Book Review: Option B

“Seeking joy after facing adversity is taking back what was stolen from you”

Author: Sheryl Sandberg

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Pages: 176

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

I don’t know anyone who has been handed only roses. We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next?

Life, as we know it, is unpredictable. You’re walking down the road in your freshly cleaned and ironed white shirt only to have mud splashed across your entire body. You’re standing on the road, hailing abuses at the vehicle who did it, but there’s only so much you can do. Or maybe accidently dropping the scoop of icecream you’d been wanting to savour. These are small almost unimportant terrible things that happen. What does one do when they fail at an important phase of their life? How do you react when you lose a family member? Where do you go when you’re fighting to live?

You want to give up. Leave everything. And escape. But you don’t. You wake up every day, confused, miserable, but still ready to move on. When there’s no Option A, you kick the shit out of Option B. That’s exactly what this novel by Sheryl Sandberg is all about. To find the light at the end of the tunnel, to find the silver lining and learn to live some form of Option B.

The sudden death of Sheryl’s husband turned her world upside down. It came as a blow, one she thought she could never recover from. To make it worse, she couldn’t think of a life where her children would grow up without having a father. Happiness seemed like a distant dream. Sheryl feared her children would never find happiness again. They would never be normal. She would never be normal. Adam Grant, psychologist at Wharton and a dear friend of Sheryl jumped to the scene. Together they discovered how to cope with adversity and build resilience. Talking about Resilience Sheryl says:

I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had. He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strenght and speed of our response to adversity–we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.

So began a lifelong journey of Sheryl coping with the loss of her husband, maintaining her job as the COO of Facebook and ensuring her kids grew up to be strong and resilient. One of the foremost principle’s used in the book are the 3Ps that stunt recovery. This was formulated by psychologist Martin Seligman when he was studying how people deal with setbacks.

  • Personalization: The belief that we are at fault
  • Pervasiveness: The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
  • Permanence: The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

Studies have shown that the minute adults and children accept that they’re not in control of every situation, that they’re not to blame and that these hardships won’t follow them everywhere and will not affect all aspects of life, they recover quickly.

The book follows Sheryl’s everyday struggles which included attending her children’s school events alone or celebrating birthdays without her better half. One of the important points mentioned in the book which I personally found interesting was ‘focusing on worst-case scenarios’. Adam went on proposing that instead of trying to find the positives in an utterly miserable situation, one should think of how worse the current situation could be. I mean, come to think of it, you’re alive and reading this review right now( well, I hope you are). And the gift of life is probably the biggest gift ever. In Sheryl’s circusmtances, Adam reminded her that her husband, Dave, could have died while driving their children to school. His statement sent chills down her spine overwhelming her. She realized her children were still with her and that gratitude took over grief.

Option B is a sum total of not just Sheryl’s loss. It has tremendous stories of people from all walks of life who have defied all the odds, survived at the face of adversity and have overcome illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters and the violence of war. Not only do these stories inspire they also teach us how to persevere in times of hardships. They reveal how strong human capacity is and that pain usually bows down when faced with people who refuse to beaten by their circumstances.

I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.

Failure can either make you or break you. It’s easy saying you learn from failures. It’s difficult being on the receiving end. Talking about failures, Sheryl says, “Not only do we learn more from failure than success, we learn more from bigger failures because we scrutinize them more closely”. Imagine if we’d stop walking when we were little because we kept falling every time?

The measure of who we are is how we react to something that doesn’t go our way. There are always things you can do better. It’s a game of mistakes

—-Greg Popovich

I spent most of my time underlining and making notes because Option B does offer deep insights and there’s so much to learn from the book. The writing style is simple, it’s not preachy and Sheryl has described her emotions in a raw and unfiltered way. You can feel the emotions deeply but at the same time there’s a sense of hope and faith that pain is temporary.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

Sometimes it takes going through something so awful to realize the beauty that is out there in this world.

Review: UNNS: The Captivation

A secret Mission. A childhood love affair. Death and Revenge.

Author: Sapan Saxena

Publisher: Inspire India Publishers

Pages: 244

Genre: Thriller/Romance

Rating: 3.5/5

Blurb:

“Of course you know about the seven stages of love, but have you ever lived them?”

Atharva Rathod and Meher Qasim.

Lovebirds since adolescence. Bonded by love, separated by circumstances. They part ways only to meet again. But this time, he is on a secret mission…

Are they in control of their own destiny, or its their destiny which is making them dance to its tunes? Only time would answer, as Atharva and Meher unwillingly and unknowingly transcend the seven stages of love.

A quintessential tale of love and romance marked beautifully by its own rustic old school charm.

 

My Review:

Caught in the midst of childhood love and innocence, Meher and Atharva, fight against all odds to defend what’s right to them. Atharva is a RAW agent, one of the best the indian government has ever seen. Meher, on the other hand, is working against the indian government who were responsible for the death of her father. Their paths cross but are they meant to be?

UNNS: The Captivation is a story about childhood lovers who take separate paths but destiny binds them together under circumstances that changes their life forever. Atharva, is on a mission and meets Meher after 15 years. Little does he know that the love of his life will eventually lead to his doom. The story keeps getting complicated as Atharva tries to decipher what’s happening to him. Suffering from a rare disorder, Atharva, despite his pain, keeps his eye on the mission till Meher arrives and ruins everything for him. Just when he could trust her, Meher, siding with the anti-national forces cons Atharva leading to his arrest on the charges of treason against RAW and India. A failed secret mission that lead to the compromisation of several other RAW agents. All this because Atharva was blinded by his childhood love. His credibility as one of the best RAW agents is on the line and there’s nothing he can do but surrender. His only regret: Why would Meher take advantage of his love for her?

The story does not end there. Infact, it keeps getting complicated. They meet again. Under different circumstances. But will Atharva’s love fool him once again? Or will he see right through Meher? That’s for you to read and discover.

The writing style is pretty simple. Sapan Saxena didn’t lose grip of the plot and was able to create suspense without making the reader pull their hair out. Although, there were a few errors as far as writing was concerned but since the story is indeed captivating one can skim through easily. I think novels that are a blend of romance and thrill go a long way in receiving readers’ attention and bringing parsie to the author. I really enjoyed the climax because it wasn’t cliche at all and did justice to all the characters.

If you’re into novels that have a bit of romance but at the same time are filled with suspense and thrill, then UNNS: The Captivation would be a good choice.

 

Review: Good Times Bad Times

A story about the significant wisdom of living life to the fullest and, above all, rising above ones fear by facing them.

Author: Chetan Dalvi

Publisher: Half Baked Beans

Genre: Contemporary

Pages: 120

Rating: 3/5

What happens when you’re forced to live under circumstances that suck the happiness out of you? What happens when life keeps throwing curve balls at you? You persevere. You face the storm and you liberate yourself. Such is the story of Jonathan, whose life is turned upside side before he finds peace and unearths the true meaning of life.

In the quest to fufill his father’s death wish, Jonathon, leaves the comfort of his Mumbai life, quits his job and takes on a journey that is filled with uncertainties. At this point, he is clueless. He has no idea how he would complete his father’s wish. He has no financial help, no job to fall back on and hardly a shoulder to cry on. The novel talks about the wisdom of living life to the fullest, believing in the good and understanding that life with its ups and downs is beautiful.

Jonathon encounters several people on his journey who without even trying teach him lessons he can never forget. He learns that no matter how small a job is one should always do it with respect and integrity. I think one of the fundamental ideas reinforced in the book is to embrace the bad times and accept it to be a stepping stone towards a life filled with potential. Towards the end of the novel, the author spoke about a simple rule of life:

We cannot ignore fear. We can just learn to face it each time, as fear is never ending. The more you face it, the bigger it becomes the next time.

The narration and writing style is simple and is quite relatable. All of us at some point in our lives have gone through pain and hardships. We’ve been in situations where the light at the end of the tunnel seemed like an illusion. The author has penned down various aspects of life and how time plays such a crucial role in healing scars and giving closure.

Life, as we know it, is a series of events that either make you or break you. It’s upto you to face it with your head held high or let it shatter your soul. Good Time Bad Times is a novel which makes you believe that there’s always a silver lining, if you refuse to give up.

You can buy the book on amazon: Good Times Bad Times

February Wrap Up

A month in books and reviews.

I hibernated in the month of february. Not much happened in terms of blog posts. I almost forgot I have a blog. (Sorry for the exaggeration). I suffered from lack of motivation and I decided no blog posts were better than poor quality content. BUT I did read 5 books, more than I read last month. Let’s take a look:

  • The Catcher In The Rye: J.D.Salinger’s novel talks about teenage alienation, a sense of abandonment, identity crisis and longing to find onself. It’s part of my second year syllabus and I personally didn’t like the book much. I know it is regarded as one of the finest pieces of literature the world has seen but it just didn’t resonate with me on any level. I had difficulty getting used to the writing style and I legit forced myself to read. It’s okay if its your favourite novel. No judgment. It didn’t appeal to me.

Blurb:

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

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  • The Boy In The Striped Pajamas: I think its one of those rare books that stay in your mind long after you’ve read it. I knew it would be heart-breaking the minute I started reading it. The writing is simple and easy flowing. You’ll get it done in just one sitting. I was devastated towards the end and I don’t think I will ever recover from the heartache. Also, I plan on watching the movie in a day or two. Hoping it lives upto the book.

Blurb:

Berlin, 1942 : When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move to a new house far, far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different from his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences

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  • The Color Purple: Alice Walker is one of the finest writers the world has ever seen. The book is set in rural Georgia and is a story of a woman named Celie who is abused and beaten when she was a child and raped by her father. It is her story of self-discovery and her triumphs and joys. It’s heartwarming to say the least. I highly recommend reading this book.

Blurb: 

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence

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  • An Ember in the Ashes: Where do I start with this one? I think it’s definitely one of my top favourite reads of all times. I am not even kidding. An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy novel written by former American Washington Post editor Saba Tahir. Fantasy novels have never been my go-to genre ever. BUT I am so happy I read this book. It’s the first book in the An Ember in the Ashes series. The second book A Torch Against the Night was released last year in August, 2016. And guess what? The book will be made into a movie and is in development at Paramount Pictures. Guys, we’re in for a treat. I ordered the sequel the day I got over with AEITA because I needed answers. Please read this book. (I’ll post the review of both the books when i’m done reading them).

  Blurb:

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

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  • Animal Farm: I guess most of you have read this masterpiece by George Orwell. It is an allegorical novella that was first published in England on 17th August, 1945. According to the author, the book is a reflection of the events leading to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Stanlisnist Era of Soviet Union. It was chosen as one of the 100 best English Language novels by the Time Magazine.

Blurb:

“All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.”

One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land along with the means of production and are no longer the slaves of humans.

Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community.

This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since “Animal Farm” was first published.

This production is based on Orwell’s own radio version which was first produced in 1947.

 

What did you read in the month of Feb? March looks like a productive month. I also hope I will be writing more. See you. 

Author Interview: Kavita Kane

Meet the queen of Indian Mythology.

No other way to celebrate my 5Oth post on WordPress than to have the versatile author and senior Journalist, Kavita Kane talk to us about her love for mythology, what inspires her and a little something about her no one knows!

You can read the review of her latest book Lanka’s Princess here: Review: Lanka’s Princess

Get to know the author: 

A senior journalist with a career of over two decades, which includes working for Magna publication and DNA, she quit her job as Assistant Editor of Times of India to devote herself as a full time author. A self-styled aficionado of cinema and theatre and sufficiently armed with a post-graduate degree in English Literature and Mass Communication from the University of Pune, the only skill she knows, she candidly confesses, is writing.
Karna’s Wife her debut novel, (2013)was a bestseller. Her second novel – Sita’s Sister (2014) also deals with another enigmatic personality – Urmila, probably the most overlooked character in the Ramayan. Menaka’s Choice(2015) ,another best-seller, is about the famous apsara and her infamous liaison with Vishwamitra the man she was sent to destroy. Lanka’s Princess (2016) is her fourth book based on Ravan’s sister, Surpanakha, the Princess of Lanka who was also its destroyer…
Born in Mumbai, a childhood spent largely in Patna and Delhi , Kavita currently lives in Pune with her mariner husband Prakash and two daughters Kimaya and Amiya with Chic the black cocker spaniel and Cotton the white, curious cat.

 

 

Interview:

  • Did your career as a journalist somehow inspire you to become an author? 
As a journalist I had written non fiction for more than two decades! I wanted to test my creative writing skills and gathering enough courage, ventured into writing a novel. That’s how my debut book Karna’s Wife came about. It was more about testing myself.
  • Did you always want to write on Indian Mythology? What has been your experience like as an author of Mythology?
Mythology as a subject greatly fascinated me while I was studying English literature when I came in contact with Greek, Norse and Celtic mythology besides the fact that I grew up on a staple diet of Amar Chitra Kathas! Another favourite subject was history so I guess somewhere down the line I unconsciously leaned towards mythology as a genre when I decided to write my first novel.
Mythology is a huge canvas where you can add colour without damaging the whole picture. It’s not about retelling ancient tales of God or simply about  good vs evil : mythology is a lesson in knowing about Man and his follies and fallacies. Holds true especially now.
I receive so many questions on my books and our mythology from readers aged 18  to 30 and I realise they want to know so much more. It’s a void they want filled by writers of mythology.
  • Tell us a little about your latest book, ‘Lanka’s Princess’.
As the title says it’s about Surpanakha, Ravan’s sister whom we rarely see as Lanka’s princess. She is that ugly woman whose nose got chopped off. Yet she is the one who started the war. She is the turning point in the plot and pushes  forward the second part of the narrative of the epic. Also, besides Ravan,  she is the antagonist of the latter part as was Manthara and Kaikeyi in the earlier section of the Ramayan.  Yet what do we know of her?
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  • Your books are always well-researched. So what’s the strangest thing you have ever had to research online for your book?
While researching,  I often find the way the stories in our epics and mythology are woven within another and this interweaving is truly amazing. It is like a maze and connecting the dots  is a challenge. For instance I just realised Shishupal and the Pandavas were maternal cousins! It keeps coming and I have to make a concerted effort to stop reading and researching and get down to some writing!
  • Of all the characters you have written about, which is your favourite and why?
Urmila! My first book was to be about her but not having enough research material on her, I started on Karna’s Wife instead. But Menaka was one of the more difficult characters to sketch, adding to her shades of grey yet not to make her dark and negative. She was a temptress, a consummate seductress who used her wiles to succeed, she was a mother who abandoned two daughters- certainly not the perfect woman, is she? Yet she fell in love with the man she was meant to destroy. She was the reason for the downfall and rise of the most powerful man. Must have been a remarkable woman and that’s how I portrayed her in my book Menaka’s Choice.
  • Describe your ideal writing space. 
Physically I don’t like to write on a desk. I find it confining. I just need a quiet room with lots of sunlight and greenery. Also I never write in the night. That’s when the ideas rush in!
  • What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Each time a reader gives his feedback, I am truly touched. The most humbling moment was when Karna’s Wife was compared favourably to the classic Mritunjay. Or the moment when I received a hand written letter by a 90 year old fan hand delivered by his grand son! It was incredibly heart warming.
  • A book that had a deep impact on you.
Most books do so in some way or the other and  it would be unfair to name one.
  • Million dollar question, are you working on another book?
Yes!
  • Lastly, tell us something about yourself no one knows. 
I hate chocolate!
I feel extremely honoured to have Kavita Kane on the blog and had a great time interviewing her.

Review: Lanka’s Princess

“Words once spoken could not be redeemed, they were like inflicted wounds, the imminent scars lingering long.”

Author: Kavita Kane

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 298

Format: Paperback

Rating: 3.8/5

Kavita Kane’s novel, Lanka’s Princess, narrated from the POV of Ravan’s infamous sister, Surpanakha is a retelling of one of histories most epic tales, Ramayana. It is a story of war, death, hatred and vengeance. There are several questions that come in one’s mind. Was Surpankha an evil, blood thirsty woman who led to the tragic death of her own brother or lack of acceptance and love transformed a once meek and shy girl into a living monster? The answer lies at your understanding of the novel. I think books such as this one, leave so much to the imagination. I guess that’s what the author meant to do. Show us the state of the misunderstood Suparnakha.

Surpanakha’s childhood has been dealt with extensively, what she was like being born into a family of rishis and asuras, the circumstances that led to her change, and her ongoing battle with her mother that ultimately instilled revenge and hate. When reading the book, I felt various emotions for Surpanakha. It’s not whether her actions justified the bloodshed and loss but what forced her to take such drastic steps. In retrospect, she suffered a lot. Right from being neglected by her parents and brothers in her childhood to always competing for her parents love. Constantly trying to prove her worth but failing each time. People who were close to her left her. Her father left her after Ravan captured Lanka. Her grandmother whom she had immense respect for was killed. She lost her husband. Her son was killed. Her face was maimed by Lakshman. Suparnakha lived a life of pain and loss.

The writing is beautiful. The book is well researched and the descriptions are vivid making the readers travel into the ancient times. Kavita Kane is no doubt a prolific writer weaving intense emotions throughout the book. Although at one point the story reached a dry state but it was soon replaced with fast actions and the story kept moving forward. I haven’t read Indian Mythology much but it was a different experience. The characterisation especially those of the female characters was pretty impressive. The author through her powerful words made suparnakha speak out against the injustices. It was empowering considering the status of women in those times.

“Words once spoken could not be redeemed, they were like inflicted wounds, the imminent scars lingering long. A curse could not be renegaded: not even the mightiest spell could allay the power of the uttered word.”

Most people aren’t what they seem. History has always been a subject to fabrication. You can no longer decide what is wrong or right. Everyone is a victim of circumstances and what they choose to do is a reflection of their surrounding. Indian Mythology has considered Suparnakha to be the untamed, rebellious sister but the reality is very different. Kavita Kane’s novel delves into the psyche of Suparnakha and various other characters.

If you’re looking into reading Indian mythologies, Lanka’s Princess is a good book to start with.

Which is your favourite Mythology?

 

 

I received a copy of Lanka’s Princess from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review”

 

 

Review: Selfienomics

A seriously funny guide to living the good life.

Author: Revant

Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Genre: Self-help

Pages: 191

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

 

What happens when you read a book that is bombarded with memes, hashtags, open dialogues, hard-hitting questions and a desire to perceive the world around you differently? You become enlightened. #Nirvana

One of my reading goals this year was to read self-help books because my life has a tendency to spiral around I decided to rely on people to do that for me. Well, jokes apart, it is a decision that I plan on implementing. I started this road to self-discovery with Selfienomics, a debut novel, by Revant which

a.) Is extremely funny. You know the kind of funny which makes you pause and laugh like a retarded seal?  No? Okay.

b.) Is informative and very well researched. Ofcourse, self-help books are supposed to be researched blah blah. It is well researched in the sense that it is relatable to everyone especially the current scenario of Indians and India.

c.) You get to make a choice. Revant didn’t shove his opinion down our throats instead he paved the way for open-end discussions where you are the sailor and you get to decide the direction. No judgement there.

Selfienomics talks about life in general. Food, Feminism, Politics, Religion and how to read the label off of a food item before buying. Reading the book made me realise that there are a lot of things i’m ignorant about or I consider it extremely trivial for an intellect like me to dwell upon. I was wrong. I think that’s what reading good books are like; you begin to develop the ‘why syndrome’. Why does something happen the way it does? Why are people so stupid? Why am I such an idiot? You get the drill. For a debut novel, Revant has managed to bring burning issues under one umbrella and has successfully tackled them in a delightful manner. I’m going to cite some of my favourite examples since listing all of them is not possible:

Since I have been in the process of job hunting and trying to make a career the idea of Personal Branding stuck to me.

There exists a chicken and egg problem today in relation to jobs and experience. You need a job to get experience, and you need experience to get a job. Don’t let lack of experience deter you from pursuing your interest. No one is born with experience. While experience may often be irrelevant and specific to an industry, your personal brand is relevant across all sectors. When your personal brand is of an individual who is honest and gives his or her best, opportunities are sure to open up. Focus on building your #PersonalBrand and experience will follow.

While we’re on the topic of doing something in life, I can’t help but mention the author’s advice on categorising our goals. Career goals, Moral goals, Bucket Lists, Financial Goals etc. Not only does it help us realise what we truly want but also helps in overcoming the identity crisis that is prevalent with the youth of today. By prioritising, we can be more productive and work towards our dreams.

If you aren’t able to fulfil your own dreams, make it your dream to fulfil the dreams of others.

Speaking of serious issues like Feminism, Patriotism, and birth control, the author tries to portray the harsh reality, the pros and cons of our current situation citing examples and showing where we as a nation stand.

It’s commendable how the author was able to merge concepts of economics and the business world with real life situations. All in all, Selfienomics delivers more than it promised and is a smart attempt at creating a world that is educated and accepting of each other’s differences.

Aim for an open discussion–which encourages criticism as well as allows mistakes.

 

Review: My Father is a Hero

My Father is a Hero is a story about a father who goes out of his way for his daughter’s happiness.

Author: Nishant Kaushik

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Format: Paperback

Pages: 198

Rating: 3.8/5

Sometimes you read a book that fills your heart with warmth and a love so strong that its effect lasts a very long time. The simplicity and innocence of a father-daughter bond has been beautifully captured by the author Nishant Kaushik in his novel.

My Father is a Hero is a story about a single father who despite his shortcomings ensures his daughter an easy and fulfilled life. His daughter, Nisha, a 10 year old girl is the apple of his eye and the only source of happiness in Vaibhav’s otherwise dark world. He instils invaluable life lessons in her daughter who excels in all her academic fields and aspires to be a musician someday. They’re happy in their own little world, far away from the harsh realities, finding joy in the littlest of things. But things start to change.  Nisha, who is a cheerful, bubbly 10 year old, suddenly starts getting into a shell. She stops communicating, loses her friends, acts very distant and displays poor academic performance. Not just this, she stops singing, too. So what really happened that transformed her? This behaviour upsets Vaibhav who tries his hardest to get to the root of it. The only concern is to bring back his daughter’s smile which seemed to have been lost. How and what led to the change is described subtly in the book.

The conversations between Vaibhav and Nisha were my favourite part of the story more so because I could relate to them on a deeper level. I think that’s what good books do, they take you along on a journey filled with emotions and leave you wanting for more.

Be it real life or reel life, every parent tries their hardest to give the best to their children. Vaibhav is no different. He goes out of his way to become a superhero in the eyes of his daughter and I must say he fares pretty well. His daughter’s opinion of him matters the most. Aren’t all dads just adorable?

I would have loved to know more about Vaibhav’s past and the circumstances in which he coped. The ending was predictable and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Besides, who doesn’t like a mushy ,happy end to a father-daughter story? All in all, I enjoyed reading My Father is a Hero and would recommend it to anyone who wants to feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside.

 

I received a copy of My Father Is A Hero from Writers Melon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

 

 

 

 

Review: Before I Go To Sleep

Welcome to Christine’s life. She wakes up every morning not knowing where she is or who she is next to.

Author: S.J Watson

Length: 372 pages

Publisher: Penguin India

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Format: Paperback

Rating: 4/5

 

Synopsis:  

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even people you love- all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life

My Review:

Welcome to Christine’s life. She wakes up every morning not knowing where she is or who she is next to. She believes herself to be a 20 year old but she isn’t. She is a 47 year old woman who has no idea of her past or present. The future at this point does not exist for her.

There has a been a lot of hype surrounding this debut novel by S.J Watson and it did live up to the expectations. The story revolves around a woman who suffers from amnesia due to an accident that took place years ago. She wakes up everyday unaware of her identity or the identity of the person she is living with. No matter how hard she tries, her mind is blank. It’s like her life never happened and she’s been reduced into the body of a stranger. The only person she can trust is her husband, Ben. But is Ben really speaking the truth?  As she begins to put together shattered pieces of her memory, she realises her life has been a lie.

Christine is helped by her psychologist Dr.Nash who advises her to maintain a journal where she can write down everything about her life and everything she does in a day. At this point, Christine cannot differentiate between black and white; her perception is distorted. Memories from the past hit her like a ton of bricks but she is unable to decipher whether it is a figment of her imagination or reality. She knows if she sleeps today, she will wake up tomorrow with no memory of what happened the day before. The journal is her only hope. The author takes you into the psyche of a person who remembers nothing. A person who has to start from scratch every single day.

The novel surely is a page turner although it gets a little dragging in the middle.

The writing style is impressive, simple and holds the readers’ attention. I had a lot of assumptions about the climax and had my own theories on how the novel would end. But the ending was unexpected and I didn’t see it coming.

Before I Go To Sleep is fast paced (something most mystery novels lack), it is gripping right from the start and raw. For readers who love psychological thrillers, this one is right up your alley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing Internship with Ambuja Neotia Group

What I gained while interning at the biggest Real Estate giants of Bengal.

I was about to complete my post-graduation in Mass Communication and Public Relations from St.Xavier’s college when I heard about The Telegraph You Internship Programme, 2016. By now the anxiety and dread of applying for internships and jobs had caught up with me and I was looking for opportunities that would help me kick start my career. Also, I had previously applied for The Telegraph You Internship Programme, 2015, but as luck would have it, I wasn’t selected. Determined to get through this time, I took extra-steps to ensure my answers stood out while filling the online application form. Although the chances of getting selected were not very high, I didn’t have much to lose. The final list of the selected candidates would be put up on the Telegraph YOU page. During this time, I started interning at another company although my mind kept reverting to the Telegraph Internship Programme.

Fast forward to June, I see my name on the list of selected candidates who were to appear for GD and then PI. I was ecstatic, to be extremely honest. But the anxiety didn’t end there. I still had a long way to go. I received a call informing me of the venue for GD and PI and the relevant documents that I had to carry.

I started early for my big day (If i can call it so), but since the universe likes playing with my emotions, the taxi driver took a detour and I reached late. I didn’t think it would matter much but boy oh boy was I wrong. On reaching Conclave Hotel, I saw everyone already seated , the names of the groups for GD  were announced, the process about to begin. Saying I panicked would be an understatement. “Is this the time to reach?” was the reply I got when I inquired about the group I was placed in.  I deserved it.

Pro tip: Never ever reach late for interviews. Punctuality is the key.

While we were seated, I looked around to find most students frantically searching for topics and reading the latest news to prepare themselves for GD. I panicked, again. I was not prepared for this; looking back it makes me laugh but at that point of time, it felt like a matter of life and death. As predicted, I took out my phone and did the same. Slowly, the groups were called and the process began.

The topic for GD revolved around freedom of speech (the infamous snapchat story of Tanmay Bhatt) which further transitioned into a parliamentary debate. It was interesting to see how we as students were ready to do anything to get our points across. Shouting and screaming was the order of the day. We had to stand out, you see, even if that meant going against the whole notion of “let’s agree to disagree”. The panelists were patient throughout with occasional nods wondering which part of the world we had come from. The group discussion ended with all the parties in complete disregard to the opinion of others. I was satisfied.

Pro tip: During group discussions instead of talking down others try to come up with rebuttals. You’ll earn brownie points. 

Since there were 10 groups consisting of 10 members each, I still had a lot of time to pass before the names of the candidates for PI was to be announced. I took the time to get to know other candidates. It was interesting to note that there were people from multifarious academic backgrounds. Science, Humanities, Commerce, you name it. Learning about their subjects, their ambitions, their interest in the internship broadened my horizon. Telegraph had managed to bring people from different academic interests under one umbrella.

It was finally time . The list of candidates for PI was announced. I got through. The personal interview was intimidating, a lot of questions were asked, the interviewers didn’t seem remotely impressed by my answers. After the interview, I was very sure I would not be selected. My interview lasted for less than 5 minutes.

To cut the story short, after a lot of waiting, the final list of 20 selected candidates was put up on the Telegraph YOU Facebook page. I WAS SELECTED FOR THE INTERNSHIP PROGRAMME. I danced a mini dance and celebrated in the most cliched way. At this point, I still didn’t know where I would be interning since Telegraph YOU had partnered with 5 other companies; The Telegraph, Ambuja Neotia, CESC Limited, 91.9 Friends FM & J.Walter Thompson. I got an email stating that I would be interning at Ambuja Neotia Group but before that I would have to go for another interview round conducted by Ambuja Neotia. I was in a daze. I had my fair share of interviews already and being grilled by the biggest real estate giants of Kolkata wasn’t very appealing. The date for the interview was set and I was nervous. Firstly, I come from an arts background. Secondly, I got selected for a marketing Internship. Thirdly, I didn’t know anything about Real Estate. I still decided to give it a shot. I had come so far and going back wasn’t really an option.

Pro tip: Grab any opportunity where there is scope for knowledge. You’ll learn as you go forward. 

I reached EcoSpace on time (learning from previous disasters, ha!). Other candidates who were to be my co-interns had reached before me. One by one, the interviews began. I was interviewed by the Marketing head of Ambuja Neotia group; A man with high competence, dexterity and passion for his work. The questions he asked were relevant to the present scenario of Bengal, the pros and cons of living in the city, what I thought about job opportunities for the youth of bengal  and the changes I could bring in the city, if given a chance. I answered with utmost sincerity and honesty. He seemed unimpressed and I wasn’t even surprised. Once again, my interview lasted for less than 5 minutes.

The following evening, I received a call by the Brand Manager of Telegraph, stating that my interview went well and I would be interning at Ambuja Neotia from 11th July. I sighed a sigh of relief. I was still apprehensive about the internship.

11th july, 2016: My office is located in EcoSpace which is in New Town and is the smart city of  Bengal. It is a beautiful place with multiple facilities, vast expanse of greenery and several eating joints. EcoSpace has also been built by Ambuja Neotia Group. On stepping foot in ecospace, I knew it would be a lifetime experience.

Since we were complete noobs when it came to Real Estate, our first few days were spent understanding the concepts of Real Estate. The other co-interns were also from different backgrounds. One of them had studied engineering from Heritage Institute of Technology, one was in the third year of college pursuing Economics from Scottish Church and the third was from St.Xaviers studying B.com. The marketing managers at Ambuja were always very helpful and who were our mentors throughout the internship. We were taught about the basics of RE , the market trends, how to compare the prices of different housing projects, our competitors & how to talk to realtors of established companies. Our main job was to research on the upcoming as well existing housing projects in New Town & Rajarhat along with E.M Bypass. Since there were 4 of us, we were divided into two teams. My co-intern and I were to cover the entire Rajarhat & New Town area, talk to the marketing managers of the housing projects, compare the prices and make a presentation. The job required us to visit the housing projects. It was a daunting task since there were around 15-20 projects in Rajarhat alone and we had to cover almost all of them.

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doesn’t matter if you did not understand a concept.

Days went by quickly, each of us busy working and preparing presentations. After two weeks had passed and we had learnt a little about RE, the marketing manager then proceeded to teach us how to deal with Developers. We were given the contact information of a number of consultants. Our task was to interview them and collect as much information as possible. I realised, at this point, that all of the interns were working out of their comfort zones and were putting in their best. None of us had any idea about Real Estate but we were ready to learn. We got the chance to visit the construction site of, “Uttalika”, the upcoming luxury housing project by Ambuja Neotia. The experience was surreal as we saw the working of a real estate housing project.

One particular working day, one of the marketing managers spent a considerable amount of time talking to us about his experiences and his journey. The entire evening was spent talking about the struggles of life, about the little things that matter the most and how determination and love for what you do is rewarding. We were grateful for him to take out time from his otherwise busy schedule to teach us valuable life lessons. These lessons are engraved in our minds.

Pro Tip: Stay humble, no matter where you are or what you do. 

We had to redo our presentations more than 7 -8 times because the marketing manager was not happy with the result. The final presentation was to be seen by the boss- The Marketing Head , hence, we were striving for perfection. By the end of the month , our final presentations, were to be reviewed by the entire marketing team. It was nerve-wracking as we had to explain our workings and cite examples of how we reached a particular conclusion in front of corporate professionals, highly competent, in their fields. On the final day, we gave our presentations and to our surprise the mangers were quite impressed. By now, we had picked up on the market trends and were able to address the questions asked by the Marketing head. After all, we spent an entire month brainstorming. We were happy. Our hard work had paid off.

A month flew by in a jiffy. We packed our bags, thanked our mentors, received the internship certificates and were ready to leave. It felt good. The kind of good that is sure to stay with you, something that you’re going to keep referring to, a journey you did not  anticipate but one that has changed you.