Monday, December 21, 2009

Books books books

The Smile of Murugan: Michael Wood

It might look like a nice bollywood flick movie after "Quick Gun Murugan", but it is more mock bollywood or tollywood. Michael Wood, a journalist for BBC usually makes documentaries for BBC. His visit to South India, has been a great voyage. He has written this experiences and situations he faced, his trip to different places like Rameshwaram, Tiruchendur, Cape Comorin, Suchidram, Courtallam, Srivilliputtur, Tiruparankundram, Madurai, Palani, Kumbakonam, Tanjore, Suryanarcoil, Thirunallaru, Chidambaram, Thiruchandur and last but not the least Chennai, then Madras. He did mock the Tamil cinema a little with his neutral views, it is hilarious.

The humorous incidents that happened on the way, the video bus and many other such instances made me laugh my guts out. It was totally entertaining book, though the description and story telling is slow. I just love the way he describes a situation. He was at Thiruchandur and in front of lord Murugan, son of lord Shiva. There was a aarthi taking place and old guy and his grandson seated near him. The old guy burst into tears looking at the aarthi. He was so impressed by the smile of the Murugan statue that he named the book after it. Documentaries are always slow but it depends on who it is described, in which Wood has taken it into an different orbit.

Having been to these places and seen things, now hearing it from a different prospective from a guy who is totally tangent to these places feels really great. I never saw so many things which are really humorous and now I really feel I should visit all these places again.

Go Kiss The World: Subroto Bagchi

I got this book in the airport for dirt price of just 120 bucks, the actually cost was about 400. I did not realize the hidden part which I would go on to find out some days later. The author of the book is Subroto Bagchi, I never knew him. I found out that, he was one of the hands with Azim Premji in building the now Wipro. The story has been divided into three stages.

His dying mom has inspired this story I would say. He comes to India to see his ailing mom. The last words his mother spoke to him were "Go kiss the world". Lot of anecdotes. Bagchi attributes the fighting ways he developed to take on the world to his parents. He explains his life starting his childhood and then the way he struggled as a youngster in this demanding job world. Lot of job changes before he finally the come into the Wipro cloud and not the least his own company "MindTree Ltd". For a fantastic review on this book, please read the below link. The catch of 120 bucks was that, there were 25 pages missing. :( :(
Personally I did not like this book very much, though I like the way he has come up from struggling situations. Read on your own risk.

The Man Who Knew Infinity: The life of the genius Ramanujam

Genius people are a different breed they say. Truly, after reading this book, I feel they are born with extraordinary talents that no one can inherit otherwise. I was really taken aback by the amount of research the author, (not an Indian) has put into in writing such an extraordinary book. The amount of data he has collected is exemplary . I really liked the way, he has separated the book into parts.

He explains Ramanujam's first days at school and the way he tried so hard to clear subjects at college. His childhood friends and all his college friends eclipse every now and then in the back ground of the story. The author Robert Kanigel must be credited by the way he has built the story line in his words. Throws light into the incredible genius who has been completely lost now a days. The notebooks Ramanujam maintained wherein he noted down all his formulas and statements was the invaluable basket of totally different dimension in mathematics which only he could have done.

In those days, they used to communicate using letters. The letters form the story line. After initial struggle to get recognition for his notebooks, Ramanujam wrote and wrote to all well know Mathematicians of England. Nobody could understand his mathematics ways. Finally Hardy, the mathematician from Trinity replied him. Asking him for proofs for all his formulas. This started what one could say the deciphering of one of the greatest mathematician of 19th century, if not the best.

Letter after letter the formulaes poured in; some Hardy could easily identify, some he had no idea. Finally he would call Ramanujam to England, for which Ramanujam being a very religious person would accept after great thinking. Going to England is what changed Ramanujam's world altogether and eventually brought about his death after he was back to India.

Being a brahmin he was very religious and did not eat any meat and non-vegetarian food. It was very difficult for him to live and eat there. World war I playing a major role in food deprivation in England which made him fall ill and be in hospital for more than a year. It was very difficult time for him as he was not used to the cold of England. He did publish lot of papers along with Hardy helped him decipher his note books and make meaning out of the jargons in it. The book has so many formulas and also explains some of it. It is a must read for those who want to be mathematicians.

The latter part of the book is very touching especially when he gets his fellowship at Trinity. For an Indian and especially for a guy from Tamil nadu, I have lot of pride in the fact that a person from near my home town could do such a thing. Great mathematicians are not made, they are born......
This is one of the best books I have read so far.

1 comment:

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