The First Phone Call from Heaven

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


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


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


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.


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


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.

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.


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.


Posted in Pai-Book-Review on February 25, 2013 by prajwalpai

InstantThe first thing that came to my mind when I read this book was “History Repeats”. I had heard of Polaroid but all I knew of it was the Polaroid Instant  Camera, the one where you click and it spits out an instant image. I remember many years back, we had the Polaroid Studio where we used to get instant passport size snaps. I vaguely recall the Polaroid TV Advert, which featured Pankaj Kapoor getting clicked Instantly. I still do see a lot of Polaroid cams in ‘Just for Laugh Gags’.

The Genius Edwin Land :

To be totally honest, I had never heard of Edwin Land till I read this book. But only the first couple of pages should be enough to convince how much of a genius he was. Land’s philosophy was “Do some interesting science that is all your own, and if it is, manifestly important and nearly impossible, it will be fulfilling, and maybe even a way to get rich.” In his lifetime, Land received 535 United States patents. No wonder everyone called this college dropout “Dr. Land”—particularly after Harvard University gave him an honorary doctorate. He advised several presidents (from Eisenhower through Nixon) on technology,and effectively created the u-2 spy plane. Richard Nixon admired his scientific prowess, once asking an aide, “How do we get more Dr. Lands?”. He was a super salesman and he would  make an event out of his new product launches. He would present it in such a way that audience which didn’t know a product’s existence before the launch would wonder how they could live without one. A trend which was later followed by Jobs. In the sixties he has a vision of how photography should be, his vision was to create a device, compact enough to fit in pocket which people could use day in and day out to document their everyday life. His vision some 40 years back is today’s Camera phone.  It’s no wonder Steve Jobs considered Land a personal hero and modeled Apple after Polaroid.

The ‘polarize’ of ‘Polaroid’:

We all have read the polarization effect. A polarizer is a unique type of filter, As Land’s would oversimplify and  explain : Waves of light, as they come at you, vibrate in every plane, vertically, horizontally, and at all angles in between. Certain crystal structures can function as gratings, allowing through light that vibrates in just one plane. If you picture the beam of light as a handful of thrown straws, oriented in every direction, the polarizing filter is a picket fence. The only straws that come through are the ones that align with the slots between pickets. Polaroid became a multimillionaire company by selling polarized sheets.
Can you imagine that 3-d glasses(used even now) and concept was first invented by Edwin Lane!! Simplest application of polarization shoot movie using two cameras with an inch difference in between and project 2 different images to both eyes. The magic here is by the fence we talked about above, we have vertical fence on left eye and horizontal fence on right eye and we can control which eye can see what. That’s it!! Since both eyes see two different images, our brain calculates the depth perception.

The parallels with Apple :

Apple was a recurring theme while reading this book.Both companies started out with something different that what they ended up doing after 20 years from start. Polaroid went from Polarisation sheets to Camera and Apple went from computers to iPod/iPhone. Land was Polaroid as was Jobs used to be Apple. Coincidentally, Edwin was kinda forced to retire/get out of Polaroid like Steve Jobs was let go by Apple board. Like Apple vs Samsung ended in a Patent war , Polaroid was in war with Kodak. It was a 1 billion settlement between these two in 1990 and was the biggest patent-infringement judgment ever. These are kinda the huge similarities but thought-out the book we see a lot of similarities between Apple and Polaroid. I can just say history repeats.

The Before and After :

The biggest similarity between Apple and Polaroid is the vision and audacity of its visionaries. They both believed that a technology didn’t just have to work; it had to be beautiful. Polaroid didn’t go on to become a printer company because at the time, inkjet printers produced coarse, muddy images, and few people at Polaroid believed that photographers would never be happy with anything out of those machines. As one employee put it, The engineering department refused to accept the bad taste of the consumer.

Their exit from their respective companies made a fatal difference to the outlook of the company. Land and Jobs both believed that every significant invention. . .must come to a world that is not prepared for it.
After their exit, both Tim Cook@Apple and Booth@Poloroid asked the world what it wanted, then made it

If you are too lazy to read the entire book, Just watch this 4 min Book Trailer :