Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Books - Man's best friend and mine :)

"Outside of a dog, a book is Man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx.

Books were a fascination for me during childhood. Not because of me being a bookish guy or anything. But then I've always liked reading. My mom had a good collection of novels from her college days and I used to go through them(except the Mills & Boon section) during my high school days. My dad isn't a big fan of fiction and he feels that reading stories isn't the best way to learn about the world(especially when the stories are written by Sidney Sheldon). So to get rid of me begging him to buy all the books in the world, he took me to the state central Library or commonly known as the Trivandrum Public Library. It was a great day for me. I still remember the 1st time I entered the huge doors as a thirteen year old and being awe struck by the rows and rows of books in the various reading halls. Since then my love story with books and authors had started and this relation, though had its ups and downs, is still going strong - much stronger than my OTHER love stories :).

This post will be about my fascination about books, some of the books that have changed my view about life and some of my favourite authors. The books and authors all came from different cultures, countries and ages, but influenced me greatly to THINK! If you are interested, read on to know their names and it would be good befriending them based on your interests.

I always was a fan of paperbacks; mainly because I liked reading lying on my bed before sleeping. This habit is still there with me and I still like the same type of stories. It started with comics when I was a kid; then Famous Five, Hardy Boys and then later on I graduated to novels and then stuff which I couldn't put my hands on as a kid :)

Books always used to be my 1st love, but since my life started having a new member called computer, books had taken a backseat. All through college my reading habit was lost and I picked up books again only when it was time for belling the cat - which ultimately belled me.

Then my focus started shifting from fiction to non-fiction. Particularly the autobiographies of business and political leaders and the so-called management books. Some of these were good reads, some were utter waste of time.

During my teenage I used to adore books by two authors; one was Sidney Sheldon and the other was Jeffrey Archer. I still remember the 1st Sheldon book I had read. It was Stranger in the mirror. It was like all of his other books, written like a movie with all the effects and special scenes that would make it a page-turner.

I'm proud to say that I've read all books written by Sheldon and Archer and I owe a lot of my reading habit to these two guys. If it weren't for their awesome narration and gripping tales I'd have left books a long time back.

Now any Indian in the 2000's who claims to be a book lover can't be ignorant of a certain individual named Chetan Bhagat. I've loved all his books and even though I feel that except for the 1st book, the others have had a very bad ending. Either being too filmy in style or too quickly wrapped up.

I’ll say that the books he writes talk about the social evils in our society, rather than just being funny. His 1st book talked about how parents just force their kids to take up ambitions for which they don’t feel the same way. The 2nd book talked about the youth’s lack of spiritualism in the present scenario. 3rd book talked about the evil of the religious riots. 4th book talks about the disconnect in our country when it comes to forming relations with people across the country.

So I feel he is someone who is required in our society which is at crossroads where parents are afraid to tell their kids what to do and what not to do, and even though Mr Bhagat has this cool dude image, his books actually help in putting some semblance into the Indian fast changing lifestyle :).

Top 25 books that I would love to mention are:(not all are from the world of fiction)

  1. The Godfather - Mario Puzo - The greatest novel I've ever read, truly amazing.
  2. The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho - A truly amazing tale of life,love and desire.
  3. Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! - Richard Feynman - An interesting side of a serious scientist.
  4. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkein - The only book which inspite of being a fantasy is in this list.
  5. Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand - A totally outrageous but interesting philosophy.
  6. The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger - The confused teens story which was a great read.
  7. Lateral Thinking-Creativity Step by Step - Edward De Bono - A good one for creativity.
  8. iCon:Steve Jobs - Jeffrey Young - About an Icon's comeback to be the most admired CEO
  9. Mein Kampf - Adolf Hitler - I wanted to know what was in the mind of the evil genius!
  10. The World is Flat - Thomas Friedman - A great tale about the present world we live in.
  11. Freakonomics - Steven D Levitt and Steven J Dubner - An interesting outlook to practical economics.
  12. Relativity: the special and the general theory - Albert Einstein - The greatest physicist explains the most complex theory in the simplest way possible.
  13. The Motorcycle Diaries - Ernesto "Che" Guevara - An awesome travelogue with great thoughts.
  14. The Google Story - David A Vise - The most detailed account of Google's spectacular rise
  15. The Communist Manifesto - Marx and Engels - Being a Malayalee, I couldn't miss this one!
  16. Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert M. Pirsig - A good insight into the human psyche
  17. The Art of Computer Programming - Donald Knuth - For a non-software guy this is a bible to understand programming(for the software guys too)
  18. Theory of Game and Economic Behaviour - John von Neumann & Oskar Morgenstern - An awesome book which explains the most baffling economic theory with ease.
  19. Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking - A man who's life is a great example to follow, explaining the toughest concepts with just 1 equation in the entire book.
  20. Joker in the Pack - Nitesh Pahlajani & Ritesh Sharma - An awesome tale of love, friendship and life in a B-School, a must read for any MBA aspirant and .
  21. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee - An awesome story of justice and a good eye-opener about the American society in those times.
  22. Day of the Jackal - Fredrick Forsyth - A tale so realistic that I felt it was too much of a story.
  23. Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - The best love story I've ever read.
  24. Jeeves Series - PG Wodehouse - An awesome set of books which though funny are a great read anytime :)
  25. Kiterunner - Khaled Hosseini - The last in the list is a book which made me feel sad and happy at the same time.
I hope you find the above interesting and thought provoking as they were for me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Generation

Don’t make someone a priority, if you are just an option......

I absolutely love this saying that I cannot find an author to give credit. It rings true everyday of my life. I have used this saying more than a couple of times in my GTalk status messages and also in my facebook, twitter and orkut pages. But till today I hadn't given serious thought to this line. You might ask what happened so much today to make me think about this sad fact of life. I believe it hasn't been a smooth sailing for anyone in their love-life, who ever says that they've the perfect love story, are either lying or are acting in a movie.

Now coming to the saying- Whether they are friends, family or a special someone they really can’t be that special if you are just an option in their life. I feel that people do make you an option in life, especially in your work, your college(at times it does feel wrong), your social circle and so on. It has been the norm in the fast moving world that we live in. I still remember the term Friendship of Convenience when it was told to me by a teacher at the TIME centre I had attended. He told about people being friends for just the sake of using eachother when they need something. People who think like:

How can I use him? He is well connected, financially well off, resourceful, he is a doctor, lawyer. Build and maintain the relationship, some day he could be useful. Usefulness goes, friendship goes.

I hadn't got seen much of FOC(not pronounced as the F word, but just F.O.C) in my life until I joined my work and their again in my training programme the company HR head told about the same term. He rather gave a 30 slide PPT on how to do the same quoted lines I've given above. But finally he told the term Social Networking, rather than FOC.

I had heard about networking since I am a part of the Orkut era, the Facebook generation, the guys who wake up and tweet their status and check their mails before going for a piss and will even F**K for the next best thing. Now when my generation decides to make friends it is a simple step. There are a thousand different places where you can meet people, maybe real, maybe virtual. But anyways you will always find people; more so because you live in a world with 6.6 Billion people. But still people will be happy to talk to some unknown on a website rather than with their next door neighbour or even to the people living in their homes.

There is a saying "my enemy's enemy is my friend." Common enemy goes, friendship also goes. True Friendship cannot survive without the element of mutual respect and that I feel is the one thing that lacks in these ONLINE, always there for you friends :).

I am not pointing fingers at anyone, I am very much part of this generation, I get happy when people say they "LIKE" my stupid messages in Facebook, or when someone RT's my tweets; why go that far, I ADORE the one's who comment on my blog and for me and my generation this has become a way of attaining social recognition, of having a status that they won't get otherwise. Especially fat guys like me who would not be able to make it to any happening parties or be invited to movies or hang outs because of their looks or because they can't dance that well and so on and on........

Now I feel I've digressed quite a huge bit away from the saying at the start the blog; so let me just FOCUS and get back to the point. (MBA has been doing its good bits to me too, don't you see the jargon's I've used till now :D). So I was talking about someone making you an option when you make them or rather plan to make them a priority. I feel that in the family life the FOC should just F*** off and you should have sincerity in your relationships. I can't imagine a father having a caring relation with his children only so that he thinks they treat him well when he's old. Going by the present way MY generation is going ahead I don't think even if we care for our kids they will take care of us when we're dying. Maybe this fear is making my generation to run more after the all elusive MONEY.

I still remember my dad's words when I had told him that I want to quit my job and go for an MBA, he was shouting into the phone that I am mad to leave such a well paying job and I don't realise the value of a government job. It is true, my generation doesn't know the value of a government job. Even after working in a government company I feel that I would do good in a private firm because their I will get recognised for my work. Its true that private firms reward people who show dedication and usually in govt. firms and departments good dedication means trouble for the person.

But then when I joined my course in July and in the discussions in class when people diss about government jobs and the work culture and how corrupt the officers are and that if the country is allowed to run by private firms then we'd beat US in a matter of years and all that wonderful ideas go around. Only the handful of people who've worked in govt. firms and have led a non-corrupt, non-maligned career(albeit short) will disagree and try to persuade that NOT ALL the officers are like that(heck I too was in that category a few months back, so how can I agree??).

My generation takes pride in the discussions and dialogues that we all carry out, but still we either never vote, or never care to know who wins the elections. As far as we are concerned it is always one corrupt guy to another, one uneducated fool to another and one idiot to another. But like the Tata Tea campaign I ask isn't it time to wake up and do something about it?

But then I myself am not doing anything about it other than proudly showing my finger off about the vote I cast, then why will anyone else do anything about it??

PS: Title credited to The Who for their wonderful song - My Generation.

*Disclaimer: I am being overly emotional tonight. These are the rantings of a person with absolutely nothing fun to do right now. And instead of getting studies done, is making non-sense blogs.