After the Crash by Michel Bussi - Book Review

After The Crash - Michel Bussi

I just finished reading After the Crash by Michel Bussi.

It's a very simple and yet fascinating story. A place crashes in the mountains. Everyone aboard dies. A three-month old baby is found next to the wreck. Two families, one super rich and other of limited means, claim ownership of the baby. They get into a fierce battle that lasts for 18 years, till the baby is an adult.

No points for guessing the side where the scale would tilt. And yet it takes them 18 years to discover the truth.

And when the truth comes out, more than who won or who lost, I, the reader, was disappointed! More on this as we go along.
 So the book starts with the plane crash and a detective who is about to commit suicide. This detective has been hired by the richer family to establish the true identity of the baby. The detective wants to kill himself because despite his earnest attempts he hasn't been able to crack the case. But just before he is to pull the trigger on the gun placed on his temple, he stumbles onto something and establishes the real identity of the baby and thus solves the case.

All the while he was investigating, he has maintained meticulous records and observations of his hunt for the identity of the baby. And over the course of his investigation he has come close to the miracle baby (as she is called in the book) and the family that gets the custody of the baby (I am not saying which one).

The narrative shuttles you between present and past, weaving all that has happened over the years in a tight story. It has been done so well that you as a reader is never lost and you actually start craving for the bouncing around in the timeline. (Side note: I actually thought that I could rewrite #tnks with the same narrative style!)

Apart from that the book has a lot of false starts, red herrings, clues that lead to dead ends. In that sense, the book keeps you engaged. There are clues strewn all over the narrative. And yes it is hard to put the book down. It does drag for a bit here and there but that's ok. And no it is no Stieg Larsson.

For me, when I read a book that promises a mystery, I want to have all the clues in front of me. I want to put on my Sherlock hat and try and decode the clues myself. I want to race ahead of the narrator and discover the truth. I want the gratification of being proved right. Or wrong. With After The Crash, I was not given the opportunity. I was told that the clue is in front of my eyes but it was never revealed to me. It was hidden from me till the very end. I thus felt cheated as a reader. As an amateur detective. But then that's the author's choice. Not the reader's and I respect Michel's!


So while I thoroughly liked reading the book, I did not like how the entire mystery came together towards the end. The last quarter of the book could be have been far well written. The mystery could've been little more twisted. The reader could've been given little more credit.

Having said that, its a great one-time read. And no, you will not read the book second or third time to enjoy the descriptions or dialogues or scenes or narratives. Overall, a 3-star rating from me.
 
P.S.: Thanks to @Vivek for sending a review copy. As with other review copies, this one is up for taking. If you are in Mumbai and can pick it up at your expense, please let me know and I will be happy to give this away. 

And no, I was not paid to read the book or write the review. I did on my own accord.

Bande Achche Hain

Just stumbled on this ad by ICICI Pru. And reminded me of how I behaved around #sgMS.

Yeah yeah... I am blowing my trumpet. But that's really how I am was. Honest. Ask her.



Just hope that the new guy she's with takes care of her better than I. After all she is a princess and deserves everything that the world has to offer.

A BMW

From my calendar.

Last year, on 26th July, I promised one of my mentors that I will have made enough money to buy a BMW by 26th Jul of 2015.

When I made that promise, I did not really have my eyes on a top end model, but on a simple X1. Which I thought was pretty doable - after all I am full of hope and I know I will do well in the future. Just that this future never comes. I have been full of hope for some 20 years now.

And thus the 26th of July in 2015 came and went and I am farther away from the beemer than I was on this date last year. In fact if I were to monetize all my assets and go to a car shop, I think I'd be able to afford a Tata Nano. May be. May be not. Depends on the shape of stock market. 

And no, I am not proud of it. Instead, it sucks. And sucks like crazy.

Thing is, a BMW is not really important. Its just a placeholder. Placeholder for affluence, success, fame, impact, love, relationships and other things that you use to measure the grandness of life, measure the success, measure the respect that you get from the world around you and all that.

I mean, at my age, you ought to have achieved at least one of the following...
- create an unicorn
- make a ding in the world  
- own a fleet of cars - including a Batmobile.
- earn enough money to retire at an island like the Necker
- use the leftover money to help others (not via NGOs) but via a 'skills imparting business' 
- make a trip to the space
- date a supermodel (Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Julia Roberts etc.) 
- win cash the WSOP ME
- exchange vows of life with the love of your life (after you found her of course)
- discover the purpose of your existence and thus the life
- travel the world
- etc... 
and more. 

But I haven't done any of these. I am more than half-way my useful life span and I am miles away from any of these.

The least I could have done was to get myself a car. May be a BMW X1?

Book 2 - Update - Apologies

After the phenomenal success of #tnks, I get a million emails everyday - each asking me about the status of my next book.



When I published #tnks, I promised myself that I will publish one book every year. 2015 was to see my second book. But 6 months in the year, I am not sure if the book is coming out. So, if you are disappointed, I am sorry.

And I promise I will continue to write. I will continue to work on my craft. I will continue to improve my storytelling. And in 2016, I will deliver something that will make you happy. And proud. For sure. I promise.

So the delay is for multiple reasons. Like other things, if you follow this blog, here is a list.

A. My laziness. Writing a book is about discipline. Its about writing 1000 words everyday. At least. And more if you want the book to be interesting. For #tnks I wrote that many words. Every day. For few months. And then there was time I spent on editing. This time around, thanks to my laziness I haven't written anything per se.

B. Roti, Kapda aur Makaan. You'd know that I refuse to hold a steady job. And I depleted all my savings while I worked on #tnks. So this time around, I have had to put in a lot of time to make enough money to afford the fancy lifestyle I was used to. I know I know. There are people who work three jobs and yet get time to write. Salute to them. I dont have what it takes to do that. I cant live below a certain standard and still write. I am not crazy enough. Yet. May be when I am older.

C. Lack of focus. I have made a gazillion starts and I am not happy with any of those. I even wrote some 20K words for one of the plots but I am not sure I want to tell that story (the one based in Goa). However I now think I have something that I want to write about. Of course I will write crime but not that pop-culture kinds. I want to write serious, western crime. The kinds that gets converted into movies. Lets see if I have it in me. Lets see how it unfolds. Lets see if the story intrigues me enough to make me finish it by end of this year. If you really want to read the next thing, please pray that story keeps me hooked enough. 

D. Lack of motivation. While the response to #tnks to has generally been very encouraging, it hasnt made me a literary star. And I am the kinds who needs external motivation to get things done. I know I like writing and all that but I really needed people to praise me for what I had cooked with tnks. And it hasnt happened. I mean I get fanmail and all that. But the numbers are dismal. The number is far from 1000 true fans that KK talks about. May be it takes time to get to that number of fans. May be not. I will never know. Unless I write the next book. No?

I am sure there are more reasons but I can come up with just these for the time being.

I think what I really need is someone to give me a big fat wad of money so that I may just sit there and write. May be once I get that money, I will become lazier and fatter and not write at all. May be its not about money at all. May be its about that zabardat toofan that I think Faiz talked about? May be. May be not.

Any how, hope you guys dont abandon me after reading this. Like I said before, it's people like you who support people like me to go forth and chase hard-to-get dreams like writing a book.

Thank you for supporting me.

Regards,
Saurabh Garg
July 2015

Oh, one more thing. The page for Book 2 is up already on FB. To be honest it doesn't really help but its something that everyone does. And I am not cool enough to not do things that the world does. So, in case you want to "like" it already without seeing the book, please, be my guest!

Thanks!

ABCD

Looks like acronyms are in vogue. After the last post on MIA, here is another one. This time, I will talk about ABCD. No, not the movie. But 4 things that I want to do in life. Why do I call these ABCD? Because I suck at naming things.

And since this is my personal blog, the post may appear as a rant on life. And no, dont expect me to come up with nuggets like the days are long and decades short or the seven intelligent fanatics. And dont expect any enlightening talks about how to work and all that. That's something that I leave for people on Quora and for younger and more established people - which pretty much includes everyone. At my age, you see, most people are younger, richer, healthier, smarter and all that. I am a mere mortal who's trying to live happily. Ever after. If only sgMS agreed to be a part of the ever after story.

So I am going to talk about things I do. After all that's the point of a personal blog. These are simple silly things that non-achievers like me do and engage in.

So I primarily spend my time on doing 4 things. These are...
Let me talk about these for a bit.

A, is my freelancing gigs. 
Where I work on event planning, event management, brand strategy, brand planning, marketing strategy, social media strategy and other such things for brands. I do this via my engagement with few agencies. Out of three "live" contracts (irregular work), I have worked with two as an employee and have hired the third as a vendor at some point in time. Lesson learnt? Relationship. Not talent, not hustle. Relationship.

In terms of talent, what I do is questionable. In term of hustle, the effort in put in is questionable. But end of the day, if I am pretty average with what I do and I am happy living in the closed confines of a 1RK shanty in an obscure corner of Mumbai and a third-hand Tata Nano, I can continue to do this!

But is that what I want from life? Isn't being an illegal immigrant in US and working at car washes at minimum wage better? I think so!

You know, wolf and sheep?
Source: GapingVoid

B, is writing. 
It could be a simple act of putting pen to paper. Or keystrokes on a laptop. And even though I may not be any great shakes with what I write. I may think of cliches all the time, I may use simple words to express simple thoughts, I may not able to write flowery language but I definitely am happy when I see words appearing on screen when I let my fingers do their trance-like dance.

In a few years I may realize that I do not have what it takes to be a writer that a large set of people may love to read. But I do know that if nothing else, I shall continue to write this blog. Of course time shall tell.
From my book, The Nidhi Kapoor Story. Did you buy?
Or may be I will continue to write my books with simple plots and simpler descriptions and non-evocative journeys etc.


C, is future earning. 
This is where I open opportunities by talking to people, companies, friends, family and strangers. Hoping that they'd hire me some day. Assuming they can afford me.

This is probably the toughest part. In fact last two, three days I have been stuck with this and this is what has been eating me from inside out. I've written about this in detail in the past. As I go along, I will talk more about this as I spend a large chunk of my time on this.
 Anyhow, when days like this happen one after the another, I tend to go back to pop-culture motivation-porn of Mr. Will Smith. Do see the following video. I hope it is not but even if it is scripted and Will has a team of people working for him, the video is insane.

I can watch it over and over and over.


And Oh, one more thing. Once I am done with this post, I am going to go start my hustle. What about you?


And D, ladies and gents, is hobbies. 
This is where I go to recreate (of the recreation fame). Where I unwind. Where I chill. Where I am in the moment. Where I know I want to take a break from A, B and C. Things that include hobbies are poker, guitar, writing (combination of B). For each hobby, I have a tangible goal. For example, for poker, I want to win the WSOP ME some day (which incidentally is happening as we speak and there are two Indian-origin players in the final 101. For guitar, I want to perform on a stage. For travel, I want to do a RTW. For photography, I want to be able to sell my photographs to people for a million dollars and more.

Lofty? May be. Achievable? Yes!

I mean who thought Stu Unger could win WSOP ME three time? And back to back two times?

Stu Unger. The Idol.

So yeah!

These are the 4 things that keep my busy. And, as I leave, here's a chart that I keep looking at all the time. IF there was a way to clue A, B, C and D, I would be achieve bliss.

No?

Source: Unkonwn. The point? Do things that you love and the world will pay for!

Over and out!

P.S.: Post # 3 in as many days!
Source: The sandcastle baby.

The Dilemma of the Dating Apps

Context: If you know of my love interests, you will know that I refuse to move on. From where? well... 

So, yesterday a gentleman told me that I was an early adopter of shiny new things. I remember talking about it at a point in past. Right now, too lazy to actually sift through (almost 1500 posts on) this blog to locate that one. Just assume that I have spoken about it. Ok?

The point is one of the things that the world (and Universe with all its signs) has been telling me for a while, is to move on. And for people like me who are awkward in social settings and have limited places of work (where, according to a survey most relationships happen), the options to find options to move on are pretty few.

And what would a guy who is an early adopter do in such a case? Of course turn to technology for help. Technology like discreet matchmaking websites, mobile phone applications that promise you contact with women in proximity and flings with friends of your friends.

I went (a few months back), I tried (till last night) and I was disappointed.

When I talked to the pros of these dating games, I was told I've got the entire thing wrong. So this post may become what not to do while trying for luck on online medium.

A. For starters I refuse to put my photograph up. Because I dont like the concept of my photograph on the Internet. Here's a challenge. Find my pic. You wont be able to. I promise you. Anyhow, so I refuse to put my pic and that is a big big deterrent for women. Apparently.

B. Then I refuse to follow up (read make desperate attempts at seeking company) and sending messages incessantly even though the lady on the other side is not replying.

C. Finally the few matches I did get, a tiny percentage did convert into meetings. And I guess I am not a conversationalist per se and thus I think I disappointed most of the ones who braved a meeting with me. And a handful that did not find me disappointing, disappointed me. Except one. Where none of us disappointed each other but it turned out both of us had issues from previous disappointments.

So, today, as I am on the verge of closing my accounts on these dating profiles, the "Steve Jobs" of our era (the one you cant ignore), made these two posts that he made. If he can get 170+ messages, I being an ardent follower and aspiring Steve Jobs can definitely get 1.

No?

The question thus is, are you the one?

P.S.: Second post in two days. Neither one has a point. Or may be they do. Who cares. The point is, I am back to writing. And I love it

MIA

<rant>
When I am 80 (if I live till then) and I look back at 2015, the only thing I'd recall is that 2015 was the year when I was missing in action for a large part. Case in point? This blog! It's been a month since I posted something. The last post that happened on 11th of June and today we are on 11th of July! A month. In my heydays of blogging, I would post something every 30 minutes!
</rant>

So, wassup boys and girls? (The one boy and one girl who read this regularly and the one girl who reads when she gets a break from motherhood. And the occasional surfer that strolls in while searching for something weird!)

Hope all is well with you.

For me, things are good. Could be better though. Been really tied up with the whole making money peanuts, meeting people to open more doors thing. These two tasks, when you don't have a company's name to back you up, are very sapping. So sapping that you tend to question the futility of even attempting it. So tiring that you question the very meaning of hustle. And even the re-runs of motivational shit like Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford, Will Smith's interviews about laying bricks and outrunning people on tread mill and that classic commercial by Versus fail to encourage you.

Take last to last to last night for example. I had a few meetings during the day. One of them gives me the money that allows me to afford a place in Mumbai. The other was an interview with a TV producer who may use me as a writer on a new TV show (my first). The third was catching up with a friend. And then there was this insane and expensive, if I may, travel to reach all these meetings. By the time I reached home in the evening, I was sweating like a pig. I wanted to take a hot shower and remove all the sweat, grime, dust, filth, heat from my body. I put on the water heater, stripped naked and yet, I just did not have the energy to get in the shower. Next thing I know, it's 7 in the morning and I have this severe neck sprain - because I slept on a heap of books that I was supposed to read two weeks back.

More than these books that I should've read two weeks ago, there are a million things on my todo list that are pending forever. And the biggest and most important thing on that list? The startup that I want to do. That I am told is a billion dollar opportunity. Something that I know that the market needs. Something that can set me free for the rest of my life (in terms of money). Something that can help me make that ding that I so crave for. With each passing day where I am supposed to hustle AND work hard to back up the tall claims I make to my clients, the ding seems to be drifting away. Because the thing is that you can never predict the reaction of a client. Most tend to tell me that I do a good job and typically happy with what I deliver. But then I cant guarantee.

Yesterday was no different. Like I said, I had a few meetings. One went like a dream - I was unprepared but I sailed through. The other I thought I had worked hard on and I thought I had a winner and yet it bombed. Now I dont know how to evaluate what I do. Because I am at the mercy of my clients. And their shenanigans. And their moods when I present what I have worked on.
 Thanks to such freak incidents (that are now happening with such increasing frequency these days that) I am sort of detached with the my output. Compare it to a time where I was so anal about delivery of work that I would keep tweaking things till the time the keys dropped off from the damn keyboard. Even while presenting things, I would continue to make changes. People asked me the point of making changes once I've made a deck and I would respond that I want my conscious to know that I have put in super hard work and I've been meticulous. I HATE (in caps) it when someone gives me something that is substandard. I may not be great shakes but I just can NOT (in caps) do shoddy work. Could not I mean. And no, it doesn't mean that I do shoddy work now. It just means that I am detached from what I do. My work and I have become two different things.

Which brings to the next point. Who am I? If I don't want my work to define who I am, what am I? Who am I? Unlike most my friends who have fancy things to say when they meet people (Hey, I am ABC. I am the head of marketing at DEF. Or, Hey, I am a writer who's written the book that sold a million copies but no one read. Or, hey I am a Value Investor who likes to choose businesses that make a lot of money in long run), I have nothing to say. I just do NOT know what is the damn introduction. Or may be the damn thing on my epitaph. Epitaph? The stone that you put next to your grave when you die? Where you say things like, "here lies a man who served his country well and was around when his family needed him?"

That's something that I think about a lot. My epitaph. What would it say. May be something about my crazy love for #sgMS. But I am told love is a fad and you have new love interests every year. Or it could say that I made a ding in the universe. Or it could say I lived life on my terms. Or you know what it could say?

It could say, I was Missing In Action all the fucking time!

Hello monsoon!

The monsoon is almost here. It even drizzled for a bit last night. And from my vantage point of 9th floor staring into an open ground, the drops of water falling down from nothing but the dark sky, disappearing into nothing but the damp shrubs, leaving behind a trail of glowing streaks because of the yellow street lamps in the background, was pure magic. It was surreal. Like a scene out of a some famous director's movie.

It was a sight to behold and I could sit on my bed and stare at it forever, if only the rain dint stop within like 5 minutes. And if it dint bring back the memories of sgMS sitting next to me holding onto my hand, scribbling something on a yellow post-it note. Something that would be innocent, innocuous, so simple so insightful that it would make me smile. At her, at the way she writes, at the way she doodles, at the way she is at peace next to me. At the way she makes me feel.

Thing is, rains have always been very special to me. There is something magical about the grey skies, the purest green, the damp earth, the cool wind and the occasional splash of water on my face. So much so that I am willing to ignore the interruptions caused by rains in India. More on it some other day. In the meanwhile, here's something that I was reminded of...

from The Notebook

Will you?

I spot a recurring pattern in life. As readers of this blog, you must have noticed it as well. No?

That I play this game of hide and seek on the blog.

And if it's any consolation, I do it in real life as well.

There are phases when I have this spurt of activity where I get hyper active. I write almost everyday, think of ideas, get some exercise, do a lot of reading, talking, connecting and dreaming. I am in the zone. For days at stretch. I am in this Zen-like mode where nothing seems impossible and I want it all. And I work towards it. I am in the YOLO and FOMO mode and I say yes to everything. I overwork myself. To a point when I start cribbing about how overworked I am and how I don't have time to sleep. I do so till the time I start enjoying the pain. I am on this trip where pain becomes pleasure and I want more and more of it.

Till something happens and I snap out of it.

The "something" could be as large as the AC not working or as small as wrong signs from Universe. AC is large because I am the kinds that want everything in perfect order to keep me happy. So things like AC, relatives, visitors at home, Internet etc. bug me so much that I want to kill someone. Of course Universe-conspiring-to-give-me-gifts is important as well but I sincerely believe that I amongst the luckiest people. So I tide over that.

So till I snap out of the euphoria, I am getting things done. I am the king of the universe. But when I am out, I have this desperate urge need to crawl in a hole and wait for the winters to end. I sort of want to disappear. I cease all contact with the outside world (except my inner circle) and I don't want to be touched. I don't write, I don't tweet, I don't post updates on Facebook. I merely become a vegetable and try to exist. Of course if there's work, I have to live per shenanigans of clients. But I try to not accept work in such phases.

I know it sucks but this is probably that aspect of life that I cant change.

I know it sucks but that's how I am.

Of course I can blame it on my bipolarity. Or may be on the fact that I really really miss having sgMS around me. Or may be at the lack of direction that my life is flowing in. I can externalize the reasons but there's no one to blame but me and I will have to live with it.

The thing is, despite all that, as a friend, a reader, a patron, I will have to ask you, request you, implore you to allow me to live with it. Give me my space when I need. And hope that I come back stronger and higher.

Will you?

Couch Potato

You know how Homer is happy doing nothing but drooling?
Dear Homer, Thanks!
That! That's what I am up to. That's all I do the entire day.

I dont know what's wrong with me. I dont want to write, I dont want to read, I dont want to talk to people, I dont want to step out. I am happy sleeping on the sofa, eating Indian version of Doughnuts, drooling and doing nothing.

Of course this is not a permanent state. I am sure things would change and I will be back to the doing state. Till then...

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?