Tag Archives: India

Book Launch of “Sun Tzu- The Art of War”

Thursday, 5th April, 2012
RSI, Pune

But life takes you places – and mine saw me attend an informal book unveiling and discussion event at the RSI, amidst renown and senior (in rank and age) Armed Forces Officials on a pleasant Thursday evening.

Col. Vinay B. Dalvi‘s debut non-fiction “Sun-Tzu: The Art of War” is dedicated to the Indian Army. For those who don’t know, Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War in China 2500 years ago!
It is the earliest known treatise on the subject of war which has never been surpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding.

The evening saw Col. Vinay B. Dalvi give his audience an outline of the 13 chapters and as many as 389 thoughts penned in the book.
“But the one thought I’d like to share with you all is this: If you know your enemy, you’ve won 50% of the battle; If you know yourself you’ve won 50% of the battle. So if you know your enemy and yourself, you’ve won 100% of the battle,” he pointed out.

He had the audience in splits when he commented, “Oh and yes, this doesn’t work on your better half!”

We then saw Vice Admiral SCS Bangara and Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi unveil the book, along with the author and Mr. Rajan Arya (CEO- Pentagon Press).

The noted dignitary spoke about the book and its content to quite an extent, and it indeed was enlightening. Though I don’t have an army background, I have a lot of friends who do. And I could relate to a lot of their stories about life at the NDA. The discussion saw the veterans speak about Leadership amongst Officers and how the NDA is a platform to groom and polish and recognize them. Maj Gen V.K. Madhok’s absence was extremely noticeable (due to unavoidable personal reasons he couldn’t make it to the launch), but his support was heartily appreciated by the author in his address.


(L-R: Vice Admiral SCS Bangara, Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi, author Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Mr. Rajan Arya- CEO Pentagon Press)


One noteworthy thing about the evening was the presence of Mr. Rajan Arya at the event. Its not often that publishers accompany the author for a book launch, but having read about Mr. Arya I was pleasantly taken aback at his modesty and enthusiasm of promoting new authors, and his willingness to publish books that are essentially non-fiction, and more so of political/relevant issues of concern today.

Maj Gen (Dr) G.D. Bakshi, SM, VSM (Retd) has written the foreword while Maj Gen Raj Mehta, AVSM, VSM, (Retd) has written the afterword for the book. And both of them have provided quite a clear and comprehensive idea about The Art of War, summarizing with its influence and applications.

I personally feel this book is beyond boundaries of any particular subject. It should be read by all. After all, Leaders are not just born. Sometimes they need to be groomed and polished and guided.

This (book) does go up in my “to read” list right away!

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Book Review of “Prey by the Ganges” by Hemant Kumar

Prey By The Ganges

By Hemant Kumar

A gripping tale of friendship, resistance, endurance, power, corruption, and the courage to beat it all, Prey By The Ganges is the debut attempt of Hemant Kumar. And what a debut!

This clearly is among the most captivating books I’ve read in a long time.

Set around the Independence era, the book offers a very real and earthy image of India (esp. Bihar) back then.

This book certainly has it all. From a very invigorating book cover, to the heart-felt and wondrous acknowledgement that got me hooked to the author’s narrative skill, to the story of course.

The taut and gripping plot makes this book “unputdownable”! So, the story opens with the gruesome death of Ravi, Vaidya Shambhu Nanadan’s best friend (in fact the only friend) near the banks of the holy Ganges. Shambhu, accompanied by a very loyal and trust-worthy servant Hariya see Ravi brutally beaten by dacoits. Ravi breathes his last in Shambu’s lap.

The story traces their backgrounds and the reason of Ravi, Shambhu and Hariya being near the river on a full-moon night. Shambhu sets out to complete Ravi’s initial set plan, and to seek answers from the murderer and yes, to avenge the death of his friend. You witness the story of the feudal lords – the two brothers – Thakur Gajanan Singh of Narainpur and Thakur Suraj Singh of Janak Ganj, who thrive on power and lust and emotions that rule the head not the heart; the glamorous thakurain catching the fancy of most men; the mystery of the diamond…and oh so much more!

I do not plan on giving out any details. It is for you to pick up and read and find out. With its language so rich and lucid that it makes you read without a break; a plot so thick that it engulfs you in its depth; suspense and thrill so mesmerizing that keep you at the edge of your seat as you turn the pages; and the characters so real that one could almost see them around you; the book delivers the satisfaction (of reading a thriller) to the tee!

It was a pleasure reading this book. And I, for one, look forward to the sequel.

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Book Review of “If It Is Sweet” by Mridula Koshy

If It Is Sweet

by Mridula Koshy

My fondness for short stories made me go lengths to find this book. And I definitely want to admit – it was totally worth it!

A fine amalgamation of perspective, imagination and reality. Conventional settings with contemporary outlook, without traditional facets taking over the characterization, reveal the writer’s flair of capturing your mind and lingering on for almost ever!

The Good Mother –breaks away the conservative facade and shows a mother agonizing over her failed motherhood. She ends up picking a young lover after her son’s death and commits a mistake she can never forgive herself for.

POP –walks similar lines of failed motherhood but with a newer perspective.

Jeans –is an intimate sort of a read. Who would have ever thought of writing about our pretty behinds in this way! And they do really juggle in four different sections! An erratically humorous read with an interesting view point.

The Large Girl –is a bold narrative. A tender love story beyond traditional norms and lines.

Companion – felt surreal and the emotions shared by the two companions come to reveal a surprise ending.

Stories like “Today is the Day, Romancing the Koodawalla, Not Known, Stray Blades of Grass and Same Day,” reveal the feelings of characters belonging to the lower strata of society. The stories show the humane aspect of the author and her keen observation skill. Some of the characters are the ones we would have come across in life but reading Mridula’s stories makes us see aspects we would have never considered earlier. She doesn’t sound preachy or gung ho about the fates or challenges faced by her characters –but simply puts forth their feelings and aspirations. Beautifully written.

When the Child was a Child, 3-2-1, First Time, and Passage” –deal with loss and mourning and lives of expats. Come to see, almost all stories have an underlying theme of sorrow and loss. Maybe that’s what binds the entire collection.

Overall, a well-paced, strikingly original and riveting collection that navigates locales between Los Angeles and Delhi. And all the seventeen stories in If It Is Sweet are unique and leave behind an everlasting impression.

Most of the stories make you go back to them. For a second read. And each time you read them, there’s a different aspect that comes to light. The stories create a stir…an unrest in your mind. They make you see the realities as the author visions.

Mridula’s writing is lucid and smooth. It haunts you in a desirable way. You are bound to find it demanding (or bumpy sometimes), but it is a style you will end up loving.

A myriad of emotions and a palette of feelings, the book deserves to be in your bookshelf forever!

Not to forget the unassuming title that leaves a very different taste in your mind. Astounding.

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Book Review of “Daughters : A Story Of Five Generations” By Bahrati Ray

Daughters : A Story Of Five Generations

By Bharati Ray

Each generation comes with a past and makes way for the future.

“Daughters: A Story Of Five Generations” by Bharati Ray is one splendid read that peeps into five generations (spanning late nineteenth century to the twenty-first century) and reveals the characteristics of the women of each era, which in turn reflects on the way the Indian society was and how it is today.

It begins with Sundar-ma, the author’s great-grandmother. A woman of the nineteenth century, she was married at the age of twelve into a conservative household. She was intelligent, self educated and a brave participant of India’s freedom struggle.

Ushabala, the author’s grandmother, was the proud wife of a college lecturer and a consummate home-maker. She wanted to give her daughter (Kalyani) what she, as an individual, could not achieve – a good education.

Kalyani, the author’s mother was feisty and irrepressible. A keen traveler, she was the first woman in the family to get a college degree, but gave up her studies and a career to raise her children. And Kalyani’s academic success paved the path for the author’s achievements.

Bharati Ray was a lecturer in Calcutta University and became its first woman pro-vice-chancellor. She was also a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha.

And finally we get to know Bharati Ray’s daughters, Khuku and Tista, both extremely strong and bright individuals, leading a busy, fulfilling life.

The author narrates the life and time of her great grandmother (during India’s freedom struggle) and charts the journey to her daughters (the twenty-first century independent women).

She reflects and evaluates the thoughts of society; the history; and the upward progress the nation (and of course the society) has made since Independence.

Each generation progressed towards betterment and education. And how!

The individual choices the women made; their connection with their mother and daughters; and the societal growth at large reflects beautifully in this book.

It covers all aspects of the Indian society and reflects on the way the lives of women have changed over past couple of centuries. What was denied earlier is now a compulsion. What was hated earlier is now cherished. The progress our society has made and how it has molded each generation is beautifully described by the author.

This chronicle of the lives of five generations of women in the author’s family makes for a fantastic read. Pick it up and you won’t regret a single minute spent with the book.

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Book Review of “The Zoya Factor” By Anuja Chauhan

The Zoya Factor

By Anuja Chauhan

Well…to begin with – I must confess – I’m not a cricket fan. At all! And I was very hesitant to pick this one. But barely two pages down and I was absolutely hooked.

The story is about Zoya Singh Solanki, a client servicing executive with a leading ad-agency, who was born at the exact moment that India clinched the World Cup – 25th of June, 1983.

While working (shooting for an ad to be more precise) with the Indian Cricket Team for a particular brand (of soft drink) Zoya happens to prove “lucky” for the team, having shared breakfast with them on the day of the match. And later her brother (Zoravar) and her dad affirm her “luck” factor when they reveal that having her grab a bite with their team before any cricket match helped them win.

Soon the cricket team (except the captain- Nikhil Khoda) begins to believe that she really is “lady luck” who will help them win the World Cup. And the cricket board decides to give her an “official status” to ensure she has breakfast everyday with the team as they venture out to Australia for the World Cup.

What follows is a series of ups and downs in Zoya’s life – she falls in love with Nikhil Khoda; gets christened as “Zoya Devi” by her huge fan following (especially the Indians); companies/brands want her as their brand ambassador; she falls prey to sabotage; and faces the usual defamation (for being “ethical”) only to rise again.

The language is free-flowing and mighty colorful, if I may add. Certain choicest terms added flavor to the scenes making them hilarious and absolutely lovable. The use of “Hindi” and “Hinglish” words/phrases gives you more than just a reason to connect with it.

Each character is well thought of and well written. Zoya (Gaalu) and her love for fireworks, her colleagues – Vishaal, Neelo, Monita, Monita’s kids, her husband, Zoya’s father (Vijayendra Singh Solanki), her chachas- Mohindra, Gajendra (Gajju Chacha) and Yogendra (Yogu Chacha), her chachis –Rinku and Anita chachi, Eppa (their fifty plus maid), Meeku (their pet), and the best of all – Zoravar (her brother) and his wise-ones, and definitely their house “Tera Numbar” in Karol Bagh. Not to forget the young men in blue (cricket team) – Zahid, Bala, Harry, Shivee, Vikram, Laakhi, Nivi, Robin Rawal and the handsome skipper- Nikhil Khoda; their pista-eating agent/manager – Lokendar (Lokey) Chugh; and of course the president of the cricket board Mr. Jogpal Lohia.

Since this is a pure work of fiction I cannot say how relatable the instances are – but the situations and the characterization makes them come alive.

Anuja’s writing is absolutely fresh; her sense of humor quirky; and her thoughts – out of the box. I laughed even while reading the “acknowledgement”.  I highly recommend this one. An extremely refreshing read.


Confession: At a point, I google-d to see if I were lucky in any way, being born on the 13th of Dec. – but most information pointed to the gruesome tales of deaths all over the globe! Bah!


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