From “A Train To Pakistan” to “The Avatari”…

To lead life on your own terms till the age of 99 and to say, “I don’t know what to do with myself if I don’t write, I have lost the art of relaxation”…is every writer’s dream. This is how Khushwant Singh lived his life. My first exposure to his writing was when I used to read his columns. His book, “The End Of India” had a great impact…it became a wake-up call for me as a citizen concerned about her own future in the process of nation building. Khushwant-Singh

I had the opportunity of meeting him very briefly in my first job, when I was part of the media team for my organization. It is a meeting I will not forget. Khushwant Singh was charm personified and made me feel so much at ease with his chivalry & humour. Somewhere, he contributed very largely to my resolve of being a ‘writer of sorts’ that day.

Rest in peace is all I can say to a personality who impacted thousands of lives in his own inimical way & who wrote his own epitaph –

“Here lies one who spared neither man nor God.

Waste not your tears on him, he was a sod.

Writing nasty things he regarded as great fun.

Thank the Lord he is dead, this son of a gun.”

It’s a pleasure to read more and more great writing by Indian authors. A staple diet of British & American authors in the early years of my life shaped the kind of writing I preferred reading. Then the world of Indian authors opened when I started reading Salman Rushdie & VS Naipaul. I know a lot of people out there will say, “But, they are not really Indian…:)”. My library expanded with books by Rabindranath Tagore, RK Narayan, Vikram Seth, Ramachandra Guha, Ruskin Bond (as Indian as he can get), Anita Desai, Shobha De, Chetan Bhagat, Ankit Fadia (one of the youngest Indian authors), Ravi Subramaniam, Jhumpa Lahiri & a few others.

The last three Indian authors I have read have given me more joy in the recent past. All of them quenched this thirst for a good read in their own way. Today’s blog is tribute to all of them. I have had the good fortune of meeting one of them, the second one has promised a meeting…I’m hoping to interview him soon and as for the the third author, I have written to him appreciating his book. I’m sure I will meet him!

“Billions Of Entrepreneurs” by Tarun Khanna talks about how China & India are reshaping their futures and along with that how our futures are also being reshaped. Dr Tarun Khanna is a Professor at Harvard Business School, teaching MBAs and executives there. He is also involved in multiple projects in different countries across the globe, working closely with entrepreneurs & investors alike.Tarun Khanna

On the ground approach to writing using everyday situations & challenges of running small & large businesses in both countries, Dr Khanna emphasises how differently entrepreneurial each culture is. New age business models coming to maturity from the shadows of the past, fluctuating political will, a dynamically changing society, a restless youth population that wants more & more in a faster way – these are highlighted so well in his book.

Having worked with a couple of companies Dr Khanna mentions, I could relate to a lot of situations he has written. The growth of mini Indias and Chinas across the world gave rise to a diaspora of entrepreneurs in various fields, most notably in the field of technology. It is this diaspora that influences & controls the emerging businesses in both countries. “Billions Of Entrepreneurs” is a must read for those who want to understand how India & China have embraced the world in their own way and how while ignoring the western world, businesses in both these countries are worth billions.

The title of the second book is as lovely as the author – “Lady, You’re Not A Man” by Apurva Purohit. Apurva is the CEO of Radio City 91.1FM. What caught my attention was the down to earth approach to writing, using everyday anecdotes & stories to bring out the essence of what every working woman goes through. It’s a book only a lady who has ‘been there done that’ could have written with such clarity & humour. Apurva Purohit

The book talks about acceptance as being the most important pat of solving any issue in life. The 10 acceptance lessons in the book become fundamental for day to day progress of any working woman. I love Apurva’s statement – “Adapt yourself to reality. And then you will be able to mould reality to what you want.” It makes a lot of sense!

“Lady, You’re Not A Man” addresses what every woman is looking for – work home balance. Her pithy tips hit the bulls eye…when she talks about how important it is for women to network, to accept that male subordinates or colleagues are wired differently, the choice of either being a victim or heroine of your own story and last but not the least, how important it is build a reputation in a career and not a CV. Must read is all I will say!!!

The third book for me is the proverbial icing on the cake. This is a book I haven’t been able to put down easily, even to take a break. As I wrote to the author, Raghu Srinivasan, “There are certain times in life when you regret doing the mundane everyday tasks because they take you away from the book you are reading…my situation is like that today”. 45840_1419019520215_1791419_n

“The Avatari” by Raghu Srinivasan is that book in my life right now. I discovered the existence of this book when a very dear friend & I discussed good writing and what have you read off late? Thank you Sandeep Malik, for gifting me “The Avatari” & introducing me to Raghu. I always say it’s important to have friends who know you well enough to know your taste in books, music & whiskey :):):)

Ernest Hemingway said, “All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened”. Reading “The Avatari” brought home that point to me. The interspersing of the eras, the lovely way of describing the British countryside & bringing out the exoticness of Mongolia & India, challenges in Afghanistan & Pakistan, weaving the plot in a subtle way, bringing out historical & mythical stories that at least I want to believe…all contribute to making me want to curl up and continue reading…come rain, come sunshine.

Raghu’s style of writing reflects the amount of research he has done to get his readers to believe that a mythical kingdom existed & a deadly secret when revealed could threaten the fabric of human civilization. I felt it was a great combination of Archer & Ludlum….my brother added Matthew Riley to the list. Yes…I got him hooked on to it too!!! It’s amazing how many readers are out there who want to read a good book & are waiting for someone or the other to recommend.

I have not completed “The Avatari”…I’m hoping to finish reading it in the next three days. And then I know I will bask in the warm glow of having completed a fantastic read, carrying with me the quest for another good book…till Raghu comes back with his next!!!

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