The Richest Man in Babylon – Review

The Richest Man in Babylon as the title suggests is setup in and around the prosperous town of Babylon of the golden era situated by the banks of river Euphrates. What was unique about this town was the riches that lied within its vast walls. The town has been beautifully described as a place that drew the attention and attraction of traders and merchants for the thriving business opportunities that lay there.

This book takes us to the ancient era of antiques and barter where people valued their gold, silver and copper similar to how we value our currency today. It has fables of slaves and masters where labor is presented as a commodity. It is thin as if a child’s read but has deep financial concepts covered within. The book runs like a story with fictional characters all of who belong to the conventional Arabic culture.

It looks like a tale straight from Arabian Nights but it is only after you are half way through you see the intertwined economical wisdom and by the end of the book it reads completely as a recommended report by some consulting firm (but narrated creatively thereby sparking the reader’s interest)

What is narrated in the book is something that we already know – about how to make money, how to save money and how to multiply money. But what we are reminded of is that all of it requires sincere hard work and adequate planning which is not as complicated as we make it to be. 

It vividly narrates ways to ‘Cure a lean purse’ and also sheds light on lending, borrowing, gaining and losing. Every idea is conveyed by way of a story of a merchant or a baker or a landlord or a moneylender. As these different characters interact, they spill the simple secrets of making and keeping what is the most desired -‘Gold aka money.’

Wise anecdotes throughout the book also discuss missed opportunities, right and wrong means to increase the flow of money. The best part is the length which is short and the message precise.

A delightful read though quite a bit of text is presented in its archaic form with words like thou, giveth, thee but please do not regard it as a put off as in the flow of the tale, one can easily comprehend and make sense out of the language despite its Shakespearean feel.

The author George Samuel Clason started by publishing pamphlets on financial handling and success in the form of a Babylonian parable way back in 1926. It was widely distributed by financial institutions among their customers and employees. One of the most famous ones came to be ‘The Richest man in Babylon’.

The author makes everything appear so lucid for instance controlling expenditures is easier said than done but one cannot defy its role in building financial strength. Whenever he mentions this fact, he makes it a point to assert that there is a difference between control and misery which one should keep in mind before pursuing this path.

My takeaway from this book is that the secret to changing our own fate lies in dedicated efforts and resolute practices which one should adopt to save and multiply money. After being perseverant for the desired time one will experience that the saved money that they invested in various ventures is working for them. Does it not sound ideal?

Heist Love

Money Heist on Netflix topped the charts for a long span. Lockdown gave us a chance to watch this exhaustively detailed series. The highs and lows, the straightly defined characters and an extraordinary show of intelligent heist leaves you baffled multiple times. Season 4 – Last episode got over and there was a void – I would have loved to see more of him – the mastermind – Sergio…. The wait till the next season looked a long one.

What part of us really connects to the negative, to the wrong doers? After all no matter how much the glorification, it was ultimately a clever crime – well planned, well executed. This question stayed in my sub conscious until I bumped into a random logic that perfectly defined my emotional assistance to Sergio. I found it in Shantaram, a bestseller by Gregory David Roberts (my current read). In this book an honorable mafia don Khader Bhai states that any crime has two elements – the sin element which is defined by the way it ruins the souls of the victims and also by way of who are the victims. The other element is the crime part that is defined by how, where and when it is committed. I know it is complex but an easier way to explain is in crimes like prostitution and child trafficking the sin element is way to high which fills your heart with extreme hatred towards the convicts.

On the other hand robbery, currency black marketing has a stronger crime element that largely leaves one concerned and fearsome about where the society is heading. In Money Heist, Sergio and team take charge of a mint where they mint their own money. He repeatedly says, “I am not stealing anyone’s money, I am putting more money into the system.” No oppression, no intentional violence, no mala fides which bought the sin element to a minimal low.

 That is where I as a commoner connected with the heist, which is the reason, I felt the way I felt for all the characters. The wonders of finding a direct link between two masterpieces, one in prose and the other on screen once again justifies the idea – the world is full of ideas that come to you in various forms, it’s up to you how much you absorb, how much you relate.

Wise and Otherwise – By Sudha Murthy

Wise and Otherwise by Sudha Murthy is a collection of interesting anecdotes each with profound life lessons. It is a personal account of the author herself while she travelled through our country – The Great India – A land of values and disparities. The title captures the contrast too – with two opposite words – Wise and Otherwise!!

There are many people about whom she has written in her book – a thoughtful old village man, a secretary, a nurse, a bridegroom, a sales manager, a local vendor. All of them have crossed her path as a part of her social work (which she carries out through her company Infosys Foundation) or coincidentally. What is beautiful is the chord that she could strike with each person/character and situation!! The way, in which she has put the commonness in perspective, leaves the readers with a message at the end of every story.

All the stories are relatable and on some random day, the message might directly apply to you while you are at home or in office. The titles of each story are intelligently worded, because at the end of every story I went back to the title to correlate and find the essence. A few interesting ones are –  ‘Salaam Namaste’, ‘The IT Divide’, ‘Bonded by Bisleri’….

Quite a few narratives have a predictable and dramatic end as if straight from Bollywood, and many others have a surprising turn towards the conclusion. This book is good for some casual mindful reading. The language is simple and the length of the anecdotes is short, so one can easily flip a few pages while waiting in traffic. The cover page carries a line ‘A Salute to life’ – it indeed is through its realness and plainness.

I would like to call it India’s ‘Chicken Soup’……