The Priceless and Timeless Father

Father’s day presents an opportunity to say ‘Thanks’ to my father.  But more importantly this day gives an opportunity to put words to the lessons I learnt from him, either through his words or his actions. Invaluable and irreplacable, he was, and thankfully I still find him here with me, as he makes his presence felt through his thoughts, the same thougths which he presented to me at some obscure stages of my life.

Thanks father, thanks for being there always.

1.  It is ok to fail: I have failed several times, and I used to know beforehand that I am going to fail and used to get nervous. And that is when my father played the most important role by comforting me. He was of the belief that it is perfectly fine to fail. He believed that if effort is there, success will sooner or later follow. I think that nowdays I live by this principle and I am able to enjoy my life more.

2. Speak less, listen more: Golden rule. I was told to listen out first to people and then speak. My father belived that doing so helps in understanding the want of the other person and hence being empathetic. I dont know how much I am able to follow this rule, but I will love to follow it more.

3. Do not save for tommorow at the expense of today: Unconventional. No, actually my father used to say that saving money for unexpected circumstances is very important but that should in no way hamper the lifestyle of today. Make provisions for future goals and for realistically possible events but also make sure that you spend enough to live the day fruitfully.

4. Money will never be constrain if you want to do something: Without getting into details of his hardship days, I must say that my father learnt this lesson and he never forgot to tell me the same. I too now believe that – do not give up on dreams for the lack of money. Keep trying God will always send the helping hand in time.

5. Be ethical in what you do: It is about work ethics. He used to tell me that, in the wake of earning money, ensure that you do not become short sighted and show dishonesty towards the work itself. Helping people with skills and being considerate towards their needs, wins you many hearts. Help selflessly, money will follow.

6. Be process oriented and not result oriented: This is the most important thing I have learnt from him.  He showcased this attitude in his day to day efforts, to the efforts towards which he was religiously disciplined.Those who know me would have heard me saying this many times.

7. Books are the best friends: I was never forced in to reading books. I was never forced by my parents to anything. I just picked the habit from him, and I think books are my best friends.

I dont think that any of the lessons sounds like new or out of box. Perhaps every father would have said so. But then, that is the beauty of such lessons- they are simple and hence they are timeless, priceless and so true. And that is the beauty of all the fathers, that in a way they all are same but then they too are timeless and priceless.

Suggested Book Reads for a Beginner -II (Non Fiction)

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The second list of the Suggested Book Reads for a beginners focuses on non- fiction category. I must confess that the list by now way is exhaustive, as it is impossible to make a complete list. So, here is the list (in no particular order):

1. Built To Last by Jim Collins ( Business and Management): The book’s focus is on the fundamental differences between a great and an average company. Several examples from the real world are included to drive the differences.

2. Straight From the Gut by Jack Welch (Business and Management): The legendary Jack Welch talks about his career as the leader of GE. Simple language and simplified but valuable lessons.

3. Autobiography of Lee Iacocca (Business and Management): Lee Iacocca takes through his inspirational journey in Ford and Daimler Chrysler.

4. Made In America by Sam Walton (Business and Management): The autobiography of Sam Walton, the man who created the mammoth Wal-Mart.

5.  Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson (Business and Management):  Two Mice and Two humans, describes the commonly occurring challenges and issues in the workplace.

6. It happened Only in India by Kishor Biyani (Business and Management): Autobiography of the man behind Big Bazaar. The book is a simple read and it pertains to the Indian entrepreneur.

7. The Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das (Philosophy/Social): In a very unique fashion, Gurcharan Das – former CEO of P&G, analyses each character of Mahabharata in detail. He then draws the learnings from them and applies those learnings to answer the questions on moral and ethical dilemma existing in the contemporary world.

8. The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant (Philosophy): A concise overview on the great philosophers and their philosophy.

9. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda (Spirituality): A simple story which gives insight on the Indian way of spirituality and self realization. By the way, Steve Jobs was so mightily impressed with this book that he read it several times, and he gifted the copies of this book to friends and family. It is also considered to be his last gift to them.

10. Krishna: The Man and his Philosophy by Osho (Spirituality):  I am a Krishna Fan, and no better person to explain Krishna than Osho. In his book he has drawn comparisons between Krishna and other greats – Buddha and Mahavira.

11. It’s Not About The Bike by Lance Armstrong (Sports- Autobiography): Inspirational. I must say it is a bible of inspiration. Lance Armstrong talks about his fight with cancer and how he then went on to become the world champion in the most grueling sporting event of cycling.

12. Out of the Comfort Zone by Steve Waugh (Sports- Autobiography): The gritty Steve Waugh talks about his journey to greatness with several interesting anecdotes.

13. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki (Finance): Through the life style of two people ‘rich dad’ and ‘poor dad’ Kiyosaki teaches the basic investing decisions and he management of the personal finances. The book is simple to understand.

14. Freakonomics by Dubner and Levitt (Economics): With very little technicalities the authors try to explore the hidden side of the common occurrences through the periscope of economics.

15.  Law for the Layman by M.J. Anthony (Legal): Overview of the laws to make a commoner aware about his rights and laws (India) affecting day to day life. One highly informative book.

16. Seven Habits of Highly Effective people by Stephen Covey (Self Help): One of the most recommended book of this genre. The chapters on Win-Win and First things First are my favorite.

17. The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma (Self Help):  A simple read. Read it long back but still remember the 21 day formula of doing a particular act to make it a habit and I still share it with others.

18. Glimpses of the World History by Jawaharlal Nehru (History): Collection of letters which Nehru sent from the prison to his daughter. In the letters he has, in a very simple manner, described the entire world history. The book is voluminous but the chapters are not very long and the language is simple.

19. Indian Unbound by Gurcharan Das (India/Economics): Gurcharan Das discusses the India’s economic journey post independence. It gives good insight on the Hindu Growth Rate period.

20.Stay Hungry Stay Foolish by Rashmi Bansal (Entrepreneurship): A collection of the entrepreneurial journey of 25 IIM A pass outs. The book becomes monotonous after the first 5-6 chapters but it is insightful till then.

 

To Read More On Books Check:

https://enlightenedsid.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/suggested-book-reads-for-a-beginner-fiction/

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Suggested Book Reads for a Beginner (Fiction):

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All most all the people realize importance of book reading as a habit and at least once in their life they have tried to build on this habit but only few people are able to do so successfully. There may be many reasons which may make the try unsuccessful, and the wrong choice of the book is among one of the prominent reasons. By wrong choice I mean a book whose subject matter or language is too complex for a beginner.

Here is my list of beginner books; of course many would find this list incomplete, which it is. There is a possibility that I have missed quite an obvious book or author name in my list. But then we are talking about a hobby with a limitless scope, so in all likelihood I would not have read the author or the book which someone else may think of as an obvious read.

I suggest that for a beginner, fiction books are the one to start with. Generally, a beginner is interested in a storyline. There should be a hook to keep the beginner under arrest, and the storyline could just be that hook. For the fiction category rather than the books I suggest the authors whom one can read.

The list is no particular order –

  1. Chetan Bhagat or Sidney Sheldon: They have played such an important role of introducing many people into the realm of book reading. Their books are spicy and the language is simple.
  2. Robin Cook: Robin cook writes medical thrillers.
  3. John Grisham: John Grisham writes legal thrillers.
  4. Agatha Christie: Best known for her crime detective novels.
  5. Dan Brown: Personally, one of my favorites when it comes to thrillers. He creates a maze with the theme of symbols and codes and takes the reader through mind boggling treasure hunts. The Da Vinci Code and Angel and Demons are two of the best books.
  6. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Talk about detective novels and it is impossible to miss the legendary Sherlock Holmes. Sir Doyle’s writing style is true Englishman like with an absolute fondness for the purity of language.
  7. Short Story Books of Rudyard Kipling and of R.K. Narayan: Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling and Malgudi Days by RK Narayan are the two of the best short story books for the beginners. The immortal characters of Mowgli and Swami find their irreplaceable place in the pantheons of fictional world through these two books respectively.
  8. Paulo Coelho: Personally, I do not like Paulo Coelho books, but there are few landmarks which one has to visit as a ritual. The Alchemist is by far the most popular book of the author.
  9. Mario Puzo: Perhaps no other author and his books would have inspired so many Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers as Mario Puzo. Best known for the book The Godfather, the author has written several books on Mafia.
  10. P.G. Wodehouse: When it comes to humour, P.G. Wodehouse is incomparable. Besides the humour, the biggest attraction of the P.G. Wodehouse books is their slim size. Pick up the ones with Jeeves as the main character.
  11. J.K. Rowling: The writer of the best seller series, Harry Potter. This is one writer, I have missed reading altogether. I regret the miss and I am about to make up for it. I think her popularity is a good enough reason to pay the ritualistic visit to at least one of her books.

 

https://enlightenedsid.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/book-review-the-winning-way/

https://enlightenedsid.wordpress.com/2015/05/16/book-review-crime-and-punishment/

https://enlightenedsid.wordpress.com/2015/03/08/book-review-the-calcutta-chromosome/

https://enlightenedsid.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/one-hundred-years-of-solitude/

The Three Mistakes of My Budget

Taxis, shopping and the so called ‘points’ or spots – they all are so indispensable part of any vacation tour. Yet, while budgeting for the tour expenses, they are often under-calculated. And the budgeting can go for a toss if the vacation tour happens to be in the overly commercialized stations of Mahabaleshwar and Lonavala. In my recent tour to these places, I discovered a gamut of hidden charges which adds up to the cost.  Here are few:

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  1. The Taxi Timelines: Taxis are the major contributor to the unplanned expenditure.  Usually, the taxis at the tourist places charge money as per the package. For example, in Mahabaleshwar they have 5 packages, with 6-8 points in each package.  Each package has a fix time duration too. The problem is that the time duration is so thin that it is virtually impossible to cover all the points under that package. And what happens in case one overshoots the time? One has to pay the penalty, which is highly arbitrary and negotiable.  There are two things to understand, one, that in vacation we do not care about the time and two, that in vacation we do not care to fight and get disturbed. So eventually, we end up paying more than the worth.
  2. The Rides and Entry Fees: The second hidden cost which is difficult to calculate is the entry fees of the spots.  Only after coming out from the spot, we realise that it was not that worth.  Then there are the horse rides and the camel rides, the boating and the bungee jumping, and the many unplanned games,  and they all add up to the cost. It is not the cost, but it is the exorbitant amount being charged for these items which is taxing.  We know that we are being fooled but we are so helpless that we let it go.
  3. The Syndicate: With most of the people booking their hotels online, the taxi driver -hotel syndicate has really been shaken. But this time I discovered new syndicates.  If you want to buy something, say the famous chikki of lonavala or strawberry of mahabaleshwar, and you request the taxi driver to stop at a particular place, he will not do so. He will take you to the shop of his choice.  And then you might see him gulping a bowl of cream or getting a box of chikki from the shopkeeper.  And to whom will the shopkeeper add this cost? Definitely to you!!

So, the next time when you make the budget for your tour, you may add up extra 10-15% to the budgeted cost for these hidden expenses.  But remember, any amount of hidden cost is worth if you choose the right company 🙂 I chose right and for me the hidden costs were damn worth.  After all, in vacations all I care for is the company.

The Flight Worms

While travelling, I always find at least one person – a mobile worm- inside the plane who keeps on talking over the cell phone even after the verbal instructions to switch off the phone are issued. And when the flight staff request the person to stop talking and to switch off the phone, the brave person stares back, as if what kind of cowardly request has been made. Amidst the stern look of the fellow passengers he finally switches off and shows as if his 100 crore deal has been scrapped due to the cowardice of the passengers. Then I also, almost always find that one person, who as soon as the seat belt signal is set off, stands up and rushes to the toilet.

Then there are few landing worms. These people refuse to straighten their seats even after the landing announcement is made. They belong to the breed to which the mobile worms belong. They wait for the staff to make a request. Perhaps plane is the only place where such people are able to attract some importance, and so they do not miss on the opportunity. And yes, the most interesting set is the last set of people, who switch on their mobile the moment the flight touches the land and shouts loudly “Meri flight airport touch kar li hai, tu pahuch gaya naa lene”. We have so many Ambanis and Birlas and Tatas in making.download

Book Review: The Winning Way

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After a long time I picked up a self-help book and I must say that The Winning Way by Anita  and Harsha Bhogle did not disappoint me.  The book is compilation of all the experiences which the authors have gathered by conducting training sessions on Winning for the corporate. What sets this book apart from the other books of the genre is the parallel drawn between the winning formula in the sports world and the corporate world.

Content: The content of the book, as the name suggests, focuses on the necessary ingredient to Win – be it in sports or business or life in general.   The book features lots of regular areas – Goal Settings, Importance of attitude over ability, Team Building, Change and Leadership. But for me the most refreshing features are chapters on The Burden of Winning – which talks about the downside of winning- and Learning while Losing.

Rating: 3.5/5

Presentation: The presentation of the content and the analogies drawn between the sports and the corporate world is refreshing.  The authors have used interesting anecdotes and examples to drive their arguments. Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous personality and the quote nicely sets the tone for the chapter. The chapter then discusses one topic in detail and covers various aspects on that topic. At the end of each chapter a summary of all important points is listed.

Rating 3.5/5

 Language: Harsha Bhogle as a cricket commentator is witty with his remarks and that wittiness is reflected in the book too. The language used is simple and lucid but quite compelling.  Unlike the other self help books, the tone used is not didactic in nature, which again is a welcome change.

Rating 4/5

Overall, I suggest The Winning Way can be read by anyone,  as it is easy to understand and relevant to people of any age.

Book Review: Crime and Punishment

Crime-and-Punishment

When I was suggested to read the book ‘Crime and Punishment’, I was bit hesitant to do so, because of its stale title. But it only took a reading of few pages to shed my hesitation. I need just one reason to love a book and Crime and Punishment has offered me quite a few.   

Written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, this book is definitely among one of the more impactful novels I have read. The book presents a deep insight on the negative shade of the human character and on the moral struggle between their right side and the wrong side.

The Theme:  “What do you think, would not one tiny crime be wiped out by thousands of good deeds?” 

“The man who has a conscience suffers whilst acknowledging his sin. That is his punishment.” 

The two quotes from the book summarizes the theme.  The primary theme of the book is crime, suffering and redemption but the author has unfolded the theme in a thought provoking manner with the aid of eloquent arguments.  As far as the book is concerned, the narration and the arguments – and not the story -makes it a classic.

Raskolnikov, an intelligent destitute youth, who believes in the philosophy that it is right to do wrong against some people for the greater good, dreams himself equivalent to Napoleon and commits a murder, what follows next is his struggle with his self.  The moral struggle of Raskolnikov is so beautifully depicted that it arouses the feelings of empathy, pity, hatred, all at once towards him.

Rating 4/5

The Characters and the Scope:  The book is filthy rich in terms of characters.  Besides the protagonist there are other powerful characters, each very impressionable. There is a beautiful and chaste sister of Raskolnikov who believes in sacrificing self for the well being of others. There is Pyotr Luzhin, a pervert wealthy man who wants to marry a poor girl so that she remains indebted to him. There is a prostitute, Sonya in whom Raskolnikov finds some salvage for his crime. There is a lecher Svidrigailov with his interesting theory on flattery and lechery.  There is Razumikhin who symbolises a true friend and then there is an intelligent investigator who lays a moral trap in which Raskolnikov finds himself entangled.

Dostoyevsky has penned each character with a ferocious intensity.  I especially liked the description of the traits of Pyotr Luzhin as and when he entered the story.  One can almost hear the noise of the author grinding his teeth in anger while penning this character.

The only negative about the characters is their mouth filling multi -syllable names.

Rating 5/5

The Flow of the Plot:  The plot is set up in the semi lunatic town of St. Petersburg, the town with an air of warm gloominess.  The author has at many places used the description of the town and its weather to set the shade of the darkness in the plot. The plot flows quite smoothly and characters come, play their part, create an impact and vanish without making their absence conspicuous.

Rating 4/5

The Language: The book is originally written in Russian and there are many translations available but I suggest the translation by David McDuff.  I had chance of reading few pages by another translator and I realised how important a role the translator plays.

The Language used is rich and lucid. At places the author/translator has used legal phrases and native words all of which are explained in the notes section of the book.  The language used while describing the characters is vivid.  Dialogues between the characters are always meaningful and as a reader I was able to feel the tension whenever Raskolnikov talked to any other character.

Rating 4/5

Overall, Crime and Punishment is a rich book – in terms of philosophy, characters, language and arguments.  I suggest that it should be part one’s library.

Here are some  more quotes:

“Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” 

“To go wrong in one’s own way is better then to go right in someone else’s.” 

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars, 
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!” 

“Pain and suffering are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth.

“There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery. If there is a hundredth of a fraction of a false note to candor, it immediately produces dissonance, and as a result, exposure. But in flattery, even if everything is false down to the last note, it is still pleasant, and people will listen not without pleasure; with coarse pleasure, perhaps, but pleasure nevertheless. ”

“In my opinion, if, as the result of certain combinations, Kepler‘s or Newton‘s discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty… to remove those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to mankind. It by no means follows from this, incidentally, that Newton should have the right to kill anyone he pleases, whomever happens along, or to steal from the market every day.”

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