Tag Archives: Deepak Chopra

Interview with Ismita Tandon Dhanker

A “lesser known poet”, a brilliant author, and an extremely charming young girl – Ismita Tandon Dhanker made waves with her debut novel- Love On The Rocks earlier this year.

BookChums got talking with Ismita and here’s all that we found out.

We saw your blog and it has some real good poetry. So let’s begin with the clichéd one first – when and how did you start writing poetry?
Poetry happened to me at the age of twenty-six when I went sailing for the very first time. A stroll on the deck one evening gazing at the blue sky slowly turning crimson and the wind stroking my face, the thoughts kept flowing until they began to rhyme beautifully. Communing with nature was the turning point in my life.

Your first published book is a romantic-thriller and not a collection of your poems. Why?

People don’t read poetry. Where is the time in this mad rush to pack meaning in their fast paced lives?  And even if they do they don’t buy a poetry book and publishers have a tough time selling it in the market. But it’s my dream to have a poetry book that would sell like hot cakes. The dream has already begun to pay off since I won 50, 000 for my poem ‘I am Beautiful’. Life is much like poetry…beautiful, free flowing, cryptic.

Love on the Rocks had quite a heady mix of characters. What was the thought process while developing the characters? What kind of research did you have to do for the characteristics and the overall plot?
The characters are an amalgamation of all the wonderful people I have sailed with in the last few years. Sailors are quirky, a lot different from the average man you meet back home. Long voyages at sea in the company of colourful sailors, gross jokes, anecdotes, bizarre incidents, the loneliness it all turned out to be one helluva adventure. That’s all the research that I needed to put together a thriller.

If the book gets picked up for a movie- who do you think will fit the role of Sancha, Capt. Popeye, Aaron, Harsh, and Baldy?

If we are dreaming, we might as well dream big:
Sancha – Amy Adams
Capt. Popeye – Antonio Banderas
Aaron – Christian Bale
Harsh Castillo – Oliver Martinez
Baldy – I think Christopher Nolan can handle rest of the casting

The title, genre and setting of the book is unconventional and not been explored by many new age writers. What prompted you to work along the lines of suspense/thriller/murder…and not take the conventional route of a chick-lit or simple love story?
Everyone has a story to tell and the first book almost always comes from the authors immediate surroundings, experiences. I have always been inclined towards murder mysteries and it seemed like such a thrill to keep the readers guessing. And love is so twisted in this day and age that any story can hardly be termed as a ‘simple love story’. Hence the thriller angle.

What are the challenges you faced while writing the book –maybe in terms of its progress or the characters or maybe with the publishers?
Challenges were plenty. To carry the story forward from different POV’s, exploring their personal crisis while moving on with original plot required that changes be made to the draft very often.
Even after the final draft was ready, my troubles were far from over the difficult task of finding a publisher loomed large. A year long struggle, countless rejection mails and nail biting moments were an integral part of the books arduous journey. And I had to kept reminding myself every now and then ‘Its a good book and I’ll make it’.

Is there an incident that you’d like to share with our readers and budding authors that you encountered while writing the book?
The original manuscript was a grand, elaborate peep into the lives and work of sailors on a ship. Their hardship, the hectic work hours all that had to be pruned to make the plot tighter as editors from various literary agencies believed that the general public would not be interested in reading about the mundane. I differ on that point and today most readers come back to me and say ‘they loved the novel, the plot but a little more description of the life at sea would have made it so much more interesting’.
Persistence is what worked in my favour. It’s a tough call to roam around with a manuscript that doesn’t gel with the standard idea of Indian fiction, the story being narrated by different points of view. And then to be told that Indian writers can’t write good thrillers. Well, I just did!

Given a chance, would you think of giving this story an alternate ending?
Nope but I would prefer to stick to the original/working title of my book which is ‘Almost Lucid’.
How do you think your writing (fiction and poetry) has matured with time?
Clarity of thought and simplicity of expression are now the hallmark of my writing. Practise makes perfect!
Name the authors and poets who have inspired you.

Jeffery Archer, Sydney Sheldon, Kabir, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Frost.
Tell us something unique about:
Ismita the poet…is restless.
Ismita the author…is an author by default.
Ismita the girl…spends her evenings in the company of Trees.
Tell us:
The one quote that inspires you all the time
To practise any art no matter how well or badly is a way to make your soul grow.

The one character of LOTR that is closer to you than the rest
Manna and his journal entries.

The one dream/aim you still strive to achieve
To be known as a Poetess.

The one poet (and/or author) you desire to meet
Deepak Chopra.
What can we next expect from your desk?
I am half way through another thriller titled, ‘Drink and Die‘, weaved around DND, a rehabilitation centre for alcoholics in a town called Monele near Ooty. The story highlights a social malady, Alcohol addiction, an issue I have always wanted to address.
The plot is a heady cocktail of the different favours of life lust, power, money, incest and vanity. The protagonist of the story is Johnny Will, a man with a high IQ, who runs a rehab and is ostensibly helping the rich and not so sober get over their little alcohol addiction. He has no qualms about blackmailing his wealthy patients too. A crook selling a cure.

What other books/authors of recent time would you recommend our readers?
Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Kabir.

If you had a book club, what would you name it? And what would you be reading in there?
‘The Poetry Night Club’ and would be reading poetry of course!

Well, there’s a lot more to this charismatic young author and we for one, eagerly await her next book.

To know more about Ismita check out her profile page, only on BookChums!

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Keep Reading

A man is known by the company he keeps. And a book is any day good company. It reveals more about your character. It reflects your tastes, your desires, your perspectives, and a bit of the real you.

Books have a deeper impact on your mind and heart. They become a characteristic trait.
Research shows that most of the successful people, read. And read books that broaden their perspective and their knowledge and their thought process. They have more information; learn from other people’s experience; and are better at evaluating and making decisions.
We all know that reading is to mind what exercise is to body. In today’s age of technological and psychological advancement, our minds do need to open up more. And a book is said to communicate with us on deeper levels than any human being can. It speaks to our mind and to our heart. Directly.
A book can make you visit lands that you’ve seen before; peep into the depths of history; learn from the greatest minds; ponder over issues that you never paid heed to before; and bring about thoughts that would address real problems and shape the world around you. The levels of connect could be different, but the purpose is simple. To make you better.

You may be a funny man, and reading the works of Allen Smith, Douglas Adams, etc. help you hone your skills and acquire higher levels of humor. Of late, Kartik Iyengar’s Horn Ok Please has been creating waves. And amongst the experienced ones, Abhijit Bhaduri’s works are highly recommended.

If you possess “creative imagination” you end up reading more of J.K. Rowling, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Roger Zelazny, Terry Pratchett, C.S. Lewis, and our very own Samit Basu etc., and you build your own fantasy world, bringing out improvised characters that have a trait of your personality.

If you possess good communication skills; have a knack to sync practicality and emotional thoughts with the ability to lead, works of Yogesh Chabria, Shiv Khera and Deepak Chopra would interest you more and help you develop interpersonal skills to reach your goal as ‘motivational speaker’.
Yogesh stresses that wealth without peace of mind, fun, and happiness is useless. He says that without Saraswati, goddess of knowledge, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is impossible to get.
Deepak Chopra, an Indian public speaker, and writer on Ayurveda, spirituality and mind-body medicine, began his career as an endocrinologist and later shifted his focus to alternative medicine. One of his main messages is that by ridding oneself of negative emotions and developing intuition by listening to signals from the body, health can be improved.
Shiv Khera, an Indian motivational speaker, author of self-help books, business consultant, activist and politician, came out with his first book in 1998. You Can Win introduced his trademark quote, “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.” The focus of the book was on achieving success through personal growth and positive attitude.

There are stacks and piles of books of literary value – from classics to literature to poetry to modern day “metro reads”; from sci-fi to chick-lit to recipe books; the options are aplenty and the choices varied.

FromShakespeare to Charles Dickens to William Wordsworth to Chetan Bhagat to Ahmed Faiyaz and the whole new generation of writers who do churn out readable material.
So my point is, read what you really like. Your mind retains things that you like and eventually reflects someway in your personality. It makes you a better person. A learned one too.
There was a time when people worried about reading too much. And today, too little.

In this age where our meals are supersized and books abridged, I wonder where exactly we are headed. Any guesses?


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The Non-Fictional Indian

What is it about fiction that attracts more readers as well as writers? Is it the whole idea of “making up” things or the liberty of “exaggerating” normal ideas/scenes of daily life to add more color, flavor and spice to it; or the limitless possibilities of creating a whole new world to explore with words and imagination?
Why is it that not many new-age authors venture into the world of non-fiction with that ease? Does the presentation of actual facts and the accurate details (based on ample of research) baffle and scare them? Or is it the thought of taking the “easier” route? Or does everything ultimately boil down to the “commercial” aspect? Yes, fiction sells more than non-fiction. At least in the literary world.

As I see it, the market is huge for non-fiction as well. But it’s only the experienced few who dare walk “the path less taken”. Fair enough. Everyone is entitled to play safe.

Let’s look at some experienced authors who have braved the route and the hurdles along with.

Nirad C. Chaudhar’s “The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian” is a work of self-discovery and the revelation of a peerless and provocative sensibility. Describing his childhood in the Bengali countryside and his youth in Calcutta—and telling the story of modern India from his own fiercely independent viewpoint—Chaudhuri fashions a book of deep conviction, charm, and intimacy that is also a masterpiece of the writer’s art.

Talking of non-fiction, who can forget Shashi Tharoor, controversy’s very child. His book – “The Great Indian Novel“ is a fictionalized account of Indian history over the past 100 years. It aims to remain true to the original events, including characters such as Gandhi and Mountbatten but it also utilizes characters, incidents and issues from the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. I wouldn’t put this one in the absolutely fiction category.

Angela Sainis “Geek Nation” is an account of India and it’s geeks. Inventors, engineers and young scientists helping to give birth to the world’s next scientific superpower a nation built not on conquest, oil or minerals, but on scientific ingenuity of its people. Colorful characters and gripping stories highlight the fact that though India is looked up on as a spiritual nation, it has its share of science-hungry citizens.

Sudeep Chakravarti‘s “Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country” talks about the Maoist movement – apparently one of the world’s biggest and most sophisticated extreme-left movements. Sudeep Chakravarti combined reportage, political analysis and individual case histories and takes the reader on a heart wrenching journey to areas of extreme destitution, bad governance and perpetual war. A very brave effort.

Basharat Peer’s “Curfewed Night” is a lyrical, gut-wrenching and intimate book with an unforgettable portrait of Kashmir in war. The young journalist writes from experience and touches your very soul with his poetry. And in Khushwant Singh’s words, it is “Beautifully written, brutally honest and deeply hurtful.”

Gurucharan Das‘ “India Unbound” is amongst the only books that offers purely stat-based factual analysis of the Indian economy. It is a narrative account of India from Independence to the global information age, and has been published in over a dozen languages and filmed by BBC.
His other best seller, “The Difficulty of Being Good: On the subtle art of Dharma” examines contemporary moral failures through the lens of the 2000 year old epic, the Mahabharata. Apparently he spent nearly 7 years researching the book at the University of Chicago. It uses quotes from the Mahabharata yet also other ancient works such as the Iliad and cites examples as recent as the financial crisis.

Amartya Sen‘s “The Argumentative Indian” is a collection of essays that discuss India’s history and identity, focusing on the traditions of public debate and intellectual pluralism.

Ashish Bose’s “Headcount: Memoirs of a Demographer” focuses on the population issues of India’s four largest states—Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The acronym ‘BIMARU states’ was coined by Ashish Bose who is considered to be the pioneer of demographic studies in the country. In this book he presents his unique view of modern India with little known facts and insights into the people and events that have shaped independent India. The book is a readable memoir by one of the most important social scientists of modern India.

Narayan Murthy
’s “A Better India, A Better World” shows us that a society working for the greatest welfare of the greatest number—samasta jananam sukhino bhavantu—must focus on two simple things: values and good leadership. Drawing on the remarkable Infosys story and the lessons learnt from the two decades of post-reform India, Narayana Murthy lays down the ground rules that must be followed if future generations are to inherit a truly progressive nation.

Kaushik Basu’s “Beyond The Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics focuses on the central tenets of economics.

Rashmi Bansal’s “Stay Hungry Stay Foolish” is a book full of interviews. 25 IIM grads who broke the shackles of regular societal norms of staying happy with a campus placement or a secure job and went ahead to build empires that continue to inspire many geniuses, make up for some inspirational read.
Then there are biographies of industrialists and people who have led to the economic growth of the nation.

Vinay Bharat Ram’s “From the Brink of Bankruptcy: The DCM Story”, talks about the legendary Lala Shri Ram (Vinay’s grandfather) and gives fascinating insights into how big businesses survive, how family conflicts are resolved, and how luck plays a part in the achievement of corporate objectives.

In the humor section, we have cartoonist Suraj ‘Eskay Sriram’s recent work – “Indira Gandhi –The Final Chapter”, lampoons the political figure through witty cartoons. It draws a satirical portrait of the Indian leader, while humorously depicting certain behind-the-scenes political and social affairs in our country.

Manjula Padmanabhan’s “Double Talk” shows Suki, the central character (a bushy-haired, baggy-clothed free spirit, with neither job nor family to tie her down) whose life was breezily uncluttered, unencumbered and unconventional. Her favorite concerns were bewilderingly abstract and her reference points were usually universal rather than local. The strip garnered rave criticism back then, and now the book represents a selection of the strips that appeared in print from 1982 to 1986.

Sudhir Dar Classics is a collection of cartoons. From acerbic takes on politicians of every hue and hilarious asides on everyday issues that plague us—rising prices, traffic jams and bumpy roads—to side-splitting comments on our national obsessions—cricket, films and TV serials—Sudhir Dar’s masterly brush strokes are guaranteed to keep the laughter ringing.

These authors/cartoonists draw satire by keenly observing the situation and analyzing its effects on the common man –the “aam aadmi”.

Then we have books comes imparting “gyaan” on the importance of staying fit and following a healthy regime.
Rutuja Diwakar’s “Don’t Lost Your Mind, Lose Your Weight” is one major best seller in this category. Of course, with Kareena Kapoor endorsing the work of this fitness guru who helped her attain the much talked about “Size Zero”, this one had to top the charts!

Books on spirituality and religion are aplenty.
Like Swami Tejomayananda’s “The Ah! Wisdom Book” is a collection of real life incidences where Swami Tejomayananda has given the highest wisdon during casual interactions with devotees. In a witty and simple way, his playful statements are instantly engaging, when unraveled, they provide the basic building blocks of everyday life.

Bringing the real Indian to the forefront are works of seasoned authors.
V Raghunathan’s “Games Indians Play – Why We Are the Way We Are” centers around us- Indians. The author uses the props of game theory and behavioural economics to provide an insight into the difficult conundrum of why we are the way we are. He puts under the scanner our attitudes towards rationality and irrationality, selflessness and selfishness, competition and cooperation, and collaboration and deception. Drawing examples from the way we behave in day-to-day situations, Games Indians Play tries to show how in the long run each one of us—whether businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats, or just plain us—stand to profit more if we were to assume a little self-regulation, give fairness a chance and strive to cooperate and collaborate a little more even if self-interest were to be our main driving force.

Pavan K Varma’s “Being Indian – The Truth About Why the 21st Century will be India’s” presents an insightful analysis of the Indian personality and the culture that has created it reaches startling new conclusions on the paradoxes and contradictions that characterize Indian attitudes towards issues such as power, wealth and spirituality.

The corporate world has seen the rise of many self-help books for managers, leaders and employees.
Radhakrishnan Pillai’s “Corporate Chanakya – Successful Management the Chanakya Way” reveals aphorisms or sutras of Chanakya, a 3rd Century BC’s leadership guru par excellence. The author simplifies the age-old formula of success for leaders of the corporate world.

Ashis Nandy’s “The Tao of Cricket – On games of destiny and the destiny of games” focuses on the sport that Indians live for –Cricket.  He analyzes the popular game and profiles legendary figures such as W.G. Grace, Douglas Jardine and Ranjitsinhji.

Rashmi Datt’s “Managing Your Boss” provides valuable insights and practical tips through case studies and examples based on real life experiences of middle and senior managers. The book is really about building an effective and productive relationship with the boss for the good of the employee, the boss and the organization.

Anurag Anand’s first book “Pillars of Success” touches aspects of personality development while his second book “Corporate Mantras” was based on his experiences in the corporate world.

Vineet Bajpai’s “Build From Scratch“, is amongst one of the country’s first books on young entrepreneurship.

Then we have umpteen books revealing the real face of India –the slums!
Gita Dewan Verma’s “Slumming India – A chronicle of slums and their saviours” is a  whistle-blower’s account of the chaos that is urban development; Kalpana Sharma’s “Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories From Asias Largest Slum” is a book that challenges the conventional notion of a slum; Swati Mohanty and L N P Mohanty’s “Slum In India” probes deep into the problems, integrated all connected issues and provided suggestive measures for meeting the challenge. All written with rare sensitivity and empathy also provide facts to support their data.

Talking about reality, A. Revathi’s “The Truth about Me: A Hijra Life Story” (Translated By V. Geetha) is the unflinchingly courageous and moving autobiography of a hijra (eunuch) who fought ridicule, persecution and violence both within her home and outside to find a life of dignity.

So is Sonia Faleiro’s “Beautiful Thing” –the story of Bombay’s dance bars and bar dancers.

Further in the genre of self help books, certain names cannot be missed. Like Shiv Khera, Deepak Chopra, Yogesh Chabria, all who have more than a pile of books ranking amongst the country’s top best sellers.

So you see, most authors, who have ample years of experience backing their work, combined with factual data and deep research churn out insightful non-fictional books.
But I wish the youth of today, with their brilliant writing skills and new narrative techniques, would venture in to this genre, given the kind of exposure they have nowadays.
Truth IS stranger than fiction. I say, give it a try. You might surprise yourself!


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