with this ‘Cosmic celebration’…It does not mean the End of work.. but he gives more importance to ’being ’ than ‘doing ‘.Who saw the birth and death together and so all that was in life was nothing but a celebration to fill the void.
Krishna’s language has been defined as twilight language where there is neither days nor nights, where everything is fluid ,vague, mystical, so no body till date could find a clear cut meaning to his sayings. They have to end up giving conflicting statements.
In fact nobody has been able to accept the whole of Krishna ,Surdas could only except Balkrishna because he could not imagine a young Krishna with the gopis…

And one of these gopis was Radha , it is said that there is no greater pain in this world then the pain of love….
It wipes you out completely …..there is no other pain .. as profound means the end of ego….and true devotees ask for love’s suffering…and so was Radha….
A whole sect of ‘Sufis’ prey as if it was there long lost love with passion that defies all descriptions…n howsoever improper it may seem but ‘Sufis ’are one of the very few sects who understand true devotion………therefore krishna
and so I hope,

That, As I know the darkness of night
And the brightness of day
I’ll.. One day know the twilight…..

as I learn the hollowness of an argument…
And the loneliness of silence….
I’ll … one day know poise…

And as I know the pleasure lurking behind every pain…
The pain hiding in shadows of pleasure……..
I’ll … one day know calm …..

as I learn to see what joys…sorrow brings..
And the grief hidden behind all rejoice…
. I’ll … one day know bliss………

And as I know the delight of ….SUDAMA..
And the agony of ……RADHA..
I’ll…. Perhaps… one day…….know…….KRISHNA….

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------- .

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Hey, A big hello to all and thanks Prabal for inviting me. I am reading 2 books right now. An anthology of FRANZ KAFKA and THE GREAT INDIAN NOVEL - shashi tharoor -- both amazing. Reviews will flow asap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Business Maharajas

By Gita Piramal

I came across this book in my second year of engineering. This was the time, when I recently got interested in business and management. So, the name itself enticed me. But, the book was expensive by the measures of any middle class student’s pocket money. So, I waited for three years till I joined the job. And with my first salary, I bought this book. And the investment was worth it. I really enjoyed reading it.

The book is very well researched work of Gita Piramal, who delved into the life histories of Indian Business Tycoons. It covers the life histories of following business houses of India:

  • Dhirubhai Ambani
  • Rahul Bajaj
  • Aditya Birla
  • R.P.Goenka
  • Brijmohan Khaitan
  • Bharat & Vijay Shah
  • Ratan Tata

Though the book focuses on the particular business men, but it covers all the major story of his clan. Every story starts with the family tree. Then it tells, who was the first major businessman of the family like JNT Tata of Tata’s, G D Birla of Birla’s. Also, it tells how each of the family made its fortune like Birla’s made it in trade of opium. Along with the particular family and businessman it gives glimpses of the communities and regions they originated from and worked in like Marwadi’s in the form of Birla’s, Gujarati’s in the form of Ambani’s, Tata’s in the form of Parsi’s ( people who came to India from Persia).

Dhirubhai Ambani

Dhirubhai Ambani belonged to very poor family, but he rose to great heights by his sheer hard work, shrewd conduct and burning ambition. He started his career in Turkey with the Oil Giant, but soon came back to India to start his own business. He started with textiles and reached to information technology. He was the first person to capitalize and demonstrate the power of IPO in India. He was also unpopular for sowing seeds of corruption to the grass root level. But this guy showed the unprecedented pace of success. Now his two sons Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani are governing his business. The name of the group is Reliance. It will be really exciting to see the vivid replay of his life in the form of movie ‘Guru’ by Mani Ratnam. More info about Dhirubhai Ambani could be found at

Rahul Bajaj

Rahul Bajaj, is a legendary entrepreneur, who created the first indigenous models of motorbikes in India. But, he is not first generation entrepreneur. He belongs to Marwadi community. He is known for creating and spearheading the two wheeler market of India via his company Bajaj Auto. The story tells us about the strikes it faced in the days, when Labour & Trade Unions were so strong that they can make or break the ruling party of the state. It also tells us about the Inspector Raj & License Raj era, where the quota was allotted to each and every factory under MRTP act. This was the result of mixed economy model India was following. According to Bajaj, he would have sold the legendary Bajaj Chetak at half the price and with the instant delivery. But, the prices were high and customers had to wait for months to get the delivery. This was because of the government policies.

Initially Bajaj’s collaborated with Piaggio, owned by Agnelli family (owners of Fiat ) of Italy for producing Vespa scooter, which was instant hit. But, after few years due to misunderstanding between both the parties it broke off. And Piaggio collaborated with LML.

To enter motorcycles market and to strengthen it scooter market, Bajaj wooed Honda Motors of Japan. After months of meetings and negotiations Honda chose Munjal’s over Bajaj’s to form Hero Honda (now the biggest two wheeler producer in the world) for making motorcycles and collaborated with Firodia’s to form Kinetic Honda for making scooters. And finally, Bajaj collaborated with Kawasaki for making motorcycles.

With the onset of globalization in 1991, he eyed four wheelers market. He tried to strike a deal with Chrysler, Renault and Fuji. But the closest he could get was in the case of Ashok Leyland, which he finally lost to Hinduja’s.

Today he runs his empire with the help of his two sons Rajiv and Sanjiv Bajaj. And bikes Pulsar and Discover are giving the toughest fight to the foreign giants like Honda. I think they know Indian market better than others. In my personal case, I was in dilemma whether to buy Bajaj Pulsar or Honda’s Unicorn. Though Unicorn is smoother and better engineered bike but it lacked the most important thing required to attract Indian youth. ‘The Rugged Feeling’. So I chose Pulsar over Unicorn, and I feel the rush of adrenaline every time I drive it. More info about Rahul Bajaj can be found at

In total, this gave me the actual understanding of the works and lifes of businessmen, whom we daily hear about and quote. It also gave me understanding about the dynamics and history of Indian business market. It is one of the two books, which gave me revealed such truths and facts. The other one was ‘India Unbound’ by Gurcharan Das. Above all, it helped me to overcome the fear of reading ‘Economic Times’.

I recommend this book to anybody, who wants to understand the evolution of Indian business during and after independence.

I will add about the other businessman in next few days. Keep reading to get the updates.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Animal Farm

By George Orwell

This is very important book in my life. Actually, it was part of our academic syllabus of first year of engineering under the subject called ‘Communication Skills’. And as usual, most of the students including me hated to read anything which becomes part of course. But, I m really grateful to my teacher, who taught it in a way that created my interest in the novel. And this experience was so much exciting that I became an avid reader.

This novel is not any other novel, but is considered to be ‘Novel of the Century’. The novel is a satire on Russian Revolution. It was written during the WWII and was widely criticized globally.

The story is narrated in the form of fable. It is about a farm, having all sort of domestic animals like pigs, cows, horses, hens, sheep, dogs, ass…………. The farm was governed by Mr Jones, a human being. But, due to pathetic conditions, animals revolted. The revolt was headed by two pigs Napoleon and Snowball. Here, Napoleon depicted the character of Stalin while Snowball of Lenin. According to this revolution, all animals were comrades and all humans their enemies. They succeeded in the revolution and took control over the farm. Now for the daily governance and administration of the farm they drafted the policies in the form of the following commandments.

1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.

Being clever, pigs took over the leadership of the new farm. Slowly, under the guidance of Napoleon, all the critical resources like food in the form of milk, grain and fruits and power in the form of dogs, was controlled by pigs. But, he saw one impediment in his way in the form of Snowball. So, he poisoned the ears of animals against him and threw him out of farm. Now, Napoleon was the sole tyrant of the farm. In the meanwhile there were number of attacks on the farm by Mr Jones, but he failed to recapture his farm. Then there were further attacks on the farm by the neighbour farmers Mr. Pilkington, of Foxwood & Mr.Frederick of Pinchfield (representing Germany and England), but they also failed.

Now pigs started violating the commandments set by them. In order to pacify the other animals, they took advantage of their short memory and innocence by telling them that actually the interpretation of commandments is:

1.Four legs good, two legs better
2.No animal shall drink alcohol to excess
3.No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets
4.No animal shall kill any other animal without cause
5.All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

The last scene of the novel is as follows

But they (innocent animals) had not gone twenty yards when they stopped short. Uproar of voices was coming from the farmhouse. They rushed back and looked through the window again. Yes, a violent quarrel was in progress. There were shoutings, hangings on the table, sharp suspicious glances, and furious denials. The source of the trouble appeared to be that Napoleon and Mr. Pilkington had each played an ace of spades simultaneously. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.

This last scene had a very deep impact on my psyche. It clearly confirms age old adages

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”

“Might is right.”

Since then, I have been trying to search for a book of similar cadre. But I can’t find one. As there is only one masterpiece.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Johnathan Livingston Seagull

By Richard Bach

This is a beautiful story by Richard Bach. The author is renowned to write short and very inspiring stories. It is also a very concise story, not more than hour’s reading.

The central character of the story is Johnathan Livingston, a very young seagull. He was living with his parents and clan. Most of the seagulls around lived for a single purpose, which was to catch fish. Normally, seagulls fly at a low altitude and slow flight. This helps them to catch fish easily. But Johnathan wanted to fly very high and very fast. This was unusual for a seagull. On trying his whims and wishes, Johnathan was scolded by his parents and ordered to live like a normal seagull.

But he was not able to live this normal life. He started to fly alone, away from his clan. He fine tuned his high altitude high speed sky diving. It was very dangerous and brought him many times near to death. But he continued.

Finally, one day he was able to achieve the speed and altitude he was trying to reach. But suddenly, he found that another seagull flying at more pace and height than him. He was shocked and happy at the same time. Then the faster seagull came to him and told him, that there is no need to be surprised as he doesn’t belong to this world. He further told Johnathan that he belongs to the next world, where all seagulls are passionate for and enjoy high altitude high speed flight. And by achieving the similar credentials, Johnathan has secured his place in the next world. So, Johnathan went to next world.

But Johnathan was not satisfied. His need for speed kept on increasing and he kept on practicing. Every time he achieved the new milestone of flight, he was ushered into the next world. And finally after entering into series of next worlds, he was sent back to his original world, in order to help the young seagulls interested in high speed high altitude flights to enter the next world.

In this story, I learnt the age old lesson though in different manner “Nothing is Impossible”.


By Hermann Hesse

This book was recommended by one of my friends, who claimed that has read only one book out of course curriculum. He further told me that it carries all the elements, which enables a person to learn everything about life. So, I picked it. Before starting it, I was of the notion that it is based on the life of Gautam Budha. But, it wasn’t so. It was by German writer Hermann Hesse, who was highly influenced by Indian history and culture. I think this work was created more than a century ago. The best part about it is its conciseness.

The story is based on the life of a person named Sidhartha, who lived in contemporary times of Lord Budha. As Sidhartha reached adolescence, his heart was filled with only one desire to know underlying truth of life. Soon the drive became irresistible, and he asked for the permission of his parents to start his journey to find truth. As he was the only child, it was very tough decision for them. But, seeing his drive and unhappy state of mind, his parents granted him his wish.

He started his journey, and was accompanied by one of his friends Gopal, who revered him. Both of them started visiting number of temples and Ashrams of famous saints. They underwent lot of austerities, which according to Indian saints brings one closer to God. But according to Sidhartha, he only developed the ability to fast and to write.

Finally, they reached the ashram of Lord Budha. Gopal, joined the followers of Lord and started living at his ashram. During the stay, Sidhartha and Lord incidentally met in the garden. The Enlightened one asked, whether he came here to get sermons from him or to learn something specific. To this, Sidhartha replied “No one can teach anybody anything. One has to learn it on his own.” And Budha agreed with him.

Now, Sidhartha with Gopal gone, continued his journey alone. Almost after a decade of following austere life, he couldn’t see his search being satiated with his present lifestyle. So, he went to one of the cities and became a merchant. He went to city empty handed, and owing to his abilities of fasting and writing, he became richest businessman of the city. He also left his celibacy, as he came in contact with one of the courtesans of the city. He also was blessed with one son, which he came to know about quite late in the story. Initially, he use to treat business as game, and acted as a detached player. But, as time passed, he started getting emotionally involved. His personality underwent a complete change. He started drinking, gambling, and womanizing. He became short tempered and proud ness overtook his personality. One, fine day he just realized the sort of life he was living. It was like waking up from dream. On this realization, he left the city empty handed and restarted his journey to achieve the sole goal in his life.

Finally he met a boatman, who used to live on river bank and earned his living by helping people to cross the river. The boatman was a simple, unassuming and kind hearted fellow. While conversing with Sidhartha, he told that river is like life to him. At times, it’s very placid and at times very turbulent. If one really wants, one can learn about the philosophy of life by it. On hearing this, Sidhartha made up his mind to live as a boatman for rest of his life and to search the truth via river. He joined the boatman and started living his lifestyle. Both of them started growing old. And at the same time, they were become popular for their wisdom even in the far off places.

Sidhartha, started observing all the moods of the river. By this sole act, he begins to understand the basis of life. And finally, a day came, when he couldn’t differentiate between himself and river. And further, he couldn’t differentiate between him and any other thing around. It was all same to him. This is how he achieved Enlightenment.

The lesson I learnt from this story is that one can learn everything from anything or activity. Only thing required is will. This reminds me of another book ‘Book of Five Rings’ by Miyamoto Musashi. It says ‘An art is not an art, if its approach can’t be applied to another art’.

I recommend this book to all the people who have thirst to discover the underlying philosophy of life.

Lust For Life

By Irving Stone

This is the novel, I saw lying with one of my friends. Since then, I was craving to read it. Its name was reason enough for my craving. Finally, after two years I got chance to read it.

The story is based on the real life story of renowned painter Vincent Van Gogh. It covers all the major phases of his life since he was adult. It tells us about his series of careers and failure in each of them. He belonged to the family of Van Gogh’s, which was reputed throughout Europe.

He started his career as a dealer in paintings at one of his uncle’s shop. Then he pursued career of priest, Evangelist, and many others. But, either he didn’t like the career or career didn’t like him. He was having many siblings, but was close to only one of them. His younger brother Theo was also a dealer in paintings, and was gaining reputation slowly and steadily in his profession. It was Theo who understood and supported Vincent’s will to do something in life.

Vincent was born in Zundert, a small village in Holland. His journey to make a painting that will sell, took him to many places-villages, towns, cities and coal mines. Though he pursued many careers at different places, but he was always painting something. He painted children, farmers, villagers, trees, sky, women and what not. Most of the times it was dilemma for him whether to buy food or paints & canvasses from the scarce amount he had. And it was always paints & canvass that was bought.

During his journey, he well in love with number of girls and women. One was his house owner, other was washerwomen, and then there was a prostitute. But he was not having any stable love life as he was not having any stable career.

Finally, he reached Paris where he was having regular supply of food and paints & canvasses together, as he was staying with Theo. He made lot of like minded painter friends who were working on modern paintings. He also, started selling few paintings.

The time when his career as a painter was almost consummate, he started getting fits of madness. His condition was so bad that he pointed gun towards one of his best friends and he cut one of his ear only to present it to one prostitute. He was sent to mental asylum, to recover. He continued his painting in asylum also. But, finally he shot himself in the fit of madness.

Such was a love of Theo for his brother, that at the peak of his youth he died to accompany his brother after few months of death of Vincent.

Today, we know Vincent Van Gogh as one of the most famous painters in the history. But, throughout his life he struggled just to be noticed, just to earn enough to sustain his living.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

In Search of Excellence

Tom Peters & Robert Waterman

This book was gifted by one of my friend to me. But I didn’t like it and didn’t go through it. But, I was forced to read it as an assignment in my MBA induction programme. This time I got in love with this book. It covered so many sectors, with deep insights into decades of industrial experience. After I read it, I found that it has been referred by huge number of business articles and books over last few decades.

Authors both hailing from legendary McKinsey, initiated this research with the sole aim to discover “What makes any company excellent?” The sample of sixty two companies was selected broadly representing US industry as a whole. These companies covered the areas like High Technology, Consumer Goods, Service & Project Management. The companies included GE, IBM, McDonald’s, Frito Lay, Kodak and many more.

Finally they discovered the following key ingredients to the successful recipe:
  1. Action Biased- It throws light on the necessity of organizational fluidity, chunking and experimenting and above all creating systems where healthy and strong communication is unavoidable.
  2. Customer Oriented-It talks about the service and quality obsession, value for money to the users and the whole organization designed around the customer needs.
    Autonomy & Entrepreneurship- It talks about Innovation and nurturing the Intrapreneurs
  3. Lean and Simple-It basically focuses on KISS ( Keep It Simple Stupid) and lean governance of the organization.
  4. Loose Tight Properties- it talks about the free hand company’s employees should be given in day to day activities. They should be encouraged to break or circumvent the rules and norms but never should be allowed to compromise on company’s values
  5. Productivity through People-It talks about treating people as responsible and grown up adults. And giving them the whole authority with the congenial environment, where they can perform to their potential.
  6. Value Driven- It throws lights on the basic concept of values and its growing necessity in today’s business environment. It talks about how these values should be imbibed in organizational culture and every employee of the organization. It also elaborates the role of the leader in creating such a culture.
  7. Stick to the knitting- It talks about sticking to and developing the core competency.

    Then during this research itself they developed framework to cover the core elements of any organization. This framework was widely referred and used in industry, thereafter and came to be known as McKinsey 7-S Framework. 7-S’s of this framework are:
    · Structure
    · Strategy
    · Skills
    · Staff
    · Style
    · Systems
    · Shared Values

Among these S’s Shared Values is the central one.

In total this book is stuffed with the juice of business wisdom, which any participant in today’s corporate world should get acquainted with.

If you want a complete REPORT on the book, please leave ur email id on the comment.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


By James Clavell

This is the book, which gives the historical instance of the formation of a city, country and trade center, which is today known as ‘Hong Kong’.

This is the story of China, Britain, Hong Kong and Dirk Struan. Dirk Struan was a businessman, an opium smuggler, a pirate, a master manipulator, a ruthless intriguer and a mighty lover and head of Noble House. Noble House was the most powerful trading company in the Far East. In China, head of business house is known as ‘Tai Pan’. So, Dirk Struan was Tai Pan of Noble House or he was first among Tai Pan’s.

The story takes us to the times of 19th century, when none of the foreigners was permitted to enter China Mainland. It tells us how trade between Britain and other European Countries with China prospered especially in tea and silk. It tells us how, the monopoly of China as sole producer of tea was broken by smuggling tea seeds to Assam, India. It also tells us the genesis of ‘Opium Wars’.

Then, there is insight into Dirk Struan’s personal life. It reveals how he became most powerful person in Far East from his poverty stricken childhood. It narrates how he lost his family to plague, how he fought with his only legitimate son Culum, how he prospered against his arch rival Tyler Brock, how he made love with his Chinese mistresses. It also throws light on his friends Aristotle-the painter and Mary Sinclair. Then it narrates the saga of formation of Hong Kong in which Dirk was instrumental. And finally it tells how his son Culum became Tai Pan.

The story also vividly describes the changes British Society was undergoing after Industrial Revolution. Especially, its colonial aspirations and its strategies. At the same time lot of observations are elaborated regarding the engineering development especially the marine engineering during the nineteenth century.

The story uses lots of Chinese dialects and proverbs. So, at times it’s funny and at times witty. The stark contrast between European and Oriental habits like taking bath daily is noticeable in the story. In brief, this story is an interesting insight into the history of Hong Kong.

Other commendable works by James Clavell are Shogun, Gai-Jin, King Rat, Noble House (sequel of Tai Pan) and Whirlwind. James Clavell has also translated ‘The Art of War’, by Sun Tzu.