Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The shocking truth about corporates: Book Review

fiction,book,2014,ravi subramanian,god is a gamer,bitcoin,thriller,bestseller,silk road

"God hath given you one face and you make yourself another."

That's Shakespeare speaking on the subject of deceit and deception in one his finest works, Hamlet. On the same lines, the subject at hand here is one that is filled with deceit to the brim.

Before getting on with the book review, I must admit that I always look forward to works of fiction penned by Ravi Subramanian (I shall refer to him as R.S.). Being a part of the banking fraternity myself, becomes a strong reason for my gravitation towards his books. Although, don't get misguided by the word 'fiction', for a lot of subjects talked about and mentioned in this book have their origins with real life people, technologies and scams. With each book, RS seems to growing like a banyan tree, spreading its roots into a larger and larger radius while his eagle-like gaze is very focused on the topic at hand.

The teasers and the competitions leading up to the book launch were well designed by the team. It was a pleasure meeting the author in flesh at the launch event and grabbing a quick copy personally autographed by RS himself.

The Specifications

Title - God is a gamer
Author - Ravi Subramanian
Publisher - Penguin Books
Pages -322
Price - Rs. 299/-
ISBN - 978-0-143-42139-9

The externals

The author, Ravi, has ensured that the cover looks appealing by keeping the title of the book in bold and golden fonts. The center of the book belongs to a golden Bitcoin imitation which sets the tone for the entire book. In keeping with the trend of his previous books, the cover for this book also features a dark silhouette against the backdrop of the White House. Another trend followed by the book is that of a punchline. 'Is revenge a crime' gives the book another shade of revenge to it. All in all, a book cover to satiate the senses of a thrill seeking reader.

The plot and characters

The externals complement the internals and the action begins from the first paragraph itself. The author employs the use of a converging storyline in order to give different perspectives to the unfolding drama. The script runs like a Jason Bourne-like action packed film. The reader can almost visualize the entire action happening right in front of their eyes. This has been ensured with the use of shorter sentences, swear words and short chapters. 
The storyline has multiple threads to it and the characters in this story also have multiple layers of personalities. However, the author effortlessly weaves all these threads into a single garment.
One side of the story has a US government official Gillian Tan who is assassinated in a car bomb explosion in Washington. During the course of the investigation a website called Cotton Trail is discovered which sells illegal items via a free network called the TOR (Onion Router). The most challenging aspect of this investigation is the involvement and use of Bitcoin as a currency of payment. This brings the investigations officers to India.
Aditya Rao runs a gaming company Indiscape and eTIOS. Reuniting with his son Varun after several years (who is also into drugs and all) turns around the world of gaming and brings the kind of success that his father, Aditya, had always dreamed of. However, Varun's methods and motives stand in doubt and question. 
A phishing scam unexpectedly affects innumerable customers of NYIB (New York International Bank) a place where Aditya had once worked. This is followed by the death of the chairman of NYIB, Malvika Sehgal. The field is open for accusations and even the Finance Minister is placed under suspicion. Meanwhile, her daughter Tanya comes closer to Varun while trying to come to terms with the sudden death of her mother.
The ending comes with its share of twists and surprises.

Reactions and experiences

Whenever I pick up a book by Ravi Subramanian, I am sure that I'll have an entire evening dedicated to his book. I wasn't disappointed in this case as well. The fact that both of us share the same corporate background of the banking industry, makes me oscillate towards his books even further. 

I share with you few of the thoughts and highlights in this book which caught my attention,

On real wealth,

"I wish I had looked back. Life would have been different. We are all chasing illusory pleasures. Our real wealth is not in our bank accounts."

One particular thing which caught my attention was the missed call excuse. This was something which I have used quite often in my corporate life and I'm sure most of you out there have as well.

"Morning, Peter! Sorry I missed your calls. The phone was in silent mode." Irrespective of the level one was at in the organization, the excuses for not taking a call remained the same.

The infamous online black market, Silk Road, also finds its place in the book in the form of Cotton Trail. The author has done substantial amount of research in the areas of Bitcoins and its origins as well as the online TOR and Silk Road network. (The silk road creator recently got caught and is undergoing trial, a sign of things stemming from the book? Maybe.)

The hits

True to the author's penchant for financial crimes and thrillers, this book also uncovers many grey areas, corporate level tussles and individuals who turn to the dark and wrong side. The book should come as an eye opener to readers who are oblivious and unaware of the scams taking place in our corporate and financial services sector. 

The misses

The intimate love making scenes looked more like fillers and the reading landscape could have been used in showing the thought processes of the main protagonists. 

The final verdict

Go ahead and read this book before it gets turned into a Bollywood blockbuster.

Rating - 3.6/5

Check out my review on other websites




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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Mystery Of The Ghost Writer And Wheat - Part 17

Team Blogstirrers

You can read Part 16 written by Priyanjana Roy for Game of Blogs by Blogadda.com

The view outside the window was very soothing and welcoming because it belonged to the best place in the world - her home. Roohi was standing at the window and looking outside. Everything so familiar, so safe, so full of happiness and so full of life. It was her neighbourhood, her world. To the left, some children were running behind one another and playing some game. A few elderly aunts were sitting at the bench close to them keeping an eye on the kids. As she shifted her gaze to the right, she saw a man selling balloon and cotton candy. A group of children were hovering around his cycle, hungrily eyeing the delicious cotton candy. Roohi's taste buds too were watering. She was standing at the epicentre of this small world of hers and she was delighted by this fact. She took out her tongue to lick her lips.

Roohi was jolted out of her midnight reverie by the scampering of a rat brushing her hair aside. Roohi licked her lips but there was dust all over it. It took her a few seconds to realize that she had been dreaming. She looked around the room. Then, she hoisted herself up to take a peek at the night sky outside. How she yearned to go back home. She was hungry, thirsty but more importantly, desperately missing her mom and dad. She wanted an end to this very nasty nightmare. In the pale moonlit night, sparkles of tear drops were visible rolling down her cheeks. Hunger had deprived her of the energy to make any noises. 

She rested her head on the wall. Slowly and in a faint whisper, she started singing.

"I have a dream, a song to sing,
to help me cope with anything.
I believe in angels.
Something good in everything I see.
I believe in angels.
When I know the time is right for me,
I'll cross the stream - I haaave a.................."

Before she could finish, she fell back asleep.

Read the next part here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mystery of The Ghost Writer And Wheat – Part 6

Team: Blogstirrers

You can read Part 5 written by Harshal Gupta for Game of Blogs by Blogadda.com

The young are full of desires, the old are stuck in lighting up their fires.

Every employee looks forward to Fridays, looks up to the sky and breathes in the fresh air of the weekend breeze starting to blow. Two client meetings, one conference call, one brainstorming session and data gathering for the upcoming presentation to the Chairman - perfect recipe for a hectic day. Although, Tara wasn't too bothered, it just acted like an adrenaline punch for her.

After taking the last call for the day, Tara checked her wristwatch - 20:30 hours. A girl's night with her college friends awaited her on the other side of 21:00 hours. Tara cleared up her desk, picked up her purse, cellphone and took one last look at her desktop before signing off.

In the parking lot, Tara unlocked the car using her electronic car keys. Before opening the door, her eyes caught sight of an oily patch on the roof of her black Honda Civic. From inside the car, she took out a paper napkin and wiped it off till the surface was squeaking clean. The contended smile indicated towards her satisfaction with the cleaned part. She then bent down to adjust the buckle of her heels. Standing at five feet eight inches, her eyes were treated to quite a view of the world compared to her lesser and average height female friends and colleagues. The look of content was still on her face while adjusting the buckle.

Tara was 13 when nature started pouring the magic sugar on her. She was not the average-next-door-Jane. She had pretty and bouncy hair, her face and her body as well started developing contours and her height started shooting up. With so many physical advances taking place and with the generous helping of Bollywood films, Tara's love for high heels and good clothes started to develop very early on. She would stand in front of the mirror, looking at and admiring herself.

Tara straightened up after adjusting the buckle and took a quick at herself in the rear view mirror.

"One, two, three, four. Roses are red but I love you more." she muttered under her breath.

Tara always used to say that to herself since childhood. Not only did Tara feel that for herself, the guys in her school also felt that about her. Her classmates, her seniors and even her juniors, everyone was a fan of her. When she would walk into the school in the morning, at least five guys would wave a Hi or a good morning at her. All the boys simply loved her height and her looks, they would usually suggest her to look at modelling options. There was once a guy who even tried climbing to her first floor home to give her a gift and a rose. However, his plans were foiled by Tara's father.

There was always a 'Tara ka bechaara' (as her friends used to say it) in her vicinity.

All this adulation received by Tara from the boys did not change or make any impression on her. She was a career oriented girl, then and now as well. She had mastered the art of handling a male quite early on in her life. This was one of the primary reason for going into the media sector and being able to make a mark in it.

Tara rubbed and smacked her lips after applying lipstick. She looked all set for the night and started her car.

Read the next part here.

Me and my team are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.


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Monday, June 2, 2014

From proving to hence proved

prove, motivation, inspiration, quotes, best

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right, a single experiment can prove me wrong.

A lingering thought in the mind of Albert Einstein shows us his innermost vulnerabilities. Even a person of his caliber had to face the test of time.

A recent conversation with a female college batch mate triggered the thought for this blog post. The conversation turned from the mundane to the serious within a few keystrokes. It was during the discussion that I realized a few things. Not only are we here for a purpose but we also have to prove ourselves worthy for that purpose. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. How do I land up on philosophical thoughts out of a routine conversation? All I can say is that we must realize that there is magic hidden even in the routine dialogues.

I’m sure you must have heard about the Theory of Evolution proposed by Charles Darwin which states “the preservation of favored races in the struggle of life” or simply put, “Survival of the fittest”. Each and every species present on Earth has to prove itself to be able to survive in this world. Not only species, even non living objects are present for the same reasons and hence have to prove their existence. Take a tree for example; it exists in this world to supplement the lives of other creatures inhabiting this planet. Obviously, humans are no exceptions to this rule. All of us have to prove our human lives in one form or the other. This is the reason why we have economic, literacy and social imbalances present in society today. Some people make the cut while others fail to do so and still many others are left hanging in the balance in between these two segments.

So, we know that proving ourselves is a part of this big game called “Life” but what do you about it? It is an integral part of our lives and the place we inhabit. Proving oneself can either be an internal exercise or an external one. By internal, it implies proving and answering to the self whereas external can mean proving oneself to others and society. Keeping this in mind, one cannot simply throw up their hands and surrender to fate, destiny or karma. This situation calls for a careful analysis of and it starts with – You.
Yes, quite often, some of life’s greatest mysteries are solved by delving deep into one’s mind and consciousness. In this regard, I will introduce you to a process which I have named as

The 3-Re process

As the name suggests, this process involves 3 steps to it.

Relax – Obviously, this is a no-brainer. Any process demands that one relaxes and becomes patient. Nothing can be achieved in a single night with all guns blazing. So, save up that all-important energy in your reserves, you will need it in the marathon coming ahead of you. However, it must be noted that relaxing does not translate to procrastination, laziness or indiscipline in maintaining one’s routine.

Realize – This is the step where most of us falter. The youth of today’s generation require a lot of support and help in this area. Most of us fail to realize that one single work which moves us our entire body and soul. Passion, objective, goal, dream or idea – call it what you may. The important part is to realize one’s true potential (that takes a lot of effort and time, btw). Don’t worry if you’re not able to find your ‘mojo’, keep process number 1 in mind and keep looking for that elusive potential.

Remarkable – Now, that you’ve found out your true calling, your true vocation, your true desire, it’s time to ‘better your best’. Finding ones potential is only half the battle, the next half involves getting good at your potential. The key here lies in becoming remarkably good and not just ‘good’ at your potential. True success awaits you if you strive to become ‘insanely’ good at your potential/talent.

“Actions speak louder than words.”

Indeed, these words would seem hollow if they are not backed up by relentless action. The action part calls for a lot of discipline in one’s life, something which I often miss out in my day-to-day life. However, actions are the bonds which will tie together ‘the 3-Re process’ together. In other words, the best way to climb a mountain is by actually climbing it.

In summation, in order to achieve anything or prove oneself, one must have the right amount of ignition in one’s soul. I leave you with this thought:

Give a man a match and he’ll be warm for a minute but set him on fire and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.

What is your take on this topic? Do you have your own process to manage these obstacles? Share your thoughts and feedbacks here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

How safe is your heart and mind from emotions?

petronus, harry potter, happiness, life

Harry Potter: what does a patronus look like?
Professor Lupin: each one is unique to the wizard who conjures it.
Harry: And how do you conjure it?
Professor Lupin: With an incantation, which will work only if you are concentrating, with all your might, on a single, very happy memory.

Yes, this is the conversation which took place between Harry Potter and his mentor Professor Lupin, when he was teaching Harry to conjure a patronus to protect himself. The process of conjuring as explained by the professor has its origin in the birth of this blog post.

The recent past has been pretty heavy on the heart; my heart, to be precise. Nothing unusual, as that is the manner in which life unfolds before us. There is not a single moment of solace, not a single moment of quiet and not a single moment of stability. Life is just like the waves rocking a boat in the open sea, ride it or sink in it.

In all these trials and tribulations, I happened to chance upon Harry Potter's quest to ace the patronus conjuring process. Upon reflection, I found out that there are many similarities between Harry's and our condition in actual life. Just like a patronus needs a single, very strong happy memory to be conjured, similarly, in our lives as well, we require many happy thoughts to keep moving forward.

Ok but how do I generate such happy thoughts and memories, you may ask.

Well, it all boils down to doing things which you actually and truly love doing, meeting the people you love meeting and going to places where you love to go. It isn't that hard. Follow the heart and see where your heartbeats start to increase, there you shall find happiness.

That's fine but not everyone gets to do what they truly love in their lives, you may point out.

It is quite true that we have to make several concessions in life but therein lies the essence of this post. The key to happiness in life is doing things which you love and that brings us to the focal point.
At some point or the other, in our lives, we have to start doing things which we truly like to do. Even a single powerful happy memory is enough to annihilate all forms of despair and sadness in one's life.

So, in a nutshell, it is true that one needs to be practical in their lives and not always go doing things which one loves doing. However, does that mean that you eliminate from your life, such opportunities to gain happiness?

A thought by John Lennon rightly sums up this post.

Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.

When was the last time you conjured up your personal Petronus?

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Warning: Don't ignore these 7 ways to live and not simply exist

live life, life

Talking about life and living, Pope Paul VI had the following thoughts to share:

"Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying, Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it! I say. Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows."

Before we move on with the topic, I owe an apology to all my regular readers for going off on a hibernation and powering up after a gap. You, the reader, have been regular in your readings, your feedback, your comments and your brickbats as well. I, on the other hand haven't been as regular as you. All I can say is that sometimes an off is needed to contemplate over things surrounding our lives, sometimes an individual needs to pause and take in the view in front of them. This is what I would call 'stock-taking' of the situation at hand. My sincere apologies for being amiss from your lives, I hope I don't present such a situation again in the near future.

Having said that, the reason behind this post is pretty simple. Just take a short pause/break from whatever work you are doing and ask yourself, "Have I lived my life or am I just existing?"
Everywhere I look around, starting with my own life to the lives of those of my near and dear ones, this question becomes more and more apparent. Most of us are usually working, sitting behind a desk waiting for the month to end and the salary to get credited. Then we go on a shopping spree and finish off all that income and by the middle of the month, we are back to the same wait for the month to end.
Of course, there are quite a few of us who are born managers and one way or another, those few find the time to get work done and live their life to the fullest as well.

This post is dedicated to all those people out there who are still trying to live their lives and take control of it, rather than letting their lives control them. Read the following seven ways of doing just that:

  1. Learn to let go

    Life is a complex dish made up of many different flavors. Sometimes it's spicy, sometimes bitter, sometimes bland while sometimes full of sweetness. Learn let go of the bitter, sour parts because keeping them encased in your memory will only make the pain even more difficult to subside. If you don't let go of your previous bad experiences and emotions, how would you take on the incoming future bad experiences. Life has been designed by the Supreme power in such a manner that happiness and sadness comes to everyone of us at different points of our life. So, there is no point in holding on to that one emotion for eternity, just let it go.

    Today's Thought Learn to let go [tweet this].

  2. Explore and know yourself inside out

    Life is all about knowing what you, as an individual, desire and want. Your strengths, your weakness, your talents and your skills, all will be revealed to you if can just pause to introspect deep inside you. For some of you, this would be a simple task but for many of you, this would be task around which your entire life revolves around. Even if it takes that long, you owe it to yourself to find out the true reason of your existence and the value you can add to the human society. So, keep exploring and don't settle.

    Today's Thought Explore and know yourself inside out [tweet this]

  3. After knowing yourself, then be yourself

    One of the problem which arises is that we tend to imitate other people, other views and opinions just to give our inner soul some satisfaction. However, you are actually painting a wrong picture in front of others and more importantly, in front of yourself. Once you have fully explored your inner self and know yourself inside out, only then can you be yourself.

    Today's Thought After knowing yourself then be yourself [tweet this]

  4. Don't be too harsh on yourself

    Life is like a long winding road which gets over pretty quickly. Both you and I are still humans and therefore we are always subject to mistakes and errors. Take such situations in your stride, don't criticise yourself severely for such mistakes. Always keep in mind that bad days will give you experiences and valuable lessons of life. Learn from them and give yourself some love as well. 

    Today's Thought Dont be too harsh on yourself [tweet this]

  5. Enjoy the little joys of life

    A major breakthrough in your lifetime is quite a rare occasion. So, you're entitled to the euphoria and ecstasy of being in such a situation. However, that doesn't mean that you should stop celebrating the small joys of everyday life. Remember, how as a child we would be at cloud number nine because the teacher tugged at our cheeks and said 'good boy/girl' or the time when we beat our dads at racing. Yes, life is about all these small moments which bring us joy and a smile to our face. Treasure them and enjoy them to the fullest while they last.

    Today's Thought Enjoy the little joys of life [tweet this]

  6. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

    Ever ventured out alone in a new city? or went to the market to bargain for stuff? or travelled alone on a train? or finished that task which you had always made you feel uncomfortable? or got rid of that fear of heights/spiders/ghosts? From childhood to youth, we are brought up in a cocooned environment created by our parents. Naturally, they want to protect us, however, if you stick around in the cocoon for too long, that same safety net will become an impedance in your growth and progress. 

    Take a look in the habitat around you. Look at how the birds teach their young ones by pushing them off the edge in the hope that they will learn to spread their wings and fly. Or the animals who teach their young ones to go around hunting in search of food.

    You, I or anybody else for that manner, cannot really grasp the limits and boundaries of our thoughts, talents and strengths till we don't put them to the test. The only way to test it is to consciously move outside your comfort zone. This is the singular most important trait which all of us should imbibe in ourselves to attain a life worth smiling about. 

    Today's Thought Life begins at the end of your comfort zone [tweet this]

  7. Choose your relationships wisely

    Usually we tend to get fooled by what we see in the movies or read about in books. However, our relationships are pretty different than that. A relationship, especially that of a life partner, calls for enormous amounts of patience for each other and being able to express love for another even after 30 or 40 years of being together. Such relationships are not only meant for the good and happy times but also for the troublesome periods full of despair and obstacles. 

    Choose the relationship wisely, don't get into a relation just because you're lonely. Sometimes, the wait for a great relationship reaps great rewards and eternal happiness in the long run.

    Today's Thought Choose your relationships wisely [tweet this]

This list of 7 things was by no means an exhaustive list. I'm sure all of you have even more experiences and thoughts to share. Go ahead, express your views and opinions in the comments section below. 

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By Jay Singh
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Friday, March 22, 2013



Vivian Leigh once said that,

"Life is too short to work so hard."   [Tweet This Thought].

In keeping with these periods of time available to us in short supply, I present to you something short to inspire you, 50 words to be precise.

Six years. Finally, Zack's startup was showing some promise. Zack was tired - no salary or vacation for months and usually no weekends. "You could easily have made a lot of money elsewhere." his friend remarked. Zack smiled, "But the chance to leave your footprints somewhere - before anyone else, is priceless."

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By Jay Singh
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