Monthly Archives: February 2016

Book Review- Shantaram

“Sometimes we love with nothing more than hope. Sometimes we cry with everything except tears.” 

Shantaram is one of my favourites now. If I make a list of top 10 favourite books, this will definitely feature in Top 5.

It is based in Mumbai city for most part of the plot and is an autobiography plus part fiction of life of the author Gregory David Roberts. Anything related to Mumbai anyways excites me. The city has a charm I can’t get over. I have stayed in Mumbai for a few years and If I ever have a chance, I would love to go back. Despite the crowd, the distance and the high cost of living, the warmth of the place makes you forget every pain!


I am not sure how much of it is true and how much is fiction. However the part set in Mumbai more or less seems like true incident. Entering a new city, experiencing village, slum, making friends, everything was so beautifully written. I can’t even count the number of “quotable lines” from this book. Some of them that I’ve mentioned below were amazing to read and feel.

The whole war part wasn’t very engrossing. Probably, I say so because it moved away from Mumbai. But the plot seemed very fabricated. Yet, I would say it was well written. For me, personally, how good an author is comes from how well he ends his books. The climax of Shantaram was just perfect for me.

The below lines have no spoilers whatsoever. If you’ve already read the book, this may bring back fond memories. If you haven’t, this probably will make you wanna read it.

1. Civilisation is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.

2. The only force more cynical and ruthless than the business of politics is the politics of big business.

3. When you judge the power that is in a person, you must judge their capacities as both friend and as enemy.

4. Some women are like that. Some loves are like that. Most loves are like that, from what I can see. Your heart starts to feel like an overcrowded lifeboat. You throw your pride out to keep it afloat , and your self respect and your independence. After a while you start throwing people out- your friends, everyone you used to know. And it’s still not enough. The lifeboat is still sinking, and you know it’s going to take you down with it.  I hVe seen it happen to a lot of girls here. I think that’s why I am sick of love.

5. Optimism is the first cousin of love and it’s exactly like love in three ways: it’s pushy, it has no real sense of humor and it turns up where you least expect it.

6. A dream is a place where wish and fear met. When the wish and the fear are exactly the same , he said, we call the dream a nightmare.

7. Poverty and pride are devoted blood brothers until one, always and inevitably , kills the other.

8. The burden of happiness can only be relieved by the balm of suffering.

9. When we are young, we ThNk that suffering is something that’s done to us. When we get older- when the steel door slams shut, in one way or another, we know that real suffering is measured by what’s taken away from us.

10. You are not a man until you give your love, truly and freely, to a child. And you are not a good man until you earn the love, truly an freely, of a child in return.

11. Nothing grieves more deeply or pathetically than one half of a great love that isn’t meant to be.

12. One of he ironies of courage, and the reason why we prize it so highly, is that we find it easier to be brave for someone else than we do for ourselves alone.

13. They were poor, tired, worried men, but they were Indian, and any Indian man will tell you that although love might not have been invented in India, it was certainly perfected there.

14. Fear dries a man’s mouth and hate strangles him. Thats why hate has no great literature: real hate and real fear have no words.

15. People haven’t stopped believing in love. They haven’t stopped wanting to be in love. They just don’t believe in happy ending anymore. They still believe in love, and falling in love, but they know now that…they know that romances almost never end as well as they begin.

16. It was just that all the hope had been so empty, so meaningless. And if you prove to a man how vain his hope is, how vain his hoping was, you kill the bright , believing part of him that wants to be loved.

17. In the face of all that is so wrong with the world, the very worst thing you can do is to survive. And yet you must survive. It is this dilemma that makes us believe and cling to the lie that we have a soul, and that there is a God who cares about its fate.And now you have it.

18.There’s a kind of luck that is not much more than being in the right place at the right time, a kind of inspiration that’s not much more than doing the right thing in the right way, and both really happen to you when you empty your heart of ambition, purpose and plan; when you give yourself, completely, to the golden, fate filled moment.

19. Justice is a judgement that is both fair and forgiving. Justice is not done until everyone is satisfied, even those who offend us and must be punished by us.  Justice is not the only way we punish those who do wrong. It is also the way we save them.

20. Are we ever justified in what we do? When we act, even with the best of intentions, when we interfere with the world, we always risk a new disaster that mightn’t be of our making, but that wouldn’t occur without our action. Some of the worst wrongs were caused by people who tried to change things.

21. It’s impossible to despise someone you honestly pity, and tu shun someone you truly love.

22. At first, when we truly love someone, our greatest fear is that the loved one will stop loving us. What we should fear and dread, of course, is that we won’t stop loving them, even after they’re dead and gone.

While there were many many more lines that I would love to share, but they are just so many and so long that I’m quite lazy to type. And honestly, I feel reading it in the entire context would make much more sense.

Shantaram is definitely a must read!


Book Review- To Kill a Mocking Bird

This was the last book of the year 2015 and it felt great to have read it. I was told before reading it that you may not like it- since it is based on something that is quite old, which we don’t see anymore. But I personally didn’t feel disconnected ever.

Maybe because we have seen discrimination in so many movies or read about it in different books- that it doesn’t seem to be an alien concept.


To Kill a Mocking Bird is the story narrated by Jean Louise Finch about her father Attitus Finch and her family, in the midst of a law suit against rape and racial inequality that Atticus is fighting against.

There are no quotable lines in this book. It is narrated by a child and the language is kept simple and lucid.

Multiple reasons why I loved the book and would recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet read.

First, the narration is great. Looking at things from a child’s perspective was different. Their arguments and reasons makes us think too.

Second, The plot deals with serious issues but is dealt with extreme delicacy. It has humour, innocence, wisdom and learning.

Third, I loved the way relations were portrayed. Father-daughter, aunt-niece, neighbours, between friends. everything was carefully and neatly laid out.

Fourth, It shows an ideal parenting technique. The way Atticus deals with Jem or Scout is just amazing. Harpee Lee may not be a lawyer but she has sure sketched a character who thinks, talks and behaves like one. Atticus is extremely level headed and poised and I loved the way his character has been written.

I don’t have any more reasons. Probably, I don’t remember any more. I can only ask you to read it. It is a lovely book.


Book Review- Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe is a classic written by Daniel Defoe in the early 1700s. It is a story of a man who is castaway in a remote island and how he spends 30 years there before finding a way to return back to his country.

This book also is the plot for the Tom Hanks movie Cast away, if it interests you somehow.



I generally like to read Classics- not because they are famous books written by famous authors, but because they are genuinely beautifully written. Well, mostly!

I typically pickup books which are well known or well appreciated. Most of my reviews will also be all praises for the quotes and the lines. Robinson Crusoe, sadly, doesn’t qualify on my favourites list. There are a few reasons. Firstly, it is a very old book. I can appreciate the fact that the plot and the language used might have been path breaking at that time, it however fails to impress me now. Secondly, I don’t like texts that speak so much about God and providence and illustrate that without an omnipotent force, everything is a lost cause. Every second line in Robinson Crusoe seems the same. Thirdly, there are books which depict joy and sorrow or grief beautifully. But usage of floods and storms and violence in this book, which was very apt and widely popular in those days, it failed to connect with me now.

I won’t call it a must read. But if you’re someone who enjoys reading classics in general, who can give this a try!

Below are some of the lines that I enjoyed from the book. However, beyond a point, I stopped jotting it down and just focussed on finishing the book!

1. I know not what to call this, not will I urge that it is a secret overruling decree, that hurries us on to the instruments of our own destruction, even though it be before us, and that we rush upon it with our eyes open.

2. I have since often observed, how incongruous and irrational the common temper of mankind is, especially of youth, to that reason which ought to guide them in such cases- viz that thy are not ashamed to sin, and yet are ashamed to repent; not ashamed of the action for which they ought justly to be esteemed fools, but are ashamed. Of the returning, which only can make then be esteemed wise men.

3. For sudden joys, like griefs, confound at first.

4. How strange a chequer-work of providence is the life of man! And by what secret different springs are the affections hurried about, as different circumstances present! Today we love what tomorrow we hate; today we seek what tomorrow we shun; today we desire what tomorrow we fear, nay, even tremble at the apprehensions of.

5. Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself, when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about.

6. How infinitely good that providence is, which has provided , in its government of mankind, such narrow bounds to his sight and knowledge if things, and though he walks in the midst if so many thousand dangers, the sight of which, if discovered to him,  would distract his mind and sink his spirits, he is kept serene and calm, by having the events of things his from his eyes, and knowing nothing of the dangers which surround him.

Random Musings- How Good is it to have hope?

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.
This was probably one of my favourite quotes from Shawshank Redemption. Or maybe this was the only quote I ever remembered.


I saw the movie Kandahar some time back and I now have a new favourite.

“Everyone needs a reason for living. Hope is that reason. For thirsty it is water, for hungry it is good, for lonely it is love , for a woman under full cover, hope is the day she will be seen.”

I recently went through a huge emotional change. I was building up my hopes on something so high that the thought of it coming crashing down didn’t even seem possible to me.

Turns out I was building a palace of cards completely ignoring the storm that was behind me the whole while just waiting for the right opportunity to give it a blow.

Sounds dramatic? Well, the effect on me was. Personally at least. I know a lot of people who are wise, matured and strong. I thought I was one of them but the last one year has disappointed me.

This came as a new year gift! I am not being sarcastic in calling it a gift. Disappointments are as important as victories. Someone once told me that I am not good at handling failures. Yes I wasn’t and now it is proven that I still am not.

But some failures teach you a big lesson. And believe it or not, no matter how short sighted you are as a person, there will come a time when you will look back at this and thank heavens that it happened.

After all, not all hopes are worth being nurtured. Definitely not at the cost of so many other good things that we ignore.

Which brings me to the original quote that I mentioned. It is very easy to talk about hope.

But how do we know what is worth hoping and what is not?

Just like we have dreams and aspirations which we categorise as optimistic, pessimistic and realistic ; we have something similar for hope.

Of  course there is nothing called pessimistic hope. It won’t even be a hope. But we can call it a negative one, specially if we are hoping it for somebody else. Ex?? I hope she rots in hell!! We hear it a lot, don’t we?

But we can choose to have  an optimistic hope or a realistic one.

Sometimes a quick reality check helps us know which one we personally are having.

It is very convenient to say ” one fine day, xyz or abc will happen”. Now this will be a realistic hope if you are working towards it or if the chances of accomplishing it depends more on you and less on fate or worse, on somebody else.

An optimistic or in some cases , foolish hope would be to depend on something totally unrelated to your own efforts and wait for it to happen.

As they say, we should happen to things rather than waiting for things to happen to us.

And if you currently have big hopes on yourself for something, it is time you gauge if it is realistic or just a foolishness!

Book Review- Freakonomics

Freakonomics was one book which was quite hyped even during my college days. I wasn’t much of a reader back then except for reading chetan bhagat and sheldon or fan brown. I started reading voraciously only a few years ago.

I had heard great things about this book – the unique way to present facts with data and to ask questions we never even thought of asking before.

Did the book disappoint me? Definitely no.


This was the first book I picked up this year and finished in 2 weeks despite the long vacation I took in between. For a book this interesting, 2 week is actually quite long.

The part about what’s in it for real estate agents or the incentives for day care centre was a great read personally. However what was a revelation for me was the first chapter on what makes ideal parents. We had several hypothesis or myths that we can call now. Some of them I personally believed in too but the research proved them all wrong. The only regret here is that the topic itself is too large and so obscure that the authors could only present the results out of the statistical data. However the explanations to some of them have been left open.

While it was made clear that genetics play a much larger role than inculcated habits that parents try to develop on early years, it still is misleading. Ex the comparison of a child being born with many books at home and the one who reads a lot and still scores poor.

The answer given was that the child with many books at home is more intelligent due to genes – fact that his parents read a lot and hence have a higher IQ. But even if we assume the child who reads a lot has weak genes or parents with lower IQ, how can he score lower just with this attribute. It is like challenging the learning ability itself. Expecting the authors to answer is also not fair as they have written with an intention to answer common myths with the help of research and data.

Overall, the book was enriching. It makes you think differently and even after finishing it, it leaves you with a lot of questions you would want to find answers for.

It isn’t just economics and it is not just philosophy. It is an interesting mix of both science and common sense which was really great. A must read!