Book Reviews
Book Review of: Bombay Mumbai – Life is life, I am Because of You

In his autobiography, Amin Sheikh tells the inspiring story of his struggles and his successes with a simplicity that is heartwarming


There is no dearth of inspirational stories in literature - some long and eloquent, some short and powerful. In Amin Sheikh's autobiography - Bombay Mumbai – Life is life, I am Because of You, and the beauty lies in its honesty and guilelessness. 
Last week, we published an article about Amin Sheikh and his journey from a street child to a published writer and entrepreneur. In this book, he tells his story in his own words. It is simple, unpretentious and sincere. At the very beginning of the book, Amin pays a tribute to the city that both destroyed him and gave him everything he has today – Bombay. “Without Bombay, I would not be here...Bombay is the magic of dreams, of unconditional love to serve everybody, no matter who, whether big or small.” 
His story begins from the time he was five years old - a happy childhood in the company of his parents. Things began to change from the time his mother decided to leave his father and live with another man, taking little Amin and his two sisters along with her. From here, he traces his journey – the abuse at home, his decision to run away, the three years he spent living at a Railway station, the friends he made and the struggles he faced, his time at Snehasadan (an institution that fosters homeless children), his first job, his first independent venture, his first trip to Barcelona, and finally, his first book. 
He doesn't feel the need to hide anything – not the time he slapped his little sister in a fit of rage as a teenaged boy, not the time he and his friends thought it would be fun to steal the belongings of other patients in his hospital room, not the time he secretly drove the cars he was only supposed to wash. It's possible to see where that courage comes from; his life has been about learning and he grew up to be a man who is sensitive to the pain of others. He even forgave his mother for what she did to him; he even bought a house for her to live in. He takes pride in who he is today, and vows to help others in need have the opportunities that he was lucky to find.
In this book, Amin takes his time to thank all those who helped him in life – the ones who loved him, the ones who taught him, the ones who befriended him. He reminds you not take anything for granted when he coveys his gratitude to every single person who has ever been his friend. Not just that, he also refuses to hold grudges against those who were unkind. 
Amin Sheikh has never received any professional training in English. Always one with a keen ear, he learned English on the job in the years he spent working for Eustace Fernandes. He wrote this book not just to tell his story, but in order to raise funds to set up his dream Library Cafe – 'Bombay to Barcelona'. His many friends from all over the world have helped him edit the book, design the cover, publish the book and promote its sale all over the world. It has already been translated into two foreign languages. Also, by the time you get to the end of the book, the inclusion of Barcelona in his ultimate dream will be unsurprising. He was awestruck by its beauty and vigour the first time he visited it back in 2003. With his subsequent visits, his love for the Spanish city has only increased. 
Though the heart of this story is in Mumbai, its universal appeal is indisputable. Perhaps, because the story is heartwarming, and told with so much love. It is a story of rising and shining against all odds. Despite all the upheavals that Amin has been through, the tone of the book is unfailingly hopeful and positive. This is not a book to be read for its literary merit, it is to be read for its touching story and the fact that your contribution would help Amin come one step closer to realising his dream. His dream cafe - 'Bombay to Barcelona', will provide employment opportunities for children just out of orphanages and foster homes. It will also serve as a platform for other aspiring artists to showcase their talent. 
To, help Amin realise his dream, you can purchase his book Bombay Mumbai: Life is Life, I am Because of You available exclusively at Kitab Khana in Fort, Mumbai. You can also write to him at and he will send you a signed copy.
Amin will also be present at the Moneylife Foundation's 5th Anniversary Celebration on 7 February 2015 at YB Chavan Hall (Nariman Point, Mumbai). You can meet him and buy your copy of his book for Rs300. To register for the event, please click here




3 years ago

Many go through the life Amin did when he was young. But only handful manage to pick themselves up and be what he is today. For that he deserves all the praise and success he is getting.

All the very best to him!

Book Review of 'The Small Big'
One more in the global glut of books on how to influence people
Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein and Robert Cialdini—the co-authors of The Small Big-Small Changes that Spark Big Influence—have more than 50 tips on how to convince others. The highly anecdotal, smartly written 260 pages of the book are divided into 53 readable chapters, one pointer per chapter. 
Hoteliers, doctors, sales-persons, managers, policy-makers, charities, retailers, teachers, parents—just about everyone stands to benefit from the book. The threesome has managed to tell us what to do and, more importantly, how to do it without being didactic. 
How to get citizens to pay taxes, patients to keep their appointments, find the right pricing, or clinch that dream job? Well, the solution can be as simple as addressing mails that seek to extract a commitment or making a presentation that highlights your future potential and not just past achievements. 
If ever that Rs1,999.99 price tag has bothered you, you know where to look for the answer. And it seems Ron Johnson, a former senior vice-president at Apple, got himself fired as the CEO of JC Penny by rounding off those .99 price tags for whole integers. 
To set apart these titbits that can get you to influence others, experiments in behavioural science, economics and social psychology have been pressed in evidence. Yet, the trio has steered clear from being pedagogic. Instances from everyday life, longest running television shows, advertisements that tanked, sermons that worked miracles in shoring up donations, bids that were laughably pricey, make for an easy and useful reading. 
The easy listening show sounds jarring (page 125) with the words “In this information-saturated world where so many claim to be an expert, how do we know who to follow?” Perhaps, the use of ‘who’ instead of whom is an error. If not, then, like so many other rules, thanks to our American friends, the use of whom is slated to be shelved. 
It’s a small price for a whole new vocabulary in the science of persuasion that one learns: reciprocity, peak-end experience, escalation commitment, commitment and consistency, astroturfing, etc.
Thus, we find out that astroturfing, besides being fake grass used in sports, is the practice of launching fictitious reviews as part of a grassroots campaign. We also discover that, in some countries, such conduct is punishable. The example is from Taiwan and extracted from the book: 
“In October 2013, the Fair Trade Commission of Taiwan fined the Samsung Corporation 10 million New Taiwan dollars (around US$ 350,000) for allegedly paying people to post review and comments on social media and websites attacking the products of Samsung’s long time rival HTC and at the same time praising its own.” 
Hope someone in Delhi is reading this and giving us genuine ‘likes’. A book that’s full of solutions does not need much publicity. But, the authors go a step further and demonstrate the flip side of their suggestions and the proper dosage of their antidotes. 
Your product may have 10 different and highly laudable attributes; but, in your advertisements, you are well advised to limit yourself to the best three; mentioning anything more may distract rather than attract readers. My husband’s generation used to call it the ‘KISS RULE’: ‘Keep it simple, stupid!’
For a brief moment, the book does appear to be old wise men’s tales, dovetailed American style. However, sometimes, even old tales need retelling; pun intended. In case you are at the airport on your way to negotiate a deal, now, you know which book to buy. Seal the deal, at Rs399, not Rs400! 



Kiran Aggarwal

3 years ago

Hope someone in Delhi is reading this and giving us genuine ‘likes’

What does this line mean in this article ?
Any relevance to book review?


Kiran Aggarwal

In Reply to Kiran Aggarwal 3 years ago

I reside in Delhi Divya !!!

Book Review of 'The Master Trader'

Once in a while, one comes across an original book on the markets. This is one such


There are thousands of ‘experts’ who express their opinions on the market. Just a handful of them have delved deeply into the mysteries of markets, developed a robust method and practise it with discipline over decades to report verifiable market-beating performance.


To this small tribe belongs Laszlo Biryini. He is well known as a Hall of Fame Market elf of Wall Street Week (WSW), the most popular weekly TV show than ran from 1970-2005 on the public broadcasting service in the US. He was the winner of the outstanding elf of the 1990-1999 in WSW. His recommendations averaged 1000% versus the average of 270% for the other panellists during 1992-1999, when the popularity of the programme was at its peak.


As Victor Neiderhoffer, a widely-read man and hardcore speculator who can detect bullshit from a mile away, says, “walking down the street with the very recognizable Laszlo after our tennis games, a grateful passer by stops him ‘You’re Laszlo Biryini, the guy from Wall Street Week, aren’t you. I owe you so much. You recommended Apple to me when it was 3 and Amazon at 50 and I bought them. And now, my whole family is sitting pretty because of you’.”


Among Biryini’s legendary market calls is catching the bottom of the bond market in 1994, calling the US market-bottom in 2008 with when S&P500 was 750 (it is 2,058 now) and maintaining an unwaveringly bullish stance between 2009 and 2014, despite troubles in Europe, scepticism about US monetary policy and high market valuation.


Biryini was an immigrant from Hungary who couldn’t speak English but rose to be the head market analyst at Salomon Brothers working next to Mike Bloomberg for 10 years.


He dismisses traditional technical analyses because they are “not predictive, not consistent, not analysis.” He is the inventor of the Money Flow Index, which counts the market value of upticks and downticks in a stock, to determine whether demand exceeds supply or not.


This book is a treasure trove of research insights. Among the various things that will stun you is the information about how faulty old market records are. On such faulty data are based conclusions regarding the long-term performance of stocks. He points out how Dow Jones was reset suddenly when the market reopened after Word War 1 without any explanation. In other cases, the data may be correct but the comparison over long periods would not make sense. For instance, S&P500 did not include financials in 1929 but included these in 2008, making any comparison of the declines of the two periods, a case of comparing apples with oranges.


Apart from being rich in original data (every page has a chart and a table and there are 224 figures and 97 tables in all), the book also elaborates how the investor’s interest is completely compromised by the Wall Street. Pump and dump operations, poor supervision and misrepresentation are rife in the US as they are in India. The big guys always win. According to him, the data used, the records kept, and the performance figures reported by portfolio managers, are misleading. Market forecasts are consistently wrong and harmful to investors.


Biryini is that rare breed of market practitioners, like Jeremy Grantham and Ken Fisher, who question everything, delve into raw data and never tire of testing the conventional wisdom. Biryini and his team showcase the enormous effort that goes in quest of core truths, digging original sources, evaluating every piece of information with a pair of clear eyes. It is this effort that makes Biryini’s work truly original and enjoyable.


What I am not sure is who this book is meant for. It’s technical and in-depth enough to keep out the novices. At $65, it is part of Wiley Trading Series which means it is meant for professionals. But brokers are part of the same professional system that Biryini takes apart while institutional investors probably have to do their own detailed research as Biryini does.


The book has many interesting investment ideas worth applying in the Indian context. There is one called ‘sprained wrist’ stocks. These are good companies that have dropped 5%-10% on an event but one that does not affect their business model. In such cases, be brave, step in and buy. Birinyi also uses a lot of anecdotal data to enrich his views. He pores over magazines and newspapers, because these are ‘databases in disguise’. He also keeps track of market commentators and economists, even though they are often wrong. A must for serious investors.


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