My List Of “Top Ten Books”

That was the question before me.  Where do I begin?  That pestering question was around me  like a monsoon mosquito buzzing around. Why a mosquito you ask?  Why not a fly?  Fly does not bite though it could kill you.  When did it begin?  On 29th of August, some time around noon I think. We all affectionately call him TRS and apart from other things he is a voracious reader and he tagged me.  Where you say?  Facebook.  That’s where.  For the ”top ten books”.

There were others too.  But I am not mentioning here because here I am going talk about only the English books.

It is a great advantage to be born into a family of letters.  That is until someone comes and asks you for a list, like TRS does here, to list the “Top Ten”

Here is my first one in the series.

Physics for Entertainment.

Yep.  A non-fiction book.  Actually a set of two books.

 Yakov Perelman - Physics for Entertainment

Physics for Entertainment was published by Raduga from the former USSR.

This is the book that kindled in me a certain scientific temperament.  It helped me understand things better and equipped me with the right tools to understand life as it unravelled its secrets to me.

I tore off a page from one of my used rough note book, made a container out of it, and with the lighted candle, boiled water in that paper container!  That was just fantastic don’t you think?

Then I understood how this little bird you see in this picture constantly keeps dipping its head into the glass of water?! Like a perpetually thirsty bird!  I think a whole generation was inspired by this book.

Yakov Isidorovich Perelman was the author of this book.  It is unfortunate that this author died of starvation during the seize of Stalingard, by the Germans.

Yakov Perelmen - Physics for Entertainment

Author of many scientific books and editor of magazines including Nature

This book was translated into many Indian languages.  One of them was in Telugu నిత్యజీవితంలో భౌతికశాస్త్రం.  (nityajiivitaMlO bhautikasastram).

So there you are TRSthis is the first book in my “top ten list“.  I’ll try to post them as and when I find the time.

The Art of Buying Safely Online

Why do you want to buy online?

You would like to buy online because:

Convenience

  • You do not have to ride to the mall.
  • You do not have to drive around ten blocks to find a parking place.
  • You do not have to jostle around with the crowds in the mall.
  • You do not want anyone following your every move with a hawk’s eye.
  • You do not want some one to convince you into buying, something that you do not need.

Well, I think they are good enough reasons why you would like to get onto the net and go buy something online.

Standard Features of online malls
Most of them are visitor friendly. Let us look at one such Online eMall I came across.

Let us now see how these Online eMall websites are designed.  This is a generic website.  Of course you understand that this site does not exist and it is only for demonstration purposes I am mentioning it here.  Let us call it simply – Online eMall.

The customer-friendly Online eMall website is cleanly laid out. The website name is very clearly displayed on the home page.

A key feature of this Online eMall is, it  offers franchises.  Normally, the franchise’s name appears to your left, right beneath the Online eMall profile. Then you have the navigation bar that indicates the e-franchise home, orders tracking and a tab to invite friends to the site.

Then you see those small folder icons: The name of the folders indicate the contents and within brackets the number of items too. For example the first folder is Beauty and Personal Care and it is displaying 43. When you click on the folder, the column to it’s right displays all those items that fall under the “Beauty and Personal Care” category. Each item has a small picture of the product / service with pricing, availability and probable shipping time.

So, all the visitor has to do is click on the folder on the left, view items that appear on the right, add her choice to the shopping cart, fill the forms and pay, to have them delivered at her doorstep. But before she confirms the order, it is up to her to make doubly sure that she is ordering exactly what she expects.

When the shopping season approaches, the Online eMall  owners will update the site and announce really amazing products and services to it’s customers, at great prices.

Phishing
OK, so what makes you think it is safe to buy online? Haven’t you heard of those who collect your credit details and siphon off monies without you ever knowing about it?

Yes, I have heard about that and read about it too. But then there are always those elements around. All you have to do is take a few precautions and you are better off.

Now let’s see what those precautions are:

FAQ’s
Every online shopping mall would have a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) and a privacy policy. Read them both carefully and if you are convinced that it is a good site and is taking care of your interests go ahead and do your shopping.

Warranties and Guarantees
Check if the the site is offering warranties and or guarantees on the products and services they are offering before you make your purchase decision.

Postal Address
You must take care to see if the postal address of the site is given on the web site. If it is not there, then their intentions are in doubt and I advise you not to do business with them.

Cash
There may be occasions that the company or any individual you are buying from asks for cash, say no. Tell them that you would prefer to pay with your credit card. That way you are protecting yourself from avoidable fraudulant transactions.

Help and Support
There are genuine sellers and are helpful. They would be more than happy to help you with your doubts and queries that you might have. Some of these sites do have a live chat service where you get instant answers. Some of them have Feedback forms for their customers and they always write you back about your concerns.

Search and Research
Use the search engines to learn about the online shopping mall that you are trying to buy from. This would help you learn more about them and you can make a buying decision based on that.

Reviews
If there are reviews left by customers read them. It would give you a better insight about this online shopping mall and how they go about treating their customers.

Return Policy
You should also make sure what their Return Policy is, so that you know exactly what to expect.

RESOURCES
There is this excellent site that tells you how to protect yourself from online phishing scams. Please click here to visit the site.

Happy Shopping!

Note:
This article was first published elsewhere on August 6, 2009 and the site is no more available.  Hence I am posting it here again.

https://web.archive.org/web/20101123150210/http://rightword.blogsome.com

Gratitude Challenge – Day Five

It was again late in the evening and we were visiting Guntur.  I just heard about the new school there.  I do not remember if there was a power cut or some local problem.   We, that is I and a couple of boyhood friends, went visiting.  It was dark.  Some of the students were already sleeping on bed spreads laid on the mat.  *Maamma (మామ్మ – meaning granny in English ) was around.  This was sometime around 66 – 68.

I used to visit Tenali which happens to be mother’s native.  She was born there you see. I used to visit Tenali, Guntur during my holidays.  Had some real good fun there and again life taught me many lessons during those visits.

There was a call for me one evening from Ms. Devi, (to them anyway).  She is one of the founders of the school at Guntur I was referring to earlier. For me she was always Mangadevakka (మంగాదేవక్క – Manga Devi Akka meaning, sister Manga Devi).

Manga Devi

Dr Nannapaneni Manga Devi

I went to visit her in the morning.  Akka is always direct.  She told me that a publisher had approached her and wanted her to prepare a text book for the primary classes.  I have heard of this publisher and he is known for readers and supplementary books aimed at the primary classes.  Quite casually, she suggested me that I should write the book.  That was like a bolt from the blue. I do not know what gave her the idea that I could write a reader / text book for the primary classes.  I said, “I will think it over”.   That is one way of wriggling out of that unsavory condition.

I?  Writing or preparing an English primer?!  She did not relent, until I began.  Her refrain was always the same.  “It is there in your genes.  Do it.  You can do it”.  I yielded and I did, on a old Remington typewriter (I still have it) with her support, guidance and inputs and directions.  And the best part is, the publisher paid me for it.  That way it is Dr. Nannapaneni Manga Devi, the founder of  Sri Venkateswara Bala Kuteer, Guntur who made me write my first book , if I can call it a book.  Later I was visiting a lambadi farmers’ thanda in the interiors of Nalgonda district and I found that book there.  It reminded me of Mangadevakka.  If she hadn’t, perhaps I would never have .  Thank you Mangadevakka.  Thank you once again.

*mamma   by the way is Mangadevakka’s mother.

***

I later met him at Vijayawada. We had some common friends.  Tall and lanky guy.  With a certain rustic charm about him. Even today he reminds me of a farmer who is more comfortable in a farm tending to his cattle and farming.  A rustic villager who enjoys reading a poem when he has the time.  With quite a sharp wit and a heart full of love.  With boundless energy. I do not know what he saw in me but he felt I should write.  That my writings should help the younger generation. This was almost a decade ago.  Without his relentless perusal, my columns wouldn’t have appeared in Andhrajyothy‘ s weekly supplement Diksuchi  that used to come out in the form of a pull out magazine, in those days.  Now it is part of a broad sheet.

I believe it is the first time in the annals of Telugu magazine publishing a two page colored spread out was out-sourced to a single columnist.  That column was ePadam. (ఇ పదం)  At the same time I had to also contribute to an other column and that was Career Corner .  Again in the same diksuchi ( దిక్సూచి).  Those two columns appeared for a few years and ran into couple of hundreds.  The editor then was K Ramachandra Murthy and it was Kiran G  who was looking after “Diksuchi“. Katta Sekhar Reddy   who is the CEO  of  Namaste Telangana  now was then with Andhrajyothy.  Thank you all friends.

And this gent did not leave me there.  Along with his wife (I truly believe she was brought into this world just for him) he appeared at my home one morning with a basketful of vegetables.  They went into my kitchen and began to cook.  All the time they made sure I was with them and giving me instructions on how to go about cooking those veggies. I had noting to do and I was helping them with an open mouth and trying to absorb what was happening around me.  You know what?

That morning they went to the Erragadda Ryot Bazaar and bought all those vegetables just for me as if they had nothing else to do.  They have two beautiful daughters who need her attention.  He had an important job and is in a responsible position with a major Telugu news publishing entity,  Andhrajyothy.  But still they made enough time to take care of my health and want me to live longer.  Oh my what a great couple!  Gratitude  you say!

Ramineni Srikrishna Prasad_AnilAtluri

Ramineni Srikrishna Prasad

I began this with “I later met him at Vijayawada.”  Actually, we met at Madras, when he was still a student at the SV University.  He visited our book store then. We did not know then but we remember now, the where and how and the who of it.  Thank you KP, thank you for everything.   Gratitude you say!

***
Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty five and then you lose count.   They were willing to pay in advance to book a copy.  It was just a weekly magazine. Not a book, not a novel of fiction. Why was that?  It was a serial that was appearing.  That had the whole Telugu reading world in its grip.   Needless to say he had changed the commercial dynamics of the Telugu publishing industry.  I know of publishers who offered him blank checks.  He went on to create history whichever portal he had entered.

He was contributing to The Hindu, the largest circulated English daily newspaper  in South India and the only Indian English news daily that was publishing simultaneously from different places in India.  He was a regular columnist in that daily and his column was reaching a few million readers especially students and their parents.

I used to follow his column and one day I found something inconsistent with the style of his narration.  I emailed him with my opinion and suggestion. He called back.  He was planning to publish that column as a book and he enquired if  if I would be interested in doing the job.  I had my hesitations. I said I will try. He couriered me the complete script.  I took my time.  Did a few chapters and emailed it to him. I was damned sure he was not going to call back and that was that.

One fine morning he calls me to inform that the whole work I had sent had been forwarded to the publisher.  I said, “No you shouldn’t be doing it. You should have someone else to go through the copy”.  He said, “I liked what you did Anil garu. It must have reached the printer by this time and they most probably are printing it.  Please tell me how much I should pay you.”  I did not know what to say.  It was not money, it was not fame that I was seeking then.  I wanted a break from the enormous stressful situation that I was in, living 24/7 with a terminal patient at home.  I said, “No, I am not accepting any money”.  He was equally emphatic, “I do not accept anything free”.  Then he found a solution.  He would gift me a set of his books. We made a deal and I was happy about it.

One more surprise was in store for me.

He acknowledged my services.  In fact he added something in there which I felt I did not deserve and I changed it to read as it appears in that book today.  He is none other than Yandamoori Veerendranath, the playwright, the master story teller, the author, the film director, the Chartered Accountant and …

Yandamoori Veerendranath

Yandamoori Veerendranath

Thank you Yandamoori garu.

Note:  This is the fifth and the final part of the Gratitude Challenge (Day Five).  This is a post that I posted on my Facebook wall and I felt that confining it to that SMN is not right and that it should reach out to more people.  That is why you see it here.Well, I guess that sort of sums up for the day five and it is over.  You will not be burdened to follow because this stops here.  Thank you being here.