Category: Book Opinion

‘THE DHONI TOUCH’ Book Review: An Interesting Account on the Man!

‘THE DHONI TOUCH’ Book Review: An Interesting Account on the Man!

The movie ‘M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’ – based on the pages of the legendary sportsperson’s life until 2011 Cricket World Cup’s final – heeds more on the bed of roses with a slight glimpse of the thorns. In other words, the movie emanates more positivity. Now, on having read the Cricket writer Bharat Sundaresan’s ‘THE DHONI TOUCH’, I once again feel so. It’s not just the Dhoni factor behind such enablement but also the commendable jobs by the creators in coming up with their respective works.

Unlike the movie, which is a biopic of Dhoni’s life, the book unravels the enigma – as its tagline remarks – that the legendary cricketer is. The author has put in significant effort in culling extensive information, predominantly from primary sources such as Dhoni’s long-standing friends, coach, colleagues, etc. By extension, on a lighter note, it appears like Bharat Sundaresan has chronicled an illustration for each adjective that one would throw up to boil down the kind of cricketer or person Dhoni is. The illustrations testify how innate Dhoni’s traits have been, which make up the man whom many admire.

Excellent examples on Dhoni going the extra mile to get his way:

There are various instances in Cricket matches that remain a testimony to Dhoni‘s willingness to go the extra mile in pursuit of the task at hand. The book records numerous off-field incidents, which demonstrate the same and are unavailable to the public. For instance, there is a scenario evidencing the prudence of Dhoni, the kid.

Dhoni in younger days (Pic Source: starsunfolded)

Dhoni was then simultaneously part of the teams of his school and Central Coal Limited (CCL). The teams had matches on the same day and the cricketer was expected to be part of both. Neither the school team’s coach nor the CCL‘s secretary was ready to leave him out. So, Dhoni came up with a very surprising suggestion to resolve the tug of war. He told that he could play for CCL if the school match gets postponed by a day. When the coach cautioned him about the hot playing conditions, which he needs to endure for two days, he came up with another astonishing reply that he could play even for three days.

This is some really unexpected stuff!

Conducting oneself:

In the second leg of the 2021 Indian Premier League, I noticed a worn-out Dhoni walking up to the pavilion after the game and then turning up well-decked and fresh to the presentation ceremony. He also used to wear a wristwatch that I hadn’t seen on him while playing. This happened match after match, irrespective of their result or the toughness they demanded. This is one of the primary qualities I like in Dhoni i.e. the way in which he conducts himself. These aspects aren’t restricted to just the on-field appearances but to his public appearances as a whole. It can be the manner he walks, sits, gestures, manages eye contact, smiles, or grins. Everything appears so measured like the eloquence in his articulations.

MS Dhoni at a felicitation event for Chennai Super Kings hosted by India Cements (Pic Source: Espncricinfo)

In the book’s 10th chapter ‘The Man Emerges’, late cricketer V.B. Chandrasekhar has imparted incidents on Dhoni‘s ability to conduct himself well, right from his rookie days. They are quite a good deal of information from an insider’s perspective and inspiring. It is also equally inspiring to get to know that Dhoni guides and helps his team to conduct themselves. An incident mentioned in the 7th chapter ‘A Captain Comes into His Own’ stands testimony to his leadership. In fact, a sports website’s article featured the incident’s extract that had urged me to buy ‘THE DHONI TOUCH’.

It was in February 2008 in the Commonwealth Bank Series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was when Australians were at their indomitable best. It was when the Ricky Ponting-led Australian team believed that every loss of theirs was an ‘upset’ and not just a win for their opponent. It was only the fifteenth One Day International (ODI) match as captain for Dhoni. And it was when Indian pacers picked nine wickets between them and bowled out Australia for a paltry 159.

Dhoni and Rohit were in the middle chasing down the total. The skipper sent the message, “Nobody will celebrate on the balcony once we win this match” to the pavilion and passed on the instruction, “When they give their hand, just firmly hold yours out without folding it like an obligation, but don’t overdo it. And just stare blankly at them without any hint of excitement.” to Rohit. All he wanted to convey to the Australian team was that India‘s victory in their own backyard is no fluke. It is no upset. And it is going to happen again and again. It appears like the Aussies couldn’t handle India’s victory and it really shook them.

And here is my personal experience when I visited M.A. Chidambaram Stadium at Chepauk in Chennai for an Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI). CSK was chasing with Dhoni at the batting end and Trinidadian cricketer Kieron Pollard was the bowler. Since Dhoni‘s wicket was crucial at that point in time, Pollard availed his go-to weapon, which he regularly used then. Run-up to the crease and then stop bowling suddenly as though you have been distracted for reasons unknown. Thereby, you think you spoiled the rhythm of the batsman who is waiting to face the delivery. Since Dhoni was at the batting end, he gave back in his very own style. When Pollard was about to bowl the very next ball following the run-up, Dhoni pretended to be distracted at the very last moment, which ended up with a rousing reception from the audience. Dhoni departed after a while and eventually, CSK lost the match. But, the moment is worth remembering for years to come!

Fascinating peeks into analogies and parallels here and there:

The author’s account isn’t just confined to putting down the information, which he has gathered but also in bringing up surprising analogies and drawing interesting parallels in various places. Well, to name a fascinating few, in the 6th chapter ‘The Mahi Way’, the parallel drawn between Dhoni and Sherlock Holmes and in the 8th chapter ‘Pythagoras behind the Stumps’, the analogy put forward to describe the kind of wicket-keeper the cricketer is. These are one of the high points of the book.

Let me brief on the parallel drawn between Dhoni and Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Mahi Way’.

Dhoni had once shocked his good friend Col Shankar by asking him who Sunita Williams and Patrick Patterson are. By quizzing so, he had meant no disrespect towards the legendary personalities. It is only that his complete ignorance seems to be because of him being a person who doesn’t bother much about anything that doesn’t affect him. This is where Bharat Sundaresan draws a very interesting parallel between Dhoni and Sherlock Holmes. Dr. John Watson, Sherlock Holmes‘s friend in Arthur Conan Doyle‘s novel, is very surprised by his bud being ignorant of famous philosophers, theories, the fact about earth traveling around the sun, and the constitution of the solar system. Bharat equates Dr. John Watson‘s astonishment to that of Col Shankar and then mentions Holmes‘s famous theory about the mind being an ’empty attic’ with no ‘elastic walls’ as below…

“A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or best is jumbled up with a lot of other things…for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

A brilliant correlation indeed!

Intriguing lessons, worth inspiring budding cricketers:

From the person who has marketed brilliancy in captainship at international and highly competitive club crickets, game-changing moments, nimble-minded and lightning-quick wicket-keeping skills, and the like, it’s not surprising to know him being good at marketing himself.

(Pic Source: Chennai ipl)

The book conveys not just the process, which went behind in the sporting front in the build-up to Dhoni becoming a legendary cricketer but also reveals information on the proliferation of his brand value in the commercial arena. For instance, in the 9th chapter, ‘Thala’ (‘Thala’ in the Tamil language refers to ‘Leader’) deals exclusively with the inside information related to the nurturing of the brand, ‘Dhoni’ aka ‘Thala’. The boom the Dhoni era has introduced on what a talented, and more importantly, a smart cricketer could earn, is something remarkable. The smartness and the seamless focus, which he continues to possess are intriguing and worth inspiring budding cricketers.

Recount on Dhoni’s interests, apart from Cricket:

Dhoni‘s interests, apart from Cricket, have as well been widely recounted in the book. For example, in addition to featuring (as MS Dhoni himself) in the below McDowell’s No.1 soda spot – created by the Gurugram-based ad agency DDB Mudra South & East – the book states on the cricketer to have taken care of its scriptwriting too. Alongside Dhoni, the feel-good video features his childhood Buddies, Chittu (Seemant Lohani), and Chottu Bhaiyya (Paramjit Singh), who are among the primary sources of information for the book.

Also, Dhoni‘s profound interest in armed forces is widely known. In ‘THE DHONI TOUCH’, you get to know how the cricketer found time to appease his desire in upgrading his credential as an honorary Lt Col in the Territorial Army. The 5th chapter ‘The Fauji Captain’ exclusively showcases Dhoni‘s love for the armed forces.

Here is an instance from the chapter.

Dhoni had wished to qualify for parachute wings and thereby, obtain a badge with blue wings and an umbrella. To qualify, he was supposed to complete five parachute jumps from a military aircraft, including one at night, from around 15,000 feet. So, Dhoni underwent rigorous two weeks of training in Paratroopers Trainings School (PTS). After completing training, he performed five para jumps and obtained the badge, which even many of his soldier friends hadn’t completed.

Below is a video showing Dhoni doing his first para jump from the military transport aircraft ‘An-32‘…

To have been able to become a legendary cricketer by making wicket keeping and captaincy the primary reasons to admire him in a nation, which celebrates relatively more of batsmanship, is no mean feat. His contributions behind the wicket have created a legacy. Australian wicketkeeper Mathew Wade‘s popular jest, “I’m not Dhoni” after he so very nearly had a stumping to dismiss Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan deserves a mention here. To say impressive is least to describe his achievement in bringing to the country all the available International Cricket Council (ICC) trophies during his stint on the national side.

To have read a book on the cricketer, which markets itself to unravel the enigma that is him, is such a delight!

And to find it unfolding information and analysis in a very interesting manner is so satisfying!

The book, which takes us through the many phases of Dhoni, right from his early days in Ranchi, concludes with the below compelling line that sums up the legend’s era…

“He’s also ensured that Indian cricket will never be the same again,

not after it has felt the Dhoni Touch.”


Book available in the below link…

Featured image courtesy: mid-day

4 (Top) Things I Liked in Reading ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’

4 (Top) Things I Liked in Reading ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’

When it comes to Superpowers, the inaccessible superhuman strengths of fictional characters, like Superman, Spiderman, and Wolverine, used to instantly occur to me, whereas the readily accessible traits like ‘Openness’, ‘Courage’, ‘Simplicity’, ‘Humor’, ‘Gratitude’, ‘Fun’, ‘Compassion’, ‘Creativity’, ‘Authenticity’, and ‘Love’ did not come to my mind. But, after reading the book, ‘Life is Good: THE BOOK’ co-authored by Bert and John Jacobs – Founders of the American apparel and accessories brand, ‘Life is Good®’ – the latter qualities spring to my mind, whenever I contemplate Superpowers. The manner in which the brothers champion the traits as Superpowers, by putting down numerous illustrations of both tapping into them in the process of building their establishment, serves as an irresistible account in acknowledging them.

There are 10 chapters in the book, wherein each chapter advocates a trait, which is promoted by a considerable number of personal experiences of the ‘Life is Good®’ founders and external references. From the many interesting experiences, I am picking four and briefing them below…

4. Possessing “I’m all ears to feedbacks” attitude:

In the early days of their business, Jacob Brothers used to embark on journeys in their van to sell T-shirts. After returning home, it was a ritual for them to organize parties for their friends. They found the occasions as opportunities to not only catch up with buddies, supply them beer and a few tales from their journeys but also to tape up their T-shirt designs around the room and let their friends write feedback besides them. After a particular road trip, despite not being in a mood to organize a party, they went ahead in arranging one. A loose, simple sketch of a bohemian guy (in the pic below) received dozens of feedback around it, and the founders felt the comment, “This guy’s got life figured out.” to be very striking, and subsequently, they distilled it to “Life is Good.”.

As a follow-up, two days later, they printed 48 “Life is Good” T-shirts to sell at a street fair in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Much to their surprise, the T-shirts were sold out in less than an hour. The three words, ‘Life is Good’ turned out the moment magical and the simplicity in the design attracted more attention than their elaborate pitches, messages, and designs, which they had delivered in five years since the inception of their business.

This life-changing moment stems literally from the founders possessing an “I’m all ears to feedback” attitude. The below acknowledgment from Jacob Brothers stands testimony to their desire to accept feedback of any sort and thereby, evolve…

“The company is imperfect and always will be.

Its founders are even more flawed.”

3. Nurturing One’s Community:

It’s a delight to watch ‘Life is Good®’ nurturing its community by encouraging them in supporting a cause.

A snap, taken during a pumpkin festival
A snap, taken during a pumpkin festival
(Pic Source: WikiMedia Commons)

For instance, in 2003, the brand invited people to participate in a pumpkin festival, which attempted to break the Guinness World Record for most carved, jack-o’-lantern in one place at a time. The apparel and accessories brand partnered with the Maine-based nonprofit, ‘Camp Sunshine’, which supports children facing life-threatening illnesses and their families. The festival, which was complemented by games like sack races, home run derby and obstacle courses for kids and adults alike, and fundraising, saw a turnout of more than 10,000. Every year, the fest was organized with the very same cause i.e carve and light pumpkins to break the Guinness World Record. Finally, in 2006 on the Boston Common (A central public park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts), a huge crowd gathered carved, and lighted 30,128 pumpkins and broke the Guinness World Record. More importantly, over $500,000 was raised for ‘Camp Sunshine’.

2. Humanizing the Brand:

Following the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the ‘Life is Good®’ brand decided to help victims and their families via a fund-raising product. So, they reached out to their retail partners informing their idea to sell special, stylized American flag shirts and then donate 100 percent of the profits to the cause. A morale-boosting influx of orders encouraged the brand to print and ship shirts that lead them to end up with a donation of $207,000, far more than their initial fundraising goal of $20,000.

T-shirts designed following Boston Marathon Bombings
T-shirts designed following Boston Marathon Bombings

Ensuing Boston Marathon Bombings on April 13, 2015, the company created a T-shirt with the text, “BOSTON” on its front with a small heart in the center of one of the O’s and the copy, “Nothing is stronger than LOVE” on its back. Within 30 hours after conception, the apparel was made available for sale in stores and on the brand’s website. In less than 60 days, the T-shirt’s sale went on to amass over half a million dollars in profit, which was then donated to ‘The One Fund’ that was established to help victims and their families.

Both projects appear as the height of humanizing the brand in the darkest times.

1. Reinforcing the core values to the internal customers:

The 10 Superpowers form the core values of the ‘Life is Good®’ brand. In order to embody the values into their products, the company reinforces them to its internal customers i.e. its employees in an interesting way. Within the company’s design center, there is a digital art gallery that showcases each Superpower using inspirational images, which are selected from the brand’s latest influences and most recent work. For every season, one Superpower is chosen to highlight as their creative inspiration. The idea is to make the employees establish an emotional connection with the Superpower to express the same to the customers via the products.

A 'Life is Good' artwork
A ‘Life is Good’ artwork

That’s it with my top four picks and to conclude my article, I briefly boil down the book with the below note.

Per Jacob Brothers, people fighting great adversity, like disease and the loss of beloved ones, share their experiences in correspondence. Their stories illustrated the brothers on optimism guiding them in battling tough times. Having been inspired and moved by the stories, the brothers dubbed them ‘Fuels’. If people’s courageous stories have been the ‘Fuel’ to Bert and John Jacobs then the book as a whole is a binding of various ‘Fuels’ emerging from the brothers’ experiences, predominantly in the process of building their establishment.

Book available in the below link…

Book Opinion: ‘LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI: Politics and Beyond’ by Dr. Sandeep Shastri

Book Opinion: ‘LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI: Politics and Beyond’ by Dr. Sandeep Shastri

My father gifted Dr. Sandeep Shastri’s ‘LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI: Politics and Beyond’ on my 30th birthday i.e. on 11th January 2020 by mentioning the significance of the date in Indian political history. The date happens to be the demise date of India’s second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri. This very coincidence aroused my interest in reading the book.

After glancing through the blurb on the back of the book, I had a look at the dust jacket’s folded flaps on the book’s front cover.

I was surprised to know that the famous slogan, ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’, which I have been knowing all along from childhood, was coined by Shastri in his address to the nation in a radio broadcast on 10th October 1965.

When I started reading the book, it promised to be an account of a lot more traits, contributions, and accomplishments of the ‘Quintessential Gandhian’ that deserve to be marveled at, felt truly inspired by, and assiduously imbibed from!

In other words, the pages of the book appeared to serve as indexes to the various facets of the gem, Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Among the many aspects touched on, the chronicles on different virtues in Lal Bahadur Shastri’s leadership caught my eyes.

So, let me delve into three of such traits.

Consultation and Consensus-building:

All along in the book, there have been numerous references that outline one of his admirable qualities of being a staunch follower of setting in place a consultative mechanism.

As a follow-up to the mechanism, Mr. Shastri appears to have ensured in building a consensus that the author records as to be appearing his second nature.

The book highlights the riots, centered on the official language issue, in the Cachar district of Assam in May of 1961. The district saw a heavy concentration of Bengali-speaking population. There arose massive protest and a demand to declare Bengali as an additional official language. After heeding the inputs from all parties to the dispute, Shastri as Home Minister at the national level decided to bring out a compromise formula. And, thereby, he arrived at the popular and trendsetting ‘Shastri formula’.

In the Cachar district of Assam, the formula provisioned in letting the correspondence between the Cachar district administration and the Assam government to be undertaken in Assamese, Bengali, or English. And, both Assamese and Bengali could be used in the Cachar district administration and in educational institutions.

Gentle persuasion as a go-to approach:

To bring people in line with his thinking, rather than resorting to using authority, instruction or command, gentle persuasion seemed to be his go-to approach. As per the book, even Shastri’s sons, Anil and Sunil, in their writings, bear testimony to the characteristic.

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Being in touch with able and proven administrators as mentors:

To cultivate a skill like leadership, one of the best practices is to be in touch with people possessing the corresponding skills acquired via hands-on experience and then imbibe the same. In the case of Lal Bahadur Shastri, he had quite a few able and proven administrators, like Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, as his mentors. On the downside of having mentors, he ended up with criticisms that underrated his capacity of being decisive. But, he waited for the right time to showcase his capabilities and disarm his critics.

During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965, Shastri strategized to occupy minimal Pakistani territory and then vacate the place after the satisfactory conclusion of the war. To sum up the decisive capacity and the inherent toughness of Mr. Shastri, Harbhaksh Singh, the then chief of Western Command had told Kuldip Nayar, the then Press Secretary of Lal Bahadur Shastri, that the army would never forget ‘this tallest decision by the shortest man’.

And, there is this statement in the book:

Shastri’s approach, attitude and actions in the early ‘60s are relevant for political leaders even today.

When it comes to the precedence that Shastri has set in terms of leadership, his approach, attitude, and actions are relevant for whoever is entrusted with leadership roles.

When all is said and done, it is important to note that writings emanating positivity, and boosting inspiration, are one among the many worthwhile pills to the growing and suffocating trend of hatred being championed.

LAL BAHADUR SHASTRI: Politics and Beyond’ is one such worthwhile pill. Give it a read!

Book available in the below link…