Thursday, March 19, 2020

“Irrationally Passionate” Book review

Biographies can be intriguing and motivating. My favourite biography is 'Made in Japan' by Akio Morita. There's something stirring about watching these extra-ordinary individuals walk through hardships and road blocks, there’s so much to learn! I prefer biographies of known achievers but Jason Kothari’s title as "Former CSIO of Snapdeal” piqued my interest.

"Pressure Makes Diamonds" -- That’s the story! 

“Irrationally Passionate” is story of Jason, a Hong Kong kid who schooled in different parts of the world, suffered racism, bullying and never fit in because of his Indian heritage marked second class. He was segregated in public, neglected as a customer and kept out of the baseball team. It’s a wonder he succeeded despite everything. He could have had been a pompous ass but instead tries to tell the world of his secrets.

Sting and Shadowman, two superhero characters of Valiant comics were also treated as outcasts became role models for Jason. When Jason saw his favourite comic company dying, he jumped on the opportunity to own it. I think that's highly admirable. Thinking of buying a company, bidding millions that you don't have, is no small feat. A major portion of the book deals with his struggle to resurrect Valiant Enterprise and bringing it back to its glory.

His mantra is based on sheer focus, hard work and perseverance. In his own words - 
"Everyday after school I would spend hours practising alone. I would imagine my basketball idol, Michael Jordan, and me playing one-on-one. Month after month I saw my performance improve. Foul shots, three-pointers, layups, hook shots - I drained bucket after bucket. When I beat every opponent in one-on-one pick-up games, I started challenging two guys to play me at once. When I blew through those competitors, I challenged myself to win an increasing margin and once led to team to a 40-0 victory!"

He takes us through his entrepreneurial life, starting from earning profit of $142 in an hour by selling pizzas as a kid to saving the sinking Snapdeal. He tells us to DARE to dream BIG. 

But "Life is messy and so is business", every business will throw difficulties at you. One should have the focus and resilience to endure the negativity from all around and push oneself to the goal. 

Bill Jemas, former COO of Marvel, Valient's competing company, says - 'Jason, at Valiant Entertainment, was exceptional. His success in reviving Valiant from the ashes is a rare and admirable feat. Jason is a very sharp, dynamic, relentless yet balanced entrepreneurial leader with a wonderful sense of humour and humility who maintains good cheer even through the most trying of times'. 

Kothari goes on to sharing his experiences at Housing.com, Freecharge and Snapdeal. Believing in giving back good to the world, Jason is frank in telling us all his right and wrong actions, successes and failures he made. He not only tells us to push oneself to achieve one’s dream but also when to stop and let go. The book is precious in terms of is his frank how-he-did-it accounts, invaluable learnings and framework of ideal start-up. Jason also tell us of an entrepreneur's personal life as a son, brother, friend and partner.

I believe this book is not just for entrepreneurs but all those who like to dream and have a goal. This book will shatter your glass ceiling of limit and fear. It tells us – “Think BIG. BELIEVE. Work HARD with DEEP CONVICTION. ENDURE. At the same time, also HELP others”

I too believe in Jason's words - Limits Are Illusions.

This book was sponsored by BlogAdda for review. This review is my honest opinion.
Recommended - 4.5 stars

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

Image result for my sister serial killer

Ayoola and Korede are sisters with opposite emotional qualities and capacity for accountability. Ayoola is beautiful but a serial killer. Korede is the moralistic elder sister but takes care of the cleanup. The story follows Korede's perspective and her handling of the bloody aftermath. 

Many people find the book hyped. I believe that is because they expected it to be about serial killers and the investigation. The real story is much deeper then the murders. It is about dealing with one's emotional loss and other's lack of empathy. It questions skin color, sexuality, appearance and one's rejection based on it. It lets us peek into the less explored African culture and about delving into relationships and responsibilities ingrained into body through blood ties and secrets.

The book is fluid and the short chapters keeps one hooked until the end. Novel premise and smart execution wins the reader's heart and mind. I think this book could not have been made any better. 

I highly recommend it.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Offerings


They were at the door of Khanna House. 

It’s a matter of a few hours, Maya reminded herself, After all they’d been regular to these monthly parties. She’d loved them, the ambience, decor, food, drinks. Richmond gardens was a respectable society with no place for indecency. If they both played their part, no one would know about their broken marriage and her battered body. 

She opened the door and was greeted by warm dim yellow chandelier lights. People in silks and suits moved around chatting and drinking wearing their best smiles. 

First step done, she thought. Her hand on husband’s arm slipped down. They’d taken first step of separation when Mr. Khanna popped before them, handing them a glass of wine, “Ah! Mr & Mrs Dima, welcome! You have been missing my parties. I hope my company doesn’t bore you now”.
“No”, Maya heard her husband say. “I have never been to a nicer party than yours and I mean it!” Mr. Khanna left, pleased.

She looked around, taking a long sip. The wine certainly was top shelf. Everything felt more luxurious than before.

Her chain of thought was broken by a high pitched voice, it was Tina. “Is that you Maya?”

“Where you’ve been?” she asked, one hand on chest, eyes wide with concern. To anyone it would seem Tina was her bestie. 

“You have been missing so much dear” Tina said.

“This party is nothing like before”, Maya said. 

“You don't say. Yes, Mr. Khanna is a wealthy man now. And…” Tina’s report was interrupted yet again. It was Suzanne. Tina coughed.
Maya couldn’t help staring at Suzanne who was in a red silk gown. She looked different, looked …happy? ten years younger? 
“How?” Words failed Maya.
“Good food, Yoga”, Suzanne whispered before leaving.
“Yoga? Well well, pelvic asana for sure” Tina blabbered. Maya was about to question when her eyes went to a couple in the corner. The man and woman were standing apart but Maya felt their relationship similar to her own.
“That couple?” Maya pointed. 
“The Dey couple. They have been here in last two parties. New here, Architect, his profession. Very social, I feel… I doubt ……”
Maya eyes couldn’t move away from the woman. She was looking away from the husband, detached, taking sips lethargically. She was gorgeous, as if dipped in melancholic beauty. Maya felt a sudden pang of sadness.
“Why?” Maya asked. 
“Is he the reason?” Tina said, understanding her question. Maya followed her eyes to Mr Dey, he was average looking but with a certain charm. He was beaming, as if the party belonged to him, his hand, subtly sliding around another woman’s waist.

“Dey was seen screwing a woman”, Tina whispered in Maya’s ears. Her voice was low but screeching with excitement. 
Maya looked at Tina in shock. There had been gossip. But not of this vile nature. Things have changed too much.

“Out in open you know, Mr R saw them. He was upset with such indecency…tsk..tsk.. He was going to complain to the secretary”
“Did he?” Maya took a sip.
“Nah, he wanted to but couldn’t. He was too shocked to name the woman”
Tina found herself leaning with interest. 
Tina coughed..“Our yoga lover, I guess the love positions have worked quite well”
“Must be a rumor. Definitely. I’ve known Suzanne for many years. She is a good person. Respectable” Maya said, offended.
“Oh dear, so a good person can't have physical needs?”
Maya followed Tina’s gaze to Suzanne who was stealing looks at Mr. Dey, the man oblivious to the ladies glances, had found yet another petite waist.

Back at home, as Maya removed her makeup from eyes, cheeks, lips, uncovering the hidden bruises. It hurt but her mind didn’t notice the pain. It was lost in the strange hall where everything was changed, things and people.

Buried in work, she missed the next party. She was back to the mirror spending hours hiding the new bruises. She was earning enough to afford a rented place in a wealthy neighbourhood. Why did her husband torment her with such violence? Or it has turned into a habit? He cannot be a sadistic husband, he wasn’t before. All she want is his love, like before.
Her phone rang, flashing Tina’s number.
“You disappeared again dear. I miss talking to you like old times” 
Annoyed with intrusion, Maya put phone on speaker. “I have news. I got a call from a friend. Remember the Dey couple? They have bought the apartment. Guess what, Dey guy sign the deal and same night, the owner died. Natural death, they say. But it sounds too convenient, isn’t it? This couple is something”, Tina kept on.
“But there is a good news too”, Tina’s voice was back to usual. 
“Suzanne’s CSR activities have received honours from the government. And her husband is promoted to director”
“Great news”, Maya said as she excused herself. 
It looked like Suzanne was living a second life, with a new body. Why her? Maya felt a strange feeling was welling inside her. She was surprised at the news but worried about her feelings. Her friends called her humble person. When did envy and anger enter her. How did this happen? 

That night, despite the randomness, when she saw the email, she felt there may still be hope of getting back the lost love.
The email just hinted of a solution to her problems. But she was not to speak about it.

She’d never felt claustrophobic before, not in such big room. James Dey, Interior designer, the nameplate said. This meeting was anything but housing consultation.

“Don't worry, you can leave any time you want” She jumped as Mr Dey appeared from nowhere. She felt strange, as if being watched, tracked. He was smiling. 

“We can help you with your problems…  Dont worry, we are not stalking you” He chuckled again. 
“These parties help us in the business. They may be little stressful but it works for us” he shrugged.
“How…?” Maya heard herself say.
“We are blessed with an ability, a God gift”, he said, leaning back.
“For every problem you have, we make a solution, and then we use blessings to turn it into success”
“Sorry, I don’t follow”
“Say, your problem is kind of poison” Maya cringed at the ghastly metaphor. “With our gift, we find right antidote, and then transfer it to you”
This doesn’t make any sense, she thought. But was surprised when she heard herself ask, “Why secret?”
“Oh, you need not worry. Many of your friends have used our services. Like newest of all, your best friend Tina”
Maya blinked.
“How can I trust you?”
“It depends on how eager are you to have a bruise-free life? Fifty thousand rupees is peanuts to you” She was sure now, It’s a prank, it’s too cheap.
“Large sum are easy to get noticed and tracked. And we are not after money”. He said reading her thoughts. “It’s a community service”, he added.
“If you want to engage our services, give me a call” 
Maya was nodding which surprised her that she was even thinking about it.
“One important thing” He walked towards her. An inch apart, he looked down at her. She felt strange as she looked into his eyes. Her nervousness was getting washed away in his strange disarming aura. 
“You see we are two individuals. To resolve your problem, me with the solution, we need a medium. A connection…. The manifestation can be only through coupling”
Bitterness filled her mouth. Disgusting, she thought, as she rushed to the door.
“Your life is your choice”, she heard his voice behind her back.

That night she was grateful that her husband was too drunk to deal with. And felt doubly grateful when Tina called.
“I have good news. I got promoted, hurrah. And, there’s more.. our long running court case of Calcutta mansion was concluded in our favour! “
As Maya congratulated Tina, she decided she would offer herself.

That night, Maya entered bed feeling guilty but the feeling vanished as her husband embraced her instead of abusing her.
She is not illiterate, not someone who would fall for superstition for nothing, not her. This surely is more than that. It has worked.

Mrs Dey smiled at her husband. 
“Your eyes, They summon” he said.
She looked satisfied. “Richmond gardens is wealthy society with fine line of families and education. Prudence and high morals were virtue they prided on. Especially this Maya. I hated her from very first moment she looked at me with those pitiful eyes…” She hissed.
But the next moment she mellowed and looked at her husband sitting by her feet. “But you’ve done well. Burnt down their virtues. You have offered me fine entertainment. Where will we find puritans to humble?”
“I will find them all”, he jumped to her. “Turn them all and offer it to you. Anything you desire”






The End

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Reviving the blog

10 years, 330 posts, I consider it an achievement. Looking back I see how this blog helped my writing to mature. But I have always been adamant to keep it restricted to creative writing. I have had an interest in photography for a long time, but I posted my photos on Facebook and other medium but not here.

In a way, I think it's a good way to organize my writing. Nowadays my (adhoc and irregular) writing is mostly for my manuscript and I am afraid this blog has gone dormant. I do want to revive it, partly because I believe it's the reason of my growth in creative writing in the past, but also because it brought a discipline of regular writing in me (I am hardly writing these days, that is not a good sign for an aspiring writer). I may have lost most of my readers and the posts may go uncommented but the need of the hour is me writing.

Since the past few months, I have been dabbling in a number of things apart from writing - travel, clay work and lately have turned to gardening. I intend to expand this blog to all kinds of creative hobbies. And why not? Look out for this space :)  

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Evening

It was evening, 7 pm. It had showered and the concrete around him looked cooled down. The few trees grounded by the cement looked relieved.

Better, he thought. The cool air refreshed his body. But the headlights of bumper to bumper cars threw beams of stuffy smog ahead.

Grr... He covered his nose. What will I have for dinner? A car honked, he shifted to the footpath. Too many cars. His feet kept on a relaxed stroll. Perhaps I should order something. I should call someone. 

He munched on the chicken dim sums he had ordered from a nearby Chinese restaurant. The whiteboard before him had a bullet point list. His eyes stopped on a random point - Call a friend was one of it. A pain went in his mouth, he pulled out a sharp bone from his inside of the cheek. I am going to give a strong feedback. He gargled on a mouthful of Pepsi and drank it.

He looked around the board, trying to observe the corners. From the long list of varied colors, as he tried his best to stray his eyes, they stationed on that one line. Call a friend.

It wasn't a difficult thing - this calling a friend. Perhaps he can WhatsApp someone. His hands went to the plastic container to pick another dim sum, but there were none. He had many friends. Many of them still consider him, or so he thought. But it's just like a flicker. These relationships.

Ram, Sham, and Bindu, anyone of these? He looked sideways on the wall. 7 pm. Too early for them on the other side of the world. Damn this ocean. Perhaps I can just message them. He tilted his head back, slurped the last of the drink and then licked the rim. Perhaps I will message later when they would be up. There were many things to do. Cleaning the house, the attic, the closets. He looked around. All looked a good sweep.

He tied a bandana around his head. Lot of work. Thirty minutes later he was sweeping the floor, he looked at the phone. The battery was good. No notifications. He looked at the fan and the attic. So much to do...

PS: Is this real? Behind locked doors, there are many waiting for someone else to call him. I had seen this amazing video by Guy Winch on emotional strength. Here's his blog link for more food for thought.