The Scorpios

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You Have Arrived as a Previous Generation Person...

When you say, I really can't stand grammatical errors. I may be old fashioned/ of the previous generation....
and the other person agrees- No, no it is not just about generation gap, what is wrong is wrong!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011


"Simply to endure is to triumph" is the motto that 13 year old
Lakshmi's mother ingrained into her.
And this helps her survive the most difficult phases of her life.
This book is based on the story of a survivor of child trafficking.
The book aims to bring her devastating experience to the attention of
people so that this gruesome practice comes to an end.

Lakshmi lives with her family in a village in Nepal. She has simple
pleasures in life- her goat that follows her everywhere, watching the
boy who she has been promised in marriage, her patch of cucumbers and
her school.
The vagaries of nature like the long drought and the incessant rains
together with her step father's gambling lead them to extreme poverty.
Her step father decides that it is time that she takes up a job to
feed her family and on that pretext sells her to a stylish lady.
Lakshmi is taken to the big city and thereafter she is sent with an
"uncle" to a far away place and finally taken to the "Happiness House"
which is a brothel.

A cruel old woman called Mumtaz rules the brothel. The police are in
cahoots with her therefore there is no escape for those who once enter
this place.
Lakshmi is made to believe that once she pays off her family's debt to
Mumtaz, she would be free to leave.

The promise of freedom and the believe that her earnings are being
sent to her family keeps her going. Slowly she becomes friendly with
the other girls and even a boy who teaches her to speak in the local

A day comes when she gets a chance to make a bid to freedom. Will she
dare to take it?

The book is written in tiny chapters like the pages of a diary.
I finished t his book in one engrossing sitting, the pages flying fast
because of the small size of the chapters.
Some chapters are just small rhymes whereas others are more detailed.
While what Lakshmi goes through his gruesome, the book spares us the
sordid details and what we are left in the end is a great sense of
However, I do wish we get to know of what happens after the end of the book.

Title- Sold
Author- Peter McCormick
Publisher- Panmacmillan
Price- Rs 245

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I am Feeling Lucky- The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

After Google, I find myself impatient with the way the world works.

Says Doug about problems that are solvable yet are not getting solved.

Douglas was the first Dough in Google- employee number 59 who joined this small start up as a big-company guy. When he left Google, he left a big company as a small-startup guy.

The story of Doug’s journey begins at his lively interview with the founders. Sergey was known to give a task to all those he interviewed- tell me something that I do not know yet. It was his way of getting a spark of an idea, or eliciting thoughts from people talking of subjects that he did not know of.

Doug’s first task was to get a thorough grounding in search technology including complicated terms like page rank, crawling and indexing.

In his first week, Doug asked for Google’s strategic plan. But much to his surprise- it all existed in the heads of Larry and Sergey who were never in a mood to discuss it.
The first important lesson that Doug learnt was on the day of his proposal presentation. He started off saying- our competitors are approaching Google’s level of quality, so we need to rely on branding to differentiate us from others.

Larry said quietly- if we can’t win on quality, we shouldn’t win at all.

That was the moment when unlearning for Dough perhaps began.

Sergey insisted against Doug’s arguments that Google logo could be dynamic and not a constant. So whether there was turkey logo for Thanksgiving or a bouncing heart applet for Valentine’s Day Google Doodles became a big hit. If Doug had his way, there would be no Google Doodles!

In this story written by an insider, Douglas takes us through the journey of Google from a start up in a garage to a formidable organization that floated IPO’s in a span of 6 short years.

He talks of everything including the seemingly minor clean up of the search page and not allowing pop ups to the very important hosting of news content in the wake of 9/11.

Reading an insider’s perspective does give a different feel to the story that I know already. To that extent, there was nothing new or different in the story. But like an epic that gets retold several times, this story also takes a different form each time it is narrated.

Title- I am Feeling Lucky

Author- Douglas Edwards

Price- Rs 550

Publisher- Penguin


Alexandra Ripley’s story Scarlett begins at the “Tomorrow” that Margaret Mitchell left the book “Gone with the Wind“ at.

Scarlett now newly in love with her husband, is determined to win him back by all means. She travels to her husband’s home and attempts to win him back by gaining his mother’s affection.

One day, Scarlett convinces Rhett to take her for sailing. The boat capsizes in a storm and they take refuge in a hollow of sand dunes.

While Rhett utters- Oh My darling, I thought I’d lost you, he retracts his words then eventually confesses that he does not want to “lose himself” over her again.

Scarlett leaves Rhett and his home yet again and goes to live with her paternal family. She is pregnant with Rhett’s child but hides the fact from him.

Scarlett receives a divorce notice from Rhett who eventually remarries.

Scarlett gives birth to Katie O’ Hara or “cat” because of her green eyes like Scarlett’s and she settles in Ballyhara and becomes the undisputed O’ Hara- the leader of the clan.

Scarlett announces her engagement to Lord Fenton. However, The English who came to arrest a group of Irish terrorists burn her house down. Rhett comes to her rescue and during the entire episode, Rhett learns of Cat- his daughter.

The family reunites in the most romantic fashion towards the very end of the book.

While Alexandra retains the original voice and spirit of Gone with the Wind, Scarlette is definitely a mellowed down version than the first book. The characters have grown and matured with age and have become less fiery and more matter of fact- sometimes managing to see humour in adverse settings.

The characters are less regal and more realistic more so because slavery has ended and the earlier masters have softened their stance in the entire equations.

There are more of melodrama and romantic notions and family politics that keep the star crossed lovers apart and one feels frustrated at some points when the lovers refuse to reconcile.

Title- Scarlett

Author- Alexandra Ripley

Publisher- Pan (celebrating 75 years)

Gone with the Wind

Tomorrow I will think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.

When Margaret Mitchell ended her book with these words, she intended them to become famous last words in the true sense. She intended to keep the readers guessing and tearing their hair out in trying to reconcile within themselves as to what became of the lovers after the hero left the scene.

This epic novel tells the tale of the coming of age of Scarlett O’ Hara the girl who was not beautiful but had an effect on men when she took notice of them.

The story is written in the backdrop of war in South America. On one hand there are soldiers enlisting to save their country, on the other hand we have speculators like Rhett making a fortune out other’s misfortune. Scarlett is the girl who despite all odds continues to fight her way to survive. From a little girl of sixteen when everything can become all right with a nice dress and some make up, she becomes a woman of purpose. She saves her family from death; she survives by fair means and foul and emerges the strongest of all. The story is long, vivid and poignant and a definite page-turner. This anniversary edition brought back memories of the first time when I read it many years ago, in a very vivid and nostalgic fashion.

Scarlett is fiery, she is annoying, she is foolish, she is an oddity and she is a girl after my own heart. Why me? Remove me from here and put yourself in this place and you will feel the same way.

She misses the obvious. She is in love with an idea or a habit and she doesn’t see what we readers can see. And the most foolish act of hers- she refuses to fall in love with the handsome, suave, dependable rouge- Rhett Butler- the stuff dreams are made of.

Scarlett believes she loves Ashley Wilkes and she continues to love him inspite of the fact that he loves Melanie, marries her and becomes a father and is very very boring as far as Scarlett is concerned.

Scarlett marries twice, becomes a widow twice and ultimately; Rhett who intended to have her one way or another marries her. They have a baby named Bonnie. Rhett dotes on Bonnie and spoils her silly.

Under unfortunate circumstances, baby Bonnie dies. A great rift form between Scarlett and Rhett that widens further following Melanie’s death. Rhett believes that Scarlett would no longer want him now that Ashley is available, leaves his home.

The book ends with Scarlett dreaming of love that eluded her for so long and promises to herself that she will find a way to get Rhett back tomorrow.

The ending left readers wondering what would happen to Scarlett and Rhett.

Title- Gone with the Wind

Author- Margaret Mitchell

Publisher- Pan (celebrating 75 years)

Myth Quest Series

The main characters in our myths are bigger and better than most of the modern superheroes! Hachette India aims to make a Mythmaster of the young readers through their wonderful myth quest series.

Garuda- Devourer of Serpents

Garuda the magnificent bird king with the head of an eagle and body of a man was the vahana of Lord Vishnu.

In a span of nine small chapters the young readers get to understand the entire story of Garuda starting from the story of his birth to Vinata who was cursed to a lifetime of slavery.

How did Garuda become the mount of Lord Vishnu? There are two tales that tell of the possibilities behind this.

The legendary battles between Garuda and the Nagas form exciting sections in the book.

Airavata- Elephant of the Clouds

This divine king of elephants was the mount of Lord Indra . Interestingly this elephant was hatched from the same broken set of eggshells from which Garuda was hatched.

The milky white Airavat had the unique ability of creating rain. Being the mount of Lord Indra, he had been part of many battles and through this book we learn of his splendid feats from carrying Indra back to safety from battlefield or leading the gods back to heaven after churning of the ocean which gave them back their immortality. While most of the stories do not touch upon the tale of Airavat, this book is unique as it tells of rare tales of this divine elephant.

Sheshanaga- The Endless Serpent

This is the story of the serpent king also known as Ananta-Shesha (endless snake) or Adi Shesha (first snake)

Sheshanaga is the powerful snake on whose heads the heavenly bodies rest including Vaikuntha- the abode of Lord Vishnu.

Being a devout follower of Vishnu, Shesha is a constant companion to Him even during his many avatars- the hotheaded Lakshman and Balrama.

Sheshanaga was the firstborn to Kadru the wife of Sage Kashyapa. In time left his abode, Nagalok to escape from his quarrelsome brothers and went to Vishnu’s abode.

The book describes in detail the story of Lakshmana and Balrama- the two important avatars of Sheshnaga.

A must read for children especially they love animal stories.

Book- Mythquest series- Garuda, Airavata, Sheshanaga

Author- Anu Lumar

Price- Rs 99 (special offer- Rs 75)

Publisher- Hachette

I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion

I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion

Benjamin Franklin rightly said- if you must persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.

In this book, Rob Yeung presents a toolkit to help readers understand the psychology of influence and persuasion. To be able to make requests that the others wouldn’t want to refuse. To use all facilities to our advantage including words, body language and even statistics.

Of course all of us practice these skills unconsciously but is there a proven theory behind these practices that corroborates our self-developed persuasion skills? The book definitely talks about experiments that have been carried on subjects and statistics that definitely points in the direction of cleverly used words and body language to help influence the other party.

The best chapter that I liked is the section on invoking the imagination and telling tales. Why are stories or ads powerful methods of selling or influencing children into doing what is right? Because one is able to vividly imagine or place oneself in that situation and imbibe those values or buy that particular product.

Of all, the chapter on Body Language came as a sort of surprise to me. The theory is that if one wants to influence one must try and imitate the other person subtly. At a higher level, the author talks of finding commonalities that instantly make the other party more receptive towards you- like a shared birthday or being alumni of the same school.

One of the things that parents constantly worry about is the negative influence of peers. Is it possible to stop that? Perhaps there is. The trick is to use cleverly worded sentences. Most of your classmates do not smoke. You are the only one in the class running around and disturbing the others. Everyone is reading this book. Have you?

The book explains how even a subtle change in the way the message is delivered could cause a different reaction from the listener. Either showing a picture that fires the imagination or giving reasoning that attaches validity to the statement.

I recommend this as a must read.

This book moves quickly, given enough stories for one to be interested in it and most importantly is not long, winding or repetitive like most self help books are.

Title- I is for Influence- The New Science of Persuasion

Author- Rob Yeung

Price- Rs 499

Publisher- Panmacmillan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vivid Dreams

Tejas - I saw in my dream that the HCL game was not working
Ojas- May be in your dream battery was low

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Me- why did that boy beat you
Tejas- beat naa uska kaam hai

Ojas - height of look who is talking- dont give my homework book to donut. Woh kharaab kar dega.

Height of limited generosity
Tejas takes a swig from Donut' s water bottle.
So does Ojas but it's over.
Donut gets more water filled in and offers to Ojas.
Tejas follows suit and Donut scolds him for taking a second swig and snatches it back.
Sent from my Nokia phone

Teen nonteen bandars

Taken for a ride
Sent from my Nokia phone


Bhayia reads and baby listens
Sent from my Nokia phone

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ahmed and the Feather Girl

This is about a little boy Ahmed who lives with a traveling circus run by a cruel woman. Madam Saleem

One day Ahmed discovers a golden egg and secretly brings it to his caravan. When Madam Saleem discovers the egg, she captures it and places it in a golden cage. A little girl is born out of it and she is named Aurelia. She is put on display for money. Eventually she sprouts feathers and is ready to fly. Ahmed frees her secretly but pines for his friend.

Does he ever get to meet her again? Find out in this enchanting picture book for young readers.

Title- Ahmed and the Feather Girl

Author- Jane Ray
Price- Rs 150
Publisher- Frances Lincoln children's books (courtesy Panmacmillan)

Rama and Sita -path of flames

Internationally acclaimed storyteller retells one of the two great epics of India in a very interesting manner, keeping the original flavour intact.

The story begins with Lord Vishnu and Laxmi flying over the Earth on Garuda. Seeing the earth beings in distress Vishnu and Laxmi decide to take human form to destroy evil.

Thus began the tales of King Dasrath & King Janak moving in parallel. The prayers and subsequent miracles helped both Kings to have children- King Dasrath was the chosen one to become the father of Lord Rama and King Janak the father of Devi Sita.

The two eventually get married and in a twist of fate are sent to the forest where Demon King Ravana kidnaps Sita.

In the ensuing battle Rama destroys Ravana and wins back Sita.

Beautifully illustrated in Madhubani style drawings, this book brings alive the entire Ramayana in a 62 page picture book. The imagery conjured via the tale is vivid and one is compelled to pause and imagine the entire scenario while reading. The writing is simple and children can read and follow quite easily.

This book is meant to be read in multiple sittings with children rather than all in one go.

A must buy for young and old readers.
Title- Rama and Sita- path of flames

Author- Sally Pomme Clayton

Illustrator- Sophie Herxheimer
Price- Rs 225
Publisher- Frances Lincoln (courtesy Panmacmillan)

I Am Not Twentyfour

This review is a part of Blogadda's review program.

Straight out of campus, Saumya Kapoor from Delhi lands up in a remote town of Karnataka. The only solace is that the township of Lala Steel is a totally modern setup and it provides heavily subsidized luxuries.

Saumya and two more new recruits get inducted into their new roles and take up their responsibilities.

However, in this man's world of steel, furnace and dust, Saumya seems to be a total misfit. She is being inducted into the role of the Safety officer whose prime job is to react to incidents. From the word go Saumya begins to witness gruesome accidents and somehow feels responsible for them all.

Unable to stomach the accidents and take it in her stride, she decides to quit and puts in her papers and starts counting down the 3 months notice period.

In the midst of these accidents, Shubhrodeep the Wanderer comes like a breath of fresh err dirty air. He leads a hippie life and goes by the principle of moving on. Which means, he stays in one place only for 90 days after that come what may, he moves on to another place to lead another life, in another world, leaving everything he loved yet again.

Saumya gets drawn to him and in one drunken party with him, leaves her address in his pocket. Thus in his next block of 3 months, he finds his way to Saumya's township and begins to live in the company guest house.

Since Shubhro is bored and needs to do something, Saumya finds him a place in Lala Steels' charity department. Much to Saumya's surprise, Shubhro becomes very successful in his brainchild scheme. He begins to arrange loans for the villagers and help them start their own business. Of course there is a little detail- this hippie is an MBA in Finance, therefore he is expected to be good in this department.

As the 3 months end for both Shubhro and Saumya, they need to take a decision. Saumya feels she has find her true calling and is only waiting for a nod from Shubhro. But Shubhro the mystery man has other plans.

The story is a simple one and manages to throw some surprises.

The idea of a self sufficient township is not new yet left me pleasantly surprised. For once I am glad that even as a reader I did not have to go through a horrid first year of job with meager facilities. The heavy subsidy and luxurious life seem like a dream come true, even though it is very common in townships. One point scored for the author for giving me a vicarious pleasure in reading through the comfortable first year of job.

Saumya seems to be the only female in the entire story and that seems odd in a modern day tale but not unlikely in a steel plant setting. The accidents are horror movie material and are best left alone. Perhaps, it is those gruesome accidents, which will prevent me from going for a second reading.

The story ends in a twist. Not something that is too fantastic. It is introduced in a very smooth ordinary manner and that gives it a very nice touch.

Title- I'm Not Twenty Four

Author- Sachin Garg

Price- Rs 100

Publisher Grapewine

(courtesy Blogadda)

The Fifth Witness

Mortgages, loans, EMI's … this book does strike a chord with all of us who are paying back loans!

But wait a moment, there is more. We have a lady who is protesting against banks taking over homes due to non-payment of loans, we have her astute lawyer Haller, a pro in such cases and we have a murder. A very simplistic looking murder it may seem but its Haller's job to keep the suspect Lisa Trammel out of jail. To turn the tables against the State's case and to prove her innocence, come what may.

Haller sets about collecting evidence systematically and proving that Lisa could not have committed the murder.

As the case progresses, we find Haller developing a shade of conscience towards the end. Something, which he strictly believes a lawyer should avoid. He believes that whatever be the truth of the matter, being a lawyer it is better he should not actively seek it, lest it damages his client's case.

However, when he realizes that he has been double crossed, he uses his powers of detection to solve the little matter of his conscience in a genuine manner.

The book is a thorough page-turner and moves like a flick expect for the legal jargon. But if one speed reads through it and pretends it does not exist, it is easy to move on.

It seems to drag towards the end but frankly, the final twist makes it really worthwhile and leave one wanting for more.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Knock Knock

Do you know the meaning of 'naukar' ?
Tejas...yes... Knock knock

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, November 13, 2011


Here we have our very own monkeys or bats in the current context.
We read this book Fledolin upside down by katha world series and were most impressed with the illustrations in particular.
Fledolin the bat is upside down apparently. But what's wrong with that? Aren't bats supposed to be upside down anyway? Yes but this little bat was upside down from the bats' point of view.
While all bats found him odd, some like the birds strongly felt that this was the right way to be.
His mother strongly believed in him and knew that one day he would do something great.
Of course he finds his calling finally but not before a lot of soul searching on what was the right way to be.
The entire book is illustrated from a bat's piint if view that is upside down and therefore we have upside down trees, electric poles and houses and that's the most fun part if reading this book. After reading each page we would turn the book around to admire the illustrations.
A very well written and conceptualized book.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Two Second Advantage

When the Universe puts together a series of fortunate circumstances, it's probably a good idea to pay attention.

This book is a powerful tool to help us understand how to succeed by anticipating the future. The book is divided into three parts
What is natural- Talented Brains
What is built- Talented Systems
What happens when both are combined- The Two Second Advantage.

In a nutshell, talented brains operate with a powerful in built tool of predicting and anticipating what may occur in the future and thereby gain that split second advantage which could be crucial to succeed in a scenario. Be it sports, business or life. The good news is talented brains are born but with sufficient practice, ideally around 10 thousand hours which would be 3 years of 8 hour day practice will help build a talented brain – one that essentially gets rewired to perform that particular activity by chunking various sets of activities thereby going on auto pilot without consciously doing it. This holds true for a job function or a hobby or any other activity and is a powerful mathematics for parents who want to identify and develop talent in their children.

Talented systems are tools that help one gain an overall perspective of a situation- it could be just a collection of traffic data which when analysed could help one predict a traffic jam situation and thereby reroute traffic or an analysis of a series of games that help one understand a pattern or perhaps an analysis of specific search words like "flu" and predict where there could be a possibility of an occurrence of an epidemic and move medical supplies in that region. The problem with talented systems is that they cannot think. They can collect data, throw up search results but are not able to think and throw up the data that is needed by a particular user.

The two-second advantage could be a combination of talent and practice and a focused approach to a situation. Or it could simply be a combination of talented brain using a talented system to analyse and act. It would be thinking on your feet, which cannot come without practice and an ability to predict.

I found this book extremely interesting and it flows like a story using sufficient examples to highlight the approaches that talented brains do. It also talks of technical jargons to explain talented systems and their scope and possibility. It would universally appeal to business / working people, hobbyists, parents and even an individual who is simply looking at bettering their approach to handling situations- social/ emotional or others. It is like a tool that one could use for brainstorming or as training capsule to refresh our approach towards a situation.

Highly recommended.

Title- The Two Second Advantage
Authors- Vivek Ranadive & Kevin Maney
Publisher- Hachette
Price- Rs 499

Fruitful Month

We have made these cut outs of watermelon and guava for taking to school for fruit month.
They also speak a few lines about the fruit and would dress up in the fruit colours.
Ojas refused to add shades of pink to the fruit as pink is girlish and Tejas refuses to say I love watermelon but will say I like the same.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Manhattan in Reverse

This is a collection of science fiction short and not so short stories and I honestly wish there were more than just 7 of them.

Set in not one timeline but traveling across timeline and dimensions of space and parallel universe these imaginative yet not going too much beyond the realms of imagination stories have a potential to keep readers engrossed and guessing.

Each story ends in a nice twist and leaves one wanting for more.

The basic assumptions are the immortality of the of the human race and that the problem of space can be solved by starting one's life in a different planet reaching there via a fast traveling craft through a wormhole.

Watching Trees Grow is a murder mystery story that begins in 1832 and is solved in 2038. The success of the case is based totally on the innate wisdom of the detective in storing the samples from the murder site in the lab and reopening the case every time a new science technology or medical miracle comes into being.

Footvote is a family drama where the parents are divorced. One parent is contemplating to quietly go with the kids and new fiancée to leave the planet and go through the wormhole to a new promised land whereas; the other parent is totally against the entire philosophy of jumping ships. Do the emotions of parents that often come into play in a normal family drama stand strong in the science fiction world?

If at First.. give whole knew meaning to the phrase if at first you don't succeed. Detective David Lanson comes across the classic case of time travel and in his tryst to uncover the mystery of the same, how far does he manage to travel?

In Forever Kitten, we see parents go to great lengths to maintain the current age- not theirs, someone else's. The reason behind that is not exactly preserving youth but totally something else.

Blessed by an Angel is the story of alien invasion in a new way.

2 stories are written specially for the Investigation Paula Myo for this series

The Demon Trap- an exciting tale of a crime that is perpetrated by a man who has multiple clones. Is it right to catch him or his clone?

Manhattan in Reverse- is the story of a new land that has been established recently. All is well until the indigenous animal population begins to protest against the humans. Paula is the right person wired to solve this crime objectively. The fight surprisingly ends when the matter is solved- the tryst to secure the yellow metal of power so relevant in our Universe too.

Title- Manhattan in Reverse

Author- Peter F Hamilton

Publisher- Panmacmillan

Along the Way

Close to the heels of Five Point Someone come this book that go a step further in the 3 youths and 1 girl scenario- what do software engineers whose grades are always rock bottom do when they get a job in the company that hires everyone who attends the interview- TCS.

I really thought this book will be a poor copy of Five Point Someone but it is not. It is actually interesting and one can identify with the story, as all of us have been newcomers in the industry at one point. Being a newcomer, we are often ignored and given odd tasks, low grade projects and more often than not, end up being labeled as upstarts or abrasive or what not, until we reach a stage where we can be called experienced and therefore have a value attached on our heads.

Venkat, Raj and Adi are close friends whose grades are in the lower quartile. Venkat popularly known as VSAT, the join of the abbreviations of his 4 word long name, is in love with the Coorgi Anjali . Srila is the friend in the equation and all of them manage to find a job in TCS and are doing various projects in the first year. Their first years seems to be entirely composed of trying very hard to get a good credit in their project so that they could be rated exceeds expectations in their appraisal, managing the boss and failing pathetically and trying to strike the right chord with HR but goofing it up badly.

However VSAT and team also manage to do a lot in the first year- get a referral posting for his barber's son Swamy in TCS, carry along with his romance with Anjali, going to USA on client project and running a parallel secret innovation project which finally earns them a positive feedback from the big bosses.

However, the most critical challenge is yet to be won- convincing Anjali's trivia crazy retired Colonel father.

Will VSAT pass this final test?

The book is peppered with humour, which are extremely relevant and recognizable in an office context. Each situation that VSAT encounters with respect to the boss has a parallel drawn in his mind using popular dialogues from the Godfather which I thought was funny and quite innovative.

The author also keeps working out the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Boss or the book that his boss is supposed to write- Managing the Mani Way Axiom no#, in his mind making it a hilarious read.

The Mind's Eye

Can you even imagine waking up and looking into the mirror and getting startled at seeing a stranger in the mirror.

Or imagine forgetting where one lived or not recognizing one's family members until the member spoke.

Imagine processing each activity in one's mind without doing it subconsciously.

Sounds impossible yet it has happened to people in various degrees of severity.

There was a man who mistook his wife for a hat.

There was a man who thought he was looking into the mirror and grooming but actually he was looking at someone else and grooming himself thinking the other person to be his reflection.

There are musicians with PCA- Posteriar Cortical Atrophy who had no vision problem, preserve some elements of vision and could play perfectly well from memory but could no longer read the music sheets.

There are people with psychic blindness who had difficulty finding their way around their home, as they could no longer recognize how the various objects looked like.

There are people with visual agnosia who cannot connect the letters to make a word.

Oliver Sacks explores such specific cases and more than just talking about the problem he explains how these cases managed to live with their problem by consciously learning and practicing how to overcome their situation.

An interesting read for those who would like to understand more on the workings of the mind and the brain and to enrich their knowledge about possible age related/ congenital problems.

Title- The Mind's Eye

Author- Oliver Sacks

Publisher- Picador (Panmacmillan)

Price- Rs 399

The Google Guys

Inside the Brilliant Minds of Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin

'Good Luck. I've been trying to do that for some years"- said Google CEO Eric Schmidt after being told the title of this book. Truly, if only one could go even a little bit inside their minds, one would have so much to learn and absorb.

Between the two of them, Larry the main strategist with a practical and Sergey the technologist and idealist, they have taken Google to great heights, using their infinite wisdom, akin to the number of o's in a Google search page.

This book aims to trace the milestones of Google and thereby understand what makes them do what they are doing.

The most important thought behind the Google brains is – how can I make the experience of the user better. How to best focus on the need of the user? And above all, is how best to do it without being evil.

This last sentence is all that a reader needs to fall in love with Google- as an organization, as a tool or as a search engine.

The book begins with a parallel drawn to the Great Library of Alexandria- created by Ptolemy I a childhood friend of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy created this library in 300BC and it was the greatest library in the world for 300 years. Ptolemy and his descendants ruthlessly collected all written work from world over, sometimes by fair means and sometimes by not and made them available at one place.

Practically this is what Google is doing. Making information available on the fingertips. Starting with a simple search Google has surpassed itself beyond anyone's imagination. One can now search photographs, videos and books- the recreating of Ptolemy's impossible dream in virtual format.

Each and every aspect that is Google today is explained threadbare in this book, from a seemingly minor thing like the frugal number of words used on Google page to make the page clean and clutter free to the very important privacy officer of Google who decides what information is allowed to appear on the search pages and what videos can come on Youtube.

What I most like about this book is that it reads like a storybook, a fantastic thriller that one is living in. One knows Google for as long as one is exposed to the Internet. Thereby this book is interesting even for a normal user of Internet like me who is technologically challenged. The anecdotes make the book really interesting and that is why I was hooked on to it for a long time even though I was most disappointed in getting this book unsolicited from Penguin.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Forcing the Milestone to come Clean

Close to the heels of Tejas beginning to post on fb is the much awaited milestone.
Tejas has washed his bum in tne school once but Ojas never displayed any hurry to do so. He wanted to start after 10 years of age. Today I gave him a warning. Either you wash or you stay here. I showed him the technique to hold the hand faucet and aim and spray for a hell lot of long time. He did a clean job but just in case I wanted him to do the 2nd step which is useful in a bucket mug scenario. But he refused to dirty his hands.
How do I know that it is indeed a milestone? He did an encore without my knowledge and proudly presented the bum for inspection.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Facing a Milestone

So Tejas has posted a photo on my fb status using my nokia fb application.
Thank God it was only this.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Ma Tongue

Seeing this picture, Ojas wonders, how will she talk...(if her tongue is always out). Very clearly, Hindu Mythology is too complicated and fascinating to explain to kids easily. It needs to be imbibed.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Musical Family

Told the kids, when the song was playing, c'mon sing with me...rimjhim gire saavan...

Ojas, Tejas come near me and as I could see, without any consultation with each other began... Doremon, doremon, doremon, doremon.

Sent from my Nokia phone


Mamma reading from Amar Chitra Katha comic-Ancestors of Rama. Do you know the meaning of ancestors.
Ojas & Tejas unanimously- Yes, many sisters of Rama.

On this note, I got a coupleof comics, Stories of Shiva and Stories of Rama to herald 6 years of age, the age at which I was reading these comics on my own, starting with a thick ACK book on Ramayana.
The interest and connect has been sparked by a lovely dance drama on Ramayana we saw when we were in Delhi during Dussehra, thanks to D mami. In a lovely open air venue, immensely talented dancers performed the Ramayana in a 3 hour capsule. A must watch for children.
A funny thing that soon as the performance started, and the musical chants began, the stage was yet to be populated, Ojas shouted in a worried tone, why is the movie not coming?
When Hanuman flew with a rope trick, the brothers looked at each other and giggled.
The narration was also being done on a Tv screen, and I encouraged the kids to read the same to follow the story better.
Funny part was a 3 year old nephew insisting that I tell him...wahan kya written hai, exactly how Ojas was asking.
Of course the best part was the samosas and chaat available there.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Height of Dilemma

Tejas- I don't think I have become 6 years, I am only 5 years.
Me- no baby of course you are 6 years old. Why do you think you are not?
Tejas- because I have not grown (taller). I am the same as what I was at 5 years.

And later he proceeds to indicate the height which he think a 6 year to a 10 year old should grow to.

Sent from my Nokia phone

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Happy Birthday

Wish you a very Happy Birthday babies.
You will of course still be my babies and not my boys until you.
1. Start eating on your own.
2. Start washing your bum on your own.
3. Lose a tooth or two.

Ah well, the list could be endless but as a milestone for turning 6 you have finally learnt to wish each other happy b'day after much coaxing.

Sent from my Nokia phone