Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Hunt for Kohinoor – Hunt for Accomplishing Familial and National Safety

Here’s a spine chilling thriller, second in the series, featuring Mehrunisa Khosa. Welcome to the breathless tale of ancient secrets laced into the modern terrorism. One just cannot keep the book down once he/she starts reading it. Here is a piece of fiction on terrorism and Jihad interwoven with leaving one in awe and giving the creeps. But the  ending restores one’s infinite faith on humanity.
The story is about Mehrunisa ‘s hunt for the secret documents  called Kohinoor,  which would convey the details about the impending attack of the Jihadis on an important place in India . Mehrunisa is assigned this job to redeem her long lost father Harinder Singh Khosa (Harry) and save the Nation. The Pakistani President is about to hand over the secret to the Indian counterpart, when he is killed by a suicide bomber. Mehrunissa’s father who ia an ace agent of the RAW gets injured in this blast, but regains his memory, which he had lost in an earlier combat. He continues to serve the RAW and the RAW also uses his genius but his family is not told of his amnesia and the mother and daughter are told that he is lost in the combat and are unaware of his whereabouts till he regains his memory.. He is reminded of his daughter and wife. However the RAW is in constant vigil of the estranged family. Mehrunisa becomes an Art Historian and Restorer and works as a Consultant in the Archaeological Survey of India. The RAW contacts her and gives her the assignment to hunt for the lives saving Kohinoor. She meets her father and resolves to attain Kohinoor. The rest of the story shows how her acumen works in unraveling the mystery through the dense terrains of Kashmir and Pakistan and amid Jihadi treachery and vendetta with of course assistance from good Samaritans of  Kashmir.and Pakistan.
On the other side, the story also describes a father’s journey, after he gets on his legs, from Pir Pinjal to the Hindu Kush, marshalling a lifetime’s friends and age-old debts , channeling the knowledge  , using the skills he had mastered over decades spent on fields to retrieve his child from the dangerous clutches of the Jihadis.  Mehrunisa is also helped by the Police officer and her lover Rana Pratap Singh. The message conveyed in the entire story is NISCHAY KAR APNI JEET---DETERMINE TO WIN and Victory is yours. This is the best part of this lucid and beautiful novel.
The narration is gripping and coherent. The characters are different from the daily routine stories. Meher’s  rocklike father Harinder Singh Khosa, Meher’s mentally strong Persian mother Maadar, Jag Mishra, the RAW official, loyal, robust and intelligent lover R.P.Singh, Raghav the prudent policeman, Begum Ameena  the influential Pakistani ,Babur Khan, the clever Pathan leader, Aziz MIrza  the Pakistani and so on are well depicted and introduced aptly.
The suggestive nicknames like Poppy Palace Pashas for Afghani drug lords, Snow Leopard for Harry, Chanakya for Jag Mishra, Bom Pir for high priest of bombs, Badshah Khan for Babur Khan, ZamZama for big Gun,Song of the Divine for Bhagvadgita,Mar-Jiware the living dead for the militants, Jihadis etc. are really convincing.
The author merits accolades for the indepth research in history and Geography as well and sharing her knowledge with the readers.  This is a thought provoking novel and a must buy for all historical and adventure loving readers.
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"No Man's Land" By Nilesh Shrivastava - Eternal and Enduring Terra Firma

Here’s the compelling story of Land and its ever transient owners told excellently by Nilesh Shrivastava. In his own words, Nilesh states that “titles change, Governments change, times change, but the land stays where it is—unmoved and sterile.”
With land in the background, the novel portrays ambition, greed, affections, fears, apprehensions and struggle of the characters to own or annex it. The story is about Agastya , the ambitious father supported by Shashwat , his friend philosopher and guide , who build and lord  an estate (of land) and want it to be divided justly between his son Pranay and stepson Karan (born to him out of marriage). Pranay and Karan who are estranged from childhood and have blemished pasts and base aspirations are guided differently by the same Dushyant Uncle personified as malice and greed .Pranay is brought up by his mother Shubhangi and grandfather Ramdev, who is estranged from her husband after she knows about Agastya’s ex-marital affair with Shalini. He is pampered and studies in a boarding school in Mussoorie and studies in college too without any financial worries, but without any fatherly affection or guidance. Karan on the other hand is bought up with the negative hues of criticism and adversities with the knowledge of having a father not acceptable to the society. How the sons encounter, behave and resolve the inheritance with the counseling of Shashwat and Dushyant is the main stay of the story.
The story is about Gurgaon Circa in 1998, when the pangs of a city to be born is evidenced from ordinary farms turning into virtual gold mines in the shadow of lofty skyscrapers.
The different characters depicted in this gripping tale like Shalini, the courageous woman and loyal mother of Karan, Shubhangi , the strong willed wife of Agastya and mother of Pranay, Ramdev , the wise father of Agastya, Shreya , the alert yet childlike modern girlfriend of Pranay along with Agastya, Shaswat, Pranay and Karan are blended into an interesting tale on contemporary theme of increasing demand for Land. The personalities of the naïve Pranay and rash Karan who lack the fatherly supervision in the forming years are rendered justifiably. The string of events right from the first chapter to the last have coherence and are consistently placed.
The foregoing description of the characters and events offers a marked distinction from other routine and mundane themes. The essence of the story is the illustration of the beauty and immortality of Land. In his own words, Nilesh convincingly affirms that “ Land isn’t about a pot of soil and a bunch of papers declaring its ownership. It’s more about the solidity and identity it can bring to a man. Its s physical, visible and more importantly it’s permanent. You can’t burn it like money; you can’t melt it like gold.”
The narration is interesting and will not allow one to keep the book down till one knows the end. The various shades of the literate society, but the share of the positive and optimistic few confirms the author’s promise of building a better society.
This is a must read book and a must buy book. Thank You Nilesh, for the wonderful experience.
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program by
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Dr Shashi Tharoor’s 4.5 Years Report Card for You All

Politicians normally promise but never deliver; that has been the normal trend. They give tall promises during elections to be forgotten immediately after elections. Not Dr Tharoor. Here is the report card of Dr Shashi Tharoor explaining to the whole word what he did in the last 4.5 years as MP. I am sure he will be the first MP to bring out such a comprehensive report that accounts for every penny he has spend from his MP development fund. This report also outlines efforts taken by him to fulfill the promises he has made during 2009 elections.

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Monday, December 09, 2013

BANKERUPT by Ravi Subramanian - Vices Of The Erudite And Bankers

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Welcome to another spine chilling thriller – BANKERUPT -by Ravi Subramanian. Here is a adrenalin- packed novel on the unimaginable immoralities in the field of academics, business and banking, which can be churned out by the only Ravi Subramanian, who is acclaimed as “The John Grisham of Banking”.
The story begins in America with the US President Clinton’s thoughts on the shooting of students and teacher by two high -school -going teenagers and the Arms rules for civilians in America and also the death of a jogger in Boston Public Garden .Cirisha Narayanan, an extremely attractive Tamilian from Coimbatore is an Assistant professor in Social Psychology in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is married to Aditya Raisinghania is a high official in the Greater  Boston Global Bank( GB2) , Mumbai. She shuttles between America and India for her work and project respectively. In MIT she works with her supervisor, Michael Cardoza. Aditya helps Cirisha’s father to get a loan from GB2 for Emu Farming at Coimbatore. That is how they meet and get married.
Then there’s a Step Up Shoes company owned by Jigar Shah, who wants to sell away his company through GB2. His CEO Shivender is Aditya’s classmate in Business school. Shivender and Aditya manipulate the accounts of Step Up Shoes to show high profits to boost the company’s image and embezzle a lot of money .Meanwhile, Richard, who is a good friend of Cirisha and works under James Deahl, is disqualified for tenureship by the committee in MIT. He is. On the same day of his disqualification, the committee member Siddiqui gets killed.
James Deahl takes up the research for carrying guns, with Richard, initially sponsored by the National Rifles association but later on by Department of Social Justice and Equality of Arizona State and publishes a book, as the research is not recognized by the University. He also wins the Bankroft Prize for the book. Richard is denied the tenureship the second time and in the frenzy the dean and some faculty are shot dead by him and he shoots himself. However he sends a message and a code to Cirisha , which contains the names of the characters for his failures. Cirisha is also killed as she knows the truth. Her father’s emu farming faces a setback, as he becomes unscrupulous in his dealings. It is her husband Aditya who solves the mystery, in remorse of his dead wife. In his own words , Ravi at one place states that “ the thing about greed is that once it gets you in its clutches , it doesn’t let you go.”
This is a ‘must read’ and ‘can’t keep down’ book. The characters are introduced promptly. The mystery unfolds in a well knit sequence with many settings in India and America. The modalities in emu farming, shoe making, banking and educational research are well elucidated and the vile attitudes of desire, avarice and murder shattering the victorious ventures are well depicted. Ravi Subramanian, we look forward to many such literary treats.
Here is the official trailers of the book
A big thanks to for sending me this book for review.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

My First Job Interview in the US

Arizona State University (ASU) has won the Pac-10 South title the other day defeating UCLA. I was reading/watching about ASU’s performance in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe this season and I was filled with nostalgia – I have seen lots of ASU matches there in that stadium and in fact my first hourly job after I landed in US was in that stadium. I forget the job title but the job was to check the tickets at the entrance till the end of second quarter of the game and then be the security guard till every one leaves the stadium. The pay was $5.05/hour and I was supposed to work for both ASU and Arizona Cardinals games.
I was recollecting that day of my interview and I cannot stop laughing. Here is what happened.
I landed in ASU almost a month before the classes started. The very next day as any graduate student coming from India did, I started the “hourly job” search. There was this portal in our school where all hourly jobs are posted and it became a routine for me to apply at least 10 jobs a day. But neither I nor my four room mates ever got any interview call. (Few months later I realized that to get such hourly jobs you need some recommendation – either from someone working there or someone who has already worked there; obviously none of us had any recommendation).
Three weeks passed by with no interview calls for any of us. Lot of other Indian students who came with us were getting job and that made all of us really tense as we knew that without a hourly job surviving is very difficult. 
One day it was around noon and I was sleeping. I woke up hearing a huge scream from my roommate who was sitting in front of the desktop.
Room Mate (RM): I got an interview call from some Athletics department.

Me: What?
RM: Remember the resume we both submitted yesterday to athletics department,?
Me: Yes
RM: They have called me for interview tomorrow
Me: Great
RM: Get-up and check your mail; you might also been called for interview.
The very thought of having called for an interview made me energized and I got up from the bed in no time and checked the mail. I was also called for interview the next day. 
My friend went to the interview and soon after the interview that he was asked to report for the next match happening that coming Saturday.  He told me all the questions and the answers he told. I made it a point that I will tell the same answers during my interview if those questions were asked. 
My turn for the interview came. I had submitted a resume that had shown seven years of work experience (part-time working for four years in engineering college and 3 years while working) in collecting tickets and as security guards in stadiums in India during cricket, hockey and football matches. I had included couple of venues where the 1996 Cricket World Cup that happened in India as places I worked as security guard. This is what has happened during the interview. 
Interviewer (H): Brijesh Na…..; I am sorry, I am not able to spell your last name properly.

Me: It is Nalinakumari
H: I may never be able to pronounce it anyway. I will call you by Brijesh, Is it OK?
Me: Yes
H: How are you?
Me: Good
After glancing through my resume
H: Looks like you have lots of experience managing crowd in stadium; you are the kind of people we are looking for.
Me: Yes, I have over seven years of experience working in various stadiums all over India.
H: Great!!! What was your work like?
Me: Controlling the crowd the day before the matches when they come to see their favorite player practicing to verifying the tickets during the day of the game to crowd control.
H: Awesome! This is may be something you will be doing here also. Now can you please tell me a situation where you did something extraordinary that stood out during your job?
(This was the same question she asked my friend and I was prepared with the answer; the same answer my friend gave; good that the interview happened before 9/11 and Americans were not that aware of terrorism).
Me: This happened during an India-Pakistan match in 1999 in Chennai where I was working then. A terrorist from Pakistan has got into the stadium with a bomb to kill the players and spectators. Pakistan is always fighting a war against India by sending terrorists to India. A spectator sitting next to the terrorist smells something fishy and reported that to me. I went and interrogated the terrorist and I understood that his aim was to kill innocent people. I immediately called the stadium police using my wireless phone and arrested the terrorist. My action saved thousands of life.
I don’t know if she believed that or not. My friend had told me that she was very much impressed by that answer and hence I also gave the same answer. Anyways after that she did not ask anymore questions regarding my previous job experiences. Her next question was:
H: How many hours you can work in a week?
Me: As per visa rules 20 hours/week
H: Ok, You may come and join for work from Saturday and I will have all the formalities complete by then.
Me: Thank You. 
Thus ends the very first interview in the US. When I look back this was the first of the many learning experiences I had in the US.
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