Fifty Shades of Grey: A Review, A Rant and A Drinking Game

I have been reviewing books since a long time and I have a personal policy that I do not bash books and the authors. I believe that a book is a creative work and acknowledge the amount of effort the author has put to bring it to the readers. But then there are some books which command an exception and this includes some amount of rant, with otherwise an honest book review.

Author: E L James 
Publisher: Arrow Books 
Price: 399/-
Pages: 514

Fifty Shades of Grey is a book which is based on the life of a wealthy billionaire and a girl fleshly freshly completing the college. The story revolves around how the two accidently meet up and get attracted to each other. Anastasia, the female protagonists a normal girl in twenties gets awed as she becomes the target of the billionaires attraction and eventually finds herself falling in love with him. The story takes a twisted turn when she realizes that the person she loves is not a normal guy but a kinky sex maniac whose idea of relationship with her is superbly weird. The relationship governed with no disclosure agreements and a contractual obligation of what can sexually be done as a part of their relationship.

The book has a slow plot line but the writer manages capture the minds of the reader with either the clichéd romantic antics of a billionaire brat or the erotic descriptions of the lead pair. The fact that makes this book unique and probably intriguing is the way sexuality and sex are extensively used for the characterization of both the leads of the story.

Overall the book is average writing spiced up with sex. The story pace is slow and continues in two more books which are more difficult to read when the novelty of extensive use of sex in the story wears off. The book might be a good one for people who just want a spicy and breezy read without too much of literature and content.

Summary: An average book with lot of sexual spice, pick it up only if you have nothing better to do.

Rating:  5.5/10

Now I will come back to the ranting. I mean what is wrong with the world for such a lousy piece to make it to a best seller beating so many great books. After reading, it seems like the collective taste in literature across the world have gone down a few notches. There are glaring inconsistencies in the characterizations a girl who is indefinitely pricky about receiving expensive gifts from her boyfriend but in the entire 513 pages there are hardly any instances where she hasn’t wore her roommates’ dress. The best way of reading this book is to play a drinking game with it.

You have to take shot of your drink when any of the following words/phrases appear in the book-

1-      Fuck You Hard

2-      Audi

3-      Epitome of Male Beauty

4-      Mention of “The Contract”

5-      Playroom

6-      Kate’s Dress

7-      Dominant/Submissive

8-      You must eat

So by the time you will be finished with 100 pages you would be drunk enough to be unaffected by the book.

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Author: Martin Nowak, Roger Highfield
Publisher: Canongate
Price: 450/-
Pages: 288

The SuperCooperators is a book written by Martin Nowak who is the Professor of Biology and of Mathematics at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. The book is about his journey of research on what factors were responsible for the evolution of our species to a state/level we are right now. The book starts with an interesting premise of prisoner’s dilemma and dwells into the implications of same on our evolution, our development, and our behaviors.

The concept of cooperation in the backdrop of the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the fittest” not only raises a lot of interesting questions and arguments which would make one ponder but also gives valid arguments and justifications of the alternatives which are easily conceivable even by a layman. The book enters into a realm of how we evolved from chemicals to evolutionary single cell organisms. A question which almost everyone who has some exposure to the evolution always wondered.

The book will engross you in a fascinating journey of evolution, tickles your thought buds to question yourself on your existence. A book that makes you think about our behavior and why we do, what we do. The pace of the book is slow as the author gets into a lot of details on his theory and quoting and interpreting the research done by other scientists for the understanding of a layman reader. Overall the book leaves you spell bound thinking on the journey of our and many other species from a single cell organism. The book might be boring for people who lack interest in scientific (esp. biological and mathematical) aspects of our evolution and behavior.

Summary: A very interesting read for the non-fiction readers. Do pick up if you like the science genre.

Rating: 9/10


The Above Average Crisis

If you were following the T20 world cup this year and if you are an Indian I am sure you would be fairly disappointed. For the uninitiated India played 5 matches in the tournament, won 4 and lost 1. The aforementioned 1 lost match cost them their slot in the next round, just to clarify the competitors Australia & Pakistan who progressed to the next round also won 4 matches each so it boiled down to run rate and the margin of defeat. But that is not what this post is about. The point I am trying to make is about the increasing competitiveness in sport, and in all other aspects across the world. When all the teams have won equal number of matches the qualification depends upon statistical factors, when the cut-off marks for admission in the colleges are set at 100%, when the dream companies recruits only from XYZ colleges etc. and a lot of other scenarios which I am sure you would have got the drift. This post is about the ones who missed it with a whisker, people who were almost there, team which lost due to difference of 0.547 in the net run rate, the students who got 98%, the folks who could not clear the waiting list of the coveted XYZ college, “The Above Average”.

It is like when you are running amidst the crowd and find most of them to be behind you except a few. You are giving what it takes to remain ahead, you are playing it fair. But only when you try catch up with few left ahead you realize the playing field is not level, it never was. And suddenly you start to wonder what happened to the “Fair play”.

You desperately want to prove yourself that race you lost with a whisker is irrelevant, you look for opportunities but the world doesn’t allow you one. You want to make up for that split second you lost last time but the world has made it a mile now. You try to think about the loss ends up getting you more frustrated. You try to console yourself of being happy with what you have achieved but deep inside you know it is a just a consolation, just like “The Consolation Prize” which says you weren’t good enough we are generous people and we will give you something.

You wish that if you could turn back the winds of time, get back to that just one moment that made this difference. The moment where you missed by a small whisker, a few moments which can give you a chance to cover that split second distance when it wasn’t too late. The moment when you can succumb to the comfort of the known target and plans. The moment when you can bury the target of being “Above Average” once and for all; crowning in the glory of victory.

But none of it ever happens and you have to wait for the next big race, big match or the critical opportunity. You have to make peace and plan for the next big race in life and hope this time you cross the finish line before anyone does. That is the curse of being “Above Average”.

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Wings of Silence

Author: Shriram Iyer
Publisher: Westland/Grey Oak
Price: 199/-
Pages: 242

The Wings of Silence is a fairy tale for any Indian sports lover. A tale of two brothers, one champion in tennis and the other an impeccable runner for marathons. The book has a perfect plot spawned across 2 countries and 5 lives. The story starts with the contrasting life of two brothers, Raj who was born deaf and Saurav who was born with loads of talent be it studies or sports.

The lives of two brothers are as different as they can possibly be, living under the shadow of a Veer Chakra Awarded father who is a winner by attitude and runs the family with an army like discipline. Constant admiration and appreciation for Saurav and a perennial frowning for Raj, led Raj to lapse into depression. The story charts the path for Raj how he with the help of his brother finds himself as a runner. He reinvents himself and finds his calling in life.

The story is a short, fast and nice read with the characters very carefully and efficiently planned by the author which makes it a likeable read. The story is intriguing and deals with the topic of an Indian competing in the marathon of 1980 Olympics makes it lovable for the patriot in me. The research on the plot has been extensive and the author has used the historical events of 1980s very well in the story. Despite being overly optimistic in the plot t makes a good book for a nice breezy read.

Summary: A refreshing plot in contemporary Indian fiction, this book makes for a good light time pass read.
Rating: 7/10

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The Clockwork Man

Author: William Jablonsky
Publisher: Westland/Silverfish
Price: 225/-
Pages: 231

The book is a strikingly different tale of love, righteousness and relationships. Unlike a lot of other books, the author in this charts a different territory when he explores the humans from the lens of a machine. The protagonist in the book is a machine, an invention of genius which allowed the machine to walk think and learn a bit like humans.
18th century iconic automated clockmaker, Karl Gruber makes a new machine which works on the principles of the clockwork. This invention called “Ernst” in the first half of life lives with the Gruber household and becomes incredibly attached to his inventor & his daughter. He is an important part of the household, A perfect gentleman with strongly imbibed morals and values. Life for Ernst takes unexpected turn when a tragedy strikes the family and Ernst finds himself all alone when he shuts himself down.
He only wakes up in 2005 and finds himself in an entirely new world and surroundings. The story deals how a machine lives and copes in the 21st century world with values, morals and principles practiced in 19th century. How the clockwork man finds his purpose in life and manages to move on from his past.
The book is written in the diary format where Ernst maintains spanning his entire life of over 150 years. The author has brilliantly brought the emotional aspects of the development of emotions, understanding and principles in the clockwork man. The relationship between Gruber daughter and Ernst is so well portrayed that even for a while reader is not faced with awkwardness of the romance between them. The pace of the story is a bit slow but the depth and the emotional portrayals more than make up for it. All in all book has a unique plot and a feel of a classic with all the 18th century plot.
Summary: A great contemporary classic; a good read for readers across genres.
Rating: 8.5/10

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Life and Other KnickKnacks Like That

It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this blog. There have been a lot of things happening in life, probably too many things that this piece of my soul got ignored for a while. It is weird that when pressed upon we tend to give up things which are really close to us, give us real joy. The lord almighty has ensured that some stupidity is hard wired into the human nature, probably for the kick of it.
As will all the other old friends I think the best way to start a conversation is to answer “Wassup?” And this is what has been up right into my posterior. Needless to say I have been super busy; after my long term assignment was closed I am assigned to a new client which is based out of Hyderabad. This involved a month long stay in Hyderabad couple April-May and a forthcoming stay there for next couple of months; but thankfully I have managed to stay back and enjoy Bangalore for some time. Life is tough when you switch from multinational fortune 500 clients to our own desi family owned business clients. You don’t have luxury of relaxed timelines, 5 days work week and proper processes, that is what I am trying to cope with these days.

Apart from work there are lots of things happening on the personal front too. I bought a new car, so this baby is now old and this is currently my new ride and needless to say that I am loving it.

In other news parents finally decided to visit us after a two year long hiatus, as always spending time with them was a lot of fun. Loads of shopping, eating and sweets happened, all this when I was trying to lose some weight which I am sure I would have lost but only in the negative quantities. It was great to eat sweets from my home town Kanpur. I tend to believe when it comes to sweets there are very few places in India which can match up to the quality, taste and variety available in Kanpur. So overall last couple of months have been eventful and fun. The times to come look promising too and now that I am back to blogging will be writing and sharing things more often.
So to end today’s post I leave you with a hilarious joke I heard sometime back, keep laughing enjoy life.
Santa: Mujhse panga mat lena, main Sher Da Puttar hoon (Don’t mess with me, I am son of a lion)
Banta: Yaar ek baat to bata Sher ghar aaya tha ya fir aunty jungle gayi thi. (Buddy, tell me one thing did lion came to your house or your mother went to the jungle)

Suicide at High Noon

As last time this too is from a team building comptetion we had at our offsite. The rules of the game were that one had to write a suicide note which should include the following-

  • Not more than 80 words
  • It should have one Name
  • It should have two places
  • It should have threee animal (Air, Land and Water)
  • It should have four things

So this what I wrote and it was appreciated generally by the audience and also got the prize-

Hi Helena,

When you saw me naked holding our dog by the rear and I said “Oh Fish”, it wasn’t because I was doing the dog, it would be cuckoo. I wasn’t doing our fish either. I was ironing my trunks for my trip to Los Angeles when the dog pulled it down and the iron fell from the board on my “thing” and I ran to fetch some Ice from the kitchen when you saw me.

But that is not the reason why I am commiting sucide; I am treading this path out of embarrasement. During my interview with the firm from Argentina when they asked me for my testimonials; I probably showed them the wrong thing.

Embarrasingly yours,


Ps. This post might be greater than 80 words because I am trying to recreate it from memory. During the contest I had great help in editing by a dear collegaue Aishwarya who ensured this was compressed within a limit of 80 words.

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The Warriors of the Purple Hue

We had our management consulting offsite last weekend, where practically close to 200 people were stuffed in a resort, trust me for once we all felt like Karnataka MLAs as venue being the same as it was for Yeddy’s men. Coming back to the event which was a lot of fun, we all were divided into teams with a set of activities which we had to participate in starting from creating baloon towers, group skipping, flying kites etc. One of the activities was to write a team poem which should have the team name (mine was Purple Team) and should have the basic principle which team agreed upon (We had chosen Winning, Never Giving Up, Being Ethical); I was trusted with the task of creating a poem in 15 minutes of time, and this was what I came up with.

The Warriors of Purple Hue

At the behest of the cries of war,
When the armies gather from near and far,
We are a band of warriors fighting amidst iron & dust,
Fighting for a cause righteous and Just.

For a single victory many battles we fight & hop,
Never letting go until we spend the last drop,
Our desire to win brought us together to far,
Yet enjoying every moment of togetherness & the war.

The exhaustion of war & satisfaction at heart,
Together we perfect the battle and it’s art,
Finding the purpose in wounds & midnight dew,
We are the warriors radiating in our Purple Hue

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Bloody Racists

I have a friend who is extremely insistent on the point that Indians are one of the biggest racists. I have always wondered if a word as strong as racist is appropriate. I agree we are the ones who would stereotype faster than anybody else starting from “Gora”, “Kala”, “Chinky”, “Thulla”, “Software Wala”, “Sarkari Babu”, “North Indian”, “South Indian” are some of the most common stereotypes you would find people using.
I believe the key component which makes racism a negative trait is the belief or actions that a race or a stereotype in a way is inferior to others. The negativity of the racism stems from the fact that when the person stereotyping start treating himself as superior or inferior based on the race. The places or system starts differentiating people or the laws change for the people based on the race. As far as I know this negative kind of Racism is very limited in India; though we are involved in a different kind of phenomenon called Castism which differentiates based on birth but not on race/color of skin/ ethinicity.
Coming back to the point of Indians being racist, I have my doubts that people I interact with or myself are racist, though a lot of us including me can be accused of stereotyping and grouping people based on one way or the other but then do we get prejudiced against people of different race, or we bear unnatural hatred towards them? I don’t think so. We might group people, habits, culture and refer them with our stereotype but then we do not perpetuate hatred. I believe there have been some instances that these kind of sentiments are propagated but then it is not in lines of what actual racism is. We as a group of people might be conservative on who we marry and bring in family but that is more due to the cultural differences rather than the fact that we think that some other race is inferior to us in some way.
On the contrary I feel in a country like us it is close to impossible to be racist when there is a potpourri or cultures amalgamating and coexisting with one another it is very difficult to be racist, to feel hatred and superiority against the other. So what do you feel, are we Indians as a population primarily racist as my friend believes it to be or we are a bunch of people who are a tad too quick while generalizing and stereotyping?