Book Review: The Richest Man in Babylon

  • Author: George S Clason
  • This is a classic from 1926. One of the things that I realize is that – the typical questions that one faces about money and savings have remained pretty much the same. If one were to extrapolate, since the book uses parables from Babylonian times, maybe we could say that the questions have been the same from those times.
  • The concepts in the books are familiar ones.
  • The language – especially dialogues between folks in the stories – is archaic. Will take some time to get used to.
  • If the stories about the clay tablets and the contents mentioned, are true (I did not go and research further), then it is definitely fascinating education about the advanced civilization that seem to have thrived in Babylon.
  • I am summarizing just some of the brief concepts here:
    • Put a minimum of 10% of your earnings as savings. Try to live your life within the 90% as thought that much is your earnings.
    • If you have earlier debt, after you keep aside your 10%, keep 20% of your earnings as debt clearance. Go and renegotiate with everyone you owe money to and establish some a credible new repayment schedule.
    • Gold (money) should multiply and not idle.
    • One should not be miserly either. Keep aside for saving and enjoy within the remaining means.
    • Work hard and increase your ability to learn. I found this interesting – because it explicitly states that strengthening your skills by working hard can increase how much you can earn.
    • Keep money aside for old age and dependents.
    • Lend money to credible folks whom you know will multiply that money for you. (Interest) – the story of the cattle and the ass, told by the money lender, is a pretty interesting one.
    • Wherever you are in the financial strata, you can bounce back, if you put your heart and sole into it. Story of the slave who later became a camel trader

It is a fairly easy to read and a good revision of familiar concepts. I had been wanting to read this book, which has been on my book shelf for long. The first few chapters might seem daunting, mainly because of the archaic language. But once, you chug through them, you will get used to them.

book review

Book Review: Connect the Dots


  • Loved the book.
  • If you are a wantrepreneur (person who is permanently dreaming about being an entrepreneur), this is a book you should read.
  • Talks about a dozen or so start-up stories. And the variety is amazing.
  • The book is in the form of informal interviews with the entrepreneurs.
  • Most of these are folks who broke away from tradition. Son of a government employee turning into a wildlife photographer, or the son of a business man growing brocolli and iceberg lettuce in India, or the person whose passion it was to making cheese in India.
  • Some stories are those of grit – like the Dosa Plaza story. Some are of the kismat/Junoon type. There are some stories of breaking away of monotony. There is of course, the famous story of Veta (the English training institute) starting from a thatched roof for rent.
  • The tantra tshirt story, the Haathi Chaap (recycled paper from Elephant dung) story – fascinating reads.
  • The exotic story of an economics professor in an university wanting to get into the hotel industry, where he worked 3 hours every night (after teaching the whole day) — Oriental cuisines, which owns several mall food courts and fine dining restaurants across India.
  • Read the book in my Kindle paperwhite. Gave me the edge to skip chapters that I was not too much into (there are a couple of stories about folks who made it big in the theatre industry).
  • Overall good read. Written in a very engaging style. Lots and lots of research.
  • Kudos to the author – Rashmi Bansal.


book review

Book Review: Arjuna


This book by Anuja Chandramouli starts off at a good pace and keeps the reader engaged until about a quarter of the book. The Mahabharata is a story of epic proportions. Even though the core is the 18 day war, the build up to the war, and the culmination of the characters is elaborate. Given the book is so huge, and the fact that there are innumerable complicated sub stories woven into the epic, this book tries to extricate out the stories of one of the main characters – Arjuna.

While the attempt to experiment is much appreciated, it is difficult to do something like this and sustain interest. The Mahabharata is what it is, because of the complex interweaving of plots. It loses its magic touch when you bring out the stories of only one of the protagonists.

Very soon after the first quarter of the book is over, the reader is faced with the problem of sequencing. While telling only the stories of Arjuna, the book runs like a kid having control of the rewind and fast-forward controls of a cartoon movie. I was bewildered and let confused multiple times, about whether a certain event happened before or after another. The fact that most of us know this story in a sketchy manner makes it even more difficult. Perhaps, if I did not know anything about the Mahabharata then, it could have been easier on me.

When you choose one protagonist over others (there are 4 other brothers and Krishna himself), the other big problem is that of justifying why this character was chosen. Again, this is a problem only because a big subset of the readers know the original story. So when sub stories are told about Arjuna, the sub conscious mind is thinking – “so what, Bheema did stuff even better, Yudhishtira is equally good, etc…”.

To be honest, the book did not sustain my interest past the 75% mark. And this is one of the very few books, where I have kept a book down without completing. It had started to drain me. It had started to feel like a chore to complete the book, and that is when I stopped.

You may like this book if you are die-hard Arjuna fan. If so, get the book here.

I would rather recommend Devdutt Patnaik’s Jaya – An Illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata. Devdutt does a far better job in retelling the Mahabharata as it is. [ebook] [paperback]


book review

Book Review: Sceptical Patriot

I had been wanting to read this book for a while. I have followed the author (@sidin) for quite a while on a twitter. He does write pretty well, and there were several several good reviews of the book on the twitter feed.

So when the new kindle landed up on my door step, this was the first book I bought.

  • The book starts off at a brisk gallop. Sidin gives his reasonings on why he started writing this book. And the proclamation that this would not be a dry history book, but more of an enjoyable read of Indian history and some of its misinterpretations.
  • I liked the idea of taking apart of a few ‘India facts’ and also the concept of giving a rating to it at the end of each fact. This rating shows how much of the ‘fact’ is truth.
  • I really enjoyed his in-depth research of some of the topics. Most of the history of India can actually found only in history analysis books written by Europeans. Sidin’s readings of these books saves us time, money, and energy. He condenses them wonderfully into smaller chunks we can digest.
  • There is not much of a humour (as he claims) but the light hearted writing style makes one smile at times. Well, I guess that is what humour is.
  • The chapter on the Cholas was a delight to read – it has always been one of my pet peeves that, this chapter was never covered in depth in our school history books. For the extent of the empire that the Cholas had, this deserves a full chapter in a history book. not a paragraph on the Tanjore temple.
  • Cantering on, however, one of Sidin’s choices of the India facts gets a little too dry, and this is strictly my opinion. And this is probably because of his self-confessed bias towards some areas. Any author who writes about something that he is more passionate about, will write more and with deeper interests in those areas. And yes, I am talking about the ‘India was the richest country’ fact. Perhaps, it is my aversion to economics, and ‘numbers’ in general, which put me off, but folks who like that kind of thing will surely enjoy it. Just not my cup of tea (it should actually be coffee!).
  • The last two chapters are well written. This is Sidin’s heart talking on what his dreams are. And how the facts in these books should be interpreted, and why Indians are the way Indians are. Ofcourse, this is subject to personal opinions. I agree with some parts, and am neutral to some. I am sure other readers would feel the same way too. I would go to the extent of saying, that the last chapters some times does get a little prescriptive, which might not bode too well with some readers.

On the whole an enjoyable read. It took me about 3 days of a few hours reading every day on my kindle.


book review

Book Review: How I braved Anu Aunty & Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company

This book is a quick read. You can read it one sitting. The book is a true story told by the author who co-founded the Alma Mater College Merchandising e-commerce company. The book talks about how it is very difficult for a young person from a middle class family to start up something on his own. And yes, I do bring up the middle class here because of the environment that he describes about how his family tries very hard to make him successful. His mother initially takes the help of her “kitty-party” friends – and one aunty specifically – Anu aunty. Every one growing up in India has seen an Anu aunty in their growing years. This person is the one person whose kid is the quintessential best kid in school, in society, has followed the societal template to the dot. And whats more this person is the one who feels and often insinuates others, whose children does not fall into that template.

The book has a lot of realism baked into it. I can picturize the wanton lives of the just graduated college graduates of Bangalore. Familiar places are mentioned. The author starts up his venture with his friends without his parents knowing initially. Over an emotional incident, he eventually bonds up with his mother, who starts supporting him.

It is a well written story – except for one thing. I understand the need for being colloquial and real, but the swear words could have been suppressed more. It is a bit too much. Overall, a good read for a saturday afternoon read.


book review Opinion

Book Review: Horse Shoe Garage

This was one of the 4 books that LeadStart Corp had sent me a few months ago. This had been lying on my shelf for a bit now. I usually do not get the time to read novels like these (though I would like to!). I reserve them for train journeys. These are the times when I tear through them. And a train journey happened and I read this. Find my comments below. Again, full disclosure, I did not find this at a book store. This was sent to me by a publisher. And the publisher has given me full permission to write my own opinion (which ever side it may be) here..


  • The plot is a racy one. It is about 2 young people, specifically mechanical engineering graduates, who are working at a corporate job. They house a wish to build their own race car, and race it in a professional championship. Both of them have theoretical knowledge and a passion, but neither have built a car, nor raced in one of them.
  • Their opportunity comes. A professional championship comes to India. they convince themselves and dump their jobs and get to work on the car and racing. The pace dips a little here, but picks up very soon.
  • They need a team, and they start building one from scratch. Here is where, the plot goes a little improbable. They search for star mechanics in their local area, and it is still fine – literary latitude. But, when they start searching for puncture shop guys – so that they can do a pitstop real fast – I let out an audible – “Oh Cmon !!!!”. But again, if you leave a mile of literary lattitude, and continue reading with a “Its just a novel” leeway, then the pace picks up again.
  • A bit of Bollywood style romance is thrown in. One of the guys loves the ace mechanic girl on the team. She initially does not love him. But as she starts loving him… well, let me not give away the whole plot, but some Bollywood style acrobatics happen here.
  • Some adrenaline with the corporate biggies playing bad guys happen. They try sabotaging the car being built. They hire away some staff. They try kidnapping one of these guys. Typical Bollywood villain masala.
  • They find a trainer, get trained. The two guys face some ego clashes between themselves. Teary eyed moments. Then coaching by the pretty mechanic heroine. Again, very typical Bollywood masala stuff.
  • Race day happens. All ego is forgotten. Pretty chick is forgotten. Race is won. Pretty mechanic chick gets part of the huge sum won, and made a partner in the team. Romance returns. Etc.
  • On the whole, pretty engaging story. You should discount some of the antics though. The romantic areas are covered nicely. Not too gross. Not too superficial. Play on human emotions are captured pretty well by the author.

Go buy the book on flipkart here (This is an affiliate link and would help fund this website hosting).

book review

Book review: Marry-go-round


Full disclosure: The publisher LeadStart sent me this book to review it. However, all opinions in this review are fully mine and not influenced by any one.

Book Name: Marry go round

Author: Sadiqa Peerbhoy,

Genre: Indian fiction

  • The book starts off with Sartaj Begum, a middle aged lady in Hyderabad, whose son, Riaz is settled as a Direct Marketing Executive in New York (the protagonist).
  • The story revolves around Sartaj trying to get her son back home to India and get him married to an Indian girl.
  • The book is a veritable Indian soap (from Star Plus or Sony) bundled into a book. The story however is super convoluted.
  • If you are not a Hyderabadi (like me), you would be thrown off by the Urdu terminology and phrases. Unfortunately, most of these urdu phrases do not have a English translation next to it. This irritated me a bit. While the attempt was valiant to try and steep me in the rich Hyderabadi culture, it did the opposite for me. It created more dissonance.
  • Calling Riaz by an email saying the mother has a heart attack seemed a bit cliche.
  • Riaz however is having a live-in relationship with an American girl. When he leaves to India, she immediately follows. Though, I may be nit-picking here a bit, how does one get an Indian Visa so quickly. All stories that I have heard say that, it takes a long time.
  • The soap opera then dissolves into a bevy of criss-crossing romantic relationships, some which are just a bit too filmy to believe. An example is the American girl immediately succumbing to the Riaz’s cousin. The cousin tells her about the protagonists lust for another girl, and immediately she falls in love with the cousin. American girl deciding in 2 days to marry an Indian guy and live in India forever. Hmm. A bit hard to digest.
  • Sartaj has a real heart attack. Riaz falls in love with the cardiologist – Meera. He calls it love at first touch. Hmm, what ? And then they talk in the hospital cafetaria. And they fall in love.
  • Meera’s father deals in real estate. Riaz’s child hood friends “persuade” with force Meera’s father to agree to the Hindu-Muslim wedding.
  • Original girl (Sana) fixed to the protagonist had just ended a relationship with her colleague, whom she had just found out to be married and has a pregnant wife. She finds this out in an office party, and dumps him.
  • Calling this girl Sana Mirza, also sounded cheezy to me (found it flimsily alluding Sania Mirza – the badminton player?). Perhaps because I am not Hyderabadi, I found it that way.
  • Meanwhile, an angry relative (whose son had been ‘fixed’ for Sana as soon as they were born) breaks this proposal by breaking a truth about the girl being a half Hindu being born of an illegal affair of the colonel when he was on duty somehere in the North.
  • After a while, all these affairs and illegal lovelocks, and proposal breakages and a good measure of Urdu thrown in, had me swimming around aimlessly quite a bit.

If you are a soap opera lover, and a Hyderbadi, I am guessing, you may really like this novel. But if you do not like either, you would have some problems digesting this book. One more problem I had was, how to categorize this. My mind was struggling between trying to believe this to be a modern Indian drama being played out -vs- a hilarious comedy with a great deal of exaggeration thrown in.


Book Review: Go Kiss the World


I borrowed this  book by Subroto Bagchi (Chief Gardener – Mindtree) from my brother-in-law, who works in Mindtree.

Amazing book – very well written. I have heard a lot about how good an orator Bagchi is – with this, I can say, he is an equally good author. It kind of felt like reading the Autobiography of Jack Welsh. In the book, we do see, that he is influenced by the great leader quite a bit. I could see the influence in the writing as well.

The book is divided into two parts – the first part is his childhood, and the second part, mostly about his career turns. He talks eloquently about how he grew up in a variety of places in Central area (mostly Orissa, Bihar, West Bengal). He talks about, how his family used to move from place to place, because of his father’s government job. He talks about how he wins the Best NCC Cadet award, and how a senior official gives him a pretty startling piece of advice – “Not to join the armed forces, navy or airforce”. He calls these advises that the world gives, and it is up to each person, to take it or leave it. Interstingly, he takes the advise, and pursues political sciences. He talks about his early years in Delhi Cloth Mills (DCM group in Delhi).

In the second part of the book, he talks about the different turning points in his career, and how each one brings about, its own set of challenges, and how they turn into good things for him. One of the big things, he stresses upon, is the fact that, young professionals should not be dreaming about what they will be doing at 45 yrs or 50 yrs, when they have just started their career. The first three years or so, will be very tumultous, and one should accept it. Things start crystallizing soon after. We grow ourselves after seeing all the hurdles. He talks about his years in Wipro. He starts about how he and 10 others start Mindtree.

In all, a beautifully written autobiography. I took the book in hand one day. And I finished the book the next day. I read, during my bus commute to office. I am known for napping during both to-and-fro journeys. These two days, I read both ways. 🙂 I could not put the book down.