August 29, 2016
by Neelima
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Drive, Revolution and Diplomacy @ BYOB Party in July 2016 (Part 6)

driveRahul bought along the book by Daniel H.Pink called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. This fairly recent book is a must read if you want to understand what motivates the person, the student, the child, the employee, etc. Motivation comes across as a very scientific concept. The kind of incentives that work for a twenty something employee would not work for an employee nearing her forties. The author explains how driving factors today include: autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose. He peppers the book with examples of companies who are trying newer models to motivate their staff. Rahul recommends this refreshing assessment of very relevant subject matter and told us about the Japanese concept called Ikigai or the reason for being.

the fourth industrial revolutionAri talked about a brand new book called Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab, founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum. Schwab talks about the new automated future. The technological revolution of this day and age has led to more and more people losing their jobs to bots. Yet he believes that there is an answer to this conundrum- re-skilling. By re-skilling, human beings have a better chance. Comparisons were made to the computerization of railways and banks in India. At the time, people were threatened by the all pervasive influence of technology. Paranoia when it comes to change is quite common. There was some optimism in the group. While change can be threatening, there are simultaneous checks and balances happening in parallel.

Some, however, felt that scare mongering was valid. In India particularly, the percentage of people who could re-skill is very limited, so succeeding in a digital economy becomes suspect. While in many countries print is dying, in India it thrives, so the Fourth Industrial Revolution has a long way to go, geographically at least.

engaging indiaAditya Sengupta spoke about a book that he picked up a long time ago called Engaging India: Diplomacy, Democracy, and the Bomb by Strobe Talbott. This non-fiction revolves around the diplomatic events that surrounded a very crucial time in India’s military history. In 1998, three nuclear devices exploded under the Thar Desert. This led to a US-India standoff. Strobe Talbott, the Deputy Secretary of State, and Jaswant Singh, the Ministry of External Affairs, engaged in serious talks for almost two years and this opened a new chapter in Indo-US relations ever since. Aditya found the Indian viewpoint told through the US viewpoint interesting. If you are interested in the Talbott-Singh dialogues, watch this: https://www.c-span.org/video/?195227-1/usindia-relations

With that we wrap up the BYOB Party episodes of July!

 

August 26, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Visual Friday: Books that make you cry

Books that make you cry

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August 25, 2016
by Neelima
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Pulp Fiction @ Link Wanderlust

In the story I dreamed of being Hemingway, but ended up a pulp fiction writer, Christopher Farnsworth writes about how “a life filled with adventurers, mad scientists, strange creatures, weird plagues and mysterious plots” became his raw material for story telling.

Pulp fiction may not receive the accolades that literary fiction gets, but it’s a huge market. Though Farnsworth tried every trick in the writer’s book, he couldn’t ignore the robits, zombies and vampires that called out to him.

“I put my comics away long enough to read the classics. In college, I attended lectures by post-structuralist theorists, studied the romantic poets and tried to write a deeply meaningful novel about America. I wore a lot of black.”

When Farnsworth worked as a reporter he came across strange cases and began to conclude that life was more pulp than fiction could ever be.  If you have doubts about the kinds of characters that you create and are obsessed with reproducing the real world, think again. Maybe realism isn’t for you and who knows what is real any more?

hoppip quentin tarantino pulp fiction john travolta samuel l jackson

August 22, 2016
by Neelima
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Violence, Classics and Nature @ BYOB Party in July 2016 (Part 5)

blood meridian
Anshuman got the renowned book Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. Unlike McCarthy’s previous books, this one explores violence with gusto. The story revolves around Kid who is part of a mercenary gang who scalps Indians and sells those scalps. The landscape where the gory masterpiece unfolds is the Texas-Mexico borderlands. McCarthy retains the wildness in the Wild West and removes the romanticism of the idea of the Wild West, probably created to reconcile with the goriness of the past..In fact Anshuman felt that it was a parody of the Wild West. McCarthy goes deep into the theme of violence and he pictures redemption through violence like no author can.

the count of monte cristoJeeth brought along a classic historical fiction The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, set in France, in the nineteenth century. The story deals with the classic theme of revenge going wrong. Edmund Dantes has been severely wronged and he longs for retribution. But at what cost?  The book has spewed many adaptations on screen and off it.

nature in the cityMeera Iyer got the book Nature in the City by Harini Nagendra. Since we live in Bengaluru, this book is of great relevance to us. We’ve all heard about how beautiful the Garden City once was, but now it’s at the mercy of development and human ambition. Harini Nagendra talks about nature in Bengaluru, something that was once taken for granted but which is now being remembered in its absence. The author effortlessly straddles between history, ecology and sociology of Bengaluru from the seventh century to the present day. She writes about the changing landscape, including its sacred groves, lakes and home gardens. She takes a hitherto unknown look at nature in slums.

Although the author is optimistic about the role of civil society in saving the city, Meera is not completely convinced as the situation requires a radical change of mindset.

More books in Part 5.

August 19, 2016
by InstaScribe
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Visual Friday: Reading & Writing

Reading & Writing

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August 18, 2016
by Neelima
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Fortune Telling @ Link Wanderlust

The Querent by Alexander Chee, an award winning author, is a story about fortune telling. In India, the idea of fortune telling is still popular and a career in astrology is a lucrative profession. Chee talks about a different kind of fortune telling-using tarot cards. As if Indian astrologers aren’t enough, there are tarot readers in this part of the world too. Chee was drawn into the tarot world due to his own personal tragedies. He writes in an engaging and informative way. For instance, we learn about the history of tarot reading.

“Crowley and Harris had attempted to take centuries of esoteric occult teachings and render them into a single deck of cards, whose regular use would, for the adept, also work as a kind of mnemonic exercise. Slowly you would learn, in other words, the relationships between ancient gods and goddesses, astrological signs, planets, alchemical sigils. Each card felt like it had the ability to be one of 78 windows into the secret life of the world, hidden somewhere beyond the air, under the skin of existence.”

Then you learn about the features of tarot reading:

“Tarot cards are composed of cards of two kinds, the Major and Minor Arcana. There are 22 Majors, numbered from 0, The Fool, to 21, The World, and they take you step by step along what’s called The Fool’s Journey, with each card representing forces like The Sun, The Moon, The Devil, and so on. These have more weight in a reading, typically, than a Minor Arcana card. The Minors are divided among 4 suits: Pentacles, Swords, Wands, and Cups being the standard types. Each of the suits is numbered 1-10, and then has a court of 4: a Page or Princess, a Knight or Prince, a Queen, and a King. There are 56 of these.”

He talks about the narrative aspect of reading the cards. He also explains, being a tarot reader himself, how important it is to ‘stay focused on the cards, not the person’. The legality of tarot reading is not accepted in all countries and Chee knows the risks involved in this exercise. Read this story if the story of the future fascinates you.

dark dream surreal cards mysterious

August 15, 2016
by Neelima
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Illness and Health @ BYOB Party in July 2016 (Part 4)

There were two contrasting books discussed one after the other. One was a book on cancer and one a book on how to lose weight the healthy way. The literature of the healthy and the sick seems to be quite a talking point.

theemperorof maladiesAjay talked about the Emperor of Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee; this book won the  Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction. Many readers in the group had read this book as well and found that Mukherjee had done justice to a difficult subject. The book is a chronological account of treatment plans over the centuries and treats cancer as the protagonist, antagonist rather. His book features heroes like his patients, researchers and doctors. So much goes into a disease getting the required amount of funding; unfortunately a certain critical mass of patients is required for adequate spending required to formulate breakthrough treatments. The conversation went on to the ‘whys’ of cancer, including the recent potassium bromate in bread controversy. Mukherjee’s book is optimistic and opens up healthy dialogues about this otherwise stigmatized disease.

dont lose your mind lose your weightNowadays there is a lot of awareness when it comes to staying healthy and keeping disease away.  Megha  spoke about a book called Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight by Rujuta Diwekar, expert nutritionist known for her contribution to Kareena Kapoor’s size-zero look in Hindi movie Tashan.

What makes Diwekar’s book so popular is that she encourages you to lose weight without giving up on food. That she is a nutritionist only adds more credibility to her book. Diwekar explodes many myths. For instance, if you eat too much low fat, you end up replacing it with sugar, which is only worse. There is nothing wrong with good old Indian ghee, in moderation, of course. Another observation is about the necessity of sleep and how adequate sleep actually helps to burn calories and lack of sleep can pile on the pounds.

“I don’t understand how such a simple thing as food is now being manipulated by the media. All we need are five to six simple home cooked meals a day. If we eat what our grandmothers did, we would be better off. In fact, we shouldn’t feed our children anything in a commercial. As simple as that,” Megha said. Some criticism of the book was shared, particularly the obsession with healthy food being only Indian.

Abhaya ended the health conversation with two observations:

“India is the second country on earth that spends the largest amount of money on fresh foods.

There is often nothing short of a stampede to buy buy fresh green veggies when they are unloaded in the market.”

This is good news if you live in India. The question is can eating healthy really stave off disease? There doesn’t seem to be a conclusive answer to this, no matter how much literature is out there on the subject.

More books in Part 4.