Back to books

Finally after all the madness in las few weeks I am relaxed and completely free from any professional commitment for a week. It really feels good to be free to decide what you want to do next .. read books, listen to music or just gaze at the numerous objects in front of my eyes and get lost in thoughts.
Though the primary reason to take a week off and to be at home, is to take some rest and  read some of the many unfinished books I have on my desk. Yes, I just want to read and read. There are many books which are half read, some I just started and did not get time to go back after the first couple of hours.
I have seen just one movie  in last 3-4 months and the one I saw was ‘The Public Enemy’. I could not manage to get time for day or evening shows so I went for late night show. After all it was Johnny Depp and Christian Bale movie, unfortunately the movie turned out to be a disappointment. I had a lot of expectations from a Johnny Depp movie and it never reached to that level. So with diminishing interest in movies and not much time available at my hand, I am back to my first love reading books.
3-4 months back I had decided to read some of the best Hindi works and I picked up Raag Darbaari by Sri Lal Shukla, an amazing thought-provoking book filled with chuckle inducing humor. I wan to finish this first and then go on to finish The Rebel by Camus. Recently I have been reading some hindi poems thanks to online hindi websites which are doing a great job in promoting great hindi works. I remember just 2-3 years back, while I had a lot of resources to read English Classics, there were absolute no websites which provided similar content for lovers of Hindi Literature. For poems, now we have quite a number of websites which one can access, if you have not been to them and are interested in hindi literature you can check the following:
http://manaskriti.com/kaavyaalaya/
http://www.hindinest.com/
http://hindipoetry.wordpress.com/
Just explore the bloglinks given on these sites, there are some great blogs and sites listed there.

Finally after all the madness in las few weeks I am relaxed and completely free from any professional commitment for a week. It really feels good to be free to decide what you want to do next .. read books, listen to music or just gaze at the numerous objects in front of my eyes and get lost in thoughts.

Though the primary reason to take a week off and to be at home, is to take some rest and  read some of the many unfinished books I have on my desk. Yes, I just want to read and read. There are many books which are half read, some I just started and did not get time to go back after the first couple of hours.

I have seen just one movie  in last 3-4 months and the one I saw was ‘The Public Enemy’. I could not manage to get time for day or evening shows so I went for late night show. After all it was Johnny Depp and Christian Bale movie, unfortunately the movie turned out to be a disappointment. I had a lot of expectations from a Johnny Depp movie and it never reached to that level. So with diminishing interest in movies and not much time available at my hand, I am back to my first love reading books.

3-4 months back I had decided to read some of the best Hindi works and I picked up Raag Darbaari by Sri Lal Shukla, an amazing thought-provoking book filled with chuckle inducing humor. I wan to finish this first and then go on to finish The Rebel by Camus. Recently I have been reading some hindi poems thanks to online hindi websites which are doing a great job in promoting great hindi works. I remember just 2-3 years back, while I had a lot of resources to read English Classics, there were absolute no websites which provided similar content for lovers of Hindi Literature. For poems, now we have quite a number of websites which one can access, if you have not been to them and are interested in hindi literature you can check the following:

http://manaskriti.com/kaavyaalaya/

http://www.hindinest.com/

http://hindipoetry.wordpress.com/

Just explore the bloglinks given on these sites, there are some great blogs and sites listed there.

We are in news..

Since last one year we have been working on it, right from developing concept paper to fine tuning the methodology. The District Level Economic Governance for Tamilnadu is now in news.

See the links..

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/Economy/Now-an-economic-governance-index-for-districts/rssarticleshow/4251870.cms

Times of India

It all started with the concept paper ( http://ifmr.ac.in/cdf/downloads/egi.pdf) I wrote last year and since then we have been working on developing indicators/ sub-indices and facing the problems such as  how to assign weightage to different sub-indices, how to ensure buy in from different stake-holders..etc. Now we are in quite advance stage and very soon this index is going to make a lot of noise…

My Reading List, 2008

Fiction

  • Sacred Games By Viikram Chandra
  • Bandicoots in moonlight by Avijit Ghosh
  • The Girl with Dragon Tatoo by Steig Larsson
  • Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Non-Fiction

  • Egonomics by David Marcum and Steven Smith
  • The Cult of Amateurs  by Andrew Keen
  • A Perfect Mess by David Freedman
  • Super Crunchers by  Ian Ayres
  • Wikinomics by Tapscott and Wiliams
  • How to change the world by David Bornstein
  • Stick to drawing comics, monkey brain! by Scot Adams
  • Getting things done by David Allen
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
  • The Stuff of Thoughts by Steven Pinker
  • Madness and Civilization by Foucault

Half Read / Unfinished Books

  • Imagining India by Nandan Nilekani
  • The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner
  • Hot Flat and Crowded by T. Friedman
  • Dreaming of Jupiter by Ted Simon (Thanks Srey for the gift.)
  • India: The Emerging Giant by Arvind Panagariya
  • Phantoms in the brain by Blakeslee and Ramachandran
  • Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
  • Tribe by Bruce Parry

Surely I could not read a lot of fiction this year and spent a lot of time on  non-fiction/ pop-economics. Though I wanted to read some good fiction titles. I bought many books last year and I think I need to speed up my reading to consume them this year.

Bihar Flood – How to help ..

There are three ways you can support the flood relief activity.
1) By sending your donation to below account numbers. The funds collected will be used to purchase necessary items (Our team working at ground zero keep sending us list of items which they need for flood relief work). Items thus purchases are send to Chandan who is leading the efforts from Patna.

Online –Transfer your donations to ICICI bank
Name: Ashok Kumar Sharma,
A/C Number: 005301022273,
Branch: Jayanagar/Bangalore
Please mention flood relief and your name in remarks section while transferring funds
Also mention your name in the comments (will help us track).
After transfer send an email with the transfer details to ashok.1857@gmail. com
We will send you a confirmation for the same.
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
Sending donations through NGO (Prayaas).
Institutional Donor and as well as individual can donate via our Sister NGO PRAYAAS
http://www.prayaas. org/
PRAYAAS Contact No: 91-80-28441463
Please mention flood relief and your name in remarks section while transferring fund.
Mention your name in the comments (will help us track)Send an email with details to:Amitesh.Bharti@ in.bosch. com
make a CC to: ashok.1857@gmail. com
Account in on the name of: M/S Prayaas
Current Account No. : 10447347087
Bank Address : State Bank of India, Indiranagar, Bangalore
Bank Code : 3301
Routing Number (Swift No.) : SBI NIN BB 147A
MICR number : 560002021
Prayaas Official Address:
Mr. Amitesh Bharti,Prayaas( r),
C1-201, GreenWood Regency,Doddakannah alli village,Carmelaram
PO, Adj. Wipro,Sarjapur Road,Bangalore – 560035, India.
If you want to send a cheque/DD:Please send the crossed A/c Payee cheque in favour of,”SBI, A/c Prayaas, Current A/c No. 10447347087
Donar seeking Tax exemption under section 80G, please donate via PRAYAAS
The certificate & the receipt of your contribution will be dispatched by Prayaas. To get the certificate & the receipt of your contribution, Please email your name and address along with detail of your contribution to Amitesh at Amitesh.Bharti@ in.bosch. com
make a CC to: ashok.1857@gmail. com
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
2) We keep updating our blog for the list of items which are required at ground zero. You can buy those items and send them directly to Chandan and his team.
You can find the contact details of our team in the blog. Feel free to ask them how you can send relief materials directly to Chandan and his team.
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——— —-
3) Sending money directly to CHIEF MINISTER RELIEF FUND.

Bihar Chief Minister Relief Fund
Write a cheque to
A/C Name: “Chief Minister Relief Fund, Bihar”
A/C No: 10839124928
Bank: State Bank of India, Secretariat Branch, Patna.
Put your Phone number, name and address on the back of the cheque.Deposit the cheque to the nearest State Bank of India cheque drop box
Disaster relief State Control Room Number:: 91-612-2217305/ 2215027/6452572
************ ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* *
NOTE: Kindly note that any left over money (In case we are not able to spend donated money) will be send to CM Relief fund. All donors will be updated accordingly when we decide to send money to CM Relief Fund.

——————————————————————-

Please check the following blogs for more info..

http://biharflood.wordpress.com

http://biharfloodrelief2008.blogspot.com/

http://biharfloodrelief2008.blogspot.com/2008/09/for-those-who-want-to-donate-cloths.html

http://biharfloodrelief.blogspot.com/

Bihar Flood

Bihar is facing one of the worst floods and millions of affected people require every possible help to cope with the hellish situation. Any bit of help in form of donations/participating in rescue work would mean a lot for these people. Those who want to contribute/help people there can visit this site for more information. 

Why  does our PM needs to visit the flood area and then announce for the relief package? Was he not aware of the severity of the flood? Please stop playing political move at the expense of innocent lives….

Chennai 3.0

Chennai celebrates its 369th birthday. Though my professional commitments and other constraints  deprived me from participating in the celebrations, I did get a chance to attend ‘Chennai 3.0’ organized by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII). The theme of the conference was “Chennai – Evolution Today, Revolution Tomorrow”.  And, I have no doubts seeing the growth plans and the people behind the evolution, revolution is bound to happen.  CII did a great job to get industrialists, city planners, bureaucrats and politicians all on the same platform and talk different aspects of Chennai today and tomorrow.

While everybody presented their vision for Chennai and how ‘the Detroit of India’ should move forward to become the world class city, it was intriguing (and one of the speakers highlighted this) that none of the Chennai based industries/business houses came forward to sponsor the event. I was bemused seeing most of the speakers talking about inclusive growth and sustainable growth but they did not highlight any of concrete plans to give any indication how they are going to achieve that. Though we had detailed plans on how to solve problems of Car Parking, Shopping Space, satellite cities and how to make Chennai Airport a world class airport, but somehow problems of commoners living in Chennai took back seat like the commoners present in the TAJ Conference Hall. But probably this was not primarily intended to dwell upon that, it was more of a celebrations of achievements of this city and setting up the context for future growth and expansion.

My personal experience with Chennai has been really wonderful, earlier I was a bit hesitant to think Chennai as the preferred workplace, but after my fieldwork in Tamilnadu and now more than one year in Chennai I love the city.   

My Reading List of Last Year (2007)

Though I could not read as much as I did last year and left many books half finished, or just untouched on the shelf. These are books I did manage to finish, apart from the compulsory reading required by my job.

Fiction

  • Alchemy of Desire by Tarun Tejpal
  • Wild Fire by Nelson DeMille
  • The Righteous Men by Sam Bourne
  • Snow by Orhan Pamuk
  • The Innocent Men by John Grisham
  • The Broker by John Grisham
  • The Last Song of Dusk by Sidhart D. Sanghvi

Non-Fiction

  • Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner
  • The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
  • The Fortune at the Bottom of Pyramid by C K Prahalad
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
  • The way of the Sufi by Idries Shah

I bought several books last year and many of them are still waiting to be finished. I read a few pages and somehow could not finish them. Hope to finish them soon this year.

Half Read / Unfinished Books

  • Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • The Cuckold by K Nagarkar
  • The Moral Mind by Marc Hauser
  • Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco

Let see how much time I get this year to satiate my desire to read. Getting Thinds Done by David Allen and The Perfect Mess by E Abrahamson and D Freedman are the two books which I am finishing this month. Two books advocating completely contrasting approach to manage your work-life.

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A trip to Kanha National Park

Kanha National Park/ Tiger Reserve was always a part of discussion whenever we discussed anything about wildlife management or national parks during our coursework at IIFM and if it is Prof. P C Kotwal’s class, no class was complete without mention of Kanha.

A few days back, got an opportunity to make a quick trio to Kanha National Park and it was really an experience. Though the forest safari was not that fruitful, we missed the tiger sighting by a few seconds (our vehicle was second and by the time we could spot the tigress, she was out of sight and we could only manage to view her pug marks) the experiences of being inside a lush green forest, watching deers grazing in open without being bothered by the intrusive safari vehicles and not so civilized visitors, were amazing.  Shravan Taalab

But it was also a glaring example of inefficiency and lack of planning by MP Tourism. We started our journey from Raipur in a rented Tata Indica (a bad choice for this trip!) and the driver informed we would be covering the distance form Raipur to Kanha (225 kms approx) in about 5-6 hours. We had chosen this driver as he had been to Kanha earlier also (as claimed). The journey took almost 9 hours and the ‘road’ to this famed National park can only be called a ‘road’ if Rakhi Sawant or Paris Hilton can be called ‘an actress’. How can you talk about promoting tourism and attracting international visitors if you do not have basic things setup first?

There were no signboards to indicate where you are heading once you are inside Kanha and if luckily you find some signboards, they only indicate the destination and do not provide any information on how far that place is. We spotted a signboard for a Resort 25 kms away from the resort and without any indication of distance. There are no milestones to tell you whether you are moving in right direction or not. And the roads in side  Kanha are so bad that it will take an expert driver and lots of courage to move ahead. Peacefully grazing deers

We had listed out a couple of resorts for our stay there, but did the grave mistake of not doing advance booking. Then it became really task to find a resort (a good one) and start for safari.

Based upon my experience I am listing out a few precautions and preparations you need to do, in order to enjoy the Kanha.

  • It is not advisable to travel in small vehicles, prefer SUVs like Safari, Sumo, Bolero etc. Small cars are not suited, especially if you are traveling from Raipur to Kanha, the roads from Jabalpur to Kanha are in somewhat better position, but even then I would advise to go for big wheeled vehicles.
  • Take a route map and look for a drive who has been there recently.
  • Take a lot cash with you. Kanha is a very small place (you will not find any ATM in 50 kms radius) and most of the resorts, restaurants do not accepts credit/debit cards.
  • Make an advance booking in the resorts if you are planning to stay there and I think you must plan to stay there at least for a night so that you can have two trips of Safari. There are two safari trips one in morning from 5.30 am to 12 noon and second from 3 pm to 6.30 pm.
  • You have a number or resorts available at village Mocha, but the road to that place (via Raipur) is really pathetic. Try to bargain at the resorts and you will make a good deal. 20-30% is the normal discount you can easily ask for.
  • Take a pair of good binoculars (we missed ) and a good camera, even if you do not spot the tiger, there is enough worth clicking.
  • Once you are on Safari, make sure that your vehicle is the first one on the trail, or you are just behind the first vehicle, otherwise the first vehicle is bound to devoid you of any sighting.

Seven Mags I loved When I was kid

1. Chandamama – We were waiting more eagerly to get this magazine from newspaper wala then our results. Beautiful stories of Kings, stories from ancient epics with written with clear motive of promoting values and culture in children made this magazine immensely popular among kids.

Recently, Chandamama’s last 60 years issues have been digitized, so those who want to gift their children a good read, devoid of gory action and violent fantasy, this is a great option.

2. Champak – Loved it. Cheekku (the rabbit), Meeku (the mice) and their adventures were superb, since 1968 this magazine has established itself as the number one Children’s Magazine of India. A part of Delhi Press Group, they followed their group policy of not promoting any superstitious or bhoot-prate stories, but clean healthy entertainment for kids. Even today, I get my hands on any issue of Champak, I make sure to find Cheeku’s column and read it.

3.Lotpot – Full of laughter and great comic strips. The stories were invariably successful in bringing laughter and making you go ‘lotpot’ . No advertisement and reading material from cover to cover at price of Rs. 2 (At present it is being sold at Rs.5). Though the paper was not great but stories were. Motu, Patlu and Ghasita’s always used to find themselves in trouble in whatever they did. Though Ghasita was not the main hero of the Motu Patlu strip but his hair style and Haryanwai accent made him my favorite character.

4. Nandan – Unlike many children’s magazine of that time, this one has backing of a one of the leading media house of country Hindustan Times Group and has some of the biggest name as its contributor. Edited by Jayprakash Bharti (one of the biggest name in Children’s literature), it had/has strong focus on indian mythology and presented stories from Puranas and Upnishads. It was more structured and well presented compared to its competitors in 80’s, there you had Crosswords, Find the Difference (Kaun Kitna Buddhiman), a very popular Tenaliraman. The Pari Katha Visheshank was its eagerly waited special issue by its readers. Vishwa Prasidha Kahania provided its reader the best of childrens literature from world over translated in hindi.

At the moment, it has gone numerous changes and is being edited by Mrinal Pandey, I just recently checked one issue from my brother, and found that the new avataar is no longer as fascinating. Earlier Nandan used to be full of stories and stories only. Now, they have started putting articles (probably following other mags), interviews and other pieces but somehow it doesnt reminds one of the old Nandan we were fond of.

5. Madhu Muskan– If anyone of you have read it, you would vividly remember, Daddy jee, Chustram Sushtram.. Great comic and great mag. I dont know whether it is being published today or not but it was really one mags I wanted to read again and again. I even had a collection of around 5-6 years of Madhu Mushkaan, but some of dear friends loyal to borrowed reading, betrayed me.

6. Suman Saurabh – Aimed at teens and probably only magazine in Hindi in late 80s and in 90s which went beyond storytelling and provided useful articles. Again from the stable of Delhi Press Group, I loved its Jasoosi Katha Visheshank (Detective Stroy Specials) and Vigyan Katha Visheshank (Sci-fi Specials). It is still going strong.

7. Balhansh – Though this was quite new compared to Champak, Chandamama and Nandan, but it can be categorized as more balanced reading experience for kids. Published by Rajasthan Government, it kept the allround growth of its reader in mind. While Kavi Aahat made people go hither and thither fearing his poems, Havaldaar Tholaram was no less then a mixture of Sherlock Holmes and James Bond with grey matters borrowed from the likes of Kaanti Shah and Raakhi Sawant, taking care of goons and evildoers as well as problems of common man. It has some great informative articles which were not very common at that time in children’s magazine as most of the mags provided only stories and comic strips, the focus was not there on interesting or informative articles.

Now let me know, which were your favorites …..

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