Lessons from an MBA Life

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Review of MayBe This OR mAybe That – 37 Things we didn’t learn in B – schools; Abhaidev; Pebbls Publishing House 2015; Rs 150; pp 96

– Shana Susan Ninan

The book came as a surprise for me – not just because it is in Q & A mode, but also for the simplicity of the language. It deals with the everyday questions that most college-educated youngsters would have, but it is dealt with very smoothly and in a manner that quells your curiosity about several themes. It’s so simple, it’s almost un-MBA like!

Why most guys feel that “MBA girls” are not good marriage material? Why every other MBA is turning into a candid photographer or a best-selling author? Apart from answering such quirky questions, Abhaidev has tried articulating what many MBA graduates have thought of but couldn’t. Worth read for those who have “been there, done that” and also for those who aspire to join the MBA brethren in the near future.

There are short stories, anecdotes, case studies and quirky tales… all weaved into the flow of the book. The author brings in stories and answers about planning, delegating, tactics, evaluation, GD’s, appraisals, mergers and other typical things that are part and parcel of an MBA’s cycle. I enjoyed the references to Indian idioms and phrases – very relatable.

I wonder why’s that it’s techies and managers who’ve left their IT and corporate jobs who publish so many books? What about those on the job? Do they feel the same way? Abhaidev is the pen name of Mayank Chandna, an MDI Gurgaon alumnus, who quit his boring investment banking career to venture into the ‘exciting’ world of writing, something he had always dreamt of as a child. Once working as a perfunctory 10 hour shift finance employee, he now loves his 24×7 job of being a writer and an entrepreneur.

Typos and the use of a sans serif font does slow down your reading a bit. But I must say, the author has successfully tried a new style of writing.

You can buy the book from:

Flipkart Link –   http://www.flipkart.com/maybe-that-37-things-didn-t-learn-b-schools-english/p/itmea6fgbnzytd6u?pid=9788193160206

Amazon Link – http://www.amazon.in/Maybe-This-That-things-B-Schools/dp/8193160207/

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Rating: 9.2/10 (5 votes cast)

The Wolf is Back

RotW final FINAL! smaller

Review of the Rise of the Wolf; Steven A. McKay 2015; pp 33

– Shana Susan Ninan

Balanced. That’s what the third book in the Forest Lord series is. Author Steven has masterly woven a blance between the youngblood, impulsive Robin Hood and the now more settle, fatherhood-absorbing Robin Hood. Giving prominence to Matilda, Robin’s wife, and Marjorie, his malnourished sister, this book takes on a different course than the previous two! The family life and the action sequences are well-balanced, too, in my view.

Steven has rightfully joined the league of historical fiction writers, who have given us famous classics with their twist. His reading and research is seen well in the narrative, one that never bores us. In fact, I read the Rise of the Wolf in three almost no-break sessions in one day. Especially considering the fact that I have a busy day job and a three-year-old to spend time with!

Sir Guy of Gisbourne is back with a vengeance, and this time Robin needs more hands to beat him. Who will be by his side? How does he outwit the forces against him? How will he ensure the safety of his family? He returns with a more vile intention – to ruin Robin and to regain Gisbourne’s name as the King’s bounty hunter.

Robin Hood is one of my favourite childhood heroes. It’s wonderful to read about him in a different context, years later! And I hear Steven may right another sequel to this… that is some good news.




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Rating: 10.0/10 (4 votes cast)

Finding Mr Right

Review of Or Forever Hold Your Peace; Donna Abraham; Authors UpFront 2014; Rs 150; pp 98

– Shana Susan Ninan

And you think that’s easy? The Mr right in your parents’ mind, the one you wish for, the one who finally lands on your lap… could all be different people. Luck, kismet, fate, whatever you call it, plays a big role in deciding who you partner with. And sometimes, more often than not, the journey to finding that Mr Right is tortuous – long-winded and patience-zapping.

Donna Abraham’s novella, Or Forever Hold Your Peace is a nice, light read that takes you through the life of a young Malayali girl in Delhi. Sundays began with mass at 7 in the morning. Mass would get over by 8 am and her dad would spend the next hour and a half reading the newspaper, which included circling suitable advertisements in the Catholic Section of the matrimonials. Weddings can be tricky business. They can be fun, emotional, exciting, frustrating, nerve-racking, downright stressful and very unpredictable…a bit like life itself.

Abraham’s lucid writing and short paragraphs are easy on the eye. I finished the book in one go – the story, too, keeps you wanting to know what happened, and how it happened. The only thing I thought would add more flavour was the presence of more dialogues. Long narrations at a stretch can be cumbersome to cross, at times.

The book cover and the title take you right to the centre of the plot. Weddings are great fun, lots of activities at home, rituals, home-cooked savouries and family get-togethers. The author keeps our spirits high all through the way. And being half a Malayali Christian and living in south India all my life, I can very well connect with the traditions and lifestyles mentioned in the book.

The links to buy the book are:






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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Loneliness Squared

Review of Songs of a Solitary Tree: Graphical Verses of Sublime Snippets; Arun M. Sivakrishna, Partridge Publishing India 2014; pp 104
– Shana Susan Ninan

As the anthology’s name suggests, most of the poems in this book seems to stem from a solitary person. Words such as ‘lonely’, ‘alone’, ‘loneliness’ and ‘solitary’ abound on the pages. Even when we are surrounded by friends and family, are at work with a team, we tend to feel lonely. It’s a state of mind that we often find ourselves in, for varied reasons.

Sivakrishna’s words are evocative and are intense with Imagism. Symbols and metaphors are plenty – one I liked was ‘haunting memories are birds with clipped wings’. The first paragraph of ‘Shaken Skies’ reads:

It was a grizzly sky indeed
So dull and drab
The Kind, that reminds you of a
Middle aged mistress, deeply in despair
Puffing up a ballooned put.

Each poem is an unfinished feeling, a life that the poet still lives at times. There are a few photos that go with some poems. Some of the entries read like a part of a journal. ‘An eventful Day, Sometime Back’ starts off with:

Had marathon client meetings,
Productive, some not so great and
Towards the end of the day a reluctant
Revisit to a very difficult customer.

The strength of the poems is paused when a longish sentence creeps in, leaving the reader almost holding her breath, pondering over the meaning of the poet’s words. But, the clichéd symbolisms and general neglect of punctuation mars the reading. Not to mention skipping over typos. Unlike prose, poetry should flow, seamlessly almost.

Poet Arun M. Sivakrishna is a management professional, a cricket and motor sports enthusiast, who’s also interested in photography and travel. Based in Mangalore, his poems tell of severance, pain and agony. And he has done it well.


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Rating: 7.5/10 (6 votes cast)

House on the River

Review of The God of Small Things; Arundhati Roy; Penguin Books 1997; Rs 450; pp 350

– Shana Susan Ninan

Arundhati Roy’s 1997 Booker Prize winning debut novel is wonderfully endearing and emotionally intense. She has succeeded in rousing the readers’ innermost sentiments, and keeping them riding high until the last line of the book. Her skill in crafting a colourful first page is just awesome – who could think of:

May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst… The wild overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry pf small lives. In the undergrowth a rat snake rubbed itself against a glistening stone. Hopeful yellow bullfrogs cruised the scummy pond for mates.

Rahel and Esthappen, a pair of two-egg twins, and their lives rule the plot. A post-colonial tension in the air, rise of the Communist party in central Kerala, workers’ rebellion and cracks in the feudal forts. Of course, Velutha steals the show. His otherwise impossible relationship with Ammu, the twins’ mother, is emphasised through small talks and nuanced narratives. It’s the small things that matter, and they make the bigger things relevant.

The God of Small Things offers a longish glimpse into the complex relationships between members of the Ipe family. Based on personal differences of opinions, Baby Kochamma even goes to the limit of her character by betraying her own family members. Uncle Chacko has a British wife and daughter, the two of whom have separated and visits him in his Ayemenem home after her second husband meets with an accident.

Roy has enlivened us by engaging all five sense with her careful choice of words and word pictures. Metaphors are rife, and there’s no dearth of alliterations. Themes of love, tragedy and betrayal find space in the story. Women characters are strong and come forward as assertive and often, extremely independent.  

The concepts of love and sexuality – almost on the same sides of a coin – are reiterated. Sex can be unifying as well as dividing. Societal norms, caste hierarchy and familial differences can often dictate who we bed with. Time is another important motif that recurs as the image of the moth.  

The author as captured almost all the facets of life in Ayemenem – weather, friendship, politics, post-colonialism, sibling rivalry, sexual abuse, class wars, marriage, fisher folk and feudal life.

Estha’s and Rahel’s separation and pain are healed when they unite, their souls finding peace amid the turmoil and noise around them. It’s as if the two were one person, all along.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Autism: Know It, Know Them

Review of Autism: A Handbook of Diagnosis and Treatment of ASD; Sumita Bose; V&S Publishers 2015; Rs 395; pp 158

– Shana Susan Ninan

That Autistic kids in India aren’t welcome in most mainstream schools is a given. It’s a proven fact. But how does one “handle” an autistic child/ teen? In my teaching years, I’ve come across autistic children and their parents, and most received complaint is that people around aren’t accommodative. That given a choice and resources, they’d leave this country and live abroad with their differently abled child. Is it because of lack of awareness regarding this disorder? Are the various communities in society reluctant to accept such children?

The author, Sumita Bose handholds us readers into this life by introducing us to a personal anecdote of how she came to do Child Psychology and ASD related courses in the US. Autism isn’t the end of the road for a child or its family. It is but a different life – one that needs patient care and love. She gives us profiles of doctors and early medical practitioners who’ve pioneered in this field, and how India officially accepted the widespread existence of this disorder, in 1991.

There’s a lot of pressure from schools and extended family, and the general public, on these kids and their parents. An empathetic way of dealing will go a long way here. This is a good guide for parents, teachers, friends and public who come into contact with autistic persons. Bose gives a narrative-like feeling when she deals with issues from conception/ birth to education to adulthood. The details of schools and institutions meant for autistic kids is useful, although I personally feel that there are lot many more NGO’s and individual agencies that help, especially in Kerala.

Another thing I found missing is how an autistic child’s family and friends deal with the sexuality and orientation of autistic children. They are major components of a children. More so since autistic children aren’t able to express themselves as well as others. A page or two about the sexual needs, routines and characteristics of autistic children would have made it a little more wholesome.

Bose has been a teacher for more than two decades, and authored Science, Mathematics and puzzle books for children. She’d a member of Autism Society of America and designated Autism Ambassador in Melbourne, Florida.

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Rating: 9.6/10 (5 votes cast)

Culture Curry of the East

Review of Raconteurs From The Hills; Talilula , Vishu Rita Krocha, Agnes Tepa, Emisen Jamir, Imti Longchar, Lhutu Keyho; Pen Thrill Publishing 2014; Rs 199; pp 122

– Aditi Vinayakan

It happens almost instantly. One moment you might be in your room, the next you get a whiff of what Nagamese culture is all about, both good and the bad through the six authors that made Raconteurs from the hills.

Out of the 13 thirteen stories, my personal favorite would be ‘A Porcine tale’ by Talilula, a satire that most definitely manages to keep you reading further. After reading ‘Diary of two dog meat fanatics’ your face might either have a smile or leave you frowning for the sheer quirkiness of it.

I’ve never been to Nagaland, but reading this work has made me want to travel solo all the way to the Far East to discover the truth behind these stories. After all, creation of fiction does require some amount of factual data that leads to its very birth that makes us want to live right in it.

The cover of the book has a certain calmness to it that reminds me of mountains and the peace that comes with being amongst it. It’s one of those books that you might just enjoy cuddling up with on a lazy Sunday. Bring in some rain and a cup of hot coffee, and you’re all set to be taken to a place that you would never want to come back from.

One of the best things about the book is the fact that it not only is suitable for pleasure reading but it actually makes you think about your society and the society that you’ve come to know and realise through the words of another.

All in all Raconteurs From The Hills is definitely a good read and worth every penny.


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Rating: 9.0/10 (6 votes cast)

365 Days of Wine

Review of The Connoisseurs; Michael O’Neill 2013; pp 192

– Shana Susan Ninan

Author Michael O’Neill has made sure that even those unacquainted with the wine world don’t feel left out, in reading his The Connoisseurs. It’s a refreshing novel about a year in the life of a wine shop in Plumbly Fold, the imaginary champagne capital of Great Britain. Corkscrews is a chain of wine shops across the area, and the one here seems to house odd but interesting people. The fact that all four employees are men is a curious fact.

The three main characters are at loggerheads with each other – so to speak – with a young boy thrown in between. Written in a diary format – complete with date, place and terse paragraphs – the story is told through the life of Jim, the newest employee of the shop. Alan is a psychotic, control-freak boss, and Laurie is the OCD maniac.

The plot is very relatable for those who’ve worked in shops, keeping tabs on customers, distinguishing between the genuine ones and the those just passing time. It runs smoothly from one day to the next, often leaving the reader anticipating the next day’s events. The language is well-articulated, though there are a couple of words/ phrases that the uninitiated in winery will have to look up the meaning of.

Interpersonal relationships at workplace are defined very early on in the book, and the author has done a very good job of rounding off the characters well. Their emotions and tugs are revealed from the first page onwards.

The spacing of the text and paragraphs are a little tedious for the eye. Especially for readers who’d like to read several pages at one go. I found the first few pages a little dry, too. Probably was the time for me to be initiated into the plot of the book. Breaking Banana Bread, The Great Champagne Disaster and the Apple Queen Election are all parts of the book I enjoyed. The narrative shows the in-depth knowledge of the writer in fields dealt with.

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Rating: 6.4/10 (5 votes cast)

Love and Litigation

Review of Just Dreams; L.J. Taylor; Waterview Publishing LLC 2014; pp 278

– Shana Susan Ninan

Seriously, the simple title of the book does nothing to tell us about the genre of the book. Taylor has weaved Romance and Thriller elements neatly, pulling the reader right into the middle of the action. As a civil trial attorney with a 20-year experience, her words just hold you tight to the plot. I read the book in two sittings on a weekend! It was just fab!

Sparks fly when attorney Kathy Brooks agrees to represent ex-marine and novelist Charles Morgan, Jr. in a high-profile suit against a powerful government defense contractor. But when Charles’ hidden agenda threatens to expose the government’s dirty little secrets, what started out as the case of a lifetime could cost Kathy her heart, her career and even her life. I felt bad as Charles kept leaving her out of his original plan, all along. But the strong bond they share keeps them glued to each other, in the courtroom and otherwise.

There’s blackmail, kidnapping, and murder. And some romance thrown in. all the characters have been planned and well-developed. That gives strength to the plot and the continuity of the story. Kathy the hard-assed lawyer keeps us on track with the case, which seems to be taking up a large part of their lives. They’ll need all their nerves to focus and win.

L.J. Taylor is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She began writing novels during National November Writing Month in 2007.

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Rating: 9.2/10 (6 votes cast)

10 Grand Examples of Corporate Strategy

Case Studies in Corporate Strategies; Prof. Dileep Saptarishi and Prof. Jairaj Kochavara; Pearson 2015; pp 155

– Shana Susan Ninan

What better way to teach corporate strategy than using case studies, timely and relevant. The above book delineates 10 Indian companies that began as small ventures and have grown into large corporations. The authors have brought out the best of the companies’ strategies on market segmentation, acquisitions, CSR, taxation, HR, Finance, etc. Each case study is holistic and thought-provoking, prodding us to think further on how to take an enterprise from ground level up.

One that I think I may personally use in my PR and Corporate Communications class is the example of Emami’s fairness cream for men. The very idea of men needing a fairness cream, the execution of the ad, and all the way up to the selling of the products. Other examples are from IT, Cut flower business, packaging Steel, R&D, FMCG, Food & Beverages, and others.

As much as this book is meant for teaching faculty, it is quite applicable for freshers in various industry. Some of the case studies are pertinent in the international arena, too.


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Rating: 6.7/10 (7 votes cast)