My fascination with P. G. Wodehouse grows with each new book that I read by him. This time it was “Ukridge”. This is a different character than the earlier ones like Jeeves and Blandings. This is actually a collection of short stories based on the character of Stanley Featherstonehaugh Ukridge. The stories are written from the perspective of his friend Corky Corcoran who is most of the times at the receiving end of Ukridge’s idiosyncratic money-making ideas.
The schemes are great and Ukridge refuses to see any shortcomings in his schemes. He is always most hopeful of grand success but needs just a little help from his friends. He wants to create a dog training college, earn money through accident insurance, selling fake tickets for his Aunt’s club and betting on Battling Billson. Even when he fails in all his schemes, he refuses to accept defeat and is ready with another scheme with the same confidence. He manages to convince his friends to take up completely absurd tasks for him and when it fails he simply ignores the whole incident and moves on. He may not have money in his pocket but he is ready to help anybody all the time.
It is really amazing to read about such a character in this book. There are times in our life when we all have come across such people who want that little help for their grand schemes. As usual Wodehouse is great in those simple conversations, metaphors and use of English language rather than the story idea to make it interesting. Once again a masterpiece of book and great reading.
I read this book few years ago and I had written about it during my earlier days of blogging. But I wanted to go back and read “Eat, pray, love” once again. Somehow I felt that this book had helped me in making some decisions about my life back then and I was again at crossroads and reading this book helped me once again. I have found a definite connection between myself and author Elizabeth Gilbert and that is a source of great inspiration for me. The way she handled her life and came out as winner after all the trials is amazing as well as motivating.
I also found incidents that I had not noticed during my first reading or not written about them during my earlier blog post. She manages to be funny even while writing most difficult phases of her life. The idea of writing a letter to God and getting it signed by all her well wishers in imagination is great. The way she is able to make friends everywhere in the world while travelling gives me something to think about. I have never been able to do anything like that. She celebrates thanksgiving dinner with her friends in Italy and it gets emotional for everybody present even though many of them are strangers.
I can go on writing about each chapter and how it made me think. It requires guts for somebody to give up everything and go on such a journey and then make millions of dollars and fans by writing about it. I wonder whether I will be able to take up this kind of journey in my life. You really need to be passionate about things and willing to give up pleasures of life and seek pleasure in simple and different things. I have to also make those butter fried potatoes some day that she made one night to satisfy her physical hunger but in the end she had to think about her Brazilian friend in the bed to satisfy herself.
Another of self-help books by Richard Carlson. I got hooked to his more famous book “Don’t sweat the small stuff…” and I have recommended that to many of my friends. “Shortcut through therapy” is little different. He talks about 10 principles of growth-oriented contended living. Main idea in the book is about people who seek therapy do not understand that the way psychological therapy is practiced by most of the professionals can do more harm than providing any relief.
Most of the time when people seek out a shrink to deal with their mental health problems, they are made to go over their issues and the root cause behind those issues again and again. This actually causes them to get into a downward spiral. They are now reliving their horrors again and again without getting any idea from shrink about how they can leave the past behind and move forward in life. This book provides those ideas that people can use to move forward. You cannot change the past but the future is in your hands and it is shaped by what you are thinking today.
Most of the suggested principles are similar to what he had suggested in “Don’t sweat the small stuff…” and are actually similar to what is suggested by most of the self-help books but still reading this book was fun for me. “Make yourself happy”, “Count your blessings”, “Now is the time to live”, “It’s okay not to be perfect”, “Look for the silver lining”, are such universal common sense themes that you find in all self-help books. At the same time, it is so difficult for people to practice these and we find ourselves doing things that are exactly opposite to these words of wisdom.
In a way it is good to keep reading same things in different books. Some of it will always rub on you and will help in long run.
One of those books that you pick up to see what the hype is all about that this book won the 2008 Booker prize. I picked up “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga purely due to that reason. I am not disappointed but at the same time find it little difficult to understand why this book could be considered outstanding to win the prize. The book is supposedly about realistic contemporary depiction of India that ends up suggesting everything is wrong, every rich person is bad, every politician is a crook and every poor person is exploited. I am sure a lot of it is true as well but I really do not believe that everything is bad.
The story is of a driver from a small village who comes to Delhi with his master and how he slowly gets corrupted and ends up murdering his master for money and becomes an entrepreneur in Bangalore. The narrative is from the driver Balram “The White Tiger” point of view who is writing letters to visiting Chinese Premier and telling him his story. I could not understand what was the connection but that is how the author has decided to frame his narration of the story.
There are some interesting pieces that caught my attention. Balram’s fascination for golden-haired white woman after he sees that his master has gone to “dip his beak” into one of them. The allusion to sex using phrase “dipping his beak” was amazing and something new. It was really ironic when he finally manages to collect enough money to get a golden-haired girl and ends up finding that she is Indian girl with all coloured hair. There are lots of other contemporary stories that find their way into Balram’s life like coal mining scam, hit and run case where masters get away and drivers are made to take the blame, accidents by call centre cabs, corruption from small time teachers to high-ranking ministers and many more.
Overall, the good part was that it is easy to read book with fast pace and simple narration.
I remember that I was attending a technical seminar few years ago where one of the IBM executive mentioned that it is an open secret that now IBM earns most of its profit from services and not from products as has traditionally been the case earlier. That particular statement left me thinking as I had always regarded IBM at the forefront of computer technology and responsible for so many innovations that have taken place in last 50 years. And then I came across this book “Who says elephants can’t dance”, by CEO of IBM Louis V. Gerstner who is credited with this turnaround of the company.
When he came on board from a non-technical domain of American Express, IBM was facing a tough challenge from PC makers, Microsoft, Apple and the technology trend from mainframes to desktop PCs. But it was a monolith, steeped in bureaucracy and very difficult to make any changes. At such time, Gerstner took tough decisions, laid out employees but did not break up the company into “Baby-blues” like AT&T and focussed on IT services and solutions instead of Hardware that it was selling till that time. He managed to turn around the fortunes of the whole company in few years and even though it is not doing the same things that it used to do earlier, IBM has adapted to market transition and has been financially successful.
His writing style is good and easy to read. But the book focusses a lot on the Gerstner himself and what he did to save the company. Since it is his autobiography, he has liberty to look at things from his perspective but sometimes I felt that he was over the top. Several of his emails to all employees of the company find prominent mention in the book that I found a bit too much. There is also a famous incident where he switched off a projector in middle of presentation by top executives so that they could do some real “work”.