The Bankster

My grandfather believed that working in a bank is one of the best options for women who wish to make a career for themselves. But if he would have read ‘The Bankster’ by Ravi Subramanian, a whole new picture, a bit murkier and a less glossy world would have greeted him.

Set in Angola, Mumbai and Kerala, the story is a thriller which warps us in its web of whodunnit. With the backdrop of the Greater Boson Global Bank, we read about the daily musings of the bankers, interns, fresh recruits and others. But a series of murders which find their trail back to the bank takes the story forward. It is left on ex-banker turned press reporter Karan Punjabi to unearth the true motive behind the killings and give a face to the criminal.

The story has many layers, which grips the reader. The fast pace of the story can be credited to its readable style of writing. With many questions dangling in the air, it is not possible to keep the book down till one reaches the last page.

A Golden Quill Readers Award winner, Subramanian is an IIM Bangalore alumnus. His debut novel, If God was a Banker earned him the sobriquet of being the John Grisham of banking. With two decades of experience in the amazing and exciting world of Indian global banks, it is no surprise that he can craft a story with the proper functions that an employee of a global bank does.

The author deals with more than 1 protagonist and shows us their world. In a subtle way, the banking world shows the picture of the megacity that is Mumbai. How one has to manipulate to win and go up the corporate ladder to get name and fame and survive in this shining city. It delves into the relationship dynamics of a new generation couple and the office politics that greets one every day.

Politics, blood diamonds, a resort owner, the Chernobyl disaster and much more is what makes the book a page turner. ‘The Bankster’ is a story of financial crime which makes one think about the lives of the smartly dressed international bank person and makes us hear their muted chaos.

A simple weekend read, the book could have done better but nonetheless it works. As a first time reader of Subramanian, I wish to read his previous novels to know and adapt to his banking style of writing. Hopefully we will hear more from him and may I add, let the books keep on coming!!

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The truth

Engrossed in reading another hilarious account of a crackpot personality, she is startled by the message tone of her phone. The message is from a number not in her contacts. But she knows, even if she has a memory loss she will always know when it’s ‘him’.

Does he still pine for me? Should I reply back?

And then what will you get? Lies, abuses, betrayal? Do you really want this?

Slowly the giddy feeling ebbs out and she takes another look at the message. It reads, Did I send shivers down your spine?

She murmurs, You will never know.

Romantic rains

He hides his soul every time he meets her but the rains are not helping today. He is sure it is the sunglasses and not the borrowed purple umbrella which is earning him the stares.

She smiles at the glimpse of the purple umbrella. She thinks, this man is behind my heart.

Just then a strong wind sweeps the umbrella away and he cannot do much. As it flies away, he catches her staring. Can she touch his soul? Can she be the reason for this funny feeling in his stomach?

He removes the sunglasses to take a better look.

I was a cricket fan first and then a girl. Although when we, cousins played together – I got three chances to be called ‘out’ completely and still prefer that arrangement. Sachin Tendulkar is my hero. He is the sole reason for me to watch cricket, enjoy it and understand too.

When I was 7 years old, an India-Australia match was being telecast live. It was dinner time for my dad and he liked eating in front of the TV. It was a Saturday and since 3 in the afternoon, while my mom was watching Swabhimaan on DD, I wished the match would start soon. Now it was 9 at night and I was completing my Maths homework.

Green grass, our men in a light blue jersey, loose – a bit ill-fitted, a few of them had moustaches and there was Shane Warne. He was bowling to the man whom today we refer to as God. His greatness was recognized by the likes of Donald Bradman, another legend so I read. Despite the commentary something about the noise on the field made me stop scribbling the tables and watch. Or maybe it was my mother’s “I hope aisa ek six mare Sachin ke inki vaat lag jaye.” It was a tense over, followed by a cool Pepsi ad.

“Why are people crazy about cricket, Papa?” I asked.

“Just watch the game,” he said while eating some fruits.

So I did. Every time there was a boundary hit for four runs, I felt happy. Sachin’s quick two runs made my heart skip beats. And slowly I was able to identify that there were 11 players in total on one country’s team. India lost the game for a few runs, that day. But I was very proud to be able to talk cricket now. My favourite player had to be Sachin Tendulkar.

As I became a teenager, a few glances were cast over Ganguly as he and Sachin made some awesome opening batsmen entries. But only humble Sachin in all the wonderful ads especially the ‘Roz khaao ande’ took my heart away. I remember how he later partnered with Sehwag and went on to form new alliances.

Better still, his jubilance on taking 5 wickets in a match with Nayan Mongia as the wicket keeper is still etched in my memory. From his recent wins, the T20 match while bashing Shoaib Akhtar and finally, picking up the World Cup is fresh. But the Master Blaster doesn’t hold the charm he held once.

With the media and I feel it is, only the media, waiting for his 100th hundred in One-day cricket – every match India plays is reduced to just the man with the jersey no. 10. It is not about winning the matches anymore, but how Sachin is always so close yet so far. Yes, the crowd also awaits that ton. It will sway and celebrate the day he shall achieve it. But before that moment in history arrives, can it not be about the game, the other players and am sure much more too.

It will be unfair to blame Sachin, as he never proclaims to be great. Nor does he think he is God. But he is a senior player and the youth do deserve a chance to show their caliber. And as a fan I think he should retire. Will that guarantee more wins? Maybe, not. But cynics will stop blaming.

Today I know that noise in the live telecast was shouting of hope. Hope- riding on the shoulders of this curly-haired boy. A little less than a million, we weren’t so many then, saw the shine in him and wanted to partake a part in that.

But the more than a million today want him to retire gracefully. It’s about time he bid goodbye to the One-day matches atleast. Am no one to suggest, but just a fan. A fan who never put up any posters, does not remember his runs accurately or even the Series he won his best plays in. Yet am a fan, because I can’t watch cricket if Sachin is not playing. I do not seem to care where he is playing, but more on how.

When I call for his retirement, it is not because he doesn’t have it in him anymore. For an inspiration as him, cricket is so synonymous that if he fears fading away – he never will. Family generations have grown knowing him. Yes, a Yuvi and a Mahi came and stole our hearts too – but this is Sachin Tendulkar. Simply put, the Best.

It is irritating to hear that Sachin is not a match-winner and pull out the stats. We know his background story, his passion, his ambition and his smile. Yet what nobody tells us is why does he feel the need to still continue? Love for the game? But he is there as the captain for Mumbai Indians and in Test matches too. So he is stuck to the game, then why? What is it, Sachin?

Please do not make the God in you fade in the oblivion of records. Indian cricket needs you, and yet Indian cricket wants you to turn around now. It’s time!

Perfect, how she abhorred that word. “Come on, let’s leave or we will miss the Ladies Special,” Leela shouted from the next room. Aparna exactly followed her visualized scenario, locked the door and joined Leela. With muscles properly trained to not miss the over-packed 12 compartment Only Ladies train, they rushed. A proper seven minute walk to the platform was interspersed with cutting the crowd and overtaking the jay walkers.  The next couple of minutes passed with every glance at the indicator clock and a sprinkling look for mischief-makers who can jostle you. And angry stares do not frighten the fairer sex. The best moments are the last seven seconds as the train halts and the constant pushing helps to take that leap in the train.

Aparna relaxed herself and sat opposite Leela. “Lucky for me, got the seat at least,” she thought adjusting her dupatta.

(to be contd…)

Skeletons in the Closet

The minute hand of the small alarm clock had just perfectly coincided with the number 6. Thirty minutes to go and she could already visualize slinging her bag across the shoulder, eyeing her table to not leave behind anything and finally, switching off the lights. The loud clatter of the steel glass as Ghanshyam dropped it on the floor, apparently by mistake, jolted her vision back to the alarm clock. It was still 5.30 in the evening.

Inheriting the legacy of sleepy legs, she gets up to stretch her muscles a bit. The creepy, crawling invisible ants have always given her ticklish problems. Right from school days when the three-hour semester test bound her to the smooth wooden desk to the college exams. Particularly she remembers the Yoga lecture given by her nemesis – the Principal.

After hours of sitting in the Padmasana posture, she once limped back to the class. Her embarrassed eyes flitted right and left, avoiding direct contact. While her mind’s eye concentrated hard to dismiss the burning gaze of the Principal, watching her seated in his lotus position.

“Aparna, take a look at these paintings drawn by Minti. Aren’t they simply gorgeous?” Leela came and thrust the scribbled papers under her nose. Well they were not exactly scribbles. There was a family portrait with a huge area devoted to the television screen. Another painting was of the festival of lights – Diwali. With holidays nearby, this was a favourite topic with the drawing teachers.

Nodding her head Aparna murmured, “She is quite the artist! Her colouring inside the lines is precise.” Leela beamed with pride. She loved to share her 9-year old’s drawing prowess with Aparna. Her kind words served as an encouragement in the monochromatic life, she shared with her estranged husband.

Minti’s colouring shades always amused Aparna. Her orange t-shirt over yellow trousers figure, probably her dad, didn’t quite compliment her mother’s garish pink and purple sari. Yet more than those unconscious hues, Aparna amused herself with how much unlearning Minti will have to do. Today she praised her in-the-line drawing but tomorrow the world will ask for out-of-the box thinking. Her mismatch of colours so endearing on paper will be termed a horror of sorts in the fashion world. And at all such times, the only quote that suits is the one she oft-reads on the t-shirts of passer-bys. Written in the amalgamation of all colours, white on a background of vibrant blues, greens, yellows, reds and plain black it reads – I was Born Perfect, Education ruined Me.


(to be contd…)