Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Sicilian

This evening I had the opportunity to visit the library, after much procrastination, and grab some books to read. This reminded me of the books I read recently, and now I cannot help sharing about one with you. Most of you might have already read Mario Puzo's famous novel The Godfather. It is amazing how much he knows about Mafia. Strangely, Mario Puzo is neither of Italian or Sicilian origin nor does he have any relations with the Mafioso. I still wonder how this creator of Don Vito Corleone knows so much about the gangsters behavior. 
The real "Sicilian" Salvatore Giuliano (Source: Wiki)

"The Sicilian" by Mario Puzo also revolves around Mafia and bandits. This book - a story about friendship, honour, courage, trust and treason - is based on real life adventures of a handsome young bandit Salvatore Giuliano. Its about how this young book loving peasant turned into a bandit, and became a force in Sicily. Its about how he became an epitome of Robin Hood by robbing the rich and feeding the poor. Its about how he got entwined in a web of bloody vendetta by opposing corruption and Bosses of bosses (the dons of Mafia) in Sicily. 

Puzo dramatized Turi Giuliano's exploits into a crime thriller in his book, and conveniently weaved characters of The Godfather like Micheal Corleone into this true story. Turi and Aspanu, although  different in their thoughts and behavior are cousins and friends since childhood. By a twist of fate, they get involved in a crime and become outlaws. With Aspanu's support, Turi nurtures his ideals and becomes a bandit. Michael Corleone, who is in exile after avening murder attempt on his father, tries to save Guiliano by bringing him to USA. And this is a story of a good guy who loses.

This book is yet another masterpiece from Mario Puzo, the author through his narration provides an  insight of the Sicilian history and the oppression they had faced for many years. The book also beautifully captures many elements like how Sicilians take pride in their honour, love their country and never forget to avenge the deceitful, "So die all who betray Guiliano!" 

A must read if you have read The Godfather and liked it. A must read even if you haven't read it. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Project Gutenberg and the Indian Connection

If you have not heard of Project Gutenberg, it is oldest digital library, in making since 1971, encouraging distribution of free e-books. Since then, it has not just made 30,000 e-books in various languages free to access but also many useful audio books and videos. For more information, we have Wikipedia. Now, you have one minute to free your mind and set it on thinking to guess what the Indian connection is. Think wild, set your imaginations free. Free your mind! For those of you bright minds who have guessed it right, hi-fi. And, never mind if you have not figured it out yet.

It is none other than our very own second century collection of Sanskrit writings by Vatsayana on Kama Sutra. This book is the most popular e-book on Project Gutenberg, scoring the most number of downloads. Apparently, Apple rejected an app on Project Gutenberg for iPhones because people could search and download this book on love through the app. Strange and funny, but true!

As always we have tough competition as to what India is famous for at international level, and this case does not help solving the issue. What do you think is India famous for - (a) head wobbling, (b) mystic and spiritual yoga gurus, (c) the curry smells, or (d) as Land of Love?

P.S. There are some excellent books in this website. If you are a Kindle person, then this is your gold mine because this resource lets you download versions of e-books for Kindle Explore it, leisurely! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Google acquires Motorola, in a bid to reach the top spot

Image Source: paidcontent.org
The entire world knows how Apple grabbed the smart phone market segment with its cool smart phones. Google with its Android platform has been trying really hard to grab the market, but only with partial success. With duopoly dominant in every sector in the USA, I think it is the case that Microsoft and Apple wanted to be the two big players of smart phone business. They joined hands together and attacked Google with patents. Microsoft and Apple together bought old patents of Nortel and Novell, and the technology outcome of these patents were used in most smart phones, and demanded Google to pay $15 per Android phone for using these patents. This would significantly increase the cost of Android phones, which would lead to loss of its market share. 

In their latest move, Google today made their announcement to buy Motorola Mobility for 12.5 billion USD. I guess the excitement is high in Mountain View as Larry Page himself announced the news through their blog. Now Google will have strong patent portfolio, could manufacture its own handsets and could beat the shit out of its competitors. Lets wish Google the best, and hope this competition will lead to better technology from all the biggies. 

Midnight Musings

It is 02:00 AM on a Sunday night (rather Monday), and I am still trying hard to catch some sleep so that I can be ready for a work week ahead. The reasons were many. It is always difficult to call it a day when you could savour the wonderful moments you had afresh, just the way you would relish the taste of your favourite food item dished out by your mom leisurely. Reminiscing the fun moments, in general, brings a positive feeling inside. And, I will call this particular instance adventurous for my friend's sake. 

But what kept me awake until this point is the Shaheed Bhagat Singh's beautiful handwriting and the mental strength he showed at a very young age. I have watched films on him, we all did. And, have been inspired by the songs he penned. To read his writings in his own words is a different experience. Until today I have not had that chance. His choice of words, the command he had on legal proceedings and the courage he had shown at the most difficult times were exemplary. When today's young generation are busy raising their virtual farms, feeding their e-cattle and supporting every cause with a "Like", this 22-year old shackled a midst four walls dreamed of revolution and longed for change, for better. If only I could know how much he had gone through, mentally. If only we had access to the diary he maintained during his incarceration. If only all his writings are available to the public. 
Source: The Tribune

At the age of 21, Bhagat Singh published articles in Punjabi periodical on Anarchism. He dreamed of a society without obsession for money. A society free from God and money, two major reasons people fight amongst themselves. How many of us have heard of Anarchism at that time? How many of us know about it now? It was the books on Marxism and the life of Lenin he read in his condemned prison cell, while we comfortably read romantic fictional work by Sydney Sheldon and James Patterson. It was three month fast that this young man took part in only to be force fed by the authorities and to restart the fast later, while we care only a little for the brave Anna Hazare who is fasting for a better India and who gets branded as a corrupt person by this corrupt politicians.

We, the risk averting generation, who want a clean nation without our hands getting dirty can safely learn one thing from him. It is questioning and reasoning when we believe in what we do. Criticizing what we would otherwise blindly follow, only to build our own ideas on top of it. Can we do that, atleast for our own good?

If you have not heard of "Operation Trojan Horse", it is time to do so. Hit a search query with this term along with the words 'Bhagat Singh'. Ghastly as it sounds, but could be true from the controversy the British have created on the very unfortunate day we lost these three young people by imposing the penality earlier than the supposed time. 

Have you come across a statue of this legend in our country where we have statues for living people?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Competition and life

I wonder why we all take competition so seriously in life. Everybody is busy competing with somebody, in a bid to prove their right to excel. "To be number one in your class." "To be more popular than your friends and classmates." "To get into better college than your friends." "To make a better earning job than your peers." The list never ends.

Ranks. Marks. Grades. Since the day we join school, we are made to work hard and compete to get good grades. My parents promised me that it would end after I complete my Class X. It did not, but this time it was my elder brother who promised me that the competition to excel would end after I finish my XII class in flying colours. I was mistaken again. And, it was my lecturer after my class 12th but with a different message. He said, "This is the beginning, all the while you were being prepared for what you would face from now on!". I was shocked to know that. All the years I so wanted to get done with school since I was under the impression that I can live without and hassles and tensions after school, and my lecturer tells me this is the beginning.

Source: Google
Many people fear competition all their life, although they cannot escape facing it. Blame the pressure that was put on them as kids, or the competition and the results they have personally experienced. But it is all in the attitude with which we respond to it. Do we all not love a cricket match with your favourite team winning a close one? Have we all not enjoyed the tennis games between Federer and Nadal? It is the competitive spirit with which these players or teams play that makes the games interesting to watch. When we can enjoy competition between others, why can't we enjoy ourselves being in one? It is all in our attitude. The moment we realize competition encourages improvement in performance, and we can make kids understand this I guess they will enjoy competing with their peers.

“A competitive world offers two possibilities. You can lose. Or, if you want to win, you can change.” -Henry Ford

A near one month of staying away from blogging has done some damage to my blogging credentials. My Indirank has dropped by about 10 points to 63. And my Alexa rank has increased 5 fold, which does not mean good either. This reminded me of the competitive world around me, and my experiences related.

So what do you think of competition among school children and in general? What were your experiences?