Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review : The Ant Thief

Title : The Ant Thief
Author : Gita V. Reddy

Ants and bees make great subjects for short stories for very little children. Author Gita has picked the world of ants and bees as a backdrop to convey a subtle message to the young readers or listeners of this story.

Noira is a strong black ant who exercises regularly to stay fit. But she has one problem, she detests working and looks for easy way to eat, unlike other ants who dexterously work all day accumulating their food. She is a thief and a big liar too. Once she steals a diamond ring from somewhere and tells everyone that she has been awarded the ring as a bravery award by the king. To add to the woes of other ants and bees, Noira gets hold of a magic cloth, wearing which she becomes invisible. She uses this cloak all the time to steal more and more without any fear. But all bad things do come to an end. Does Noira realise her mistake? Does she learn the art of working hard and enjoying the fruit of her labour? Read on to know about Noira's fate.

The thing that I like about Gita's books is that the plots are built up slowly and simplistically which is a sure way to engage young readers and listeners. While going through bright and clutter-free llustrations, the connection is easy to make and there is a feel good experience that one gets after reading the book. This can be one of the great stories to narrate in story-telling sessions where the importance of recognizing the hard work of others should be highlighted duly. What impressed me the most is that Noira understands her folly not through some kind of fear but more by introspecting. This is a great way to encourage children to go through their actions and thoughts and try to course correct on their own, rather than reprimanding them for any of their wrong actions, and this can be adopted very early on.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Book Review : Apparent in Hindsight

Title : Apparent in Hindsight
Authored by Vector Consulting Group
Publisher : Bestsellers 18
ISBN : 978-938406134-0

Long time back (at least that is what it feels like now) when I was a fresh grad, doing my masters, my sister recommended the book 'The Goal' by Eliyahu Goldratt to me. She had heard about this title in one of the New Year parties thrown by a reputed company for employees and their better halves. A book enthusiast, I did not waste any time and brought the shining book home. That was the time I was deeply interested in all management related books and had already devoured - Odyssey : Pepsi to Apple, Made in Japan, My Life and My Work, Iacocca and likes of these. But the experience of reading Goldratt's book was something very different and very unique. The way he presents the problem of a plant manager and how by thinking clearly and logically, he applies Theory of Constraints - is just amazing. One needs to read this fast paced adventure book to believe it. And very logically I went on to read a few more of Goldratt's books but the first one still remains the best of the lot.

Many springs later, I happened to read the book 'Apparent in Hindsight' which brought back the memories of The Goal. The book authored by Vector Consulting Group addresses the problems that most commonly plague Indian automotive industry. Using various analogical situations, it tries to peel all the layers of manufacturing and sales processes. It challenges the age old assumptions and procedures and gradually leads one towards analytically logical and practical approach. The proceedings begin with the problems of main heads of two integral divisions - sales and production, of an organisation. These are the two divisions which more often than not find themselves at the loggerheads with each other. While trying to unravel the core problem, the narrative highlights the commonly used methodologies like - JIT, TPM and Lean Manufacturing. The case study eventually leads the readers to the wisdom that the middle path and not exactly any one particular philosophy is the way to deal with certain situations. The idea is great and presentation is decent too. The understanding and knowledge that it leads the readers to are not specific to production only, the same can be applied to any problem that one confronts.

Though a management related book, yet it is easy to read, understand and follow. The characters are quite believable and relatable. It can be read by anybody and the prologue part comes very handy in understanding the area specific terminology that is heavily used all through the book.
However, a few things sound rather unreal and could have been edited out for better flow of the narrative. I would say if Goldratt's book is the bible then 'Apparent in Hindsight' is a hymn.

Just wondering wouldn't it be better if the names of the Founding Directors had actually appeared as authors of the book? I feel it helps to create that one-on-one connect between the author and the reader. Vector Consulting Group is doing very well in weeding out the problems in companies across sectors and fields by getting Theory of Constraints implemented. It would be great to have more of their success stories in written form as a series of books.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review : Tiffin

Title : Tiffin

Author : Rukmini Srinivas
Publisher : Rupa
ISBN : 978-81-291-2390-9

Rukmini Srinivas who divides her time between Bangalore and Boston, is a television chef, a storyteller, a gardener, an entrepreneur, a teacher, an author and a connoisseur of food. The seed of this book got sown many years ago when she started writing recipes of various tiffin options to her daughters along with many anecdotes and narratives about people and places that were associated with the recipes. The request from her daughters for the stories and the recipes grew more frequent and a mother's replies grew more lengthy. Eventually what we see today is the consolidated version of all those narratives and recipes.

Through her memoir-cum-cookbook, Rukmini gives a peak into her life over last many decades during which she has cooked and eaten different dishes.  As she got to travel a lot from very young age, she recognised the importance of home-cooked food everywhere. Through her recipes and the memories of bygone times intertwined around food, she recreates the life well spent. One can see fusion of different places in her recipes as she showcases traditional dishes with some convenient twists here and there.

The book is an outcome of author's sincere love for food and cooking and that is palpable all through the narrative. She talks about various places, people and customs in great detail and from the perspective of food. In fact, she stirs some chords deep within as some things etch in our memories with tastes, flavours and company. A great way to share a slice of life with readers.

There are however a few things that could be improved for subsequent prints. Readers would feel the need of an index of all the recipes, otherwise it is very difficult to sift through more than 300 pages for a particular recipe that one would like to try. A few recipes get repeated in the book. The pictures could be improved especially now when when food photography has taken a new dimension and not all recipes have accompanying pictures with them.

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