Tag Archives: non-fiction

Book Review of “VICTORY INDIA” by Col Vinay B Dalvi (Retd)

A Key to Quality Military Leadership

A bold and trail blazing exposé of 65 years old selection & training system of the Indian Armed Forces Officer Cadre

A Campaign, A Crusade, A Commitment, An Inspiration…

cover

Amongst my latest reads is Victory India, by Col. Vinay B. Dalvi (Retd.) and what an eye-opener this one is!

We civilians, look up to the Officers of the Armed Forces. We admire and respect their brilliance, their courage, their strength and everything associated with them. But do we really know what goes behind the gates of the IMA and the NDA, and the other training and selection institutes? Barely.

For those who only see smart cadets walking around in crisp uniforms, this book will reveal a whole new world of pain that the “men” endure (physically and mentally), and the national leadership crisis that the nation is currently facing therefore.

An eye-opener for aspiring to join such prestigious institutes will know the truth behind their selection and training process and maybe (collectively) help in filling the gaps and loop-holes.

Having been a part of the armed forces, the author shows deep insight and a well-rounded research regarding the training and selection process of the cadets. The book offers suggestions towards effective Military Leadership Training – something a nation would always feel incomplete without.

The book is a rare compilation of articles, views, comments and recommendations of specialists and experts of various fields (serving and retired) connected with the entire selection and training system of the officer cadre. This combined, coordinated and cohesive effort by the contributing authors is indeed commendable. Their sense of concern and responsibility to the uniformed fraternity reflects in the rich and diverse insight offered in a holistic manner.

The book contains the necessary ingredients to formulate a practical, meaningful and effective course of action. It is an earnest, fervent and collective endeavour to attract, select, train, groom and promote our budding and dynamic youth into inspiring, effective and quality military leaders.

It is thus left to the highest leadership in the country – Political, Bureaucratic and Military to take note of the glaring shortcomings and drawbacks confronting the Nation and the Armed Forces, and search for solutions. May the issues be addressed and resolved, thus strengthening the ”military leadership” – the most important principle of war for any nation.

The book was released by Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, Chief of Air Staff & Chairman COSC, in the presence of Maj. Gen. (Dr.) G. D. Bakshi, Mr. Rajan Arya, CEO Pentagon Press, Author & Editor Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Lt. Col. Anil Bhat & Air Marshal T. S. Randhawa on 20th November, 2012 at ‘Vayu Bhavan’, Air Headquarters, New Delhi.

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Book Review of “The Asocial Networking” by Dhiraj Kumar

The Asocial Networking

By Dhiraj Kumar

Social Media has intrigued me, more in the last couple of years when I realized the potential it holds. And on receiving a book review request from Dhiraj about his book I was more than happy to do it!
Thankfully, the book proved to be interesting enough for me to complete it, and not like a text book for dummies.

A debut attempt, this book somewhere reflects the author’s angst for the virtual world. This is one aspect I appreciate and would expect writers to keep in mind: Write what you truly feel- with convictions (but backed by strong facts/stats and data!)
The 150 odd essays (the author’s experiences) running over 300 pages reflect the debate between the real and the virtual world and how being offline is now a thing of the past. For those who aren’t online, they are as good as non-existent!
The author has some really stern views and I respect those, but maybe the virtual world is gaining prominence for a reason. Going all out and unleashing fury might not help at this stage. #justsaying
A slower evolution would do the trick, if everyone realizes the commercial propaganda that the virtual circle has in fact created around everyone one of us.
Many points in this book were too basic for me (sorry about that but I have read quite a bit in to social media) and thus felt repetitive at many places.
Most of the author’s points/experiences do make for a good read- given the style of writing. Like decoding personalities with the kind of status updates or pictures or activities one indulges in.
My only woe was the fact that towards the end it wasn’t all that intellectually stimulating or arousing. Too much of repetition got me disheartened. New approach yes, but the freshness fizzled out.
Had he supported his views “against” social media with staunch proven facts/stats-I’d be more than a fan! Certain points mentioned here were an #EpicFail. Really.
Another very prominent point is: the author talks majorly about FB as his point of reference for Social Media. More prominence to twitter or linkein or google plus would’ve made this more interesting.

Social Media has a lot many advantages for those who can harness its powers. And for those who suck the life out of it, they only see the short comings. Maybe Dhiraj hasn’t had good experiences on FB but he should give it a fair chance. And other social media sites too. There are successful stories floating around too!

Yes, quite a few of us are hooked on to it (for various reasons) but the smart ones do know where to draw the line. I say, newbies should give it a read. They are the ones who need to know where to stop and think about the effects of social media.

Overall, it did make for a good read for me – as it gave me a chance to notice the opinions of a social media critic.
I would recommend it to youngsters more so who still aren’t very clear about the Social Media assets and short-comings. This book will reveal quite a lot to them.

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Book Launch of “Sun Tzu- The Art of War”

Thursday, 5th April, 2012
RSI, Pune

But life takes you places – and mine saw me attend an informal book unveiling and discussion event at the RSI, amidst renown and senior (in rank and age) Armed Forces Officials on a pleasant Thursday evening.

Col. Vinay B. Dalvi‘s debut non-fiction “Sun-Tzu: The Art of War” is dedicated to the Indian Army. For those who don’t know, Sun Tzu wrote the Art of War in China 2500 years ago!
It is the earliest known treatise on the subject of war which has never been surpassed in comprehensiveness and depth of understanding.

The evening saw Col. Vinay B. Dalvi give his audience an outline of the 13 chapters and as many as 389 thoughts penned in the book.
“But the one thought I’d like to share with you all is this: If you know your enemy, you’ve won 50% of the battle; If you know yourself you’ve won 50% of the battle. So if you know your enemy and yourself, you’ve won 100% of the battle,” he pointed out.

He had the audience in splits when he commented, “Oh and yes, this doesn’t work on your better half!”

We then saw Vice Admiral SCS Bangara and Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi unveil the book, along with the author and Mr. Rajan Arya (CEO- Pentagon Press).

The noted dignitary spoke about the book and its content to quite an extent, and it indeed was enlightening. Though I don’t have an army background, I have a lot of friends who do. And I could relate to a lot of their stories about life at the NDA. The discussion saw the veterans speak about Leadership amongst Officers and how the NDA is a platform to groom and polish and recognize them. Maj Gen V.K. Madhok’s absence was extremely noticeable (due to unavoidable personal reasons he couldn’t make it to the launch), but his support was heartily appreciated by the author in his address.

 

(L-R: Vice Admiral SCS Bangara, Lt. Gen. Ashok Joshi, author Col. Vinay B. Dalvi, Mr. Rajan Arya- CEO Pentagon Press)

 

One noteworthy thing about the evening was the presence of Mr. Rajan Arya at the event. Its not often that publishers accompany the author for a book launch, but having read about Mr. Arya I was pleasantly taken aback at his modesty and enthusiasm of promoting new authors, and his willingness to publish books that are essentially non-fiction, and more so of political/relevant issues of concern today.

Maj Gen (Dr) G.D. Bakshi, SM, VSM (Retd) has written the foreword while Maj Gen Raj Mehta, AVSM, VSM, (Retd) has written the afterword for the book. And both of them have provided quite a clear and comprehensive idea about The Art of War, summarizing with its influence and applications.

I personally feel this book is beyond boundaries of any particular subject. It should be read by all. After all, Leaders are not just born. Sometimes they need to be groomed and polished and guided.

This (book) does go up in my “to read” list right away!

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Book Review of “Taming The Restless Mind” By Rashmi Singh

 

This book, I believe, is Rashmi Singh’s first non-fictional offering. A freelance Personality Development Trainer and Counselor, Rashmi has compiled small pearls of wisdom for her readers.
Pitching the book to be a guide, to tame your mind, Rashmi has put together about 20, quite prominent, topics that indeed are the factors that lead to unrest in the mind.

I would suggest young adults to give it a read. It is sure to help them as they walk the path of life- in college and in the corporate world.

But for most folks like me, these are topics that we are familiar with and know the nitty-gritty of the consequences they bring. The book seemed very interesting to me initially, but within a few pages it was too predictable. There was no novelty for me.

Also, I did not quite understand the usage of all caps words/sentences in between. If a point needs to be stressed up on highly, making the text “bold” could’ve worked just as fine. The usage of caps in between did not go well with my reading process. I did find many grammatical and other flaws but since the flow was soft and easy, I guess I shall by-pass them for now.

People dealing with confidence and self development issues must give it a read. There are many winning tricks highlighted in the book that are bound to help readers gather and uplift their self-esteem and decision making skills.

I will suggest this book to youngsters definitely so that they are at least aware of the things that they are doing wrong (yes, already) and how they can improve their communication and interpersonal skills, as they stand on the brink of the transition (from a youngster to an adult).

 

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Interview with Rashmi Singh

 

Love’s Journey is the debut novel of Rashmi Singh, a freelance Personality Development and Soft Skills Trainer at Faridabad.
From talking about her personal and professional life to her take on love, Rashmi gives us an insight on present day society woes and much more. Read on.

Tell us a bit about your professional background. How did you steer towards becoming a Personality Development and Soft Skills Trainer?
I had been quite active during my school/college days- Taking part in Painting, Elocution, Drama, Creative Writing Competitions (both in Hindi and English, winning prizes for Elocution/Recitation from RamaKrishna Pramhansa Society, Ranchi, second prize in dramatics, in B.H.U-.I.T. and from diff. prestigious platforms) and other co curricular activities saw a growth in my Personality. I was very good academically (except Math-ooops!), winning Best Class Citizen Award consecutively for 2yrs in school. My life could not be perceived without these!!!
I connected well with my friends without having ideas that I was better than others or others were better than me….though I wasn’t the partying type. My ability (God Gifted) to connect with friends made me the elected Joint Sec., of my college though just after graduation I got married.

Marriage came with so many other regular responsibilities which weren’t easy to shoulder so my studies saw a break. But I am thankful to my very good schooling (Notre Dame Academy, Patna and Loreto Convent, Ranchi) that I got a chance to teach English in a school where my child had taken admission-thence my journey started. Along with teaching, I carried on with my educational pursuits and finally did M.A., M.B.A., C.T.E. In schools I was generally asked by the Principal to counsel students and parents and this idea came up in my mind to hone and polish the personality of others with my own experiences of life-So about 12 years back, I quit schools and started as a Freelance Personality Dev. and Soft Skills Trainer.

What is the one thing that you think is quite important when it comes to communication skills and personality development?
It is confidence coupled with being well-informed. If you have confidence and correct information of things for which a person needs extensive reading, then his/her language defects, dressing sense, etc. could be easily covered up. But not over- confidence- this leads to miscommunication.

Would you like to share with our reader, your earliest memories of writing?
Yes, why not!
Like I mentioned, Creative Writing came to me naturally, I was always into a flight of fancy in my imaginary world. I watched people, their mannerisms very intently. Why people-I even watched animals..clouds..flowers.. My poems and write ups were published in college magazines and local dailies but at that time we didn’t have much opportunities. Moreover I belonged to a conservative Rajput family, though was provided with the best of education but all these were mainly done with one objective-marriage. But the writer in me often fought with the woman in me and I kept on writing in my diaries continually. I have 2 blogs Riviera and Lost Tranquility in the Asia Section of an International website.
But recently these blogs have become a scapegoat of the rules of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting- the write ups are there but the illustration in the form of pictures have been blocked. But this has not deterred me. Actually I am more energized now.

You get to meet a lot many people every day, given your line of work. Did that in any way trigger you to write a story/novel? As in, what brought about the ideation of “Love’s Journey”?
Yes, I meet many. There are many married men/ women who are leading an unhappy life. Though they profess, they love their spouses but actually are not happy. Many want to get out of their wedlock but have certain fears!

And above all the YOUNGSTERS. The no. of jilted lovers are increasing by leaps and bounds these days!!! Progress has come with increased no. of suicides.

Sleeping with one and then moving around with others. Though in such cases often the males do not have any qualms but the females to a great extent are traumatized. Though while narrating their stories, they try to hide their physical relationship but their restlessness and eyes tell all!!!
So I took a backdrop of Bollywood and wrote about the feelings of a woman who has to overcome hurdles of life and I think being a Counselor has helped me a lot in etching the characters.

How would you define “love”?
Love is something which cannot be defined or measured!
It is just a feeling. It rises above physical appearance and mental make up. According to me love is something when you understand a person-give him/her space. Sex is obviously there but in couples where this becomes primary, love cannot stand even a single negative onslaught. Like in Love’s Journey Jennifer falls in love four times… but with Shambhu her love was a platonic and the most strongly bonded one. She knew she was crushing her desires, then too she wasn’t at all feeling bad because the kind of selfless love Shambhu was showering on her was never experienced by her before. And with Shantanu she thought after all she had found the love of her life with her body physically craving for him but eventually it sucked her into a vacuum!!!

Who, according to you, is the epitome of love in your life?
From renowned and known figures, it is Radha- I think Radha, Krishna’s beloved is the epitome of love. She never demanded anything from him…She was married but had the courage million years ago to admit this. And nobody knows what became of her when Krishna left her. It is said Krishna gave her a place along with him to be worshipped but there is no mention of the fact, that where she went..what she did.

Wasn’t this Krishna’s responsibility to see what became of his beloved? Radha had the courage to let the world know she loved Krishna.

How was the experience of having authored a book? Have things changed in anyway? Did you face any apathy from publishers or agents in the publishing industry?
It was great! First time people could know about me-my ability to feel things around me and l
gave them ‘language’ And I for the first time could really let out my feelings to the world. Monetarily it hasn’t changed but fame wise it has!! People now relate to me. As a Personality Development Trainer, I could reach out to a limited people but now I am able to reach the masses!

Pustak Mahal People are very good and extremely co operative to me and hence far I have interacted with them only. I have no agents. I do my own Liaison. But many of my friends with finished work are facing apathy from agents and Publishers. I can’t name them as this may hamper their hard work

What’s your take on the sudden rise in the number of new young authors?
It is really nice to see that now so many young people are getting their desired platform.

What’s your favorite genre? Name some of your favorite authors and books.
Recently I read ‘The Palace of Illusions‘ by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni-It’s really gripping.
Paulo Coelho‘s ‘Veronica decides to die‘ is also thought provoking.
There’s nothing like my favourite Genre. I read anything which attracts my attention.

What next do we read from your desk?
Taming The Restless Mind is a very sincere and honest effort from my side to guide people across the world! I know many would be scandalized to see a woman dealing with topics which is considered a taboo in our society-but then someone has to! Topics like confidence development/communication skill is obviously there but topics like Peer Pressure, Job Stress, Dating, Drugs, Internet Porn Addiction, Nudity, Bed Buddies, Sexual Myths and Facts are also there. So you can say it is a complete package to tame restless minds!
Though a non fiction, it is written in a narrative style. The chapters are gripping with solutions provided to the best of my belief and faith.

Rashmi certainly has shown a knack for plotting a good story and etching relatable characters. I look forward to reading her latest non-fictional offering.

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Book Review of “Sybil” By Flora Rheta Schreiber

Sybil

By Flora Rheta Schreiber

I don’t know where to begin from and what to write. What shocked me most was the ideation of the novel. The issue of child abuse, put in one of the most horrifying ways, makes this a difficult book to “just read” through.
The book is about split personalities (MPD- Multiple Personality Disorder) that is a by-product of child abuse essentially.

 

 

Sybil is said to be a true story based on one of the most severe cases of MPD and child abuse in history. It portrays sexual, physical and emotional abuse by the hands of a mentally disturbed mother. It reveals the different personalities living within one woman (Sybil), in the course of (about) twenty years of her life that the book spans. As clichéd as it may sound, the pain and horrid incidents reflected in the book are sure to send a chill down your spine.

In 1954, New York psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur has a new client –a thin, nervous young woman complaining of unusual back outs. She speaks of losing time, fading in and out of consciousness over erratic time frames (sometimes hours, sometimes days). She speaks of finding herself in new cities and town, in clothes she never remembered buying. Dr. Wilbur takes her through a routine course of treatment until the day she meets “Vicky”- another personality inhabiting Sybil’s body. Dr. Wilbur realizes that Sybil is a case of MPD (an almost unheard of disorder back then) and she would have to dig deeper in to the case. Slowly about 16 personalities rise from within Sybil (including two male alters, Mike and Sid). The sophisticated Vicky was the “record keeper” of the selves, holding back the memories too painful for Sybil and the others to know. Peggy Lou was the repository of Sybil’s anger–defiant, belligerent, contemptuous of Sybil and terrified of breaking glass; Vanessa, a redhead with impressive musical talent. Some, like Ruthie, were barely more than toddlers mentally. It was the beginning of an emotionally exhausting eleven-year journey to make a fractured human being whole again.

The agony of a six (or seven) year old suffering from rape, and inexplicable, unnecessary forced enemas, and other forms of physical and sexual abuse compose the chilling tale. The torture ended only with Sybil’s death.

This by far is one of the most nerve wrenching reads of all time, for me. But a must have!

(Book Review by Sanjana Kapoor)

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Interview With Sudha Menon

 

From a business journalist to an author, Sudha Menon’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. Her debut non-fictional, Leading Ladies, inspired her all the way to show the different facet of the lives of women who have indeed made a difference to society by sheer determination and focus.

The book covers the stories of: Amrita Patel, Anu Aga, Kalpana Morparia, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Lila Poonawalla, Mallika Sarabhai, Mallika Srinivasan, Meher Pudumjee, Naina Lal Kidwai, Priya Paul, P T Usha, Shaheen Mistri, Shikha Sharma, Shubha Mudgal, and Vinita Bali.
Sudha Menon reveals to her readers the real women behind the names by focusing not only on their stories of their rise to fame, but also accounting stories of their vulnerable moments, their uncertainties, their failures and their resolve to carry on, undaunted and perhaps more determined.
Read on to know more about Sudha Menon and her forthcoming novels.

 

You’ve had a rich career as a business journalist for more than 20 years. Would you like to share the ups and downs of being a journalist?

I think there have been more ups than downs in my career. It was in this period that I transformed myself from a painfully shy, almost reclusive young girl to a woman who is confident of holding her own in any company. I think by its very nature journalism requires, indeed, pushes you to open up even while you encourage your subjects or interviewees to reveal things to you that they would not dream of telling anyone else…
I think journalism also gave me the opportunity to meet people from so many diverse fields and in some ways each of these people left their impression on me in a way that added to my own personality. Be it a meeting with Kapil Dev and Amitabh Bachchan , Infosys’ Mr. Narayana Murthy, badminton ace Prakash Padukone or much earlier in my life, the world’s first heart transplant surgeon De. Christiaan Barnard, or a meeting with Dr. Abdul Kalam our former President , or SEWA’s Elabhatt who brought economic and social liberation to over one million poor women, all of them left their indelible mark on the person I have shaped up to be.

The downs of the journey would be the age-old issue women have: time for their own families, sometimes the guilt of not doing stuff for your only child, not taking time off to stand and stare if you will, not being able to spend time with your ageing parents , siblings….. But in the end, it has been a memorable, soul-fulfilling journey and I would not change it for anything in the world.

Also, the downside would be that the profession gives you a real close look at how human beings, the most intelligent species on earth, can also be selfish, arrogant, infinitely cruel and insensitive to other human beings and also to the planet on which they live. I covered the horrific Mumbai bomb blasts following the fall of the Babri Masjid and in my mid-twenties, that was a horrible wake-up call to my dreamer’s soul.

Do you think there is a difference in the way the current age journalists/reporters work?

Absolutely. When I was on the field, covering the beat that was the only way journalism could be practiced. You had to be out on the field every day, meeting people, hearing their stories, verifying everything you heard. I think my generation had a socialist inclination, we were sensitive, sometimes even partial to stories of trade unions, women, the underdogs trying to get justice. Today it is all about fashion, films, society soirees, the bold and the beautiful. Our biggest celebrities today are not social activists, reformers or change makers but film stars, Page 3 denizens and reality show stars.
And yes, journalists are increasingly under pressure, especially the electronic media, to produce breaking news and that to a large extent has spawned journalism that is not always very objective. Call it pressures of competition but the truth is that things can be much better.

 

 

What was the turning point in your career? What inspired you to write a book – a non-fiction inspirational read at that?
The turning point in my life would be my decision to walk away from a career that I painfully and passionately built up. Something that happened at my work place conflicted with my idea of what was right. My sense of doing the right thing conflicted with something that my seniors thought and for me the only choice was to walk away from a situation which was not ethical. That one decision changed my life. Suddenly, I was free to do my own thing, the master of my own time and the road ahead was crystal clear: I was free to write the book that had been rattling around in my head for a long time.

The non-fiction, inspirational book was a no-brainer. For over two decades I had been following the lives and journeys of so many sterling people who were doing so much meaningful work for themselves and for the community. Some of these were women and a woman I wanted to know their best-practices, what are the philosophies, the believes that gave them the extra edge in such a competitive man’s world, the X-factor that made them winners in a country where women are still trying hard to just be able to finish their education and try and have a decent career for themselves.

The book had to be inspirational because as a young mother struggling with home, a demanding career and the need to look after her only child, I had often looked around for inspiration to allow me to stick to my chosen path. I think each one of us can do with some inspiration in life.

 

How did you choose the genre and title of your book – Leading Ladies? 
The name leading ladies seemed just right to me. The women in my book are stars in their own right, even if they might not be the kind of leading ladies in films. But by virtue of their work, they are the leading lights of their organizations. I was playing with words when I called the book Leading Ladies- These women actually lead other women to follow their lead and chase after their dreams, isn’t it?

 

 

 

What is the book essentially about? How would you describe the role of women in our society?
Leading Ladies is an inspirational book that follows the journeys of some of India’s most-admired women achievers who have made a difference to society with their stellar work and other pursuits that touch our lives, in more ways than one.  My book  brings alive their unique stories with personal anecdotes that will serve as a beacon for many of us.

While a lot has been written about how these women have achieved success, Leading Ladies highlights the guiding principles of their lives, the personal and professional beliefs that drive them, the life and management practices that have always stood them in good stead, and the non-negotiables that have guided them on their path to success.

What makes the woman professional/ entrepreneur/achiever/leader tick? What is it that drives them? What are the rules by which they play the game? Is there a level playing field for women? Do women need a level playing field? Is there something males can learn from their female colleagues? Are women leaders also from Venus along with the rest of their clan or do they belong to Mars too? My book seeks to answers to these questions.

(L-R: Karen Anand, Anu Aga, Sudha Menon, Meher Pudumjee and Shaheen Mistri, at the Pune launch of Leading Ladies)

 

 

How did you short-list these women? What was the kind of research and process you had to undergo to gather information on the women and assimilate the book?
Being a business journalist has its merits in that I was always expected to know the trend-setters in the business world. And a journalist has to try and be above things as they develop. We are generalists too so the sheer amount of reading newspapers gives us in-depth, current knowledge about people. I spoke to the women themselves and the people who have been associated with them extensively. The short listing actually did not happen. My initial list itself was some 100 women and I had to actually stop with the first 17 women confirmed their participation in the book, because people don’t have the patience to read more than 400 pages at a go. So, there is volume 2 for sure and more later.

 

The lives of these personalities (mentioned in the book) have been documented in various publications earlier too. What is it about your book that makes it different or worthy of being picked up?
The fact that they spoke to me unedited. Somehow, I struck a connection with each of these ladies in such a way that they let their guard down and shared things from their lives, thoughts, dreams, their inner fears, stuff that they would otherwise never , ever think of putting in the public domain. These anecdotes transformed them from being perfect beings with unattainable, achievable women in books and magazines to women like you and me, who have their share of problems and fears and weaknesses. There is something infinitely charming about that and people are interested in learning from such stories.

 


Of the 15 women you’ve mentioned in your book,
o    Who has inspired you the most? 
P.T. Usha and Lila Poonawalla. They came from backgrounds where the odds were stacked heavily against them. Usha ran without shoes till she was about 16 because there was no money to buy shoes in a family where the father had a tiny village store to run. Lila’s initial life was spent in a refugee camp and from abject poverty she rose to become the first woman CEO of a multinational company in India. SEWA’s founder Ela Bhatt. Being in the same room as her is like being in the presence of an energy field that instantly charges everyone up. For a 70plus woman to do so much for a sisterhood of women and also work simultaneously for global change, is awe-inspiring.
o    Who has impressed you the most?
Naina Lal Kidwai, Kalpana Morparia, Shaheen Mistri of Teach for India, Shikha Sharma… In fact, all the women in my book are my stars. They work hard for themselves and for the community around them. Each of us can learn something from them.

 


What makes you tick?

My work is my biggest energizer. That and the fact that I have a family which adores me, admires and supports my work and gives me unconditional approval for my endeavors. My 20-year old is the guiding light of my life. Each day, when I set out to do something, I say to myself that I have to make her proud of me, I have to be her role model.

 

 

Leading Ladies – volume 2 is on its way but it’s being penned in a different format I gather – will it appear in interview form then?
Each of my work will be based on interviews because there is nothing like making a person talk unedited, to get a great story.

 
The fiction that you are working on at the moment – a few words about that please
It is the story of Karthu, a young girl growing up in coastal Kerala, in the period of the gulf boom. That era brought great wealth to the state but also corrupted the society in shocking ways. Karthu falls victim to an older man’s lust and the story follows her from being a victim to an unwed mother in a disapproving society and her eventual coming of age. An excerpt of the novel was published recently in Indian Voices, an anthology of emerging Indian writing from around the world. Honestly, I have not touched my fiction work for a year now because real life stories inspire me so much more than fictional characters.

 
Non-fiction and fiction –both of your works are woman-centric, is it just inspiration or that’s the realm you would like to focus on for now? 
Women fascinate me. They have such complex lives, there are so many layers to their personalities, they have to deal with life at so many layers and play so many roles. Their lives are so challenging and each day is a new chapter of that struggle. I want to focus on the stuff that makes women the fascinating creatures that they are and so, my writing is preoccupied with their stories.

 

 

Tell us about a few of your all time favorite authors and books. 
A J.Cronin’s The Citadel, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, Emile Zola’s The Dram Shop,P.G. Wodehouse’s amazing books. Gone with the Wind and The Thornbirds were books that I grew up reading maybe dozens of times. I get moved my powerful characterization, intense people, settings that make you yearn to be part of that story…and by passion, be it for someone or for something.

 
Your advice to budding writers…
Read a lot. Read stuff that you like so you learn from them and read stuff that you don’t like so that you learn to avoid that style. Live a life that is rich with people and experience because in the end, powerful writing is about the powerful experiences that we ourselves go through. Armchair writing is infinitely less interesting than the writing about a person who has lived life rough, on the edge, lived dangerously and lived life as if each day is his/her last day on earth!

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To Date Or Not To Date

There was a blog by Rosemarie Urquico on “Date a girl who reads” that created ripples. That was a response to Charles Warnke’s “You should date an illiterate girl”.

 

Since I was almost facing a “writer’s block” and couldn’t think of a blog idea, I thought, why not jot points for people who wish to date. So we can take a look at pros and cons of dating people who are well read, vs. others who disregard books.

Let’s begin with the cons. (No, I’m not a pessimist. I just want the negative out of the way.)
•    A person who loves to read and write would know just too well when you are lying.

•    They would be your grammar police when you least expect them to be.

•    They would be more crazier than you –speaking like Shakespeare, imagining likeRowling, reciting like Keats, talking about Gainman and what have you!

•    They will be master storytellers telling you off. They would have their expectations running high –thanks to all romantic/mystery novels they would’ve gulped by now.

•    They would be gaining more limelight, than you, amongst your peers. And sometimes more weight, sitting around with books as their sole companions.

•    They might, sometimes, be too engrossed in a book to pay attention to you. And sometimes they might end up paying more attention to details than expected.

•    They might lose their cool and snap at you, just because the protagonist behaved like an ……..
And now for the pros:

•    Cost

One of the most important of all factors. (Yes, let’s be practical.) Dating a person who reads implies an inexpensive affair. Books nowadays do cost a lot. Unless they are from some of the Indian publishers who save on the paper quality and offer books for like a mere Rs. 100!
Getting him/her a library card would go easy on your mind and pocket. And also relieve you of thinking, “What should I gift him/her now!?”
Dating a person who does not read implies there is greater cost involved. Imagine the kind of shopping some people indulge in – guys and their electronic gadgets; and girls with their (bare) clothing. Oh this is much more expensive!!!

 

•    Conversation abilities

Hands down I think a well read person can engage you in intellectual conversation, over a person who absolutely scorns books and newspapers. A well read person adds value to your knowledge bank. He/she can help you spin fantastic stories, and dwell in a world of goblins and fairies when you need some cheering.

•    Personality
A person who reads would be wise. (Let’s just say so for conversation sake.) He/she would be more composed and mannered than a person who doesn’t. He/she will understand that failure doesn’t mean the end of the world. A sequel can be written and life will move on. Success will follow. After all, you are the lead of your life story.

•    World of fantasy
There can be so much to talk about, so much to imagine, so much to fantasize about, with a person who reads, (and reads good stuff) over a person who can’t even make decent stories to save his/her life.

•    Priorities
Well…at times his/her books would gain priority over you. But it’s better than indulging in mindless banter with a person who knows not much. True you will be given all the attention and pampering by a person who doesn’t care much for books, but is that of any value when there is no growth, individually or together. If you crave for intellectual challenges, be prepared to not indulge in any with the person who cares not for the written word.

•     Simple living. High thinking.
Apart from the fact that this is Mahatma Gandhi’s quote, it is quite relevant in life. The person gobbles up words like a hungry reader is sure to find pleasures in simple things in life. A flower, the rainbow, the first drop of rain, a butterfly, a coloring book, colors, stationary, anything that brings in a smile instantly without any effort. He/she would inspire you more than life itself, someday!

 

•    Life

Life will no longer be bland with a person who reads. Imagine adventures, treasure hunts, fantasy world stories. You might end up having weird (in a nice way) kids with weirder tastes and observation powers. Growing old with that person would be so much easier and fun. It’s true when they say, marry a person who you can talk to, because when you are old, it’s only good conversations that keep you going. He/she would recite KeatsWordsworthShakespeare,WhitmanWilde with much ease when you wish to hear a few words of love.

•    Other factors
It’s better to have you partner check out books than check out other people when with you. And who doesn’t make mistakes? We all are human after all. At least you can expect a well-worded apology in case you partner goofs up at some place.

All the places that you cannot afford to visit can be imagined and improvised in the company of a partner who utilizes his/her creative abilities to the hilt. He/she will lend you a listening ear. Always. Because, he/she knows how to give someone their undivided concentration.

He/she would know when to get serious and when not. He/she would appreciate your passion just like their’s.

So you see…there are too many pros of dating a well-read person. So go ahead, find yourself a…

good book and begin reading. NOW!

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Book Review of “Reality Bites” by Anurag anand

Reality Bites

By Anurag Anand

Reality Bites is a pleasant read. The story is about Atul’s hostel life and all that he faces/experiences as a hostelite.

It opens with Atul’s first day at engineering college and moves a bit into flashback revealing his hostel life in junior college.

Atul moves from Hissar to Delhi to be a part of a prestigious school (junior college) so that he can seek admission to a good engineering college after that. All this because of his dad, who wanted Atul to be either a mechanical or an electronics engineer to make the family proud. Yes, we all have faced such situations at some point or another – giving into the demands of our folks, who think we would do well in certain school/college just because someone else suggested the place, or some kid who happened to score a place in top notch engineering college having passed out from a certain school/college.

His first acquaintance, Alok, is a senior hostelite and he introduces Atul to Swati, Anirban and Bobby.
But the arrival of Atul’s room-mate Santosh (Senti) sets ground for new friendship.

Atul goes through the ups and downs of hostel and college life- making friends for life (Senti and Bengali), falling in love with the beautiful Ayesha Kapoor, spending wooping amounts on a weekend with her, indulging in frivolous passionate activity in an abandoned building near the squash court, getting his heart broken, getting into a mess, being saved by Swati, and the likes.

All the incidents in Atul’s life will bring in a smile as you read them. The narration is breezy and quite captivating. The author has a way with words.

Although, I didn’t quite get the “not so innocent” part of the love story. Was going away to Agra and staying in a hotel the “not so innocent” part? Or was Senti’s love story the “not so innocent” one? Yeah, Senti too falls in love with a girl elder to him and how he gets out of it makes for a hilarious read.

Sprinkled with humor, and garnished with some wisdom and maturity later, the story takes a peep in to the world of young adults…freshly in college – worrying about falling in and out of love, and fretting over exams and differences with friends…the cute stuff we, workaholics, have left far behind.

Quite an enjoyable read, as you lay in bed tucked in your warm blanket, with the continuous drizzle dropping the temperatures by the minute. Don’t forget the hot coffee mug by your side.

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Book Launch of Reality Bites by Anurag Anand

5th July, Mumbai.

Landmark at Inifinity Mall was crowded as ever. But this time it was Landmark garnering most of the attention. And why not!?! Anurag Anand’s fifth novel, a fictional one, Reality Bites was launched at Landmark by eminent personalities of tinsel town – Sudhir Mishra (Director), Randeep Hooda (Actor) and reigning Pantaloons Femina Miss India World 2011, Kanishtha Dhankhar.

(L to R: Randeep Hooda, Anurag Anand, Sudhir Mishra, Kanishtha Dhankhar)

Reality Bites: a not so innocent love story, reveals the life of the protagonist Atul through his hostel and college days and his tryst with love and paternal pressure. A humorous, adventurous, contemporary love story with a myriad of emotions so relatable that you’d be hooked on to it till the very last page.
Yes, the usual gimmicks were witnessed here too: Anurag and Kanishtha were the only ones to arrive at the venue before time while the rest of celebs walked in late. But the wait was definitely worth it.

They unveiled the book at the very end, after the interactive session. Amazingly, the audience seemed quite enthusiastic about the event and shot a volley of questions as soon as the floor was set open for audience interaction. The author seemed very calm and composed, and handled the questions with much panache. Sudhir Mishra is a strong opinionated man with all the right points to make you ponder. Randeep brought in a lot of humor to the evening. For some reason, Kanishtha seemed quite formal at  her first book launch event.

Overall, quite an exciting and fun-filled evening with quips and mirth and laughter on the floor.
Anyway, I are all set to review the book soon. Let’s see you beat me to that!

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