Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : The One Minute Manager

Picked up Ken Blanchard's "The One Minute Manager" to gift to a colleague and then felt obliged to read it.

I thought it would be just another one of the clich├ęd management-magic books, but was pleasantly surprised to see that the 3 basic concepts of OMM are as relevant today as they were in 1981. Not surprisingly, given the fact that these are rooted in basic human psychology, medicine and behavioural sciences.

Sharp Goal Setting along with Instantaneous Genuine Feedback both in the form of Reprimand and Praise is the core of the book, and I feel could help a lot of the young rising stars of the Corporate World, who keep oscillating between task and people focus.

.... And that brings 2013 to a close. A delightful year with a variety of books read. 57 books in a year really makes me feel great and I hope I can do even better next year. Here's a roundup of my favourite books of the year : My Top 10 Reads of 2013

If my reading pile is something to go by, I am sure to rock 2014. Here's wishing all of you a great book filled 2014.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Brajesh's Review : Madhushaala

I re-read Harivansh Rai Bacchan's Madhushala, at a cafe in Ahmedabad called "SandwichworkZ". The Kheema and Ajwain Paratha were to die for and the afternoons experience, will remain etched in my mind forever, given that this gave me an opportunity to re-read the unique and complete 135 Rubaiyee version of Madhushala (with extra material thrown in).

I am attempting to write this review in Hindi and you can view it as the next picture. I have no confidence in my ability to type in Hindi at this stage, not that confidence to write in Hindi is very high, but I am giving it a try.

Rating : 5 / 5

Kim's Review : Monsoon Diary - A Memoir with Recipes

"Monsoon Diary - A Memoir with Recipes " by Shoba Narayan is a lovely reminiscence of growing up in Tamil Nadu a couple of decades ago. Shoba then takes her readers along with her on trips to her grandparents house and later on to the US where she goes to pursue further studies.

Each chapter deals with a phase in her life, from the first food she ever consumed to having relatives visit her house in the Us, once she is married. At the end of each chapter is a recipe which ties into the chapter.

The recipes are all Vegetarian and include : Channa Masala, Fruit Chaat, Ghee, Bajjis, Ginger Tamarind Pickle, Coconut Chutney,, Bhindi Curry, Panagam, Pav Bhaji, Poha, Pongal, Potato Masala, Puris, Rasam, Olan, Idlis, Thandai, Upma, Vatral Kozhambu, Vegetable Stew and Yoghurt Rice.

The recipes are clearly meant for her primary audience - people living in the US - so ingredient availability, substitutes and even ingredient names are Americanised. But don't let that put you off. It actually just helps people unfamiliar with Indian ingredients to locate them easily and cook with confidence.

I did empathise with most of Shoba's experiences, being female from a small town and heading off to the US on my own, but the one thing I couldn't reconcile with, is that if she was so good at cooking, what stopped her from cooking familiar meals once she reached Hollyoke. I used to cook spicy Indian food practically everyday, inspite of working full time and overtime on most days. she claims she didn't realise that she missed familiar food, but somehow I just can't echo that sentiment. This was the only part of the tale that didn't sit right for me.

My favourite story in the Monsoon Diary is of the Malayalee Cab Driver in New York. It was such a touching gesture and reminded me of the genorosity that humans are capable of, if they allow themselves.

I started reading the Monsoon Diary a month ago, because I knew that I wouldn't have time to read at a stretch. It was perfect for the purpose. You can break after every chapter without worrying about wanting to drop everything else and get back to reading.

The book is poignant, a lovely reminiscence and a pleasure to peruse.

I hope to try the idli recipe sometime soon.

Rating : 3.5 / 5

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : Aisle Be Damned

Aisle Be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya, is a book that I would recommend to every person who takes more than 6 flights a year.

Genuinely insightful and refreshingly funny. A page turner which is just the right length for a domestic flight, even if it is as short a flight as Ahmedabad - Mumbai, as it was for me.

I was always a window seat, front of the craft man, now I know why. I am surely gonna try the upgrade tricks on my next flight. This is modern situational humor at its best. I burst-out laughing loud (much to the amusement of my fellow travelers) at every 3rd page. That's over 70 laughs for a mere 3.5/- per laugh ... If that's not value for money what is?

Pick up this book by Rishi Piparaiya, on your next flight.

Rating : 4 / 5

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : Eighteen Plus - Bedtime Stories for Grown Ups

I am sure you know by now not to judge a book by its cover. I also want to add - never judge a book by its marketing plug, publicity site or promo inserts. You should wait to read a proper review, irrespective of the quality of the reviewer and only then pick-one up.

That's the only way that critics and reviewers will ever have a job anyway :):).

This book by Apurv Nagpal is BAD porn! Actually very average porn to be honest. A few short stories like "going down to rise up" "the speaker phone" "at the big fat Indian wedding" are mildly funny. Rest are decent situations but badly written. I read a porn collection after a long time and was quite disappointed.


Rating : 2 / 5

Buy on Flipkart.com or Amazon.com

Monday, 16 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : Ajaya - Epic of the Kaurava Clan - Roll of the Dice


Krishna the evil plotter v/s Balram the noble ruler.
Yudhishtir the greedy brother v/s the loyalist.
Kunti the sinister queen v/s Gandhari the exploited one.
Ekalavya the man of merit v/s Arjun the favoured student.
Karna the victim of caste v/s Drona the pedantic teacher.
Bheem the moronic lout v/s Suyodhana the noble, loving, kind crown prince who changes all social norms to ensure well-being and equality.

This book presents the story from the point of view of the defeated. It almost feels like you are watching the story through a 2 way mirror where everything is upside down, or downside up . Anyone who has any interest in the greatest story ever told must read this version of Mahabharat.

This book, by Anand Neelakantan questions every notion we have held and presents a narrative which is equally compelling and honest. Makes one wonder about our mythological narratives which we hold so dear and that's the strength of this book.

Hats off to Anand for taking on such a deep rooted story and presenting an equally beautiful contra-view. My favourite character is the marginalised, untouchable beggar named Jara and his blind dog "Dharma"

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : 9 to 5 Fit - A Working Person's Guide to Looking Great and Performing Better!

9 to 5 Fit  - A Working Person's Guide to Looking Great and Performing Better! by Namita Jain deserves a 4 on 5.

Given my perpetual struggle with food and weight, this book helped me start (or re-start or re-re-restart) a few of my routines. For office working professionals like me this is a great book. Simple, straightforward and hugely practical, the book never preaches. So if you are fighting the flab like me , read this short 200 page book Now.

Rating : 4 / 5

Monday, 2 December 2013

Kim's Review : Savour Mumbai - A Culinary Journey Through India's Melting Pot

In "Savour Mumbai - A Culinary Journey Through India's Melting Pot" Michelin Chef Vikas Khanna takes the reader on a journey across Mumbai to some of his favourite restaurants and eateries. He selects some of their signature dishes and modifies them for a home cook.

Its also his attempt to show the wider world, that Indian food is not all about Punjabi food.

The reason I picked up this book, is that a lot of the restaurants covered are favourites of mine too and I jumped at the chance to get insider dope on their recipes. Restaurants covered are Bademiyas, Bagdadi, Banana Leaf, Dakshin, Diva Maharashtracha, Goa Portuguesa, Good Luck, Govinda's, Ideal Corner, Kangan, Kebab Korner, Kebabs & Kurries, Khyber, Lucky, Mahesh Lunch Home, Nawab Saheb, Noor Mohammadi, Oh! Calcutta, Raj Bhog, Saffron, Soam, Soma, Soul Fry Casa, Temple Flower, Trishna and Vrindavan.

So, how many of these are your favourites?

As you can see from the restaurants covered, there's plenty of cuisines represented in this book: Parsi, Goan, South India, Gujarati, Malvani, Maharashtrian, Konkani, Manglorean, Malyali, Irani, Mughlai,

Multiple 'Biryani' recipes from Lucky, Good Luck, Govinda's, Ideal Corner and I'm itching to try out each of them, even though they all look sinfully rich, especially the Chicken Rashida with biryani.

There's a short section on Mumbai's iconic street food too with recipes too for the Bombay sandwich, vada pav, golas and many other items anyone who has lived in Bombay will have fond memories about.

Savour Mumbai is a full-colour book filled with beautiful pictures that capture the spirit of Mumbai. Each recipe has a accompanying picture too, to show you what the ideal finished product should look like. Even if you never attempt to cook from this, its a beautiful coffee table souvenir - an ode to Mumbai's thriving food culture.

I can't wait to get cooking from this book, so much to try, so little time.

Rating : 4.5 / 5

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Brajesh's Review : Die Trying

Militia planning independence, kidnapping of US president’s god-daughter, rogue and corrupt FBI agents, a truck full of dynamite and Jack Reacher is right in the middle of it all. If you are a JR fan like me, this book will disappoint you as it adds nothing new and seems formulaic for the most parts.

However if you aren’t familiar with JR or just starting to read on him, this is another interesting thriller. This has been the lowest rated JR for me. I also feel that I am getting over the JR craze which made me read 9 of his books this year though I will pass the final judgement on this after finishing “Tripwire” which is next on my list.

Rating : 2.5 / 5

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