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Books to look out for this week

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Shameless

Taslima Nasreen

HarperCollins, Rs 399

Shameless is an uncompromising, heartbreaking look at ordinary people’s lives in our troubled times. ‘My name is Suranjan. You don’t recognise me? You wrote a novel about me called Lajja.’ One day in Calcutta, Taslima suddenly finds herself face-to-face with Suranjan, the protagonist from Lajja. Persecuted in their native Bangladesh, he and his family have, like Taslima, moved to the city across the border. But is life for a Hindu family from an Islamic nation any better in a country where the majority happens to be Hindu? Leading poor, unmoored lives, exploited and frustrated and always carrying with them the memories of a scarred communal history, Suranjan and many others like him seem to lead incomplete lives in their so-called ‘safe haven’.

Boost your Self-Esteem in 30 Days

Marc Reklau

 Rupa, Rs 195

Boost Your Self-esteem in 30 Days is a guide to self-love, in which international bestselling author Marc Reklau shows you how to boost your selfesteem with simple and practical exercises. Thirty days does make a difference. All you have to do is change your life by changing the way you feel about yourself! Having healthy self-esteem is being happy with ourselves and believing that we deserve to enjoy the good things in life. Our self-esteem impacts every area of our life: our self-confidence, our relationships with others, the partner or job we choose, our happiness, our inner peace and even our personal and professional success. This book will help you change your life by changing the way you feel about yourself!

Running Toward Mystery

Tenzin Priyadarshi and Zara Houshmand

 Penguin, Rs 2031

 Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi’s profound account of a lifelong journey as a seeker. It is a story of striving for enlightenment and the vital importance of mentors in that search. Tenzin Priyadarshi was only six years old when he began having visions of a mysterious mountain peak and of men with shaved heads wearing robes like the colour of sunset. At the age of 10, he ran away from boarding school and strangely enough, ended up at the Buddhist monastery that was the place in his dreams. Searching everywhere possible, his frantic parents and relatives located and brought him home after two weeks. The visions continued and he felt a strong pull to a spiritual life which he later embarked on.

Janaka and Ashtavakra

Ashraf Karayath

Rupa, Rs 295

A story of sage Ashtavakra and his disciple King Janaka is a gripping yet unknown episode from the Ramayana. A young boy Ashtavakra goes to King Janaka’s court to debate the kingdom’s most learned sages but is ridiculed for his deformed body. After the boy triumphs in the debate, the king realises he has an extraordinary intellect and becomes his disciple. While Janaka is obsessed with his quest for spiritual liberation, a treacherous plan unfolds inside the royal palace. Very soon war clouds gather on the horizon of Mithila but Janaka devotes more time to the young sage staying on the path to spiritual enlightenment. With Ashtavakra’s guidance, the king enters the realm of a new world which alters his and his kingdom’s reality.

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THE RENDEZVOUS

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Pre-Covid Life “Maa, I am hungry. Aren’t you?” Nitya asked Kalyani, after sauntering in the mall, for over an hour. The sale was on, so Nitya dragged her mother for some shopping. She purchased two pairs of trousers and three formal shirts for work. Even though she had enough shoes for the office, she bought another chic pair on impulse. She cajoled her mother to buy a saree for herself but Kalyani declined to say she had enough to last her a lifetime. Her mother started keeping aside sarees for Kalyani and her sisters from the time they were born. After her wedding and for several years after that, the only present Kalyani received from any relative was a saree.

“I have more than a hundred of them, I don’t need anymore.”

“At least buy lipstick or a kajal.”

“I have enough stock for the time being, I will replenish it next month.”

Annoyed, Nitya then asked her to eat something, as they had left home after an early lunch of tamarind rice and now she had started feeling the hunger pangs. Kalyani agreed, even though she was doubtful of finding anything to eat from the cuisines that were on offer. She was a vegetarian and 109 finding a dish without meat and eggs at the south-east Asian kitchen counter was equivalent to finding a needle in a haystack. But Nitya managed to source one for her mother — an instant pot vegan khow suey made in coconut milk. Kalyani enjoyed the dish thoroughly and Nitya was relieved that her mother finally opened up to the idea of trying something new. R City Mall had organised a week-long Diwali extravaganza with stalls ranging from designer clothes, jewellery and imported decoration material and luxury toiletries. The mall had also tied up with a five-year hotel to set up a live gourmet kitchen counter serving the best of Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines.

Nitya ordered a nasi goreng for herself; even though she had started eating meat in her college days, she wasn’t in the mood to have one today. After their lavish meal, Nitya and Kalyani decided to leave when Nitya noticed a jewellery stall. She took her mother along to check out the fashionable collection. She liked a few pieces and decided to buy them when her mother elbowed her gently and whispered that the jewellery on display was too expensive. Shikha overheard the conversation between the mother and daughter and intervened with an offer. She had the knack of retaining customers and with this skill managed to build a committed clientele, over the years. “You can pick up any two pieces and I’ll give the third one for free,” she made the offer to Nitya, who readily accepted. Kalyani was happy that Nitya got a good deal on her purchase. Mahima bumped into Kalyani at the Rose Cafe. She decided to introduce herself and extended her right hand. She asked Kalyani to join her at the table. Kalyani shook her hand and without giving it much thought sat next to her.

“I am Mahima, remember you had left your wallet…”

“Yes, I do. I am Kalyani.”

“Like that day, today also I am waiting for my nephew. Earlier I used to feel that he was genuinely getting delayed, but now I have started doubting his behaviour. I think he is a scatterbrain. Are you waiting for someone?”

“No, I just came here as my daughters are away at work. Ever since my elder daughter introduced me to this mall, I haven’t stopped coming. Now, I don’t think before dropping here for window shopping or coffee.”

They ordered a cappuccino each and started talking. By the time Shivansh arrived, they had discussed their age, relationship status and their work.

“Sorry to keep you waiting bua,” Shivansh apologised profusely to Mahima.

“Come on, don’t apologise so much. I am glad you came in no time.” “Huh bua, I called you three hours ago saying that I would be late. But I got really late, I am sorry.”

Mahima and Kalyani did not realise that they were chatting for the last three hours. Kalyani searched for the waiter to ask for the bill but Mahima offered to pay for her coffee.

“Next time you pay,” she insisted in a manner Kalyani couldn’t refuse.

Kalyani left the cafe and Shivansh and Mahima got talking. Mahima and Kalyani were having their staple cappuccinos at Rose Cafe and discussing their lives when Kalyani noticed Chitra entering the restaurant. She waved at her and introduced her to Mahima. Kalyani told Mahima about Chitra’s bakery and praised its confection.

“I will surely order something from your bakery,” Mahima assured her. “Sure, any time. But please don’t feel pressured to do so, I have known Kalyani so came to greet her,” Chitra smiled. Chitra had opted for a take-away order of two large cappuccinos for herself and Pankaj.

The excerpt is taken from the book ‘Half a Century’ written by Megha Manchanda.

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Fire of aspiration: The Integral Yoga begins where other yogas end

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My meeting with Sri Aurobindo began on the mental plane, through abstract ideas that explored the various aspects of Indian spiritual and philosophical traditions. I already had a working knowledge of the concepts, partly as a seeker and partly as a traveller, through the works and paths of other Indian philosophers and spiritual leaders to whom I was exposed to during my school days, college life and early career as a writer. It was not until I turned thirty that destiny placed me before Sri Aurobindo. More accurately, I was ready to receive his deep, wide and puissant ideas.

This was no coincidence; it was the decisive tread of time that has irreversibly changed my life. Since then, I have embarked on a journey that has gone beyond the mental. Or let us say, the mental has been enriched by the emotional-vital, which in turn has been deepened by the psychic, with all three held together by the spiritual. Sri Aurobindo’s influence on every aspect of my life, from the way I think to the manner in which I express myself, has been, like his yoga, integral.

The Integral Yoga is a process by which not just the soul but the body, right down to the cells, is transformed through the union of two powerful forces—the human aspiration from below, and the divine grace from above. There is no single method, mantra, practice or process that the Integral Yoga professes; the journey and the resultant transformation of each individual soul is unique.

This transformation is destined. The Integral Yoga, according to Sri Aurobindo, accelerates what nature has preordained through evolution.

To clarify, the Integral Yoga is not an admixture of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga or Jnana Yoga (the yogas of Works, Devotion, and Knowledge). It is not a collection of ideas and words fused together by language. Sri Aurobindo’s synthesis of yogas is wider than an agglomeration of extant schools, deeper than the living philosophical traditions and higher than the spiritual milestones mapped thus far. It is not an easy path. It requires grit, sincerity and the constant fire of aspiration. The Integral Yoga begins where other yogas end.

For Sri Aurobindo, dissolving into the Brahman is not the ultimatespiritual goal. His yoga attempts to transform the earth. Where other yoga paths find fruition in merging with the Absolute, Sri Aurobindo sees this union as an intermediate step.

Divinisation of matter and not dissolution of consciousness is his destination, the transformation of humanity and not merely the individual his aim. Science may place homo sapiens at the pinnacle of evolution. But for Sri Aurobindo, this species is a transitional being, whose evolution is not yet over. Just as life entered matter, and mind entered life, both mind and matter await the descent of the spirit the Supramental consciousness. Any transformation without the transformation of the body will remain incomplete. Life on earth has to be divinised. Life and afterlife are both here and now. The two are one.

“Sri Aurobindo does not believe in salvation,” his spiritual collaborator Mirra Alfassa, better known as the Mother, said. “For us salvation is a meaningless word.” Although his work is rooted in Hindu philosophy—or to put it more accurately, in Sanatana Dharma, itself a wide spiritual rather than a narrow religious endeavour, and where even religious activities such as rituals have deeper meanings through the Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo has taken Indian spiritual traditions several steps forward. But neither the divinisation of matter, nor the transfer of consciousness, transformation and evolution, nor aspiration and grace are easy concepts to understand.

‘Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to teach this truth to men,’ wrote the Mother, combining all three concepts (man as a transitional being, the Supramental consciousness, and the transformation) elegantly. ‘He told them that man is only a transitional being living in a mental consciousness, but with the possibility of acquiring a new consciousness, the Truth-consciousness, and capable of living a life perfectly harmonious, good and beautiful, happy and fully conscious.

During the whole of his life upon earth, Sri Aurobindo gave all his time to establish in himself this consciousness he called supramental, and to help those gathered around him to realise it.’ Despite the wide range of themes he engaged with, the essence of Sri Aurobindo’s writings remained spiritual. Be it nationalism or freedom, poetry or drama, analysis or record, the Vedas or the Upanishads, science or metaphysics, all his writings are rooted in spirituality.

What makes reading Sri Aurobindo challenging is the interpretations of ideas like surrender, equanimity or grace, when placed within the wider context of the Integral Yoga. Making the intellectual climb even steeper are other related ideas that we meet on the path man as a divine potential, containing within himself a Swabhava that translates into his swadharma to surpass matter, mind and soul.

Add to this the layers of the being, the knowledge universes from the physical mind to the Overmind, or the ascent of consciousness meeting the descent of grace, and every book of Sri Aurobindo becomes a self-contained force-field comprising a highly-specialized interplay of understandings, experiences and realizations. You can’t read Sri Aurobindo only with the eyes of the mind.

Even the reading has to be integral. The spiritual collaboration of the vital, the psychic and the physical is necessary to reach the depths he envisions. When some readers say they sense a presence while reading his works, we can empathise with what is going on behind the mind.

As far as words go, Sri Aurobindo is as much at ease with poetry as with prose, with philosophy as with politics, with dramas as with stories. His writings, as a prisoner or professor, a leader of revolutionaries or a resident of solitude, resonate with force and depth. I find his writings mantric; his words express Truth in sound. The mantra has to be read not just by the mind, but sensed by the being through words. ‘The Mantra,’ he wrote in The Future Poetry with On Quantitative Metre (See Chapter 22), one volume of his collected works, ‘is born through the heart and shaped or massed by the thinking mind into a chariot of that godhead of the Eternal of whom the truth seen is a face or a form.’This Truth reaches the deepest recesses of our souls.

These truths resonate in different ways. His revolutionary writings, narticularly the ones that explore nationalism, make you sit up. His analytical writings, on silence or science, for instance, cut through all surfaces and bring Truths to you. His philosophical writings get to the core of issues in ways that make traditional philosophers look like amateurs grappling with ideas, which in turn are toying with them.

Sri Aurobindo’s mantric style is ancient andmodern, Vedic and contemporary; it is integral across time, space and ideas, and as all Truths are—eternal.

Above all, every aspect of his writings, from education to freedom, psychological to physiological, physical to mental, the Vedas to the Upanishads to the Gita, is powered by a spiritual force whose presence is perceptible. His insights into political events of the day contain a vision for India that goes beyond it becoming a superpower; his vision of nations and global affairs raises the field of geopolitics to levels unseen.

The excerpt is taken from the book Reading Shri Aurobindo, Published by Penguin Random House.

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Amit Agarwal chronicles forgotten episodes from Indic Resistance

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This is the second book by author Amit Agarwal that I have read. His first book, ‘Swift horses Sharp Swords,” had an entirely new perspective on history with a new format. The book was full of maps, tables, pictures, and illustrations; it was a breeze to read through it. I was a little circumspect when the author sent me his new book, “A Never Ending Conflict’ about whether he could keep up the promise. But I was proved to be wrong as I found there is a quantum jump in storytelling. His latest book is a compilation of five nearly forgotten stories. This collection presents a multifaceted narrative of Bharat’s history from 326 BCE, beginning with Alexander and finishing in the present, leaving several lessons to ponder. The delightful feature is that he has written it from an Indic perspective, quite a refreshing change from the usual leftist fare. Every piece of history starts with a Puranic tale and culminates in the present times. A few things were new to me. I did not know that Hampi was the place where half of the Ramayana happened. Here, Bhagwan Ram met Hanuman, Sugriva, and Bali, and the whole strategy to fight Ravana was chalked out here. The place was bubbling with energy, leading to Vijayanagar’s founders, Harihar and Bukka, choosing the place as their capital. Another exciting piece unknown to me was that Kohinoor was originally the Suryadev’s stone, which was gifted to Krishna’s cousin. The author could build an engrossing story around how the stone proved to be a curse to everyone, especially males, who possessed it. Even today, Queen Elizabeth is scared to wear it. A similar narrative has been built in Lachit’s story, where the presiding goddess of Assam, Kamakhaya, features twice in the story. A little anecdote about her has been interspersed wherein the readers have been informed about her menstruating period, quite a uniqueness of Hindu dharma. It is said that the waters of the Brahmaputra become red during those times. Alexander’s interaction with Sadhus projects our spiritual prowess and goes on to tell us that the invader was not a great person. There is a short story about the Eram massacre, a replica of Jallianwala Bagh, which happened in Orissa in the 1940s. The peculiar thing was that there was no General Dyer here and our own Hindu brother ordered the shooting, killing scores of people.

However, the Khilafat story takes the cake, and it is in this story that the author comes into his element. Hindu-Muslim conflict is his forte and he had come out all his guns blaring. He showed how conditions in the early 20th century still exist today with no chance of ending this never-ending conflict. Unlike other history books, the book is not Delhi-centric and covers the whole stage of Bharatvarsha. Every region is covered, from north to south and from extreme west to Assam. In two of the stories, even contemporary world affairs have been incorporated. Kohinoor travelled to Afghanistan, Persia, and then Britain. How these kingdoms tried to steal and rob the Hindu gem tells a lot about our ancient glory, mediaeval atrophy, and modern resignedness. Khilafat’s chapter takes one to distant Turkey, which was on the cusp of a revolution wherein it became a democratic republic, an unheard of phenomenon in the Islamic world. The reader also learns about Russia’s anxiety due to its peculiar geography, which continues to deny it access to warm seas. This was the primary reason for its modern attacks on Turkey and Afghanistan to gain access to the Mediterranean and Arabian Seas. The author seems to be fond of battlefield formation, strategy, and tactics as he explains them gleefully. He goes on to show that any opponent, no matter how strong or barbaric, can be defeated with the correct strategy. The Ahoms exploited their advantages, forcing the Mughals to fight on marshy lands and rivers where their famed cavalry could not be deployed. All in all, the book is a saga about the Hindu-Muslim conflict, wherein the latter always has the upper hand. They have been able to loot, maim, and kill Hindus for the past 1300 years. The Hindus never let up their resistance, and that’s why we are the only polytheistic ancient civilization to survive amid the incessant onslaught. The rest of all the civilizations bit the dust, be it Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Inca, and Mayan, to name a few. The author has pointed out that in the past two millennia, 46 mighty civilizations were made to vanish at the hands of the two Abrahamic religions.

In Post-independence, how our secular outlook destroyed the generations and made them ashamed of their own culture and traditions is clearly delineated. Everything about the Hindus was branded as superstitious, barbaric, and archaic. Invaders of every hue were glorified, and there is a whole industry for sustaining this narrative. The money flows from Islamic, Christian, and communist countries, particularly China, to disrupt and dismember the country. Due to this debilitating secularism, we even squandered the spoils of the war in 1971. Another feature that I liked was the critical analysis of the prevailing ecosystem. The author doesn’t mince the words even while criticising Hindu weaknesses. It is essential to learn from past mistakes; then, one can desist from repeating them. The author, an IIT product, spins authentic, reliable historical tales that hook the readers till the end. They can relate to, appreciate, and imbibe the invaluable historical lessons from the book and implement them if we are intent on saving our precious civilization. The author is part of a new impatient generation of writers keen to change the way history has been written in the past. Along with a course correction in history writing, they want to steer India to reclaim its ancient glory. The book employs easy language to cater to a young audience, and I feel he might be successful in hooking them up to his book. It has the potential to make Gen-X proud of its roots. History took a surprising nasty turn in many places, and I have to look at references to whether it was correct. As it turned out, the narrative was indeed true. The references run for 20 odd pages and show the correctness of the history dished out in the book.

The book has certain weaknesses too. The first is the book’s thickness, for no book should be more than 200–250 pages. The author must understand that people’s attention spans are quite low after the advent of social media. The editing could have been crisper as the story drags at a few places. A reputed publisher Garuda Prakashan has published it, and if it is marketed well, it has the requisite potential to do well in the market. In the end, history has to be imbibed and implemented, only then any fruitful outcome happen in the future.

The author is Vice Chancellor of Mahakaushal University, Jabalpur.

‘In Post-independence, how our secular outlook destroyed the generations and made them ashamed of their own culture and traditions is clearly delineated. Everything about the Hindus was branded as superstitious, barbaric, and archaic. Invaders of every hue were glorified, and there is a whole industry for sustaining this narrative. The money flows from Islamic, Christian, and communist countries, particularly China.’

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PANKAJ BHARGAVA’S TRAVELOGUE UNVEILED BY AMBASSADOR OF NORWAY

Murtaza Ali Khan

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Pankaj Bhargava’s travelogue titled “Khanabadoshiyan,” published by Vani Prakashan, was recently unveiled by Hans Jacob Frydenlund, the Ambassador of Norway to India. The launch event, which was held at the Royal Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi, was hosted by Aditi Maheshwari-Goyal, Executive Director, Vani Prakashan Group. “I am happy to see that for the first time a travelogue about Norway has been written in Hindi.

It is hoped that through this book, Norway will become better known as a nation of friendship and hospitality, “rejoiced Ambassador Frydenlund.”

Arun Maheshwari, Managing Director, Vani Prakashan Group, who was also present on the occasion, averred, “In my opinion, nomads are that light scent of a natural fragrance that shakes the dream of life. I am certain that the Vani Prakashan Group’s relationship with Norwegian literature, which has been flourishing for almost 25 years, will reach new heights with Pankaj Bhargava’s travelogue. “ A book reading session was also held as part of the event, wherein Bhargava read out some of his favourite sections from the book. “I hope that my travelogue will inspire young people to visit Norway. “I would like to dedicate the travelogue to my readers,” said Bhargava.

While recounting his experiences of travelling across Norway with his friends, Bhargava recollected the challenges that they had to face to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, coined by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei as’ aurora borealis’ in 1619—after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek god of the north wind, Boreas.

They are a natural phenomenon found in both the northern and southern hemispheres of the Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions. Auroras typically display dynamic patterns of brilliant light that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.

Sharing her thoughts about Bhargava’s travelogue, noted theatre artist and writer Rama Pandey opined, “‘Khanabadoshiyan’ is a sweet book and such sweet books, which are light in weight, relieve you from stress.” I must congratulate Pankaj Bhargava and the Vani Prakashan Group for bringing out such a book. “ Noted poet Aalok Shrivastav said,

“When a journalist associated with the visual medium writes, the observation is bound to be very good in his writing.” In fact, ‘Khanabadoshiyan’ is so visually rich that it is not just a book but cinema in 70mm.”

Praising the travelogue, noted writer Bhagwandas Morwal asserted, “Pankaj Bhargava’s book is a travel memoir. More such travel memoirs should come out in Hindi.

The veteran poet Suman Keshari, who was also present on the occasion, congratulated the author and said, “From what Pankaj wrote about Norway in his book, it was as if we had seen the city through his own eyes.

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Defying parental wishes, cultural expectations

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Jahnavi Barua belongs to that growing pantheon of Indian writers in the English language whose style is a new movement in literature that has quietly developed almost unseen over the past few decades. The story is mainly set in Assam and Bangalore and touches upon various themes like home, family, belonging, finding oneself, and self-love—all of which will touch the readers in some way. It is Assam in the 1980s. As deep political unrest simmers in the background, the intertwined lives of a household will change forever. The book talks about estranged families and relations and how they can be mended over time. “Undertow” explores how family dynamics are altered when a family member chooses to marry an “outsider,” in defiance of cultural expectations and parental wishes. The novel also deals with how relationships undergo a sea change when a family member defies societal norms and parental wishes to marry an “outsider”.

Loya is twenty-five: solitary, sincere, with restless stirrings in her heart. In an uncharacteristic move, she sets off on an unexpected journey, away from her mother, Rukmini, and her home in Bengaluru, to distant, misty Assam. She comes looking for her beloved Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, but also seeks someone else-her grandfather, Torun Ram Goswami, someone she has never met before. She arrives at the Yellow House on the banks of the Brahmaputra, where Torun lives, not knowing that her life is about to change. Twenty-five years ago, Rukmini had been cast out of the family home by her mother, the formidable and charismatic Usha, while Torun watched silently. Loya now seeks answers, both from him and from the place that her mother once called home. In her quest, she finds an understanding not only of herself and her life but also of the precarious bonds that tie people together. A delicate, poignant portrait of a family and all that it contains, “Undertow” becomes, in the hands of this gifted writer, an exploration of much more: home and the outside world, the insider and the outsider, and the ever-evolving nature of love itself.

The story is universal, and the reader will relate to it because it is the story of people around us. Author Jahnavi Barua tried to explore what happens when reconciliation doesn’t happen. We learn how to deal with other human beings right from childhood and within our families. While we learn about love, trust, loyalty, honesty, ambition, hard work, and politics in an extended family, we also learn about rejection, betrayal, and selfishness. Author Barua tried to tell us that we go out into the world with what we learn in a family. The tangible and intangible ways we respond to people depend on what we learned growing up. The core of the book is about what it is to be human, and a lot of it depends on being self-aware. There is a kind of positivity, acceptance, and tolerance in knowing what you want and getting it in a good way without stepping on someone else’s toes. The novel “Undertow” deals with the many such small things that make up a whole where relationships are concerned—how old hurts, grudges, and ego get in the way, as do new anxieties. With characteristic restraint and disarming, author Jahnavi Barua lays bare the disquieting predicaments of contemporary urban life and reveals the timeless and redemptive power of love, friendship, and self-renewal. It may sound unusual, but it is, in fact, an ingenious example of the effectiveness of narration; deeply touching, but never sentimental; restrained, but never frustrating; patient, but always page-turning. The beauty of Assam and the river Brahmaputra are so mesmerizingly described, which compels you enamored reading it and there is this uncanny yearning to see this heaven!

This moving book evokes in one a longing for the lucid exchanges that take place only in the most intimate moments. Rich in lyrical passages and rife with descriptive beauty. From impulsive, split-second decisions to the patient and overly optimistic, Jahnavi Barua writes with depth and evokes manifold emotions through her effortless prose and skilled storytelling. Terse and tense, this wonderful book is worth every second that you decide to spend on it. Quite adept at stirring emotions, the author addresses most characters, giving us their side of the story. Loya’s choice of men, in search of comfort and to be held, a physical action denied by her mother, surfaces now and then. Tarun’s guilt for abandoning his daughter runs parallel to his unabashed love for his wife Usha- the epicenter of all his troubles. The other characters bring a different perspective, this building is a story layered with emotions and the nuances of the human being and amidst all this is the Brahmaputra, a silent observer and sometimes a patient listener to the troubles of this family, a river that has seen this land come into existence, fight battles of its own and has offered solace to many a weary soul. The people of Assam believe fiercely in their roots, a rare love. This is the anchor that holds this story together, instilling in Loya the love for her roots and, finally, giving this family much-needed closure. This book is heart-wrenching, at the same time encouraging and full of hope. The story grips the reader in such a way through all kinds of emotions, sadness, and uncertainties of life. Raw feelings regarding abandonment as well as coming to terms with emotions so deep have been portrayed well. It is a book worth going back to on a day when you’d want to find the light at the end of your despair tunnel. This novel evoked so many unspoken emotions within you that your heart would be heavier with love and full of hope turned the last page.

Ashutosh Kumar Thakur is a Bangalore-based Management professional, Literary Critic, and Codirector with Kalinga Literary Festival. He can be reached at [email protected]

Usha- the epicenter of all his troubles. The other characters bring a different perspective, this building is a story layered with emotions and the nuances of the human being and amidst all this is the Brahmaputra, a silent observer and sometimes a patient listener to the troubles of this family, a river that has seen this land come into existence, fight battles of its own and has offered solace to many a weary soul. The people of Assam believe fiercely in their roots, a rare love.

Ashutosh Kumar Thakur is a Bangalore-based management professional, literary critic, and codirector with Kalinga Literary Festival. He can be reached at [email protected]

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HERE’S A BOOK THAT HELPS YOU NAVIGATE THE UNCERTAIN NATURE OF JOBS IN INDUSTRY 4.0

A gripping book full of incredible insights, Rajesh Srivastava’s ‘The 10 New Life-Changing Skills: Get Them & Get Ahead’ is meant to equip professionals with necessary skills such as creativity, problemsolving, innovation, and design thinking, among others, so that they can remain relevant in an ever-changing business world

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THE FUTURE OF JOBS 

The earlier 3 Industrial Revolutions (3IR) created bluecollar and white-collar jobs. Now, the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), also referred to as Industry 4.0, has commenced. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres. The nature of jobs in Industry 4.0 is still not fully formed. It is still not entirely clear what shape and form they will take. Then how shall we prepare for jobs that are not entirely formed and are still evolving? A consensus is emerging that Industry 4.0 is creating ‘thinking and reflective’ jobs which can be labelled ‘green-collar’ jobs, because the colour signifies growth and renewal, sustainability and moving ahead. Green-collar jobs would require people to possess higher levels of cognitive skills, self-management skills, social skills and emotional skills. Let us dive deep into them to gain a cogent understanding of them. 

HIGHER-LEVEL COGNITIVE SKILLS 

Skill 1: Creativity. It requires the use of imagination to combine and connect different ideas in new and imaginative ways to come up with big ideas.  

Skill 2: Innovation. It requires the discovery of opportunities and implementing ideas to achieve profitable results.  

Skill 3: Critical thinking. It requires challenging traditions, questioning assumptions and defying norms that have outlived their utility, and installing new ones in their place.  

Skill 4: Framing the right question. It will lead to the right answer, which will open up a treasure trove of new business opportunities that would have remained undiscovered but for the right question.  

Skill 5: Smart problemsolving. It requires leveraging creativity, innovation, critical thinking and similar skills to come up with smart solutions. 

SELF-MANAGEMENT SKILLS  

Skill 6: Lifelong learning. It increases employability, accelerates career advancement, enhances self-confidence, helps one remain relevant and face the unexpected with aplomb. In brief, it is a passport to being a lifelong winner.  

SOCIAL SKILLS 

 Skill 7: Storytelling. It is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.  

Skill 8: Influence without authority. It helps to get people to see your way of thinking, motivate them to support your initiatives and adopt your idea of their own free will. 

 EMOTIONAL SKILLS 

 Skill 9: Humanness. In the earlier 3IRs, people did what they were told to do. Therefore, they bought their bodies to work, leaving their minds and hearts behind. Industry 4.0 is giving birth to green-collar jobs which entail ‘thinking and reflection’. Therefore, people must bring their minds, hearts and bodies to work. It has the potential to unlock people’s unlimited potential. Skill 10: Entrepreneurial spirit. It is an intangible energy that inspires people to harbour aspirations greater than the resources at their command. When this spirit is alive, businesses keep their mojo and maintain their edge. These skills will help you adapt to yet unborn jobs, no matter what shape and form they shall take.  

A word of caution:  

These skills are not substitutes for hard skills, i.e., technical knowledge or training. Those you must acquire. But the combination of hard skills coupled with these skills will help you thrive in the workplaces of Industry 4.0.  

The excerpt is from ‘The 10 New Life-Changing Skills: Get Them & Get Ahead’ (Penguin Random House India). 

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