[Book Review] Trade Winds to Meluhha by Vasant Dave


Finally, I had the opportunity to read this novel, which has been long pending, due to one reason or the other and more of my laziness. Since it was an e-book and I do not have any e-book reader that I can carry around, I was not able to concentrate on the novel while reading on my computer. Finally, last week my wife gifted me a smartphone; I quickly decided to read all the pending e-books, and the first to hit the ball was Trade Winds to Meluhha by Vasant Dave. Trade Winds To Meluhha

Trade Winds to Meluhha has been set in 3rd millennium BC, the same time when Indus Valley Civilization or Harappa Civilization flourished in the region extending from Manda in North to Narmada estuary (Daimabad) in South, from Suktagendor (Baluchistan) in the West to Meerut (Alamgirpur in the East. The novel is set in IVC, Babylon, and Bahrain and most of the scenes are set in IVC and Babylon (Babili in novel). The story is about a young man Samasin, a Sumeru (present Iran was known as Sumer), who witnesses a muder and is later charged for that murder. Story revolves around how he had a narrow escape from death and how he travels from Babili (Babylon), via Bahrain (Dilmun), reached Lothal (Lothalur), and traverses most of the IVC (Meluhha) region in search of a man known as Siwa Saqra to give him the last message from the man whose murder he had witnessed. The story talks about his heroics and romance in Meluhha and Babili.

The author has done justice to the prehistoric setting and has taken ample care to use archaeological evidence available for that time while using them in his novel. At the sametime he has taken creative freedom to derive a story that matches the chord with the readers. The Archaeological evidence suggests that there were trade relations between IVC and Mesopotamia as many seals of IVC have been discovered from Mesopotomian sites. Also, the Mesopotamian records from about the same period in which the novel has been set refer to trade relations with “Meluhha”, which is the ancient name of Indus region. The text also speaks about two intermediate trading stations called Dilmun and Makan identified with Bahrain in the Persian Gulf and MakranCoast or Oman respectively. And the author has used these linkages to establish a trading relationship in his novel as well as the title of the novel itself suggests.

It is always difficult to write a historic novel and given to understand that there are many novels based on history especially Indian history available in the market, this novel stands out from the lot. It has been well researched and does justice to the archaeological evidence available in IVC and other cultures of the same period and literary evidence available from Mesopotamia. Written in a lucid style, novel never seems to lose its continuity – the very reason I completed the e-book on my mobile in a week’s time. There were some spelling mistakes and typographical errors, which I think, can be ignored given the quality of story line produced by one of the creative thinkers. I wish to see more of similar creativity by Vasant Dave. Till then waiting for the sequel to the novel that he has promised in the section, “How this Pre-Historic Novel was Written,” an interesting read in itself.

My rating 5/5. Believe me, it will keep you engaged! :) History will never be as interesting as it is presented in this novel.

P.S.:- I had received the book as a gift from Vasantji in Feb 2012, for nothing in return.

[Book Review] The Krishna Key by Ashwin Sanghi


If I have to give a single phrase verdict for the book then it would be Well-researched. Ashwin Sanghi has written a well-researched book, engraved deep into the History of the Indian Sub-continent and linked it well with the history of South Asia.

Buy The Krishna Key from Flipkart.com

I love history, especially Ancient Indian History from the times of Indus Valley Civilization through Vedic Period and Buddhism to the reigns of Harshawardhana. The complete material history of the period has some continuity. It has been a well-proven fact that Indus Valley Civilization was not robbed off its glamour by a migrating tribe of Aryans from Western Asia. However, no one has been able to say that the same group of people represented Indus Valley Civilization and Vedic Society. Nevertheless, Ashwin Sanghi has presented this theory, though as a part of fiction, in a very efficient and effective manner.

While reading the book, I somehow forgot that I am reading a work of fiction and read the book as a commentary on Indian History. I would consider this as a commentary on Indian History only if it was not produced in the way it was, it actually was defining the new History for India. Ancient History has always been confusing what with several distortions by both Foreign (especially English) and Nationalist authors who in an attempt to prove their points about Golden Era of India tried to divulge things, which were not there. Ashwin Sanghi’s book comes as great breather as it shares the same sentiments as my understanding and interpretation of the history goes.

The story revolves around Dr. Saini, who is a professor of History, who also happens to be the descendents of Yadava clan of the times of Krishna. The aim of the Dr. Saini is to prove that he is not the murderer of his friend Dr. Varshaney, an Archaeologist based in Kalibangan. To prove himself right, Dr Saini begins the quest for The Krishna Key. How he interprets different signs and symbols, proves his innocence, and finally deciphers the Krishna Key is the main theme of the story. I will not divulge much of this here. If you want to find out then just grab your copy and start reading.

If you love history and are open to different point of view of interpretation then go for this book. It is a must read. There were few instances of poor proofreading towards the end of the book, but they can be easily ignored. Actually, the book will attract your attention so much, that you will not have time to think about these mistakes. So, do not worry about them.

My rating 4.5/5.

Note: I received an author-signed copy of this book as a gift from My Smart Price in return of a review of this book on my blog. 

Changing Focus


Dear All,

It has been a quite a good time that I have been writing on social issues. Now, I am changing my focus to technical stuff – Programming Languages, etc. There will be posts on social issues and other regular stuff as well but their frequency (though I am not that frequent) and number is bound to go down. I may not be regular on technical stuff writings here as well. My main focus is to learn and explore new things technically. I have lagged behind – yes – a long six years. But now I plan to reclaim my technical brain. Hope that it happens soon.

I do not know how long will I be able to focus on this. For past few months I have been thinking on this and since past two weeks I have been trying to make up my mind for the same and finally I have made up my mind.

You will see some technical stuff flowing in over here. Hope you will like it. The main reason I am not separating the technical stuff from my main blog is that I do not know how frequent I will be in technical stuff. Once I am sure that I can continue with technical stuff all alone, I will move to a new blog.

Moreover, I am planning to work on some open source project as well. However, I am not able to decide on anything. Or to be more specific I am not even sure how can I go about it. Any help will be appreciated.

Also, you may not see any actions for sometime on this blog. I will surely reply to your comments, but the response may get delayed.

In the end, I would just like to say thank you all to be here and hope that we all will be here for times to come.

Thank you once again.

Regards,

Palak Mathur

[Book Review] I, Rama: Age of Seers (Book – 1) by Ravi Venu


Ramayana has been the epic the story of which has been told and retold and is still being told. There is an enchanting literary colour that has been liked by many and is still being liked and loved.

Buy I, Rama: Age of Seers (Book - 1) from Flipkart.com

“I, Rama” – is an unique first person account of how the famed Hero-monarch would narrate his tale, as seen by him, his point of view of the spectacular events that unfold, chronicling the path which immortalized his name, from a mere prince to the very epitome of manliness. The first volume of the series starts with Rama in his late years, narrating his tale to his sons and close friends. The characterization models itself on how an evolved human who has been transformed into a super hero guided by imbibing the distilled essence of the supreme spiritual masters. The story has been told and re-told several times that I will not mention it here. Nevertheless, there are certain things about the book that are worth mentioning over here. (ref)

We all know that character and personality of Rama is synonymous to that of the perfect being, the ideal person. Ramayana depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters like the ideal father, ideal servant, the ideal brother, the ideal wife and the ideal king. The ideal portrayed by the character of Rama has been unfathomable by a common being, a common man can hardly think of himself to be a Rama but he always wants to be him. Throughout the book, Ravi Venu has projected Rama experiencing human emotions and vulnerability that every human faces whether when he is talking about his father Dashrath, or talking about his stepmother Kaikeyi or Sita or anyone else.

Ravi Venu has also tried to portray some of the main characters of Ramayana in a different light by bringing a new twist in the story. We all know that Kaikeyi was responsible for sending Rama into exile to put her son on the throne. She is portrayed as an intelligent warrior queen who was responsible to make Rama choose to go for exile and thus end Ravana and his misdeeds. I liked this portrayal of Kaikeyi’s character.  This is something unique and I liked howRavi has presented this in his story of Rama. Moreover, all the female characters have been presented as having strong character and virtues, which is a good thing to be seen in the literature and a welcome change from the regular portrayal of female characters. Hope this trend grows further.

The significant portion of the book is devoted to Seers and Sages and details the lives of some seers and sages among which story of Vishwamitra and Meneka has been told again. Also, a significant portion of the  novel is devoted to Raja Dashrath, father of Rama and the relationship of Rama with him.

I know that some people are definitely not going to like the portrayal of different characters that the author has taken the liberty to sketch differently. However, there is bound to be different understanding of epics by different people and I am all open to accept this liberty. Even the epic Ramayana as it currently stands and attributed to Valimiki has been the work of thousands of years and has added to the original story and is the work of understanding, thought and visualization of numerous authors.

A quote from the book that I liked,

…nobility is defined by the way one conducts his life…

I really liked reading the book and hope and appreciate the wayRavihas tried to redefine the epic. This is the first part of the trilogy and eager to read the next two books lined up in the series.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at BlogAdda.com. Participate now to get free books!

Parkinson’s Law of Triviality


If you doesn’t know it already, then let me introduce it to you. This law was propounded by C. Northcote Parkinson and it argues that organizations give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Parkinson demonstrated this by contrasting the triviality of the cost of building a bike shed in contrast to an “atomic reactor“.

An interesting note from the Parkinson’s Law – And Other studies in Administration by C. Northcote Parkinson, as quoted from Wikipedia article,

In the 3rd chapter - High Finance or The Point of Vanishing Interest - Parkinson writes about a finance committee meeting. In it three items are on the agenda. The first is the signing of a $10 million (1957 dollars) contract to build “an atomic reactor” [sic], the second a proposal to build a $2,350 bicycle shed for the clerical staff and the third proposes $57 a year to supply refreshments for the Joint Welfare Committee. The $10 million number is too big and too technical, and it passes in 2.5 minutes. The bicycle shed is a subject understood by the board, and the dollar amount within their life experience, so Mr. Softleigh says that an aluminium roof is too expensive and they should use asbestos. Mr. Holdfast wants galvanized iron. Mr. Daring questions the need for the shed at all. Mr. Holdfast disagrees. Parkinson then writes “The debate is fairly launched. A sum of $2,350 is well within everybody’s comprehension. Everyone can visualize a bicycle shed. Discussion goes on, therefore, for forty-five minutes, with the possible result of saving some $300. Members at length sit back with a feeling of accomplishment.” Parkinson then described the third agenda item, writing “There may be members of the committee who might fail to distinguish between asbestos and galvanized iron, but every man there knows about coffee – what it is, how it should be made, where it should be bought – and whether indeed it should be bought at all. This item on the agenda will occupy the members for an hour and a quarter, and they will end by asking the Secretary to procure further information, leaving the matter to be decided at the next meeting.

You can find it to be right in every setting specially true in Software. Want details? Read this!!

I somehow like these kind of observations. I have read many such while reading books on Public Administration. If you know any laws of the kind then leave a comment with link where I can read about it. :D

LPG Transparency Portal


Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has launched the LPG Transparency Portal under Government to Citizen (G2C) service category.Click on the above link or paste the following url in your browser:-

http://www.bharatpetroleum.com/Transparency_portal/LPG_portal.html

As per National Portal of India,

LPG consumers can know their individual pattern of LPG usage, LPG booking status, LPG refill history or request for surrender of their connection, highest consumption consumers, subsidy availed etc. The information on the portal can also be sorted by consumer number, consumer name and by distributors’ name.

Actually, this portal links to three different LPG Transparency Portals belonging to different Oil and Gas Marketing Companies. The url for each of them are:-

1. Indane – http://111.118.215.211/index  http://indane.co.in/transparency/index.html
2. Bharat Gas – http://www.ebharatgas.com/ebgas/CC_include/Transparency_portal_new.jsp
3. HP Gas – http://dcmstransparency.hpcl.co.in/TransparencyPortal/Transparency/Transparency.aspx

Using these portals, you can do various tasks like:-

  • Rate your distributor
  • Register complaints
  • Find top users in an area
  • Surrender a connection
  • Find your pattern of consumption, details of refill supplies, etc.
  • Find out the amount of subsidy that you have utilized by using the subsidized LPG

This is a nice initiative. This portal will empower and benefit the consumers. Hope it evolves with time and is made more user-friendly.