Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Review: Corporate Atyaachaar by Abhay Nagarajan.

When on the 19th of last month Booklover enquired if I would like to review 'Corporate Atyaachaar... the comical journey of an office doormat' by debutant author Abhay Nagarajan... I was more than glad. I feel reading the works of debutant authors... is akin to opening a birthday present. One is unaware of the contents... yet is excited about finding out.

'Corporate Atyaachaar' rhymes with and reminds one of its distant cousin... the more famous (?) 'Emotional Atyachar'... featuring Abhay Deol. 'Corporate Atyaachaar' is by his namesake. No... Jhumpa Lahiri need not make an appearance here :)

Abhay Nagarajan has been in Finance for a couple of years... which should explain the presence of the 2 extra 'A's in 'Corporate Atyaachaar' aka 'CA'. Number crunching has led to numerology! See... even the initials of the book title gives ample indication as to the author's pedigree *wink*

CA - written in the first person... is the journey... rather trials and tribulations of the protagonist... a rather willing 'office doormat'. Not furniture, wallflower or a piece of decoration... but the lowest of the lot... the humble, unassuming, doormat. Eye candy or not... I have no clue. Whether Lord Fate conspires with Lady Luck... to pull the 'yes boss' doormat from under the obnoxious boss' smelly feet or not... well, read the book to find out.

CA provides some interesting insights into the corporate world... rather the world of personal finance. It is set during the stock market phase of 2007-08: The Boom (Part–I/Mar'07-Mid Jan'08) and The Bust (Part-II/Jan'08 and beyond). Methinks... if boom comes can bust be far behind. What say?

The protagonist assists his boss - the inimitable HBS - in managing the investment requirements for a set of high net worth clients (HNI)... in Bangalore. Please note it is HNI and not H1N1 *wink*

These HNI folks are all characters in their own right... like Fido Dido, Dennis the Menace, Captain Haddock... you get the drift? Here you will come across: the 'Old Man', 'Inflated Ego', 'Fem Dom', 'Truly Happy', 'Yuppie', the bushy moustache and bunny toothed 'CFO', et al. And 'Giggles' - who suffers from 15 minutes of dementia... due to the loss of the proverbial 15 minutes of fame. With the Hutch pug being the 'culprit'. Yuppie is obsessed with 'pass backs'... you know 'passing the buck'... literally! Yet manages to give some free advice on what makes a good marriage... while preparing for the final partition. The Old Man's homegrown recipe for keeping romance alive in his twilight years... is charming. But does his new found enthusiasm for exotic hot-body ayurvedic massages play a role in it? Could that have been his motivation to open a factory in Thailand? You know... mixing business with pleasure. Will his paying obeisance to both Vaastu and Feng Shui... help him recover his lost wealth? After all... health is wealth. Or is it vice versa? A supposedly bohemian artist-cum-client... who paints nude art for charity. All is fair in love, war... and charity! The makeshift pair of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson... who went hunting for a lost mobile... was it found?

In 'Corporate Atyaachaar'... 'bird hit' gets a whole new meaning. There is a bit about divine retribution... at the right time... via the 'fragrant' output of Kamadhenu's progeny. It certainly is comical. No wonder it is said: watch your step.

You get to read about a strange sounding Tarzan style love noise... or was it George of the Jungle style?? The curious case of a stubborn nipple, a baby who wasn't sulking properly, a Q&A session with God, astrology and astronomy getting mixed up quite effortlessly and a priceless right palm with a possible gran greene problem... and how the left hand gallantly rose to the occasion. No, nobody's granny became green with envy... and we aren't referring to Graham Green either.

The biggest character is 'HBS' himself - the mobile kissing Bangalore Boss of Wealth Capital Advisors Pvt. Ltd. (WCA) - a small non-banking boutique setup... with a 'client centric' approach... as opposed to the 'revenue focus' of banking entities. As to why and how he earned the sobriquet 'HBS'... read the book to find out. He is also the single largest contributor towards the buoyant sale of Marie biscuits... and its profits! HBS sure is 'ambidextrous' and is not fond of 'dirty things' falling on him and 'that type of women'... is all I am willing to reveal at this point. Does he agree with the "Johari window analysis" conducted by a trainer... regarding his interpersonal (s)kills? Ummm... "Johari window analysis" has nothing to do with a certain Karan Johar, his Koffee hamper and/or his favourite actor, btw.

The protagonist encounters all sorts of 'nuts'... including the crunchy munchy type and the one associated with bolt (not Usain Bolt though)... during his short association with WCA. He has a fancy designation - Associate Financial Advisor... yet is barely allowed to express his views at client meetings and is mostly relegated to taking notes, sending summaries and maintaining documents... while HBS hogs all the limelight. Will HBS garner all the credit and moolah too? Will work frustration make the 'office doormat' step up and challenge his boss? Or will he choose the known devil over an unknown one? Will he get a good appraisal... inspite of being compared to a lake, river, sea, ocean, a branch of a tree and finally to a banyan tree itself? Not peepal tree... mind you. What would the new recruit be like? Who is the 'Sweet Lady'? Is she just sweet... or spicy and sour too? Questions. Questions. Read the book to know the answers.

ULIP, Mutual Funds, Debt, Fixed Maturity Plans (FMP), Tax savings, Fixed Deposits... all make their cameos in 'CA' - where the author has tried to keep the financial jargon to a minimum. Result: a reasonably entertaining book... that will also appeal to folks who are not enamored or well versed in the matters of personal finance. Their GK will surely travel northward at the end of it.

Even equity PMS makes its appearance! No... it is not what you are thinking of... silly! And SIP. Nope... we aren't discussing any health drink or fruit juice here. Sorry, Red Bull... the Beers have taken over :)

'Succession planning' aka 'estate planning' takes on a whole new meaning... caused by the double entendre on 'assets' of a different kind. Would I be comfortable if someone was to touch my assets without my knowledge? Do I want my assets to be overexposed to outsiders? Would I be happy if my hard earned assets which I have grown and developed over the years be wasted away? Would I like my big, well developed assets to wither away and shrink with time? Do I want my assets to be respected and judiciously used over generations to come? Do I want control over how others share my assets? Do I prefer having a choice of whom I can transfer my assets to? No... these are not rapid fire Qs shot by a certain Ms. Sawant... in a reality show. Not even on 'Rakhi ka Insaaf'. But wait till she reads 'Corporate Atyaachaar'... and we may find several episodes dedicated to 'asset allocation'. Exclusively. *wink*

... And what was the million dollar question asked by the 'Old Man' after an 'entertaining' session on 'succession planning' by a domain expert? Guess? Guess?

Interspersed with a smattering of humour... 'Corporate Atyaachaar... the comical journey of an office doormat' makes for a fun read... and a light read. Its light on the wallet too! One can finish the book in one sitting itself... that is one of its USP. If you are hard pressed for time... 2/3/4 days should suffice. The humour isn't the rolling on the floor laughing (ROTFL); laugh out loud (LOL); or the very long Cheshire cat like grin type... but you'll be sporting a gentle smile while turning the pages. Happy reading!

Suggestions: Some typos... need to be corrected. After all... 'Mekhri Circle' metamorphosing into 'Makeri Circle' may upset our legions of mannina magas/magalus! Plus there is something that may get the Paper Tiger's goat! *wink* But then... that would mean free publicity in the Commercial Capital of India. Ha!

The author writes about mouth-watering menus @ various get-togethers, a wedding feast, etc. But barely mentions the culinary delights on offer. That would have made the book... meander into the readers' hearts via their stomachs (R.K. Narayan would agree) as well as provided the much-appreciated 'food for thought' since 'fuel' prices have started 'bhav khana'. Again.

My Rating: I'll give it a good 3/5. It is a good effort by a debutant author... who also happens to be the grandson of Malayatoor Ramakrishnan. Therefore writing is in his jeans... oops genes!

Details of the book: Corporate Atyaachaar... the comical journey of an office doormat: Abhay Nagarajan, pp 212; Rs.100, Srishti Publishers & Distributors.

Photograph: Pic courtesy link.


  1. sweet review! thanks!

  2. Me likes the sound of the book! :)
    Oh by the way, another friend of mine has written a book and wants a review. I would be reviewing it, but I suggested your name too. Let me know how to contact you? :)

  3. @ Anon: Thanks... but it would be great if you could leave your name.

  4. @ Preeti: Thank you! Thank you! :D :D :D

    P.S. Please let me know your email ID... and I would revert with my mailing address and contact number.

  5. I got a request from the author to review the book. Havent read it yet. Nice review!

  6. @ Reema: Thanks! I'm keen to read your views...

  7. I like the sound of the book.It quiet seems to be good.

  8. Well the review was good and the book too should be a good read.

    I love bashing of the corporate nuts, by doormats or anyone for the matter:-)

    [Author of "Mayhem Of The Miserables!"]
    Coupon Code is: WR43N

  9. @ Prabhakar: Thanks and welcome here!


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  11. @Navaneedh: Thanks for your kind words and welcome to my blog.

    PS: Guess there’s one or two widgets on the side bar.