The Silkworm

Posted in Pai-Book-Review on August 1, 2014 by prajwalpai

thesilkworm

Having not finished about 4 books which I had started reading in last few months, I was itching to finish a book. When I realised the second book of Cormoran Strike series had released, I knew this was the book I was waiting for. This is the second book by J.K.Rowling under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith , the first being thoroughly enjoyable The Cuckoo Calling.

This book picks up where the first had finished. It begins with Strike being hired to find a missing person, Owen Quine – a not so successful Author/Writer. Owen had plans to release a controversial book called ‘Bombyx Mori’ which is a symbolic autobiographical account of his own life.  All the real people in his life depicted metaphorically as characters in his book. The Silkworm is set in the literary world of London and each character is very well defined. We are made aware of the plot of Bombyx Mori in detail and Cormoran sets to fit the pieces of puzzle by mapping from book to real life and thus unravelling all the dark secrets of each character. A dead body is found under extraordinary circumstances and this murder is elaborate, strange, sadistic and grotesque, literary in inspiration and ruthless in execution.The solution to the mystery unfolds in a quick pace, through the gripping investigative work, through interesting interviews with eager suspects, through streets/tubes/taxis of nostalgic London, with many false trails , guided by Strike’s unerring sense and skill. Strike connects the dots between the book and the real life. The mystery unravels piece by piece , hinged instead on character studies, allowing the suspects to slowly reveal their inner-selves full of shallow and sometimes quite dark unpleasantness, propelled by almost casually shrewd observations of social inequalities and prejudices.

I actually had no clue till the end about who might be the killer, I did have my suspects but needless to say I was terribly wrong. We are given every bit of info to make us think and keep it intriguing. Very different from most books is that each suspect is jumping eagerly to answer the detective which threw any of my theory off the window. The book is kept very real and the characters are very human. Cormoran keeps getting hungry every now and then, his amputated limp keeps giving him trouble most of the times. Robin gets a lot of limelight and more involvement this time and her chemistry with Cormoran is as crackling as ever. We also see the relation between Robin and Matthew get more mature.

I am one of those person who cannot find any fault in Rowling’s writing. This book for me was in the ‘unputdownable’ category. Rowling continues the pattern she set in the first Strike book. One line from the book that totally encapsulates the essence of the entire book, 

“Ha, ha, ha, thou entanglest thyself in thine own work like a silkworm.”

Advertisements

The First Phone Call from Heaven

Posted in Pai-Book-Review on January 13, 2014 by prajwalpai

first-phone-call-from-heaven

I had liked Mitch Albom’s ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ , which had set my expectations high on this Novel. This book had a very interesting premise. A small town in U.S is witnessing an extraordinary divine phenomenon. Few residents in this town get phone calls every week from their deceased loved ones.

The book is organised in a very neat way, It considers this first call from heaven as an epoch. The chapters are named as first week, second week and so on. The story is very intriguing  and as promised from the premise is a page-turner. There are 3 parallel narratives which converge in the end. The first narrative is all about the ‘phone-call’, the second of main protagonist Sully – a pilot who suddenly has lost everything in life almost overnight. The third interesting narrative is about the ‘Telephone’ itself. This narrative gives us side notes or facts about Alexander Graham Bell- his personal life and lot of peppy facts on the instrument we now call phone. I loved the way the author has given a nice logical closure to even this narrative.

Without giving away the story too much, this book feels very real. Inspite of it being a fiction, the content is kept very believable. The news going viral , the people flocking, the supporters and protesters- it all feels real. I can easily imagine Arnab shouting ‘The nations needs an answer – Did you get a call from your DEAD SISTER!” doing a piece on this. The sensationalisation of any news true or false is a thing that we see happening everyday.

The ending was very unpredictable but satisfying. I have read many books or seen many movies which starts with a very intriguing premise but fail to sustain readers interest in the middle and fails miserably towards the end.  This book not only gives a satisfactory ‘who’ did it but also provides a convincing answer to ‘why’. I always like stories with no loose-ends. The apparent, not so mysterious things mentioned in the first few chapters and taken to closure towards the end. I somehow imagined this book to be a bit preachy but felt its contrary to what I perceived.

Favorite Quotes/Passages:

“The news of life is carried via telephone. A baby’s birth, a couple engaged, a tragic accident on a late night highway — most milestones of the human journey, good or bad, are foreshadowed by the sound of ringing.”

“There is a time for hello and a time for goodbye. It’s why the act of burying things seems natural but the act of digging them up does not.

“There are two stories for every life; the one you live & the one others tell.”

“No soul remembered is ever truly gone.”

“As happens with all miracles, once life goes on, those who believe retell them with wonder. Those who do not, do not.”

Good Morning!!

Posted in ramdom rambling on November 25, 2013 by prajwalpai

Morning-Wishes-Wallpaper

My morning now happens at 6.15. I catch my cab at 7.30 and its a good half a km walk to the stop. The chilled early morning makes me nostalgic of my UK stay. I used to walk close to a kilometre then to catch a train at 8.12  to office. There used to be a series of events every morning, I used to see the same set of faces doing the same set of things everyday repeatedly.  I now, regularly see the same events repeating everyday- the kids waiting for their bus, the same auntiji walking her Pug, an uncle walking his Labrador , people waiting for their office transport, some on their brisk walks and others doing yoga in the park.

Its been just 3 months since I have availed the office transport and I am loving it. I would really encourage everybody who has this option to use it.

Pro of office cabs

  • Its the most Eco-friendly option
  • Its a very Eco-nomically friendly option
  • Its more disciplined to wake up early
  • The Traffic Jams /Pollution doesn’t matter anymore
  • My office timings are not at the mercy of the Rain Gods
  • My office culture is good enough to be considerate of Cab timings, we get an early exit from meeting/training!!
  • A delicious evening snack waiting for me everyday!

Con of office cabs

  • Hate the sound of early morning Alarm.
  • Non-flexible time , you cant go late or stay few mins late in office
  • Did I say, I hate the sound of early morning alarm!

My cab ride to office span a good 11KM and last around 20 mins. The not so early morning Bangalore is all about catching the bus. There is relatively less traffic and I see so many people with there loved ones waiting for the bus to come. The whole cycle of life can be seen in these bus stops. The pattern starts like this- husbands come to drop their wifves to stop , The next progression in family happens and young mums come to drop their little kiddos to school bus. I don’t see many dads coming to drop their kids.  We can see the next milestone when Dads come back to drop their adolescent kids to bus.  Only the college kids are by themselves till they study and get a job I guess.

The most funny part is the similarities between working professionals and kiddos. The kids have a school bag and grown ups have a laptop bag, the kids have there kiddish tiffin box and the grown ups a Tupperware dabba. The kids do have an enthu about going to school but most grown ups are grim about something waiting for them in office.

Saaaachin…. Sachin!!

Posted in Blogroll on November 16, 2013 by prajwalpai

BY7IZHFCIAE8BnU

Its end of an era. At the end of his career, entire nation was singing the swan song. I am a Sachin fan , I might not be a die-hard fanatic but I am a big fan. I did not shed a tear like my teammate when Sachin walked down to bat his last innings.  I  did feel  extremely sad when he walked back to pavilion yesterday. The final walk- the emotional expression on all the faces , the huge number of placards with #thankyousachin’ with every fan expressing their gratitude. I felt the camera crew had prepared a special montage for this memorable moment.

I agree that people are going overboard with this occasion. I completely agree that many people are using this occasion as an excuse for their vested interests. I also agree that Sachin does deserve every bit of the adulation that he is getting. Many other Indian legends did deserve a lot more respect than what was given to them towards their end but that doesn’t mean we have to carry on that tradition.

The whole point of this blog was due to a conversation that I had with my FIL. He was sort of angry with the buzz around Sachin’s retirement. During the conversation he mentioned that “Sachin is paid to play for India and he is just doing his job. He is not God and people like Premji is adopting villages for the betterment of the society. He said, if a kid gets educated by Premji’s foundation and this one-act might change the future of the kid entirely! Premji might be responsible for  thousands of bright futures! You will see and forget Sachin’s batting and it doesn’t change anything in your life after the match is over. I agreed with him that Sachin is no God but the context to that saying started with ‘If Cricket is a religion,Then Sachin is God’. I did say that Sachin is involved in philanthropy but he doesn’t like to advertise it much. The donation/sponsor given by him too is supposedly kept anonymous. He obviously might not have given as much as Premji- but it counts.  My FIL retorted, Ajim Premji has spent close to Rs. 8,000 Crores and he is great in true terms. I responded by saying that it’s not fair to compare Sachin with Premji (to whom I have immense respect being an ex-wiprote). Premji might have helped thousands of people financially but Sachin has given priceless memories to Billions. This ended the conversation on that topic.

What Sachin has done for India cannot be put into words, I think he has inspired many generations who have witnessed him play. He was a uniting force for India, no matter the age/religion/caste/creed , ‘How much did Tendulkar score?‘ was a very common question many years back. This impact that he had on people has been beyond any geographical boundary. I still remember the day he scored 200 in ODI and my office cafeteria burst into unified cheer. Today, my eyes were moist while listening to his farewell speech and I didn’t know myself that I liked him enough to cry. If the speech wasn’t enough, he walked alone down to the middle one last time and touched it…one…last…time… I will end this blog with some comments from Cricinfo. When I read this blog after few years, it will help me recall how special this moment was.

——————————————————————————————————————-

Daniel: “im in rural australia, watching this and just screamed with agony at Tendulkars dismissal, its felt here in the dusty plains of Australia.”

Dhwani: “Gosh! This is getting really serious….Looks like it is going to be a sleepless night following Sachin in cricinfo from the US…glued to the screen”

Najam: “Cheering Tendulkar from across the border 🙂 he just made a century in terms of balls played, dint he : ) #Tendu VS Tinu”

Prashant: “Even in Singapore , we had a full page for Sachin in today’s news paper . Just felt proud to be a Sachin Fan and an Indian.”

Balaji: “As Sachin climbed up the stairs, I couldnt help but shedding tears, as I chanted “Sachin.. Sachin..” down here in Chennai. I turned around to see my dad in his sixties, shedding more tears. This guy can freeze time and generations, crash cricketing records, melt a billion hearts, yet stay so humble. God will be proud to be associated with this man”

The Cuckoo’s Calling

Posted in Pai-Book-Review on August 23, 2013 by prajwalpai

jk-rowling-the-cuckoos-callingJ.K. Rowling is my favorite author of all time, Obviously I love her books but more importantly I love her for this fantastic 2008 Harvard commencement speech. I will be completely honest in saying that I would have never picked this book if J.K. Rowling had not written this. I am glad that I picked this and I must say this fell into ‘unputdownable’ category. It takes courage for a popular author( a brand name) to publish a book with a pseudonym. The author might not have a burden of reader’s expectations but the content has to carry the entire burden of selling itself.

As I started this book, it kinda sucked me into it. In the past, I had tried to read ‘Casual Vacancy’ but couldn’t get past the first two chapters. This book, however had me glued in the first few pages. The main protagonist Cormoran Strike and his office assistant Robin were intriguing characters. Its my process to give a face to the characters as I read any book. I imagined the Dr.Calman and Foster to be the perfect fit. Cormoran Strike is a Ex-Military Boxer (with a prosthetic leg) and a very tall and intimidating guy as is our Dr.Calman. He appears to know when people are telling the truth and sense when people are lying. Robin is a hot and professional assistant who has got engaged recently. She is in complete awe of her boss but non-romantic about her boss.

Callian-callian-16632836-1280-800

This novel managed to be stimulating, engaging, and touching at the same time. As leisurely as the plot unfolds, never did I lose interest in Strike’s investigation. At almost halfway, I was still unsure if this was a murder mystery or a suicide-confirm mystery. My favourite fact being that there actually was an investigation! A hot-shot model is dead and media has gone bonkers. The cops have done everything that they can do and followed every possible lead and have finally concluded its a suicide. Here starts Mr.Strike and we are taken along for the ride; no clues or tidbits are left out from us readers, bereaving us from the chance of making our own accusations. No, we are kept invested in the outcome of Strike’s investigation as if we were part of it ourselves. My suspicions shifted from one character to another, never making ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ a predictable nor boring read.

It might not have the world is about to end kinda cliffhanger climax but every loose end is tied and every un-answered question gets an answer. I read rumours saying a Cormoran Strike series might be on the cards. I got nostalgic reading Cuckoo Calling as i had cultivated my reading habit on a staple diet of James Hadley Chase’s thriller novels. I recommend this book to anybody who has any little interest in thriller. Don’t go looking for wands and spells but I would say this book has its own magic.

Inferno – A Novel

Posted in Pai-Book-Review on June 6, 2013 by prajwalpai

o-INFERNO-BOOK-COVER-DAN-BROWN-570

Well!! This is a Dan Brown novel. What more do I need to say? The template is standard. It opens up with a chapter which places our Hero in some mysterious or intriguing situation. The alternate chapters introduces us to some villainous guy. The third chapter spells doom and the end of world. Wait a minute, we can still save the world if we can decode just one clue left by a dead person and there is just one person in the world who can do that. One clue leads to the next and of course, they all take us to couple of artifacts across few museums. While we are at the museum, how can we not talk about the museum, the road that leads to the museum, the city its in and the country too. A lot of trivia about everything in sight with the secret meaning of all the paintings.  Its almost towards the end do we realize that the most influential good guy is actually a bad guy and the guy who we believed to be a bad guy is actually not so bad.  The final chapters lead to some good action and the world is safe!!

This is the template in all of  his books so far and I must say I am not bored of this yet. I have thoroughly enjoyed each of his book.  On every page, I Google-out the mentioned work of art or the place mentioned and it is very much real. The best part is that he exploits only the facts to be a crucial part of the proceedings in his story.  Dan Brown is a genius and no second opinion about it. He weaves a fictional story out of facts and this is no easy job. The trivia he provides of each place adds to the magic. He ties every loose-end and the code breaking is just mind-boggling, even if its repetitive.

This book goes a bit away from his template but only a little. I am very tempted to give away a single spoiler- this book has a very unconventional ending and very different from his previous books. That’s all I will say. Although it has all the usual painting,poems,statues with conspiracy theories, The core of the book is about the uncontrollable growth of Human population which I have written about in a separate blog.I had a few ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ and many ‘is that really true’ moments. It has everything that you are looking for in any Dan Brown book.  I read some bad reviews, but if you complain that Harry and Ron are not solving any murder mystery or if Sherlock and Watson are not casting any spells, it’s just plain stupidity. If you are picking a novel in which the protagonist is a world-famous professor of iconology and symbology , Icons and Symbols is what you get! Deal with it!

Inferno is all about Dante’s journey through 9 layers of hell in excruciating details. The readers are made to walk along his journey through hell.’Inferno- A Novel’ is an absolute ‘must read’ if you are a Dan Brown fan. Go to hell!!

Are we screwed!

Posted in ramdom rambling on May 31, 2013 by prajwalpai

I am  reading Dan Brown’s ‘Inferno-A novel’ and it really got me thinking if human’s are due for a near-extinct event. Most things that I have mentioned below are more or less from that book . This blog is for the sake of my lazy friends who can’t endure books.

A Good Run :

The humans are having a good run from last few decades. We are having nearly peaceful democracy in most of the geographically biggest countries. Consequently, we don’t have any dictator on a killing spree or some in-progress colonization. We have no kings waging wars on each other. To put into perspective of what I am talking about, Nazi Regime has killed about 30 million and Churchill and British Empire has killed close to 1.8 Billion humans.[Source].  Medically we have increased the average human life span by at-least a couple of decades. Humans are now living longer than ever![Source] Just a century back, the five leading causes of death were:1. Pneumonia and influenza . 2. Tuberculosis. 3. Diarrhea. 4. Heart disease. 5. Stroke. [Source]

The Impact :

No matter how much we crib about how much corrupt our govt is, how the humans rights are violated everywhere and how much ever of ‘Bharath Nirman’ is happening all around… We- as a species, are collectively having a better life than probably most part of history. Now lets see some facts.. The graphs will shed some light.

ExtinctionAndPopulationGraph
The human population is growing within a confined space and its also screwing up the survival of other species. The human population is increasing exponentially but worse is the fact that other species are getting to the brink is extinction exponentially too.

What next:

This is where it gets interesting. WHO considers that 4 Billion is the ideal population which can ensure that human species  survival in the long run. The population to stay constant is impossible. We know its growing but at what rate you ask? Around a century back an economist/mathematician Robert Malthus proposed a theory of population.[Source] As seen from the above graph, it’s taking less and less time for the population to double, in Billions, the growth is growing at 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256… At this rate, the human population will grow way too beyond the sustainable point and will cease to exist.

Denial:

Fine! So what do we do next? Let’s refresh our FB page! Denial is the critical part of Human coping mechanism. Without it, we could all wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die. Instead, our minds block out our existential fears by focusing on stresses we can handle like getting to work on time or refreshing our FB page. We hardly bother about the fact that we might have to evacuate Bangalore by 2023[Source].

Ignorance is indeed bliss.