Book Review: How I braved Anu aunty and co-founded a million dollar company!

How I braved Anu aunty and co-founded a million dollar company

How I braved Anu aunty and co-founded a million dollar company…Awesome book!

I have been reading a spate of books this past week, but, none as interesting and inspiring as Varun Agarwal’s semi-autobiographical book “How I braved Anu Aunty and co-founded a million dollar company”.

Now, the first thing that attracted me to the book was ofcourse, the title and its impressive (yet imposing) cover picture of Anu aunty with her huge red bindi. It helped even more that I knew of Varun Agarwal before I bought the book, as his Youtube video has more than a million views.

Varun warns us at the outset, that he isn’t a writer, but, he writes better than a lot of so-called authors out there. I believe that he defies categorization. Maybe because he was speaking from his heart, about things that happened in his life, about dreams that he is truly passionate about.

If you are a person who is merely taking life as it comes, unsure of whether to follow dreams or just earning a few thousand rupees to keep the society happy..this book is for you. This book is all about believing in your dreams, just doing the things that you love to do, and the courage to believe and follow your dreams till the very last ounce of faith.

This book will make you laugh for the tortures that he undergoes at the hands of Anu aunty, that is so believable, it makes an instant connect. You will be floored by the author’s passion to follow his dream (starting an e-commerce company, Alma Mater) born in a pub, in an inebriated state (“All great business ideas are born when you are drunk”).

A note of caution: Read this book cautiously as it will surely make you think twice about the monotonous 9 to 5 job that you pursue…who knows you might end up quitting your job, and living your legend.

This book defies ratings, as it is a must-read, for anyone who wants to follow their dreams and for others who wish for a breezy read with a hot cup of coffee on a lazy sunday afternoon.

Varun Agarwal, thank you…for making me believe. In myself.

(Originally published on goodreads.com)

I love you Dad . . . Always and Forever

I lay on the open terrace beside her. The divine smell of her long, luscious hair traversed the inches that separated my lips from her forehead. The wind stroked me tenderly with its ice cold fingers. The jet black sky was punctuated by the glow of million of stars. The moon beamed with all its glow, happiness personified.  With my outstretched arm, I cuddled her even closer into me. I was in love. Pure. Eternal. Love.

“God’s most amazing painting . . . the night sky. Isn’t it?” I asked her.

She grazed my neck with her tender lips, and ran her fingers across my chest.

“I thought you were his most amazing painting” she said with a smirk.

“Bad joke Maya” I retorted.

I turned my face towards her. A smile was playing on her lips. She looked up into my eyes with her blue eyes that were as beautiful and as deep like an ocean. I searched her eyes, eternally lost in its resplendence. She smiled reassuringly and placed her hand on my heart beating wildly and crazily for her.

I was in the most beautiful place in the universe. The moonlight danced across the whole world, the gentle breeze and the million of stars felt like magic floating in the air.

I closed my eyes. 

My dad was standing over me. I could feel his breath washing over me. He was smiling, grinning at me. I peered back at him, disbelievingly. 

“Dad?”

Father - A son's Hero

He smiled. “So happy for you son, that you married the woman of your dreams” he said.

“Like father, like son . . . dad” I replied, grinning.

He smiled back at me. “That’s my boy!”

My dad was my hero. Always was, always will be.

“I miss you dad. Why did you leave me?”

“I never did Vishnu . . . I never did. You can feel me, caressing you always.”

“But you are dead dad . . .you left me.”

“I never died Vishnu ma . . . I’m always alive. In you. Around you. Within you.”

Tears streamed down my face. I missed him like hell.

“Do you love me dad?”

“Always my little one. This moment . . . Every moment. Forever.”

He reassuringly brushed my hair with his hand.

The moonlight filtered through my closed eyelids into my mind. I felt at peace. 

I could feel him smiling down at me. I could feel his warmth, his love flowing through my body, assuring me that his love for me was true, always true.

I wanted to be in that moment forever, suspended in my own dreams, with just him for company.

Maya kissed me on my chest and wiped my tears off my face. She understood my silent communion with the one man I loved beyond the world.

“I love you Vishnu . . . ”

I clutched her fingers even tighter and kissed her gently on her forehead. “Maya  . . . I love you more with each passing day…each passing moment. I’m crazy about you.” The moment I finished speaking, I realized that my dad had told these exact words to my mom moments before his death.

Dad, you are right. You never left me.  

I smiled.

She smiled.

The night sky and the million of stars smiled back at me.

“When I die, where will I go? I will be here in the winds, in the night sky, in the million of stars, in the moments of happiness; and if you loved me, you will feel me around you, always. In your silent moments you will feel my presence. Wherever you are . . . your love will keep me alive…always. And you will find me in your very heart, in your every heartbeat.” he had said to me on his deathbed, his frail arm placed across my heart. 

I remembered.

I lay Maya’s hand on my heart, where I knew my father was. Resting in Love.

I love you dad . . . Always and Forever.

Bankerupt: Conversations with Ravi Subramanian

What if your wildest dream was meeting a person you truly adore? What if an early saturday morning turned out to be the best moment of your life? What if you get a book personally signed by an author you consider to be your role model? What if you actually meet the John Grisham of Banking? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. Me and a few lucky ones in Easy Library, Koramangala.

The moment I knew Ravi Subramanian would be at EasyLib for tete-a-tete, I was completely thrilled. The excitement, the tension was palpable. I sat up the entire night thinking of questions I should ask him when I meet him up close and personal. The thought of meeting him, like reading his best seller books, didn’t allow me to sleep at all. No media . . . No flashlights, no papparazzi, no glamour . . . just him. And us.

Ravi Subramanian | Bankerupt

For all those who don’t know Ravi Subramanian (is there any?), he is a banker by profession and has penned five popular thrillers on banking and bankers. He is the winner of multiple awards. All his books are based on financial crime. His thrillers include, If God was a Banker, Devil in Pinstripes, The Incredible Banker, The Bankster and the latest one Bankerupt. Additionally, he has written a non-fiction, I bought the Monk’s Ferrari.

Ravi was truly humble, down-to-earth and highly easy going. He was able to take constructive criticism from the audience, questions that might have thrown any author off guard. He was charming and cool all the while. He told us about his personal life, how much of a struggle it had been, the real life incidents that influenced his novels, the stinging remarks he received from critics, his two pence on writing a thriller and his inspiring talk to budding authors. As much as his books are a rollercoaster ride, the conversations we had with him were of similar vein.

On handling criticism

When his first book “If God was a banker” was released, he received a lot of negative, stinging remarks. Critics dismissed the book as a piece of crap, with feedback ranging from “He has written a book worser than Chetan Bhagat!” to “Don’t bank on it (the book).”

“It helped me grow as an author. Criticism, if taken constructively, will help a writer improve. My first book had loads of sex, no strong women protagonists, and every character was either black or white. I changed that completely from my second novel. Now, all my books have no sex (Sex DOESN’T sell, great storyline does), strong woman characters and people who are grey, neither completely black nor completely white. It helps. Embrace criticism.”

Inspirations for the Novels

“Everything from real life. Each and every one of the incidents that happen to the characters, the characters themselves . . . everything is real. My stories are all about simple, ordinary human beings . . . I draw from real life. There is no better canvas.”

Plots for the Novels

“I don’t have a fixed plot in mind when I begin writing. I don’t even know what the twist in the story will be! I just take it by chapter. At the end of each chapter, I would have four or five different ways of taking the story forward. I just make sure, I take the most shocking, controversial route in each of these choices!”

Style of Writing

“I write very short chapters. In Bankerupt, I have 77 chapters for 312-odd pages! Short chapters help keep the audience hooked. I don’t concentrate more on character development. The more I include chapters on protagonists grieving for the loss of a loved one, the more chances that I might lose the audience. My aim is not to develop characters like in a romance novel. I write thrillers…and thrillers must be page-turning and lightning quick. However, it’s a choice you make. It works for me. Identify your strengths and use it.”

Pages, Fonts and What Not

“Typically, a thriller should be 300-350 pages. And ya, around 270-280 words per page. Anything more, and you would lose the interest of the audience. Cover design is very important too. An average buyer spends around 7 seconds looking at the front cover, and 12 seconds reading the back cover. If you don’t attract the reader within those 19 seconds, you’ve lost a potential buyer. Once and for all.”

Tips for Young Authors

“Anyone can write a thriller; Just have a murder within the first five pages of the book, and a shocking twist in the climax! But, yes . . . to weave all real life stories together from multiple sources, different time frames, takes a lot of effort. Give the author also some credit!”

A parting note

I had a personal talk with him before I left. He had this to say.

“If you have a dream . . . follow it. Yes, you would be afraid of criticism, it is normal . . . but, don’t give up. Be brave. If you love writing, if that is what you truly want to do in your life . . . give it everything. I have a day job, and I come back home, tired, famished. But, I don’t stop writing. 9pm to 1am is my slot. My zone. I promise myself that whatever happens, I will write. Keep writing. Always. And one day you will be a great writer. Good luck Vishnu.”

Ravi Subramanian is my inspiration for his courage. He carved a niche for himself as a master of corporate thrillers. My world in the end wasn’t left bankerupt, infact it was filled to the brim with happiness, passion . . . and love.

Ravi Subramanian | Bankerupt