Monday, May 7, 2018

Love Trumps All by Sudarshan Mahabal

Title: Love Trumps All
Author: Sudarshan Mahabal
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Inkstate
Price: 399/279(Kindle Edition)
Pages: 374

This is a story of lives narrated by its multiple protagonists about their life journeys around one another. It is set up from the era when "America" was "a dream" for many Indians and the Y2K boom did present a opportunity for many to make it come true, till the current times when it is no longer a fantasy and questions like values, ethics and life satisfaction have taken an equal importance.

The protagonists are Anant Joshi, the typical Indian small town guy, works hard and achieves milestones and fulfills his American dream. Madhura Sharma, a girl with great love for India and a strong urge to work in social sector and give back to the society. Chris, O 'Brian an American entrepreneur who loves nature and travel, Anants best friend too. Amy Cohen, Chris's girlfriend and very mush a free spirited American girl, training to be a doctor.  Sameera Qureshi - Amy's best friend and fellow medical student, Indian Muslim girl with a troubled past.

Anant Joshi takes the central stage mostly as it is around his life story and decisions that most other events unfold. He is an above average India student, not extremely brilliant but hard working. With a little guidance and imagination carves out himself from the cocoon of his small town Khamgoan in Maharashtra first to the city of Mumbai and then to the USA in the Y2K phase. The writer has done maximal justice in portraying his character, for if one is an Indian ambitious youth who despite coming from humble beginnings in a resource constrained, information poor zones as most of the youth today is, one can immediately relate to him. He is in love with the idealistic Madhura, who is all Indian by soul person. She feels cheated when he decides to make his future in the USA and refuses to go along. 

Life in USA changes for Anant, as he slowly adjusts to their ways while maintaining his individuality. He finds a good friend in Chris O'Brian, who is a regular, intelligent and chilled out American citizen. His girlfriend Amy is a free spirit and is a close friend of Sameera Qureshi. Anant and Sameera fall in love on a trip but the religion barrier exist. However they don't feel the full blow of it as they are in a far away alien nation. Few years down the line however things change as they decide to move back to India, to be closer to their roots and for a better work life balance. However, India has changed a lot since when Anant first moved to the states. The difference in religion would hit them harder now. Also life will come in full circle as Madhura would make a re-entry into the couples lives. To know what happens next, read the book.

The writer has done an amazing job in describing the Y2K boom period and how Indians were hired in masses, the problems they faced and the adjustments they made, to eventually make the great American dream come true. The book is more of a philosophical take on life, situations, politics religion and most of all relationships. The book alternates with the characters narrating their stories which is distracting as one has to go to and fro from a single point and it is many a times very repetitive. The author has given his reasons for choosing to do so which to the reader in me isn't very convincing. 

The book also goes in extreme details at certain points which drag the flow and gets one dis-interested. These could be easily avoided with good editing. The story also had a great potential in ending in a full circle, a beautiful metaphorical ending, but the writer chooses to drag it further. The story should have been a third person narrative which would have done a lot of justice to the plot and the essence it tries to convey in my opinion.

RC Rating: 3/5.

       About The Author:

Sudarshan is a Data Scientist in one of the large Silicon Valley companies by day, and a writer by night. He is a Production Engineer from VJTI Mumbai, MBA from California State University, Stanford Certified in Strategy and a research scholar working on his PhD in predictive analytics from SIU. He is also a visiting professor of statistics and data mining at different MBA institutions. He splits his life between Silicon Valley, USA and Pune, India with his wife, their two sons and a golden retriever dog named Steffy who is the furry love of his life. 'Love Trumps All!' is his first novel.

Grab a copy here:,204,203,200_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

Book Review : Before You Start Up by Pankaj Goyal

Title: Before You Start Up
 Author: Pankaj Goyal
Category: Non-Fiction
Publisher: Pankaj Goyal
Price: Fingerprint Publishers 
Pages: 155
Price: 175 (Free on Kindle Unlimited)

Snapshot: If you fall in the range of being an individual who is to start up a business but are confused or somebody who has started a business recently. The book gets you face to face with the most critical questions you should ask yourself, the aspects you must consider in this phase. The writer explains every point he makes with exemplary cases which makes it an authentic and an interesting read.

Detailed Review: 
As the name suggests this is a book you read before you have actually started up. The author also has some sections for people who are an year or so (nascent) into their start ups, VC's to judge a start up pitch or get into a business themselves, and best of all for people dating the start up people (yeah I know you would love him already for this). The writer begins the book with a lot of honesty which makes one hooked to it.

The first chapter is a hard look at the reasons people want to start up as it sounds really cool, the generation craves independence at work and control, don't want a boss, it seems to the pop culture thanks to the Business leaders getting a star status and the valleys like Silicon coming up which glamorizes the business world more than it has been ever before this time. It gives you a real picture of the success ratios of startups which is one in ten and the reasons why many could fail.The author has given multiple examples, a good mix of both the billion dollar and locally successful companies, so as to be real and not just glamorous which I found to be one of the most critical aspects of this book. 

If your determination lasts thus far ad you are very sure to take the plunge to be an entrepreneur, he takes you deeper into the aspects critical to the business such as: Why do you wish to build a specific business? How to turn into an idea generating machine? How to create a business plan and seriously evaluate your idea. choose a co founder and aspects to really dwell microscopically into before taking the plunge? He then
dwells into brushing up on every key basic aspect that one needs to be mentally prepared for and pay attention to before taking the plunge.The writer finally goes into helping you set parameters to evaluate the success of your business in the first year. 

Many books inspire you to create business and many teach you how to, the important questions that remain to be addressed are "Why, What and When" of the business and this book fills that lacunae. If you want a spreadsheet that helps you evaluate your decision of starting up, grab this book right away.

RC Rating : 4/5

About the Author:

Pankaj Goyal grew up in a typical Indian middle class family in Rajasthan. In a family of government employees, he was taught the standard script to build your career: “Work hard on academics and get the highest scores”. And that’s the path he took. While he got his Bachelors in Computer Science from IIT Kanpur and an MBA from IIM Bangalore, there was always an itch . . . an itch to start a business. He started his company in 2008 and ran it for three years. His experience was bitter sweet. The business generated good cash, but failed to grow. He then took a break, moved to the USA and joined McKinsey and Company. Ever since, he has worked across the world in the technology industry. His work is now focused on applying Artificial Intelligence for the benefit of companies. He continues to be involved in the world of entrepreneurship as an angel investor and as an advisor to startups in the Silicon Valley and India.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman

Title: The Malhotra Bride
Author: Sundari Venkatraman
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishers
Price: 175/120 (free on Kindle unlimited)
Pages: 224

Sunita, a beautiful young girl, the only daughter of eminent businessman Gokul Rishi wants to live her life, work, travel, etc. While her father has other plans. Being from a reserved family, she knows there are limitations, but the heart wants what it wants. Akshay Malhotra, the scion of Malhotra empire, happens to be her ideal match. Both parents want it, more so, hers. She is in a fix and cannot convince anyone otherwise. On her first meeting with Akshay, he being smitten by her beauty offers a deal, a contract for a few years instead of a marriage and then freedom if she wants. Knowing the next suitor wont give her anything, she accepts.

Akshay however is madly in love with her. Each day he spends time with her to get to know her better, he falls in love more. She gels well with his family too, who are much more modern and chilled out compared to her own parents. Her family loves him, especially her grandfather who she is closest to. Will she fall for Akshay? Will love take over other ambitions? What happens to the contract? If the contract stays, will her family?

The story is laced with romance, passion, action and twists. The only flaw being the two twists in the end were resolved too fast, they could have been exploited well instead. 

Though nothing less is expected from an experienced writer like Sundari Venkatraman, this one is certainly a fairy tale you wish were true. A breezy romantic read. 

RC Rating : 3.5/5

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Another Week Full of Humans!!!!

I am confused. Should I feel secure for I am no more an innocent child of eight and thus am incapable of arousing heinous barbaric minds? Or should I still be anxious for I continue to be a woman?

Humans, unlike dinosaurs or our other fellow world mates who failed to adjust with evolution, have mastered the art of survival. Have you ever wondered how they are doing this? Species are coming... species are going... humans stay put. Marvellous! Right? Wrong.

I have a theory. I am no Darwin but if Charles were here, he would second my discovery, I assure you. Humans are gone. What you see now is an evolved form of that species which may look and act like humans, but is something else. Dystopia has silently hit us. I say, start packing for mars.     

The other day I was riding back home in a cab while listening to the radio. These days’ cabs are the only place where I listen to the radio, need to work on that. Anyhow, during that ride I heard this news of extreme elephant poaching in Africa for ivory trade. This slaughter has reduced the count of elephants by alarming numbers.

I have resolved to never buy anything ivory ever. I strongly urge you to do that as well. I mean, it is okay if you do not have someone’s teeth hanging around your neck or sitting on your mantle.

While elephants are being killed for their teeth, back home Rahul Gandhi has opened his mouth, again. He has decided to impeach our CJI just before the final leg of the “I-don’t-care-just-build-an-amusement-park-over-that-piece-of-land” Babri case. If there is one person who holds the power of my sanity, it is Mr. Gandhi. I think, like Einstein, Mr. Gandhi’s brain should also be preserved and studied. Just a suggestion!

Here in Kolkata, happily oblivious of the world, some of my human friends are extremely worried about Shahrukh Khan’s health. Apparently in an IPL match he looked starved and flogged. When you buy a team composition like current KKR’s, you may look a bit tan. The relief is that KKR has picked their game up so Mr. Khan, I am sure, is fine.  

Amidst all, I am not going to refer to the Kathua case because it’s heartbreaking to even write about it. But playing politics-politics with the Kathua case is beyond repulsive. A little girl went through what she did, in a civilised society, by people who claim to be human representatives, and the religious-politics surrounding it, I am ashamed. Being an atheist I simply do not bother for religion, but even I believe that this is the deepest it could stoop to.

I am sure all of you have signed the ‘Justice for Asifa’ petition doing the rounds. If you haven’t yet, then please do it now. 

Here is the link:

Will get back with more update on humans, till then, keep your zombie kit closer. 

Article by Koel Ganguli: 

Koel was born and brought up in Kolkata. After completing Mass Communication, she got into content writing. Apart from her love for writing, she likes to read, travel alone and of course, sleep. She has the superpower to survive solely on chocolates and is a firm believer in fantasy. Koel also believes that stories choose writers and not the other way around. Here is a fantasy that chose her as its storyteller.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Age of Azmoq: The Valantian Imperium by Rajamayyoor Sharma

Title: Age of Amzoq: The Valantian Imperium 

Author: Rajamayyoor Sharma

Category: Fantasy Fiction
Publisher: Self Publsihed (2018)
Price: 499/ Kindle edition (free)

Serious fantasy fiction lovers have one more reason to rejoice- The Valantian Imperium, the first book in a series called The Age of Azmoq, is finally set to captivate readers into a fictional world where a gripping saga unfolds.

 A series of events…
The protagonist, Dev, works as a shop assistant in Villasboro, a self-contained village where the last ‘outsider’ had come three centuries ago. Not surprisingly, the extended presence of an outsider makes one of the villagers worried. This sets the ball rolling. Dev befriends the visitor. A series of events follow that leads the young unsuspecting boy into a long and dangerous adventure.

On his journey he befriends Karn and Eric, two brave people who stand by him. The three have their own reasons to get together for a common goal. On a quest, the reason for which is revealed as one reads the story, they have a series of adventures and unique experiences. They learn mysteries of the mind from nomads, fight with soldiers and escape death a multitude of times. Grim, who is Dev’s employer, also plays a vital role in the story.

These three individuals have an individual goal they want to achieve. Little do they know, that a more supreme cause waits them. It is to do with Azmoq. Azmoq is a magical metal that holds a supreme power thanks to its properties. Those who control Azmoq control the world. The ‘fight’ for this control is the crux of the entire story.

The world he creates:

One of the biggest challenges of writing fantasy fiction is actually creating a fantasy world. This book is set in Valantia. The continent of Valantia is vast and exists in a world with five oceans and seven continents. The Valatian Imperium rules the continent. However, after a revolution against the rulers, there seems to be a witch hunt for the revolutionaries. Amidst this, there is a trio of dedicated young men who are on a mission to seek justice.

The author creates a believable fantasy world, replete with the minutest of details. For instance, one of the key villages where the source of action begins, is Villasboro. Not only do we know about the very different and unique personality of people there but also mundane details like their monetary system and so on, complete with explanatory footnotes! He also invents the fictional language Deusorthok, that is used in the book at some places. The appendix at the end of the book explains the entire creation and functioning of the government- The Valantian Imperium.
There is a lot of elaborate history of this fictional world- how it was created, who ruled it and how the order was now threatened. The author uses footnotes at various points in the story to introduce finer details about this world. He gives the reader a choice as to whether he wants to read the footnotes and understand the setting a little better, or move on with the story. This makes the place alive in the mind of the reader. 
Parallel stories..

The pace is leisurely though the novel is filled with many details. This is not a regular quick weekend read. It is a book that needs to be read with time on hand. 

However, despite the length and the plethora of details, it never gets tedious. Something new crops up in every chapter which adds to the element of suspense, and you just want to know what comes ahead. 

Another element which keeps the excitement going is the changing narrative. The novel switches between the first and third person, thus adding to the element of interest. It also experiments in the narrative- parallel stories across time are narrated and the loose ends come together. The book starts off with Dev as the narrator but there are instances when the story is in the third person or when another character takes the narrative strings in his own hands. The story also oscillates between the past and the present. 

For me, this experimentation in taking the story forward and building added to the experience of reading the novel.

Everything is political

On a basic level, this is a good versus evil story. The underlying theme is the quest for power by controlling Azmoq. A lot of themes emerge in the novel- the dangerous nature of power, the ambiguity of what is good and what is bad, the nature of true friendship, the futility of war and most importantly the nature of government and how governments can control the minds of people.

At a deeper level the story is also about power and how those in power, manipulate it in order to control the general public and retain the power. When it comes to power politics it is difficult to understand what is good and bad or right and wrong. Can society be controlled and manipulated by those in power, even without the victims being aware that they are being controlled? On careful reading this aspect comes out strongly.

Consider this quote by Karn:

“There are many forms of oppression. The cow that fills the land doesn’t think that it is oppressed. It gets beaten twice a day and its masters tell it repeatedly that it’s forefathers world get beaten every hour,”

Or, what one of the opposition assassins tells the protagonist:  

I killed a man I didn’t know, for rulers I have never met....your friend never had a chance. If not me, there would have been some other assassin who would have come to kill him. As long as the Imperium dictates who lives, who dies....there is no true...choice 

 The theme of authoritative powers controlling the entire perception of a society recurs.

As another wise character puts it,

“Reality was finally, a convergence of infinite perceptions. Our perceptions were being increasingly bound by the information we possessed, which was being molded and controlled by the rulers of our land. There was no avenue available to anyone to shake the shackles placed on their mind by the Valantian Imperium. This made it easy for the Imperium to hold onto power, while we languished and suffered without even realizing it,”

Elsewhere in the novel a sage talks about the four key components that are needed to lay concrete foundation for a successful and sustainable society, thus cementing this philosophical angle. 
Wars make up an integral part of the novel. Both the futility and the necessity of war is something that is sensitively brought out in the story. 

The turn of events spirals towards a satisfying conclusion...or rather a pause. For though things are good for now, the varied incidents in the story have set in motion a chain of events that will change the world forever. And the story will continue...

Looking forward to the next book.

Grab a copy here:

Legends Over Generations by Ashraf Haggag Now Available in Hindi.

Book Summary (Hindi):
इस विश्व के प्रसिद्ध व्यक्तित्व कौशलव्यक्तिगत गुणों और अन्य बाहरी कारणों के साथ जुड़े वास्तविक प्रयासों के विशाल कारणों को बंदरगाह है जो एक नेता की पूरीतस्वीर को आकार देने में आवश्यक हैं 

यदि हम व्यापारअर्थशास्त्रविज्ञानसामाजिक या राजनीतिक क्षेत्र में प्रसिद्ध नेताओं के जीवन को देखते हैंतो हम सभी पहलुओं में व्यक्तित्व गुणोंकौशल आदि मेंकई समानताएं देखेंगे।

यह पुस्तक एक चित्रण है  इस विश्व के प्रसिद्ध व्यक्तित्वों का  और उनके कौशल,और व्यक्तित्व लक्षणों का जो  उपलब्ध होना चाहिए और मौजूद हैफिर आगे बढ़ते हुएहम देखेंगे की किस तरह विभिन्न किवदंतियों , उनकी विभिन्न शैली और उसके प्रभाव ने पूरी पीढ़ी के दिमाग और आत्मा को आकार दिया।

अंत मेंविभिन्न क्षेत्रों में चयनित नेताओं पर प्रकाश डाला है है जो हमारे जीवन पर  मजबूत प्रभाव डालता है और आकार देता है।

Book Summary (English):

People contributed to various life aspects such as science, politics, literature, arts, social activities and so many other fields. These genius minds put a keen interest in every phenomenon right from when they were young. The zeal, passion, dedication, hard work and efforts they put into their work helped them discover something new about the world we live in.

In these Legends, we’ve seen inexplicable abilities that helped us define our existence and human life. Their names are engraved in the sands of time for their work in the welfare of mankind with different inventions that have made our lives easy, enjoyable and successful. The following chapters commemorate the greatest personalities we’ve ever seen who changed the world.

They are among the most influential people in today’s world. With practical advantages in various aspects, they have helped us to grow a better understanding of the world and different working phenomenon’s that governs us. Their way of shaping modern day culture is completely unrivaled.

The book is available here:

Saturday, March 31, 2018


It is dark right now,
darkness all around
dark is all I know,
dark is all I see,
darkness, I know its colour -black,
pitch dark in my heart and soul,
no shadows to listen to my call,
my cry doesn't echo here,
or perhaps it does but nobody can hear,
the last flame bearer has passed,
away into another world, 
to a more giving face perhaps,
the last flicker of that flame,
was the good bye,
what blew it off?
the wind or was that me saying- goodbye?