One Minute Super Dad by Dr Prashant Jindal

Blurb: Being a good father is an art as well as a science. New dads need some handy tools to connect with their kids at the deepest level and inspire them to develop great habits, mindset and beliefs. But raising children in today’s fast-paced world is more challenging than ever. One-Minute Super Dad gives you – the new dad – simple techniques that can be put into action in just a minute a day. Repeated consistently, they will help you forge a strong bond with your kids that will hold them in good stead for a lifetime. Featuring a Foreword by Raymond Aaron, author of Chicken Soup for the Parent’s Soul, this book is an outcome of five years of passionate work, research, interviews and real-life experiences. Inspire your kids to a whole new level – lack of time no longer being a factor – and raise amazing children!

About the author: Dr Prashant Jindal is a refractive eye surgeon who has successfully operated upon numerous peak performance athletes, Olympic medalists, celebrities and people from all walks of life. He has appeared on numerous talk shows and has been widely interviewed on ophthalmology, parenting and health issues.

Review: This book is for anyone who is looking for tips for a positive upbringing of their children in healthy manner. I am not a parent myself but I enjoyed reading this book a lot. This non-fiction book is one of my best reads of this year. A renowned refractive eye surgeon’s new book suggests 99 one-minute methods to raise positive, confident and healthy children. I believe raising kids is a science. A child’s mind is a blank paper. So, it is important to understand this in a deeper way. Information, observations and experiences in the first 12 years of life are recorded in the subconscious mind and form a child’s personality we can influence kids in a positive way through these. These first 12 years of the children are also the father’s most crucial career years. Every child has within him seeds of greatness. All we have to do is to provide the right environment to nurture them. We do not have to reinvent anything. It is a very simple, easy to read, very usable tips that work to the deepest level. This should be read once every few months by the father’s and perhaps by the mothers too. If you too are like many dads, particularly the busy ones, you often wonder if you are doing everything you can to help your child grow up to live to his/her full potential, do not despair. I believe a good father can raise his child to be a stable, healthy, confident individual, composed in all situations, and one who responds rather than reacts to situations. The few essential tips shared by the author in his book are worth a mention- Encouragement is a cornerstone of a child’s development and the art of communication is based on understanding that nothing should be assumed. When returning home, a hug with a one-minute description of how much you missed them all day and how much they mean to you makes up for all the lack of time spent with kids. Don’t rush to check your email or text as soon as you get home. The first five minutes when you enter your house is most crucial and impactful. Don’t forget your spouse too here. Make a list of healthy fruits and vegetables and talk about one every day. Select a ‘vegetable or fruit of the week’ and have a one-minute talk on it for a week. This educates them about diet and nutrition, which is missing in the school curriculum and in the modern age, accounts for up to 40 per cent of health problems in childhood. The catch is to bring in awareness in a fun way. I thoroughly recommend everyone to read this book. In this world where everything is fast paced and parents have limited time this book is definitely of great help in dealing with the kids. Respect and appreciation to the author for attempting to write such an inspiring book.

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Inflection – Career Arcs from Evolving India

Blurb: Real careers are not perfect. Professional success is not absolute. People shape careers and then over time,
careers shape people. Feb 1999. The batch of 1999 steps out from one of India’s leading business schools—Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata—into the real world of careers, not unlike many other professionals before and after.  Eighteen years later—in the middle of their working lives—32 of these professionals pause and take stock. They look back on their careers, on the choices they made, their successes and their failures, their highs and their lows. They reflect on what they assumed when they graduated from B-school and what the world has taught them since.  There are Real Lessons in Their Reflections; There are Common Themes in Their Career Arcs. This is the story of real careers taking shape in the rapidly evolving post-liberalisation India of the last two decades. Of conventional careers and not-so-conventional careers and something in between. Of people who took the corporate path, who became entrepreneurs, who became academics, who went abroad, who became specialists and even those who let their careers go with the flow, unplanned. Step in as they take stock of their journeys.  As relevant for mid-career professionals, to peek over their shoulders at peers, as for those starting their professional careers, curious about the careers choices ahead and the road signs on the way.

About the authors:  Nilesh Shrivastava currently heads the South Asia financial sector investments portfolio at International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank Group. Pushp Deep Gupta is Executive Director at Deloitte Consulting in Leadership Advisory. Both Nilesh and Pushp are graduates of Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, batch of 1999.

Review:  All careers don’t guarantee success; you need to make them happen with right planning. In the year 1999, batches of students pass out from Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata into the actual world to make their career. Fast forward life, 18 years later, 32 candidates from this batch pause and meet. They all rewind their lives, rethinking about the choices, failures, success, highs, and lows, bad and good of themselves. They realise the lessons they learnt, the themes which their career gave them. This is a real story of real careers that took shape in India of the last two quick moved decades. After I quit working in a corporate sector and turned back to self employment, I always thought of reading something on the world I was a part of earlier. When this book was in my hand, I was happy reading it. Not just the subject was interesting but something I could connect with. It is unfortunate that our education system doesn’t prepare us for the outside world which is different than what has been shown to us. Most of the times many of us don’t know where to start and how to start. The book has 32 individual stories which have been written in such an interesting way that gives us a desire to know more about each story. The book addresses the issues which every one of us faces in our careers. I am sure you will get to connect with someone from these 32 mentioned stories of individuals. These stories will guide you to channelize yourself being productive to get desired results and reach your goals. I highly recommend it to everyone as it is highly inspiring and educative, doesn’t matter at which level of your career you are; the book has something for everyone.

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‘Little Maryam’ by Hamid Baig

Blurb: While giving an acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize nomination, Dr. Saadiq Haider, a renowned gene therapist and professor at Stanford University, receives a phone call that changes his life. Abandoning his duties and responsibilities, Saadiq hurriedly boards a flight bound for India, embarking on a journey that spans thousands of miles and pulls him back into a past Saadiq thought long-buried. Seated next to him on the flight, Anne Miller-an intrepid journalist with a nose for headline news-senses the reclusive genius has a story to tell. During the flight, Anne manages to break through Saadiq’s hard exterior and listens, rapt, as he unfurls a tale fraught with love and heartbreak. His story transports Anne back in time to a small, sleepy town nestled in the mountains of northern India, where Saadiq spent his childhood. Through Saadiq’s narrative, Anne meets Maryam and witnesses the friendship between Maryam and Saadiq mature into an intense love; a love that is tested when tragedy strikes and the lovers are separated. Try as they might, their devotion is no match against the workings of fate, and the tighter Saadiq and Maryam cling to one another, the faster they slip apart. Now, after two decades of trying to forget his past with alcohol and drug abuse, Saadiq tells Anne that fate has acted again; Maryam is the hospital, her condition critical. When their plane lands in India, the newfound friends part ways and while Saadiq rushes to Maryam’s side, Anne returns to her life, grateful to have met the enigmatic man. Months later, Anne learns that after wrenching Maryam from the indomitable grip of death, Saadiq took her back to America, where they finally married. But, her assumption that the greatest love story she had ever known would end happily is shattered when Anne receives devastating news

About the author: Hamid runs a successful market research company, providing customer insights to some of biggest names in the industry. He is a voracious reader and has been one for as long as he can remember. He started penning short stories at a very young age, but never thought of writing a full length novel until the idea for Little Maryam popped into his head. He writes as fast as he reads, which is sometimes just a little too fast. Apart from enjoying good books, Hamid is passionate about travel and food. He is sometimes called “the culture connoisseur” by his friends because he loves having long conversations about different cuisines, exotic travel locations, and of course, books. Hamid lives in New Delhi with his wife and two wonderful kids.

Review: Hamid Baig’s – Little Maryam, is an emotional journey. It is about two kids who meet for the first time, move steadily through their childhood fall in love with each other and get separated because of opposed circumstances. The story is about Saadiq Haider and Maryam, the daughter of an army man in Dehradun. Saadiq – son of Haji, is a very admired gardener of the same place. Maryam’s father, likes Saadiq but does not approve of his marriage with her and circumstances sends Saadiq to jail in a murder of Ritesh, local politician Ashish’s son who was Saadiq’s good friend too. There is a point in the book where Anne Miller finds letters written by Saadiq, story goes back into a flashback. The gathering of Maryam and Saadiq is in present – the lovers unite after really long time. The suspense in the last few chapters is definitely to make the reader nervous to know what happened to Saadiq and Maryam. How does this love story end? I am not spilling out any beans; you have to read to know it.

It is just not possible to avoid mentioning few quotes from the book which touched me a lot.

*We, as human beings are the only ones with the power to help or hurt ourselves or others.

 *Not every man with a heart is understanding, not every man with ears is a listener.

 *We can’t fear dictate our lives.

The novel is too emotional making the reader difficult to hold back their tears. Author Hamid has shown his cleverness of holding the reader well. I did not feel this to be a debut novel. The story is also well crafted which makes the book a page turner. I like stories which have romance, love, heartbreak, happiness, laughter, happiness, betrayal, separation and sorrow. I definitely read this book as the blurb grabbed my attention well. The language used is simple and reader-friendly. Readers will not have any problem in understanding the story. It is a passionate love story, but has no sexual content which is usually found in romantic novels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I would surely recommend to those who love reading tragic and emotional love stories.

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Maktub by Paulo Coelho

MAKTUB means ‘It is written…”I think its an excellent title for very short incidents described in this book ,all of them carry deep messages about life.Some incidents or small,very small stories are funny,but when you stop smiling,they carry deeper meanings about life,what an amazing way to write about life when reader smiles every now and then and then a message about life goes deeper in his or her soul.  The book is a collection of thoughts; some of them are author’s own creation, while most of them are collected from the tales and legends from almost every corner of the world. No thought or parable, which ever name is applicable, is more than one page long and none of them are related to each other in any way. While there is no harm in reading the whole book at one go, and it won’t take more than a day to finish it. Still the best way to read this book is to read each thought on its own, giving it proper time to settle down in your mind and make its place permanently.

Every thought has a lesson or moral to teach. Some may surprise you with their sheer simplicity but great worth associated, some make you thoughtful and sad, some may even succeed to bring a smile on your face while some may even make you laugh, at yourself and your way of thinking. But every thought has spirituality as theme at its core. This book has power to make you question yourself with life’s great questions like; which direction my life is moving?, what actually is that I need? Why I am doing this? What really makes me happy? And so on.

There are some thoughts which give you a feeling of dj vu, and if you are author’s reader, you definitely going to have it. The reason is, the content of this book is distributed very beautifully among other books of  author. He has weaved these thoughts with the story of those books so well that they don’t seem to be picked from other source. But the truth is, this book has all those words which you underline and quote in author’s other books, in a one package.

That why I said each thought in this book should not only be read but it should also be thought about with appropriate contemplation. Who knows, one of them may have the power to change your life.

Some of the Pearls :

No matter how well I write still the best way to describe this book is to share some of the thoughts from it. So here they are :

“It’s really impossible to keep yourself from thinking of things that offend GOD. But if you know, how to say no to temptations, they will cause you no harm”

“He who is unable to balance work with relaxation loses his enthusiasm and can’t go far.”

“To follow one’s dream carries a price, but no matter how high the price, it is never so high as to what one pays for not having lived out ones personal destiny and hear our own heart say ”I wasted my life”. Believe me that’s the worst phrase you can ever hear.”

“When GOD imposes a demanding test upon us. He always provides us with a sufficient number of GRACES- probably more than sufficient – to meet the test”

“If we are capable of loving we will also be capable of being loved. Its only a matter of time”

“It’s not a sin to be happy. There is nothing wrong in from time to time breaking certain rules regarding diet, sleep and happiness.”

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In The Skin Of A Jihadist

In The Skin Of A Jihadist is French journalist Anna Erelle’s attempt to explore the world of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis or IS), and the mentality of the people behind the organisation.

The book opens with a declaration of love from a young 20-year-old French girl named Mélodie. The man who is the subject of Mélodie’s affection is Abu Bilel, a 40-something Syrian man who, after seeing Mélodie’s Facebook profile, starts Skyping with her, and within 48 short hours, declares he loves her as well.

And Bilel’s declaration of love comes with an offer of marriage and excitement: as it transpires, he is the right-hand man of the most dangerous militant in the world, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the caliph of IS.

Erelle was trying to discover why French teenagers were being tempted and seduced by Islamic extremists but was not getting the information she needed from the safety of her Parisian office.

Through Mélodie’s Facebook chats and the occasional Skype conversation with Bilel (Erelle decided that she could not pull off being a 20-year-old innocent French girl without wearing the full hijab as a disguise), Erelle offers a very fleeting glimpse of how impressionable teens could be seduced into joining the fight for Islam. While she opened her book with Mélodie’s chats with Bilel, Erelle suddenly had Mélodie stop communicating with Bilel, which leaves readers wondering what else goes on in the recruitment process.

Erelle does not make any mention if she ever knew if Bilel was “courting” other European girls at the same time he was chatting with Mélodie.

Likewise, in the midst of informing readers about her IS investigation, Erelle veers off towards her personal life and self-justification, such as having to explain why she spent a whole night getting drunk with fellow journalists in an international hotel.

It is this need to explain herself that In The Skin Of A Jihadist moves dangerously close to whinge territory.

Her topic is fascinating, but unfortunately, Erelle’s execution of an extremist world and the people within fails to live up to its premise.

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About the Author : Kris Advaya emerged from the void in Yugoslavia in the spring of 1976. After crawling his way through a stint in the military, and already multilingual, he spent five years studying French, Russian, and literature at the University of Ljubljana. Always artistic, he spent most of these years writing songs and abusing an electric guitar while playing with his alternative rock band. Soon afterwards, life took him to India and its enticing ways, and he’s been trying to cure himself of nomadism ever since.

Blurb: When Kris made a trip to India to study Ayurvedic massage, he never thought he would find love, adventure, and heartbreak. Traumatised by the loss of his friend and army abuses, Kris came to India practicing meditation and chastity, but both efforts were turned head over heels when he caught sight of Radha, a sex worker in Pune’s notorious red-light district. Before he knew it, Kris was wrapped up in the world of pimps and crime lords, losing his hold on the life he had been pursuing and all the dreams of stability he had once built in his head. To be with the woman who had stolen his heart away, a life-altering decision awaited. A true story, The Buddha of the Brothel is a poignant look into the world of godmen, spiritual seekers, and the men and women whose lives are ruled by the sex market and its overlords. Advaya’s account, written in refreshingly sparkling prose, is by turns anguished, humorous, hopeful, and bewildered, as he wades through a world he had never expected to encounter. Sure to appeal to readers of Gregory Roberts’s Shantaram with its less than glittering setting, this is a literary memoir that opens readers’ eyes and minds and will not let go easily of their imaginations.

Review:  Initially the blurb and the title of the book did not impress me. My mind really got doomed reading Buddha’s reference with a brothel.  When I started reading it I realised it to be one of my best read non-fiction books. I loved the cover of the book, pink so glossy – it is one of my favourite colours. The plot is about Kris’s journey to find peace where he falls in love with Radha –a sex worker. I never expected the content will be such unforeseen. The kind of love described in this book is very different and matured, definitely not mushy teenage behind the trees sort of. This book is a memoir, a travelogue and a bit of biography, together it has been put so properly that I was happy to have invested my time in such a book which is worthy.  For vary, I found this book did not show India is a poor light as many authors have portrayed it earlier. Kris has used the right way of satire to describe the country which for sure did not hurt my Indian sentiments. This book is no way a fiction, though the writing did have those flavours. Going by the title, there is spirituality which is not sermonizing in nature which you would find as you read the book. The swiftness of the story is very connective to the reader. I did not find the pages rushing or very slow, but in the right speed the content has been handled. The author’s very simple language has made this book beautiful. I found fun, romance and sorrow. I appreciate the author’s spirit for not shying away from disclosing the most special experiences with truthfulness. His descriptions of cities of Pune and Bombay were remarkable. I found few things to be monotonous during the centre chapters and some content made me uninterested with his incessant usual of his recurrent visits to the brothel for Radha, which I feel lacked the essence to grasp the reader to the book.  Kris has controlled the other characters of the book in great element. His aptitude for examination and the metaphors made it for an intriguing read. I wish Kris good luck for his coming projects and really be pleased about that he is definitely one of the writers of our time who has managed to open up and write about his intimate experiences to the world. For me, Kris is one of the bravest authors I have come across as a reader. I am definitely recommending this book to my friends.

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