fastcompany
fastcompany:

This Fake Fast-Food Restaurant Is Actually Serving Money To Homeless People
Finnish artist Jani Leinonen has set up a Hunger King installation in Budapest that draws attention to Hungary’s conflicting policies toward the rich and the poor. Visitors choose between getting in “rich” or “poor” lines, with signage on either side revealing stats about inequality in taxes and education opportunities, fines for vagrancy, and other points. The first 50 people in the “poor” line each day are greeted with a clamshell burger box holding the equivalent of about $15, the daily minimum wage in Budapest. Visitors to the “rich” line get a fake burger and fake fries, and an appeal toward activism.
Watch>

fastcompany:

This Fake Fast-Food Restaurant Is Actually Serving Money To Homeless People

Finnish artist Jani Leinonen has set up a Hunger King installation in Budapest that draws attention to Hungary’s conflicting policies toward the rich and the poor. Visitors choose between getting in “rich” or “poor” lines, with signage on either side revealing stats about inequality in taxes and education opportunities, fines for vagrancy, and other points. The first 50 people in the “poor” line each day are greeted with a clamshell burger box holding the equivalent of about $15, the daily minimum wage in Budapest. Visitors to the “rich” line get a fake burger and fake fries, and an appeal toward activism.

Watch>

awelltraveledwoman
Be with someone who you don’t have to hide from, in any way. Whether it’s your morning face before you’ve put any make up on, an embarrassing story about something that happened on your way home, or an ambition you’ve had since you were six years old… make sure you end up with someone who listens to and accepts all of it, and still loves you. A person you can tell your whole life to is a person worth spending a life with.
(via awelltraveledwoman)

These lines ring so true!

But who can say what’s best? That’s why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives.

- Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

A lot of reading and a little bit of watching

Has to be one of the most pleasurable months of reading for me except for one book. Beautiful is a word that is going to be used more than a few times in this blog today. Picked up books by the cover, read a couple of recommended ones, also borrowed one. This month also saw a first where I read my first e-book! 

Shopping for books brings a pleasure of its own. I realise that the joy of going into a bookstore and picking up books simply cannot be compared to the experience of buying online! I am for sure going to do more of that. Another quick note on buying books - landmarkonthenet.com as I am experiencing is a far superior site than flipkart.com to buy books… its true! 

Coming to some of the books I have read in the last month:

My name is red by Orhan Pamuk:

 Starting with the bad apple first, I have to warn you about this one. This book quite easily takes the absolute bottom spot in my list!! I was duly given some wise advise by fellow-readers telling me that “its a drag”, “how can you even put up with Pamuk?” and the likes, but I dared and went ahead anyways. I had previously read his 1000 pager Museum of Innocence. But it was such a BAD idea. Please do not read this book! I never did understand any of it and it was an absolute waste of time. :(


And with this starts the string of beautiful ones…

Kaifi and I by Shaukat Kaifi: (English translation of the original Urdu)

A memoir of Kaizi Azmi and her life together, Kaifi and I, is such a soulful outpour of love and life. It is said that being in love with someone means to find that person perfect and flawless. If the book is anything to go by then it has to be true that Kaifi and Shaukat were two people in love, for all of the 55 years that they spent together. The way Shaukat describes their love, their life and their relationships, it is nothing short of fantasy! Simply one of the simplest yet touching true story I have read.


The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka:

Written by a Japanese born and brought up in America, Julie in this book talks about the lives of Japanese women who were brought in as brides-to-be in America before the war. She writes of their dreams, the shattering of those dreams, their lives (or mere existence), their work. She writes of how they thought of marriage and how it turned out to be, how they bore, raised and lost their children, how they were made to come there and how they were asked to leave! Probably one of the very few books where the narration is that of a collective. Each line starts with We or they. It is book which is written less in prose and more like poetry. It is a book of very very harsh realities. I promise you it will make you cry!


God’s Debris by Scott Adams: (my first e-book, read mostly on phone!)

Written by the man of the Dilbert fame, God’s Debris is a simple but complex book that talks of everything. The entire book is conversation between two people. One person, like you and me is someone who has a day job, a regular life, some thoughts, some feelings, some opinions of his own and some beliefs. The other person is someone who literally knows everything - the all-knowing, the aware being. They talk of many many subjects but it remains to be an extremely interesting conversation. Read it if you are willing to let your mind be muddled a little bit. Read it if you think you may be open to some new interesting ideas and perspectives. Read it if you simply want to have some fun! :)

God’s Debris is a prelude to his novel The Religion War.

The Religion War by Scott Adams:

This is the novel. The book with a plot and a story and some characters with a beginning and an end. It is set a few decades from now and as the name suggests the plot is a Religion War where Christianity and Islam are set to prove their own at the cost of destroying mankind. It is a very interesting take on the human thought process and where we are leading ourselves. It is understanding that even with all the awareness and power, at the core is one simple human being and the magnanimous power of INFLUENCE! Pick it up. It is a fast-paced, well written novel that will get you thinking (atleast a little bit)



Chokher Bali by Rabindranath Tagore: (English translation of the original Bengali)


Written in 1903 by Tagore, this is a book that is said to have transcended territories in terms of novel writing. For the first time perhaps, an author was focusing on the psychology of the subjects rather than the plot and the actions. It surely would have taken a visionary like Tagore to write a book that was so much ahead of its time. Perhaps you already know that it is a book about a widow who is taken to live in her aunts house with her family. It is a book about her relationships with the son, the daughter in law and the son’s friend. It is a bold book that deals with the various complexities of these relationships. There is love, hatred, adultery, forgiveness, deceit, guilt, devotion and salvation. But like Tagore himself noted, "I have always regretted the ending"! 


The Shadow Throne by Aroon Raman:

A fast paced thriller, this is a book revolving around the ISI and RAW and a probable nuclear strike on Indian soil. Despite my limited knowledge and understanding of these institutions, it was a good time-pass read. Mr. Raman has done quite a good job considering it is his first novel. The only small nag that remained with me is that the book actually had spelling-mistakes and grammatical errors which by now as a reader I have taken for granted! 

Watching by an ENFJ:


I decided to include a few videos too in this blog which I have watched and loved and wanted to share. So apart from the books an ENFJ reads, these are clips that an ENFJ watches.


Ted.com is a world known platform for people to share interesting ideas and experiences from their own life and doing. I have shared here two videos which I recently watched, one talking of our fears and the other of our mind! Hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did.


http://www.ted.com/talks/karen_thompson_walker_what_fear_can_teach_us.html

http://www.ted.com/talks/andy_puddicombe_all_it_takes_is_10_mindful_minutes.html

Please do share your thoughts on how you liked them and also do recommend anything for me!


Till next time.


Happy Reading and Happy Watching!

Its been sooooooo long!!!

OMG! I just realised that it has been over three months that I wrote my blog… laziness + procrastination + sheer lack of time (ha ha ha… who am I kidding here!) are all very valid reasons for this….

Since the last time I wrote (18th August) I have read some very nice books.. but the sad part is none of these books were Oh-so-nice that I actually broke away from the three devils mentioned above and wrote about it.

So this time instead of writing paragraphs about the books I have read, I am simply going to write a line (or two). Also, since it has been so long I may not remember all of them (I was actually maintaining a list and I lost it :( ). But whatever I remember, is here.


First break all the rules by Marcus Buckingham - Written in true Marcus style, very direct, statistically proven and easy to implement strategies to make great managers. Anyone in any business MUST read this. Definitely a winner.

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King - A horror story on REAL vampires (not the ones you can fall in love with!) by Mr. King. Very well written but its a 600 pager on the blood suckers! Fun read if you like all the gory and bloody stuff.

Crimson Throne by Sudhir Kakar - The diaries of two europeans at the crux of the Mughal rule (the point where Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb go to war to be the empire heir). Very well presented and interspersed by Mr. Kakar it is a book you want to read if you love Indian history or simply to get a European perspective on subjects.

Bombay duck is a fish by Kanika Dhillon - Yes, I do read these in between just to get a laugh and reduce the intensity. :) Fast paced story of a behenji who comes to Mumbai to make it BIG in Hindi Cinema. So it has the usual underdog getting all the lucky breaks at the right places in the the right time and of course she shines. But it was nice to see a touch of philosophy (albeit slightly lame) and a very real end in a book like this.

Atonement by Ian McEwan - Beautiful tragic love story. Heart breaking. This one will definitely make you cry. It is not one of the fairy tales with a happy ending (which I still love!). It is a very real love story filled with anguish, pain, suffering, separation and atonement.

Small is the new big by Seth Godin - Well its Godin and this is a compilation of his blogs. By the way I seriously feel Seth is a great blog writer not a book writer. Please read his blog for some very interesting ideas (sometimes) and not his books. Link to blog: http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/

Delicacy by David Foenkinos - Oh for the hopeless romantic that I am, this one simply took my heart away. One of the VERY FEW books in recent times where I have not been able to put it away till I finished it.. all of it! It is a simple and beautiful love story (with a happy ending :)) )

Different Seasons by Stephen King - This is a compilation of four novellas (short novels) by King with one of them being the Shawshank Redemption. Not one that I enjoyed too much but I did get through it. Not one I would recommend. I am sure even Mr. King has written better books than this one!

Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl - Has joined my list of top books ever read. Viktor is a holocaust survivor and through this book gives a very objective (as much as possible) perspective on what goes through the human mind and how it is the mind which helps one stay alive or simply die. His experience at the Nazi camp further enhanced his logotheraphy propagation. MUST READ! You would miss something if you don’t read this one.

Oops! The mighty gurgle by RamG Vallath - Written by someone I have worked with before I was super eager to pick this one up and read it. A super fun read about how a pumpkin, oops sorry gurgle, helps save earth with two kids and a dog. Light and easy it will keep you smiling all through. Pick it up for some great inter-stellar fun!

All of the above are actually some great books! But I want to read one now that I can go all ga-ga over.. so PLEASE HELP… suggest books that you have read, that you have loved.. I can read them too!! Only remember - they have to be GREAT!

Till next time.

Happy reading!



    Cover Cover what Cover do you choose?



    Ahem.. Yes.. there are a lot of them here… and there is one that kept me going for more than a month! (no prizes for guessing which one). Another week and two more would have gotten added to this blog, but we will keep those for later… maybe if you get through this one :)

    Six books - All of them simply great in their own right. Three of these books were recommended reads - The Happiness Hypothesis, On Writing, The Killer Inside Me - and the other three I just picked up.. Yes you can ask me why I picked up the 1000 pager Anna Karenina in the first place (that too of my own accord). The answer to that would be, I was truly inspired to pick it up after reading The Elegance of a Hedgehog where Tolstoy’s writing has been raved about.

    Its been two weeks since I finished the last page of Anna Karenina and a month or two before I finished the rest, so what I write here is what has stuck and of course my own understanding and relevance of these wonderful works of art.

    All the President’s Men:

    I am sure most of you have either read this book before or have seen the Redford + Hoffman movie. It is the record of two journalists from the Washington Post- Bernstein and Woodward - of the Watergate Scandal that leads to the resignation of President Nixon. Certainly not one of the most well written books but covers one of the greatest incidents in the history of American politics in detail. The first ever resignation from the President’s office. The first time, at least in public view, that the highest power of authority is brought to justice by the people of the country. If the sentiments of the people of America captured in this book are true to go by, then surely there is a lot of shock, resentment, anger, negativity and urgency to seek justice. It shows what the role of the media and journalists in its true sense is - the role of seeking the truth, sharing the truth and augmenting necessary action.

    Unfortunately (and this is a very very very sad thing) I did not feel any of that while reading the happenings and revelations. I realized during the course of reading this book that perhaps as an Indian and as someone who in the current day and age has witnessed some extremely corrupt and manipulative politics being played, I simply am unmoved even with the knowledge that the very keeper of justice is the one who has flouted it. By the end of the book I was very displeased with myself for my indifference.

    Having said the above, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has not read it, especially if you have a penchant for history.

    Five minds of the future:

    Dr. Howard Gardner, a renowned researcher of psychology, is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences. I was introduced to his work while with my previous organization and in quite honesty, witnessing in some sense how his theories have been applied takes a lot of credit for fueling my interest and reading in the area of psychology. Five minds of the future is an attempt of Dr. Gardner to understand what are the minds that will be needed in the future - the disciplined, the synthesizing, the creative, the respectful and the ethical mind.

    For starters, I think this was a bad choice for me, especially since I have not read any books previously written by him. The ideas are quite abstract (or high-level) and there were many places where I struggled to stay with the idea. I did also feel that his tone of writing in a few instances was quite arrogant (without justifying its necessity). Maybe also because I am more of a doer than a thinker, lack of any concrete action plan made my interest wade.

    However, the ideas discussed in the book are visionary to say the least. For one person to stimulate the future, understand the current happenings, predict trends and patters that will continue and come up with psychological requirements of the mind is a feat I bow down to. To know that the ability to stay dedicated and master one field or area, to make sense of various scattered pieces of information, to creatively deal with/use the synthesized knowledge, to be tolerant and respectful of other peoples views, opinions and choices and to do what is right is going to be the primary role of the mind is remarkable. 

    If the little of what I have written above interests you, it is a must read. I am certainly looking forward to reading his next!

    The Happiness Hypothesis:

    This book by Jonathan Haidt, has to be one of the most well written books that I have read. Very clean, crisp, articulate and well researched. This book talks of ten great ideas that have been discussed in ancient wisdom - Indian, Chinese, Meditteranean - and gives it a modern view. Across the book, the central idea is that there is a conscious mind and a sub-conscious mind. The subconscious is the elephant beneath the water (as depicted in the cover) and the conscious mind is the rider of the elephant who knows so little, but  is doing the best with whatever is known to him.

    My two personal favorites were where he discussed the idea of reciprocity and the idea of love. There are researches to show how as humans we are so attuned to give back which starts with the transcript of a scene from Godfather. He talks of how this is the idea that is behind our survival, our sense of service and also gossip! When he talks of love, he starts from talking about love between mother and child (most of which is at the very core of the subconscious) to the love between two adults (most of which is subconscious too!).

    My biggest take away from this book though is differentiating between the idea of being content and being Happy. Happiness is derived from doing a few things right, from not doing a few things wrong, from secure relationships, from lack of noise and commute.. it is a state we can all strive for and achieve, unlike being content where you are satisfied with what you have. Detachment, enlightenment, solitary meditation as preached by Buddha can make you very content, but certainly not Happy. :)

    Take a break here if you want. There are three more to go.. :)

    On Writing:

    First book of Mr. Stephen King that I am reading and it is not one of his novels or novellas but part autobiography/part a manual on how to write. I must confess, I was very impressed. Simply loved his style of writing - so simple, so easy and absolutely relatable. He made me feel like I am listening to one of friend narrate his own story. His writing reached out to me so easily. What I loved most about the book is its honesty. One writer who is certainly not afraid to call a spade - a spade. That just brings such a fresh breath into the writing that its an absolute pleasure to read it. His advice on writing is also very simplified and useful (even for someone like me who just writes an occasional blog)

    Have now picked up two of his fiction novels and simply can’t wait to get started with them. But for now, On writing is certainly on my must-read list.

    The Killer Inside Me:

    A suspense novel by Jim Thompson, it was the only easy read in the lot. The book is a first person narrative of a phycho criminal that takes you through his mind and lets you take a peek into what are the thoughts running in his head while he commits those hideous crimes. It is fast-paced, it is well written - recommended if you have surrounded yourself with heavyweights and just need a breather!

    Anna Karenina:

    Finally, we arrive at THE book of the six. This one took me a month and a half and five other books for company to complete reading. But truth be told, I am so glad I stuck till the end (I am certain I would have regretted it if I left it midway).

    A classic by Leo Tolstoy, this book has been translated into english from the original russian. It is said that Tolstoy wrote this book over a period of five years. The central character of the book is Anna - a married aristocrat and socialite of Russia who falls in love with a younger single man. The second main character is that of Levin - a landowner in Russia who manages estates and farms. Many believe that Levin serves as Tolstoy’s alter ego through this book.

    Tolstoy believed in brevity in writing (one can argue considering he has churned out a 1000 pager) and has stayed true to his belief. For e.g. a line which says that “beneath the green silk curtain, a round teak table held the yellow vase with white flowers” is banned from Tolstoy’s writing. What is written about are people, their situations, their thoughts, their emotions, their reactions, but never the unnecessary detail of the physical setting (which personally i find very refreshing).

    The three things that I simply loved about this book:
    • Every possible imaginable emotion that a human being can go through has been written about and captured in this book. Love, hatred, joy, happiness, angst, deep sorrow, sympathy, pity, anger, anticipation, anxiety, indifference, reverence, irreverence - all of it.
    • The pace of the first 200 pages and the last 200 pages is simply FANTASTIC! (I wonder why he wrote the 600 pages in between. I could have quite done without them). It is very clear that when he started the book, he was creating his best piece of work. The clarity he maintains in the midst of the chaos he portrays makes you admit to him being one of the greatest writers ever.
    • If one had to at the end of the book list down all the characters in the book (from bell boy to the heroine) there will be hundreds if not thousands of names. Yet, each character holds his own, relates to you in some way and stays in your mind long after you are done reading the book.
    This is a book that deserves a LOT of respect and definitely one of the books you must read before you die!

    Ending this blog with a quote from Stephen King:

    Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.

    My life has certainly been enriched by what these great authors have written. I hope yours is enriched too!

    Till next time.. Happy reading!








    About Strengths and About Love!



    It is said that you do not choose your books, but your books choose you when your time has come. That is exactly the feeling (I am an enFj) I got while reading these books. Each a masterpiece in its own right.

    Now Discover your Strengths:

    Only 20% of people (amongst 2 million surveyed) feel that they are in a job that allows them to do what they feel they are best at! What about the remaining 80%? Well most likely they are being asked to “develop” their areas of improvement i.e. their weaknesses. Does this not sound absolutely absurd?? It is absurd.. and unfortunately TRUE! 

    Written by one of the leading men behind the Gallup research, Marcus speaks of strengths.. What I loved about this book is the practicality of it. He speaks of strengths - how does one define strengths, what are the components of strengths, what we are born with, what we can develop, how to identify our core areas of strengths and clarifies most of the key queries one may have around this concept. Such clarity of concept and communication makes it an idea that is so easy to adapt vis a vis some of the abstract (and at most times absolutely random) thoughts.

    For any professional in any industry, THIS is a MUST READ! 

    Forty Rules of Love:

    I fell in love with her first book - The Bastard of Istanbul. And if it is possible at all, I fell in love with this one too! In my defense, it is only natural cos it is all about love.. :)

    Sufism, mysticism, essentials of love - for oneself, for others… that is all that is talked about in the book… Love between man and woman, companions, wife and husband, brothers, lovers, man and God, man and Self! It is not sugary or candy sweet.. it is a rather deep perspective on love.. on its many manifestations - of its pleasure, of its pain, of its embrace and of its wrath.. its a beautifully written book that will touch your soul (if you have ever been in love!)…

    For all the Fs in the world.. you simply can’t miss this one! It is Rumi and it is Shams…..

    Until next time.. Happy reading!

    Its all about Women!





    The books that have kept me company in the last few weeks are the ones here - Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair, For the love of a son by Jean Sasson and The elegance of a hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of them and each one kept me up till early hours of the morning where I was only reluctantly willing to let go with my eyes half shut. Although all three are written by women and primarily revolve around  the lives of different women, it will be difficult to find books with as much variation in the style of writing, contexts, subjects and ideologies.

    For the love of a son - Jean Sasson:

    The non-fiction among the three, it is yet another earth shattering tale of a woman from Middle East told very vividly by the master of this art form. This is the true story of Maryam Khail, a mother, a wife, a daughter and most importantly a woman in Afghanistan. Although the book talks about the horrific lives led by her grandmother, her aunts and many other women in Afghanistan, what struck me the most is the atrocities that Maryam had to go through because unlike the central characters of other stories, she is someone who is a woman of OUR generation (not from the previous century), she is born to educated parents (father a serviceman in the government, mother a teacher and sister a doctor), she is educated herself, is from an affluent family and a rebel in many senses. If a character with such a strong will needed to endure so much, one can only imagine the inconsequential and pathetic lives led by the others (not to mention some lives worse than death).

    Hardships faced by her are primarily those inflicted by her husband and her son. Constant plundering and molestation of the body, mind and soul of a woman without the slightest feeling of guilt or remorse. Without delving into details, Maryam is married to a man who tortures and abuses her and then for very many reasons, best described in the book, kidnaps their son and flees to Afghanistan, making Maryam wait 18 years before she can see her son again. But when she meets the son you cannot help but feel it was for the worse. That brought me to another thought/idea that I held on to after reading this book (related remotely to my current favorite subject of Psychology). Fathers whose behavior you can best describe with the word monstrous (wife and child beaters among many other attributes) go on to rear either monsters or lambs as their sons (daughters are either traded or killed). Maryam’s husband in this book himself has been subject to physical and mental abuse as a child, as is her father. Her husband turns to be another monster who in turn unleashes his wrath on the rest of the world while her father in most cases is too meek and afraid to voice the slightest of disagreement. Unfortunately her son takes to his father making you wish by the end of it that not even the most cursed should have to live a life as hers.

    Ladies Coupe:

    An easy and breezy read by Anita Nair, Ladies Coupe is the story of Akhilandeshwari, a forty five year old spinster based in South India who is looking to answer exestential questions by merely listening to the story of others. Written very simply, the book portrays the shortcomings as well as strengths and finally the discovery of self by women from various backgrounds and predispositions. Without getting too intense, she very subtly shows how each looks at their own lives with their suffering and successes to live by. There are both in all of their lives, there is depth in all of their existences, there are no one stop solutions and there is most importantly clarity with belief in self.

    This is a book that will make you smile in the end. :)

    The Elegance of a Hedgehog:
    (This book was recommended read)

    One of the best books I have ever read, this will certainly take a spot in my top ten reads. Originally written in French by Muriel Barbery and translated into english, it has been so beautifully written that it has made me want to learn French and read the original. 

    This book has been very extensively written and talked about and also been made into a movie. Hence what I want to talk about here is what are some of the things I most appreciated in it. To give you a brief idea of the plot and setting, this work has the narrative of two women - a fifty year old concierge of a building and a twelve year old girl who is one of the residents of the building named Renee and Paloma respectively. Renee is a childless widow from the lower economic class working in one of the most expensive residential buildings in Paris and Paloma is the daughter of one of the high economic class families who resides in that building. Renee, despite her background, is an autodidact who has immersed herself in the reading and understanding of literature and art which is her safely kept secret till a certain resident realizes the extent of her taste and understanding. Paloma on the other hand is a child who is so intellectually gifted that she decides to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday as she feels that living a life where she has to act mediocre does not warrant being carried on. In both narratives the book covers a lot of philosophy, art and literature.

    Style of writing: What took me in first about this book is the language and the way it is written. Initially I found it a little difficult where I did not know some of the words used, but as I went along I could not help but be mesmerized by the sheer beauty of the language. For instance phantasms replaces the often used fantasies. Summer rain is used as a beautiful analogy in one of the pieces written. One of my favorite spaces is where Paloma writes about movement. She is struck by the movement that is created for the sheer sake of moving and nothing else. I read and re-read that piece a few times. :)

    Flow: While there is the direct first person narrative of Renee along with the personal journal writing narrative of Paloma, the two are seamlessly connected causing no uncomfortable discord. Operas, still life paintings alongside the works of Tolstoy and Ozu are talked about and described with such ease. There are moments when the book is also comical keeping the overall pace and rhythm of the writing perfectly in sync.

    Ideas, thoughts and Philosophies: Lastly it is a book with some wonderful thoughts. Some of them include the primitive behavioral pattern of humans and how art is used to add value to the primitivism, how it is pure beauty at the most unexpected instances that makes the entire rigmarole of life worth living, how - to be able to see that beauty one does not have to be guided by age, caste or background, how there is perfect synergy between those who understand and appreciate beauty in its true sense and most importantly how this beauty when it manifests itself is simply impossible to ignore irrespective of the situation and circumstance.

    There are books that you read, learn and move on from and then there are books you carry through life. This is certainly in the latter category for me.

    Till next time - Happy Reading!