Friday, 31 October 2014

Book Review: God Is A Gamer by Ravi Subramnaian

  Disclaimer: I've tried my best to not spoil anything.  But, I'd still like to say, proceed with caution.

     I've had model exam's going on this week, but the cover of "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian was enticing enough, that I picked it up over my electronic devices text book, and managed to finish it in about two days. It only took me that long, because eventually, the electronic devices text book guilt tripped me back into doing a little bit of studying as well. But, I'll tell you this much. It was pretty hard to put this novel down once I got going.
Not even my electronic devices paper.
   The narration takes you to various parts of the world, through seemingly unrelated stories of seemingly unrelated characters. You witness a well orchestrated assassination of a US senator. The FBI launches an Investigation. A wealthy business man runs a successful BPO and novel gaming company in Mumbai, alongside his brooding right hand man, who seems to be having a mid life crisis. Someone pulls off a heist of 5 million dollars. There's office politics at a multinational bank. Then, there's the young couple that falls too fast and too hard in love. We even get a glimpse of the seedy underbelly of Indian national politics in this fictional roller coaster ride. You just keep reading, trying to connect the dots.  And eventually the connections happen and the characters begin to relate with each other and meet, and the story seems to start falling into place. Notice that I only said "seems". The plot always remains unpredictable on a certain level, much like the virtual world of currency, bitcoins, which also figures into the plot. This unpredictability may be because the author takes great care to make sure you never get too close to figuring out any of the characters. He lets you in on their emotions and frustrations, which reveals just the right bit. He steers clear of giving you complete character sketches. And he cleverly riddles the plot in a slew of business stats, corporate jargon, and monotone subjective descriptions. Initially, I wondered if it was the best idea to narrate the story, instead of letting the protagonists and characters talk, because I've always believed that the characters and the plot itself, comes alive when you let them talk, but then soon, I realized this was indeed the right call, the dry narrative is really a guise to hide the motives and the plot points. It's what makes it tick, and keep you turning the pages, on your toes, waiting for answers.
   "Is revenge a crime?", The cover asks you.
And that must be avenged.
     You wonder whose revenge it is. Who is responsible for all this? Does the brooding Sundeep have a darker side? Did Swami's self righteousness and anger turn him into an evil master mind? Is Tanya really just a conniving bitch? I found it really suspicious that just as the mysterious 'Altoids' responded to the FBI (failing to realize, it was the FBI) saying he/she was willing to get in touch to find out how to retrieve the missing alpha numeric in the bitcoin key, Tanya decided to log onto the Internet using Aditya's WiFi while waiting for Varun to take her to dinner. Very Subtle.  Even Aditya seems too clean with all his moral beliefs to be just another wealthy, intelligent business man. Does he have more sinister ulterior motives? We've been trained to suspect charming men in suits, and politicians. What's with the finance minister anyway?

    Except maybe Varun, cause, who can resist the charming sweet energetic young guy on a mission to turn his dads gaming company the best in the world? Or is that the only mission he's on?
Let's be real. I'm Paranoid.
  All we're really sure about is that someone pulled the linchpin, and now the dominoes just won't stop falling. And one by one, they will all fall.
Whatever it is, one of them is getting served, and its cold.
   Another thing, about this book, that I really enjoyed, is that unlike most other thrillers, this isn't just yet another quest for justice. It's simple, reckless, revenge. Someone has to pay. And pawns may be sacrificed in the process; it's a deadly game they play. And you're kept guessing until the very last chapter, where Ravi Subramanian brilliantly builds a case, has you believe You know and have all the answers and then throws in one final plot twist to have you question everything you thought you figured out. 
Oh my. Did you see that coming?

   At the end of the day, if you look hard enough, you might be able to poke loopholes, and you can question the morality behind all of this, but it is a good book, a gripping thriller, which is exactly what it claims to be. This was my first Ravi Subramnaian novel, and I will be going out to get the others very soon. Will I recommend it to a friend? Yes. Definitely, Priced at ₹299 (available for cheaper on flipkart), it is probably one of the best Indian Page turners I've read in a while. 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!
Have you read "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian? Do you agree with my review? What did you think of the book? do you like thrillers? Let me know in the comments below. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Books and I - Definitely the best love story

      This little place on the internet has become a church of sorts, what with all the confessing I do here. I told you about how I might just be stalking you, I even told you I was manipulative and evil. So in order to keep the tradition alive, I'm back with yet another confession, except of course, this is probably far less scandalous. I was that kid who hid a novel in her text book to read in class, (I got caught too. Plenty of times. Obviously, I'm not as sneaky as I'd like you to believe I am. Stealth mode, definitely not one of my strongest suits. But that's besides the point, I was that kid who spent the entire night, up, reading with the light from my phone, before I discovered eBooks. You know how, when you're in the tenth grade or the 12th grade in this country and your parents decide to pack up your TV and dump it in the attic, so that you could concentrate on your studies? Yeah, My parents bought one of those new big screen TV's that were all the rage back then, and refused to let me renew my library membership. Yeah, I was that kid. And that kid resurfaces whenever she gets the chance.
To compensate for the easy confession, I give you this. Very awkward photographic evidence of that kid. At 5 years old. In the natural habitat.
Notice how I look so distracted, Yes, that is just how happy I am. Extremely.
    Books are my home. My haven. My heaven. They were there for me when humanity was just too much to deal with. When I was in a happy place, When I was in a sad place. It didn't matter. Fiction was always there. Books were my addiction, When reality became too much and too dull to bear, I had a way out, Fiction. I lived the protagonists life, in a different world, in a different place, in a different dimension of time and space, I lived it out, and then that fixed me. The adrenaline, the adventure and just that rush that comes from reading, at a stretch, of escaping your own boring, dull, sometimes even depressing and dark life and knowing that you may never really face the kind of mystery, magic, and macabre that you just lived, but knowing, Knowing in your heart, that you did just live all that, and you lived  it to the fullest.  That is what books are to me, a drug.

   The only thing that could possibly be better than books, was free books, and hence I naturally applied to be a part of the book review program on, a couple of weeks ago. And I guess they figured that I was that kid who pitched  up a small tent for herself and lived at the local library on summers, because they sent me an email saying I had been shortlisted!
So, Then I went ahead and did exactly this.
    In the email, they told me that I had been selected to review "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi Subramanian and that I would receive the book shortly. I'm pretty sure they instantly regretted sending me this email, because then I got anxious and proceeded to thoroughly stalk and spam them until my shipment finally arrived last Friday.

Then, Obviously, I did this. You get the idea.

 Did I mention?? IT'S A SIGNED COPY TOO!!!
I was grinning, A little creepily.

  So, In the next, post, Which I plan to put up later tonight or early tomorrow, You can read my review of "God Is A Gamer" by Ravi subramanian,because I finished it days ago, and have been dying to write this and put it up, what with all the exams at college. But the wait is over now!!!
click here to read my book review.

P.s: I'd like to thank blogadda for this and for putting up with my extreme level of anxious stalking.

Are you a reader? What is your one addiction? Were you able to relate to the thrill that comes with reading that I talked about? or are you that kid who always fell asleep when he touched a book, and secretly believes that the world has conspired against you and secretly sprayed every book with chloroform? Let me know in the comments below!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Diwali - Are Fireworks Really Evil? Or Are They Just Misunderstood?

     I have already confessed to being an evil manipulative genius, probably second to only Dr. Heinz doofenshmirtz. 
world domination and curse you perry the platypus
This guy. 
     If you know me at all, you know that I have already dutifully polluted the environment today with all my Diwali fireworks and am writing this post while taking a break from my exhausting evil life. So staying true to my character, I'm going to write this post about Diwali and fireworks because I know it's going to attract a lot of traffic to the blog, and then I'm going to try and brainwash convince you to burst crackers and fireworks, because I have literally decided to play devil's advocate. In this case, I will represent narakasura the evil henchmen who created fireworks in 7th century china. 
    One reason people give me for not bursting fireworks this Diwali, is because they think it's a waste of money, they claim that spending your money on fireworks is nothing short of actually visually seeing your money go up in flames and leave a pile of smouldering ash and smoke behind. If you are one of these people, I have nothing to say to you except, "but it looks so pretty, and burning your money never looked this good". Besides, think of all the people stuff you can accidentally set on fire. You know your friend who buys terrible clothes and tells you it looks better on, well today is your day, You can finally burn down her entire wardrobe and claim that when she said it looked better on, You thought she meant on fire

    Another excuse I've been hearing, is that apparently, fireworks were never really the tradition of Diwali, that lighting diyas were the original tradition and fireworks were just the evil that originated in 7th century China that has been thrust upon us by evil manipulative business men henchmen. And here's my answer to that. So what if it's not our culture? We have begun to accept the idea of many western holidays, even valentine's day. 4th of july celebrations in the US involve pyrotechnic shows. Plenty of other countries have similar festivals of light or involve the usage of fireworks in various celebrations. Besides, fireworks and pyrotechnics are a hell lot more fun than lighting diyas! And Diwali is our Festival of Lights, so why not adapt? Loosen up. Celebrate. Especially since it has already become a tradition of sorts. You can't deny that you laughed and enjoyed the pyrotechnics as a kid, it's what made Diwali so special. It's why it was your favourite festival. so why take that joy away from your kids, the future generations? Why be a hypocrite? 
we're gonna let it burn!!
Cause we got the fire fire fire....
     Lastly, There are two very valid concerns that are pushing people to boycott fireworks altogether.
the first one is pollution. Let's begin with air pollution, shall we? We all know the major cause of air pollution in the world is vehicles and industries burning fossil fuels, Yet, we choose to ignore this and play environmentalist on one day, Diwali. and act all self righteous. Why don't we carpool with the colleagues we already can't stand to work with, during office hours, instead of taking our cars or bikes to work? Or ride our bicycles to work, Or walk (you get some cardio too. It's a win win. you don't even need to hit the gym). Or make use of the public transportation system. Also, quit smoking, because even that's air pollution. Did you know that the chlorofluorocarbons emitted by our AC's and refrigerators also do more harm to the environment. Get rid of those and then I will call you superman. Yes. Don't tell me you need your cars, because, the truth is, you don't. About a century ago, Cars didn't exist in India, and people still managed to live without them, you can too. Your car is really just a luxury, that you've grown accustomed to. Take up an ATP (alternative travel project) all through the year, and I promise you, you would have done far more for the world and the environment, than what you would achieve by going green on Diwali. Compensate. They say plant two trees for every tree you cut down. In much the same way, be environmentally conscious all through the year, enjoy diwali. 
    As for concerns regarding noise pollution, don't buy explosive fireworks, or the ones that make too much noise, cause diwali is the festival of lights not loud noises anyway.

I'm not trying to say Diwali doesn't cause pollution at all, or justify it, but in comparison to the day to day harm we bring to the environment, Diwali is relatively innocent. But Moderation is the key to everything. We try to minimise our usage of fossil fuels, we don't entirely stop burning fossil fuels,  because that's not possible, that's irrational. but when it comes to fireworks, we are quick to radically boycott them altogether. This is not a practical solution. This brings me to the next reason that most people seem to cite.  Sivakasi, the "fireworks capital" of our country is constantly plagued by safety problems and child labour, and people seem to believe it's just best to annihilate the industry entirely, and they seem to believe that the best way to go about this is by boycotting fireworks and going for a green Diwali. Everybody wins.  Except that everybody doesn't win. Here's why,  According to google, 
Sivakasi, in  Tamil Naduin southern India, produces more than 90% of India's fireworks and India is the second largest producer of fireworks in the world, next to China.The fireworks industry in Sivakasi is worth between Rs 800-1000 crore. The market for fireworks is likely to grow at the rate of 10% per annum. There are nearly 450 fireworks factories giving direct employment to about 40,000 workers and about 1 lakh indirect such as paper tube making, wire cutting, box making in the countryside.
       If this industry were to completely shut down, It's significant contribution to the GDP of our country would go down, This in turn affects our economy. 1,40,000 people will be driven to unemployment, lose their livelihood, and their only chance of making even one square meal, a day. and we already have plenty of unemployment here. Most people tell me that the money I spend buying fireworks will not go to some poor worker who spends all year, exposing himself to the toxic stuff that go into making these fireworks, but to the fat greedy people who run these factories. That I am just enabling child labour, bonded labour and nailing the final coffin in the safety problems issue by buying these fireworks. But I have a slightly different vantage point. It is child labour, It is bonded labour, these children don't get education, they are subjected to some serious health hazards by working in these factories, and it is absolutely inexcusable, but boycotting fireworks will not result in stopping these factories from employing children, nor will they be forced to shut down. In fact, shutting them down altogether isn't the best idea either. Picture this. Say about 40% of indians opt for a green diwali and do not burst any firecrackers. We have already established that the fat greedy men who run the firecracker industry are evil. So to compensate their loss, this is what they will do. they will fire about half their workforce. Now say about half of the unskilled labourers who get fired are able to find new odd jobs.  The other half will starve to death. Then there are those lucky ones that don't get fired, they will get overworked and possibly paid even less. now they'd have to work in even worse conditions. and this outcome is really just wishful thinking, This isn't even the worst case scenario. Now if about 90% of indians were to boycott fireworks, this industry might be forced to shut down, because the exports from sivakasi is estimated to be less than 5%.  But if it were to shut down we ought to provide alternate employment opportunities for these unskilled labourers. Sivakasi is largely an industrial town, there aren't a lot of agricultural plots or irrigation facilities, and these indigenous people of the firework industry aren't trained to be farmers or to work in any other industry. This is all they know. 
  But as I mentioned earlier, the ill treatment, child labour, bonded labour and unsafe working conditions are inexcusable. So what is the most viable solution to this issue? Ensure safer working conditions. Do not employ children. That is the most viable solution. China, the world's biggest manufacturers (with an annual domestic and export market pegged at Rs 80,000 crore) of fireworks does not face the same problems as India. Some Indian Manufacturers visit Chinese firework factories, buy their technologies and machines, and pay for their technicians to come to India and hold master classes. Technicians in china, hold diplomas and degrees in fireworks engineering whereas sadly, in India, we don't even have a R&D center for fireworks. We already have laws and regulations in place to ensure safer working conditions, And India does not endorse ill treatment of employees or child labour or bonded labour. The problem is that this is India, and nobody seems to be following these regulations. And the only way to fix this, is to fix this, Clean up the corruption that allows situations like this to breed. I'd like to believe that this should be a piece of cake for the country that successfully accomplished a mars mission with the cheapest budget in the world. While we're at it, We might even be able to develop eco friendly green crackers? They already do exist, but they don't seem to be very popular.
India!! :D
P.S: It also seems to me that the price of fireworks have hiked up, and the quality has noticeably reduced too. About 5 out of 10 flower pots in my pack of flower pots exploded today.they're not the kind of fireworks that are supposed to explode. I need to know if you have been observing this too or if Karma is just a real bitch. 
Is Karma really out to get me?
P.P.S: I was inspired to write this because I got into an argument very passionate discussion (I promise, We didn't even bust a Caps Lock) about this with two well meaning sweet strangers on the internet who have recently become good friends of mine. They tried to save me, tried to convince me to go green, but the evil in me strung out. And here I am. They are probably going to be disappointed with this, But who cares. You guys are amazing. Thank you fab and Pika. You inspired me. 
P.P.S.S: I didn't proof read this because I'm so badass. 

What is your take on the fireworks dilemma? Did you go green? Or are you evil like me? Also let me know if your fireworks were as bad as mine. Cause if it that was really just karma, I'm going to be in for much worse, after I publish this. Let me know what you think in the comments below. Happy Diwali!! :D

Friday, 17 October 2014

This Post Is To Say That I'm Not Giving Up On Us

I have a confessions to make.
I shall call it the stalkinator

     I am a stalker. But I've found a perfectly good reason to justify my stalker behaviour. And the reason is love. Yes, let's blame everything on love. Because obviously love is to blame for Ebola and global warming as well. I love you people, my readers. And you just don't give up on that kind of love. That is why I'm stalking you now. Because, I love you.
Don't pretend like you don't do it.
    This is also why, I tirelessly urge you to follow me on blogger, follow me on bloglovin or subscribe to the email list, so that we may properly stalk each other, and so that you don't miss out on new posts. 
This picture is a pretty accurate representation of me trying to get people to subscribe to my blog
Minus the cuteness.
    Yet many of you have still managed to efficiently evade my relentless stalking claiming that email is so ten years ago and nobody uses it anymore anyway except at work and for school. And that's only because those stuck up institution heads just won't switch to social networking.  And because I know and understand that many of you are just as lazy as I am and don't want to sign up for bloglovin, I have decided to bring junkwire to you. By means of magic, among other things.  junkwire is now on the wonderland of social networking sites, Facebook! Here's a link to the new facebook page! Told you I was a stalker. 
You have to follow me
Now you have no excuse.
So Now go show some love and hit that like button, because I won't give up on us, until you all give in to my charming witty humour and incessant stalking.
NO. I won't.

What social networking site are  you a cheerleader of?!Facebook, Twitter, pinterest? Did you hear that orkut has pulled it's shutters? were you on orkut? Have you heard of orkut? What are your thoughts on social networking and stalking?? Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Homicidal Cows And How my family survived an angry mob of Indian villagers

      I know this post sounds like something out of one of the gazillion final destination movies, but I'm not kidding. This actually happened. True story bro. This is what happens when cows jump over moons hedges in the middle of a highway. So if you're a cow and you're thinking about doing this, DON'T, because it's not funny and it isn't just suicidal, it's also homicidal. If you're someone who owns cows, please keep your cows in check. Cows with suicidal and homicidal tendencies aren't helping anyone. Unfortunately,  I don't have proof that this happened. I asked the members of my family involved in this particular incident for photographic evidence but they claimed that they were kinda busy getting away with their lives and hence weren't able to document the events of that day for the blog.  This was particularly disappointing because in my head I had already began photoshopping myself into these images. And my attempts to pilfer my uncle's car's insurance paperwork for you guys turned out futile cause he sold the car involved in this particular incident. But, You have my word. This happened.
It only happens in India.
You have my word
This is the face of truth

   Now, let's begin, shall we?
   A couple of years ago, somebody in the family had passed away. Phones were ringing incessantly, my family had to go to the funeral service. All the kids were busy. So were our mothers. We presumably had some exam going on. It was decided that all the men in the family would go, because it's not like they had anything to do. My dad, and my three uncles were happy enough to ditch work, and on they went. ROADTRIP.
     Somehow, Somebody thought it would be a good idea to let uncle no.2 who happened to be the fastest driver in the family to drive uncle no.1's car, a very gaudy black sedan, a Logan, on the National highway leading towards our hometown. Uncle no.1 swears that he wasn't dozing off in the front seat while uncle no.2 was driving. In fact he claims to have been shooting his brother, uncle no.1,  dirty looks every time he tried to cross the speed limit.
Basically, This.
But somehow, I'm convinced that all the passengers of the car probably dozed off, until.... Time slowed. and they rounded a blind turn just as said cow(s) jumped over a hedge that they were hiding behind (because uncle no.1 also claims that there were two cows) .Uncle no.2, who was driving, hit it. There was no stopping the car. Not at that last second, Not at that speed, and Certainly not on that highway, that last minute of time. They hit the cow, And this is exactly how they narrate the story...
 "Thank god no.2 was driving fast enough, we hit the cow with so much momentum, it went up like twenty feet in the air and then landed behind the car. Had he not been driving that fast, the cow would have landed with a hell lotta momentum on the car, instead of behind it, positively crushing all of us to death, because that cow weighed like tonnes". 
   Always looking on the bright side, my family. Also, So sympathetic, I know. But that didn't necessarily mean that they got to walk away with their lives intact. This was India, and cows, here, on this side of the planet, homicidal or not, are considered sacred.
Before my family  had the time to snap out of it, or get out of the car for that matter, An angry mob of villagers stormed out of nowhere. Yes, with their pitch forks, sticks, stones and various other arsenal in tow. Uncle no.2, claims that  some of them actually came from behind the bushes the cows were hiding behind...
This picture is a pretty accurate approximation of what followed.

How did they have time to get all those weapons, anyway?!
   There was no backing out, or reversing the car either. The angry mob had surrounded the car, and they began to hammer the car with their hands. My dad, being the smart and kind guy that he is, give that man a cookie, suggested that somebody call the blue cross, India's animal welfare society. Uncle no.4 quickly shot this idea down.
"The cow is dead, There's nothing the blue cross can do except maybe, arrest us. "
Something about this entire fiasco seemed very scammy. and suspicious. Like...
1) Why would the cow jump out of those bushes, on to the highway right into the path of a speeding car?!
odd.. very, very, odd.
2) How did they get all those weapons and get here so damn quick?!

    Unfortunately, they didn't have time to ask each other these questions. They had one goal. And that was to Survive. and the villagers were like..
give us money for killing our goddess cow and you can go.

And my family was like....
And that is how they got out of there.

They paid the angry mob of villagers in return for their freedom. And managed to survive. Other ways they could have survived here...
   Here comes the best part though, uncle no.1 who owned the Logan tried to claim road accident insurance on the car. And get this, The insurance company not only paid to fix the car, but also informed him that his was the fourth car they'd seen that month in a case of homicidal cows on the highway. This group had purposely pushed the poor old cow onto the road to scam car drivers into paying them. that's why they were out with their arsenal so fast. something about this did seem suspicious all along. It was all premeditated, it wasn't a case of homicidal cows at all. It was a case of cow homicide. it was murder. 

What is the freakiest accident you've been involved in?? What would you have done in if an angry mob surrounded you?? What is the most brutal case of animal cruelty you've witnessed?? ?Have you ever been conned in a completely unexpected way, at a seemingly unassuming place?? Let me know in the comments below.

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