Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: The Bankster

The Bankster - by Ravi Subramanian

Bankers build their careers on trust, or so everyone thinks, till a series of murders threaten to destroy the reputation that the Greater Boston Global Bank (GB2) has built over the years. Who is behind these killings, and what is their motive? Is the banker at GB2 fast turning into a bankster? Or was he always one?

When Karan Panjabi, press reporter and ex-banker, digs deeper, he realizes that he has stumbled upon a global conspiracy with far-reaching ramifications - a secret that could not only destroy the bank, but also cast a shadow on the entire nation.
With only thirty-six hours at his disposal, he must fight the clock and trust no one if he is to stay alive and uncover the truth.

About the Author
Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, has spent two decades working his way up the ladder of power in the amazingly exciting and adrenaline-pumping world of global banks in India. It is but natural that his stories are set against the backdrop of the financial services industry. He lives in Mumbai with his wife Dharini and daughter Anusha. In 2008, he won the Golden Quill Readers Choice award for his debut novel, If god was a Banker.

The cover of the book is appealing. The use of dark shades and the person in shadow with a briefcase in one hand and a revolver in another in the backdrop of the skyline gives you an impression of an impressive thriller. The cover is sure to catch your attention and shine out among others on a book shelf. 

The story is like a jig saw puzzle. Four completely different stories going on, but when the jig saw puzzle completes itself towards a meaning, it just blows away your mind.
Mumbai: Four key employees of GB2 have committed suicide, or that's what it seems like. When Karan Panjabi digs deep into the actual cause of such ruthful events, he realizes that he is now a part of a global conspiracy, and there is no way turning back.
Kerela: Krishnan Menon, would do anything to fulfill his promise made to his dying son, who died in a nuclear disaster in Ukraine. He actively leads a protest against a nuclear power plant to be set up in the vicinity of his neighborhood. Gaining support from an NGO and a local MLA, it is too late for him to realize what he is now a part of.
Angola: Mr. Joseph Braganza, a covert CIA agent, completes a deal for armaments and blood diamonds worth millions of dollars.
Vienna: When two capable investigating officers comes to know what they had assumed to be an accident, is actually a murder, they'll give whatever it takes to reach the culprits to keep their success rate unchanged. 

The way the author switches between these four stories in a seamless manner is a thing to be appreciated. The plot will definitively keep you hooked. The protagonist  arrives pretty late in the plot, but once he is there the plot progresses at a blazing speed. You'd just want to read more and more. And what happens in the end, will leave you completely dumbstruck. All the while, whatever calculations you make about the end, it turns out to be completely opposite. You'll wish for the story to stay in Mumbai when it'll take you to Kerala  which makes you keep turning the pages. Never during your whole read you'll feel that you are left fragmented, it's the beauty of the author's narration that everything seems to be in a flow. Author's knowledge about the banking industry clearly stands out in the plot. 

But, there are a few minor issues here and there. The fact that author uses certain hindi words, is something that I don't really appreciate. Though the author wanted to create an "indianized" effect, this might prove to be an hindrance for the international audience. I would have liked if the author would have atleast italicized the words. Also, spoon feeding at certain sections could have been avoided. There were also certain sections, which really didn't had any relevance with the plot and could have been omitted  There are also a few typographical errors here and there. But these were just minor blemishes.

On the whole, I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves reading thriller. It will surely keep you hooked and the end would leave you surprised. This is really worth it, buy and you won't regret it.

Rating: 4/5

Book: The Bankster
Author: Ravi Subramanian
ISBN: 8129120488
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Pages: 364
Genre: Fiction
Language: English

Ravi Subramanian's presence on website(s) and social networks

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An Evening: Lighting up the Night

My cellphone woke me up. It was a text message from one of my friend. "Good Morning", it said. Who the f*** wishes good morning at 12 noon, I thought. It's still bed time for me. But as they say, once you lose the flow, it's hard to regain it. I woke up, only to see both of my room-mates fast asleep. First thing I did was to switch on my laptop. Drank water, and ate left-overs of the previous night's CS (Counter Strike) party.

After going through all those regular email and social networking sites, what caught my attention was my Google Calender. Light the Night - 18:00 - Phoenix Market City, it said. And then in a moment, all my Early Morning Blues evaded in no time. What I had been waiting for, had finally come. 

Light the Night - an event where you literally 'light the night'. Started off with the idea of breaking the world record for the most number of sky lanterns released at the same time. But this pre-event was just about creating a greener Diwali; Full of lights, but minus that discomfort to your ears. I was introduced to this by one of my senior, just out of chance. At the very moment I heard about this, something had caught my attention, and I just wanted to be a part of it. That was one day. And then, today, where I was just hours away from it.

I soon called up all other 7 people who were supposed to accompany me. I could reach all but one. I got ready, had the first meal of the day from the hostel canteen, and then finally everyone was ready. Head count. 6 it was, including me. One was missing. Shrey. 3 calls, no answer. Ran to the third floor, took the stairs. And what I see is him sleeping at 4:00 PM. A few word exchanges, a few kicks, and a few slaps were all that took me to wake him up. He was quick in getting ready for the day. 

Next thing was reaching the destination. Not sure of exactly how to reach, we took a chance, putting our luck to test. Thankfully we managed to reach the destination, safely and well in time. Reaching there, the sight was a treat to our eyes. The whole venue was decorated comparable to a bride on her wedding day.

Photo Credits - The Photowallas

Photo Credits - The PicSnapr's Photography

And the good thing was, this was just the beginning. Completing all the formalities, holding the lanterns in our hands, we were all excited for the moment. But before the main event, we got to see some spectacular b-boying moves along with that awesome beat-boxing, and not to forget that witty anchor. 

Photo Credits - The PicSnapr's Photography

Till finally, it was time to brighten up the sky, and light the lanterns. And what I saw next left me complete dumbstruck. It was an awe-inspiring moment. Literally, a heavenly feeling. You just didn't wanted all this to end. All I wished for at that moment, was to pause, lay back and enjoy the sight, forever. Those flickering lanterns, flying up into the skying, with no limits and no where to go, signifying all your sorrows and sadness in your life to let go, towards infinity, with no limits; to make space for happiness to come.

Photo Credits - The PicSnapr's Photography

My shoes were glued to the ground. 
I couldn't move, rather I didn't wanted to move,
for I-don't-know how long. 
I didn't cared. 
I was lost.
And I loved it.

Photo Credits - The Photowallas

But even in all this, it's hard to ignore the fact that all you had since morning was just a veg puff and a samosa. Without much torture to my tummy, we decided to have something at the adjoining food court. Trust me, we were all so hungry that we literally pounced on our food. Then in all this someone caught an eye on the watch. S***, we are late. We then had two options. Hurry up and run to hostel, or stay there and enjoy some more, cause anyway we are late. And I'm glad we chose the latter. With some more bakchodi to be done, we were finally out of the venue.

If getting there was not certain, how could coming back be? And then somebody yells, Bus stop is nearby, let's walk. No harm, we all thought. What was supposed to be nearby, turned out to be 3 Kms. I'm still not able to figure out who said it was nearby. But thanks to Shrey's useless ways of passing time, 3 Kms seemed like 300 Mts. 
Time to switch our bus at Silk Board bus junction. Another walk of 100 meters. Now imagine you are discussing something really serious on a walk with your friend, when another friend runs past you yelling on top of his voice, RUN, RUN RUN. All I could do was to run involuntary behind him. It didn't took long for me to realize this was all just to catch a bus. Inside the bus, I started searching for someone. Then I realized, he wasn't there. Where's Abhishek?, I said. Must be somewhere here only, he replied. Doing a head count and upon calling him I realized, it was 4 of us who had managed for catch the bus while the other 3 were left back there. This realization was followed by all sorts of frustrations that come through one's mouth, and the best thing to do in such a situation is to hand over the phone to someone else, and that's exactly what I did. We reached the college first, but waited for them outside since we had common gate passes. Since it was already late at night, the bus frequency was very low. Waiting for another half hour, three of them came. It looked like a scene from a C-grade remake of the male version of Charlie's Angels. After this, getting inside 10 people when you have made a gate pass for only 6, was a piece of cake. It's 11:40 PM, we're screwed, one said. Screw you, the other replied and went to the security guard to burst some crackers along with him. The guards were kind enough to give us a few, just like that. 

11:45 PM, it was, and we entered the hostel. Usually, I would have taken stairs directly to first floor, but this time it was different. We were forced to head to the warden's office. Trying all sorts hand actions, and all sorts of dialect variations, we tried to explain him where we had gone (He understood little Hindi and English). And, as expected, we were made to write an apology letter. And this was the part which I enjoyed the most. There is a saying, If you don't know what to write, then tie the goat to tree and explain about the tree. That's exactly what I did. It was less of an apology letter and more of an report of what all we did and about the event. I wrote everything, right from who the sponsors were, to the bus number we took, to what we ate, and even the amount of bill. Whoever reads it (I doubt anyone would even read it), will have a really tough time figuring out which part I am actually apologizing. 

One thing I've noticed, when you're in hostel, you're always a bhukkadd. My tummy was again trying to make his presence felt. Upon reaching the hostel canteen, what we find is that it just got closed. But thanks to the sweet canteen uncle, he understood our situation, rather our tummy's situation, and opened it again. Grabbing all that we'll be needing, we got back to our rooms, to do what we love doing, to do what we were doing all these days - Play CS!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Celebrations... Genuine Celebrations!

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 33; the thirty-third edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be a part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'Celebrations'.

Rawalpindi, Pakistan: It was a time of happiness and enjoyment for Afzal was getting married. He was the eldest of all, and so the family witnessed a marriage after a very long time. Everyone was happy, including Afzal for he loved his soon-to-be, Nafiza,  like anything. They both knew each other since the days of their school. Their love bloomed when they were quite young and continued till the time they passed out their college. Soon, they talked to their parents about their love. And now, they were both getting married. Both their families had the atmosphere of complete blissfulness. Afzal was in the Pakistani military, and so he was back at home at the perfect moment. His presence at home did had an effect on everyone's face and heart. He was truly the most loved in his family.

Patiala, India: Everyone back there at Amanjeet's family was overjoyed when they heard that he's going to be a father very soon. Almost 6 months, he's not returned home for he served for the Indian Military. He was the youngest of all in his family and continued his family tradition to serve for the military which has been going on since past three generations. He had so wanted to be back home, with his family, his wife. But his professional life demanded something else.

There was a possibility that both the neighboring countries, India and Pakistan might soon come into a war. For this very reason he was asked to stay back at the military camp. But his heart and soul was back at his home. 
And so weeks after Afzal gets married, he is called back to the frontier to fight for his country. 

Finally, Amanjeet gets a letter from his home which also had a photograph of his new born baby. He family did miss him, and that too on a occasion like this. But he was helpless, for the war was decided. He can't leave the battlefield now. He'll have to stay there, fight, survive and then return back home.
Both Afzal and Amanjeet were into the same war. Sadly, on the opposite side, all prepared to destroy what may come in their way to defend their country. 

Two weeks later, Amanjeet returns home, while all that reaches Afzal's home is his corpse...

Amanjeet is really happy to be back home and so is everyone else in his home. Manpreet is what they named his son. Tears came out through their eyes when they saw their loved one come back to home in his uniform. The whole atmosphere in the house is full of joy and energy for Amanjeet has yet again returned back safely and for the fact that the family was now complete, with their latest addition. They couldn't have wished for anything else, anything better than this. It was a moment of utter blissfulness.

While at Afzal's home, sadness was all that was there. They had lost their most loved one. Sacrificing his life for the safety of others. The world has just been torn apart for Nafiza. Her love, her soulmate went away, far away. She could not be consoled. She along with all others in the family were shattered in the sorrow of the loss of their love one. His presence was irreplaceable. 


What we see here is two completely different consequences of an event, a war between two countries. While on one side, we have Amanjeet's family, who is enjoying every moment of their life, for their son returned, as a survivor and as a father.
On the other side, is Afzal's family, who are shattered for the immense loss they had to face. It's truly a sad moment for them.
To put it in other words,
What's a reason for celebration for one, is the reason for someone else's sorrow. 

Can this be called an actually celebration? Considering the fact, that the reason you are celebrating is actually a reason for loss of someone's life, someone who was newly married, who was the most loved in his family, someone who was so patriotic that he was all ready to fight for his country. 
In my view, celebrating something like this is completely absurd. Surely, there is a happiness of homecoming, but that shouldn't extend to celebrate others defeat. One should always realize the other side of the coin, of the path of your success, and appreciate their effort for what they did. This was one example, and there could be a thousand more examples, where knowingly or unknowingly, we enjoy the fact that the other is harmed. 

In a war like this, thousands and thousand of lives are lost. Families are destroyed, fathers are lost, sons are lost, husbands are lost. Why? Just over some petty issues which could have been solved otherwise. And what do we do after that? Celebrate over our win, not concerned with the amount of lives, the amount of homes that are destroyed in a event like this. 
Instead imagine a situation where you live in peacefully with your neighbors, when there is no war, no loss, and still people get to celebrate, for a genuine reason, for the right reason. That's what real celebration is all about, when you celebrate together!


"Believe nothing, merely because you have been told it, or because it is traditional or because you yourself have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect your teacher. But whatever after due consideration and analysis you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings, that doctrine, believe and cling to and take it as your guide."
--The Buddha

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Introduced By: Harshal Gupta, Participation Count: 01