Book Review: Jasmine Builds on Shifting Sands by Sanjay Desai


Title: Jasmine Builds On Shifting Sands

Language: English
Author: Sanjay Desai
Genre: Personal Development & Self-Help; Contemporary fiction
Publisher:  ConsciousLeap Insights Private Limited
ISBN-10:  8194917204
ISBN-13: 978-8194917205
Binding: Paperback
Price: Rs. 238 (Buy from Amazon)
Pages: 160

My Review:

I lost my father a few days after receiving this book and almost did not read this book and would not have reviewed this. Unlike most self-help books, this one has a story, fictional, but inspirational. It is a two part narrative of intertwined and inter-weaved through the thoughts of the author's spiritual guru in the Himalayas. 

This book is a little slow to pick up. (Probably my state of mind also affected my ability to read it). Once the story begins (after a rather long prologue), it is quite endearing. The story of Jasmine is interspersed with QR codes and Links to some self help exercises and workshops that genuinely help put things in perspective. These are called micro-learnings by the author. While, I for one do not like to break my train of thoughts while reading, I followed the author's request to pause and do the exercise. I did like the first one at the end of Chapter 4, but skipped the rest as I prefer reading books without breaks.

I believe the author genuinely wants us to improve our lives and identify with our goals so that we can achieve what we set out to do.

The author's learnings from his guru make the story of Jasmine very interesting and endearing.

Jasmine the protagonist is like any other Indian. The story will surely resonate with each of us because of her dreams and yearnings which are so similar to yours and mine and every Indian who calls themselves middle-class.

Jasmine Builds On Shifting Sands, is a unique take on how to approach the ups and downs of our lives. It also talks about the need to change with our changing conditions and introspect on our actions that led us to where we stand today. The conversations are so simple and written in very easy to read language without jargons.

There are a few grammatical errors and also some content that could have been left out. The author comes across as a genuine person with his own self-doubts that he conquered with the help of his spiritual guru - Ma Krishnanangiri to whom he has dedicated this novel.

Overall this book is a good read, though could have cut a few things to make it much crisper. (The author does warn us that it is not necessary to read the prologue/epilogue, but I read it nevertheless due to force of habit). 

Positives: Very easy to read, a passionate narrative and an everyday story.

Negatives: The story could have been crisper.

Who will enjoy this? Those having second thoughts on their life path and choices.

Buy or Don’t Buy? Do buy. Do not be fooled by the category this book is placed in. It is a good novel with a self-help component, expertly weaved into it.  “When our actions are not out of no-mind state, the mind comes into the action, leaving its impression, which will include intent, as well as subconscious factors like doubt, fear, and whatever else” (You can buy from Amazon)


Integrated with hybrid multimedia learning tools, Jasmine Builds on Shifting Sands is a unique self-help fiction offering. Its captivating narrative ties two seemingly distinct tales in an intertwined journey that explores the manifestation of dreams. At the center of the book is Jasmine’s journey of making it as a successful model in the cut-throat world of fashion. Her tale of victory and failure is enveloped within the master narrative of Sanjay, an erudite knowledge-seeker who meets his spiritual guru- Ma. Set between the esoteric location of the Himalayas and the urban bustle of Mumbai, the book offers an enhanced learning experience which is further amplified through the embedded micro-learning content that is interspersed throughout the text, making for a truly immersive experience.

Book Review: Irrationally Passionate by Jason Kothari

Title: Irrationally Passionate: My Turnaround from Rebel to Entrepreneur

Language: English
Author: Jason Kothari
Genre: Personal Development & Self-Help; Biographies
Publisher: HarperCollins
ISBN-10: 9353572657
ISBN-13: 978-9353572655
Binding: Hardcover
Price: Rs. 509 (Buy from Amazon)
Pages: 268

Short Review:

I fell in love with the easy flow of the book. The narrative takes you on a dream of doing the best possible things you ever wanted to do. Jason Kothari's story should be a must-read for every aspiring entrepreneur who is struggling to make his dream come true. The book is extremely well written, the thought behind the man comes out with such clarity that every reader will instantly click with the story and dreams of Jason Kothari.

Irrationally Passionate - My Turnaround from Rebel to Entrepreneur, is an extremely likeable and honest take on what it is to be an entrepreneur and what it takes to speak about the struggles along the road. 

The Detailed Review:

I'll be honest with you. I did not know who Jason Kothari was until I read this book. I had heard about most of the startups (as would most of you), but this book took me backstage and into the mind of the Entrepreneur behind these startups. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur and have a dream to succeed in doing something innovative, this book will lead you on a path of bold entrepreneurial success.

For a young man, the book is written with exceptional clarity. Perhaps, that is the reason he's done so well as an entrepreneur. However, this book does not, like the typical self-help books, chant out mantras of success. Instead in Irrationally Passionate, Jason Kothari talks about his childhood lessons and experiences that played a major role in his path to success.

His struggles against school bullies and racism at college, the falling out with his friends, habits of a rebellious kind and wake up call when his parents called him out. All these stories tell us that most people have similar issues. The few who rise beyond these are the ones who stand out from the crowd of wannabes. The story of Jason Kothari should inspire many more entrepreneurs.

In the book, you will learn about the following:
- Discover what your true talents are and how to focus them
- Understand that meaningful work is a “gift.”
- Learn the difference between a career, a vocation, and a job.
- Find new job possibilities that never make it into the classifieds
- Negotiate job offers
- Turn your ideas into extra income
- Learn about alternative work models than doing a regular job.
- Find the work that you want to do and were meant to be doing
- Build up your educational assets.

Jason Kothari writes about how he learns to bargain at a very young age, right from a chessboard (he brought the rate of a 500 rupee chessboard to Rs. 30) to how he learnt arbitrage, trading and such stuff by organizing Pizza charity sales and comic book trades at school.

If there is one book you should read this month, please pick "Irrationally Passionate: My Turnaround from Rebel to Entrepreneur". Trust me, you will not be disappointed. If not anything, it will inspire you to look at things from a unique perspective of a rebel turned entrepreneur and how effective parenting and support can work wonders.

Positives: Very easy to read, a passionate narrative and an everyday story.

Negatives:  -

Who will enjoy this? Almost everyone, and especially those who have dreams and are looking for some inspiration to achieve those dreams.

Buy or Don’t Buy? A definite buy. With today's ups and downs and with recession looming, every one of us surely needs some inspiration. (You can buy from Amazon)

Book Blurb: While a college student at Wharton, Jason Kothari scraped together money from family and friends to save his childhood favourite comic book company, Valiant Entertainment, from bankruptcy and bring it back to life. A few years later, he transformed Valiant into the third-largest superhero entertainment company in the world after Marvel and DC Comics and sold it for $100 million.

Jason then became a professional turnaround leader and went on to transform distressed. Indian Internet icons, FreeCharge and Snapdeal, helping save billions of dollars in value, and advise giants like technology investor Softbank and real estate developer Emaar, who have invested billions of dollars in India.

Irrationally Passionate reveals the inside story of how a rebel, train-wreck kid transformed himself into a successful young entrepreneur and business leader who became one of the top ten paid executives in India while only in his 30s.

From getting his first job as an assistant to Jackie Chan in Hong Kong to learning strategy from champion Muay Thai fighters in Thailand to tackling huge personal setbacks to becoming a CEO in 60 seconds, among many other stories— Jason’s inspiring journey across countries, industries and companies has something for everyone, right from students to entrepreneurs to corporate CEOs to even parents of students and entrepreneurs.

Irrationally Passionate is a highly personal, authentic, open and complete account of a young entrepreneur’s life. Brimming with practical advice and philosophical insights, it will force readers to reflect on how they perceive life, work, family and spirituality by giving them a fresh perspective.

Welcome 2020 - My Goals for this Decade.

A new decade begins. Born in 79, it is also the beginning of a new decade for me. 40 - that number brings a fresh perspective, a period of rumination on what has been and what could have been.

To say I have no regrets would be a lie, but, the good has overshadowed any regrets I have at this point in my life. It is said we should plan for the long term and not worry about things that happen in the near future as long as the plan is in place.

So here is what I wish to achieve over the next decade -

1. Begin and complete my PhD. - This has been a long-standing aspiration for me. Things almost came to fruition in early 2019, but a combination of various factors didn't let it happen. Hopefully, this year would be kinder.

2. Save and Invest more than I spend - My savings and investments have been steadily increasing. This year, I want to at least save and invest 51% of my income. This is currently hovering at around 35%. Hopefully, by the end of the decade, I should have increased the saving percentage to 70% (i.e. more than 2X my expenses).

3. Spend more quality time with family - The elder daughter is inching towards her teens. Sure, it is another 5 years. But, I believe, these 5 years could define my relationship with her during the teenage years. The younger daughter needs to be weaned away from television and movies. Not that it has been an issue (we no longer have a cable/streaming service subscription and watch one or two movies over the weekend on television), but the past week in the holidays, she has been more and more into watching movies.

My parents will be needing more of my time. This is another thing I need to keep in mind.  Managing myself and time will be key to achieve this. Hopefully, I will procrastinate less and execute more.

4.  Build an alternate source of income - Something I have been able to do over the past decade is steadily building an alternate source of income. I hope to become less dependent on my salary and primary job over the next decade and make my alternate source of income more stable and steady. I aim to be financially independent and free by the end of 2029.

Saying No for No Apparent Reason

Is telling your child “No” wrong if you have no other reason to say it other than just wanting to say it? Here is a better way to look at it. Your child asks you if they can watch a movie and you say “No” only because you just feel like not letting them. Is saying No for no reason acceptable?
Is that good parenting? Do you need more of a reason to say No other than the fact you simply just feel like saying No?

How can this backfire? Does it matter how old your child is, or should you always have a good reason for your decisions? Is there really the ability to say no for no other reason than to say no?

Maybe one of the following things are happening:
- Are you saying no because you are angry at something and feel like taking it out on your child?
- Are you saying no because you are lazy and don’t want to put the time in?
- Are you saying no because you simply have said yes too many times and you fear the child may be taking advantage of you?

I have always wondered what other parents thought about this. I have my theories but want to hear yours first.

Are you ready to be a father?

Being a father is great thing. So great that nothing on earth is perhaps better than being a father and raising your kids to be contributing members of the world.

But being a father comes with a price. One has to sacrifice a lot to be a good father. It’s more than just emotions. It takes a lot of planning and compromise. It’s no way an easy job. It might be one of the hardest jobs ever, because if you go wrong, it will impact the life of your child, which is worse than any financial loss.

Here are some of the ways fatherhood can impact your life. So make sure you understand those factors and are ready to face the challenges associated with it.

Financial Impact

Fatherhood is not only about feelings and emotions. It’s a lot about money as well. Cost of raising a child is often more than cost of living of an adult. That’s mainly because adults can adjust to their environment and control their spending accordingly. But baby’s needs are constant. No matter how frugal you are, it is very hard to avoid the costs associated with baby’s milk, diapers, clothes, medicines, vaccinations, toys, and so on. Even before the baby is born there are costs associated with mother’s medical examinations and childbirth. Stepping in the land of fatherhood means substantial increase in your budget for years to come.

If you are planning to be a father, make sure you calculate how much it is going to cost you, and that you can afford it properly. Check your medical insurance plan to find out how much of pregnancy and childbirth is covered under it. Research on good hospitals in your area and see how much they charge. I would recommend checking kindergartens and schools in your area as well and find out their fees. This will give you a long term picture of how your financial situation will look like after the baby is born. You also might need to upgrade to a bigger place if your current home doesn’t have ample space to cater for the needs of an infant or a toddler.

Once you have done the analysis, check your income and make sure having a baby will not put a major dent in your bank account. Consider all factors such as expected raise or promotion, or economic conditions of your region. If you can do something to increase your income such as switching a job or investing in alternate revenue sources, make sure you have analyzed all the risks associated with those, because unexpected loss of job or income can be disastrous for your family. It’s a good idea to save a few months expenses for such emergencies.

Lifestyle Changes

As long as you don’t have kids you are pretty much your own boss. You don’t have to worry about the needs of children. A major change the a new father has to go through is change in lifestyle. After becoming a father things don’t stay the same anymore. You have to take care of the baby (and the mother). You have to make sure they have everything they need. You have to give time to your kids, make sure they are getting the love of their father, give advise when needed, be there with them on their important occasions, and perform the regular fatherly duties. You might have to cut down spending money for personal needs to be able to afford the needs of the child. In short, you are no longer a couple free to do anything. You have to adopt your lifestyle to cater the needs of your kids.

So if you are planning to be a father, be ready to make these changes in life. If you think you cannot change the way you live, then it is recommended to postpone the fatherhood. It doesn’t make sense to bring a baby in this world and not give her the attention she deserves.

Relationship Impact

A major factor that is involved in fatherhood is relationship with the wife. The relationship starts getting effected as soon as the baby is conceived. A pregnant women is an emotional bomb. She can explode on minor things which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. It is the husband’s job to understand the state his wife is in and cope up with it. This is the time when she needs your support and love the most. You have to be with her for visits to the doctor. You have to go with her to shop for baby’s items. You have to talk to her and plan the subtle details of parenthood. The phase after the baby is born is also very important for the relationship. This is the time when the mother is busy attending to the baby, and as a result she might not be able to give the same attention to the father. It’s the father’s job to be considerate and not keep any unreasonable to expectations from the mother. She is after all a person and has limited capacity.

These are only few ways fatherhood can change your life. There are many other elements that come into play. Everyone’s situation is unique. What you need to think is that whether or not you are ready to face all those challenges associated with fatherhood. It’s not an easy job and it should not be taken easily. Proper planning and thought needs to go into it. If you think you are not up for the job, then don’t take it.

All the best to future fathers. I hope you enjoy the experience.