Who Me, Poor? By Gayatri Jayaraman [Book Review]

Who me poor? Gayatri Jayaraman: Book Review
Who Me, Poor? By Gayatri Jayaraman

Title : Who Me? Poor?

Author : Gayatri Jayaraman

ISBN : 9789386432230

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Non-fiction

Pages : 192

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars




As Indians, we often relate ‘poverty’ to rural and bucolic. The moment we encounter the word ‘poverty’, images of emaciated poor people living in mud houses in unhygienic surroundings envelop our mind.

Who me, Poor?” by Gayatri Jayaraman captures something we all know about, still feel awkward and uneasy to discuss even if it’s happening to us or our closed ones- Urban Poverty. The book has multiple first person anecdotes, ‘struggler’ stories and case studies of urban people who are cutting on their food, living standards and health just for the hope of making it big someday. All anecdotes are followed by a thorough analysis by the author on the reasons behind this phenomenon- what drives the millennials to succumb to pressure and live life on debts, loans and credits. The role played by evolution of cashless economy, corporate work culture, expensive degrees, overemphasis on ‘networking’, in the exacerbation of this menace has also been clearly analyzed.

The book discusses a much less talked about but an inescapable menace that is making its headway (infact, has already made) in Indian urban fabric. The author has done a commendable job in putting together relevant anecdotes and case studies, though the analysis part has turned out to be a bit complex. A few sentences might seem unnecessarily intertwined, thus undermining the sole purpose that the book is supposed to deliver- acquainting the reader about the phenomenon of Urban Poverty in India and its various manifestations.

All in all, the book is an impressive and well-researched work and I look forward to read more from the author in future.

Buy yourself a copy from Amazon here-  Who me, Poor? by Gayatri Jayaraman

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Jerusalem by Guy Delisle [Book Review]

Jerusalem by Guy Delisle

Title :  Jerusalem

Author : Guy Delisle

ISBN : 9782756025698

Publisher : RHUK

Genre : Nonfiction, Geopolitics & International Relations, Graphic Novels

Pages : 336

Source : Self

Rating : 4 stars


Guy Delisle is a famous graphic travelogue artist and after covering Burma (Myanmar), North Korea and China, the ancient city of Jerusalem is his latest project. He visits Jerusalem with his girlfriend (who is working for Doctors without borders) and children and has written an enriching account of the daily humdrum of lives in the mystical city that stands at the crossroads of three Abrahamic religion- Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The tone of this graphic novel is curious and humorous and though the author doesn’t go in detail to explain each sight that he experiences, he has done a commendable job in articulating the diverse manifestations of the city and his people. The author was permanently living in East Jerusalem (Part of Palestine) so it’s obvious that his views and descriptions might sound a bit pro-Palestinian but he has also tried to present the viewpoint of Jewish settlers in the city. He meets Arabs, anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews, orthodox Jews who hate Arabs, modern Jews in Tel Aviv who hate all religious fanatics and even the Samaritans. For someone like me, who was completely unaware of Jewish traditions and customs, the book was an eye-opener and very informative.

The book also serves as a “Guide” to the famous religious sites (for different sects) and gives a little bit of historical and cultural details about them). In the backdrop of all this, the author never forgets to portray the sad reality of war and segregation that is taking place right since Israelis came here to settle down in the “promised land”

One aspect where the author must improve is coherence. At many points, I felt that a story/anecdote was left abruptly while the author moves on to describe another incident. Nevertheless, I am intrigued enough to read his other works on Burma and North Korea.

Buy yourself a copy of the book here: Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City

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Magician in the Desert by Gaurav Rao [Book Review]

Magician in the desert.jpgTitle : Magician in the Desert

Author : Gaurav Rao

ISBN : 9789385936937

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Economics and Business Management

Pages : 136

Source : Publisher

Rating : 3 stars



First of all, a heartfelt thanks to Bloomsbury India for proving The BookTrack team with a review copy of this book.

With the advent of Ola and Uber, the fleet management in India has undergone a drastic change. This book takes you a bit back and charts a short biography of Neeraj Gupta, founder and Managing Director of Meru Cab Company Pvt Ltd, India’s first and largest radio taxi company.

The story of Neeraj Gupta is phenomenal and important because neither he had any formal background/education of entrepreneurship nor he belonged to a financially strong background to back up his dreams. Also, his company is the first one in the country to organize the largely mismanaged and disintegrated industry of cab services and led it to great heights.

The author Gaurav Rao has done a good job in describing Neeraj Gupta’s early days when he struggled with a plethora of businesses- from a garage to wrought iron business before finally get a contract from TATA to manage its public transportation. The book smoothly describes how Neeraj Gupta built his empire with one effort at a time and how his cool and friendly personality, perseverance and a never ending aspiration to learn helped him in his way to success.

The book is short and not an extensive biography. Also the author has tried to fit his own thoughts and approach towards life, business and entrepreneurship in between which might sound a bit preachy to the reader every now and then. Nevertheless, the book is an honest and straightforward account of a self-made man who has made a dent in the Indian transportation scene.
Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

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Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell [Book Review]

Outliers.jpgTitle : Outliers: The Story of Success

Author : Malcolm Gladwell

ISBN : 9780316017923

Publisher : Little, Brown and Company

Genre : Nonfiction

Pages : 309

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars


I am sure most of us, at some point of time, have looked at successful people and wondered, “What do they do to excel at everything they do” and after a bit of speculation, we have snubbed away the thought saying, “Ah! It might be the stroke of luck” or “He/She must have been blessed with good genes”

In this extremely insightful book, Gladwell rebukes the belief of “Good genes for success” and gives you a reality check of what all it takes to be successful (factors that you can control) and what all takes you to success (factors that just help you without letting you know)

As expected, the book has reports of many psychological and social experiments along with scans of life histories of many successful people (The Beatles, Bill Gates etc). The book will make you realize that how seemingly insignificant things and happenings are actually responsible together to push a person to great heights. It also rejects the theory of “Self Made Men” and firmly asserts that success is a sum total of your ethnicity, your upbringing (read “Efforts and Dedication by your parents), your cultural legacy that has trickled down to you from generations ago, your geographical location, your birth time, your hard work, some random chance that proved to be life changing and so on

The “Ethnic theory of Plane crashes” chapter just blew my mind off as I had never wondered that “Where you have come from” can play such a crucial role in how you behave and act even in challenging and nerve wracking situations.

Gladwell is a master of anecdotes (those who have read his “Blink” and “The Tipping Point” will know what I mean) and in “Outliers” too he doesn’t disappoint. From cherry-picked biographical details of successful people to extremely interesting social & psychological experiments, he has written another masterpiece which is an all-in-all page turner.

Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment [Book Review]

One Child.jpgTitle : One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment

Author : Mei Fong

ISBN : 9780544275393

Publisher : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre : Non-Fiction

Pages : 272

Source : Pan Macmillan India

Rating : 5 stars





First of all, a heartfelt thanks to Pan MacMillan India for providing a review copy to The BookTrack team.

The communist party enforced the “One-Child” policy in China and it helped in the economic boom, taking China to be the coveted World’s largest growing economy- This the most we know about the policy, thanks to the communist government that rules the country with totalitarian censorship.

Mei Fong is a journalist at the Wall Street Journal and has travelled to the lengths of urban as well as remote rural China to come up with this extremely fascinating (and shocking), detailed and honest documentation of the repercussions that China is facing as a result of this widely controversial policy.

Fong discusses each problem which is a result of the “One Child” policy in separate chapters- The ageing population, heavily skewed gender ratio resulting in huge number of male bachelors, the inhuman practices of forced abortions, the teeming industry of “Child Trafficking” masquerading as “Overseas Adoption”, societal and psychological pressures that a single child faces- the constant pressure to perform well throughout his/her youth and then take care of his/her parents when they get old and so on.

Being from India, where the democracy has been more or less an impressive success and where children are considered as “Gifts of God”, I was deeply perturbed by the fact that Chinese citizens don’t have the “Right to reproduce” and “Right to have a family in the way they wish”. Forced abortions, giving away the second child to adoption without consent, the heavy fine one needs to pay if he/she has a second child, denial of all governmental recognition to the “unwanted child” and other heinous regulations made me realize how much we Indians take our freedom for granted, and how difficult it must have been for people of China.

Coming to the narration, it is crisp, smooth and there is not a hint of it being a drab, dry demographic work. The efforts taken by the author to visit the remote rural areas of China to view the problems at a grassroot level are indeed commendable. The fact that she is from the reputed Wall Street Journal further helps the writing to have an engaging prose. Also I must mention, I got to know about many Chinese customs and traditions through this book, which makes it further more informative.

Strongly recommended.  Buy a copy for yourself from Amazon here.

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The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell [Book Review]

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell.jpgTitle : The Tipping Point

Author : Malcolm Gladwell

ISBN : 9780316346627

Publisher : Little, Brown Book Group

Genre : Nonfiction

Pages : 301

Source : Self

Rating : 5 stars


“The Tipping Point” is that threshold after which the ideas tip, the plan gives exponential results, a happening becomes a social epidemic, a mere word of mouth goes viral, that small change which makes humongous difference. The Tipping Point can be a small change that you make in your advertising plan, a few people who have the intrinsic ability to influence other millions of people or just an idea whose time has come.

It was my first book by Gladwell and now I know why he is so famous. He uses three theories to explain why epidemics (social and business ones) happen- Law of the Few, Power of the context and The Stickiness Factor.

Each theory has been profoundly described with extremely interesting case studies. Contrary to the popular belief, this book is not only for business and management related people. Everyone must have in our lives have thought of some ideas, made some plans to achieve something or seen some product going viral. Gladwell theories explain that how simple, petite and unimaginable things can create a huge difference and bring about a phenomenal change. I am pretty much sure that anyone and everyone can relate to this book and can read without any boredom or feeling of irrelevance.

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It by Elizabeth Gilbert [Book Review]

Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.jpgTitle : Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It

Author : Elizabeth Gilbert

ISBN : 9780399576775

Publisher : Bloomsbury India

Genre : Short stories

Pages : 240

Source : Publisher

Rating : 5 stars





‘Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It’ is a compilation of short stories of people from vastly different backgrounds, whose lives have been transformed by Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling memoir ‘Eat Pray Love’. An expression of gratitude to the author, who became a friend to them, gave them hope and courage to stand up and take action.
The book starts with a beautiful introduction by the author herself, where she mentions how ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is less about Eating or Praying or Loving and more about realizing that your life doesn’t have to look like this anymore and that you deserve nothing but the best. What follows is a collection of extraordinary stories of ordinary people, whose lives have been greatly transformed by her book, ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’

The stories are uplifting, inspiring and very well-written. While some stories were similar to Liz’s (Elizabeth Gilbert), focusing on divorce and decision of not having children, many differ drastically. There are stories about abuse, mental or physical illnesses, sexuality, sickness or mourning, which goes on to prove how all sufferings are interconnected and how someone’s story can change/transform lives of other people, even though their lives or suffering is entirely different.

The book also goes on to show that there are all kinds of suffering but no suffering is greater or lesser compared other suffering and that we have a choice, a choice to either continue suffering or stand up and do something about it, that nobody deserves to live miserably and everyone has a right to live a happy and fulfilling life.

While some stories were inspired by Liz’s journey as a whole, some were inspired by parts of it. While some have shared their own version of Eat, Pray and Love, some have written about how certain quotes or words of Liz have helped them derive inspiration.

All in all, this is a kind of book which one can reach out to when he/she is feeling the lows. The stories are incredibly powerful and inspiring and will make you look and reflect at your own life and challenge yourself on your path.

If you enjoyed reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ you will enjoy this one too! It’s a Must read.

Some inspiring quotes from the book:

“The entire story of creation is a story of ongoing change. And the moment you wake up to that story, you realize that you, too, are allowed to change and are allowed to assert agency over the direction you go next. This realization is the beginning of the end of despair. This is what we call resurrection – and it’s available at any moment, to anyone.”

“I learned to forgive myself for being scared and imperfect, for making mistakes. I stopped allowing myself to use those mistakes as an excuse to not try new things. Instead, I have to be brave. I have to try. That’s what Eat Pray Love makes me do.”

“The one thing I’ve learned for sure is this: the more I search, the more I evolve. I intend to keep exploring.”

Buy a copy from Amazon here