Book Review : Elon Musk[Book #13]

 

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I picked up this book, after I read an article about a tweet by Elon Musk. He opined, Tesla’s stocks are overrated. Is he arrogant or stupid? I asked myself.  Read this as Book #13, I obsessed over it, reading late till 3 am till I finished the book. And then I followed it up with a loooong article about Why Elon is Elon on waitbutwhy.

The book is detailed. It covers almost everything about Elon –  his childhood, early days, Canada, Justin, and then the string of companies – Zip2, X.com,  SpaceX,Tesla and SolarCity.  While emphasizing on his trademark style of doing business, it does not give credit to Musk where it isn’t due. Very true to the information gathered, SpaceX, Tesla are built by a bunch of supremely talented people, led by Musk.  Not lazing around like a typical investor, he got his hands dirty and got the work done.  At a point in the book – where Musk runs of money to run all his companies is the exact time where you start developing huge respect for the character he is.  His eccentric personality, wanting to put himself on stage and his crazy work hours –  one side of the coin. Having crystal clear goals,  razor sharp memory, excellent academia and the rarest of qualities to risk it all, and infinite patience to see through the audacious of projects is the other. He usually shows one side of coin, quite what press laps up.  As I read, it occurred to me that his biggest strength is to sit through shit and do everything in his power to clear up.  In the process, he wasn’t afraid to spat, fire the loyalists and take credit for other people’s work and prioritize work over family.  The book does justice to demonstrate the entire gamut of musk’s life and career, upto the release.

Read it, and enjoy his roller coaster ride in 3D.

Rating –  9/10

The reason I gave 9 is, I had a small dissatisfaction that I still couldn’t get a handle on what makes Musk what he is. A summary of sorts. So, I turned to Tim’s  waitbutwhy to read this article.  And after that, the book made a lot more sense to me, and I conclude it like this –  Musk is Musk, because of his positives and also his negative traits.  As the article says, Musk knew what he wanted, and revised his reality as he went along. And, he dealt with every problem as scientific, instead of dogma.  At the same time, it does not detail into his absolutely-non-empathy-avatar.  Pretty impossible to replicate.  While I dont aspire to be Musk because I can’t,  there is one definite thing I learnt.  Nothing great can be achieved by giving up.

Have a great day ahead!

Shutter Island : Movie Review

In what’s an attempt to use the Netflix Subscription V brought along with his friend, we browsed through the catalogue, enough to memorize all the names in them. Finally, I chided him that netflix is meant to watch, not browse. So, he settled on Shutter Island and we finished watching yesterday night.  So, how was it?

Mind bending.  Everything that you have seen on screen for the last 1 hour and 45 minutes will be put to test in a light house.  I identified myself with Leo, where he is not confused if he is a U.S.  Marshal wrongfully convicted of being mentally insane,  or its the last failed attempt of the doctors at AshCliffe, trying to convince Leo that he has been playing it along in his head, all the time.  I got convinced, as did Leo when he tells the Staff –  “She told me it was like an insect inside her brain. …  I did not listen”.  It’s the after effects war has on people,  how there are mental health diseases beyond human reach – that we brush away to be laziness or indiscipline and how, as an audience – you are just a toy in the director’s hands.

The picturization of the movie is absolutely brilliant.  I loved the colors he uses, and the gore he depicts without he letting me puke.  The scene where there are heaps of bodies dead, all because of war – and one of the girls telling him, he could have saved them.

The first hour felt slow and made us wonder what kind of thriller this is, but stay through that duration – trusting Martin Scorsese’s fine film making and you’d come out thrilled.

Rating – 10/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!

Books@2020 #LivingList

As I made a resolution to read 48 books in 2020,  I laughed at myself.  No wonder you fail so hard, I told me. Ofcourse, you are set up for fail. I haven’t read more than 10 books in the last 2 or 3 years combined. To talk of 48 is outrageous.  If there’s one thing I’m known for – that’s the exaggerating outrageous ability in my skills.  I could go on and on, but for now –  this post is to make a track of all my books read so far.   Will keep updating as and when a book is done.

  1. Principles of Practical Psychology : Erik Lenderman
  2.  My Story – Kamala Das
  3. Meet Mr. Mulliner –  P.G. Wodehouse
  4. Confession –  John Grisham
  5. Palace of Illusions –  Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  6. The Devotion of Suspect X –  Keigo Hagashino
  7. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne
  8. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
  9. And then there were  none – Agatha Christie
  10.  Hello, Bastar  – Rahul Pandita
  11. 1962, The War that wasn’t –  Shiv Kunal Verma
  12. The Longest Ride – Nicholas Sparks
  13. Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance
  14. The hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared  –  Jonas Johnson
  15.  The Magic Weight Loss Pill – Luke Coutinho and Anushka Shetty
  16. The priory of the orange tree – Samantha Shannon ( In Progress)

[Book Review] Principles of Practical Psychology

As 2020 came in,  I wanted to read 48 books. Huh, whats that number?  Discount 4 weeks for my laziness out of 52 weeks the year brings, we end up with 48 🙂  So, this is the first book I’ve finished in 2020 – on Jan 29th.  This book was recommended to me by my boss at last company.  While we struggled and worked hard, he & me had weirdly philosophical conversations at midnights  at work, in cabs when he dropped me back home and in the cafetarias early in the mornings, in the midst of all the chaos. When we caught up after almost two years, I embarrassingly told him I did nothing that was planned when I quit the job. Instead, I was barely managing as a housewife.  I knew he was always upto something, and philosophy and psychology was on the top of his list also.  He said he was reading and doing a course, and plans to do counselling later this year.  As someone who almost enrolled into a course, and then stopped due to dissuading friends and family – I was immediately intrigued by what he was reading.  I got the list, and this is the book coming from his recommendation.  So, it was quite a heavy read for me, and I am glad I finished it.  So, what is it all about?

As the book says, it outlines principles of practical psychology.  To be fair, the book has done an excellent job of detailing western and eastern philosophy. It starts off describing the Philosophy of West, and then covering all the major 20th century people like Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow.  Coming to Eastern Philosophy,  the yogic or vedic way of philosophy didnt get much space but Buddhism and his philosophy of balance and problem solving has been detailed in leisure. Coming from East, buddhist way of life was new to me too, and I really enjoyed understanding it.

And then the book now progresses to the science behind psychology – Brain and Brain waves. All the internal organs of brain, and how they engage with each other to provide feedback on the action all that’s going on.  I’ve read quite few books on psychology and this was nothing new.

The best section of the book was next, where the author Erik takes us through the concept of Spirit and how various scientists, psychologists have tried to answer that.  One particular concept stuck with me as I am done  reading is the Triangular concept of  That, We and I.  Spirit is said to  be indestructible, and it manifests itself into everything, individually complete and yet part of a bigger whole. The human body is the biggest sense-making formation for a Spirit, and how people recognize it is in three distinct phases – 1. That. Here, Spirit is distinct from the person and he kinda worships the Spirit.  2. We Phase, where the Spirit is able to  detect itself through the  sentinent consciousness of a human being, who has the capability to perceive Spirit’s manifestation in any object, interior or exterior.  3. I  phase. When the individual becomes so immersed in God that through the realization of theosis, his personal identity is subsumed into that of God , resulting in first  person experience of God. A  lot of other interesting theories  such as Geometry and Mandala based consciousness,  prenatal to post formal thinking evolution are described – pretty raw theory to digest but gives a lot to ponder upon.

The last section is the  most practical of all, and covers a whole range of topics.  As the author explains flight, freeze or flight modes of operation and then he moves on to explain States – High-Value State ( Strength), Center-Value State, and Low-Value State(Fight, Flight or Freeze).  One  of  the best theories proposed here is  the  pyramid of human needs. Although it’s  not written in stone, it pretty much answers why people  behave or do not pursue things the same way.

 

The  another simple-yet-overlooked theory that the book asserts is  that, there are two ways to mend a situation. One, change the reality. Second, change the belief about the reality. By changing either one of them, the person experiencing the pain will get the solution.   The book details  strategies for State, thought and focus.  Pretty practical and doable. And then it ends with a summary of Dale Carnegie’s  How to Make Friends  and Influence People to explain the  Strategies for Relationships. Easy to read, hard to implement.

What’s my biggest takeaway from this book?  I have long nurtured this question on why everyone does not worry or think the  same things. Why are some people more resilient then others?  Why are people more worried about the dirty vessels in the sink than the purpose of life?  This book helped me to understand why.  Simply because until your needs at a lower state have to be completely met before we move to a higher state. For someone in a bad relationship,  their progress ends there – and a lot of energy is spent in sustaining that relationship.  Second, is that changing subjective belief about something is as powerful as changing objective reality around you. Definitely doable. Thirdly, I’ve always struggled with people who absolutely are rigid and are not open to alternate view points at all.  After multiple failed attempts, I now nurture the thought to avoid any kind of conversation or confrontation with them.  The book also affirms that, the best way to win an argument is to avoid one.  I’d tweak a little and say, the best way to win an argument is to only argue with the ones who have the ability to. Rest, just let it be.

The last section is  useful for every person who lives in a society and has to deal with humans day in and day out.  Starts off well, runs really dry in between and ends with some practical dadi ma ke nuske on how to deal with life.

Rating –  8/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!

 

 

Dear Comrade Movie Review

I’ve been a fan of Vijay Devarakonda, after I accidentally watched Arjun Reddy.  Someone suggested to me that it’s a pretty intense story – exactly what I need to hear to watch a movie.  I really liked the depth he potrayed in the movie.  Ever since Dear Comrade songs have come out,  I’ve wanted to watch the movie.  As I did not get any company to watch it in the theater, I  had to patiently wait for Amazon Prime to stream it for me. And wait even more patiently to get 3 hours of free time at a stretch to finish the movie.  Finally, I’m done watching.

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Oh boy, Oh boy!  The movie is mesmerizing and captivating.  There’s nothing not to like in the movie.  It isn’t a love story,  it is a #Metoo Story, and how one should pursue their passion in life, despite all odds. And how a real comrade will stay by you and bring out the best in you, no matter what the circumstances.

First half is breezy and we get little scared that Vijay’s Arjun Reddy avatar will dominate  – but that quickly fades away, only to be replaced by far better things on the screen. The taking is very nuanced, and  every turn in the movie is  for the better.

Few  striking things in the movie are how girls who are passionate to do something different has to face a lot of shit in life, how it’s okay for lead actor in the movie to cry at the drop of the hat despite being a hot head,  how it’s impossible to change the core nature of a person – fuck naturo therapy and everything else,  and how you can never force someone to do anything –  you have to wait.  The climax where the Lilly bursts open, once her love for cricket is questioned and being called a talentless player – that says it all.

The songs wrench your heart, the background score soothes you.  The lead actors arrest you with their performances and you will come out of the movie nodding your head with what the director says – “Fight for what you love!”

Rating – 10/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!

Stuff I Love : KidzByte App

Ms. S  or the elder one turned 9 recently. Last few months, I was trying to think of a way to introduce her to news. No, no news channels. She gets KidsAge Magazine at home,  but that hasn’t been enough to cover the news that happen every single day. Man, the world keeps moving, and so should your knowledge about it.  Then , I considered signing up to some really cool kids newspapers like  curiousowl and one more. However, given the time kid will have in the morning – I wasnt very optimistic she can get anything done.  Oh yes, I could read to her but that time will be spent in getting the younger one ready. So, TV is out.  News papers are out.  So, how else can get her started?

Enter KidzByte app. Its a curated news app for curious minds ( read : younger kids )

kidzbyte

The app has many categories, and all the latest news are promptly updated.  It has a Read to me version and a short video before the text. So, kid is essentially given 3 options to understand the same news item. And the app has built gamification to its best use.  Every article ( short : around  150 to 200 words), has a question with objective type answer format. So, kids now have an incentive to read / listen / view the item. Sometimes, the  question isnt from the article, but definitely answerable by the smart phone assistant readily available on all phones these days.

There are many categories of news, and the information is updated every single day. Almost, all major events in the world and a lot of trivia is added – which adds up over time to the kid’s general knowledge.  There is an overall leaderboard, and every week’s leaderboard.  Each player is given an overall rank, and there are levels the player can reach based on the number of points he/she earns in the game. So, how does one earn points?  By answering the questions right?  How smartly connected 🙂

So, how does the app makers earn money? By giving bonus points and power ups for certain amount of money. Ofcourse, kids want to earn points quickly, and when they are learning something along the way, parents won’t mind spending as well. I’ve recharged twice as of now,  and it keeps the kid really motivated to read more and learn stuff.

There are lot of competitions they conduct on a daily basis, which Saanvi hasn’t participated yet. The next step is to create a gmail account for her,  via Family feature of gmail. Every day morning, now it’s a ritual for the kid to do the app for 10 minutes and collect her share of points for the day. At the same time, get the latest news in the most informative, non intrusive way!

Kudos to the makers of this app, and  this is one of the best apps for kids out there.

Rating – 5/5

Have a good day and keep rocking!

Notebook movie review

I flipped through Amazon Prime to see if there is anything I would like to  watch. Among the hustle and bustle of mainstream entertainment, I saw this quiet  poster, and the description read that a guy comes as a teacher,and reads the diary of a previous teacher.  Enough to get me hooked.

Notebook hindi movie

Produced by Salman Khan Films, this movie stars debutantes Zaheer Iqbal and Pranutan Bahl.  It is set in the most beautiful places of Kashmir. Ex-army man Kabir(Zaheer ) is summoned by his uncle to become teacher in a school. This school is in the middle of Wuller lake, with no human facilities such as electricity, water and another human. While he  struggles to adjust with the surroundings and the kids – he finds the diary of the teacher who t aught earlier – Firdaus.  Beautifully written, it takes the viewer through Firdaus’s life  seen through the eyes of Kabir.

If you want to experience the beauty of Kashmir, watch the movie. Otherwise ,there are so many flaws in the movie to make it a passable watch. Most notable of them is,  Kabir being so bad in mathematics that his star student fails the exam, as he teaches wrong things. I dont think anyone in their right mind and zero academics would sign up to teach in the middle of a remote lake.  Firdaus is excellent, and it is really disppointing that she would give up on everything she loved and goes  behind the man she was supposed to marry. Except, her fiancee has a fling and now the expectant mother calls for justice on the day of his wedding. There are a lot of threads that do not really add up well.  There are two scenes where the director has excelled  – reason why kabir quits army and  how kabir makes a young boy put down the gun.

The Love story between the lead pair is forced, and no effort is made to establish any chemistry.  Their love story is fuelled by chance, and it didnt leave a good taste for the die hard romantic in me.  The fun part of the movie were kids, who remain cheerful though horrible things keep happening with and around them.

Watch it for the beautiful locales, lovely songs and the kids!

Rating – 6/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!

Four more Shots Please : Review

I have taken a sabbatical from Web series after I finished watching Game of  Thrones.  A recent flip through Amazon Prime showed me the trailer of this, which was supposed to stream in complete on January 25th.

So, I did what I do – Watched it in full.

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The girls in titular characters are played by my favorite actor Sayani Gupta, another favorite Maanvi Gagroo and Kriti Kulhari and V J Bani. I’ve seen the last two for the first time on screen. It’s been directed by Anu Menon and the series is created by Rangita Pritish Nandy. There are a whole lot of male characters, including still-drool-worthy Milind Soman, Pratiek Babbar, Neil Bhoopalam and Ankur Rathee. Dont’ worry – I’ve even heard of the last two names only today. Also starring Lisa Ray!

So, the web series has 10 episodes and each with a rough run time of 30+ minutes.  The ladies make friends in bar on one eventful night and remain stuck with each other ever since.  Each of them has a different profile, different challenges and have a different way of dealing with people and situations.  Through Sayani, we see how  a startup founder can be ousted from their company, and through Kriti – we see how its perfectly normal to be jealous of your good-for-nothing’s new girl friend.  V J Bani and Maanvi deal with more sensitive issues and they get the best roles of the lot. While Bani’s characterization is established as bisexual – she is only shown with lesbian tendencies through out the series.  Maanvi’s  issue of mother not being happy with her and her weight comes across as silly at first – but it grows on you over time.  While Sayani’s character bounces back like a ball,  Maanvi withdraws into more mess.

There are lot of explicit scenes and the women are as fashionable and less-dressed as they can be.  While they meet at the bar, all of them do not drink anywhere except there – and only when they come as a group.  There are couple of shock factors in the movie – How corporate politics work, how cheap behavior has no age limit and  how bad guys always end up getting one good girl after the other.

While the female characters are strong and have very good story line and defenses for them, the weaker section of the web series are guys.  For instance, Milind Soman’s character is a doctor whom Sayani secretly crushes. For a while, things look good until he suddenly starts showing interest in her. Very unlikely for a busy gynec.  On similar lines,  the character of  Prateik – while he realizes his love for Sayani all the while, he randomly ends up with his ex who cheated on him.  Not convincing enough.  I understand the shots and series is all about women,  but men aren’t so dumb out there.  Their povs, their frustrations do not get any screen space at all.

While the 9 episodes go off like a breeze with a hiccup here and there,  the 10th episode is all the tragedy.   The writer and the director feel the compulsive need to introduce drama and make every story a bad ending at the end. Sayani stands in front of the man she loves with her ex,  Maanvi breaks off her engagement as her prospective father in law is perverse, Bani breaks her heart yet again and  Kriti is now threatened to be taken away permanently from her daughter. While I understand how story cannot be ended happily as it’s real life – but there can always  be something good happening with each of the characters.  Life cannot be shit for so many people at the same time.

Another weakening aspect of the plot is the “perfect” friendship between the ladies is never put to test until the last episode.  They laugh and giggle, but over random conversations and nothing’s really deep.  Some more time for this would have kept the audience more emotionally engaged.

So, my favorite character – Maanvi aka Siddhi Gupta.  Call your girl friends home, put kids to sleep and  take a tub of popcorn and enjoy!

Rating –  8/10

Have a good day and keep rocking!!

Soni Movie Review

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It’s the season for movies. When you stop doing certain things you are very very used to from a long time, a void gets created in life. To fill it, movies are the one of the option. And when you can’t tolerate a movie like Simmba – you go for the more easier option – Pick and choose on OTT platforms.

Saw this new release on Netflix and the raving reviews on Internet. So spent time watching it.  The film revolves around the lives of two police women – a junior and  a senior.  While the junior is hot headed,  you will never find senior wording a sentence more than what is necessary. The ladies laugh a lot less, because there is nothing worthy celebrating going on in their lives.  The best part of the movie is that it unfolds in a very slow pace –  camera just stays on the faces and the places.  No hurry, and such close look to reality. End of the day , women are shown their place at home even when they are no less than their husbands.  The director did very less to explain –  he let us just be a fly on the wall to witness the lives of the lady police officers in Delhi.

I personally did not find anything negative about the film. Saloni Batra and Geetika Vidya Ohlyan have done a fantastic job. While Geetika Vidya Ohlyan plays the titular character, my more favorite is Saloni Batra. Watch it for sure!

Rating – 5/5

Have a good day and keep rocking!

Padi Padi Leche Manasu : Telugu Movie Review

 

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My favorite actors  Sharwanand and Sai Pallavi in a classical lyrical style romantic movie  –  I wanted to watch it first day first show in theatre but stayed back due to extremely negative reviews. When I found it on Prime – found time here and there to finish it off. So, how did it go?

 

I generally cry at the tip of hat and have usually become emotional in the romantic movies where the situations of the lead pair makes us melt. The lead pair cries – more so the lady and has many twists and turns.  First, good things first.  Streets of Kolkata in rains and the excellent visuals  coupled with mesmerizing background score.  The mindset of the lady –  a stubborn lady who doesnt fall, to someone who falls for an anonymous guy, to the lady who waits for her love for an year only to meet him at the earthquake and finally, the lady who tells the truth only to her lover that she wont remember him anymore. There are lot of shades to the character and sai pallavi did not disappoint at all. You could feel every emotion she played, and she played to the T.

The lead actor’s mindset is what lets you down – looks amateurish and too quick to jump on his feet. His sudden decisions in life just as he meets his father, his stalking and using age old tricks to make a medical student fall for him – too silly.  As matured sai pallavi’s character is – the more childish sharwanand’s character is.  If only the director put little more effort on adding some logic to his actions.

Watch it, but do not expect magic on the screen. You will cringe and crib – still watch it anyway!

Have a good day and keep rocking!