Nightmare

Dreams…suffocating dreams where you can’t breathe, you can’t speak; you try to do something. Run? Escape? Scream? I don’t know, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t even utter a word.
Actually, I’d like to make a correction, they are called nightmares. Don’t you hate them?

Imagine what it must feel like when this turns into a reality.

We talk a lot about depression, and that’s ironic, because a depressed person never talks about it. Depression is oversold when it comes to public discussions, what people fail to realize is that it’s not some mere emotion, it has multiple folds. Society expects a depressed person to talk, but what they don’t know is that it is far more complicated than simply talk!
A sad person shares his pain, a depressed person is so deep in the dark that he doesn’t even know what he feels anymore. It’s not even a mixture of emotions, everything goes blank, and all that is left is constant high pitched noise in the background. How can one make someone else listen to that noise?

Depression is a monster, first he’ll take away your peace of mind, then he’ll inject you with anxiety, he’ll take away your ability to see the beauty of life, he’ll strip down your sanity, and in the end, when you are nothing more than a hollow shell, he’ll take away your ability to feel, to reason, and most importantly, to believe.
By the time you realize the darkness inside of you, it’s too late. You become a part of that monster. “That explains the dark vibes around me”, you think.

“Be happy.”
“Things will be fine.”
“You overthink, stop that.”

No, it is not that easy. First of all, this person has nothing left to think about. He doesn’t know what to think. Nothing makes sense anymore. His lungs collapse, they shrink every next second, and the weight on his head increases every other day. Soon enough, he reaches a stage of trance, and it’s ugly. Every moment, he feels like his head is going to explode, and then there will be nothingness. And he craves for that nothingness, because the idea of it feels a lot better than this hurting void.

So yeah! Surprise! Giving advices won’t help.
Hold on to the ones who are going through this, don’t leave their hand, pull them out from this horrid sea of complete darkness.
They don’t see the light because they can’t, not because they don’t want to! And it takes a lot more than just saying “see the light”. Get a f*ckin* torch and walk with them! It’s a sunny day for you, but for this person? He is in a different universe, and this universe hasn’t seen a sunrise in years.

Continue reading “Nightmare”

The Elephant Catchers by Subroto Bagchi.

 

I am a sucker for fiction, it is very rare for me to get hooked on a non-fiction, genuinely enjoy reading it, and finish it off in a day. The Elephant Catchers is one of those very few books. It is a must read for any entrepreneurial spirit looking out to scale. The book covers various aspects of the organization; the internal message of mission and vision, scaling of people and ideas, brand image, the true concept of CSR, and the list goes on. It doesn’t preach about clichéd managerial rules and principles, it goes beyond that. Various case studies are put forward, the author constantly gives example of how Mindtree went through various stages of growth. Many short and simple stories are narrated to explain great ideas, I loved the way author has put forward his thoughts. Reading this book felt like a good investment of time. If you are stuck on your way to growth and are looking for some way out through learning, this one might be a good pick.

 

The girl who kicked the Hornet’s nest.

The Millennium Series has been an amazing read. While I liked each one of the three books, this one made me fall in love with the characters of the story. They have a certain depth, they feel so real, it’s just hard to explain.
Larsson has introduced many strong female characters, they aren’t loud and celebrating, they’re normal, just the way it should be.
The author has brought forward various issues that women face in their day to day life and blended them into a brilliantly summed up thriller. The story isn’t a song of feminism, it is a natural record of events as they roll out, it simply throws light on little things that go unnoticed otherwise.

My only problem with this book is Lisbeth. She’s just too perfect to be true and it is impossible to harm her, the book feels like a fairytale when it comes to Lisbeth. (Which calls for trouble, since she’s the lead!)

Larrson has this over descriptive way of writing that many people have trouble with, as for me, it works just fine. His descriptive writing may make the book slow, but it adds to my imagintion resulting in vivid and colourful pictures in my head. One can always skim through the details they find unnecessary.
The book is gripping as we follow Lisbeth’s fight against the corrupt government officials who have time and again violated her rights and made her life a living hell. Once picked up, it is hard to put this book down. It’s amusing to see justice put up a fight against power. I loved the plot, eventhough it was a big shot (girl against the world), I just fell for it.
This final one gave a justified closure to the series and everything was wrapped up perfectly.
If you have picked up the Dragon Tatto, then make your way upto here. Earn it!

“Don’t read this if you haven’t read the first two books of the series.”

Cross connection of culture, clan, and cuisine by Deepali Joshi Adhikarya

This book beautifully depicts the life of a Marathi girl (author) who is married into a Bengali family.
She falls in love with a person who is the exact opposite of her ‘dream boy’ image and belongs to a culture that is an alien concept for her.
The author has covered every aspect of this marriage, the positives and the negatives;
conflicts over food choices, language issues, day to day compatibility, and the love that remains the same after all those differences.

The book is written in a positive light. It is not one of those documentaries where the differences are ridiculed to create a humour element, or where problems are given all the attention to create a story that can be gossiped around.

She has emphasized on how both the parties have tried to adjust with each other. Little compromises and a lot of acceptance, it is beautiful how things can turn out to be when two families belonging to different cultures decide to adopt each other’s practices to create a beautiful fusion.

A chapter is dedicated to her son where she explains how he has decided to put this classical mix to his favour as and when required.
The author has used real life incidents to make her point, and these incidents are nothing less than sweet comic stories that will remind you of your own similar experiences.

I enjoyed reading this one, it left me smiling like a fool. A perfect feel good book is what it is. If you want a short read that will lighten up your heart, this is the one you are looking for.

1984 by George Orwell

While reading this one, I was scared to the bones. No book made me cringe as much as 1984 (and when I say no book, I am also counting the gore genre). I got goosebumps, disgust and hatred was taking over me, but a part of me was happy about the fact that this cruel present system hasn’t turned into a totalitarian society. It was defeated and put down to ashes. As the protagonist Winston Smith states, “If there is hope, it lies in the proles”. Democracy has proved his thought, while there is no true rule of ‘by the people and for the people’, it isn’t a hell like rule of ‘The Party’.

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

These words were thrown to my face like a riddle, but the story turned this riddle into a solid reality. Oceania is one of the three superpowers ruling over the world, other two being Eurasia and Eastasia, who are in constant war with one another, a war that has no materialistic purpose like acquisition of more land and resources, but rather a destructive purpose, to burn down the surplus produced, to maintain a hierarchical society, to stop the reducing economic gaps which was made possible via industrialisation, to stop the world from converting into paradise and make a U-turn to move back towards a stable three-tier society that survives on hate, not love; that survives on triumph, not happiness. The rule of party continues and there is no disruption, war is peace.

This is a system that is worse than the German Nazis and Russian Communists. A system that seeks power only for its own sake. “Power is not a means, it’s an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.” Here, the power doesn’t lie with a single individual, because human existence comes to an end, and with that the rule comes to an end. Power is collective, each party member merges himself to the party through submission. He is the party. And personification of this ruling group is the Big Brother, because people follow an individual, not a group. Freedom is slavery.

If people are ignorant, they will never revolt against the party, that’s how the rule sustains. To achieve that, various methods are adopted. Thoughts are monitored and moulded. The language Newspeak is founded, which reduces the dictionary to such few words that it is impossible for a common man to form any kind of logical thoughts that may go against the party. The Party constantly manipulates history, manipulation would be a wrong word here, party destroys history, wipes every instance out of existence, and then it writes its own history.
Each person is under surveillance to make sure that no one forms their own thought of logic that may go against the party. People are fed with lies and hate, and they take it happily!
Every attempt is made to promote doublethink, which allow the masses to accept two contradictory ideas simultaneously as and when told by the party, this means that they would not question if you told them that 2+2=4 today and 2+2=5 tomorrow. They are always happy and satisfied by the rule. Ignorance is strength.

This book is something that will force you to see the ugly reality of mankind, because no matter how disgusting the means of party are, you’ll realise that everything it states and believes in is somewhere near the truth. It’ll make you questions things you don’t want to have doubts about. This is an ultimate thought shaker, it is a book that must be in your reading pile.

Algorithm Bias, the hidden threat.

The word Artificial Intelligence is in trend these days. We have been witnessing its rapid growth for some time now. Common day to day algorithms are available to increase your productivity and serve you with result in minutes. You just have to name the task: arrangement of data, shortlisting of data, surfing through the internet for relevant results, security, decision making, or even playing poker!
We have been celebrating automation of things, but how overrated is such a system of automation?
Algorithm is math, and our Human system can’t be quantified that easily.

Remember all the influential personalities who came from a poor background but left a mark on the world map for qualities you and I can’t quantify.
Imagine a similar bright mind somewhere on the globe, waiting for approval of educational loan. This is where artificial stupidity comes into play. The calculations are done and loan isn’t approved. Why? Because that child belonged to a minor group, or maybe the calculated ‘risk’ factor is too high. How well does AI know this Risk Factor? Is it even considering the bigger picture? How well are these algorithms coded to include every major to minor factor that can affect such life changing decisions? Who will take the responsibility of these loss of opportunities?

This was a minor example where AI is making ‘poor’ decision for us, but its use isn’t limited to the banking or education sector. Such algorithms function in various important fields like law enforcement and security too. In some places, courts are actually using artificial systems to sentence criminals! What has the world come to?Let’s look at yet another example when it comes to security: IPhone’s face recognition technology failure.
What can one do if the machine gives access to some another person into your fort of important data, all because of a glitch in the algorithm. And what if it denies to recognize you altogether?

Our dependence on Artificial Intelligence is increasing so quickly, that we are actually allowing it to decide the course of our lives. We need to understand these biases in the algorithm, their causes, and eliminate them. There is enough unfair judgment and discrimination present outside the machine world already, but such a progress will only make it worse.
A wide spectrum coverage that includes every possible social group is required while coding such algorithms, non-quantifiable factors can’t be put off the table when such grave decision making is done.
The hopeful part is that we made this, we allowed this, and we also have the power to fix this.

Suggested read: Weapons of Math Destruction

The Mayor of Casterbridge *book review*

When I started reading this book, its impression was of a very peculiar tale. The story started with a drunk man selling away his wife and baby, he wakes up to regret his actions the next morning and swears to quit drinking. This is quite literally a classic, I thought.
But as I kept on reading, this book surprised me, I have never experienced so many emotions at the same time ever before! Henchard is a man who does a lot many things in a fit of anger, but his evil is of the kind of an ordinary man, despite his unforgivable actions, I couldn’t bring myself to hate him, I felt sorry for him.

The characters in this book are so interesting and so deep, at no point is this book solely about our Mayor Henchard, though he plays a major role is fueling up the story from beginning to end, all the characters have a strong role and a definite personality. I loved each and every one of them, they are extremely realistic with as many flaws as you and I, reacting to their own emotions like any other person would.

The story gives a more philosophical insight into life, it basically revolves around the idea of “you reap what you sow.”
You can see how a person’s temperament and actions can either make them or break them, luck loses its power eventually, in the end, it is solely your karma and your relations.

Without trying to reveal much, I’ll try to sum up things by saying that Thomas Hardy has weaved a “Beautiful Tragedy” that will make your heart weep, cringe, and love at the same time.

Behind the Scenes, a Vikram Rana Mystery *Book Review*

There’s a unique touch to Sharmishtha’s writing, it’s always so crisp and to the point.
She has a talent for building up amazing plots and penning them down efficiently.

This book reminded me of my old school days, when Nancy Drew, Famous Five, and Hardy Boys were always on my head. I won’t be surprised if someone added Vikram Rana to this list.
He’s turning out to be my favorite investigator, less for his skills and more for his realistic personality.

The book starts off with the murder of a famous actor in the Bengali film industry, it revolves around the shadows of this entertainment industry. Stardom to downfall and love to hate.
Things look so simple at the surface, but so tangled up once you try to dig out information. Vikram Rana’s amazing analytical skills surprise me. He’s such a genius!

There are brief description of locations where the story is based in, mostly Darjeeling and Kolkata, and a lot of food talk, it tantalizes a reader’s senses, giving them a feel of being present in the story. The author knows how to involve her readers well!

My overall experience was great, and I genuinely enjoy reading the Vikram Rana series. I would recommend it big time, the best part is that this is a book for all age groups.

The Stupid Somebody *book review*

 

The Stupid Somebody is a book that makes you look at relationships with glasses of modern reality. It isn’t about philosophical aspects of love or poetry of romance, it rather gives a more practical view of how relationships actually exist in present time, and what one has to go through to win in their life and win the heart of their loved ones. It’s not a fairytale story where you like each other and marry. Marriage is never between two people, it is between two families. This book is rather about the hardships one faces while turning their love story into a fairytale.
The story is narrated by Rohit, a man who is in his prime time of life, where dreams, career, and love, all clash at the same time. He can’t choose one, so he learns to juggle!

The book is filled with motivational thoughts. You’ll find something to think over in every chapter, something that may lift up your spirits. This is one of those stories that tell you, “Yes, you can!”

In the end all I have to say is that, if you’re looking for a mood lifting light read that also happens to be a lovey dovey tale of fighting against all the odds, go for the book.

Yakshini by Neil D’Silva *book review*

That twisted smile, that sinister voice, the laugh of her, the demoness, every woman has heard her at some point of time. Deep below our sane surface lies a storm of insanity.
Yakshini is not just a book, it’s more of a window that let’s you peek inside a woman’s soul, especially when she’s been done wrong.

As those lingering eyes of men scan you from top to bottom, and sometimes skin brushes past “unintentionally”, the surface shows a petrified expression, blank, but on the inside you want to break every inch of those daring bones and scoop out those eyes.
That voice, that voice looking for justice on her own is the Yakshini within us all.

The book is a straightforward horror story, Meenakshi faces the reality of this dark world as she hits her puberty and reaches a stage of full blossom at a very tender age, she is forced to let go off her innocence that a normal 13 year old deserves.
A series of events makes it very clear to her that she is never alone, there’s another entity, the Yakshini, living within her.
The story follows the intertwined fate of Meenakshi and Yakshini, it makes you happy sometimes, and cringe at other times.
The story is narrated so realistically, each emotion, the way Meenakshi feels every instant, her actions, they are so relatable, I couldn’t believe that this is written by a male author.
Neil D Silva blew my mind this time.
One more thing that is obvious is that, he knows a lot about house chores!

I really enjoyed reading this one, it was engaging and at the same time gave me a lot to think about.

The issues spoken of under the cloak of a supernatural story aren’t confined to a single gender. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can’t miss reading this one!