Category Archives: Blog

The Temple of Avinasi

Author: Ayush Pathak 

Publisher: Lead Start         

Price: 245/-

Pages: 389

The Temple of Avinasi: The Legend of Kalki is a book of historical fiction & fantasy woven around the mythological tale of the tenth avatar of Lord Vishnu. When I picked up the book I was a little doubtful that how another book would treat the concept of Kalki avatar especially when one has read Krishna Key, and I must say I wasn’t disappointed at all. The book weaves a nice and interesting mythological tale around the characters of Hindu Mythology. The story traces of an extraordinary child in more than ordinary circumstances rising to the occasion leading him to the path of greatness. A story of friendship, a story of sacrifice, a story of self belief this book covers it all. The author has very carefully managed to have references to the Hindu mythological characters weaving them in the book. I believe the real charm of the book lies more in the way it’s storyline has been loosely intermingled with stories of Ramayana, Lord Krishna and Devta-Assur war.

 The characterizations in the book have been decently done for the lead characters however; the side characters seem to be out of focus. Possible to keep the thrill and mystery under the wrap but a more detail on the side characters would have possibly brought more reader affinity towards the tale. The pace of book is not of the thriller that it belongs to the genre but once you cross the hundred page mark it gets you hooked on. The book slowly and steadily builds up on the reader while dimming the boundaries of belief, fiction and fantasy. The twists and turns do manage to keep you interested till the end of the book for a big climax. Over all the book kept me hooked till the end.

 Summary:  A good book in the Hindu Mythological Fictional Fantasy; a book which will wrap you in the familiarity of the known mythical beings and an unknown intriguing fantasy tale.

 Rating: 7/10

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Real Estate: The Biggest Ponzi Scheme Ever

Movies is one of the most influential art form, they have the power to mesmerize you, influence you and stay within you unlike any other art form present. There are many movies which have moved me, made me think and introspect. One of the dialogues which manages to send the shivers down my spine is one from the fight club. Sometimes Most of the times the way we conduct ourselves, I tend to feel the words of Tyler Durden are an epitome of truth.

An entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

One of the things which make me believe in these words is the current real estate market in India. Irrespective of the economic scenario, macroeconomic reality, this particular market is perennially headed north. Looks like we haven’t learnt from the lessons of 2008 in the US, and all of us are guilty of feeding to the whims of this Ponzi scheme. Imagine a piece of land or a house which is sold at Rs. X. Out of which 0.85X is financed by the banks and 0.15X is paid by the individual buying the house. Now in a matter of a year with almost no economic value add the price of the same house becomes Rs. 2X. Again the individual buying it pays 0.3X and the bank finances 1.7X of the house. This will continue till and the individuals will keep making money as long as there is somebody else to buy the house at inflated house, which is why the commonly preached parables like “Real Estate never goes down”. But in reality the chain stops when one is unable to find a buyer to buy out at a significantly higher price. When that happens you are either left with an old property & a highly leveraged mortgage/bank loan. Combine that with a difficult economic situation which hits the markets where real jobs are created and actual value add are done, you got yourself 2008 global meltdown.

The fact is government doesn’t want to create a regulator and instruments because a lot of people in the government are the creators or nodal points in this Ponzi scheme. The politicians and bureaucrats who have the information on where the next extension of the metro rail would land, where the next development & infrastructure zone will be created all start these nodes of this Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, where a common middle income man spends his life savings, provident fund and at times hard earned money at Onsite too, ends up being the loser.

So in the end, I don’t say don’t risk yourself in this Ponzi scheme but make sure you aren’t in a situation where you actually become the last node.

 

 

Slim Fit

Before I write this post out, I want to clarify that I am a huge guy. When I say I mean literally huge with 6’3” in height and weight crossing over the century number. It is not that I am not aware of the ill effects of being obese, but over years I have realized one of the toughest things to be accomplished by a person is to lose weight and I have grown an immense respect for people who have managed to lose weight, something I have been trying hard since last few years.

But this post isn’t about being overweight; it is about one of the problems of having a huge body frame. The problem is buying clothes, for one the large sizes are extremely difficult to find. You go to a showroom, ask for a jeans with the waist size of 32 and there are at 50 different pieces will be floated around you to choose from. The moment you utter 40 they take 2-3 pairs and that’s all you get to choose from and the irony you would already have those pairs in your wardrobe.

If that was not all, I believe the sale season is one of the most discriminatory practices in the Indian free market. You hardly find any discounts on the clothes for extra large sized. I went to the Levi’s store which had a tempting buy two get two free sale on jeans. After half an hour long ordeal of trying through all the stock they had in stores for my size I managed to select four pairs (2 of which were almost similar to what I already had), when I went to the billing counter the sales girl tells me “Sir no discount on XXL size”.  There is nothing which infuriates you more when you have wasted your time in the claustrophobic trial room and then finally somebody tells you that you will be paying extra as compared to rest of the world.

As if all these tortures were not enough, the fashion designers the devious of the lot have been conspiring the so called “Healthy” people. Can you believe when you go and ask for a 44 size shirt and a 40 waist jeans and they show you a “Slim Fit”. In what parallel universe a guy with that kind of frame needs a slim fit? A 40 waist slim fit isn’t it an oxymoron? I sometimes wonder what these designers are thinking when they design clothes, you make a shirt of size 44 it means that the chest would be around 48-50 inches. Now by what law of probability will the waist/stomach will be 43, for god’s sake at least make clothes which probabilistically going to sell more.

I think enough of these moronic brands and their designers, it is time to find out the good old tailor who will carefully measure you and make clothes that fit all without being judgmental.

My Take on Aam Aadmi Party

A lot of things are happening in our country and I believe that India is going through one of the most interesting times as far as politics is concerned. Yesterday the Aam Admi Party won the vote of confidence. I think this is the first time after the JP movement a political party and an individual are receiving such wide spread political acceptance and support across India.

This is one of the best times to jump into the political arena in Indian landscape. After 10 years of corruption ridden rule filled with populist policy with disastrous economics was akin to the extreme dark ages in the Indian rule. At this point of time anybody who provides a believable story board of a corruption free and sensible economic policies will be lapped up in both arms by the frustrated, tired and naïve voter of the country. Two politicians who have managed to captivate these sentiments in the Indian public using rallies, mass media and the new found social media are Mr. Narendra Modi of BJP and Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party.

Now I do not subscribe to the views of any of the political parties but the politics being played by both Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal interests me a lot. I have nothing against Arvind Kejriwal, on the contrary I really appreciate the way he has matured and arrived at the landscape of Indian polity as a matter of fact I would consider joining AAP but the skeptic in me wants to know the answer to following questions-

1-      The economics about Subsidies- With the subsidies around water and power in Delhi, what is the take on subsidies. How do they intend to finance these freebies AAP is doling out? Is this going to lead to higher direct/indirect taxation?

2-      The Take on Rural Upliftment- What is AAP’s take on the development on Rural areas and upliftment of agriculture.

3-      Take of AAP on terror and the war on terror-  With Arvind Kejriwal’s comment on the Yasin Bhatkal and Batla house issue, I find it really disturbing that AAP’s view is soft on terror. If we really look on of the most serious external threat India faces is terrorism and AAP has displayed a very antagonistic view on the war of terror.

4-      Hypocritical claims on some of the statements made- There have been some instances where they have made claims (like not accepting an official residence) and then went back and forth on it. There have been instances where they have went dilly dallied on the charges of corruption by the previous government. I feel that they should really think through before making large claims and public announcement.

5-      Black Money/Foreign Policy- While AAP has a very clear and distinctive stand on corruption, they don’t have a stand on foreign policy and if they have a plan to declare and attempt return of the black money stashed in Tax Havens.

While the above questions I feel the Aam Aadmi Party needs to answer and bring forward to people in general. While there are things which strongly makes me believe in the Aam Aadmi Party, in my heart I wish this kind of politics becomes extremely successful. These are the few things which I really appreciate with AAP-

1-      The transparency in Political Funding- The most prominent thing which Aam Aadmi Party has brought into the politics is the transparent political funding. They have time and again proved that they have been excruciatingly transparent as far as their political donations and funding are concerned. This kind of transparency is unparalleled in the Indian politics. Kudos to them for establishing the gold standard in transparency in political funding.

2-      War Against Corruption- One of the greatest thing about AAP is they don’t come with the baggage of history and since their inception their stand against corruption is exceptionally clear and transparent. With most of the political parties having history with corruption, AAP provides a utopian vision of corruption free India.

3-      The Common Man- AAP has provided a ray of hope to the middle class Indian common man, which was ignored, exploited and suppressed because he didn’t have any option. They proved that a group of people with honest intentions and very little money have a chance in the democratic system in India. The AAP has given the hope that the common man still has a chance in the Indian Democracy.

I hope AAP provides the required chaos in the Indian Democracy. I wish someday I am convinced enough to join these people and become the change I want to be for the nation.

Report Card 2013

I am glad that 2013 is ending, while this has been quite an interesting year but somehow it has been tangential to what I thought I was heading towards. There things which I probably did well and some things which I didn’t. Before I put up what I intend to do in 2014 there are quite a few things which I graciously screwed up in 2013. So it is the time to publish the final report card and own up some of the things which I didn’t do effectively in 2013 and some things where I have managed to scrape through. So here goes a laundry list-

  1. Working Out– 2013 has been an exceptionally worse year as far as working out was concerned. Previously I used to manage 3-4 months of some form of workout, exercise or sports as bare minimum. This year the figure wouldn’t have touched even 30 days in 2013, I managed to gain back the weight I had lost last year and I would be posting a really shameful record for Biglsr which I am participating in. This has been one of the worst year as far as investing time on my physique and general well being goes.
  2. Maintaining Personal Relations– I have been really stingy on managing the personal front. There have been multiple times when I have not returned calls from people who mean a lot to me. I missed the wedding of one of the closest friend/brother I have and I cannot even say how sorry I feel about it.
  3. Wasting Energy & Time on Sinks– I have always managed to balance my time between productive work, effective personal time and indulged in time sinks, things that just consumed time to waste. This year the balance has really gone for a toss with hell lot of time being spent on the time sinks, majority of them being Facebook (I am bordering addiction and have serious risk of withdrawal symptoms if I quit), Candy Crush (I can, actually I will write an entire blogpost about how pathetic is this game) and Online Deals (Countless hours of tracking deals online for the products which I was never going to buy in the first place).
  4. Lack of Reading– Over the years I have generally averaged reading 60-80 books in a year. This year the number has been embarrassingly low at 32 books which I believe is a result of all the time waste I have mentioned already. Hopefully this number will improve in 2014.

 

Now to talk of things which I feel I have done well this year-

  1. Professional Learning– 2013 was a year of great professional learning and experiences. The year taught me how to take risks and decisions under extreme pressure and hostile circumstances. Hope that this streak will continue and my decisions will pay off in 2014
  2. Taking Time off– This year I did manage to take time off from work where I managed to take a few vacations; visited some nice places like Munnar, Mt Abu and Udaipur. And as I write this on the last day of the New Year I am in Hampi for the celebrations. 2013 has been a successful year as far as travelling and vacations are concerned.

So this is my report card of 2013. How did the 2013 went for you?

 

Thanksgiving, I am Thankful for II

Today is Thanksgiving, and I have earlier blogged about how I find the festival interesting and relevant. No and it has nothing to do with Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales on gadgets and friends and relatives coming back from US in December holidays.

The associated tradition with the festival where you have turkey for the meal, I won’t be able to do that due to my vegetarian self. Probably to compensate for the turkey bit I will have some Turkish coffee, which I am sure will more than make up for it. Coming back to being thankful, here is the list for which I have been thankful for a year-

1- Some of the recent changes at the work place and my profile have made it a lot more enjoyable and fun for me. I am thankful for the place I am at my work today which makes me want to go to the office every morning weekday. I hope this positivity continues for the years to come. I am thankful for these changes which made me a better professional.

2- I am thankful for this blog and the friends I have made through the blog, even after a huge gap and complacence on my part there were comments, emails from people on posting of my blog wishing me and my writing well. It feels so blessed to have interacted with such a caring and positive bunch of people in this vast world of internet. If you are reading this, I am thankful for the time and faith you have put in me.

3- I am thankful for the greatest people who thought I was good enough to be friends with them. People who have stood by me through thick and thin, who have supported me, enjoyed with me and are an inseparable part of my life. It is rare to be blessed with such love from people and I am extremely grateful for that.

4- I am thankful for the greatest family in the world. The ‘bestest’ of parents who didn’t disown the son who could put biggest sitcom bloopers to shame. A loving wife who despite the 4 years have managed to live by my side without killing me. An extended family which I can blindly depend upon to take care of things lest something happens to me. I am thankful to be share my life with the most wonderful people.

5- I am thankful for the life I am living, a comfortable and cozy life without having to worry about a lot of basic needs and some luxuries which at most time I take for granted. There is quote by E.E. Cummuings, “The hardest challenge is to be yourself in a world where everyone is trying to make you be somebody else.”; I am thankful for a life where I have the liberty to be myself.

Image Source: Google Images

And with this I will be signing off wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving. Do share how was Thanksgiving for you?

C’est La Vie

And I am back again with a long hiatus yet again. I have to be ashamed with my lack of drive to post things on this blog. There are two things which I have kind of procrastinated for more than a year the first being updating regularly on this blog and the second obviously being to start working out.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, there is politics where we are still living in the world full of comical entertainment, then there are short stories and poetries ideas which come to my mind but are killed by procrastination and then there are general happenings in my life which mostly wife inflicted torture on yours truly with television shows like “Big Boss”, “All Random Singing, Dancing, cooking reality shows” all reality shows. To be honest I kind of stepped into the rarified bubble of corporate workload driven self worth, not that I have stepped out of the bubble now but then kind of realized the existence of the bubble and acknowledged the world beyond it yet again.

Surprisingly this year 2013 has flown by so fast that I couldn’t even start going to gym which I could stop later in the year.  For a person who hated Hum Apke Hai Kaun from the bottom of his heart, I kind of live in an extensively large Rajshri production kind of environment where another family function/event engulfs you before the first one is over. For the uninitiated this is more tiring to attend to than a 60hrs+ work week and in some sadistic turn of events I am subjected to both.  I don’t know why but I have hardly watched any movies in the theatre since June, which is kind of record of sorts for the person who even watched Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag (If you are not aware of this movie, I would suggest you buy the DVD as it will serve well for your private torture chamber).

As I write this the New Year is less than 6 weeks away, the 2013 will become a leaf in history. I have had a good year with some significant landmarks but wish I had achieved some more and not at the cost of losing my joy of writing and reading, losing the spiritual side of me in the humdrum of extensive work. No point crying over the past, time to set ourselves to the next set of goals and the plan to achieve them.

Before closing this post it has been more than 8 years since I have been blogging and 8 years of Ginger & Cardamom. How has your 2013 been till now?

Alarming Optimists

“The setting of the clock every night is one of the most optimistic acts possible by a person.” I don’t remember where I read this quote and when. The thought behind the quote somehow refuses to leave me and every night as I set my alarm for the next morning I smile thinking about it. Not because how I will switch off the alarm and slide into slumber again but for the fact that how granted at times we take our lives. Setting up alarm for next day when I have no surety that when I will sleep tonight I would wake up next morning but I still set up the alarm for the next morning. Leave alarms I also set up reminders for credit cards, electricity, and telephone bill payments each month.

It is amusing that I have taken the life I am living everyday for granted. Some days like today when I think about more important yet ignored things in life. I feel thankful for the life I am living, a wife who beats the crap out of loves me, parents who are there to bless & guide me, friends and family to enjoy life with them and work which pays me barely enough to show up in office on Monday to give me a sense of purpose in life. I am grateful for things I have to look forward to tomorrow morning and in the week, months and years to come.

I am glad that I need to put up an alarm early in morning when I hate to wake up, but for now I am grateful that I have to put that alarm and it does disturbs my sleep. It feels good to be an optimist, specially in the recent times where there have been a lot of negativity around. And for all those like me who are bothered by all the negative news and energy around in the news papers these days a though to ponder.

“Who is the person who should be most worried about the drastic fall in the value or Rupee against the US Dollar?

Manmohan Singh? No

P. Chidambram? No

Sonia Gandhi? No

It would be Barrack Obama as IT outsourcing to India is effin’ whole lot cheaper now. “

Why Are We Such A**holes?

I sometimes wonder that what is it about us that make us Indians a pathetic bunch of people we are. Is it in our genetics or in the method we grow up or is it a part of our culture? I know a lot of people will disagree with me but if you are going to put a nasty comment before reading the entire post then I am sure you belong right there in the title, you know between those stars and the hole.

Coming back to the point, what is it that Indians in India are stickler for not following the rules at the cost of fellow human beings, citizens, and neighbors? Think about how many times you find that you are in a queue for billing, buying a movie tickets getting in the trains and people will treat it as their right to break the queue. All the more funny is at places you will find that there will be a queue or a file of single person, after 5-10 people it will become two people queue converging to a single file and then 3 people queue and this goes on till at the end of the queue you have a large chaotic crowd.

The situation becomes all the more funny when you are on road stuck in the traffic. Imagine a two lane road, one for incoming and the other for outgoing traffic. Now some block/traffic signal/accident happens and the outgoing lane is stand still for some time. What makes us think that in such a situation the best solution is to take the incoming lane and drive on the wrong side while blocking the incoming traffic too. Why is it people driving expensive cars, speaking impeccable English, well educated and employed in honorable jobs also do that? What makes them think their time is more important than the others? The fact that they are intelligent and responsible for handling businesses of major corporations but they fail to see that their acts on the road are only going to make the situation worse.

What is it that we find an unruly child of someone else a nuisance and when our own child creates a chaos he is small, innocent and naïve to understand and correct his behavior? I was once in a meeting with the India CEO of one of the most prestigious companies globally where he mentioned an incident. In an informal discussion the senior management of the company was complaining to him about how the youngster today are not hardworking and do not put in enough efforts. There was a general perception that the entry level crowd was unruly and over smart in attitude. The CEO then asked “Do you think same way about your children who are of similar ages?” and the answer was no. We have a different yardstick to measure people working for us as compared to people who are close to us?

I wonder what is it about Indians that make us the kind of A**holes we are, when I look at the Indians travelling abroad I feel that it probably is the air, water and climate. You hardly find an Indian on the wrong side of things when they are outside India. I kind of agree with our current Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor when he says “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”