Sundarrajk's Weblog

Best of Thakazhi S. PillaiBest of Thakazhi S. Pillai by K.M. George
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A nice set of short stories which bring out the details and idiosyncrasies of Kerala and Keralites. Not all the stories are very good but overall the book works well.

Many of the stories are about the impact of floods on the normal life of the farmers and to appreciate it read the foreword which sets the background for the stories, unless you are familiar with farming in Kerala.

The stories are based on the caste system, the generation gap, the apathy, the traditions and many other facets of Kerala.

A good read.

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Exploring the Practice of AntifragilityExploring the Practice of Antifragility by Sinan Si Alhir

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book is a a summary of discussion between people from various background on Anti-Fragility.

My take away from the book is an understanding of the Anti-Fragility as defined by Nassim Taleb. Nassim defines Fragility as the property of the system to break down when subject to unexpected stress.
Nassim defines Robustness as the property of the system to continue functioning ignoring the unexpected stress.
Nassim defines Anti-Fragility as the property of the system to not only continue functioning when subject to unexpected stress, but also learns from the event and is better prepared so that the next time the event is no longer unexpected.

While the extreme interpretation of the book maybe construed as Artificial Intelligence, it is not necessarily only that. A system which includes human could be considered Anti-Fragile if the humans and system reacts well to unexpected events and the humans is prepare the system to better face the next time the event recurs.

A decent reads. Better if one reads the Anti-Fragility book before reading this to better appreciate what the discussion is all about.

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One Part WomanOne Part Woman by Perumal Murugan [பெருமாள் முருகன்]

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book became famous thanks to the protests by various Hindu communities. See… for details.

The book is about a couple who fail to conceive a child even after 12 years of marriage. They have done everything to appease the various Gods that different people have recommended. They are the butt of the jokes in their social circle. There is pressure on the man to remarry, but he refuses to do so.

As a last ditch attempt the two mothers ask the girl to go to the festival at the Madhorubhagan (One Part Woman) temple. On the last day of the festival it is believed that all the men become Gods and any woman can sleep with any one they want to. (It is possible a custom designed by the men so that they get a chance to sleep with the women they want). The husband does not give his permission for her to do so. He is furious that the two women even came up with such an idea.

The lady’s brother who is a close friend of the man talks to the man and on the sly tells his sister that her husband has given the OK.

The story ends in suspense as the lady wanders near about the temple on the day of the festival and the man comes to his wife’s house to find that it is locked. He assumes that she has slept with someone else and goes off in a furious state back to his village.

The author has left it to the imagination of the reader to determine the ending.

The book as such meanders repeatedly around the theme of the two of them being poked at in various occasions, but it is not a bad read.

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Prostitutes have been a condemned lot for ages. They have been considered to be among the scum of the society. The latest one has been Vladimir Putin comparing the publishers of fake Trump news to be worse than prostitutes, implying that prostitutes are one of the worst lot.

One wonders why this has been the case. If one goes and investigates the reasons for women turning prostitutes there will, in most cases, be a sad story which compelled her to turn into one. Either they had been abused as children by their near ones (note the term near and dear has been specifically not been used because such people can never be dear), or they have sold into this trade by their own parents for lack of money, or they have been left to survive on their own with no education or skill, or they have been in an environment which has led them to be dependent on drugs and they get into this profession to sustain their body’s demand for these expensive drugs.

Simple economics says that a trade exists because there is a demand for the product or the service. Similarly prostitution exists because there is a demand for it. Has the society ever turned around and asked why does this demand exist? So who is to be condemned, a society that pushes these women into prostitution or the society that demands the services of these women or these women yourself? The answer is pretty obvious, but it is left to everyone to answer for themselves.

Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists: Unleashing the Power of Financial Markets to Create Wealth and Spread OpportunitySaving Capitalism from the Capitalists: Unleashing the Power of Financial Markets to Create Wealth and Spread Opportunity by Raghuram G. Rajan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very nice book by Raghuram Rajan and Luigi Zingales. The book covers how it is important to have free market for any country to flourish, while at the same time it requires a mature, kind government which ensures that the market is truly free.

The key argument is that in most countries what may appear to be a free market may not really be a free market. The big companies acquire so much power that they influence the government to pass rules which ensures their continued dominance. They ensure that there is very less chance for somebody to disrupt their business.

It is argued that if the government is truly in favour of free market, they will be able to see through the plot for the large companies and will pass rules that ensure that the economic environment in the country is conducive for new entrepreneurs with bright ideas to setup their business without hindrance.

Various examples have been quoted where the powers that be, Government or in earlier in the Kings either wittingly or unwittingly have been responsible for the growth of their countries by creating an environment for true free market to survive and thrive.

The irony as the title suggests that it is the capitalists that are probably the worst enemies of “true capitalism” and “true capitalism” is an absolute must for the growth of economy of any country.

A very fine read.

PS: The reviewer is a self confessed fan of Mr. Raghuram Rajan

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அப்பா என்னும் வில்லன் [ Appa Ennum Villan ]அப்பா என்னும் வில்லன் [ Appa Ennum Villan ] by Bharathi Baskar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A decent collection of short stories. Most of them may be termed as feminist, but not hardcore feminist. Most stories highlight the plight of womenfolk in India.

The main story “Appa Ennum Villain” is the one touches the heart the most. A cook wants his daughter to become a big person. He keeps pushing and prodding her and not appreciating any feat of hers. Finally when she succeeds and wins accolades for her success he finally concedes and attends the ceremony to honour her. It speaks of the sacrifice the father made for his daughter’s growth and all the while the daughter though that he was a villain as she felt she was not appreciated by him. She finally understands him and acknowledges that everything he did was for her good.

A nice read.

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Rare Books Beloved by Ramana MaharshiRare Books Beloved by Ramana Maharshi by Roy Melvyn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very nice book. Has a collection of philosophical treatise from Hindu Philosophy. One of the books is Tripura Rahasya. This is the largest book in the set of books. The others being Advaita Bodha Deepika, and Siddha Gita.

All of them are good, but Tripura Rahasya is the best of the lot. Read it and get peace of mind and if you are good enough “Get Enlightened”.

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