Book Review: The New Kings of Crude By Luke Patey

New-Kings-of-Crude-—-CoverThe New Kings of Crude is based on the corporate battle of Chinese and Indian oil majors in making the most from the natural energy resources of South Sudan. It started in 1980 when three crews of geophysicist landed in Sudan for exploring the oil in 500000 square kilometer concession area of South Sudan. It was the most difficult task for Chevron Oil to discover the oil in the Sudd of south Sudan, where all mechanism of real world fails to exist. It just made the western oil major to invest more and more to kick start their first discovery. In the midst of all this, the civil war was engulfing southern part of Sudan. The oil majors were trying hard to look as a neutral party as they can. But, they failed in coping with the ever worsening conditions of South Sudan, which made way for their eventual exit from the region.

After the exit of Chevron Oil, some other western oil majors came in the region to capitalize on the efforts of Chevron Oil. However, they did stay in the region till the arrival of CNPC – Chinese National Petroleum Company and OVL – ONGC Videsh Limited.

The book New Kings of Crude provides clear perspective of corporate battle in CNPC and OVL in making the most from the politically unstable regions of Africa. It includes Nigeria, Libya and South Sudan. While providing all the important details and their resources, the author Luke Patey has successfully painted the portrait of concurrent challenges, which are being faced by Indian and Chinese oil majors.

The first few page talks about the intricacies of politically unstable situation of Sudan. This section comprises all the details that made the western oil majors to stay away from this most coveted resource of natural gas. The second section makes the reader familiar with the nature of CNPC and organization’s proximity with Politburo. In the third section, India comes with its pressing needs of oil and compulsions of finding it abroad despite working with Chinese oil major. Interestingly, CNPC and OVL did the opposite of Chevron Oil. The Chevron wanted to drill the oil and trying to establish pipeline to siphoning off the oil to its own refineries. It somewhere created problems in the first place.

Experience as an Avid Reader: Though, I claim to read non-fiction book in a speedy manner. But, this book took me a month to complete. The reasons were simple: the book carries an ocean of information regarding the oil war between India and China. Hence, it is difficult to go on reading without registering the facts and correlating them with the existing knowledge on this subject.

50 Words Verdict: It’s a good book to understand the ever complex relations of India and China. Interestingly, Oil is the most demanding commodity for these two nations. So this way, one can plumb China’s role in Sudanese oil industry and know about Atul Chandra – OVL efforts in sufficing Indian quest of Oil.

Interview: My Own Initiatives drives me to write new thrillers says Surendra Mohan Pathak

Surendra_Mohan_PathakQues: 1- First of all, I would like to pay my sincere thanks for write a novel in Hindi language? Please tell us what drives you to write thriller.
There is nothing new in my writing a thriller. I am a thriller writer since day one. My expertise in only in this genre of fiction writing. So my own initiative has to drive me to write a new thriller. Hence the COLABA CONSPIRACY.

Ques: 2- How do you see the future of Hindi literature when stories are based in urban locations and language goes bilingual?

I cannot comment upon Hindi ‘Literature’ as, unfortunately, my kind of writing is not recognised as literature. This is popularly termed as pulp fiction, although I don’t contribute to this erroneous label. The trend of language going bilingual has just set and I am of the opinion that if given proper attention by the related publishers, it can go far. To illustrate my point I will reiterate that if CC is translated and published in English, it will enjoy much better sales and readership in English as compared to Hindi which, after all thins said and done, is nothing but a regional language.

Ques: 3 – Will you please tell us about the changed response of Indian publishing industry towards Hindi literature and Hindi writers since 1959 when your first story published in Manohar Kahaniya?
The Indian publishing industry is prospering like anything but their response towards Hindi ‘Literature’ (!) leaves much to be desired. Compared to English writers, a Hindi writer is looked down upon by international names in publication. Even the local players in the field will always be on the look out for another Chetan Bhagat and they will not give it a distant thought to give the same attention to a Hindi writer. My every book’s first edition is from 40-45 thousands copies but it is not an event because I write in Hindi. A guy writing in English will be declared a bestseller and the event will be celebrated with great fanfare if his book sells 5000 copies. Even media will cover the event with much enthusiasm. But a Hindi book selling 50000 copies is not worthy of there attention. English is treated as a housewife entitled to all niceties, Hindi as a harlot to be looked down upon by all the high-nosed englishwallahs.
Ques: 4 – Did you ever get the chance to write for films in your long experience of last five decades as a thriller writer?
I never got an offer to write directly for the films but got many offers to get many of my novels to be adopted for films and for tele-serials. Nothing worked as I was required to move to Mumbai which I never will. Secondly I am doing very well in my own trade of books in Delhi, so I am not very particular at my age (74+) to have a Mumbai stint.

Ques: 5 – Do you think that a Hindi writer can earn his or her living by devoting time to write literature? Please tell us about the money making part for writers in this industry.
This is a very vague, very general question but I will try to reply. Firstly I cannot imagine Hindi writer writing in English. If there is one such fellow who is capable of this feat he will definitely forego writing in Hindi. Why be a ‘koopmandoop’ when there is a whole world to conquer. There are Indian writers who write in English but there is hardly any who writes in his native language too. He only waits to get his work translated in English and there are not many who get this opportunity and gain fame and acclaim more than what they enjoy in their native language i.e. if they enjoy the honour of being best sellers in their native language. Secondly a writer in India cannot earn his living, run his family, by writing alone. He has to pursue some other profession (the way I did by working for Indian Telephone Industries for 34 years) to make a decent living for himself and his family. There are a few exceptions in India like Chetan Bhagat, Amish Tripathi, Wikram Seth etc. who have minted money but they too can not match the earning of J.K. Rowling (richer than the queen of England), John Grisham, Sydney Sheldon etc.

Ques: 6 – How did you define the success of a writer in any part of the world?
There is only one measure of the success of a writer who writes for money (‘No one but a blockhead ever wrote except for money’ – Samuel Johnson): His print order. Number of editions that each book ran into. Huge royalties. If your writings make you wealthy, you are successful otherwise you are ‘also ran’, sometimes only ‘has been’.

Ques: 7 – What is your next project post Colaba Conspiracy?

Next book by me after CC is entitled JO LARE DEEN KE HAIT and will also be published by M/s Harper Collins in due course.

Ques: 8 – Will you please give your valuable suggestions to young Hindi writers, who dream of becoming The Surendra Mohan Pathak or The Shri Lal Shukla of Hindi Literature?

If a person has printer’s ink in his veins, nobody on the God’s green earth can stop him from writing. He will write without giving it a thought whether it will be published or not. But if a guy wants to pick up writing as a profession, that too as a lucratively paying profession, I have only one word of advice for him: DON’T


Book Review: What Young India Wants By Chetan Bhagat

Chetan Bhagat BooksWhile reading Chetan Bhagat’s first non-fiction book What Young India Wants, I came across the positive and constructive thoughts on resolving ever troubling problems of India as a nation. This nicely packaged book comprises CBs articles on multiple issues ranging from education, poverty, corruption, politics and student suicide. But, the book as a whole gives a whole new perspective to the readers for all these problems. I could figure out the reason why CB took ten pages to share his journey with readers. Chetan must have done so to say his reader, “Chill my friends I am like you. So it’s all okay if you have not scored three more percentage to get to the prestigious college of the country. There are more other things to do than following ‘Me Too’ attitude when it comes to education and career.” And, his sincere appeal resonates well from his articles.

The book is divided in three sections: our society, politics and youth. In the end, there are two short stories and author’s note on the great Indian dream. So, if you can read up all the articles one by one then two short stories works like a dessert. And the book ends with a personal note of author to his readers. It has articles over education, women-empowerment, political accountability, Indian – American comparison, FDI in retail and Anna Hazare. Chetan has managed to keep his point pragmatic and approachable in all these articles. The good thing is this that all the articles are in conversational tone and stands far away from intellectual cries. They end up asking questions from the readers. In my opinion, it will be good if one write ones opinion after reading each article.

The language of the book is ultra simple. I wonder if Chetan can write sincere and thought provoking articles in such a simple English then why regular newspapers carry those not easily understandable opinions. But that is another case. The language of all the articles is simple and the readers with basic knowledge of English language can comprehend them. Including this, the author has asked its readers to read and share their opinions.

 Why I love the book: I add this paragraph in my reviews when I sincerely like any book. And, I truly loved the way author has talked about all the difficult issues of India. The first thing I found that author didn’t make his argument on popular clichés like netas are culprits – hang them all. On the contrary, he has asked all his readers to make their little bits to change the nation. His approach is quite pragmatic. And, there is a Chetan Bhagat’s speech titled as Sparks…this is one plus of this book. I mean it is so much good that I would love to share with the readers of my blog. But I think there will be some copyrighting rules that prohibit such sharing. Still, I will try to ask the author for the same.

50 Words Verdict: What Young India Wants is a must read for young readers. It talks about all the major issues of India – as a nation. It asks question and make you figure out the solutions of all the major problems on your own instead of using the favorite puncing bags – our politicians.

Book Review: The Zahir By Paulo Coelho

The Zahir paulo coelho bookReading Paulo Coelho has always fascinated me as it includes the references of old forgotten traditions, spiritual love stories and a certain mention of authors pilgrimage road to Santiago. This book is a tale of love and obsession that leads the protagonist in redeeming the meaning of love, life and conversation. At one fine morning, the author discovers the fact that his wife Esther – a war correspondent has gone disappeared without any visible massage. Though, the author learns rapidly that her wife has left the home with her passport.

Esther – the journalist provokes his wanna be author husband to write the book that he always wanted to write. On such provocation, the protagonist reluctantly sits on the typewriter but somehow begins to form one sentence then one paragraph and finally a book. And, at one day, Esther sends the 10th draft of Author’s first book to her publisher friend, which eventually turned out to be a bestseller. It brought the festivity and celebrity status in the life of the author. Soon, the author become a slave of his celebrity status and developed the left no room for conversation with Esther. It eventually made Esther to leave her desperate marital life. On her journey to find the true love that spreads across the human race, she met with a Mongolian guy named Mikhail. Mikhail – follower of Tengri tradition and native of Kazakhstan helped Esther in crossing the borders in central Asia for journalistic project. However, the bond between Mikhail and Esther grows, which helped her finding the true free flowing love.The Zahir Quote

On being left by his wife, the protagonist feels obsession of searching his wife in every lady he comes across. And, it made him to meet the Mongolian guy Mikhail. This guy takes the author onto a special journey of forgetting his personal history for redeeming the power of love.

Including multiple themes of spirituality, the famous Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has mainly talked about the mental slavery in following the worldly rules. The author has asked the readers to give importance to the conversation. For example, when we get friend with someone, we share our thoughts, crack jokes, tease each other and conversation goes on even in marooned streets. But in our cyber age, the human touch has lost. We can’t even list out our Facebook friends. Moreover, if asked we might not be able to come up with the second names of people we interact most. So, the author Paulo Coelho has asked people to make time for conversation.

My Experience as a Reader Paulo Coelho: I see older people talking about the influential writers Firaq, Faiz, Galib and Sahir Ludhiyanvi(Indian poets and revolutionary writers), who changed their lives. At such moments, I used to think of one writer, who belongs to our generation. Now, there is one, who questions the ultra-digital lifestyles of his reader with much of reason. When I will grow old, I will say that I have grown up reading Paulo Coelho. So, as the author says that when one human changes, it changes the whole human race. Still, I found an odd mention of the ancient silk route. The author has  mentioned that Buddhism has travelled from China to India through silk route. But, I found it odd because Buddhism’s origination is in India and it travelled to China when India was taken over muslim invader Bakhtiyaar Khilzi. Though, Rahul Sankrityayan brings the Buddhist literature to India in early age.

50 Words Verdict: If you are losing relationships, going away from your dreams and manipulating your own dreams then it is better for you that you read The Zahir. It is a tale of freeing from celebrity obsession, exploring newer horizons and redeeming the love that is flowing freeing around all of us.

Book Review: Our Moon Has Blood Clots by Rahul Pandita



Our moon has blood clots is an endless journey of kashmiri brahmins, who ones belonged to the river Jhelum and are trying hard to keep the Kashmiri alive in them. They don’t get home at the end of day because their home is in Kashmir. And, one such Kashmiri Brahmin Rahul Pandita has dared to share his experiences of the exodus of the Kashmiri Brahmins.

Kashmir has largely been the subject of scenic beauty and terrorism instead of tourism. Newspapers have given less space to the struggle of Kashmiri Brahmins so did the primetime debates. The available works on this subject has either spread the propaganda or misled the readers. But, this book tells about the glorious history, lifestyle, painful nights and fearful days the Kashmir Pandits.

It begins with the mention of tradition, history and the childhood of the author. Later on, it talks about the cricket matches where Kashmiri public goes in a clear divide in Hindustani and Pakistani cricket fans. The hooting for Wasim Akram’s fast bowling valued down the sixes of Sunil Gawaskar. It shares the nationalistic feeling of a kid, who storms out from the hideout to confront his anti-national milkman. In his memoir, the author has talked about the Hindu Muslim harmony of Kashmir, which prevailed for centuries despite external interferences. But in 1990 something burned the bridge. In a far town Islamabad, Benjeer Bhutto delivered her frightening speech that goes as har gaon se ek hi awaaj buland hogi..azadi..azadi..azadi har ek school se ek hi awaaj buland hogi..azadi..azad..azadi. This speech took a giant leap and armed gazis begin pouring in Kashmir. It ended up in public massacres and large scale displacement of Brahmins in the valley.

The government rehabilitation centers ran out of order and kids grew up with scars in their hearts. Till date, the issue of exodus is as real as it was twenty four years back. The governments either right wing or the left have offered rehabilitation to Kashmiri Pandits but could not assure the safety of their honour and integrity.

If I would have to say about the language of the book in one line then I will say that Our Moon Has Blood Clots is a poem. It’s a poem of distress, unrest and sustenance. The author, who experienced the exodus as a kid is now the associate editor in The Hindu. I can’t ever get over few lines of the book like Vickey ko bhar lo Dickey me Apna Kaam Karega. I have one more, sabse khatarnak hota hai murda shanty se bhar jana,na hona tadap sab kuch sahan kar jana, ghar se nikalna kaam par aur kaam se lautkar ghar aana, sabse khatarnak hota hai humare sapnon ka mar jana.

Experience as an Avid Reader: I fall in love with the book because it’s like listening the story of a tragic event from your elder brother. I find his writing close to realism, where most of senior journalists lack. He doesn’t preach and put the facts clearly. It’s not just about this book. At times, I felt like weeping, enraging and reconciling what stands ahead everything. This book clears the confusion of falling in sides because there is none. During the refuge in Jammu, the author comes in contact of RSS people. They asked him to unite against a certain community for vengeance. But then the writer made a different choice and now is an acclaimed author, writer and columnist.

50 Words Verdict: For people, who want to read the true history of exodus, it is a must read. The author has shared his memories of troubled childhood, sense of patriotism and real example of making right choice that makes you the person who you want to be.

Book Review: Shoes of the Dead by Neelima Kota

Book Review of Shoes Of the Dead

Farmers are the back bone of our sophisticated urbanized society. They work hard from dawn to mid night to let us live with Comfort, have clean cloths, and proud us on our earnings. And, in return urban India looks at rural India with much of irritation and hatred feelings. In between, the policy stands for earning maximum votes for the policy makers and while leaving many stones unturned.

This is what “Shoes of the Dead’ tells us in a simple, relatable, and fluid style of fiction. The composition of the facts with excellent storyline makes it an interesting fiction based on Indian politics. There is media, especially the brighter side of, an agile politician, his plans of bequeathing his political stature to his own son and so to his grandsons. Further, there is a party called Democratic Party, which makes no controversies at all. So, the book gets an easy way to reach in the hands of potential readers. It throws light on social development schemes of our governments, no matter who head them. It also provides a short preview of rural banking system and operation of credit schemes.

Kayur, the young politician is gearing up for a long battle to regain the faith of his constituents. Vaibhah Kashinath is trying his wisdom to create a political pitch for his own son. Then, there is an established businessman, his beautiful scholar wife, and a rebellious yet ethical journalist. The story swiftly moves from one point to other by keeping the reader enlightened with the facts and real like accounts. Each passing page fills more the reader with more excitement and curiosity to know the end of socio-political war.

Senior Journalist Neelima Kota has brilliantly portrayed the mental & psychological differences between rural & urban India. It took time, hard work, and creativity to convert a scholar’s research into a fictional story but the author has done it sensibly.

Experience as an Avid Reader: It was a gift for me to read such an eye opening fictional account, which was purely based on research and analysis. One can easily get to know the real assessment report of universally touted government schemes. Some facts are really attention seeking. For example, Sixty three percent of our farmers own less one hectare of land. Another statement, the rural government medical schemes go defunct so that private medical units can earn money and support the leading political figures. There is one other statement, which caught my attention. It was about rural bank branches, which face tough competition from local moneylenders. In short, I loved the book for its manner of putting hard core facts and research in form of a novel.

50 Word Verdict: “Shoes of the Dead” is one among the rare stories that reveal the real pictures of our rural backyard. It gives you the data and understanding of how policies came in existence and why they fail to work”.

Book Name: Shoes of the Dead

Author: Neelima Kota

Page: 288                      

Publisher: Rupa Publication

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!