Day 7 – Consistency

NaBloPoMo November 2016

I am uber talented. In everything I take up.

Something always prevents me from making it to the top. Even if I do make it, there is a nagging feeling of being unaccomplished. Why?

I do everything in bursts, not streaks. Example : I started NaBloPoMo and fizzled out on Day 3.

Streaks happen when the doer is consistent. Here’s a piece I wrote in January about how being consistent can bring about a major change.

As I mentioned before, I am preparing for pre-nationals in 10m  Air Pistol to be held in mid-November. Our coach has started a new program where we train in group. First he gives us individual targets (e.g- Shoot 46 in 5 shots, each shot has a maximum value of 10 points). Then we are divided into teams and have to shoot the given number of shots to the best of our capacity.

One day, I consistently shot well and won a tie-breaker by scoring a perfect 10 (bullseye). Our team won. Next day, barring some problem with the weapon, I shot okay-ish. The highlight was – a perfect 10, which I followed up with a measly 6. A 6! At this level, I should not be going beyond 8 and this was in the white-space. Anyhoo, our team won one round and next round – we at least did not end up in the bottom.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because despite having all the potential and skill required for a certain task, I often fall short of giving my best to it (forget doing best). And the reason of falling short is – not giving enough time daily to the activity. Be it shooting, writing or my in-pipeline start-up – everything needs chunks of time DAILY from my routine. Instead, I end up doing stupid mundane things like doing the dishes, making food or organising the closet. Or in extreme cases of escapist moods – I can be found dozing off or reading. Grrr…

Coach’s advice : Do not belittle yourself. Pat your back every time you do well. You have to practice daily to achieve a certain level of confidence. But, if you are not coming to practice regularly, you can still shoot well if you believe in whatever training you have managed to do.

Bottomline : You can get away with being irregular, if you manage to do the required thing on time and with quality. To do this, you have to believe in yourself. Because (and I realise this at this precise moment) regularity or repetitions are different from being consistent. Consistency is performing well regardless of how regularly you do the activity. There is a shadow of doubt though – can you really be consistent without DAILY practice? Of course, there is a bare minimum level you need to attain first. After that, you can be fairly good, even great, if you have ‘just enough’ practice and a truck load of confidence (not over confidence).

Do you have difficulty in being consistent or regular? How do you deal with it?

It’s okay if you tell me this is a pretty pointless post, but this self-talk at least makes me post the Day 7 NaBloPoMo post.

Book Review : Private India

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WHY I READ THE BOOK

I have read Mr. Sanghi’s Rosabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant and Krishna Key. They were all thrillers with a story comparing past Indian mythology with characters in the present. I still have to find a name for this genre. For the time being, I call it the Indian version of Dan Brown. I am so glad it exists because I remember wanting someone to draw parallels from Indian mythology and write a Da Vinci Code like book.

Naturally, when Mr.Sanghi digressed from his comfort zone into a pure mystery one, that too in collaboration, I was intrigued. I was mulling over whether I should buy it from Crossword or order it online, when I caught it up on review at Blogadda. I was still secretly hoping that there would be some similarity to his older books.

The ONE reason above all that I picked it up is – I wanted to know how two authors can come up with a book. If it were me, the book would be shelved because of creative differences however well I know my co-author. I also wanted to see if I can pick up parts which were written by Mr. Sanghi and parts which were written by James Patterson.

( Alas, that was not to be. I now think the whole book was written by Mr. Sanghi, with James Patterson only giving his creative inputs for the structuring of Private India (the agency) and its boss (who’s a foreigner)).

WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK

If you are an avid Indian fiction fan, you might already be familiar with Mr. Sanghi’s works. You won’t need a reason 🙂

If you are not, then you might want to pick it up for an engrossing read on a train journey or a replacement for weekend afternoon siesta. It’s almost like watching a movie! Another, if you are a Mumbai-ite, you are sure to feel as if you are A PART OF the investigation team as the book takes you through the nooks and corners of the very familiar localities – read CST, Dharavi, etc.

(I always thought how New Yorkers might be feeling watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S or Little Manhattan. THAT – you’d feel!)

THE BOOK

Let me tell you, Random House has done a pretty good job at the paper quality and print size. That is the first thing that attracts me to a book.

The cover has Mumbai’s landmarks – The Taj and Gateway of India – giving one the feel that something chilly is inside the book, as the eye falls on a man running for his life – below the Bandra-Worli sea-link.

I can tell that it’s a winner from the fact that the better half (who is a non-reader) picked it up and read the first 5 chapters before I had even started!

THE PLOT

The plot is character driven, with the story being nothing more than a serial killer on the loose and investigators hot on his trail.

I was at a disadvantage here; I have not read James Patterson’s works – and the investigating agency, Private India – happens to be an Indian Wing of a global(?) organization ‘Private’.

Since it is a character driven story with the killer’s motives set deep in his own past life, it is very difficult to hold the suspense till the end. I, for example, had identified the killer almost instantly when he was revealed first in the flow. The alternatives and their possible motives are not sufficiently expanded. I feel the story was fit for a 2 book version or a larger page count.

The parallel tracks are distracting – what with the personal ghosts-from-the-past of the agency’s local boss and the forensic expert, the terrorist attack plan (I still have to figure out WHY that track was introduced at all).

It is almost as if they were introduced because the main plot was too thin.

The narrative style is what we are used to these days – COP side, KILLER side and PARALLEL happenings in different chapters.

THE CHARACTERS

This agency, Private India, has local people as employees – a drunk but intelligent and experienced ex-cop, a quintessential brainy babe, a geeky computer whiz, and an NRI medical/forensic expert returned from the US. I found them all stereotypes except the computer whiz – whose character was painfully left unexplained in the end.

Private India’s global boss is a middle-aged ex-CIA agent Jack Morgan. James Pattersons’ readers might know more about him.

One of the most interesting characters is an cop who is in charge of the interrogation officially. He and the local head of Private India (the ex-cop) are at logger heads, with a hint of previous friendship gone sour.

The other characters and possible suspects are interesting – an attorney general, a hair stylist and a Yoga trainer. ( I tried to rule out all imaginations about her looking like Rujuta Divekar, as per the popular the line in movie disclaimers “All characters are fictional and resemblance to living individuals is purely unintentional.”)

The victims are as diverse as they can be and one is at a loss to find SOME connection between them. However, the way they are all introduced spells out that they are going to be the next ones. I wish that was done differently.

There is a local Don-cum-drug network owner and some ISI people planning a terrorist attack in parallel.

WHAT I LIKED

1. I liked a strong woman investigator as a key character.
2. I liked the mention of the book “Confessions of a Thug” – I had read it’s Gujrati version from our local library about 16 years ago and I thought nobody in the world would’ve read it. (Now it know it’s famous :|)]
3. I liked how the locations of Mumbai are mentioned as if the world knows the famous suburbs. If we are expected to know ‘their’ New Yorks and and Houstons and Bostons and Washington D.Cs, even they should know ‘our’ Mumbai!

WHAT I DID NOT LIKE

This list is a little longer (and the reason I delayed the review)

1. I wanted more. This is not a bad reason, but I felt there were still loose ends in the end.
2. I felt that the story had too many abrupt breaks and parallel tracks to remember. Perhaps the reason I read it in breaks is why I might’ve felt that way.
3. I did not like the parallel tracks at all, as they had no connection with the actual story.

Spoiler Alert(skip if still to read)
4. The computer whiz guy is still a mystery. Who was he talking to and why was he fleeing the country?
5. The woman investigator’s back story didn’t quite sum up. So didn’t the attorney general’s.
6. Some characters, like the Baba are just mentioned – not expanded even if they play a major role in the killer’s motives.
Spoilers Over(skip if still to read)

IN A NUTSHELL

In a nutshell, I was certain I disliked the book, but as I write this review, I think actually liked it. I don’t have any solid reasons for not liking it.

That said – I stand by the fact that it is confusing and too much to take in at once and it still leaves a large room for character expansion. For me, it was like my view of Haider, intriguing first half – disappointing second half.

Reviewer’s rating   3/5

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Book Review : Mafia Queens by S.Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges

The female of the species is deadlier than the male.

-Rudyard Kipling

Not dark, a bit gritty and evoking interest without getting judgmental……….. Mafia Queens is a book that strikes a perfect balance between fiction and non-fiction in the art of storytelling.

Why I read the book

This is quite a story. One fine day in 2002, I stumbled on a promo of Black Friday featuring Kay Kay Menon in the Indian Ocean song ‘Bandeh’. Two of my most favorite artists brought together by an eccentric film-maker Anurag Kashyap. I faintly remember trying to get all the information about the movie which was quite a task as Internet was not the phenomenon it is now. I got to know that it is based on the novel Black Friday by a veteran crime journalist S.Hussain Zaidi. Days went by and the movie never came. My dreams of seeing the Kay Kay movie seemed blurred but then out of the blue I got to see it in my engineering days when a heavily edited version was allowed to release. On seeing it, I realized the caution behind allowing its release.

The movie set the ground for my curiosity in the field of using crime reporting as a base for a novel. I wondered how Mr. Zaidi could go story hunting and then name dropping so fearlessly. And then in June this year, one of my reader friends went on raving about the book Mafia Queens. I decided to give reading it a shot although I was pretty skeptical about the treatment of the subject from the title. Just as the title Black Friday made a strong statement condemning the happening and labelling the fateful day as a ‘Black’ page in history, Mafia Queens was a title which seemed to unnecessarily glorify and romanticize the crimes and its femme fatale perpetrators.

When I feel that I disagree with something, I go deep into the matter and then form a definite opinion if any. When Blogadda put up the book for review, I did not miss the chance and signed up immediately.

Why you should read the book

There are many big names associated with the book. It boasts of an elegant following with the prologue written by Vishal Bharadwaj & Vikram Chandra being associated with the discovery phase and the actual drafting of the book. Mr.Zaidi weaves his stories with utmost sincerity, dropping the names of the who’s who of the Mumbai underworld wherever necessary. The sources are very authentic with some stories like Sapna Didi’s coming straight from the horse’s mouth.

But this is not the reason why you should pick up the book. The above points are just an icing on the cake. If robbed of its starry accolades and relevance to the sensational details pertaining to the Mumbai underworld, it still makes an intriguing read for the audience panning not only India but the world at large. Jane Borges is a surprise package personifying the spunky and young reporter circle in the present day Indian media. I am secretly jealous of her getting to experience and write a work of such calibre at such a young age. The combination of Mr.Zaidi’s experience and Jane’s fresh approach makes Mafia Queen a delightful read.

The story

The book is a collection of short stories from the era when the Mumbai underworld was at the peak of its ill-famed glory. It starts with a reference to Haji Mastan, the oldest recognized Don by the media, film-makers and people alike & ends at the present day gangsters who are a very subdued version of the ganglords who once ruled the crime scene of Mumbai. The interesting part is, they are all side characters to the actual stories which center on their female counterparts. There are 13 stories featuring each of the ‘Queens’ some from different time frames, some overlapping each other’s tenure but showing a common streak of each wanting to be a survivor. They do not want to play the victims of fate even though pushed into taking resource to criminal activities. They all show a common zeal to live life to the fullest, I could almost see a spark in their eyes as I read through the amazingly balanced accounts.

Characters

Like I said, the characters though have a common underworld background, show a remarkable variety when it comes to cunning, wit, modus operandi and appearance. Suprisingly characters like Monica Bedi, Tarannum, had no direct connection to actual crimes.The best narrated stories are that of Jenabai(gangster turned freedom fighter), Gangubai(the matriarch of Kamathipura), Sapna Didi(a hapless victim transformed into a femme fatale) and Monica Bedi(a naive girl caught into criminal quagmire by her own foolishness).

*Spoilers ahead*

Most of the stories draw their plot from facts published in the media and insider info from relatives, informers etc. Most of the readers must have come across them in front page & page 3 news. I liked Jenabai’s cunning and philanthropic traits. I did not find her turning to bootlegging justified at all. Whereas I found Gangubai’s decision of staying back at Kamathipura totally justified. As they say, somebody has to get their hands dirty in order to clean the backyard. She saw to it that the women from Kamathipura are not exploited or maligned by the so called guardians of morality in the society. I found her outspokenness very spunky be it the conversation with Karim Lala or when she asked Jawaharlal Nehru to marry her. Monica Bedi’s story is worthy of a cinematic adaptation.

*Okay spoilers over 🙂 *

Writing style

One can easily identify the reporter base to the author as each story is narrated with perfect precision and literary aloofness. He has managed to keep his thoughts from mingling in the story, at the same time; evoking a sense of mystical feel to the otherwise drab media articles which state only facts. True stories are very difficult to document as they involve a lot of big names and connections who do not wish to be named. The authors have managed to do so and in turn maintained the credibility of each story. This is by far the best true story accounts I have read after Alive.

me likey……..me dislikey 🙂

I liked both the authors’ courage in sticking to the facts. I liked the way they have shown restraint from sensationalization and exercised due discretion in giving the accounts which concern the personal life of the characters. They could have resorted to ruthless romanticization of the stories in order to catch reader attention by creating controversy. According to me, the book could have been wrapped up with fewer accounts as the stories after Monica Bedi’s seem hurried up and without details.

In a nutshell!!!!!!!!!!

Overall verdict, this book is for film-makers, writers who wish to depict true accounts pertaining to news that have rocked the media for a very long time. The avid reader would like to check out this latest offering from Mr.Zaidi and Jane to enjoy an interesting tour of the dark underbelly of Mumbai.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!