Sunday, October 15, 2017

Medium - you disappointment.


A place without the Social Media noise.

A place to go to read what the great minds are thinking.

A place without Advertisements or Clickbaits.

That place was Medium. It is no more.

But isn't Medium a business?

It is a business at the end of the day. There is no free lunch. Medium has to pay its staff. The investors need an exit.

But shouldn't knowledge and thoughts be free?

Human Kind has progressed with the free flow of knowledge. Whenever knowledge was dammed, chaos reigned. Human progress slows down. When knowledge is shared, we grow by leaps and bounds.

Tesla made all its patents open source. So other electric car manufacturers can develop on it. Volvo invented the seat belt and opened up its patent. They saved millions of lives.

In contrast.. Apple and Google and Samsung - the Mobile Phone giants are patenting the smallest of idea - and stiffling innovation in Mobile phones - so no new ideas can come to life - except the giants.

Or like India not having access to  Cryogenic rocket technology - which the Superpowers hold it within themselves and so we still haven't been able to launch a human to space.

Venkat, you got fooled so dont blame Medium

Agreed I misled myself. I believed Medium to be this utopian watering hole I go to read about Productivity Hacks, Entrepreneurs, Cancer Survivors. I love(d) Medium.

But it all has come to an end. Medium is now forcing me to pay to access this content.

Can't you just pay the 5$ a month?

Yes, I can. Mostly I will. Medium is where I turn for inspiration or book ideas or stimulate my mind and curiosity.

So what is Venkat's problem?

If writers start writing for money - will it not again get into the clickbait territory. The writers get paid based on the claps they get. So they will start writing for more claps. What gets claps? - Sensational stuff. Things that appeal to the darkest part of the human mind. Things that make you say eew and aaw.. and yet you will read. Things like the accident on the road when a crowd surrounds it - you want to peek in.

I just described above - the Tabloid Newspapers, The News Channels, The Articles on Social Media

Medium was free of all that. Because writers wrote freely with no monetary carrot dangling in front of them.

The whole concept of Medium is shattered.

So what is the solution?

Medium was started by the co-founder of Twitter - Evan Williams. I can bet it does not take billions of dollars to develop and run Medium. Evan Williams could have just sustained single handedly from a fraction of his annual income.

Heck. If Medium had just asked for donation like Wikipedia - people would have paid.

There are so many sites still running - Ad free - Wikipedia, Craigstlist, Angelist..


You Devil called Money. We hate you but we cannot live without you.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

What I learnt from fasting for 30 days

Few of my Muslim colleagues and friends were starting the month long Ramzan Fast.In Tools of the Titans book I had read how the health nuts go on long fasts and the health benefit they get.

I had to jump into the fray. 

I started researching on the month long 12 hour fast without food or water. I knew I could manage without food but water - that was the big doubt I had. I am someone who always goes around with a water bottle in hand.

Here is the story on what I discovered in the 30 day fast. 


Keto State

First some Biology.

There are 2 mechanisms how energy is distributed in the body.  The first is the normal one. We eat food - and the Carbohydrates gets broken down to glucose and blood carries this to all parts of the body. When glucose content is low we feel depleted and low on energy. Body refuses to move, brain usage slows down - and it will start searching for the next food - and the whole cycle repeats. 

However, when things are not normal - when food is scarce - an alternative energy distribution mechanism called the Keto State will kick in. In the early Neanderthal humans - when a drought or famine comes along or there is no more game to hunt -  these pre-historic humans will have to go for days without food or water - they cannot sit still and complain but they have to migrate or travel longer distances to find food. During these emergency situations the body then starts breaking the stored fat and produces “Ketos”. These Ketos give the energy to move and also burn their brain cells to find new territories and fend off hostile predators and environments. 

The performance of both mind and body is enhanced - significantly.  Otherwise because of lack of Carbohydrates if the human body had shut down - we as a species would have got eliminated long back. 

This enhanced state is the “Keto State”. Body burns Fat instead of Carbohydrates. 

This is the same thing that happens during Full Marathons - after the runner depletes the stored glucose between 24-28 KMs - they come across this wall when the body has to start burning Fat. If they cross this barrier - then they can keep running - even beyond the 42KMs - even 100+ in a day.. what Ultra Runners do regularly.

My experience in Keto State

Once the body switched to Keto state -  I had a  certain euphoric feeling throughout the day and I felt always energetic and alert. I had dropped coffee - being a diuretic I was sceptical of having coffee during fasting. Yet did not experience any slow down or lethargy in spite of no caffeine in the blood. 

At times for longer periods during the day - I felt the exact “clear mindedness” I get after running for 2 hours / a hour long Sudarshan Kripa / dip + meditation in Isha dome - It was amazing. 

I seemed to have tapped into an infinite energy source within myself. Once I went on a marathon training session from 10AM to 4:30 PM. Around 1PM the participants took turns for lunch. I kept going. Even at 4:30 I was still going strong. I am someone who gets drained after a couple of hours - not a human interaction types person - meetings and training’s mentally drain me. I was pleasantly surprised it was the same me - that too running on empty.

Another time - I had to walk around a bit - and around 1:30 PM I was totally drained. I think morning whatever little carbs I ate - got used up and body was shutting down. The next meeting was at 2 and I found a chair and slumped into it. Took a quick nap and once the 2PM meeting started - I had a tremendous burst of energy. Kept going till evening. 

Yes, there were some down moments in this as well. 

First few days in the evenings I will get a mild headache which went off after breaking the fast. Did get angry and irritated more than my regular quota. Also noticed in a few people who were fasting were getting irritated and were short tempered. Or could be it was me - the world gets coloured with the vision of ourselves.  Started my regular Sahaj meditation and it was brought under control. Had to start using Mouth wash twice a day - to fend off the bad breath. Other than these there were no other issues I faced.  

The Vegetarian Faster

Fasting is the only way to get to Keto State. We have to starve the body of Carbs. I picked this from Paleo diet -  they eat Fat and only fat and they completely avoid Carbs. 

It is tough for a plant eater. To get to Keto state fast - one has to cut down all carbs and switch to a fully fatty diet. Fat is in abundance in meat. Vegetarians get fat mainly from Milk products and Egg. If you are a Pure vegetarian - Eggs are a no go. If you are a Vegan - even milk is a no go. I don’t think Vegans can go to Keto state. 

I am in the path to be a Vegan - so had cut down on Milk and Egg. My morning cup of coffee is my only milk intake. Eggs are rare. 

I had to go back to my Milk and Egg diet. Milk in the form of Paneer, Butter and Cheese. 

I will wake up around 5:00 AM and stuff myself with Paneer, 2 Eggs, Sprouts, Butter with 1 bread, a banana and chug half a jug of water. After a week I reduced to half of what I was eating. I will try to finish it all off before 6:00 AM. I was not following the strict sunrise to sunset my Muslim friends were following - but from 6AM to 6PM or to 7:30 PM depending on when I get home.  

Dinner I will eat a roti or two with some Chenna or Paneer based Sabzi - and will have lots of veggies, sprouts, soaked peanut, fruits etc. 

In my research Sprouts and Dates are a must - and are the magic food that kept me going. Once I broke my fast in the evening, but did not eat sprouts. Dinner was not ready and I felt drained and almost slept off without eating dinner.. Later I made sure I eat the sprouts both times of the day. 

Is this healthy?

I should have done a blood test before and after. Kicking myself for not having done it. There is scientific evidence on the cleansing of accumulated toxins these intense fasts do. I checked my weight before and after - remained the same. Might have dropped in the middle. 

However, it is not to be done for elongated periods of time - beyond a month. Then the returns diminish and might end up hurting the fragile ecosystem of our body. Paleo dieters should do the carb free diet once or twice a year for a month. 

Another tweak I am doing going forward is to reduce Carb Intake. Swap the portions of Rice and Side dish. That is Side dish takes over the Center plate, and rice moves into a cup where the side dish was. 

Fasting is present in every religion - Hindus typically do it around Moon cycle - planning to adopt this in my routine. Christians have Lent. Muslims have Ramzan. Jains have even more intense fasts - 24 hours I believe. 

I will be back in 2018 and will do the the Ramzan fast. So I can continue dishing out such dialogues as “I am a Buddhist, who fasts like a Muslim and listens to Shiv Slokhas”.

New Achievement unlocked in Game of life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Man's Search for Meaning

Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl is a difficult book to read - if you are the types who get sucked into it. I typically read before sleep, and I could not go to sleep while reading this book.

Victor Frankl is a Psychatrist by profession and he and is wife are picked by the Germans and sent to the camps.

The first half is all about Victor's experience in the Nazi camps. How the prisoners are shepherded from one Camp to another in train - with no knowledge if they are being sent to the Gas Chambers or to another camp.

I strongly recommend this book - will give a new outlook to your life.

"He who has a why to live forcan bear almost any how"

"Mental health is based on a certain degree of tension - between what one has already achieved and what one still has to accomplish"

"What man needs is not a tensionless state but rather striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal"

"Live as if you are living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now."

"No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him. "

"Man is ready to suffer on one condition - to be sure - that his suffering has a meaning. "

"He is not only unhappy but also ashamed of being unhappy. "

"Lying on your death bed ask your self - was your life meaning full "

Monday, May 01, 2017

Tools of Titans - Book Review and Actionable Items

I love Tim Ferris and his hacks. [ 4 Hour Work Week ] 

In Tools of Titans he has put together a bunch of show notes from his podcast interviews. Very shoddy and all mixed up and very difficult to read because of the links he has provided all over the place [ How am I supposed to watch a YouTube video on Kindle? ]. This style might not be digestible for some.

Other than this little downside on the messy format - each and every chapter has some good take away or the other. Each of the celebrities [ from Startup, Tech, Media... name anything ]  have a few habits which has made them successful and they have shared it in this book.

This book is like a Gold mine. Lot of actionable items. 

Ok - here are some of the key take aways I am making it part of my daily routine. 

1. Cold Showers. After an intense workout, the athletes sweat it out in a  Steam Sauna, then they immediately plunge themselves into a bathtub filled with ice blocks. These are what an Olympic Athelete Trainer makes his athletes do for quick recovery. Well at the least I can take a cold shower - which itself has tremendous benefits. The geyser in our bathroom has conked off - why fix it? Let me see if I can continue through the Bangalore Winter. 

2. Meditation. 90% of the interviewees either do TM or Vipasana Meditation. Every time I came across this while reading the book, I started feeling guilty. I used to do Sudharshan Krista (SKY) once or twice a month - or whenever the top story gets clogged. I used this guilt as a fuel and since last 1 week from Monday thru Saturday I started doing SKY. I could see the results immediately -  my resting heart beat went from an average of 74 to 72 and at times even saw 66 - all within a week. [ Measured with an Apple watch and it is damn accurate. In January I had compared the Apple watch reading real time with an ECG machine when I did the Treadmill test - so this is not just an apple fanboy's assertion ]

3. Early to Rise. Obvious isn't it. Wake up early and use the time to work on a hard problem or a creative pursuit or do meditation. Surya Namaskar ( 10 minutes ) + SKY ( 45 minutes ) + Sahaj Meditation ( 20 minutes ) with breaks in between takes close to 1.5 hours. Also I have now started running on alternate days. All these cost lot of Morning time.

The average wake up time for all these Titans is 4:45 AM. And it is a good sweet spot - not too early, and not too late to do the Meditation + Run. I now wake up between 4 and 5 AM - with no alarm.  On the days I do both SKY + Run - my brain does not get tired at all - even when it turns 10 PM. I produce so much during the day that it is unreal. 

4. Affirmation Journal. Dilbert's Scott Adams - before he became the famous cartoonist + office politics satirist - once attended a Mensa Meeting. One of the participants with an IQ of 180+ told him - daily write your wish in a diary 15 times and watch it come true. Scott Adams thought if a 180+ IQ person is suggesting such a thing - it cannot be stupid. "What the heck - let me give it a shot", he said to himself and suppressing his doubtful part of the brain - he started on an affirmation journal - by affirming daily that he will write a Bestseller. And lo and behold in 4 years his book became a bestseller. When he started writing this affirmation - he was still in the Corporate world - he had not even published a single cartoon. Could be part universe, or could be his own belief in himself. It worked. 

There was another story on Spanx - a young lady who had a rough life, no huge credentials, college drop out -  created a billion dollar company single handedly on her sheer belief by talking to the "Universe" and expecting the Universe to make things happen. 

My Spiritual Writer Guru - Paula Coelho - in The Alchemist says this same thing - When you want something badly, the Universe will  conspire to get it for you. 

I have also heard similar things said by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Sadguru, Mata Nirmala Devi - on the existence of "Cosmic Energy" and how opening up your Kundalani Chakras allows one to link to this Cosmic Energy - and things start happening. Everything is inter connected - we do not live in isolation. Looking back at my life I have witnessed such things - how all the bowling pins align themselves into one column and fall so neatly one after the other like dominoes.

Yes, I believe in the "Universe" or the "Cosmic Energy" - and ready to be plugged into this - like Keanu Reaves into the Matrix! 

I have now added Affirmation journal to my daily routine. Daily 15 times I write 2 affirmations - the contents will not share now - you will see the results in the coming years :) 

5. Fasting. Every athlete, ultra marathoner fasts. Either they do an intense monthly fasting for a few days, or go into a weekly juice diet. Fasting is extremely beneficial. I am doing research on how to fast - as a vegetarian - for the upcoming 40 day Ramzan fast. I might take the plunge this year. 

6. Writing Muscle. To do something well, you have to practise on it over and over and over. There were some good tips I picked up. 

Write something, anything - 3 pages a day. Dont worry if it gets published or what the reader will say. Think you are writing to throw it away - so write whatever comes to your mind. So later in the day, when you are composing that difficult email to a customer or an employee - it just flows and you are not stuck. 

The Writing muscle has to be trained and nurtured. 

Create 3 sections - Ideas, Drafts, Publish - and keep moving posts from one bucket to another. Sometimes when creative energy is high - work on the Idea bucket and add as much as possible. When there is a lot of time - move a post from Idea bucket to Drafts bucket and bring the idea to life. When time is short or creative energy is less or waiting for a delayed meeting or want to switch context from an intense coding session - move a post from Draft to Publish and clean up the post to Publish.  This way one is not stuck at the enormosity of the work that goes into publishing a blog post - but can keep working at it in chunks based on the energy level. Yet to implement it ( this very blog post I am doing all 3 at once ).

7. Becoming Strong. Forget the 6 pack or a flat stomach or a PopEye bicep. Focus on becoming Strong. Because that is what will help in old age - instead of being dependent on others. Now this is a good goal. 

I sorely lack in this area. I only do aerobics now. Have to start adding Strength training to my routine. 

If you pick up this book - your mileage will vary dependent on what you want to do with life. There is an entire section  ( book has 3 sections - healthy, wealthy and wise ) devoted to becoming Wealthy. It is how these Titans do investments. Will revisit after I have some stash built.

So that's all folks. 

With some disciplined effort + working out smartly + some help from the Universe - anyone can become a Titan.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Online Subscription Services

Yesterday I went for a demo. An elderly gentleman - Vice President of this Society asked me - why should I pay recurring and not one time. Just give me your software we will put it in this computer - showed me an old computer with a CRT monitor - and we are good.
It has been a while I had answered this question - "a while" being - might be 2 or 3 years. I take it for granted nowadays that Online Software as a Service ( SaaS ) is the way to go.
Here are the Online Services I use - on a monthly / yearly basis .
1. Apple Music - Rs.190 per month - for an infinite supply of songs.
2. Amazon Prime Subscription - Rs.499 per year ( introductory I believe - will be Rs.999 later )
3. - Rs. 2,750 per year - for well researched Indian startup news 5 times a week.
4. Art of living app - Rs.60 per month. For the Pranayama count mainly.
5. Apple 200GB Storage - Rs.140 per month
6. Magzter - Top Gear - Rs.670 per year, Readers Digest - Rs.370
7. Wired Magazine - Rs. 1200 per year.
8. Newton - Mail Client - Rs.1650 per year
9. Audible  - Rs.1100 a month - get 1 audio book a month.  

Had tried Netflix, Kindle Unlimited - but stopped them.
1. - Kickass Tool to track sprints. 20$ per month.
2. Jetbrains tools - PhpStorm, IntelliJ, PyCharm, Webstorm paid yearly.
3. Adobe Creative Cloud - for Photoshop paid monthly - some 70$ per month total
4. Zeplin - 20$ per month - for UX Team to upload design and Developers to use them
5. Github - 50$ per month
6. Marketing automation tools - 30$ and 50$ per month
7. Intuit Quickbooks - Rs.5000 per year - for our company's online Accounting
8. Google Apps for our email - Rs.150 per user per month. Bonus we get Google Docs and lot of storage space - to which we are migrating lock stock and barrel. Not using Dropbox.
9. Eapps, Amazon AWS and Linode Servers - Not disclosing :)
10. Microsoft Office 365 - but we are switching to Google Docs - 80% are using Ubuntu inside ADDA so we had to let go off Office. A few licenses are still being used when we have to communicate with the outside world. I have switched to Numbers/Pages/Keynote.
Yes, I do not own any of the Software or the Hardware. Enjoy the upgrades and benefits like backup and 100% uptime and can sleep peacefully at night.

Monday, February 06, 2017

I am The Product Manager

Of the various hats I have worn all these years - founder, Sales guy, Deployment Specialist, Level 1 and Level 2 Support, DevOps, Cheque depositor - I have come to realize I was a Product Manager all along - right from the get go.

Putting a label on what you do is extremely important. It helps you define the job you do, appreciate it, read more on it and helps you improve on that particular skill.

If you are the guy/girl in charge of making the Product among the Founding Team - you are the Product Manager. Say it out aloud - "I am the Product Manager". The fate of your entire Startup lies in your decisions.

All other designations - CEO, CTO, Director, Co-Founder all are important - for the outside world and your team-mates - but nothing is as critical as the “Product Manager” hat you are wearing now.

Strap the Product Manager Hat tight.

When I gave Sales demo - I was not trying to get a Cheque out of the customer. I was listening to their pain points, and my mind was frantically scanning to see how my Startup could alleviate those paint points. I was trying to find patterns among Customers - so my solution can solve them all. I was trying to see how much value we can give them, and price our product as a fraction of the value ( and not just features ).

When I was paying the monthly bill for AWS account - and saw it was increasing gradually, asked myself - Are such resource hogging servers really necessary - and promptly turned them off - and found better cost effective alternatives. Also when I plan a feature, I keep the cost in mind - I am not going to get sold on the hype of a technology [ NoSql I am looking right at you]

When I got a customer to go live - I realised how a few small features created some of the biggest headaches and heartburns. Promptly booted them off or tweaked them.

When I had to do Marketing - do SEO, or write content for Brochrures, or create Competitor analysis - I had to analyse inwardly as well as the competition and could identify the areas we were strong and weak. I knew what areas we could pull ahead of the competition - become more stronger, and what areas we had to improve - so we cannot be beaten down with.

If you are the Product Manager of a Startup - and working 9 to 5, doing a few customer interviews, talking to the CEO/CTO/Founder, browsing competitors website/Apps, STOP - you have to do more. [ ps : Startup founders, if you have hired Product Managers - here is what they have to start doing ]

1. Accompany the Sales guys in a few demos. In fact you should constantly do this - product keeps changing, market keeps changing, competiton keeps changing.

2. Get your hands dirty and deploy a few accounts - from start to finish.

3. Write the next set of marketing material, do the next Competitor Analysis document yourself - instead of just giving inputs.

4. Do SEO, plan the adwords campaign yourself.

5. Be the DevOps and/or pay the AWS bill from your pocket and get it reimbursed - and see for yourself that one cool feature which hardly anyone uses is costing a bomb.

And for my startup founders - Say it aloud. Stick it in big fonts right in front of you.

“I am the Product Manager"

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Hi PETA - get your priorities right.


Good job on creating a mass movement and uniting a fractured Tamil Kingdom ruled between a Dynasty and bunch of Film Stars. Thank you - no one could have accomplished what you just did.

I am not going into the merits of Jallikattu or demerits - but given the clout you posses - here are my humble requirements - so you will get your priorities right.

Poultry and Cattle Transfer

I wait on my bike in a traffic signal with the hot sun and exhaust fumes everywhere, sweat drips  from the helmet harness on to the petrol tank and as I watch it evaporate - I hear a few bird sounds nearby.. turn to my left and see these white chicken all squeezed tightly - suffocating under the same sun and exhaust fumes - luckily their trip is only a few hours before they turn into a tandoori platter.

However, PETA - this is plain wrong. The poor souls deserve a decent journey the last few hours of their life.

Please get Supreme Court to pass an order to transport these poor souls in an AC vehicle - with enough space and feed. We should show these Chicken that we humans are not inhuman.

You saved a handful of Bulls from being subject to 30 odd minutes of hardship in a year - now it is your duty to save these billions of chickens that go through this daily.

Yes, the cost of Chicken will go up - so be it. The Non-Vegetarians will work harder to savour the chicken - they won't complain. Just like they are not complaining now about the Jersey cow conspiracy, or the thousand year culture that has got destroyed with the Jallikattu ban.  

Pet animals kept for Breeding

Just stand in front of any Pet clinic. On any day there will be an unkempt man who will bring 2 plump Alaskan Huskies, or Labradors, or Golden Retrievers - an Adam and Eve - who are obese and has sad eyes. He will shove them into the clinic with his legs and will ask the doctor - how many more years can they keep producing. Once the time is up - he will just dump them on the streets, or turn it over to CUPA ( if he is kind enough ) - and these poor souls might or might not get a lucky home.  What a sad life these beautiful creatures had to go through.

These are the puppy mills - rampant across the country. 

PETA - just STOP this madness. Please. 

Just go to Quikr or OLX and you can find these culprits. Take them to court - confiscate all that they have got. Put stiff fines. Put them in the same cage for a year. 

PETA - if you bring to halt a thousand year tradition - you can do this simple small thing. 

Halal Cut

PETA, PETA - how can you stand this?

When you cannot stand 30 minutes of a bull run - how can you allow 30 minutes of a slow drip by drip death of a Goat or a Chicken. Yes the veins are cut and the bad blood oozes off - so the meat is fresh and pure - but imagine the torture the poor animal goes through?

Shouldn't you ban this too? The last minutes of the poor soul - when all its life has seen just the animal factory doors or a cage with zero joy or laughter - at the least can have a quick fast death.

I have a better idea PETA.

Let us ban killing completely. We buy vegetables, wash and cut them. Why not the same with Chicken, Goat or Fish? The Great Emperor in the West - Mark Zuckerberg I heard does the same thing. If he can do it - so can Non Vegetarians in India.

Here is your requirement - ban all slaughter of animals. Animals can only be sold alive - it is upto the consumer to make the final cut.

You might ask - what about Restaurants. Yes along with Menu card, let the waiter parade the chicken and goat to the table. Like they do with Crabs nowadays.

Once the patron selects, can go to the back of the kitchen where he/she can perform the deed, come back and continue checking WhatsApp - while the food is prepared.

Use your clout PETA.

Beef Industry

PETA - gosh my blood is boiling thinking of this.

First the Cows and Buffaloes ( your special friends I believe ) are transported inhumanly to the Slaughter Houses.

There they are herded into a slaughter room where they are hit with a heavy metal rod - where they are stunned. Some lucky ones die but mostly they just pass out. And because the slaughters have to meet the daily targets - they do not wait for the poor soul to fully depart the body.  While the animal is still dying and trembling - the insides are torn out and meat is cut.

PETA - you have to stop this. Monitor the industry closely. By now you should know how much time it takes for an animal to completely die. Let us give them the time - instead of being skinned alive. Reduce the output from these industries.

Let the price go up or if it is unsustainable let the business owner find something else to do.

Finally Economics

It is ok - let the price go up. Economics has a way of solving the demand supply curve - and which is sustainable for the environment.

Organic Milk from a Desi Cow is above Rs.100 for half a litre. Yes, that is the true price it deserves - I will switch to Green tea or Soy Milk. Price of a produce - says how scarce it is. Definitely we will switch to alternatives if something is not sustainable for the pocket.

Instead of keeping the price same, and still we try to meet demand by cutting corners ( adulterating or injecting steroids ) - or destroying the environment ( by using deadly pesticides and eradicating healthy but less producing crops ), or torturing poor souls and treating them like machine parts in an assembly unit.

Sigh PETA.

I honestly still don't know why you will go after Jallikattu - while these other big issues are rampant and are far more deadly. I wish you will get your priorities right.

Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Books Round Up

My first blog post of every new year is on the books I crunched in the past 1 year. Here is the list for previous years - 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

For 2016 I had a target of 52 ( 1 per week ).

Science Fiction

Adventure stories on present earth life is boring. Drama is boring. Romance on Earth is boring. Only Science Fiction keeps me interested - it has all and much more.

1. Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

Remember Stephen Hawking? Recently he gave an interview in which he said something ominous - if Aliens contact us please do not respond - this book gives the why.

This is the 2nd part of the trilogy written by Chinese Author. Compared to first part it was a bit dull, and the story meanders through various attempts Humans make to fight with the advanced Alien species - through our primitive technologies.

Towards the end the story unravels beautifully.

2. The Heart Goes Last, Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is a much acclaimed author who is good at painting Dystopian worlds. I heard her name mentioned during the US Election - on how a Trump world will be like Atwood’s so picked this one - was quite depressing at places, but loved the plot. Truly a great story teller. Regarding Trump’s new world - well even Atwood would not have imagined.

3. Red Rising ( Part 1 )
4. Golden Son ( Part 2 )
5. Morning Star ( Part 3 ) by Pierce Brown

Toooo good. As a Sci-Fi Lover lapped it up. The plot started like Hunger Games but got developed elaborately and loved how the story progressed. It is all about Strategy and how our Hero Darryl beats them all edging close to death all the time - everything is there betrayal, adventure,romance - heck they should make this as a movie.

6. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

This is the 2nd part of the Trilogy - the first part was Enders world which got made into a movie. Story starts with a mystery which gets unravelled at the end. Gripping through out - dull at a few places when the author takes pain to explain things in detail - but ending is really superb - how the aliens and humans come to an agreement to co-exist.

7. Survival Quest - Way of the Shaman by Vasily Mahaneko

In future prisoners are not put in Jails, but soaked in a virtual reality prison. And the prisoners have to mine day in and day out. Boring right - but they made an interesting story out of it. But you can skip.


8. Animal Farm by George Orwell

Want to understand India’s Political Elite - read this book. I think when the Politicians kin enters politics, they present this book - on how to rule the masses.

9. Immortals of Meluha
10. Secret of Nagas
11. Oath of Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi

Somewhere in the middle of 2016 I acquired an Amazon Kindle and promptly signed up for the buffet plan. Read all these books in one trot. Superb imagination. Thoroughly Entertaining.

12. 2 States by Chetan Bhagat

The following criticism might apply to me when I write my own book someday. I once read somewhere that Jeffrey Archer rewrote his book 7 times before he was satisfied. He will also write his books double spaced, so he can make corrections below the lines. 2 States had a nice plot, but felt Chetan Bhagat could have rewritten at a few places. Felt as if the book was written in a hurried manner.

However, to give Chetan Bhagat credit - it was simple fast reading and entertaining. Can see why he is such a roaring success. Has created his own style - and it works pretty well.

13 Stranger by Albert Camus

Much acclaimed. Weird book. Man commits murder and what goes on in his head. Reason why I should stick to Science Fiction.

14. Colorless Tsukumi Tazoki by Haruki Murakami

Story moves slowly. The protoganist discusses Classical Music, describes the food in detail - typical Murakami fare. Interesting plot. Loved it.


15. Mastery by Robert Greene

Wish I had read this in the early days of my career. Heck, I would be a writer giving Chetan Bhagat run for his money - if I had read this book some 20 years back. Book has many insights on how to become the master of any domain.

16. Deep Work : Rules for Focussed Success in a Distracted Word by Cal Newport

I had arrived at a conclusion that Social Media is useless. This book goes one step further and drives home the point that Social media is not only useless, but very much evil.

Point well made - this book is a must read for the millenails. - I am depending on you milenials to spend the last years of my life on flying cars, and visting Mars - but if you guys squander the time liking and retweeting inane things - I dread to think how my old age will be. Millenials - please log off Social Media - and go create something awesome.


17. Amar Chitra Katha’s Mahabaratha I,II and III

Superbly done. Enjoyed it thoroughly. It is such an easy way to read Mahabaratha. Do it.

18. Watchmen - DC Comics by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

Had I been born in US, I would have been a nerd no doubt. And with dark rimmed thick glasses would have read all the comics. This one is dark, depressing at places, totally weird and didnt make any sense dialogues at many places - but gripping and held me glued to it. The book was written in the backdrop of cold war - and the influence of Super heroes on the outcome.

Now I am curious what the Batman, Superman comics are all about.

19. Perspepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Autobiography comic - depressing at many places. The author describes how she squeezes in happiness. We get a glimpse of how Iran went from a Great open culture to smithereens and how it is difficult for a open minded free bird like the author.

Sigh. Why? When we can use our collective intelligence to build space ships to go conquer the Galaxy - here we are mired in petty religious squabbles. Depressing really - how we are wasting the potential of Human brain.


20. Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma

If you are curious on the Spiritual stuff, but do not want to sign into the Art of Living, Isha, Iskon etc.. camps - then read and follow this book. Has good simple tips for leading a good happy life - without being branded as a Spiritual guy. Liked the practical suggestions in the book.

21. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Much acclaimed. Some of the truths we already know - nothing earth shattering for us Indians who are already half awakened. Some are true eye openers.

And for 2017 have again set a target of 52 - 1 per week.