THE MARTIAN – ANDY WEIR REVIEW

We finally have a book which can rival dark matter, finally!!! The Martian is a book from beyond the boundaries of the earth(actually, it is based on Mars). It is a book full of tragedy, irony, comedy and just pure awesomeness. Every serious moment is atoned for by relief through comedy, the story is perfectly set and the factual details are correct to the core. This story almost feels like a real Martian adventure. The thing that is brilliant about this book is not the story, but how the author has connected it with real-life events in every small thing: hatred of disco music, a desire for coffee, human instinct to crack jokes and cry, tendencies to eat full meals and much more, the Martian truly is a mix of all the different, inspiring elements a book can have, a must read for space enthusiasts. The realistic-ness of the atmosphere generated by the author sucks the reader into the story, it absorbs you and it captivates you. What makes this book more amazing is the fact that the author has the technical details down to the wire, such as the chemistry involved in separating hydrazine molecules and creating water or the radiation given off by a plutonium cell.

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The Palliwal Brahmins

Another story from India’s rural ghost graveyard, the Paliwal Brahmins, residing in the village of Kuldhara was a prosperous society 18 kilometres from the city of Jaisalmer, although they lived in the middle of the Thar, they had adequate water and food supplies for sustaining a decent standard of living and maintaining good working conditions. However, the village was abandoned overnight, the reason remains unknown to date. Theorists and locals have come up varying stories and accounts, each of which contradicts the other. The scariest, intriguing and perhaps attractive aspect of this story is that the village is now associated with fiendish spirits and the paranormal. There are tales of hidden treasure in abandoned tunnels below the village, none who have wandered down into those tunnels have ever returned.

The village of Kuldhara was taken under its wing by the government of Rajasthan in 2010, since then, it has escalated as a tourist destination. All stories about the brahmins are different, but one thing is the same, the villagers used secret tunnels to abandon the villages and they cursed the village, restricting anyone to ever prosper in it. Since 2000, many people have tried to reside in the village but then have fallen prey to gruesome events. The first account, popular amongst locals relates to a harsh ruler or samrath. Salim Singh, the samrath of Jaisalmer, a harsh and wanton ruler wanted the daughter of the village chief. Kuldhara village decided not to give him the chief’s daughter. In response, the samrath levied harsh taxes and laws on the village, forcing the villagers to live at a lower standard of living. Then, he sent two guards to the village, they asked the villagers to hand over their daughter and the villagers told the guards that they will do so in the morning. Then, locals claim that the entire population of the village abandoned Kuldhara during the night using secret tunnels below the village surface. Locals also say that the Paliwals had vast quantities of gold coins, but they weighed a lot so the villagers hid them in the secret tunnels, inspiring many people to search for them decades later, people who never returned.

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However, the more urban and rational part of the Indian society thinks that the village was abandoned due to earthquakes. This might be true and would be in my favour too, my recent trip to the abandoned village was enough to convince me of the earthquake theory, despite the number of complete and habitable buildings, most had clusters of rock at their bases and missing columns and roofs. Geologists also confirmed that the approximated date of the village being abandoned was in accordance with seismologic activity around the area. An earthquake would’ve destroyed crucial infrastructure such as water canals and irrigation channels, hampering their trade, leading them to abandon the village.

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The abandoned village of Kuldhara has a strong link with the paranormal too. People who have gone there during nighttime see moving shadows, hear children wailing and often see eyes glaring at them out of the darkness. In response to these rumours, spurred on by locals, the government decided to send and commission the Indian Paranormal society in order to check out the village. The society confirmed that there was a presence of the supernatural in the village. One society member denied any claims that the village was haunted by ghosts, he died a month later. At the end of their trip, the society was flying a drone during nighttime in order to take photos of the village, when the drone entered the airspace above the village, it crashed due to unknown reasons. Locals say that the spirits in the village didn’t want the drone to take photographs.

However, it is possible that these are just rumours that have been spurred on by the locals and the government in order to attract more tourists and earn more money.

EXAMS, GCI & BOOKS

Woohoo! The examinations are finally over! These examinations involved more time, more subjects and more work than any before them. Firstly, I have no idea about how much I’ll score, which is obvious given that its the first time I’ve given exams for the IGCSE curriculum with 10 subjects. As of now, I’m happy just because of the exams getting over, i get an opportunity to fruitfully waste time, knowing that it will have no pessimistic consequences, unless i allow that carefree-ness to seep into my daily routine.

Good News! Google Code-In starts on November 28th. Unfortunately, I’ve decided to give myself a break for 5 days and then go ahead with full stack development and algorithm design. Surprisingly, i did some research regarding the prestigious competition and it doesn’t involve that any programming skills, instead, you have to showcase your abilities as an all rounder, you have to research, develop, program and along with that, go through thousands of lines of code and try to find errors, design posters, contribute to the brand image and do group projects.

Now that the exams are over, i can finally switch back over to reading books. Currently, i’m on the black hole war by Leonard Susskind, its a thrilling read, especially after going through a semester of IGCSE chemistry and physics. Although the book is altogether awesome, it escalates onto the bestseller list as it seemingly evaporates that line between ‘normal’books and oh-god-confusing-physics-books. It also provides accurate and awesome explanations of concepts such as quantum tunneling, stretched horizons and space-time.

MOSSAD – MICHAEL BAR ZOHAR REVIEW

In the Middle East, there is a Zionist nation with a supreme intelligence force which rivals the likes of the CIA and INTERPOL, this intelligence agency is known as the MOSSAD, and it belongs to the formidable power of Israel. Israel, in recent years, has emerged as the dominant force in the battle for peace in the middle east, sound ironic, right? With ramsads such as Meri Dagan and Little Isser, the MOSSAD has carried out thousands of successful operations from rescuing Jews from the clutches of the Ethiopian government to delaying Iran’s nuclear project. Created in 1948, the MOSSAD succeeded the Haganah, which was the Israeli secret service till 1947. With enemies like Syria, Iran and Egypt, the MOSSAD has operated with extreme precision and success. Agencies around the world rely on the MOSSAD to eliminate threats, assassinate terrorists, gathering secret information, delay nuclear projects and forge relations with other countries. This book is one of the best ever reads for nonfiction, it embodies the traits and values o countless MOSSAD operatives and ramsads. The MOSSAD is perhaps the most active intelligence agency around the world, performing and executing more actions than the CIA itself.

THE CHECKLIST MANIFESTO – Atul Gawande


Brilliance at work! Never before had I thought that a basic thing such as checklists could improve and define our life and job in a new way, in fact, the overpowering data and statistics thrown into the book provide the innovative ideas of the author with a powerful spine. In fact, it is astonishing how even trained professionals, like doctors and pilots, forget routine procedures which sometimes eventually lead to emergencies and complications. In fact, the author clearly and effectively links the expertise of professionals with a reader and that relation, in the end, is much more important than the general idea, innovation, preventive measures and statistics. In all, this book is a must-read for people who forget a lot, and for trained professionals. Who knows? What if we see checklists for almost every job or endeavour on the planet. Checklists have already become an integral part of our lives, we see them every day: installing applications on a Macintosh, solving math problems using formulae, recipes for delicacies, having a sports team practice and flow of debate in competitions.


 

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS(GOT # 5.2) – GEORGE RR MARTIN REVIEW

An epic series comes to an epic end, at least for now until the winds of winter is published. As always, George RR Martin leaves the story in suspense, with Daenerys and Drogon facing Khal Pono’s khalasar, Theon Greyjoy about to die and Jon snow in a state of feeling only the icy cold but not the pain inflicted upon being stabbed four times. The seven kingdoms are ripe for conquest, but to go to the light you must pass beneath the shadow. The stage is set for yet another drastic war, this time with Daenerys in it. Will Cersei’s prophecy come true? what does the future hold? and yeah, winter is here!

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS(GOT # 5.1) – GEORGE RR MARTIN REVIEW

Another brilliant book and the war for Westeros and Meereen continues. Daenerys and her dragons grow ever larger and her situation becomes more complex. To defeat the Yunkai army, she will need to marshal all her forces and put the lives of her soldiers at risk. The Yunkish have more soldiers at their command, with legions from New Ghis, unsullied from Astapor, a fleet from Volantis and Mantarys and four sellsword companies. Tyrion the Imp, falsely accused of killing his nephew, is in search of the last female dragon as well. Cersei Lannister remains powerless behind the bars of her cell in the great Sept of Baelor, master Qyburn is ready to hatch an abomination in order to save Cersei. Jaime Lannister continues his journey across the Riverlands in order to restore peace to King Tomnen’s realm. The seven kingdoms are in disarray, only a false Arya Stark binds the north together, an intense rivalry is forming between the Lannisters of the Rock and the Tyrells of Highgarden and Dorne only years for the return of a Targaryen.

A FEAST FOR CROWS(GOT#4) – GEORGE RR MARTIN REVIEW


The war has run itself out but the Lannister claim to the iron throne is still insecure. House Martell want revenge for their dead. The north is divided with the Boltons in control. The war has cost Westeros time to refill their supplies for winter, the land is barren and the only food available is from the previous harvest or from across the narrow sea. The Vale of Arryn and Dorne remain untouched but scarred. Across the narrow sea, Daenerys’s empire and dragons grow ever larger. Westeros is bracing for an inevitable war. Cersei Lannister is making enemies out of friends and friends out of enemies. Without the power of Highgarden and Dorne, the Iron throne will fall and Cersei with it. The seven kingdoms will never be more ripe for conquest, they will never be more ripe for “fire and blood.”


 

A STORM OF SWORDS(GOT # 3.2) – GEORGE RR MARTIN REVIEW

The war of the five kings continues, black sorceries dominate Westeros along with multiple sins in the eyes of gods and men alike, chiefly the red wedding. Melisandre and her ‘red’ magic looks like nothing but an illusion with the three kings dying supposedly at the hands of her ‘leeches’ which had sucked king’s blood out of Edric Storm. The downfall of the Starks again is a reminder of Martin’s ability to kill off characters when it is least likely to happen. Robb Stark’s death is  unwelcome, who doesn’t like the north and the Stark words: “Winter Is Coming.” The plot deepens too when the question of Joffrey’s poisoning comes up, what killed him? Melisandre’s leeches, Sansa’s black amethyst’s or some poison put into his chalice by the Imp, judging by the confusion and blood in Westeros, the mystery will never be uncovered.

A STORM OF SWORDS (GOT#3.1) – GEORGE RR MARTIN: REVIEW

The third book in this colossal series did not fail to excite its readers. Martin continued his way of suspenseful writing and vagueness. A mystery was waiting around every corner, more importantly, this book strengthens up the plots of the wildlings and their threat and Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons.  Martin depicts irony through Robb Stark: The young wolf who won every battle on the field but lost the North and his allies. Lannister strength grows stronger and stronger, becoming seemingly invincible with the pact with Dorne and Highgarden. Stannis Baratheon is left as a small ant who could be easily crushed by the power of any great house in Westeros. In the end, the game of thrones and the struggle for the Iron Throne continues with the greatest threat to the shattered Westeros being Daenerys Targaryen, and yeah! Don’t forget, “Winter is Coming!.”