Book Audits: “My Inventions and Other Writings” by Nikola Tesla

Book Audits: “My Inventions and Other Writings” by Nikola Tesla

The current educational system is teaching what to think instead of how to think. We set boundaries upon ourselves without even asking why. Reading this book made me question that.
Reading this nearly 100-year-old book (98 years, actually) changed my view about certain things which we take for granted.

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Autobiography of this scintillating inventor who owns 700 patents is . . . I wouldn’t say inspiring. Despite his inventions and their impact on the modern society, his name is known to a handful, unlike the household name of Edison. He died in a hotel room where he spent most of his last days, with debts. It’s depressing to some extent. But it encourages us to think crazy, beyond boundaries.
The book tells you about his passion for science and innovation. It tells you about the out of box thinking of Tesla, which may, at times, seem spectacularly absurd. Some topics are quite unfathomable for me. (I don’t have a degree in electrical engineering.) But others were fascinating.
He doesn’t shy away from telling his worst experiences and failures. He even talked about philosophy, the concept of Karma, even though he didn’t use that term.
He was too ahead of his time. He predicted many things in the book, which would have seemed utterly ridiculous to his contemporaries. But some of those ideas have been realized and used extensively in the current world. So, who’s to say that the rest won’t be realized in future?

In Tesla’s words: “The scientific man does not aim at an immediate result. He does not expect that his advanced ideas will be readily taken up. His work is like that of a planter – for the future. His duty is to lay the foundation for those who are to come, and point the way.”

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Book Audits: “Incognito: Mythos, Logos & an Enigma called Love” by Praveer

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I’m really disappointed that this book wasn’t a hit. Such an awesome concept, despite what the cover page might have you believe. I was also really surprised that this was a debut. It’s about the conflict between science and religion, with an underlying story of a conflict about the right way of religion.
The author tried to emulate Dan Brown with Indian mythology (that’s the impression I got. All the major ingredients of Brown’s book are present: a symbologist, a falsely accused main character, two age old institutions fighting each other etc.) and was halfway there.
I enjoyed reading the book, revisiting a few the mythological stories and even learning something new. I liked the thought process of the characters and certain deductions. The use of Punya’s past events to nudge the main characters in the right direction was also good. That gave the author a chance to explore Punya’s love story. The author did a very good job in both the love story and the current treasure hunt. Maybe ‘hunt’ was not the correct word as it was mostly brainstorming by the main characters and not action packed fights and chases (that’s fine with me).
The love saga between Punya and Dhrishti was very good. Especially the chapter 27 (Punya’s mail to Dhrishti) was my favorite and resonated a lot with my experience.

All those good points aside, this book got a very sloppy editor or none at all. There were so many spelling and grammatical errors that I had to make an effort to continue reading. Sometimes Punya was referred to as ‘her’ and Vaidehi as ‘him’. (I don’t blame the author for this because English is not the first language for us Indians, but it’s the duty of the editor to get rid of errors.) I mentioned
There were places where connectivity was missing. Like how did the villain know what Punya and Vaidehi discussed?
The major issue was that villain didn’t get enough time. He hardly appeared for two chapters but was supposedly a mastermind behind the whole plot. He lacked conviction which prevents the reader from connecting with him. A proper handling of this character would have boosted the plot a lot, especially since the bad guys and good guys fall in a morally gray area with a potential of both being right in their beliefs. Instead, the villain spouts some hateful dialogues and wants to destroy something for arbitrary reasons.
And the most annoying thing (for me) was the use of single quotes. The author had a lot of and very good quotable sentences. In fact, too many. And for some reason, he felt the need to point each and every one of them out by using single quotes. As a reader, I find that highly distracting. It’s like you are watching a movie and the narrator is sitting beside you, talking to you in between about his insights into love, life, society and other bazillion things, sometimes rolling his (or her) eyes. It was like footnotes in a textbook but placed in between the text. No offense to anyone; they were good, deep and thoughtful.
Okay, it would’ve been fine if it was just that. But the author also used single quotes to tell the reader the thoughts of characters. Highly confusing. It’s sometimes very difficult to understand whether it’s the character thinking or the narrator talking to you.
And why did Mridul come in? What did his character accomplish?
In some places, the storytelling seemed a bit forced rather than a free flow. But I discount him that.
I’m not deriding the author. I can’t write a book like this. I just mentioned these so that he (or anyone else) might learn from this about how readers think. Especially since the climax sort of indicates the possibility of a sequel. I’m just angry and sad that such a good concept wasn’t utilized/appreciated properly. I’m giving 4 stars for his effort and thought, and I don’t want to drag down the rating.
And I’m looking forward to reading his next book.

Book Audits: 03:02 by Mainak Dhar

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Definitely a goodread. I’m so glad that the author had chosen something other than the cliched  zombies or epidemics for this book.

The story narration was so engrossing that I was able to seamlessly step into the shoes of the main character. I didn’t even read the blurb for the fear of spoilers and it was worth it. The beginning had just the right amount of pace and suspense so as to keep the reader intrigued. 

The story was a very good blend of action, emotion, love (not romance). There were moments when my blood boiled, my eyes rained, my heart raced with fright and ached with a pang of jealousy and pain of loss. The absence of steamy, hot scenes accentuates the author’s confidence in the story to tie down readers.

This might be one of the reasons I was able to connect with this book so much: as a child (even in my engineering), whenever a class was boring, I would venture off into my imagination where a group attacks our class and I would fight them heroically. That is what the main character did in this book.

Some may say that the protagonist having so many resources was not realistic. But let me tell you this, if he didn’t have them, the book would’ve ended before it even began. And I was engrossed enough to not bother questioning the veracity of the technical details mentioned and that’s what I care about ultimately.

What really bugged me after completing the book was what happened to suri. He filled in for the antagonist for the first half and dropped off the radar after that.

And one thing I really liked about this story was the protagonist didn’t carry the whole burden of carrying the story forward it even for that matter, ending it, thereby not needing to break out of the reasonable reality of a fictitious story.

Book Audits: The Bridge by Rebecca Rogers Meher


A promising premise. That is not new to me, but I was happy with how I felt while reading the book. Even though the ending is predictable, I was a bit intrigued how the author was going to achieve that.

Good points: revealing the background stories slowly throughout the story, slow buildup of romance. The erotic scenes were both sensual and touch and go fashion, not going into immense details. The climax was unpredictable for me, although there was a small hint somewhere earlier.

The author could’ve done a better job of exploring the ‘why’ part (why the charterers are doing what they are doing?) rather than have the characters repeatedly say the same thing over and over to make it seem okay. There was a tiny bit of stereotyping (rich and handsome hero) which the story would’ve fared the same without.

Moral of the story: Everyone of us have our own problems, but all we need is some love and someone to love.

Book Audits: Apt Pupil

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The author cannot be more correct when he wrote these words.
‘Oh, one thing just followed another,’ Todd said. ‘That’s really how it happened. One thing just… followed another. As stupid as it sounds, that’s just what happened. That’s all there was to it.’
Although the above lines could fit well in a love story, they explain ‘Black serendipity’ in this book.

This story starts when two characters, one in waning stage of life and the other in his waxing stage, meet and goes on to depict the effect they had on each other. Both hide their horrid true natures with amiable/acceptable facades to blend in, but each brings out the desires buried deep down in the other.

I was able to breeze through the first half, but the second half proved slightly difficult to swallow because of the generous sprinkle of complex profanities and a little gore (I have a very vivid imagination). Todd’s behavioral transition from mumma’s boy to rebellious teenager to psychopath is very smooth, although repugnant. This story reminds me that we are always just a whisker away from self-annihilation.

To put it in King’s words, my experience of reading this book was like “an unsuspecting bite into a piece of tropical fruit which, you realized (a second too late), had only tasted so amazingly sweet because it was rotten”.

Book Audits: Slumgirl Dreaming

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While I respect and appreciate Rubina’s work in movies, my opinion below is solely regarding this book.
Reading this book sitting in a comfy chair, taking breaks in between to have food and snacks can only make me experience very little of what is written in the book (That doesn’t mean you have to go to slum to read it). It is about the journey of a slum girl towards achieving her dreams (duh! It’s in the name.) I like to think that I have some degree of empathy, but I felt this story to be too whiny and narration to be borderline narcissistic (she’s just a kid, I know). The actual effect the story would have had was dwarfed because of the childish way it was narrated in. Instead of feeling sorry for the kid living in the slum, I felt a little bit irked at the constant wishful thinking (maybe I too was like that when I was a kid, but lost it in the process of growing up). But her sense of wonderment shows the depravity of contact with the external world and also refreshes the reader’s sense of wonderment. Most of us are used to wonderful things but fail to appreciate them (like basic necessities and small comforts).
In the book, her talent was projected rather as a gift she was born with, thereby undermining it. Like everything was being set in place for her and she just have to grab the opportunity presented (much like the story of the film). This precludes the book from being categorized as inspirational. The ending seemed kind of pleading for help. As one proceeds towards the end, one can observe that reality dawns upon the protagonist, like people forgetting their promises, being deceived by the middlemen among others. But she didn’t let this crush her dreams. The girl proceeds to live her life towards fulfilling her dreams and ambitions.
On the whole, this book is a nice (auto)biographical account of a slumdog (I couldn’t resist 🙂 ) achieving success and reaching stars, with a message of hope (verbatim): If a slum kid can win an Oscar, then a slumdog can surely become a millionaire.

Book Audits – The Secret of Dreams

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This is a brief discourse addressed to the uninitiated on different types of dreams and their significance in the physical world with ample instances that bolster the thesis. To a non-believer, it may seem like a bunch of utter bull crap, since there was no scientific evidence except for the word of a few who experienced the things discussed. Yet, some cases were persuasive enough for the hesitant lot to sway their opinion. One has to read it with interest or open mind to keep oneself from fling away the kindle or pc (this is a kindle edition). Audio book is also available for free (provided by Librivox).
So, read it for a change from your routine, to open the door to infinite possibilities and to keep the flame of ‘wonder and mystique in this scientific world (where existence requires proof)’ in your inner child alive instead of whiling away time by crushing confectioneries or endlessly running on railway tracks 😛 .

Book Audits – The Bachelor of Arts

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A wonderful read. I felt close to the plot than many other stories I have read. RK Narayan wrote stories that are closer to the hearts of common people.
Literature reflects the norms of the contemporary society. From Narayan’s story, I gather that the human nature didn’t change between then and now, but some societal customs had changed. For example, youngsters were rebellious even then and child marriages are curbed now. Although this was not my first encounter with child marriage, I’m surprised by the callous reality ( 😛 ) of the situation (maybe I should talk to my grandparents more often) since I witnessed it through Narayan’s words.
Narayan made me fall in love, broke my heart and then made me fall in love again. That is ultimately the distilled message of the story. This also made me realize the veracity in his words: “If people didn’t read stories, they wouldn’t know there was such a thing as love”. Even his words about friendship were and are true.
The struggle of a college student to complete the syllabus for exams and his distractions, the plight of orthodox parents of a lovestruck youth, the strife of a heartbroken lover, his reinvention as a man and falling in love again, and many more emotions and relations were written elegantly and succinctly. Kudos to Narayan.

T h e F i r e

T h e  F i r e

The wedding music band was too noisy. My only reason to endure that exasperating experience was that I had to drive my mom to and fro. So, I was stuck there. The function hall was packed and lively with children running all over laughing, playing and bumping into the newcomers. While talking to mom’s friends, one of them mentioned that it was a love marriage and then proceeded to narrate her love story. We finally settled down in a seat as the groom arrived in the mandap. There was a lot of media coverage; I thought that some celebrity might be attending the wedding.

After a few minutes, the bride was called to the mandap. As if it was pre-decided, all the children were ushered to an adjacent room. It seemed a bit weird but I didn’t think twice about it; the ‘arrival of the bride’ part caught my attention. The groom had good looks and physique, so I was eager to see the bride who stole his heart.

But when I saw her, I was shocked. Her face was completely covered with burnt skin and she was utterly hideous. She seemed familiar but I was unable to place her. Meanwhile, a kid who stayed back saw the bride and started crying loudly. A woman, probably his mother, consoled him and escorted him to the dining hall.

The ceremony resumed after that small hiccup. The groom looked concerned, but the bride was at ease. One of Mom’s friend told me about the bride: she was a victim of the jealous attack of her stalker who tried to incinerate her. Some said she survived because of her sheer will power; others said it was just her luck.

When I later got the chance to observe the groom closely, I saw not pity in his eyes but love towards the bride. The groom’s love for the bride introduced me to a new dimension of love, a meta-love, beyond the realm of physical attraction and infatuation. I wish I would find someone like that.

I looked once more at the bride; she was sitting in the mandap along with the groom in front of the ceremonial fire, disregarding the hundreds of eyes focused on her, some in pity and some in awe. She had the look of a seasoned sailor who faced many storms and lived to tell the tale. I was among the few who noticed her holding the groom’s hand reassuringly.

When I looked at her, I saw someone who crossed many hurdles in life and who overcame the social stigma attached to female victims. Her smile, which looked beautiful on her disfigured face, seemed like something etched on a rock: it is always present and cannot be wiped off. Her strong will reminded me of the adage “the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fire”.

In comparison to the ceremonial fire and the fire that tried to destroy her, her inner fire is unparalleled.

Blind Love

Blind Love

He rang the calling bell and stood back beside her. She looked at him and smiled. “The new haircut suits you,” she told him. He acknowledged her compliment with a smile. As there was no response, he rang the bell again. “Coming…” shouted a female voice from inside. He slipped his hand into hers to reassure as she became nervous; she never met his mother before. They heard footsteps approaching the door. “Who is that?” the female asked voice from inside. “Maa, it’s me,” he replied. “Ranjith beta, is that you?” the female voice spoke, with a hint of surprise, and opened the door without waiting for his reply. “Hello maa, how are you?” he stepped forward and hugged her even before the door was completely open. The mother and the son embraced for a moment and he released her after planting a perfunctory kiss on her cheek.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming, beta?” she said with a broad smile on her face, looking at him from head to toe as if scanning him to replace his old image. After all, this was their first meeting in seven years. “And who is this beautiful lady?” she asked, feigning innocence. “Maa, this is Radha, my wife,” he said moving back, and Radha stepped in front of him. Vinati, the mother, adjusted her glasses to have a good look at Radha, but couldn’t, as the sun was directly behind Radha. Vinati suddenly realized that she hadn’t invited them in. Cursing herself for being forgetful, she welcomed them in. As they settled down on the sofa in the hall, Vinati enquired, “Beta, your voice is slightly different, are you having a cold?” He replied, “Yes maa. Change of water, probably. But don’t worry about me. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be when I have such an amazing child? Now, let me have a good look at my daughter-in-law.” Vinati examined Radha for a moment and said, “You look beautiful but slightly different from the photos. Ah! Your hairstyle is different. Do you always wear like this?” But she didn’t give Radha a chance to answer and continued, “Kids these days change their appearances so frequently that it’s difficult to keep track of it. Anyway, this bobbed hair frames your face very well.” She turned to Ranjith and said, “So beta, tell me how are you? Have you eaten anything since lunch? You must be hungry, let me get you something. I have your favorite sweet, Gulab Jamun, but not much. You should have told me you were coming.” Vinati rose and rushed into the kitchen. She was so excited and couldn’t contain it. She kept on talking, even from the kitchen.

“Ranjith?! That’s new to me,” Radha whispered to him. “It’s my middle name. Also, there is a Ranjith in the office, so never told anyone to avoid confusion,” he whispered back. Radha felt embarrassed for not knowing the middle name of her husband even though they were married for over a year. “And one more thing, I always wore bobbed hair since I met you. How can you have pics of me in a different hairstyle?” she asked like a lawyer cross-examining a witness. But before he could answer, Vinati returned with a tray and offered a cup to each, asking, “What are you two love birds whispering about?” Vinati saw the surprised look on Radha’s face and smiled and said, “Yes, I know. My Ranjith tells me everything,” and looked proudly at him. Then Radha and Vinati chatted for some time.

He was really surprised by Vinati’s reaction. He expected her to be angry and shut the door on their face, but not this. He couldn’t understand how parents can forgive their child whatever the crime may be. Maybe because he wasn’t a parent yet.

During their chat, he saw Radha glancing at him several times as if trying to confirm whether the person sitting with her was same as the one she was hearing about. He realized she could sense something was wrong. He should have told her the truth; there is nothing he could do about it now. He said out loud, “Maa, when will you make dinner? I am famished.” Vinati rose up saying, “Forgot about the dinner talking to my daughter-in-law. Blame her for being such a charming young lady,” and went into the kitchen. “Get freshened up meanwhile,” shouted Vinati from the kitchen.

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As they entered the only bedroom in the house, Radha was about to say something. He interrupted her saying, “She has become rather forgetful and clumsy, recalling memories of my cousins thinking they were about me. Please tolerate her for one more day.” She slapped on his upper arm censuringly, saying “Is that the way you should talk about your mother?”

“Oh, it hasn’t been two hours since you two met and you already changed parties? You are the model daughter-in-law.”

“She is just excited to see you, that’s all. So, do you want to go first?” she asked pointing towards the washroom. “On second thought, why don’t we have a bath together? I heard it’ll be refreshing,” he said smiling and tugging her towards the washroom playfully.

*  *  *

“Are you leaving already? It’s been only a day,” Vinati exclaimed as he started packing. “I have some urgent work in the office, maa. They called in the morning. I have to go,” he said trying to console her. “Couldn’t you at least let Radha stay for a few more days?” negotiated Vinati. “I already booked the tickets, maa. They cost me a fortune,” he said playing on her weakness, frugality. Radha was uncomfortable with lying, so she kept mum.

Finally, Vinati agreed to let them go. After they packed and were about to leave, Vinati hugged and affectionately lowered him to kiss his forehead. He backed out instantly as if he touched a hot plate. Vinati was taken aback. Even Radha was surprised. After an awkward moment, Vinati hugged Radha tenderly and whispered to her, “He is a good kid. Look after him.”

*  *  *

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Their flight was delayed by one hour. Both of them had been waiting at the airport for quite some time. There was complete silence between them since they got into a cab at the house. Finally, Radha broke the silence.

“So, when are you going to tell me the truth?” she started without beating around the bush. As he maintained silence, she continued, “Look, I know something is wrong. You know me, I will find out. So, better tell me now.”

He spoke after a minute, “She wasn’t my mother.”

“I knew it,” she said with fervor. “And let me guess, Ranjith isn’t your middle name either.”

“No, it’s her son’s name: the same one from the office,” he said dispassionately.

“Oh,” she said, not knowing how to react to this revelation. “So, what happened to him?” she asked after reflecting for a minute.

He continued in the same tone, “He committed suicide.” When she didn’t offer any response, he went on. “He killed a murderer and was sentenced to jail. He committed suicide in there as he couldn’t endure the nightmares of those hapless incidents which led to the murder. He relived them every day. He was a rather sensitive guy. I was the only friend he had when he was in jail.”

She interrupted him and asked, “If he was as sensitive as you say, then why did he kill another person?”

He took out a folded paper from his purse and handed it to her, saying, “This is his last letter to me”. As she read it, tears rolled down her cheeks. She wiped her tears as she handed back the letter. (You too can read the contents of the letter here.) “I understand why you visited your friend’s mother. But why did she call you Ranjith? Doesn’t she know her son is dead?”

He reverted his gaze to her and asked, “Can you imagine how a mother would feel if she couldn’t recognize her child from a group of kids? How would you feel if you couldn’t remember the faces of your loved ones?”

“What does this have to do with Vinati?”

“She is face blind.”

“What? Face blind? What does that even mean?”

“She suffered a severe head injury in a major car accident a few years back and contracted ‘Prosopagnosia’, also called face blindness. It means that she can’t differentiate between faces, that she can’t recognize her own son. She didn’t cope up well initially, so she had to be admitted into an asylum. Shortly after, Ranjith committed the murder. During the trial, he used to visit her and she had time to learn to recognize Ranjith by associating him with his hairstyle, gait, and voice. Doctors advised against telling her about the ongoing trial because of her unstable condition. When he was sentenced, Ranjith told her he got a job abroad. Since both of us have a similar physique, he asked me to impersonate him for her as his dying wish. That’s the reason I changed my hairstyle and voice when we visited her. I couldn’t let her feel my face as she would immediately recognize that I am not her son.”

Radha listened in silence. “I need a few minutes to contemplate this. I am going for a walk,” she said and left before he could stop her.

            After some time, he saw her return and sit a few seats away from him. He slowly approached her and said, “There is more, I am the cause of the accident. I was driving the car that hit theirs. I am sorry, Radha, for not disclosing this earlier.” The woman looked baffled and said, “I am sorry, you must have me confused with someone else. My name is Roshni.” He apologized to her, went back to his seat and waited for Radha to come back.