December 27, 2014

Feeling in love...

via Facebook

December 22, 2014

Foggy morning.. Driving to work. #dillikisardi taking over..

via Facebook

October 22, 2014

Book review: God is a Gamer

'God is a gamer' is a fast-paced one-go-read set in the present-day context. The story pitches on the complex and cacophonic patterns of the boundary-less world we live in. Most of the main elements of the book are all laid out on the front and back covers of the book: Bitcoin (first alternative digital decentralized currency), ancient-method-murders, politics, vengeance, gaming, banking among others. Ravi Subramanian (the author) skilfully leverages current popular themes like IT, hacking, phishing, gaming, social media which not just adds jus to the story but fastens to audience for it reflects the temper of our times.

The Thrill: In line with his earlier books, this one too is set in the backdrop of a foreign bank in India primarily and ties in characters from outsourcing and gaming businesses, politics, Bitcoin founders etc., The binding character of the story – Gillian, a US Senator and close aide of the US President gets introduced as the key political influencer. He helps the chiefs of the financial transaction processing giants like Visa, Mastercard to suppress competition in Russia (NCPS) and in return gets them to oblige the US government request to cut all donations/ payments to Wikileaks through their systems.

The story steps up with a rapid-tale  of Gillian’s assassination; then flow in the rest of actors Swami, Aditya, Sundeep (three friends who started together at NYIB), Malvika (CEO of NYIB), Varun (Aditya’s son who was separated due to divorce and is united back after his mother’s death), Tanya (Malvika’s daughter, co-founder of Bitcoin and Gillian’s lover), Nikki (Gillian’s wife, introduced earlier during Gillian’s assassination plot), Gloria (Nikki’s daughter and step-daughter to Gillian, Varun's lover), the Bitcoin (fictitious) founders all knitted together in a business-families' act. 

Ravi keeps you glued to the story with more murders, lovers’ plans gone bad, wee bit of sex and drugs, a corporate management lesson here and there, an ATM heist, terrorism plot, and few other conspiracies. Interesting as they are, picking on elements laid out on book cover and your own interpretation; you might actually start predicting the finale after two-thirds of a read but Ravi doesn't fail to keep you glued on. Ravi’s own interpretation of Satoshi Nakamoto – Bitcoin founders and how the team came together is quite good, which is one of strong pillars to the overall story. 

The end, like an Indian-Bollywood movie is melodramatic (played out in a Mumbai police station by an ACP, an FBI and CBI director respectively with all of above living characters). With the international touch-up in characters, we also have Keats and Socrates referenced to in this part of the story where the murder mysteries are unraveled... Thankfully, the epilogue covers up for it tells you what the story wasn't. The number of characters might appear a tad conspicuous but Ravi makes up a wind-up for each giving them enough coverage. 

The Dampeners: 
  • If you are a tech/BPO pro, you would certainly have a good laugh for the story descriptions greatly undermine the security encryption in banks and their vendors’ (outsourcing companies’) systems descriptions. 
  • If that wasn't enough, the auto-generating malware even when the computer is shutdown will certainly raise your eyebrows!
  • Of all the characters, I personally feel bad for Swami for his role didn't live up to any purpose in the whole story. Was he required at all, and his murderers? 
  • The FBI realize they didn't really solve the Cotton trail mystery but agree to ignore it, cos they would look like idiots. (ROFL... yea.. that’s what I did)
Last word: The author has cleverly written this story in the very current world setting instead of creating something anew to engage his audience. Claimed to be the first Bitcoin thriller, Ravi, using his ages of talent in banking gives the audience a peek into (his imaginative) potential of Bitcoin and its possibilities of its ab/use. Perhaps not as mystifying as one might expect it to be, it certainly doesn't fail to thrill you. After you've turned the last page, you would have felt entertained and a little bit more informed (if you didn't know much about Bitcoin, that is) if nothing else. 

I rate this book a 7.5/10.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

September 4, 2014

Private India leaves you high and dry!

A fast-paced gripping thriller, with an obvious Ashwin Sanghi flavor, almost conspicuously though; lacks the richness he generally brings and the weave of a story.

The Thrill: A look at the book and the names of authors really raises the bar and sets a note in your mind of what you can expect from it. It begins with the killing of a doctor immediately followed by another, of a reporter.  Private India, a detective agency run by Santosh Wagh has been handed over the investigation business. The plot thickens with abstract rituals identified and more added as murders followed – all victims being women. By one-third of the read, you’re introduced to an ingenious Indian-mythology-linked theme. Your curiosity doubles up, raising your expectations. In between, you’re given a peek into the mind of killer doing self-talk and reveling in his accomplishments. In an interesting style – all the lives of the victims converge in one individual’s life and the role they played at different points in time to merit the manner of their death.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

The Dampener: Well, there seem to be two climaxes to the book. Unsure of which one’s more important, the murder mystery is solved first in an almost insipid manner. Though all the murder rituals tie in to Durga’s nine avatars, all the excitement and curiosity built up fizzes away when one realizes there was not really much purposeful utility of the Sanghi spiced theme. The murderer is given away tad too early to move over to the next climax. For one who has been an ardent reader of Private series, the second climax might make much sense. For a stand-alone novel, the second climax about the agency’s own security would sound a true spoiler. The hero of the book – the series of cult-murders – the theme behind it – how it concluded, had left me high and dry!

Last word: Based on Ashwin’s string of bestsellers like The Rozabal Line, Chanakya Chant and The Krishna Key, he’s got readers’ expectations soaring. Giving a mythology-based theme just for sake of adding spice to story without any depth eventually leading to an unrelated climax was worryingly conspicuous.

Final Rating: Might awe and work for an average reader. James Patterson, sad to inform, but I would generously rate it 6/10. But, seriously, no wow-factor, disappointed.
P.S:- Immediately after finished reading, I had tweeted tagging one of the authors - Ashwin Sanghi  
“#PrivateIndia: page-turner thriller, li'l flavour of @ashwinsanghi, lacks his richness and weave of a story. No #wow, almost disappointed.” 
Within five hours, I’d received his response:“@manohr will try to give you more excitement with my solo title in mid 2015... Sialkot Saga.”
Really looking forward to Sailkot Saga now! 

January 3, 2014

Indian General Elections 2014 with social mobile apps

How would you inspire and mobilize India's youth to vote in the 2014 Indian General Elections using social mobile apps?


India's youth need to see a purpose and a role for them to identify with it. There's none equal to that - and that needs to be absolutely clear!

The 2013 Delhi elections have become a strong case-study of how focused mobilization of India's youth has created history! India's youth is no more the 'ignorant' or 'tell-em-all' anymore. We've seen a wave of change in the mindsets of average Indian - thanks to the progressive and participative trends in media; the outbreak of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The AAP has provided With a proof of concept how a purpose-driven NGO could take form of a political party and be the change that everyone wants to see. The recent elections in 4 states in latter 2013 has seen unprecedented participation in elections which is such a welcome sign. The Indian youth has come of age and acknowledges that there is a great need for change - and with this circumstantial evidence also acknowledges that they CAN make a difference.

Given that the purpose is established; a hope of dreams coming true is proven - the platforms need to be made stable and made available. Here's how social media can make a difference to make every Indian youth's vote count:

Engage:

1. It's more of an accessibility / infrastructural issue. Not all Indian youth have access to ICTs / social media apps. However - Indian youth is a multi-faceted learners. They need to be provided access - to become aware; to assess the impact; to voice, to participate. If not for infrastructure. Social media needs to inspire each one to reach out and spread the message. Campaigns with purposeful targets like 'each one reach one every day'etc., could ensure mass engagement and mobilization.

2. There's needs to be forums for youth to participate and engage at a policy level which in turn provide them with greater political participation, directly impacting their quality of life can ensure that collectively India harnesses this demographic dividend. Imagine forums like this aggressively breaking out into sessions of debate, issue-based mobilization to bring about change on the ground happening.. Will bring about wonders.

3. Every third person in an Indian city is a youth; Starting from the grassroot level governance; participation of youth needs to be encouraged. Of course the details need to worked to identify the visionaries, workers.

Some bit of these if can transform into authentic surveys, representing collective voice of youth - will certainly draw the attention of the every authority - cos this is not just blabbering that'll die down - but something that'll translate into a currency; called VOTE! That vote as we recently saw can transform a nation!