Sunday, December 16, 2007


Author: Herge

Flight 714, filled with a private plane hijack and lots of action, is one of the best comic in the The adventures of Tintin collection.

Tintin and his friends, at their transit at Jakarta are asked to accompany an eccentric millionaire Laszlo Carreidas in Flight 714 bound to Sydney. Flight 714 is hijacked by Rastapopoulos with an objective of getting hold of millionaire Carreidas' account number in the Swiss bank. He did not expect Tintin and his friends to accompany Carreidas but nonetheless is delighted at the opportunity of taking revenge.

Tintin and his friends are tied down in an island in the Pacific ocean, as expected they escape and somehow manage to overcome the evil Rastapopoulos plot to become instant millionaire.

A very funny book, I enjoyed reading this. This was my first Tintin comic.

Tintin and the Picaros- The adventures of Tintin

Author: Herge

Tintin and the Picaros , the last book in The adventures of Tintin is a comical take on international conspiracy, and describes a non-traditional non-violence coup carried out by Tintin in an effort to bring about peace in the world.

Tintin is shown practising yoga, and is less aggressive and reluctant to take up further missions. Tintin and the Picaros must be the only book in which Captain Haddock, an alcoholic, has some aversion to anything that has alcohol.The reason for his aversion plays an important role in the plot, and his reactions are as comical as usual.

This isn't a great Tintin comic, but worth reading once though.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Calculus Affair-The adventures of Tintin

Author: Herge

"The Calculus Affair" is the eighteenth of The Adventures of Tintin series, written and illustrated by Herge,the famous Belgian cartoonist.Tintin, the boy detective along with his dog Snowy and Captain Haddock travel to Geneva and then to a fictional country of Eastern Europe in search of the absent minded Professor Calculus,who had somehow got into trouble due to his new invention.
Tintin is as calm and composed as usual, while Captain Haddock is as furious as always. An insurance agent occupies Captain Haddock’s residence, and Haddocks comment that “I’m insured against everything under the sun except insurance agents" is quite amusing and very true in the real world.

Professor Calculus, the foolish scientist makes one wonder how can someone be so absent-minded? As long he’s there in the scene, every object made of glass break in Captain Haddock’s house. He is kidnapped during his journey towards Geneva, Tin Tin and Haddock set to search Professor Calculus without even realizing that Calculus had left to Geneva. The rest of the story is about how they accomplish their mission, as every spy story in the world would vouch to; Tintin and company manage to escape unthinkable situations in unimaginable ways.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The ABC murders

Author: Agatha Christie

A serial killer is murdering people arbitrarily in the order of their names. The first victim is Alice Ascher of Andover, second Betty Barnard of Bexhill-on-Sea, third Sir Carmichael Clarke of Churston. i.e., the first victim is a person with his initial A from a place starting with A, the second victim is B, and so on.The victims are completely unrelated; of different financial backgrounds, and different age factions.

Before each murder Hercule Poirot receives a letter stating the time and place of the next murder, but by the time Poirot and the police reach the place, the murder would’ve already occurred. At each murder spot, the killer leaves an ABC Railway Guide next to the body of the victim with the open page facing the floor.

Some of the clues lead to a stocking salesman called Alexander Bonaparte Cust (ABC), an old, partially blind, epileptic man. His presence at each murder location is proved beyond doubt, and he surrenders stating that he could’ve done the murders as he is unaware of himself many a times in a day. All the letters were typed from his typewriter, but he denies typing any letter and claims that he had never heard of Poirot before meeting him at the investigation office. Though Cust surrenders, he could not be jailed for lack of evidence and loopholes in the evidences against him.

Who is the serial killer? What is his motive? Can an old,weak, epileptic man kill four people with different weapons and cleverly conceal the murder weapon? These are the questions Poirot asks himself. Read the book to find the culprit.

This is a detective fiction, and the easiest way to spoil your pleasure of reading is to reveal the climax.The ABC murder, written in a double point of view is worth your time any day.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rich dad Poor dad

Author: Robert T.Kiyosaki

Robert T.Kiyosaki's classic book Rich dad poor dad is quite popular among people who know something about passive money.The book is not a quick fix to get rich, but rather a way to accumulate your hard earned money in a systematic way.It is about thinking like rich man!

The author, in his own conversational manner elaborates why poor remains poor and rich get richer. He reasons that rich generates money from his assets while the poor is happy to earn money from his paycheck. Earning money from paycheck in turn means that you are paying your government first i.e income tax. While a rich man can pay himself first before paying the government, How does he do that?By making corporations.

Further a poor man latches on to any offer which says " Low down, easy payment, monthly installments etc.." and happily takes a loan from his bank at a high interest rate ( generally around 10%) but what is the interest one is paid for saving money in the bank ? a mere 3-4%. The poor man ends up paying a high interest rate and ends up in a financial ditch. The poor man considers his house as his biggest asset, unless one lives in a house which is partly rented , a house cannot be an asset, explains the author. In the end, a Poor man earns money for the government, the bank,and finally a small amount to himself which wouldn't even suffice his living expenses.

Robert T.Kiyosaki further explains why getting more money wouldn't solve money problems for a financially illiterate person, in fact according to him more money would mean more debt problems for such a person. You can learn more about this in the book, a lot of pages are dedicated to this particular topic.

Rich dad poor dad expounds on the importance of investments, especially in the stock market and real estate. How holding on to a secure job can be dangerous to you in the long run, and how a long-term investment strategy and focusing on your investment would do good to you in the long run.

There are answers to some of the frequently discussed topic such as " Take money from the rich and give it to the poor, Let there be equality", the Robin Hood way, the reasons given by Robert sounds fresh and in fact brings about change in attitude towards many of the money misconceptions.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The world of Nagraj

Author: R.K. Narayan

As always, it is a pure delight to read through rather travel along with Nagraj in the mystical town of Malgudi. There are no big twists just for the sake of impressing the reader nor does it have a new storyline to talk loud about. Nevertheless it is refreshing to look into people through R.K. Narayan’s eyes.

Nagraj is a wealthy man with an ancestral residence and a life long ambition of writing a book about Narada, the mythological figure. Childless and nearing his middle age he loves his wife Seeta and spends most of his time in his ancestral home. One day Tom, Nagraj’s brother’s son turns up at Nagraj’s house and vows never to return to his father Gopu. Tom, like every unguided teenager gets into trouble and Nagraj could not even bring up to talk anything to him. Gopu blames Nagraj for Tom’s predicament, and Seeta compels him to question Tom about his whereabouts.
Later Tom's problems makes Nagraj wonder why did he have to take care of an unnecessary responsibility and leads towards a predictable but certainly engaging climax.

More than the story, the thought process of the protagonist is the most curios feature of R.K. Narayan’s writing and he does not fail this time too.

One Night @ the Call center

Author: Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat’s second book is more of a film script unintentionally sent to the publisher than written to reflect the call centers mushrooming at every available space in the metros. Obviously it failed to impress me in any way. Five point someone was good, it had an insider’s account of IIT and one could easily relate to the characters and more than everything Five point someone did not have brainless flow of narration that ON@CC enjoys from the beginning. One night at call center fails miserably on this point, the narration is too inane to accept being true as vouched by the author.

ON@CC is a story of some call center employees staring at downsizing and a rude bossy boss, Mr. Bakshi. Characterization is not too bad, but the narration is completely immature and foolish. The anti-American approach and the assumption of all-Americans-are-fools may not go well with everyone. As usual, like what you see in the movies there is a romantic story dragged along with the main story. The broken romantic relationship between two of the call centre employees is restored in the most absurd way one could imagine, I can’t even imagine how the author thought of such a weird notion to spoil a marriage. And finally to manage the downsizing they find a ridiculous and completely unacceptable way to make a happy and lived happily ever after sort of climax. With a little more masala (There is enough masala already) ON@CC could do well as a film; for it was originally made to the silver screen.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Five Point Someone

Author: Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone is a kind of autobiography with a lot interesting excerpts from the life in an IIT. One need not be an IITian to understand the novel, though you may pick up some of their own jargons at the end of the novel. As the author clearly mentions, it is not about how to get into the IIT or what to do once you get into the IIT, it is about what not to do in the IIT. The book is narrated in the first person by Hari, with some small passages by his friends Ryan and Alok, as well as a letter by Hari's girlfriend Neha Cherian who happens to be the daughter of Prof.Cherian, the head of their department and the most orthodox of personalities one can ever see in real life.

It is more of reminiscences than a story. Three boys from completely different backgrounds meet at the IIT, and their life takes a new turn. Until the higher secondary level each of them was first in their own school, and they were pets of their teachers.As soon as they enter the IIT, they find themselves as five pointers. Five is their assessment mark out of ten, and Five is the minimum mark to clear a subject. They feel that IIT is inhibiting their freedom of creativity, make them mug unnecessary things just for the purpose of high grades. They wonder how such anti-creative alumni is making India proud.
The most important aspect of this book is the ability of the author to make a reader relate to the characters. We can see a part of Hari in each of us, one who does not believe in himself even to take a simple decision. Ryan is the one each of us would like to be, the super smart, gutsy, humorous character. We always mock at people like Alok, the fat, a little selfish, ungainly looking guy.

The romantic angle is provided by Neha and Hari. Though some part of their romantic story is slightly unacceptable, one can’t possibly shirk the possibility of such things happening in modern IndiaEven the overall structure of the novel is quite fresh and appealing, though there are some expected, unnecessary twists to make it clear that the story is going through its final phase.

Friday, November 2, 2007

The inscrutable Americans

Author : Anurag Mathur

Genre : humor

A highly rated book by an Indian author on the experiences of a clueless Indian student on American soil, rather concrete as put by Mathur. It might disappoint many of the expectant readers the moment you forget that the book was set in 90's when a dollar returned a mere 13 rupees.

Gopal, the Indian student at the American University finds himself hard to adjust with the change of culture at his new found land. Along with Randy, the typical change-girlfriends-every week American he experience a new world in the University campus.His bewilderment continues from the American girls,the new gadgets, the naked billboards, the telephone and to his multi-channeled color TV. The book is nothing but a humorous account of Gopal from landing in the US to his flight back to India. Some part of the book is cliched, monotonous, predictable and very filmy. Especially the return journey to India.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Murder in Mesopotamia

Author : Agatha Christie

Genre : Detective fiction

Apart from painting a vivid picture on the archaeological fields of Mesopotamia, the author manages to bring about a story on human psychology. The narrator,nurse Amy Leatheran, is a part of the excavation at Tell Yarimjah.The murder takes place a week after her arrival, and she describes the events before the murder her investigations with Hercule Poirot in a very simple way.

A murder takes place in a dig of Tel Yarimjah at Hassanieh, and Poirot visits the place to investigate the murder. To reveal the victim would be to give away half the delight of reading this good novel.

Though the modus operandi of the killer intrigues the reader until it is disclosed, the answer is not satisfactory. Poirot's methods of deduction are superlative and well justified, the manner in which he questions the members of the expedition to figure out hidden facts about the victim reveals a lot of the methodical approach of Poirot. The novel appears to be dragged at the end, it could've been a better novel with thirty pages less.

They Came To Baghdad

Author : Agatha Christie

Genre : International conspiracy

Confirmation of the manufacture of a secret weapon has been obtained by a British agent.All the persons concerned were meeting in Baghdad and the code was " A white camel loaded with oats is coming over the pass."

This is not the kind of novel that one would expect from Agatha Christie , a truly memorable Agatha novel without Hercule Poirot. It's all about international conspiracy,and the author cleverly manages to keep the reader guessing on who the real manipulator is. Agatha Christie takes us to the enchanting land of ancient history, to the streets of busy Baghdad, to the ruins of Babylon and to the digs of archaeologists in the middle of the deserts.

Anna Scheele, a young secretary of an American Bank is being chased around in London. She came to London on the pretext of meeting her ailing sister Elsie, and suddenly she vanishes into thin air. Every body is searching her, and the reader is kept in dark about her whereabouts till the later part of the novel.

On the other hand, Victoria Jones, a typist in London falls in love with Edward;It was love at first sight.Edward takes her photo and soon leaves to Baghdad. Victoria being jobless and charmed by the good-looking Edward is keen to join him at Baghdad. Upon a bizarre coincidence, an old and sick Mrs. Clipp on her way to Kirkuk near Baghdad mentions a need for nurse to assist her on her flight journey to Baghdad. The penniless Victoria happily agrees and lands in Hotel Tio at Baghdad. She meets Edward, and joins Olive Branch upon Edwards advice.

Soon,Victoria gets mixed up in a murder and later kidnapped. She knows too much now. The bizarre coincidence is after all a planned one. Why did Baghdad need her? The climax unfolds all the mystery in a truly admirable way.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Royal Bengal Mystery

Author : Satyajit Ray

Genre : Detective Fiction

An amazing detective fiction on par with Agatha Christie's master detective Hercule Poirot. This book is one among the twelve Feluda collection of Ray, and the most compelling of all the twelve. There is everything that the reader can ask for in a mystery novel, a puzzle, a murder, a mad-man,and more than everything the beauty of the place where the story unfolds slowly. Ray gives a deep view of the thick forest of Northern Bengal,and to stick to a Cliche, he literally transports the reader into the lonely palace amidst deep woods and dilapidated forests.

Feluda (The detective ) is called to a certain palace up in the northern forests of Bengal by a famous hunter turned writer. Feluda is accompanied by his cousin,Topshe,the narrator of the story and Lal Mohan aka Jadayu, a witty middle aged adventure writer.

The hunter turned writer shows them a big room filled with animal hides and weapons, and briefs about his ancestors. They all were famous hunters too, in fact , very famous. Feluda is asked to solve a puzzle left by the hunter's father, which he had recently come across while he was writing his new book.The brother of the hunter is a little out of mind,the friend of the hunter is intriguingly quiet,while his brilliant secretary is killed on the second day of Feluda's arrival.

The secretary was found to be half eaten by a tiger, with a deep metal made wound on his chest.
Later Feluda discovers that the secretary had already solved the puzzle, which was actually a map to ancestral property, and he had decided to take it as his payment for writing all those books about hunting which his boss had merrily published in his name. And , there is more and more startling twists as the story leads to its climax.

Just unputdownable, and a great page-turner!

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Painter of Signs

Author : R.K. Narayan

Genre : Romance, humor

Written by R.K. Narayan, The Painter of Signs is a smooth work of fiction, the entire plot being very simple which can well be encapsulated into a short story. The beauty of the story lies in the way in which the author has handled the romantic angle between the two lead characters, Raman and Daisy.

But as R.K. Narayan mentioned somewhere in one of his essays, "It’s a bad habit to give out the entire story in a few words, on which the author must have worked laboriously to notch up over 80,000 words".
Anyway, what I’m going to write is something that can induce my reader to read The Painter of Signs.

Maldgudi is the little fictional town in South India where the story takes place. Many of R.K. Narayan's are woven around this town. His novel can give you a bright insight into the kind of life led by the people in South India, the daily dose of coffee ,the market place and so on.

Raman is a simple painter, as u might have already guessed ,the painter of Malgudi, who resides in a house near a river. Daisy, a new entrant to the author’s fictional town, is a social servant bent on bringing India’s population down. The intimacy between the two characters is well portrayed, without going overboard. I remember an essay by the same author where he says that he better likes to shut the door even when his characters are in deep love, a very unusual thought I would say.

The story is written in a particular style where the author narrates the story in a third person stand as if he was in the minds of Raman, a lot of his thoughts and comments add spice to the thrilling narration.
I can assure you a pleasant read and a feeling of being with Raman in Malgudi, in a very Narayan style.