Category Archives: Thoughts

Reading in 2012

I set a target of 50 books to read this year. I started the year with a fantastic book by Terry Pratchett, “Carpe Jugulum”, and things picked up pace all through Jan. But I read only 1 book in Feb, so it seemed as if my target was ambitious. Given that Feb flew by in a blur, what with our relocation, and sundry administrative issues, the fact that the one book was GRRM’s Game of Thrones, I wasn’t too worried. However, as the year went on, the reading picked up pace. And I finally closed the year with 86 books read (and another 180 unread on bookshelves – real & digital. But let’s not discuss that.)

The best books I read this year were:

Salman Rushdie – Luka and the Fire of Life
George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin – A Clash of Kings
JRR Tolkein – The Hobbit
Nilanjana Roy – The Wildings

Tom Holt – The Better Mousetrap
Tom Holt – Barking
David Thorne – The Internet Is a Playground
Nora Ephron – I Remember Nothing

YA Fiction
Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games

Jo Nesbo – Headhunters

Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg – The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (Volume 1)
Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples – Saga, Vol. I
Art Spiegelman – The Complete Maus

Gulzar – Selected Poems
Jawed Akhtar – Laava
Faiz Ahmed Faiz – Pratinidhi Kavitayein

Veena Venugopal – Would you like some bread with that book?
Mark Haddon, et al – Stop What You’re Doing And Read This

Lynda Gratton – The Shift: The future of work is already here

Life & Philosophy
Cheryl Strayed – Tiny Beautiful Things
Clayton M. Christensen – How Will You Measure Your Life

Joshua Foer – Moonwalking with Einstein
Simon Singh – The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking

Don Rickles et al – The Playboy Interview: Funny People
Rukun Advani – Written For Ever: The Best of Civil Lines


The complete list of books, in the order of reading is:

1. Terry Pratchett – Carpe Jugulum – Pratchett leads you down quite a few blind alleys, on a hilarious horror story with witches, to an extremely satisying ending with a twist.
2. Vendela Vida – The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers – Interesting interviews, although some of them were mutual admiration society stuff. Still, a worthwhile peek into the writers’minds.
3. Jeremy Hope – Reinventing the CFO – A war-cry to the CFO’s to change: the world has changes, and the stresses are many; the only CFOs worth looking at/for, are those who know how to lead this. Hope tells them how!
4. Paul Hoffman – The Left Hand of God – Hoffman built an interesting, gripping premise for 300 pages, and then lost it not knowing what to do with it! Disappointing!
5. Salman Rushdie – Luka and the Fire of Life – Rushdie tells a children’s tale; only it’s too powerful to be read only by kids! Proves why he is one of the best writers around.
6. George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones – This book proved well deserving of the hype…as well as being as good as the tv series based on it! Martin spins a complex web of stories, which will captivate, enthrall & fascinate readers of all hues & age groups!
7. George R.R. Martin – A Clash of Kings – Martin continues the saga with a worthy sequel to “A Game of Thrones”. Although I need a break from this epic thriller now, I can’t seem to let go of the Starks & the Lanisters!
8. Cyrus Broacha – The Average Indian Male – Cyrus tries to be funny. In fact, he tries too hard. And fails consistently. Add to that, the numerous spelling & grammatical errors that plague this book, and you’ll be well advised to avoid this altogether!
9. Josh Horowitz – The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker – Only for movie buffs; the interviews give an insight into the minds of the folks selected, but most of them are people you’ve never heard of, and so are left wondering about their inclusion.
10. Louis L’Amour – Dutchman’s Flat – Nice stories to while away the time, daydreaming of a place long ago, the Wild American West.
11. Eugene O’kelly – Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life – O’kelly writes movingly of meeting the final days head-on; with joy & building on the relationships.
12. Louis L’Amour – Kiowa Trail – Westerns in first-person are never as much fun as those in third-person; strictly for L’amour fans
13. Gerald M. Weinberg – The Secrets of Consulting: A Guide to Giving and Getting Advice Successfully – Invaluable resource book for all consultants, and their clients! The book’s funny, irreverent tone only masks some really good & true & serious advice.
14. Marshall Goldsmith – Mojo: How to get it, How to keep it, How to get it back, If you lose it – Goldsmith is the world’s leading executive coach, and the book demonstrates why. It’s witty, insightful, and filled with really good advice on how to become more effective professionally. However, he fails when he asks you to compromise your values in order to succeed professionally.
15. Jennifer Egan – A Visit From The Goon Squad – No more classical literature for me. Ever. Thoroughly disappointed by the fact that critics seem to love only the books which somehow are a showcase for the writer’s wordsmithy, rather than for actual story-telling. Nothing moves in this book for damn near 200 pages!
16. Neil Gaiman – The Sandman: Book of Dreams – Really good stories with many layers, and awesome one-liners!
17. Louis L’Amour – The Daybreakers – Part of the immortal western series, “The Sacketts”, this is a slow, thoughtful examination of human frailties & motivations, set in the context of the Wild West.
18. Richard N. Bolles – What Color Is Your Parachute?: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers – This is the definitive how-to manual on finding a job. But it left me a bit disappointed, since there was nothing really new here!
19. Ronald Cohen – The Second Bounce of the Ball: Turning Risk into Opportunity – Good guide to making use of your inner uncertainties, and overcoming them, in order to succeed as an entrepreneur. Could have done without the repetitive examples of how Cohen made it happen!
20. Michael Robotham – The Wreckage – About a 100 pages too long, but a delightful thriller nonetheless.
21. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap I: Magyk – Why does all YA fiction have to travel the same roads as Rowling/Pratchett, I’ll never know…but it’s getting repetitive, and quite boring folks!
22. Veena Venugopal – Would you like some bread with that book? – The best book I’ve read this year! A journey into a reader’s heart…lots of laughs!
23. Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg – The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes (Volume 1) – The reputation of this book, as one of the foremost comics of all time, is rightly deserved!
24. Lynda Gratton – The Shift: The future of work is already here – Gratton examines the changes in the world, and how they impact work & workplaces. A sociological masterpiece!
25. Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely – All-Star Superman, Volume 2 – Not really all that great
26. Jon Stock – Games Traitors Play – Jon Stock writes a spy thriller, reminiscent of Jason Bourne, but rather darker. I do wish he’d found a better way to end this one though.
27. Oliver Sacks – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat – Some interesting cases, of rare neurological disorders, which give us an insight into what makes us whole, what makes us human!
28. David Stone – The Orpheus Deception – Stone writes a worthy sequel to Echelon Vendetta, which I read 2 years ago.
29. Swapan Seth – This is All I have to Say – Short, quick reads; musings on everyday life, from success & failure, to marriage, love & parenting! The chapter on failure was great!
30. Mark Haddon, et al – Stop What You’re Doing And Read This – A collection of 10 essays about reading, and books, and the thoughts & dreams of readers. Absolutely delightful. Goes to the top shelf!
31. Tom Holt – The Better Mousetrap – Possibly the best fiction I have read this year, or in the last 2 years! Holt at his personal best. An engaging, hilarious mix of magic, management and humor.
32. Vilayanur Ramachandran – The Emerging Mind – Ramachandran’s BBC The Reith Lectures compiled in one small volume. Essential for anyone who wants to understand neuroscience.
33. George R.R. Martin – A Storm of Swords – The third book in the series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
34. Stephen King – Full Dark, No Stars – Chilling stories of humans who go over to the dark side, which is in all of us!
35. Gulzar – Selected Poems – Some really nice poems, with stunning translations by Pawan Verma
36. Raghuvir Sahay – Log Bhool Gaye Hain – These are highly acclaimed poems, by a much-celebrated poet. But they didn’t work for me!
37. Jo Nesbo – Headhunters – Absolutely brilliant! Nesbo writes lyrically, magically, about crime, and the baser elements inside his protagonists! Some amazing lines too!!
38. Nora Ephron – I Remember Nothing – Ephron is always a delight to read; she finds the absurdity in everyday affairs & displays it for all of us, with sympathy, wit & humor.
39. Jawed Akhtar – Laava – This is a stunning collection, of really fabulous, heart-moving ghazals & nazms!
40. Jeffrey Archer – False Impressions – Archer is a master of racy thrillers, which make you believe at times that they could have actually happened, some small plot-holes & unnecessary descriptions notwithstanding!
41. Cheryl Strayed – Tiny Beautiful Things – Luminiscent is the only way to describe these essays; they provoke really strong emotions, at times tears…absolutely amazing advice columns on life & love!
42. Michael Pollan – The Omnivore’s Dilemma – It’s an important book, tracing the journey of the food we eat…but for some reason important books are usually really badly written. Boring as hell; abandoned mid-way!
43. Clayton M. Christensen – How Will You Measure Your Life – Christensen’s classic HBR article turned into a book, still manages to retain the vibrancy & relevance. A must-read for everyone, not just young college graduates!
44. Terry Pratchett – Thud! – Pratchett is the only writer who, rather consistently, manages to hold my attention throughout the book, with his wit & humour, masking the fairly important points he wants to make.
45. P.D. James – Talking About Detective Fiction – I usually avoid reading criticisms, but James brings a keen eye to her first love, Detective Fiction, and introduces us lovingly to her favourite contemporaries & predecessors.
46. Louis L’Amour – Lonely on the Mountain – L’Amour is a master at the craft of storytelling, but this one didn’t work for me. Too many changes in tone & voice, and too many long-drawn descriptions of stuff not happening.
47. Ramesh Menon – Siva: The Siva Purana Retold – Menon’s translation skills are seriously good; but the stories are by-now too stale & repetitive for me. Hindu mythology is like a longer, and boring, version of Game of Thrones.
48. Kouzes Posner – Credibility: How Leaders Gain And Lose It, Why People Demand It – Kouzes & Posner make a compelling case for credibility, as the primary quality a leader needs to strive for.
49. Tom Holt – Barking – Anyone who wonders why Tom Holt is my favorite writer, needs to read this book. Holt brings law, lawyers, and other horrifying creatures to life in this rollicking read.
50. Nilanjana Roy – The Wildings – Nilanjana’s debut breaks new grounds, from the story to the characters. This is a genre-defying, absolute must-read. Can’t wait for the sequel.
51. Faiz Ahmed Faiz – Pratinidhi Kavitayein – There is no modern urdu shayar who even remotely compares to Faiz. It’s difficult to say whether these are revolutionary love poems, or romantic revolutionary poems.
52. Saul Smilansky – 10 Moral Paradoxes – This was on my to-read list for a long time. But to say that I was disappointed would be understating it a fair bit.
53. Sam Harris – Lying (Kindle Single) – Harris makes a compelling moral case against lying, except in the most extreme situations.
54. Parween Shakir – Pratinidhi Kavitayein – Shakir is a new voice, a refreshing change from the recent crop of the shayars. But this is not a very encouraging selection.
55. Rukun Advani – Written For Ever: The Best of Civil Lines – These are brilliant essays. Made me want to pick up each issue of Civil Lines & devour it.
56. Jo Nesbo – The Leopard – Nesbo is a master. This is a great thriller, although it brought me to my pet peeve of complaining about the length of novels nowadays!
57. Nazir Banarasi – Nazir Banarasi ki Shayari – Some of the sher’s were passably good, but Nazeer is just not in the same league as Faiz, Akhtar, Gulzar or even Raahat Indori.
58. Odayan – Level10 Comics – Indian comics have certainly come of age; the story arc & the art in both these comics was stunningly good!
59. Daksh – Level10 Comics – Indian comics have certainly come of age; the story arc & the art in both these comics was stunningly good!
60. Terry Pratchett – Equal Rites – Pratchett takes on the touchy, sensitive issue of misogyny & gender with his trademark light touch, lacced with humour, wit & sharp satire! Really, really good!
61. Terry Pratchett – Mort – This was a re-reading; and it was worth it!
62. Art Spiegelman – The Complete Maus – Spiegelman manages to weave in the complex Holocaust history with his troubled relationship with his father, in a moving, harrowing comic, which will stay with you a while after it’s over.
63. Daniel Coyle – The Little Book of Talent – Coyle talks about 52 tips & tricks to improve performance; a brief summary of all factors. Very very good!
64. Ben Coes – Power Down – The first half of the book was reminiscent of Ludlum, but Coes couldn’t keep the pace up. Not to mention the racist black & white world he drew.
65. Joshua Foer – Moonwalking with Einstein – Foer’s engaging & inspiring account of going from covering Memory competitions to winning one, with a year’s preparation is filled with unexpected nuggets of wisdom & insight. Great!
66. Jonah Lehrer – The Decisive Moment – Lehrer sheds light on the deepest mystery of all – how our brains make up their mind!
67. Suzanne Collins – The Hunger Games – This was the best YA fiction I read in a long time; slow on romance, deep on action. Collins doesn’t treat her reader as kids to be talked down to.
68. Sidin Vadukut – Who Let The Dork Out – A fitting conclusion to the Dork Chronicles. Robin Einstein Verghese grows up, and wins the day by wits & luck! Hilarious
69. David A.J. Axson – The Management Mythbuster – Axson is everybody’s favourite old uncle: wise, world-weary, cantankerous, doesn’t tolerate fools gladly, yet lovable! Must-read for all who are weary of management bullshit!
70. John Grisham – The Racketeer – Grisham returns to form, after a few years of meandering in wasteland. Really good!
71. Ben Coes – Coup D’Etat – Factual errors & a meandering story made this a disappointing read. One wonders why thriller writers don’t use wikipedia, at the very least! I couldn’t finish it – a first after a long long time!
72. Anant Pai – Mahabharata I – The Kuru Princes – There are a few typos, and one wishes some of the language was a little less flowery. But on the whole, this series is as satisfying a read as it was when I read it as a kid!
73. Anant Pai – Mahabharata II – The Pandavas in Exile – The language in this part of the Trilogy is really awful: cliched, ornate & meaningless at times. The story continues to rock!
74. Louis L’Amour – Jubal Sackett – This is a winding novel, with nothing much to it, except the thoughts of a lone wanderer. L’Amour tries to write a literary western novel. Didn’t work for me.
75. Simon Singh – The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking – Simon Singh brings to life an arcane topic, but one that is possibly of interest to everyone. This is a really well-written book.
76. David Thorne – The Internet Is a Playground – Thorne is wildly funny; it is not advisable to read anything written by him in public – you’ll laugh so hard, you’ll lose your reputaion!
77. Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith – The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales – These are NOT your everyday Fairy Tales; these are Fairly Stupid Tales…in fact, some of these are Incredibly Stupid Tales. Delightful!
78. Jon Scieszka, A. Wolf & Lane Smith – The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs – Scieszka is a true master – it’s a tribute to his genius that he can tell an upside down fairy tale, with a twist, without dumbing it down.
79. Jon Klassen – I Want my Hat Back – Really good pictures, and a simple but lovely story!
80. David Thorne – I’ll Go Home Then, It’s Warm and Has Chairs – 2nd book by David Thorne is almost better than the first!
81. Anant Pai – Mahabharata III – On the Battlefield of Kurukshetra – This was significantly better than Part 2 of the trilogy, partly because it avoided (to some extent) the religious imagery
82. JRR Tolkein – The Hobbit – Tolkien’s mastery of the forces that make a great fantasy are evident here; this story could have led to the birth of a 100 LOTRs. Great imagery!
83. Don Rickles et al – The Playboy Interview: Funny People – Do NOT, under any circumstances, read this book in office, hospital, bus/train, or any other place with other humans present. These are really hilarious interviews!
84. Nasreen Munni Kabir – In the Company of a Poet: Gulzar, in Conversation with NM Kabir – Long interviews are a dying form. This is very readable, but most of the stuff here is known facts. What makes this book readable is the character of Gulzar which shines through.
85. Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples – Saga, Vol. I – Stunning imagery, great storytelling: graphic novels come of age!
86. John Kay – Obliquity – Some of our most important goals are achieved indirectly. Kay makes some important points in this regard. However, parts of the book seemed rather contrived

My wishlist is up at Flipkart –

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Books, Life, Thoughts


#flashreads for Free Speech – III

Another reminder that #flashreads will happen on 14th Feb. (You can see the #flashreads invite or read more about it here)

I’m posting one of my all-time favorite poems below.

सबसे ख़तरनाक / पाश

मेहनत की लूट सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती
पुलिस की मार सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती
ग़द्दारी और लोभ की मुट्ठी सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती
बैठे-बिठाए पकड़े जाना बुरा तो है
सहमी-सी चुप में जकड़े जाना बुरा तो है
सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होता
कपट के शोर में सही होते हुए भी दब जाना बुरा तो है
जुगनुओं की लौ में पढ़ना
मुट्ठियां भींचकर बस वक्‍़त निकाल लेना बुरा तो है
सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होता

सबसे ख़तरनाक होता है मुर्दा शांति से भर जाना
तड़प का न होना
सब कुछ सहन कर जाना
घर से निकलना काम पर
और काम से लौटकर घर आना
सबसे ख़तरनाक होता है
हमारे सपनों का मर जाना
सबसे ख़तरनाक वो घड़ी होती है
आपकी कलाई पर चलती हुई भी जो
आपकी नज़र में रुकी होती है

सबसे ख़तरनाक वो आंख होती है
जिसकी नज़र दुनिया को मोहब्‍बत से चूमना भूल जाती है
और जो एक घटिया दोहराव के क्रम में खो जाती है
सबसे ख़तरनाक वो गीत होता है
जो मरसिए की तरह पढ़ा जाता है
आतंकित लोगों के दरवाज़ों पर
गुंडों की तरह अकड़ता है
सबसे ख़तरनाक वो चांद होता है
जो हर हत्‍याकांड के बाद
वीरान हुए आंगन में चढ़ता है
लेकिन आपकी आंखों में
मिर्चों की तरह नहीं पड़ता

सबसे ख़तरनाक वो दिशा होती है
जिसमें आत्‍मा का सूरज डूब जाए
और जिसकी मुर्दा धूप का कोई टुकड़ा
आपके जिस्‍म के पूरब में चुभ जाए

मेहनत की लूट सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती
पुलिस की मार सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती
ग़द्दारी और लोभ की मुट्ठी सबसे ख़तरनाक नहीं होती ।

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Posted by on February 12, 2012 in Books, Life, Quotes, Thoughts


#flashreads for Free Speech

From the #flashreads invite:

#flashreads is a simple way of registering your protest against the rising intolerance that has spread across India in the last few decades. At any time on February 14th—we suggest 3 pm, but pick a time of your convenience—go out with a friend or a group of friends and do a quick reading. Mail me for selected readings, or feel free to pick your favourite passage on free speech, or from the works of any writer who has faced sedition charges, a book ban or other forms of censorship.

Feel free to create your own way of protesting.

THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression

WHY FEBRUARY 14TH? For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.”

February 14th or Valentine’s Day has also become a flashpoint in India, a day when protests against “Western culture” by the Shiv Sena have become an annual feature. In Chandigarh, 51 Sena activists were arrested by the police after V-day protests turned violent in 2011.
Our hope is to take back the day, and observe it as a day dedicated to the free flow of ideas, speech and expression.

Places where you might do public readings: subway and Metro stations, public parks, coffee shops, open areas in malls. If you’re talking about Flashreads on Twitter, please use the #flashreads hashtag.

If you have a blog, a tumblr or a website, an easy way to join in is to post Tagore’s poem, “Where the mind is without fear” on your site for a day, or choose any excerpt (posted below).

I totally agree! And so I’m posting Tagore’s poem below:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth…
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Kudos to Nila-di for organising this. Do join in!

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Life, Links, Thoughts


The Question of Focus

Almost everyone I know struggles with the problem of having too much to do, and not enough time to do it. Yet, most people (including me) waste time on stuff which actively distracts them from the task at hand. For me, the key learning a a freelancer has been to focus on the tasks in front of me, rather than on the many other things that are “interesting”. Nothing focusses your attention better than knowing that every second you waste is billable time.

Among the reasons we let our attention be diverted from the tasks at hand are:

1. Fear of the tasks: At times, we don’t know how to do the stuff we are supposed to do. At times, the next step isn’t that clear. And so, rather than attack the problem differently, we read magazines, track down pictures of cats laughing, refresh the email inbox yet again, click through on the Facebook comments of our 950 “friends”…in short, anything but the task at hand.

2. Misplaced Belief in our own skills: Studies show that 90% of drivers believe they are better than the average! It is true of almost all of us, that we tend to over-estimate our abilities at getting things done. Consequently, we underestimate the time, effort, and resources required to accomplish the tasks at hand. And so, we let things slide…

3. Lack of hobbies/passions: i.e. what I call as “good time-wasters”. Ask around you, and 9 out of 10 people don’t seem to have any hobbies worth mentioning. Which is the reason (probably) repetitive regressive soap-operas & orchestrated “reality shows” manage to garner such large audiences. Most people would rather click through 90 channels again & again (and yes, yet again!) for 3 hours in the vain hope of finding something worth watching, than switch off the flickering screen, and read a book, write that thesis, play a game of chess with their kids, or go for a walk on sunny winter afternoons (I speak from personal experience!) Ask a young MBA to describe his average day, and it will be “wake up, breakfast (sometimes), drive to office, meetings in office, drive back, dinner, tv, sleep”. Ask about their weekends, and they’ll say “laze in the morning, brunch, shopping, movies, party, weekend over”.

4. Importance of “busy-ness” over “business”: Most bosses will profess that they don’t care what their people do with their time, as long as work gets done. However, most bosses (& colleagues) will look at a guy leaving at 5.30 as “too free”. So, people take long tea breaks, smoking breaks (even non-smokers), lunch breaks. They spend hours in front of gmail in office. And attend (or worse, organize) long afternoon meetings. Anything to allow them to spend long hours in office, and ensure that when the boss peeps in, they are seen as busy!

5. Mistaken priorities: As humans, we behave like Pavlovian dogs all too often. The chime of a new email arriving in our inbox is usually enough to get us away from the spreadsheet we are working on. Is it any wonder then, that we prioritize the “urgent” over the “important”? The situation is usually worsened by the fact that the “important”, long-term projects are usually complex, while the urgent stuff is simple. It is made more acute by the fact that if you prioritize the important, you can go home at 6pm a few months from now. While those focusing on the urgent will be burning the midnight oil, and earning the praise of the boss as “hard-working” folks!

In the passing, 2 links for the day, talking about Focus & related issues:

Peter Bregman writes:

The world is moving fast and it’s only getting faster. So much technology. So much information. So much to understand, to think about, to react to…So we try to speed up to match the pace of the action around us. We stay up until 3 am trying to answer all our emails. We twitter, we facebook, and we link-in. We scan news websites wanting to make sure we stay up to date on the latest updates. And we salivate each time we hear the beep or vibration of a new text message.
But that’s a mistake. The speed with which information hurtles towards us is unavoidable (and it’s getting worse). But trying to catch it all is counterproductive. The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate. Otherwise we’ll get tossed around like so many particles of sand, scattered to oblivion. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.
Never before has it been so important to say “No.” No, I’m not going to read that article. No, I’m not going to read that email. No, I’m not going to take that phone call. No, I’m not going to sit through that meeting.
It’s hard to do because maybe, just maybe, that next piece of information will be the key to our success. But our success actually hinges on the opposite: on our willingness to risk missing some information. Because trying to focus on it all is a risk in itself. We’ll exhaust ourselves. We’ll get confused, nervous, and irritable.

I was nodding so hard as I read this, my kids could have mistaken me for their favorite Enid Blyton character! If you want to read only one blogger regularly in your life, Peter Bregman is it!

And then, Dorie Clark popped up with the 5 things you should stop doing:

Every productivity expert in the world will tell you to check email at periodic intervals — say, every 90 minutes — rather than clicking “refresh” like a Pavlovian mutt. Of course, almost no one listens, because studies have shown email’s “variable interval reinforcement schedule” is basically a slot machine for your brain. But spending a month away — and only checking email weekly — showed me how little really requires immediate response. In fact, nothing. A 90 minute wait won’t kill anyone, and will allow you to accomplish something substantive during your workday.

Her post is full of other advice goodness for all self-employed folks, and deserves a fuller reading!

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Posted by on December 18, 2011 in Biz/Tech, Links, Thoughts


New Blog

I know…i know! I don’t blog much here anyway. So why the new blog? Well, this one is a micro-blog. As I said in my intro to it, I will use it to post short reviews of books that I have read (starting Jan’10 onwards).

If you’re interested, do check it out at

If not, the money you paid will be gladly refunded 🙂

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Posted by on August 1, 2010 in Links, Thoughts


Indiaplaza shopping

I have just noticed this. Whenever I order from a book from Indiaplaza, whose price is more than 20% below that on flipkart (or more than 30-35% discount to retail bookstores), they make me wait weeks before telling me that the book is not available.

I have asked some of my friends, and they say the same thing. While this is a subjective deduction based on a small sample size, it holds for me since I don’t have the time or energy to keep doing this.

Bad customer service Indiaplaza. I am never buying from you again. Ever.

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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Books, Thoughts



Delhi HC and Sec 377

So, someone has seen sense in this great nation of ours! Read the entire judgement here.

The judgement is beautifully written. I’ll quote the parts that I think have far-reaching implications here:

Pg 26:
Dignity as observed by L’Heureux-Dube, J is a difficult concept to capture in precise terms [Egan v. Canada,
(1995) 29 CRR (2nd) 79 at 106]. At its least, it is clear that the constitutional protection of dignity requires us to acknowledge the value and worth of all individuals as members of our society. It recognises a person as a free being who develops his or her body and mind as he or she sees fit. At the root of the dignity is the autonomy of the private will and a person’s freedom of choice and of action. Human dignity rests on recognition of the physical and spiritual integrity of the human being, his or her humanity, and his value as a person, irrespective of the utility he can provide to others. The expression “dignity of the individual” finds specific mention in the Preamble to the Constitution of India.

Pg 61:
enforcement of public morality does not amount to a “compelling state interest” to justify invasion of the zone of privacy of adult homosexuals engaged in consensual sex in private without intending to cause harm to each other or others.

Pg 62:
Further, Justice O’Connor while concurring in the majority judgment added that:
“Indeed, we have never held that moral disapproval, without any other asserted state interest, is a sufficient rationale under the Equal Protection Clause to justify a law that discriminates among groups of persons.”[page 582]

Pg 64:
Thus popular morality or public disapproval of certain acts is not a valid justification for restriction of the fundamental rights under Article 21. Popular morality, as distinct from a constitutional morality derived from constitutional values, is based on shifting and subjecting notions of right and wrong. If there is any type of “morality” that can pass the test of compelling state interest, it must be “constitutional” morality and not public morality.

Pg 86:
At the outset, the Court observed that the Act in question is a preconstitutional legislation and although it is saved in terms of Article 372 of the Constitution, challenge to its validity on the touchstone of Articles 14, 15 and 19 of the Constitution of India, is permissible in law. There is thus no presumption of constitutionality of a colonial legislation. Therefore, though the statute could have been held to be a valid piece of legislation keeping in view the societal condition of those times, but with the changes occurring therein both in the domestic as also international arena, such a law can also be declared invalid.

Pg 96:
Respect for human rights requires that certain basic rights of individuals should not be capable in any circumstances of being overridden by the majority, even if they think that the public interest so requires. Other rights should be capable of being overridden only in very restricted circumstances. These are rights which belong to individuals simply by virtue of their humanity, independently of any utilitarian calculation.

Pg 100:
The role of the judiciary is to protect the fundamental rights. A modern democracy while based on the principle of majority rule implicitly recognizes the need to protect the fundamental rights of those who may dissent or deviate from the majoritarian view. It is the job of the judiciary to balance the principles ensuring that the government on the basis of number does not override fundamental rights.

Pg 104:
If there is one constitutional tenet that can be said to be underlying theme of the Indian Constitution, it is that of ‘inclusiveness’. This Court believes that Indian Constitution reflects this value deeply ingrained in Indian society, nurtured over several generations. The inclusiveness that Indian society traditionally displayed, literally in every aspect of life, is manifest in recognising a role in society for everyone. Those perceived by the majority as “deviants’ or ‘different’ are not on that score excluded or ostracised.

Read the whole thing. It’s fabulous. And mark my words, this is a landmark judgement!

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Posted by on July 2, 2009 in Life, Quotes, Thoughts

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