Book Review: Sapiens:A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

I spoke about this book in an event organised by Speak India

Here is the link to my presentation on youtube

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De-cluttering and Writing-A.K.A. The Tale Of Conquering Two Monsters

End of October is, traditionally, not the time of the year to retrospect. But, strangely, for the past hour or so, I have become rather overwhelmingly aware of the fact that 2016 has, so far, been  rather good to me. 

And boy! What a wonderful feeling that is!!!

And then, simultaneously with this awareness, came an overwhelming desire to write and share this thought on the blog.

The fact that I have not blogged in a long time, is a thorn in my flesh. This, in fact, is a major blot on my above said contentment. 

I WANT to write.

There are things that I want to say.

There are things, I feel, I MUST say.

And yet, whenever I thought of blogging, it was always in the future tense.

 “I AM going to write, have no fear”, I would tell myself. “As soon as I finish reading this stack of books because they are due at the library next week. And I’ll be darned if I return these unread!!” Or I would say “after I finish knitting my current project, because, you see, it is URGENT!” As it turned out, SOMETHING or the other always, but ALWAYS, took precedence over writing. Basically, because writing is not easy for me. I am not readily given to expressing my thought. In other words, I did not particularly, enjoy expressing my opinions. Not because of an absence of thought. But, because as soon as I have thought a thought, I have already experienced it. Writing it out and even speaking and discussing it means just spending more time on the same instead of experiencing something new! 

Any way. 

Now ironicallyThese aforementioned  “new experiences”that I have gained at the expense of writing, have changed my opinion about writing.I  I have realised the value of interaction of thoughts and ideas. So, to me now, the expression of ideas, however inane and time consuming, is becoming increasingly coveted. 

No wonder then, that as soon as I felt that I should share this feeling of contentment on the blog, I decided that I must act on it. So, that’s the reason for this post.

But, now, to the initial feeling that prompted this post.

This evening, I was feeling rather vanquished by the clutter monster.

For the past 6 months or so, I have waged a concerted and protracted battle against clutter in my home. 

 Being a minimalist at heart, I get upset by too much stuff in the house. So, I sat down to systematically exterminate clutter. And as Diwali approached, I intensified my efforts to de-clutter every nook and cranny of my house. But now that diwali has come and gone, I just sat down to review the progress, and I had to admit that the things are still far from my vision. This, frankly,was a rather tiresome realisation because not only do I NOT enjoy decluttering and organising stuff around the house, I would rather spend that time reading or knitting or even doodling. Decluttering was just a means to the end of increasing my overall productivity. In an organized environment, I would get to spend more time reading/knitting/doodling. But now I am running out of stem as I was physically getting tired of the all the work involved. So, I was feeling rather pensive this evening and about to give up the effort and just let the things be.

And then, in a moment , my perspective did an about turn.

Suddenly,instead of seeing all that still needs to be done, I saw clearly, how FAR I have come! I realised that the scenario today is, definitely, less than ideal But 6 months back, it was so much worse and I truely deserve a pat on the back for having come this far.

This blog post is that well deserved pat.

Not just for taming the clutter monster, but also for knitting more, reading more, exercising more, meditating more. And as this blog post is nearing completion, dare I add, “blogging more” to this list

“Oh yes , you could”, said the tamer of the clutter-monster presently, poised and confident to tackle the blogging-monster as well.

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The Great #TSBC Book Exchange Programme 2016

The Sunday Book Club

Let’s welcome 2016 with a bang, shall we? Please welcome the Great TSBC Book Exchange Programme 2016. 😀

TSBC Exchange

#TSBC is a labour of love for us and we haven’t let limited resources or our personal lives deter us from our goal of sharing the love for books and the joy of reading with all of you. May we say, with pride and happiness, that we have succeeded to a large extent in this and #TSBC has become like a little family now ?

One of the primary goals of #TSBC, besides talking about books, is to be a medium for people to find others who share similar interests in books. Towards this, we are constantly on the lookout for activities that can be enjoyed by all and also spread the love of reading among people of all ages. Towards this, we introduced the Great #TSBC Book Exchange Programme in…

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The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The LowlandThe Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Reading books about revolutions usually plunges me into a deep melancholia specially if it features and idealist revolutionary willing to lay down his/her life for the revolution convinced that utopia is just round the corner.

I almost did not read this book for this reason. But since this was given to me as part of the #TSBCBookExchange, I wanted to read it too. Now that I have read it, I find that it has a lot more to offer. The movement is the framework on which Lahiri weaves a rich tapestry of relationships, feelings, conflicts between various characters.

I usually like it when an author, instead of following a chronological order, keeps jumping back and forth through time.I keep a look out for when and how the authors reveals the various folds in the narrative and why did she choose to do it this way. In this book, this was used skillfully to keep the interest in the story alive but sadly what was lacking was content. The characters though interesting are not fleshed out fully and I particularly found the third person dialogues rather stilted and this failed to engage the reader. I remained detached from the characters as I never got a chance to peep “inside”.

Relation between Bela and Gauri is the least publicized aspect of this book. I found myself reading the confrontation between the two on Mother’s Day this year. Weird! 🙂

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Book Review: The Best of Father Brown- G.K. Chesterton

666533Chesterton remarked that the “detective story differs from every story in this: that the reader is only happy if he feels a fool”.

Chesterton’s detective is a clumsy, amiable little Roman Catholic priest with “a face as round and dull as a Norfolk dumpling”. His appearance in the stories is so unobtrusive that spotting him in the story is almost like a game of hide and seek with the readers. He seems to be lurking in the shadows somewhere. But don’t get taken in by his humble exterior. He had been keenly observant all this while  and proceeds to display startling flashes of brilliant understanding. He has such a deep understanding of the psychology of the criminal mind which he gained while listening to confessions in his capacity as a Roman Catholic priest.

In “The Secret Of Father Brown” G K Chesterton revealed the process through which Father Brown arrives at the clear insight and solves the seemingly insoluble paradox

“I had thought out exactly how a thing like that could be done,and in what style or state of mind a man could really do it. And when I was quite sure that I felt exactly like the murderer myself, of course I knew who he was……

I try to get inside the murderer. . . . Indeed it’s much more than that, don’t you see? I am inside a man. I am always….inside a man, moving his arms and legs; but I wait till I know I am inside a murderer, thinking his thoughts, wrestling with his passions still I have bent myself into the posture of his hunched and peering hatred; till I see the world with his bloodshot and squinting eyes, looking between the blinkers of his half-witted concentration; looking up the short and sharp perspective of a straight road to a pool of blood. Till I am really a murderer.”

Chesterton created Father Brown as a contrast to Sherlock Holmes. That, in my opinion,is quite a burden to carry. This is what Father Brown has to say regarding the “Science of Detection”

Science is a grand thing when you can get it; in its real sense one of the grandest words in the world. But what do these men mean, nine times out often, when they use it nowadays? When they say detection is a science? When they say criminology is a science? They mean getting outside a man and studying him as if he were a gigantic insect: in what they would call a dry impartial light, in what I should call a dead and dehumanized light. They mean getting a long way off him, as if he were a distant prehistoric monster; staring at the shape of his ‘criminal skull’ as if it were a sort of eerie growth, like the horn on a rhinoceros’s nose. When the scientist talks about a type, he never means himself, but always his neighbor; probably his poorer neighbor. I don’t deny the dry light may sometimes do good; though in one sense it’s the very reverse of science. So far from being knowledge, it’s actually suppression of what we know. It’s treating a friend as a stranger, and pretending that something familiar is really remote and mysterious”

Father Brown, though an admirable character, is weighed down by the burden of Chesterton’s rhetoric and theological message. Unlike the brilliant logician created by Doyle in Sherlock Holmes whose sole aim is solving the mystery, father Brown as a subtle evangelist of the Catholic faith has to not only solve the crime and catch the criminal but also hopes to redeem the criminal.

But unfortunately, Chesterton not only totally fails to extend this honorable and charitable attitude towards non-Christians but reveals himself as a downright bigot in “The Wrong Shape” where just the presence of a Hindu Yogi is enough to infuse the environment with “evil”.

This, unfortunately, did not go down well with me.

Besides the didactic and theological aspect so overshadows the narrative that the mysteries get flimsier and the reader gets impatient thereby making it more and more difficult to get into the stories.

So, if this was the collection of the “best” stories by G K Chesterton, then you are not going to find me reading the rest of the stories.

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Pale Blue Dot- Carl Sagan

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mo

ther and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

– Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

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It will be Happier

Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
― Alfred Tennyson

The year 2012 ended on an introspective note.

December 2012 witnessed the extraordinary courage  shown by an “ordinary” girl. Her ordeal galvanized Indians to demand a safer society.

The interruption of a 23 year old life jolted us out of our collective ennui and has forced us to take a long good look at ourselves in the mirror.

Sadly, what we saw there wasn’t pleasant at all. All is not well with the world and no one, but no one, can play ostrich any longer.The spontaneous outburst of grief has resulted in a veritable slug fest…with everyone blaming  someone ELSE for the present state of affairs …

2013, in all probability, will see some serious soul searching and introspection as a society… as a nation… and also…. as individuals. Even though the authorities are entrusted with the duty of providing  safety and security to its citizens, duty of keeping the society stressfree falls on individuals because moreoften than not, stress is basically caused by interaction between individuals and even if it isn’t, a healthy interpersonal relationship can easily diffuses stress. This might appear to be a very simplistic model for a very serious problem. But I strongly believe tis to be panacea for a lot of social evils.  We have to realize the fact that in the past few decades, a systemic erosion of human values has been going on. This has not only got to be stopped but the Herculean task of reversal of this process has to be set in place.

Cleaning up of these Augean Stables will have to start from the individual… from the self

Let’s resolve to make the world a better place for men, women & children.

So much needs to be done.

So many wrongs need to be set right.

So many changes and modifications to be made in our collective as well as individual thought process. Freezing is not an option… it never was.

Every new day is an opportunity for us to shape our world, our lives.   Even as this first day of the new year is relentlessly marching ahead, I find my spirit rising ….filling me with enthusiasm and verve to DO  something…


so long as it is constructive…

so long as it is uplifting….

even if it does not have global or national ramifications…

even if it fails to make any headlines…

even if it impacts no ones life but my own.

For me, this incident like countless others only evokes grief.. No anger. No doubt this last fortnight all but devastated our psyche.

But even amidst such gloom and depression, there were quite a few strong beacons that prevented us from plunging into the abyss.

The strongest was “Nirbhaya” herself.  She refused to let the circumstances victimise her. Here was a “Victim” who was actually as heroic as anyone can possibly be. It was not pity for her that galvanized the nation, it was respect. I know I am not going to forget her.  And I also know that she will continue to live in the consciousness of millions of others. And her memory will fire our resolve to make this place a better and safer place for all men, women and children.

Call me an incorrigible optimist if you will, but somehow today I find myself more convinced than ever that things will take a turn for the better soon and there are far better days ahead for us than ever before.

Yesterday, I was listening to some oldies on YouTube and I cam across a forgotten  childhood favourite by Abba…I have a dream.

I dream and desire for a place where every one can lead perfectly charming and ordinary life… where “living” does not translate into an extraordinarily heroic act. Yes I know, today, this sounds almost like a fantasy, a fairy tale.

But I have faith that we can do it yet, and we, surely, will.

It is NOT going to be easy though. But is that a reason for us to become cynical, to give up?

I don’t think so.

♥ I Have A Dream ♥  (Lyrics)


♥ I have a Dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
I believe in Angels
Something good in everything I see
I believe in Angels
When I know the time is right for me
Ill cross the stream, I have a Dream…♥

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

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I think the Facebook is really weird!

Lots of FB users are in a tizzy these days and quite justifiably so, about a change in “FB policy”

As individuals, we want complete and inviolable control over access to the content on our profiles. Status updates, photographs, comments, notes….Whatever we might be sharing on FB, we wish to decide who sees what, when and how. But these days, apparently, this can no longer be assumed on FB. I do not know the exact details of what exactly has changed, but apparently whatever we share on FB might become accessible to people who have no business peeking into our private conversations/photos/videos thanks to the privacy settings of our friends and friends of friends. You all know all about this as you too must have been inundated by the messages from friends asking you to ensure their privacy. This is not just upsetting and inconvenient, in fact, it defeats the very purpose why most of us joined Facebook.

Now apart from individual profiles, there are these “Pages” on FB.

These “Pages” might have been created for the promotion of an individual or a business or a cause or an idea. These might have been created for educational purposes and for collecting and disseminating information on whatever topic a person might be passionate about.

According to the recent updates from the Pages that I “like”, only 10% of the people who have “liked” the Page will get updates from the Page. This is quite upsetting. The Page would, obviously, want its content to be easily and conveniently accessible to the “likers” Moreover, a Page, quite naturally, would wish for its contents to reach as many people as might be interested in its contents.

The long and the short of all this is this.

Individuals who wanted privacy and restricted access, FB has gone ahead and made their content PUBLIC

And the Pages who wanted as much publicity as they could get, FB is making it inconvenient to access!!!!

Go figure!

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – by Mark Haddon

Modern First Editions  A - L : Gale - Hyland : The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Night-Time A murder mystery….

Christopher, a 15 year old autistic boy as the detective and dog as a victim of murder !

Does that sound promising as a novel!!??. Not to me, it didn’t. Even Siobhan, Christopher’s teacher, tells him that “readers care more about people than dogs, so if a person was killed in the book readers would want to carry on reading.” But Christopher wants to write about something real, he can’t lie and he cares about the dogs…and so he goes on to write about his investigations into the death of a dog.

Guess what, Siobhan, you were mistaken!!! Readers would definitely go on reading this mystery novel, only to discover that even though the dog is the only one murdered, it is not the only victim……. the murder is not the only mystery. As he gets closer to the truth, Christopher begins to investigate certain personal mysteries and the reader finds not just an answer to the initial mystery of the dead dog but also a new understanding of life with autism

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.”

The entire novel is an account by narrator Christopher Boone of how his world is turned topsy tury by chaos . The “murder mystery” is “solved” halfway through the novel. But rather than restoring order, such events unfold that threaten his carefully maintained world. his quest to solve the problem is as adventurous and dangerous

Chrisopher suffers from autistic spectrum disorder called Asperger’s synrdrome which is a neurobiological disorder. He’s a mathematical genius and a whiz at science But human emotions are particularly complex for him. He hates being touched, even by his parents. He hates the colours brown and yellow, and if one foodstuff touchs another while it is on his plate, he canot eat it. He needs to have the world just-so…. or he will scream, hit, or moan for hours. He is at a school for “special needs”. This means he is taunted regularly by his peers, misunderstood by copious adults, and is mostly reliant on his friendship with Siobhan, the teacher who is guiding him through the writing of this autobiography.

 ‘All the children at my school are stupid. Except I’m not meant to call then stupid, even though this is what they are. I’m meant to say that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs. But this is stupid because evenerone has learning difficulties because learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and also everyone has special needs, like Father who has to carry a little packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs Peters who wears a beige-coloured hearing aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs, even if they have special needs

It is easy to feel sympathy and compassion for Christopher and we feel disappointed when those close to him fail to take his own needs into account, even when they are trying to help him.   For Christopher, the desire for order and stabilitis actually a necessity of living. He needs an ordered and stable life to be happy and safe. Come to think of it, don’t we all??? We, just like Christopher, would dislike being lied to on such a scale as he is here. Many of us would switch off, or like to, when faced with trauma. We often are in a position to not see what is staring at us in the face ~ or on the faces of others

And as we peep into the life of his parents through his eyes, we cannot but empathise with them. . Christopher was loved by his parents but life isn’t easy, money not plentiful, opportunities limited. The relationship of the parents with their child and what it does to their relationship is a fascinating subject and I think Haddon has handled it well. I felt the anguish of the parents trying to deal with a boy who doesn’t want to be touched or hugged even when in a distressed stateI can relate to the difficulties Christopher´s mother has with him and admire the way his father deals with the situation. Refreshing, enlightening and ultimatelyheart warming book. This book is beautifully and thoughfully presented too. You will also find diagrams, drawings, letters and mathematical problems amongst the text. Small diagrams are used to better explain some of Christophers theories on life, the universe and everything, and these again are a simply yet clever way of keeping the book flowing.  You will probably learn a lot too, as I did. I now know much more about Science, logic, Sherlock Holmes and nature.

Christopher must learn to work with and work through his abilities and disabilities in order to accomplish the goals he sets for himself. He picks his way through, using a logical reasoning. He gets through truth and lies, fact and fiction, relationships with his parents and relationships with the outside world

This book is neither a murder mystery nor a book about aspergers. It’s a story about people, with a different perspective, Christophers’ investigations will cast some light on their world and on yours, perhaps.People in this book are very real and human, to me coping with the world and all its stresses and trials. Full of faults and limited like all of us.  As Mark Haddon said in an interview I found on the Guardian website.

It’s about how badly we communicate with one another. It’s about accepting that every life is narrow and that our only escape from this is not to run away (to another country, another relationship, a slimmer, more confident self) but to learn to love the people we are and the world in which we find ourselves.’

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Happy Children’s Day!
Let kids be kids, and if you can, be one yourself today!
🙂 🙂 🙂


We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.

~Stacia Tauscher

  When I was growing up, there used to be a joke about a child reading book titled “How to take good care of your child and raise them properly” His parents,quite naturally, were quite surprised to see this as this was a book not for the children, but for the parents to read.They queried him regarding his reason for reading this book” The child coolly replied, ” I just wanted to find out whether or not I am being raised properly.” 🙄 :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

This joke  usually had the audience in splits…I remember distinctly that I used to be amused at this joke myself. The idea that the Child himself might want to and/or NEEDS to be conscious of how he must be treated was perhaps alien to the people at that point in…

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