Butterflies and Diplomacy @ BYOB Party in February 2015 (Part 1)



It was a Saturday afternoon, the 21st of February and a big day for us at Mudranik. Since it’s been seven years of Pothi.com and a year of InstaScribe, and also since we moved to our brand new office, celebrations were in order. The best way to celebrate?

Book clubbing was a unanimous choice.

We worried that books would not be a great crowd puller. How many of you have ever visited a Bring Your Book party? Books and parties are polarities, at least that’s what student life teaches us.

It is a very good idea though, as conversation is more focused. The subject is the books that you bring and everyone gets a choice to talk about what they spent hours reading. After a couple of arguments on the reliability of car aggegators, the session kick started with Kiran Jonnalagadda, founder of HasGeek. His book–The Box  by Marc Levinson.

As was to be expected in a meet-up of many diverse persons, the primary theme was non-fiction, but every non-fiction is nothing but documented fiction – containerization bought to the shipping industry all the elements of fiction that story telling requires. The box was an impossible idea that clicked- a real start-up revolution in transportation.

Aditya Sengupta, a stem cell scientist, talked about a rare book called Microbe Hunters that set him off on his career, the kind of book that only a book geek can discover at a good second hand book shop. For a book that was written 90 years ago, it is highly recommended for those who are interested in understanding disease and how to conquer it.  Even for those who only wish to engage in a lucid read, this book satisfies. You may be interested to read this blog post which echoes similar Microbe Hunters love.

Another book the scientist took up was a fiction- several short stories in fact by the famous Daphne du Maurier.Don’t look now and other stories is not as well known as Rebecca and the short story Birds, though there was a horror thriller movie based on the title story. “The stories stay with you even after you have finished and they leave a weird feeling, hard to explain,” Sengupta said.

Sushobhan Avasthi, Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), was delighted with his experience reading Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth, a graphic novel by Chris Ware. Graphic novels are a favorite at Pothi.com and we know that feeling when there are pages with just text and pages with just pictures. It does elicit a kind of book geek empathy.

The Cancer Chronicles was a book that left a heavy impression on Avasti. George Johnson, beset by his own personal tragedy, goes out in search of the beast and realizes that there is so much more to this disease than meets the eye. “My reasoning goes like this,” Sengupta added to the discussion,” What happens when a CD gets scratched? The music goes bad. The same happens to the human DNA.”

Rohit Sharma, business consultant and founder of Bangalore Book Club, reads widely and specializes in history and geo-political genres. “Diplomacy is a more unbiased book by Henry Kissinger. It’s a must-read if you want to understand more about The New World Order, the churn of the 21st century  and the effects of key geopolitical upheavals across each decade. For instance, the Concert of Europe represented the balance of power that existed for a relatively long period of peace, until the war broke out in 1914. Metternich could be called the Sita Ram Kesri of Austrian politics! Kissinger has a clear understanding of the Cold War and what percolated when the Berlin Wall fell. The book is written like a collection of political short stories.”

Shraddha U, a layout engineer with KarMic,  talked about the weirdly interesting Stephen King fiction: 11/22/63 . What happens if you can time travel with historical intent, to prevent the assasination of the President?

Kanchan Ganga, a corporate lawyer and a fan of the classics, described her tome The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether parts  as a mixture of Wodehouse and Marquez.

Meera Iyer has over 200 published articles on heritage to her credit, and she also writes about other things.She has a PhD in Forest Ecology from Michigan State University and is now working on her first book for Worth A Read about the production of silk.  She also runs the Carnelian, a heritage monument tour group.

She read In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, a beautiful story of how four sisters in the Dominican Republic were murdered for rebelling against General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship.

“The question that came up in my mind the most was when do you take action—what is that moment when you decide enough is enough?” she said about what she felt after she finished the book. “It was an inspiring feminist read, with scary echoes of our times?”

She also held the audience captive to her story telling finesse with her reading of an old children’s book from the Just William  series. Children’s stories are so engaging even in a group of adults; reading passages aloud can lighten the air and bring little children indoors from their world of play to see what is going on.

More about this party in Part 2.


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