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Book Review ~ The Mouse Charmers by Anuradha Goyal

July 2, 2014 10 comments

The Mouse Charmers: Digital Pioneers of India

Anuradha Goyal

Before I started reading Anuradha Goyal’s “The Mouse Charmer: Digital Pioneers of India”, I went through some of the reviews that were already up on the internet. One reviewer suggested to  keep a pencil in hand as the books contains lot of information. I followed the advise, but by the time I finished reading the book, I had landed up underlining almost the entire book!!!!

The Mouse Charmers (Google Image)

The Mouse Charmers (Google Image)

Anuradha’s Mouse Charmer is not just a bag full of information on the digital pioneers, but the story of India’s successful digital entrepreneurs put together in the most systematic and innovative way.

Anuradha, herself a pioneering blogger from India and successfully running three blogs for over a decade, covering diversified areas like travel, innovation and book reviews. In her book she shares the behind the scenes stories of successful digital enterprises like Flipkart, Zomato, Make My Trip, Indibloggers, etc.

Today, the urban Indian is well aware of the digital business and ordering things via the Flipkart or glancing through the menu in Zomato has been a daily routine for the netizens of India.

Only a few bother to think about the secret behind these successful online brands, this is where Anuradha’s, The Mouse Charmers, comes in. The story of successful people harnessing the power of the mouse and turning the ancient land of snake charmers to the modern land of mouse charmers.

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Book Review ~ Missing Varrun by Amar Agarwala

November 28, 2012 1 comment

Missing Varrun by Amar Agarwala

~ Book Review ~

“….. a love story that connects the picturesque town of Ceuta in the south if Spain , to the dusty by – lanes of Kolkata in India.”

Back cover of Amar Agarwal’s novel Missing Varun

Missing Varrun

Missing Varrun

Amar Agarwala’s debut novel Missing Varrun is a full life story of a Calcutta based charted accountant Vedant (1966 – 2049) spanning well into the future. It is also a love story that crosses all barriers of time and culture. Vedant, a brilliant chartered accountant of Calcutta falls in love with Amaya, a Spanish girl of Sindhi origin, fifteen years younger than he. She comes to India to complete her basic education, and as a neighbour he gives her private tuition in English and mathematics, and it’s how love begins to sprout between them.

They eventually marry and were soon blessed with two children Varrun and Vaideeka. It so happens that while the father stays back in India, mom and children heads back to Spain, leaving Vedant to miss his children and hiswife. So it would be curious how they have their reunions, and how often, how they manage to nourish and cherish mutual love and affection.

Life goes on as Amaya continues with her school assignment and spending her time looking after her kid and watching her kids grow in Ceuta, Spain. Ceuta, a small Spanish town nestling on the northern tip of Africa, boasted an area of 22 square kilometer and a population of less than 100 000. It bordered Morocco and separated from main land Spain by the Straits of Gibraltar, with the Mediterranean and Atlantic on either side of the straits. While Vedant spent his time working on ledgers, trial balance and balance sheets in Kolkata.

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Book Review ~ Nothing is Blue

August 17, 2011 1 comment

History and astronomy are always considered poles apart, but physist Biman Nath considers them as opposite sides of a coin. In his debut novel “Nothing is Blue” he has blended the two in a unique mixture, with the Nalanda University in its backdrop. Set in the ancient seat of learning, the novel deals with the travels of the famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in Nalanda and its surrounding area.

Book Cover

Book Cover

Set in the background of Nalanda the novel has the mysteries of Harry Potter. Vivid description of Nalanda with its long flights of stairs and dark corridors can well remind a Harry Potter reader of Hogarths. The tantric rituals practiced secretly by Kushala and his friends in Nalanda have something in common with the dark arts practiced in the hidden corners of Hogarths.

Nath’s novel also has the thrill of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. The tantric Buddhist cults have remarkable similarity with that of Opus Dei described by Brown in his best selling novel.

Although a work of fiction Nath has uniquely blended his fictional characters of Ananda, Kushala, Ratnakar along with historic characters of Xuanzang, Shilabhadra and also with the legendary mythical characters of Khona and Mihir. It reminds one of Rushdie’s “Enchantress of Florence” where the author has uniquely blended the fictional character from far of land into the court of Akbar along with the real life character of the emperor and his nine jewels.

The story deals with Ananda, a young boy from a typical Bengali peasant family. A brilliant student Ananda joined Nalanda – the biggest seat of learning in ancient world. Although initially reluctant to send their son to a far off monastery, Ananda’s parents finally gave away under the pressure of Ananda’s local teacher.

Even it was not easy for Ananda to adjust to the monastic life of Nalanda. He soon found his room – mate Kushala, was part of a secret tantric cult and he himself got attracted to a widow in the nearby village, who came from his native land. But soon things started to change and under the guidance of Xuanzang Ananda flourished in academics.

Ananda also accompanied the Chinese scholar in far of travels in India, which took him to Tamralipti (Tamluk), Kamrup (Assam), Kanyakubja (Kanauj), Ujjayini (Ujjain) and many other far of places. Nath has taken great care in describe the travel itineraries in utmost details transporting the reader not only in space but also in time.

It is also a book on astronomy Ananda’s favourite subject. It deals with the mythical female astronomer Khona and her theory of moving stars and zodiac and the shifting of calendars, leading to festivals being celebrated on wrong days. Nath, himself an associate professor of astro – physics in Raman Research Institute, Bangalore has explained these complex astronomical problems with great simplicity.

A book of this nature has the capability of transporting the reader far beyond the limits of the book, this is where “Nothing is Blue” lacks. The references and bibliography are not at all up to the mark. The map describing Xuanzang travel is very small and lacks the details. The bibliography, which comes under acknowledgement, should have been listed numerically.

Left: Author Right: An author's sketch of Nalanda

Left: Author Right: An author's sketch of Nalanda

The glossary of places is very short and lack the details. The book describes the travels of Xuanzang and Ananda to Tamralipti and Raktamartika Vihar in Karnasubarna. According to Xuanzang travel accounts both these places are located close to each other. But recent archeological excavations have confirmed the existence of Raktamartika Vihar of Karnasubarna far from Tampralipti. The remains of Karnasubarna are located in the present day Murshidabad District, while Tamralipti lies in the costal regions of East Mednipur. Sadly Nath has missed out on this note.

Although the book mentions the travels of another Chinese traveler Faxian, who traveled in India a hundred years earlier than Xuanzang but sadly he has been left out from the glossary of persons.

In spite of all odds Nath’s novel has the capability of taking the reader in a virtual journey both in time and space. We sincerely hope that the second edition will come up with a detailed enlarged map, a better glossary of people and places and finally a bibliography in numerical order.

About the Author:  Biman B. Nath is an Associate Professor of Astro Physics of the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. A man of diverse interest Nath has several publications on popular science both in English & Bengali. He is a regular contributor to the prestigious Bengali magazine Desh. He has also contributed articles for The Hindu and The Telegraph. A talented artist and his sketches accompany many of his publications.

Book Details:

Title: Nothing is Blue

Author: Biman B. Nath

Publication: Harper Collins

Pages: 242

Price: Rs295

Photo Courtesy:

Book Cover: Biman B. Nath’s Facebook Profile

Author’s Photo & Sketch by Author: http://www.nothingisblue.com/