Category Archives: Books

The one true Guv’nor

The Guv'norThe Guv’nor by Lenny McLean

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FOREWORD- http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=guvnor

“I look what I am ..a hard bastard” for a tagline and a cover image of an almost Peek a boo stance (I do not think the “stance” makes any difference whatsoever to Lenny McLean, England’s toughest bare-knuckle boxer) ! The Guvnor cannot go wrong with a Selling point like that.

And then the content of the auto biography . The no-holds-barred narrative makes for a very interesting/ amusing and “street” read. I say street because the narrative in the book is free-flowing but not haphazard. Not really literary but not too crude either(the guv’nor bashing up thugs is not crude, its vigilante-stuff). Delightful and cheeky but not in a “cheap-bloke” kind of manner.

I have known nothing of Lenny Mc Lean before I bought this book. And then 10 pages through, I wanted to meet him someday. imagine my disappointment when I realized he is no more. May all peace be with him. The image of being a “hard-lined bad-ass” is his, all-hands-down! R E S P E C T

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The Winds of Raiden

Do not ask me why I name this post so (I am sure there is someone out there thinking … The winds of RaIden ? What in the blue blazes is that ? Raiden passing wind ? Bloody bloke!)

Anyway so there are instances. No! Not just instances but whole fleeting hours! When I visualize me-self having Raiden’s powers (For those who do not still know Raiden, refer to this link https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raiden_(Mortal_Kombat) )

Aah so before I digress further, Raiden’s powers of wind lightning and thunder to just blow away , blast away, pulverize away the annoying irritants ! Which  I seem to encounter with alarming frequency in recent times. Which , well is such an a-monkey-obsessively-scratching-his-back  type irritant. Uh ! Doesn’t sound like a critical issue you say ? Well ..do read on anyway  ..

Chapter 1: Mind type

Yes! I am writing. I want to go all macho and say  “I care a rat’s a** about writing and sharing my thoughts…blah blah blah“. But that is not so. Because like the rest of all you good folks out there, no matter how much a mean bastard I think I am, I love my family  and my pals, or anyone of you who graces my blog 😉 ! And if one can either have a jolly good chuckle or a chest-thumping blood-boil at what I write , I am happy to be of service.

Perhaps what initially inspired me (and brought out the currently hyperbole-ing mean streak)  is this man and his autobiography.  The guv’nor is one major “#badass” .May he R.I.P ! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenny_McLean )

And oh the irritant! The current irritant is  because I believe the thinking-speed of the mind is faster than the speed of typing! (Unless you are “Superman” who is dumb and superhuman, hence a faster typer).

I wish I had some device which reads my thoughts and directly translates it onto the blog-editor. With of course, me having the edit-control of having to either shift between finger-typing and mind-typing. So that I can edit anything that might not want itself to be captured for public viewing (What! Dont give me the “Holier Than Thou”. I know all of your minds have stuff you don’t want out and prefer to keep inside!)

But alas! Why is no one creating this already ? Oi, Mr.Elon Musk  ?

Chapter 2: The dogs of Noida

There are (like in most Indian industrial cities) “societies” in Noida. You know …”condos” ! And since most of Noida along the Noida-Greater Noida Express highway is a barren land with….

  1. the odd buffalo herd,
  2. the less odd UP bhaiyya trying to ask your address and the price of your flat and how much jewelery/ cash  you have in your house
  3. and the least odd Gujjar dude with a gun and  driving a sports car, 

….security is a big issue. Hence, staying here is like trapped in an island with other …err… islanders!

Now the issue with these islanders is that they are absolute zombies who got zombified  in the 80s. Meaning, their awareness has not got into post-liberalization or post-21st century or post-internet mode yet. I am talking about mentality and awareness of doing things optimally. I am not talking of their ability to hit “Likes” on Facebook or “swipe” on Tinder. Anyway, one of the most annoying examples is the way they rear dogs ! Now you see, getting a pet dog (or  any pet for that matter) is a responsibility. Like having a kid, nothing less!

And I see huskies! Yes, Huskies in 45 degree Celcius weather. These families methinks have to show off (Huskies in India means the owner is well off, very well off). But think of the dog, it suffers in any place where the temperature is above 13 degree Celcius! And you cant trap it in an AC room forever , it loves open spaces! Hence, its as if the reasons for banning the whole circus concept are back at a household level again.  The sodomized showboating sadistic poor-dog-exploiting scoundrels!

Then there are another set of dog-owners. Who have no idea that the pets have to be socialized from a young age with both humans and other pets alike. And considering most folks here have pets, it should in theory not be a  problem. But however, the aging paranoia of the conservative pre-liberalization Indian mindset is back.It is so “back” that most people here pull their dogs away hard from both humans and other dogs alike, as if its a blasphemy. And thus, that little dog grows upto be a big dog, who barks and attacks anyone who is not its master, human or  dog alike. This is so rampant around here that folks’ way of greeting another person with a pet is “Namaste ji! Katega tho nahin ? ” .  That is the precise moment when I want to say, “Yeh nahin katega! Main Katoonga bc!!!” 

Well! since natural instinct at least prevents the badly-conditioned dog from being overly aggressive with fully grown humans, it focuses all its mal-conditioned  aggression towards little kids and other dogs. Yes, the targets include well-behaved and well-trained dogs like my Lilou.

Hmm …hate to say it ! But come near my bacchhi and her Papa will have a fatherly duty of reminding the bad dog, the bad owner, etc. about another really big dog in the yard around Noida! A-f***ing-men!

 

Chapter 3: The Elektras

Well, I am a happily married chap who thinks the word “bitch” is the common noun attributed to his four legged little kid (For the blokes who read that wrong  … I am talking about my pet beagle, my little lilou!)

Anyway, perhaps this is what I think makes me make an objective assessment without getting distracted/ mesmerized by the well ..ahem! the whole Elektra thing! What ? Didn’t get it ? To the unconditioned male bugger who lives through a coolest-movies-are-from-comicbooks phase, this is Elektra …beautiful, sexy and seductive  superhuman character with a limitless fantasy-appeal.

 

Anyway, so about all the Elektras . A substantial number of beautiful, strong, well groomed , well spoken ladies who delusionally and proudly believe that they have the “darkest” , most “sinister”, even more “enigmatic” life stories .And because of this , they again delusionally believe they intimidate everyone. Well! A certain chap even said there is a term for them, “The Sigmas”. Hmm …

And hey! As twisted as it sounds, there are by definition Elektras among men too. Pardon me for the brutal honesty! Unfortunately, there are more  Elektras among the men :O How ? Many Indian men emulate their dads, especially with the chauvinistic and male-egocentric-insecurities  part 😐 You and your obsession with your dads! 😛 Read the definition now ..https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electra_complex

Anyhow!! If its “mysterious”, isn’t it supposed to be “entirely” mysterious ? And spare the good world the hint-dropping of their self-fabricated enigmas, just for the purpose of intimidating others. So goes the Elektra award to my former high school principal, to the several corporate ladies around NCR (to whomsoever its applicable only please), to the judgmental aunties in the societies of Noida, to the artsy ones who think engineers just add  and subtract digits 😐 and to the watchman in my condo for just being a wuss !

By the way, the mythical Elektra’s depiction is like this below . This person can definitely pass off for a guy too..hallelujah ! Up yours, you bad men !! And no credit to you, you bad women!!

One more time, yours truly,

The dark the fast and the fiery,

Ghost Runner

 

Sleeping on Jupiter – comments

Sleeping on JupiterSleeping on Jupiter by Anuradha Roy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do not often read books such as this  But guess the title’s uniqueness was what caught my attention in the first place (apologies for the narrow mindedness, but I am fussy about what I read, this not necessarily based on visibility-driven literary auras). Anyway hardly spoilers below, so read on …

The author’s acumen to trigger powerful visuals through her descriptions is omnipresent throughout the novel.Also, the overall undercurrent of cracking down on hypocrisies in Indian society is my favorite element in this work. Being an iconoclast myself, loved it. Certainly not for the orthodox folks

Not recommended for the weak-tummied folks either. Some depictions of violence are ..well.. rather violent . There are elements where I felt like I was watching a Rob Zombie movie, only a tad less crude and with a bit more panache, but targeting an equivalent degree of gore (or is that the author successfully triggering worst case imaginations in me ?!?! Well !!)

The most striking thing is the specific focus on child and women abuse. The blood boils at this episodes. Period. Nothing more to say. There are times when my latent schizoprenia (hadn’t known I had that side till I read this book, kudos to the author for triggering such a degree of visualization in the minds of a reader !) drove me to reach out for the antagonist Godman’s throat and rip his inhuman life out of his scumbag of an existence! (Shall refrain from saying anything else to avoid spoilers)

The ending is a tad disappointing though. Felt that it could have been much better in is terms of creating something witty or unexpected.

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The trilogy of Demetrios Askiates

The Mosaic of Shadows (Demetrios Askiates, #1)

The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Harper

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first story-laced book centred around the crusades. And boy! What a start 🙂

Light hotheadedness apart, the book gives what you would least expect when you start reading it, and that is a suspense thriller set against the backdrop of the first crusade. So the surprise element , the novelty of the concept and the racy tempo add to a gripping story-line. It is also curiosity-inductively new for one who knows less about the history of the crusades.

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Knights of the Cross (Demetrios Askiates, #2)Knights of the Cross by Tom Harper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is more political than its predecessor and the follower. The author tries to squeeze in a mystery sub plot into the main plot but somehow, the flow doesn’t come as naturally as it did in the first part (‘mosaic of shadows’)

Apart from that, its the most stand-alone book in the trilogy if one reads only this and avoids the other two.

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Siege of HeavenSiege of Heaven by Tom Harper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very high and rich depiction of the trilogy’s end. Lacks the mystery of the first part (mosaic of shadows) and the political aura of teh second (knights of the cross). But does make up for it by adapting a straight in-your-face narrative overtone of the final seige of teh holy city.

The theme involved is more military than political or suspense in the third part. Lags a bit towards the end but picks up pace again towards teh gory climax. An interesting read and one that adds variety to the diverse overtone of the trilogy.

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Karan Bajaj ..covered !!

Adding to my book-reading marathons are the works of Karan Bajaj. For information on the author and the plots of his two books , look at good ol’ Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karan_Bajaj

Anyway so here below are the reviews of his two books, both of them National best sellers
 
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Keep off the GrassKeep off the Grass by Karan Bajaj
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The thinking man’s chetan bhagat is what some call the author. I totally agree.

Definitely more hard-thought-inducing than Chetan Bhagat and for me, certainly more entertaining.Some anecdotes in the movie, ‘3 idiots’ (at least the more ‘filmy’ parts) seem to be taken from this one rather than Chetan Bhagat’s ‘five point someone’. But well! Thats just my opinion.

Anyway, a darker , a mroe satirical take on elite campus life as compared to many other contemporary,similar and concomitant works by ivy-bschool-league Indian authors. Worth a try though some parts are too ambiguous/ridiculous to be taken at face-value to be reality.(The last reason is the only factor influencing a rating-drop from a potential 4 pointer to a 3 pointer)

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Johnny Gone DownJohnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good book … relatively a better narrative than ‘Keep off the Grass’ (the author’s previous book) which is a decent book in itself (at least compared to Chetan Bhagat’s run-of-the-mill no brainers which are more in the genre of *masala adventures for dummies** )

Follows the adventures of an American ivy league grad to different parts of the world of South East Asia to Latin America. Throw in monkhood, artificial limbs, Brazilian models and bad-ass gangsters to make a heterogenous but attractive concoction that is an amusing narrative of the age-old formula, yet novel in style.

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The Shiva Trilogy : Parts 1 and 2

The Immortals of Meluha (Shiva Trilogy, #1)The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Written in a simple language, this story had the potential to create controversy, to be tagged as a religious glorification-propaganda, among other uncoveted possibilities. But thanks to the author’s witty way of presentation and depiction, it comes across as an incredibly logical storyline (though possibly fictitious). Yet, it doesn’t undermine any religious belief.

Mind you! This is not a religious book at all. It is more on the lines of a gothic/celtic fantasy like LOTR, Shannara,etc.,…only this one is set in Ancient India.

There are no Gods here. No magic no miracles. Just the power of beliefs of various characters mixed with intelligent scenario-depiction makes the whole tale get a magical aura inspite of the fact that events within the storyline go no where near impossible realms. Wonderful book!
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The Secret of the Nagas (Shiva Trilogy, #2)The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book’s predecessor,’Immortals of Meluha’ is like an epoch in INdia’s answer to Lord of the Rings.

But somehow, the Secret of the Nagas , though good in its own right, falters incoherently in relative perspective to its predecessor

According to me, it is inclined more semi-politically to cover all ancient regions of India than to a storyline trying to incept a natural correlation to ancient Indian history. The introductions and twists and the revealing of identities of certain characters (who are namesakes of religious/cultural/mythological persons) looks contrived and artificially enforced. All in all, it lacks the naturally convincing flow of Part 1

But the wars and the subtle romances in between are well depicted, though still found wanting when compared to its predecessor , ‘Immortals of Meluha’

Even though I consider myself an objective critic of books, I found myself on the verge of tears at the beautiful gradiloquence presented in the first part, compared to which the second part reads like a carefully formula-driven soap and nothing more …
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leaves to be seen what the concluding part , Oath of the Vayuputras  has to offer …

 

 

2010: That year gone by

The previous year (2010) started with a prophecy which to my loved ones (starting with mom), was the prophecy of all prophecies. Potentially the greatest harbinger of my doom`s eventual finality (lol! What words! I should cut down on the ‘epic fantasy` reading :p)

So no matter how hard I didn`t believe  such jyotish (astrology), it did do some damage, I didnt blog for the first 6 months of 2010. Not  that there is any connection, but my blogger’s block and this astrology shit just happened to be concomitant events.

Anyway … I guess I am still alive and 2010 was one of the best years of my life …a pioneering year for many different things …! So Mr.Astrologer , take your prophecies , round them up real nice and stick it  straight up your monkey a**

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Anyway looking back at 2010, it was quite the amusing year.Below I tried to stick to a chronological structure though I did give more priority to the free flow of thought

  1. It truly started with a bang  with me getting myself shifted to the Business Intelligence Unit at my company. Lots of statistics, heavy duty number crunching and an infinitely clanish little team! The kind of combo I would dig into any day 🙂 !
  2. Then came an event that marked the synchronization of identity with the place I live in. My future generations shall know that event  as *me shifting to a flat in Bandra (West)*, the jazziest of Mumbai residential localities by far. With food, drinks, clubs,Joggers’ park, Gold’s gym, and discotheques a breath away, non-busy times promised never to be boring again.
  3. Not to mention travelling with pals on treks around mumbai to Lohagad, Rajmachi, Manikgad et al, incidentally all spiced up by the monsoon rains.
  4. Then came the  main course of 2010. the trip to EuropeEverything from the Louvre’ in Paris to the Wall in Berlin to the crazy coffee shops in Amsterdam to the European Union Parliament  in Strasbourg !For good measure, also throw in a large measure of Curry Wurst, Khus khus, Tartflombay and 1 litre beer mugs ! Even raced against an English guy (who by the way was not the stereotypically fat British dumpty)  in Paris for a 10 round race around the Eiffel Tower.   Bumped into Mythalez and Tejo at Amsterdam (all doped in the  jolly good sense of course!)
  5. Then, there was Goa (as usual) where besides the time spent at the beaches oggling at the girls, an appreciable time was spent  biking across 100 km of the North Goa coastline … shirtless !! 😛
  6. Not to mention visiting  Hyderabad a couple of times in 2010 . Even went to the extent of biking drunk on the roads of Hyderabad . Thankfully, I was driving at 10 kmph (haha!) , too slow for anyone to get suspicious or me falling in trouble.
  7. The amount of reading  done in 2010 was a rather amusing observation.  Tried a tad more than lightly to digress away from my stereotypical tendency to stick to the sci fi and epic fantasy genre’.  Did a fair diversification  by  becoming familiar with the linguistic, historical , biographical, autobiographical, social, non-fictional categories too. Of course, never completely lost my loyalty to the epic fantasy and sci-fi genre’ . By the way, the end of 2010 from the books’ perspective sees me searching for Stephen king’s Dark tower series, waiting for Part 2 in the Left Hand of God trilogy and  trying to fully comprehend Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink
  8. Of course I did continue ( like years of yore) , with my controversial theories (for instance, the Black berry bitch) So i did invite everything from ire to appreciation from different quarters. Haha ! There was one queer instance when one particular theory (about nosy relatives on FB) got me under scrutiny in family circles.  But well! how do you become a family legend/cult  without controversy, without rising against sardonic moronisms, against …. oh God! forget it  …..
  9. Running: I should be shot if I dont talk of this. Yes! I did find my intermittently lost passion for running in 2010 …after two years (one more time!! Before I become old and crippled). Out with it came some new self-made techniques and strategies for running races. I guess I am getting into shape and preparing hard for various running events around India. Hope things work out well.

….. Well thats it for now!  2010 was not bad at all . I feel light now that I have put down the important stuff for posterity. There were obviously some bad-ass tales and some tragic ones in 2010 too, like it is for every one! But that set will find its place in the blog’s private part.

Yours truly,

Ghost Runner