Saturday, January 30, 2016

My January in Books

Last year, I took the Goodreads challenge to read 12 books and I read slightly more than that. Though some books are half-finished, and some needs a re-read at some places.
This year, though I have raised my target a bit more. This time I want to read 18 books. I want to utilize this platform to keep a track of my readings throughout the year.

Book reading-wise, January was not a very productive time for me, as I had some other commitments which kept me busy. Lets come to books I read during this first month of the year.

1. 'Sister of my Heart' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I started to read this book in last December and finally, this January, I have finished reading this book. Divakaruni is my favourite story-teller and like her other books that I read previously, I loved this book too. It's an intense story of two sisters, remotely connected by blood, but who are very close to each others heart. I loved it so much that I have bought the sequel of this novel, 'The Vine of Desire', though I haven't started to read that yet.

2. 'Bishad Periye" by Suchitra Bhattacharya
(Can be translated roughly as 'Beyond Sorrow')

This is a novel written in Bengali. Last year, I had not read a single Bengali book, except the Pujabarshiki 'Desh'. So this year, I want to read some Bengali books. And this is the first Bengali book that I read this year. This is the story of an elderly couple, both of their sons are settled elsewhere and they live all alone. Then, to fill the void in their lives, they provided Paying Guest accomodation to two girls and that single decision had a profound influence on their lives, as well as the lives of the two girls. Very contemporary description of old-age-years. The language is very simple, typical of Suchitra Bhattacharya's writing. A good read, overall.

3. Chanakya's 7 secrets of Leadership by Radhakrishnan Pillai, D. Sivanandhan

This is a book on leadership and the language is so simple that even someone, who doesn't have a management background can understand this. As I don't have a management background, I decided to read this one to inculcate some leadership virtues in myself. The principles can be applied both in professional life as well as in personal life. I had held the belief for long that the time-tested formulas, that prove to be useful in the field of administration, can be applied in personal life as well. This book confirmed my belief. I am only half-way through this book, though. And it encourages to not only go through the book, but to think as well about what you read. Some quotes are worth mentioning:

"In human beings, nature has placed the head above the heart. A leader should let the head rule the heart, and not the other way around."

"How much time in a day do you spend in thinking? Do you have a dedicated time in your daily routine only to think?
Thinking about thinking makes you a great leader."

Though personally I don't agree with all the opinions expressed in this book. Take, for instance, the viewpoint of the author on intelligence: "Research has proved that every person has equal intelligence at birth." I don't know any such kind of research though. As far as my knowledge is concerned, intelligence has both a genetic and an environmental influence on it and quite obviously, everyone is not blessed with intelligence equally. Intelligence, like most other things, in inherited.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My UPSC Journey: The End of an Era

I started this blog way back in 2008, during my probation period as an officer in State Bank of India, the public sector commercial bank of India. After that, I didn't wrote anything for a long period of time. You can say I almost forgot that I have a blog. Meanwhile, life went through various ups and downs, both professionally and personally. I left my job with SBI and joined Government of West Bengal as Additional District Sub-Registrar. It's a Group-A service. My UPSC journey started in 2010. That year I filled up the form, but couldn't appear for the examination due to lack of preparation. I appeared for the first time in 2011 and in that very first attempt, I qualified in the Preliminary Examination, but could not write the Mains due to physical illness. Next year, I appeared again. That time, I was seven-months pregnant, when I appeared for the Prelims, but missed it by 4 marks. I re-appeared in 2013. This time I qualified in Prelims and wrote the Mains with whatever little I could prepare in my little time. That year, there was a massive change in syllabus and also I had scarcity of time due to my job and 1-year-old baby boy. I could not qualify the Mains. That year some of my articles got published in Mrunal's blog and they were hugely appreciated. Really, I owe Mrunal Sir a lot. In the process, I made some new friends. At this time, I thought of publishing all my already-published articles in my own blog (yes, finally I remembered that I have a long-forgotten blog of my own). Subsequently, I wrote some more articles and some other articles not connected to UPSC at all. I got appreciation for them as well. I last appeared in UPSC in 2015 and failed to qualify in the Prelims. My UPSC journey ended there. Even now I get many requests to write on many topics connected to UPSC. But now I have no reason to write for UPSC. But if you want, I can share here something I wrote previously in my own exercise book, though I am not an expert on the same. Do write me and let me know if you want to read on any topic. I'll write if possible.

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Thanks for reading my blog. It's only because of my writing that I get connected to many people previously unknown to me. That's something I really cherish. Keep reading!!!