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.