January 20, 2016

Journey under the Midnight Sun - A Book Review




When a man is found murdered in an abandoned building in Osaka in 1973, unflappable detective Sasagaki is assigned to the case. He begins to piece together the connection of two young people who are inextricably linked to the crime; the dark, taciturn son of the victim and the unexpectedly captivating daughter of the main suspect. Over the next twenty years we follow their lives as Sasagaki pursues the case - which remains unsolved - to the point of obsession.

My review - I rate this book 4/5

Journey under the Midnight Sun is Keigo Higashino's biggest bestseller and I am not surprised. The book traces the 20 year journey of Sasagaki and the kids - Ryo and Yukiho. The reader is introduced to several new characters in the course of reading and each time a new piece of the puzzle falls in place. I first read The Devotion of Suspect X, followed by Salvation of a Saint and Malice. Those who have read these novels would know that Higashino typically starts the novel with the murder and the murderer and then shows how the detective solves it. In Journey under the Midnight Sun, the treatment is quite different. The novel does start with the murder but who is the murderer, doesn't become clear till quite some time. Perhaps, this is one of Higashino's earlier works hence the difference in flow, this however does not make this novel any less enjoyable than his other works.

The book introduces us to several characters, each with a role to play. Yukiho is a pretty little girl whose poor mother is suspected of being involved in Ryo's father's murder. Yukiho is blessed with a degree of grace and elegance that is difficult to comprehend in a child her age, and especially more difficult to understand in a child who comes with her upbringing and surroundings. Ryo is a quite and gloomy boy with exceptional paper cutting skills. At some point, Yukiho is described as having thorns in her eyes and Ryo's eyes have a darkness and hollowness that startles most people that meet him. What is it that caused these kids to be engulfed in perpetual darkness? What causes them to lead a life devoid of the sun? These are questions that strike you from time to time and which finally get answered towards the end of the book.

Ryo and Yukiho are ofcourse not the only characters, there is Yuichi, an opportunist, who is ready to photograph the girls at Seika for a little money, Fumihiko, who is poor and finds luck shining on him when movie tickets come to his mother as a giveaway, Erico and Miyako who face the same strange fate, Tomihoko who works for Ryo and is indebted to him for life, Kazunari, the rich, intelligent and extremely good looking guy who somehow succeeds is desisting Yukiho's charm and Makoto, who loses love and finds it again. All these characters and their tales add new layers to the journey that this book sets the reader on.

I definitely recommend reading this book, you wouldn't be disappointed!


Details:-

  • Price: Rs. 399
  • Pages: 539
  • Publisher: Little, Brown (8 October 2015)
  • Language: English

November 16, 2015

On hypocrisy



This post is about terrorism, social media and religion but the central theme is hypocrisy. Why I chose to write on it is because I am so tired of reading utter crap by people on what they think. I am actually venting out here. Maybe this post will be stupid for some people as well but I don't care. Don't read it if you don't like it.

First of all, we support Paris, awesome! Yes, we all support Paris but we all also support all the other countries where terrorism is happening. I just don't get this thing, why do we Indians get all mushy mushy over terrorist attack in other countries. Do you ever see them writing in support of what happens in India or any of the third world country for that matter? People are dying daily. Kashmir, my God, how come no one has to say anything about that ever? Forget foreigners, I don't even see Indians reacting on that. Its like, Kashmir, is a suicide mission for Indian Army alone and no one cares, no where! Lastly you want to react on Paris, react on everything then, why Paris alone?

Second, what's with the Islam is not terrorism posts - Islam is not terrorism, Terrorism has no religion and Hindutva is terrorism, my country is so intolerant. Funny thing is you see all these heart-wrenching posts by Muslims and so called secularists on how RSS and BJP are practicing terrorism by engineering the death of 1 muslim and how intolerant this country has become but all these people can only support Paris by declaring either nothing (silence is golden, how about you practice this at other times too!) or declaring how Islam is the religion of peace and love and terrorists are not muslims. Well, they are muslims, atleast most of them are, and if we are going to dissociate muslim fundamentalists from their religion then lets start dissociating Hindu fundamentalists from their religion as well. And frankly, 140 people died in a distant land, and why is the Indian diaspora erupting over religion and terrorism. Is that all that we can think about? I always thought the purpose of religion was to guide humans on how to live a better life. When did this focus shift to how great my religion is and how pathetic your religion is or how my religion is the only true religion in the world. Frankly, my dear, if your religion teaches you that other religions are crap then your religion is not so great after all because it teaches you to be an intolerant and insensitive hypocrite. In India, for instance it almost seems like that being a Hindu is now a crime. It seems, anything Hindu is intolerant. At the risk of sounding intolerant, (actually you know what, I am not saying anything about your religion, I am only telling the truth about Hinduism which is my religion and this is not intolerance) Hinduism is the only religion in the world that doesn't espouse conversion and it is the most inclusive of religions.

Third, Social Media is a great tool but there are days when I wonder if we have become these overactive narcissistic idiots who have an opinion on everything and who use social media to just vent out utter crap. I mean, first there are these news channels; whoever came up with the idea of 24 hours news channels should actually be shot. I mean its utter crap what they churn out in the name of news. Nothing or hardly anything meaningful ever comes out of those channels. Debates are a joke, there are no meaningful debates but a sea of shouting monsters. Then, as if shouting on TV wasn't enough, those journalists then vent out on social media. Then, there is the general public that vents out on social media. Then, there is polarization. Every single thing gets associated with either 2 topics - religion or Modi's ache din. Lastly, there are these heart-wrenching emotional posts that talk of loss and emptiness and blah blah blah. I saw this heart wrenching tribute to Paris, saying how we the people of Mumbai understand it so well cos we have been through it so many times. Wow, how nice and sweet. I don't think Paris cares what the people of Mumbai felt then and think about Paris. And really, is one person's loss ever the same as another person's loss? Is that what you say to someone when their relative dies, that "oh I feel so sad for you, my relative too passed away so I know the horror that you are going through?"

I bet terrorists laugh after every attack. They get infinite fame thanks to countless posts after each attack. I wonder if they think - "Oh, so this man in Mumbai can understand Paris' pain, lets show him real pain, lets go and attack Mumbai again on 26th Jan, yeah Republic Day, let these Indians suffer on their national holiday and then they will forget even that teeny weeny bit about their country and patriotism and start ranting about religion and bad governance" or maybe, they think that - "Man, this is great, we attacked Paris for fun, I mean it is such a stupid city right they don't allow our women to be veiled whereas we are such tolerant human beings, we force everyone to wear veils in our country even if they are visiting us for a sports event. But the attack was just a small thing, look at the debate we started across the world, the slew of apologies defending Islam, the endless tirades on how US wars caused us to become terrorists. These people will just kill each other with hatred and we will watch and laugh."

I don't have a solution for terrorism. I just know that they are bad people but a terrorist event should not cause others to totally forget reason and the ability to be sane. Social media is a great tool, religion is a great tool and the human brain is the greatest tool ever so lets use all 3 wisely. Lets just get a life!

November 2, 2015

Career of Evil by JK Rowling: A Book Review



I recently finished reading Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith a.k.a J K Rowling. I was eagerly awaiting its release and once it was out I hardly caught a wink for 2 days and it was totally worth it cos I simply loved the book! The Cuckoo's Calling was good, I didn't like The Silkworm as much but Career of Evil is just splendid!

The book starts with this grim opening scene where a killer is happy after having committed  a murder.
A dark line like a parenthesis lay under the middle fingernail of his left hand. He set to digging it out, although he quite liked seeing it there: a memento of the previous day’s pleasures.
Yup, that's how the book starts - the lady who created Hogwarts and brought magic into our lives now introduces us to the grim and grisly world of psychopathic killers and abusive/possessive partners.

Business is suffering at Strike's detective agency and Robin is soon to marry her boyfriend. A package arrives for Robin with the severed leg of a woman and the hunt begins to find the killer. Strike can almost immediately think of 4 men from his past, each deplorable and disgusting in his own way; who could have committed the crime.

The novel alternates between 2 perspectives, one of the killer as he goes about chasing Robin who is his next target, and committing other murders; and the other of Strike and Robin, their chemistry, and the events happening in their lives. Strike's business was already suffering but the killer gives it a crushing blow as no client wants to enlist the services of a detective who cannot safeguard his own office premises from 'severed leg' deliveries. There is a very detailed section about Robin's past and how that has shaped her personality. There is also a break-up which I personally felt was really good for Robin, as Matthew really doesn't deserve her. 

The characters are drawn out with great precision. You loathe all the suspects and every suspect makes you think that he did it. Apart from the murders and suspects, the book touches upon a diverse range of topics - domestic violence, child abuse, pedophilia and body integrity identity disorder.

The ending is interesting and it makes you wonder as to what will happen next between Strike and Robin. Overall, Career of Evil is a great read.


Other Details:-
  • Pages: 512 
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Price: Rs. 489 for the Paperback Edition

      September 6, 2015

      Reload - Easy Mobile Recharge Review

      Reload App

      Technology has changed the way we do various tasks and chores these days. An essential change has been in the way we pay our utility bills or book tickets for travel.  As a teenager, I remember, my Dad took me to Electricity Bill payment centres just so I know how the process works. Today, I need not even step out of my house, I just need to download an app and everything gets taken of.  Reload is one such app that helps you pay utility bills, recharge your mobile and even book a bus ticket.  I recently  downloaded it and found it packed with some great features:-

      Cross Platform Compatibility - The Reload app works seamlessly across mobile platforms:-
      • Android - Android users can download the Reload app for free from the Playstore. It works on Android versions 2.2 and above. It is also available on the Amazon Appstore for Android. A unique feature of the Android app is that it lets you do offline recharges. If you don't have access to internet but have sufficient Reload credits then you can SMS and recharge your mobile, DTH or Data card
      • iOS – The iOS app is best suited for iPhone 5 but it works smoothly for iOS 7 and later versions. You can use it on iPad or iPhone without any hassles
      • Windows – The app works well on Windows mobiles with version 8.1
      • Blackberry – Reload app is suitable for Blackberry OS version 10.0 and above


      A Gamut of Services - Reload app offers a large number of services:-
      • Mobile Prepaid  & Postpaid recharge – You can check the latest tariff plans and offers for all Mobile Operators. Full talktime offers, SMS packs, Mobile Internet packs – 2G & 3G are now easy to recharge with Reload
      • DTH and Data card Recharge – With Recharge, you can easily pay your DTH bill or Data card bill, all operators are supported. Airtel 4G recharge is also possible with the Reload app
      • Online Bill Payments – Pay your landline bills without standing in a queue. Reload lets you pay bills for your BSNL Landline, Reliance, Airtel or Tata Docomo landline – all from the convenience of your home
      • Online Shopping – Now shop online at Flipkart, Snapdeal, Jabong, Koovs, Fab Alley, Expedia, Food Panda and many more using Reload.  Just login into Reload and start shopping on ecommerce portals with any of the ongoing deals. You will get Reload Free Credits that you can use to make further purchases or recharges on Reload.
      • Bus Tickets – Complete bus bookings and purchase bus tickets online using the Reload app. Just select your starting point, destination and date of travel; Reload loads several bus operators that ply on the routes selected by you and lets you compare the best and cheapest bus provider. You can select and purchase the tickets that best suit you and pay via Credit/Debit card or Net Banking. 


      Usability & Design – The Reload app is easy to use. The interface is user friendly and lets you select the service you want to avail off in a few easy clicks. The app flows smoothly without any lags or glitches.

      Overall, I found Reload to be a wonderful app that takes care of so many essential recharges and even online shopping. I think everyone should benefit from this great and free app which is secure and hacker-free. You can download it here - https://www.reload.in/app. The best part is, it is light at 4.2 MB and hardly takes up any space on my mobile.