Sunday, April 16, 2017

Book Review: The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories by Debashri Banerjee

Title: The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories
Author: Debashri Banerjee
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction(short stories)

Date:  2017

Price: INR 199

Pages: 138

First of all the cover-page of this book is very attractive and that combined with it being a short story collection, makes you pick it immediately. The book has 13 stories, each with very real characters aimed to as if show a reflection image of the society, we the people make back to us. It is true that all of us, humanity is neither white or dark but we are shades of grey. However, if you further dissect the grey is layered and in some corners of our heart the darkest shade spills its colors all over our lives and its decisions. Be it a woman's plight living as a prostitute in "Janani's pride" to that of a widow in "Widows of Shivoham", the later being my personal favorite, the twist being more than what one could ask for. The layers of emotions of being a parent hood expressed in the stories "The Bobby Pins" or "The Story of 'IT'" will leave a mark on you. "The Road to Salvation", "The Limping Girl at NH-64" and "Oh! Silly you!" etc. tell us about the evolving shade of humanity.

The writer has a great flair of combining the mundane with the  bizarre, only a pinchful to blend perfectly into some stories, making them real and yet unreal in some parts at the same time. The stories are all delivered crisp with a streak of darkness that the writer effortlessly delivers in each story. The darker flavor gains mildly over a subtle plot, suggesting the maturity uncommon in such a young writer. Though comparisons are unfair, as each one has their own style of writing, when writing short stories I have had the utmost pleasure of reading Sangeeta Mahapatra, the next book, surely is this one! Debashri Banerjee is a writer to watch out for. 

Rating: 4/5. Great delivery for a debut. Highly recommended. 

About The Author:
Debashri Banerjee is a writer by profession for last seven years and currently associated with an IT company as a lead content writer in Noida. She has been writing since the age of 16 and has ventured into areas like poetry, short stories, interviews, features on lifestyle topics and several blogs on miscellaneous issues like online business, relationships etc. She is an active blogger and writes on her portals and and platforms like 

She loves reading, writing, listening to music, watching short films and involving into healthy conversations.The Bobby Pins and Other Short Stories is her debut novel.  She strongly aspires to become the best-known feature writer, scriptwriter and an author in the country someday

Book Review: Jim Morgan and the Seven Sins by Bharat Madan

Title: Jim Morgan and the Seven Sins
Author: Bharat Madan
Publisher: Notion Press

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2017

Price: INR 299/99 (Kindle)

Pages: 308

Jim Morgan is a character not unheard of, a best-selling popular writer who shuns away all popularity for focused writing. He has no personal life, seperated from his wife and no family. He lives alone and does only one thing"writing". He has however trouble writing the next book and approaching deadlines from publishers. The story begin with an unusual day where he suddenly one day he receives an unusual visitor, God. God tells him that his sufferings are due to the karma in his past life and he must get over and rectify them to be able to live better. The formatting and the feeling of the book at the beginning is amazing. It makes a reader, especially a mature one instantaneously connect with the book for the character sketching is just perfect. The recluse perfectionist is projected so well that you could almost predict his next move.

God tells him that he had a past life where he committed seven sins. These sins should be paid of in this birth, in the next seven days. The best part of the story, the clue for each sin is in the writers previous books. So Jim begins reading them trying to identify his mis-deeds. What then unfolds is a gory story, connected through his previous books, each piece delivered to him like a puzzle.  Up til this point, the writer ensures a large literary landscape for his plot and the book gives an impression of a literary pursuit, however what next happens with the "sins" part turns it towards a thriller. The entire build I think could have been a better platform for something more psychological or literary, I wish the author could release a different version of the same story post the first half. However, that was just my tasteful expectation and many may appreciate what further unfolds. 

The book has certain minor logical flaws, like its many characters being extremely familiar with Hinduism, though none of them really is one, but these can be overlooked as the story still remains gripping. It is definitely a book that gets you hooked on to it and ensures itself to be a one shot read. Bharat Madan adds to my list of new Indian writers to watch out for.

Rating: 3.5/5. Highly recommended.

Don't Believe in God Till You Experience Him by Frog Books

Title:  Don't Believe in God Till You Experience Him.
Author: Mukul Kumar
Publisher: Frog Books

Genre: Religion

Date:  2017

Price: INR 275/134.40 (Kindle)

Pages: 266

I thought this would be an easy book for me to review, given that I myself have traversed this phase – or rather, am traversing this phase – a hunt for the truth of existence. Little did I know then that this would be one of the hardest books to review – and one I could not back out of, as I had given my word. Aur diyaa huaa shabd main waapas nahi letaa; sachhaa Sanaatan Dharmi jo thhe heraa. I still believe in the promise, the spoken word, given that I have seen, used and felt its power in Modern Business in India, where the word, shabd, promise still is paramount even in deals for crores, from personal experience!

Is the book that bad? That it isn’t; most certainly. I rate it 3 stars; shorn of my bias, it is easily 4-stars. This is an excellent work, and if it is fiction – repeat – if it is fiction; then it qualifies for 4.5 stars unbiased, & 3.5 stars from my personal POV. This comes across as a real-life story; at no point does this seem like fiction. And yet, I have come across nothing anywhere that tells me this is a real story. And that is the major point of this book : the top-notch use of words and language!

This is a story about one man’s life from his childhood till his approaching 30s, a story about his life, his trials, his experiences. I would not rate this as a fully spiritual book; but that is my POV entirely. This is the story of a boy from a not-so-well-off family; not poor, but decidedly not middle class either. This boy is just at the right socio-economic stage where materialism is just tantalizingly within reach so as to make it desirable, and just out of reach to make it frustrating. And that is the beauty of the story; this made an instantaneous connect with me.

This is the story of an imperfect person, like all of us; someone you can instantly relate with. A person from a joint family, with his parents and especially his mother being picked upon regularly, a person who goes through a less-than-ideal childhood. Not bullied in any way, but sadly exposed to bullying of his mother, and the family troubles that leave a deep impression. A child of a second marriage, and all that it entails; this is riveting stuff, and has been superbly dealt with.

This is his story- and how he grows from toddler-hood to childhood to adolescence, and onwards; the struggles he goes through for an education, and how his family and he manage to scrape through. This is the story of how he goes what I call wayward, and how circumstances and his conscience manage to get himself to correct himself, and make it to a good college for a decent education. This is the part of the story that is truly riveting, and deeply connective on an emotional level.

And then this boy, or young adult goes what I will prefer to call astray. He gets hopelessly entangled in the web of an occult group, when he should be either focusing on his studies exclusively, or enjoying college life. One gives knowledge, the other develops experience and openness, both of which are vital for success in the Modern World. Our genius does neither; and goes headlong after a wild-goose chase into the unfathomable waters of the mystical. And from this point onwards, the book slowly loses steam, till eventually losing connect with me in some 15% of the book, before turning around once again into riveting stuff in the last 10-15 pages.

This brings me to the main and indeed only reason for me docking a star in my rating; the shift into what I call the occult, and what others may prefer to call Spirituality  - could have been handled much better; it comes across as abrupt. It is this lack of a proper connect which causes the story to lose some steam. The overall characterization tones are in keeping with a spiritual bent on mind; that I grant. But it seems to abrupt when it does come about. Having been in an intensely personal spiritual hunt for 2-3 years myself now, I realize that it can indeed  be abrupt; but the background for the shift has to be there, and a trigger has to be present.

If I look back at myself, I can readily see both the abruptness of the switch; as well as the triggers. I first read the Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta in my teens; the hero {or anti-hero} of the novel got his first experience with meditation in the teens as well. So far, so good. But this chappie gets attracted to the meditative side when he should be excited for the new and rich phase in his life, which I personally call the Occult, being a daily reader of the Upanishads & The Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta; being a person who has read a minimum of a dozen ancient texts, and several more books on them in my hunt.

Now that set-up requires either a trigger, or a personality trait, habit that can logically drive a person towards that path.  In my case, I am a voracious reader; have read and reviewed 155+ books; have a personal collection of over 500; deeply into non-fiction, in a long {now in its 8th year} hunt for Colonial Reality and Independence Historical truths; and went through a tough phase in life, besides always wondering on the nature of life in general and our purpose on it, as my writings of the past 10 years tell. Thus, it was simple enough to get attracted to ancient texts in the Geeta Press Stall I came across. That is what the story lacks; a sufficiently deep and logical reason that can fully explain the shift. I concede shifts can happen; I myself am living proof.

The second part of the book is all about a frankly dark, mysterious experience with an ever-increasing foray into the side of the Occult, as this anti-Hero quits his life, his steady job and goes headlong into this hunt for peace, something which my spiritual understanding tells me is plumb wrong, since so long as one is in this body, one cannot ignore its needs, and indeed duties. You don’t just quit and run. But the biggest plus is what emerges here, paradoxically; as the story surprisingly comes together in the end, to make it sound almost logical. For that, read the book; it is good enough for a read, and more!

I will not make any comments on the title, or the Author’s Goodreads blog contents; whether or not you choose to believe in God is your own decision. I have my views; you have yours. That is my outlook on this. The past 2-3 years, my studies in this field, and my experiences have all led me to believe in my path; let us leave it at that. As regards the book, this is an excellent work of fiction, with a riveting story – and never mind its one flaw, which you can overlook.

About the Author: 

"Mukul hails from a small historical town, Rajgir in Nalanda district in the state of Bihar. Coming from a humble background, he gained rich experience as he traversed through different phases of his life. Due to poor educational infrastructure back home, he was forced to travel, first to Patna and then to Delhi, for higher studies. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi University. The search for excellence that started with his pursuit for education, continued with his professional career. Mukul joined the IT industry as he came out of college, and has been travelling across the globe working out of client locations. A man with many unfulfilled dreams and no regrets, Mukul likes to pursue writing, reading, introspection, meditation, traveling and understanding human psyche."

The book review has been written by Vishal Kale. He has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"

Friday, April 14, 2017

Author Interview: Ashraf Engineer

Ashraf Engineer's life itself is a combination of a fantasy fiction and thriller. He has been working for more than 16 years with leading media houses of the India. He is one of those few of us who in 2011 took a leave of absence to train journalists in Kabul and his life space is now onto a chapter in Mumbai where he is into corporate to consult in communication and market space. I got to know about him as he approached for a review of his debut book -Bricks of Blood, with which he has taken a bold move to release it in a Kindle only version. I wanted to know more about his writing and inspirations behind them. Here is the conversation that took place:

Q. Describe your journey into writing?
A: I was a journalist for 17 years, which is how I gained my understanding of writing. However, I have always been interested in it since childhood. As a journalist, I would tell myself that I would write a book some day but I never got around to actually doing it. It’s strange that I managed it only after I quit newspapers, that too five years after doing so. Probably the time I took helped me to look back at my experiences and learning more maturely.

Towards the end of 2016, I simply made up my mind to write the book and managed it in two months flat. It’s a novella, so it was possible to do so in such a short period.

Q. How did the current story “Bricks of blood” occur to you? How did its characters, plot etc. take form?
A: First of all, it’s strange that I came up with a work of fiction. As a journalist, I dealt with facts so I always felt that my first book would be non-fiction. However, I chose fiction simply because the research for a non-fiction book would mean taking time off from my day job – communications and marketing consultancy – which I did not want to do.

What’s stranger is that ‘Bricks of Blood’ did not start off as a book. The opening passage – the fight between the central character, Nooh, and the builder’s henchmen – simply came to me on a sleepless night. Normally, I can’t remember what I have read or thought of at such times but the next day I could pen it down word for word. Initially, I thought I’d write a short story but as the narrative grew I thought it could be a blog series. Finally, as it was fleshed out further, as new plot twists occurred to me, I decided on a novella format. I was very clear from the beginning that I would not do a full-length book because the pace of the story was paramount. I felt that I could not sustain it over, say, 300 pages.

As for the characters, in journalism you come across varied people and I drew from my experience to etch them. Many of the places I’ve mentioned are real. For instance, South Pali village is Pali Village in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. Devkhop, Ghorpade and Manor are places I have visited in Palghar district. The dance bar I have described is typical of the ones that used to exist in Mumbai.

Q. What made you decide to publish via an online “Amazon only” platform instead of traditional publishing?

A: I believe that while the uptake is slower in India, the world is shifting rapidly to e-readers. I see this a lot among my students – I have been teaching since 2004; currently I teach brand communications but started off with media studies – especially, which is a good indicator of what the next generation prefers.

There were other reasons. I wrote this book as the fulfillment of a dream. I had no aspirations for fame, nor did I wish to make any money from it. In fact, I made a commitment when I announced the book that other than a token amount I would give away all my royalties to charity. 

This made the process of approaching publishers, penning contracts, etc, redundant. Lastly, I think that self-publishing leaves you with more control of your work.

Q. What has been the most difficult part of this journey into writing? How did you overcome it?
A: As writers, we find flaws continuously with our work. We are constantly unhappy with it and nervous that inconsistencies have slipped in. While I did not have the services of a publishing house for editing or help with the issues I just described, I did run it by some experienced editors who I know. Once they said they really liked the book, I felt confident enough to publish it.

The other challenge is marketing a self-published book. I used digital platforms for this. To my surprise, given how little I spent, the tactic actually worked.

Q. Are you a methodical writer?
A: If you mean do I first write out the characters, a story outline, plot twists, etc, and then the book itself, then the answer is no. In this case, I let the story flow as it came to me. However, I am a very disciplined writer. I wrote without fail every single day, took the time to think through the story and was ruthless while editing it.

 Q. Which books and writers have inspired you?
A: I have been deeply inspired by Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’, the Dalai Lama’s ‘Freedom in Exile’ and Muhammad Ali’s ‘The Greatest’. As you can tell, I read a lot of biographies. Among fiction writers, it’s Harper Lee, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Salman Rushdie, among others.

Q. Writing something currently?
A: Not at the moment. But I do have the plot idea for my next book. I’ll probably start later this year.

Q. When in a bad time how do you bounce back?
A: Normally, I just tough it out. Experience has taught me that nothing bad lasts forever; it’s a question of how well you deal with it while it lasts.

Q. Your experience being a published writer and any wise advise for budding writers?
A: It’s been fulfilling. More than the sales, it’s been the outpouring of goodwill and support that has touched me.

I have only one piece of advice: just do it. I put off writing my book for all the usual reasons: lack of time, lack of confidence, etc. I found that once I actually started doing it, I was very confident of how it was turning out. So, just go ahead and write that book!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

People Called Ahmedabad: Creators, Critics and the Curator – Part 1

The project that began from the architect’s studio traveled many places and reached even more people. The People Place Project is an offshoot of an architectural practice. It is the first of its kind that connects two intimate entities that upholds any practice - Place and People! The connection is the intimate engagement that captivates individuals across all age groups – Stories!

They are extraordinary stories of ordinary people. They are tales of engaging in new lights and rearing towards urban sensitivity. In times when opinions are developed, disseminated and debunked in a blink of an eyelid; these authors listened, paused and reflected. They documented these fleeting times, transitioning places and people who shape and are shaped by these shifts.

And these authors are no less ordinary themselves! An architect, an architecture student, a former journalist and dancer, an engineer are among twelve writers who travelled the length and breadth of Ahmedabad. With vocations and personalities as diverse; they have shaped the book with many mixed perspectives. Here’s introducing Manasi Chokshi, Ipshita Karmkar, Chitra Unnithan and Dhaval Shukla.

Manasi Choksi is architect who believes teaching is her purpose in life. She teaches at an architecture college in Mumbai. Despite this project being her first formal stint with writing, she believes that she is writer who writes from her heart and tries her best to convey sentiments through stories. What drove her to contribute to the project, we asked her. “My forefathers were merchants from Ahmedabad. They identified real diamonds from the fake ones, hence the surname - Chokshi- from the word chokkas (perfect). I hardly knew any of this until a visit to the old city of Ahmedabad. One thing led to another and I took up masters at CEPT University and was brought face to face with the city of my ancestral blood. As a result of this I know a lot of people and relatives here with interesting stories and life experiences. I tend to relate to people more once I know their past through these small secrets. The mystery excites me - like opening a Pandora's Box. And so I thought this was a great platform to explore my interests.”

Her characters are ordinary people with extraordinary choices. Minakshi Jain, an eminent architect from the city who also holds a flying licence since 1963. A secret, secret no one could have thought and believed seeing her demeanour. Kushal and Deepal Chokshi are regular people but with strong and smart choices. Himanshu Desai of Sandwichworkz was an absolute surprise. His restaurant appears too ‘cool’ but witnessed a 50 year old struggle with one's profession.The mistress of spices is one lady who inspired me the most. She very naively and literally placed her entire life story in front of me, without any fear of being judged. There are so many aspects about her that made me feel so less! Truly, a humbling experience!” Manasi talks about her takeaway from the stories.

“Each time I read the articles I wrote, I think of what I learnt, is to never judge people- however young or old.  You never know what little amazing stories they carry. It feels like, I discovered some wonderful people and through their stories made them super human beings. After all don’t we all wish to be one always!”

Ipshita Karmkar is a 5th year architecture student who studies at Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi institute of architecture in Mumbai. She loves to express herself on paper; be it academic journal, newsletters and writing for the city she lives in- Mumbai for the book - People called Mumbai.  This being her second project, she had the eye for discovery; however her own version of her story is that of eternal learning as reflected in her own words:

“As I was interning in Ahmedabad for 6 months, I found this project to be an ideal opportunity to explore and discover an alien city to the best of my ability. The project provided to me opportunities to meet and learn of new stories intimately from people which were exponentially different from what I had perceived of the city.”

One of her stories, 'a Place for the Displaced', developed into her thesis exploration. “Through the understanding of the narrative of a woman from Citizen Nagar, I was able to understand the needs and the aspirations of the community and apply my architectural skills to develop solutions to the problems. Other stories, such as the 'No celebration denied' and the Conflictorium story, allowed to me piece together and understand the larger situation within the city. Overall exploring the city made me understand my abilities better and helped me grow.”

While interviewing people for the book, she got closer to the subjects; something that had not happened before, despite of the fact that she had known them for many years. “For instance, my interview with Prof. Anil Gupta for 'Of Grassroots and Innovations' went on for close to three hours during which we laughed and talked at length about his experience of Ahmedabad. I have known him for almost a decade and have written many stories in the newspapers on his initiatives. I had even worked for him on a project for about 6 months but I never got an opportunity to talk to him the way I did while interviewing him for the book. At the end of the interview, he told me that he has never shared this story with anybody else! It was truly an amazing feeling! The book brought me closer to the city and the people I knew.”

Chitra Unnithan holds a Master’s degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. She has worked as a Special Correspondent with The Times Of India, a Feature Writer for Femina magazine and a Senior Sub-editor for Business Standard. She recently quit the media industry to work with the United World Institute of Design as their Corporate Relations and Communications person. She is a trained Bharatanatyam dancer and passionate about dogs and animal causes.

“Well, it had been a few months since I had quit journalism when Nisha, founder of People Place Project (whom I worked with at The Times of India) approached me. When she narrated the concept and while discussing the possible stories, I realized that I was missing writing feature stories. Being born and raised in Ahmedabad, I just couldn't let this opportunity pass.”

She has written three stories for the book: From Armani to Khadi, Of Grassroots and Innovations, Friends from Kerala. “The journey of interviewing and filing stories certainly had a major impact on me. While ideating over some stories for the book, I realized how much I have taken my city for granted. When I looked at Amdavad through an outsider's eyes, I realized there is much more to than what meets the eye and that I have overlooked some really great things about this city.”

Dhaval Shukla is a Gujarati born in the US. He shifted to India at the age of 12. Having frequently changed base for education and work he didn’t really identify his roots. He constantly explores opportunities to get closer to his land. His reasons to be a part of this project are therefore different and more personal.

“I was born in the US and lived there till I was 12 years old. Then, we (My parents and I) moved to Ahmedabad. In these 27 years, I have lived in 9 different homes, studied in 8 different academic institutions. Even though I am a Gujarati by certain ways I was brought up, I find it hard to have an identity based on culture or geography. At the same time, this has also given me a relatively objective view on so many things, as I mentioned in the first paragraph of this.” And subsequently he discovered The People Place Project.

“Last year, in mapping project exhibition, I decided to dig deep into this passion of maps and culture. It was then that I found the People Place Project. I took it up because I realised that it was an opportunity to understand this city more, and be closer to it. The feeling of “anchorless-ness” has reduced. It also made me part of a community who seemed to share certain similar ways of looking at the world.”

Like other writers, his protagonists and their stories greatly moved and inspired Dhaval. “In Ahmedabad though, the entrepreneurial spirit: of not just starting a business of taking risks and initiatives, is all around. As someone who is in touch with several social initiatives around the country, it was especially interesting to see Ahmedabad with that perspective. Many initiatives, as they scale up, are hard to manage- not just in logistics and money, but also in values. At the Blind Peoples Association (Seeing Without Eyes), the air of the place was of confidence. It was mirrored in Dr. Punani’s interview. I was so happy to meet him because here was a person who had so much belief in the institution, his co workers, the disabled, and in himself, that he has been part of the managing team for over 37 years.  It’s a virtue that is seemed to penetrate everywhere.”

Stay tuned to this space, for we feature another set of writers next! Also coming up are some valuable feedback and critique from our readers. Meanwhile if you did grab a copy of the book, do let us know your opinion of the same in the comments below....

One Last Time by Anubhav Shrivastava and Shreehari H

Title:  One Last Time
Author: Anubhav Shrivastava and Shreehari H
Publisher: Write India Publishers

Genre: Fiction

Date:  2017

Price: INR 138

Pages: 176

We love stories and each one for a  albeit for different reason. Some for the plot, some for their writing, where you can savor every written word but some only for their simplicity. The later that we seek more in a world that grows more materialistic each day.

Once upon a time, very much like our recent times lived a young boy named Nakul, just into his teens. Nakul is a character like every urban other Urban Delhi kid in a well to do family. His parents both chartered accountants give their best to their son. He has been brought up like anyone in such a family where he has not known adversity, his needs are more than taken care of, he gets all he wants and has all the love from his parents. Also like most Indians he has an ancestral home where his paternal grandmother lives.

As she observes him grow up she decides it's time for him to experience another facet of a more real life, away from the world in city or the virtual facebook life. So instead of a vacation at an exotic foreign destination, he visits his grandmothers house in a small village which is not very developed and it's people face all the problems right from irrigation water for their fields to electricity. Grumbling at first Nakul slowly begins to appreciate where he is, begins making friendships that are stronger and changes in a way he never anticipated. His life has now learning, relationships, purpose unlike ever before. This is the story that you believe every Urban youth should live. The writers unfold it in a very simple manner, infused with well chosen words, a little jingle and some poetry making it one of the most touching stories.

I have had a similar experience in my life when my grandparents invited me to live with them and as I read the book I could relate so well with everything Nakul underwent. The ability of the story to make that happen is rare and this book does it effortless. A further description would give out the essence of the story which is best experienced upon reading the book. So if you ever want to connect with your most innocent self that you were in school, the age where you first started forming opinions and making your own notions, read this book. It will make you connect with you. Also there is a good deal of scenic beauty and good travel writing involved as the writers describe the places beautifully, which is an icing on the dessert.

A refreshing read that makes your day.

Rating: 3.5/5

About the Authors: 

Anubhav Shrivastava graduated with a B.Tech in Electrical and Electronics from Manipal Institute of Institute of Technology in the year 2015. He is extremely passionate about cricket and movies.He has previously worked as a Consultant in Fractal Analytics and currently works in OLA. 

Grab a copy here:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Book Review: My Spiritual Psychology by BK Jayasimha

Title:  My Spiritual Psychology
Author: BK Jayasimha
Publisher: Adhyyan Publications; FIRST edition (2016)

Genre: Psychology

Date:  2017

Price: INR 2016

Pages: 204

Emotional Intelligence is increasingly becoming the corporate buzzword nowadays, with a series of organisations swearing by its so-called benefits; something those of us, on the sidelines of this movement- have been neither convinced entirely of, nor rejected it entirely.  The reason for this is simple – we, the half-convinced people, have many questions of the applicability of EI in a modern corporate with its myriad ground realities; leading us to question the entire concept. Conversely, we are adept enough to understand its usefulness and power!

I have been through an EI training programme around 10-12 years ago. The only memory I have of that programme is that of jumping and/or running around like a rabbit for the better part of two days. My organization must have spent well over 25K in that time’s money on it. What did I learn? In one short, sweet and blunt word – Nothing! That tells me two things – first, the concept is one thing; the content and the delivery another. More importantly, there are things relating to EI that are yet to be addressed, as quite clearly the trainer must have been knowledgeable & qualified. Yet, the result was zero – meaning that EI, as things now stand – has little practical utility in the corporate world!

The current book goes a very long way in addressing the questions that come into the mind of people like me – if you have questions regarding the specifics of the applicability of Emotional Intelligence in the real world in very practical situations-  this is the book for you. At the outset, let me clarify – the ideal target reader for this book is someone who is aware of the concept of EI; by aware, I don’t mean an expert, or a person grounded in psychology. I mean just that – aware. If you have a basic awareness, the current book under review is an ideal choice for you.

The Book
The book – My Spiritual Psychology – uses two concepts; Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence. EI is pretty well known; Spiritual Intellgence relates to Self-Awareness, Values, Vision, Flexibility, Humility, Fundamentals-approach, Positivity and Resilience. {This varies from online articles by around 10-15%, but is essentially what I understand of SI}. And, in doing so, it very successfully bridges the gap between EI and the questions it raises in critics minds. And that is why this book can be rated as a most significant contribution. The reason is that while EI and its various models deal with emotions, they don’t go too deep into the reasons behind these emotions, and the bedrock of values, personality traits etc.

Which brings me to the first question to the author – in the intro on Emotions, the connect between Values and Emotions is absent. Why should this be so? In actuality, it is the Value-Belief matrix system of a person that determines both emotions and actions. A person judges any event or stimulus not on experiences-  but on his or her core value-belief matrix system. Unless EI / SI looks into the fundamentals of Values, Beliefs as well as experiences, it will continue to have strong critics such as self. I look forward to an answer to this Question from the Author as well as the other EI expert I value – Milind Kher Sir, both of whom will receive links to the copies of this review.

 The second question I have for the author arises from this : he has admittedly written a path-breaking book. But why limit its pages, and exclude the most critical examination that this field needs and deserves – examining the “why” aspect of this matter? He could have quite successfully – he clearly has both the vision and the knowledge – explored the deeper linkages between SI and EI; gone into the Why of emotions, Feelings, Integrity, Intuition to make for a fuller book. That is one thing I certainly missed.

One of the best parts of this book is the presentation method it has taken; the way it divides the subject matter into its components, and systematically dissects each component – emotions, feelings etc and goes into the depth in very simple terms, making for both fast reading as well as easy absorption. The compartmentalized approach; the way it segments and explores Thoughts, Emotions, Feelings, Intuition, Integrity, Compassion, Empathy, Trust and Resilience actually enables the reader to evaluate the self, as well as leave a lasting impression on how one can and should look into these aspects in the entire communication paradigm in the real world.
Other equally powerful examples abound – like the examination of the disconnect between values and the work environment & the integrity / honesty aspects as on Pg 88-97; and the potent examination of workplace disconnect on Pg 105-110. These and other such examples are what elevate the book from the mundane to the extraordinary; each deserves a standing ovation! The reason for this ovation is the head-on tackling of these two most significant corporate challenges – employee stress and disconnect due to variance between personal values and on-the-job requirements which lead many to an either-or choice.
The biggest take-away for me was the blunt and straightforward identification of problems associated with EI in the real world, that was a lovely read. It felt great, being vindicated by an expert in this field. An example here – on Page 68, the Author has stunningly and bluntly identified that the normal focus of efforts is on the 10% that is visible, and that employee frustrations arise from the 90% , as quoted in the 3M example or rather case study. There are more such excellent admissions further on in the book, which is what gives the book its extremely unique character, making it one of the finest books I have ever read on Management, as well as on the core subject matter concerned!

Rating: 4/5. Highly recommended read for all interested in this subject, as well as the subject matter experts!

About the Author: Dr. Balakrishna Jayasimha is a certified EQ-i 2.0 Coach, trainer from Multi Health Systems (MHS), has a certification on ‘Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence’, from Case Western Reserve University. Helping people understand their own internal motivators, raise their levels of consciousness and sharpen their emotional intelligence to perform at optimal capacities is what does best. He is a celebrated author with not just articles published in leading Indian dailies and online portals but 4 books to his credit. His latest tome My Spiritual Psychology focuses on the application of Emotional Intelligence in times of personal and professional crisis. 

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The book review has been written by Vishal Kale. He has an MBA in Marketing with 16 years of experience in Sales, Marketing & Operations across various industries, with end-to-end specialisation in telecom sales and marketing. 

He is an Indian Top Blogger {on ITB Website} for the past 2 years and counting; Nominated in top 5 Political Bloggers by Blogadda in Win-15 & Among the top 200 bloggers worldwide on Invesp. He specialises in deep politico-economic analysis; Books off the beaten track, and a value & fundamentals-based approach towards the Indian Economy, Corporate India - And Especially Indian Colonial History"