Books

In Spite of Gods

John Gossman told me about this book “In Spite of  The Gods:  The Rise of Modern India“. I got this Wednesday and read through about 80% of it so far. Being sick with Flue kind of helped too :). The author Edward Luce, has lived in India for years and has really good grasp of what is happening. There is a great analysis of politics of religion/caste, influence on modern India of 3 of the big leaders, of masses namely Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar on various aspects of India (Economy, politics, foreign policy etc).

In one of the chapters he mentions that as the war for independency was taking more and more hold, British had choice of quashing it using military or leave and they chose to leave. Maybe that is the simplification he was looking for in the chapter but certainly there are other reasons why British left India. E.g. Post WWII Britain was in different place than Britain in the era of “Sun never set on British Empire”.

He talks about how books get banned if certain things tend to make certain people angry in India. Calling Shivaji  ‘Maratha General’ instead of ‘Maratha King’, certainly has that potential :).

Comparison of Chinese Economic Growth patterns (labor intensive) and Indian Economic Growth pattern (Capital Intensive) is really good. Analysis of Nuclear capabilities  between India and Pakistan and its implication is also great.

Bottom line, But this is one of the best book I have read about India and One of the best books I have read in last few months. Good way to start new year.

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Books, Personal

River of No Reprieve

I found this book (River of No Reprieve: Descending Siberia’s Waterway of Exile, Death, and Destiny) last week in library about Jeffrey Tayler‘s travel down the Lena river in Siberia. It caught my eyes because I know so little about that part of the world (not that I know so much more about other parts but you know what I mean :)). Everything I had ever read about Siberia was in negative connotations about getting exiled and gulags etc. It is a great book about a very interesting travel in the remote part of the world. I am about half way through this book but what is interesting is it gives glimpses of Russian history through the conversations he had with people. They talk about Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, Stalin, Gorbachev and Putin. I think this is one of the most fascinating country of extreme weathers that has seen extreme changes politically, socially and economically. Traveling along Lena, we meet people who have wide variety of views where people think Gorbachev brought drastic changes too fast and people who think that Stalinist era was good in terms of stability and structure it provided. They talk about Putin and Bush, they talk about Cossacks and Czars. It is a great book as it shows unseen Russia through eyes of common people.

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Books

The World Is Flat

Just started reading The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century by Thomas L. Friedman. After long time got a time to pick up a new book. I have read about 50 pages so far. I had to leave for work today but I hated keeping it down till tonight. Loved the beginning of the book on golf course in Bangalore, and the guy says “hit towards Microsoft” 🙂

I read “From Beirut to Jerusalem” about 2.5 years ago on a flight to India. This is still one of the best books I have ever read on Middle East. When I picked up this book in library,  I missed the fact that it was written by Mr. Friedman. I need to read rest of the two books written by him too.

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Books

700 Sundays

Just started reading 700 Sundays, written by Billy Crystal. I have always thought he was funny. The book’s name comes from the fact that he approximately spent 700 sundays with his father since his father passed away when he was 15. It is funny but touchy too. I have not seen the play but book is great.

His grandmother who immigrated from Russia lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a while before they moved to New York. When Billy Crystal asked her  grandmother why she chose Grand Rapids, she said “because Train stopped there”. I thought it was very interesting answer. I guess, sometimes it is not about making choices but going with the flow.

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Books

Three Cups of Tea

I started reading Three Cups of Tea about 2 weeks ago but barely finished first 40 pages. This is the story of Greg Mortenson, an American, who grew up in Tanzania and now lives in northern Pakistan building schools for kids. It is a great story. He was trying to climb K2, the most feared and second highest mountain in the world and after failing to summit it he got lost on his way back and after help of some porters he reached a remote village called Korphe. People there took care of him and he wanted to do something back for them so he went and started building school for them. That is all I have gathered so far but an amazing story and very inspiring.

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Books

In The Line of Fire

Finally I got hold of the book that I wanted to read since it got published but somehow missed it. It is the In the Line of Fire by Pervez Musharraf. Though I have seen movies made in Pakistan, Theatre shows made in Pakistan and off course music from Pakistan, somehow this is the first time I am reading a book from Pakistan.  It is not really surprising because everything I have seen from Pakistan in India must already be pruned and approved for public consumption, so it never addresses the interesting topics.

India-Pakistan topic will come up in this book but I look forward to seeing the world through Mr Musharraf’s eyes who has, according to New York Times, toughest job in the world.

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Books

Peter, Paul and Mary

I am still reading 1491, I really liked the book so far and I will write another blog about it in few days. I am reading about Mayan Calendar and I had ready about it long time ago but this book has lot more details. Anyway I went to library to stroll around since I had nothing else to do and two books caught my eyes. One is Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend  and other one is  Warlords: An Extraordinary Re-Creation of World War II Through the Eyes and Minds of Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, And Stalin . I don’t if I am going to be able to get through these books before I leave but I would like to. I started reading first one immediately because over last few months I read quiet a few books about Gnostics and subject is still interesting for me.

St Peter (Simon Peter) is the best known of Jesus’s disciple. In the first paragraph of first chapter of this book this book explained how he got the name Peter. Well his real name is Simon and his nickname, said to be given by Jesus himself, was Cephas. Cephas in Aramaic, language of Jesus spoke, means “Rock”. Now when the new testament was written, the language of the era was Greek and Cephas is translated in Greek as Petra (English verb petrify) and Petra became commonly known as Peter. St Peter is really St Simon. Now I knew that he was known as Simon Peter and I also knew that he was known as Simon the Rock but I just did not know Rock part was Peter.

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