Real Life Heroes and their #WillOfSteel !

#WillOfSteel is an endeavour by JSW to honour the unsung heroes of India, people who have truly proven their mettle and have unbreakable determination. Be it in sports, health care, social service or even saving the environment. These are individuals whose willpower has changed the world.

 

We all, and myself included, go ga-ga over movie stars and praise them to the moon. We spend a lot of time reading about them, watching their videos, and spending our money on their films. But are they real “heroes”?
We come across so many real life heroes in our life, and yet we hardly ever mention them on social media or in our daily interaction. So when JSW came up with this idea to honor some of our real life heroes, I just knew I had to do this. These people are so inspiring that I just knew I had to write about them. If we want people in our society to lead by example, who else could be a better example?
You can find all the nominations by JSW

here

. You can also vote for them at the same link. For a change, this would be an award ceremony where everybody would already be a winner, right?

As far as I am concerned, I discovered my inspiration in the following people and voted for them.
1) Satender Sharma : Children are always closest to my heart. So when I read the story of this

young boy

, who had to deal with atrocities like sex trafficking, drug abuse and child labour, at the tender age of 13, I just felt helpless. I know scores of children go through this, and yet we do nothing. The network is so large, we don’t know where to start. And look at this young boy! After being rescued by Salaam Baalak Trust, he is now a grown up man who instead of chasing success, has again gone back to the streets where he once lived. But this time, to make sure that no other kid goes through what he had to. I salute you Satender. This issue is closest to my heart. I wish I can work like you one day!

2) Vijayan : Travel is something that a lot of us are besotted with. As much as might we call ourselves travellers, in our heart, we really are tourists, aren’t we? We try and book the best hotels with the best view. We visit all the famous monuments a place has to offer and then head back home satiated of having visited the said place. But this

man

is what classifies as a “traveller”. He is a simple tea vendor. You can well imagine the kind of salary he would be earning. And yet, he has visited more number of countries than you and I have. He takes loans from the bank and then works doubly hard to repay it. Once he also sold tea in Zurich to be able to scour a return ticket home. Impressive, right? 

3) Pamela and Anil Malhotra : In this age of globalization, everyone of has a ton of views on why Global warming is happening. But almost none of us have any solution or the will to do anything about it. But Pamela and Anil went ahead and did what one couldn’t even imagine. They transformed 55 Acres Of Barren Land Into A 300 Acre Wildlife Sanctuary. Thanks to them the ecological condition of the area and rapidly improved over the last decade. For sure, “where there is a will, there is a way”!

4) Laxman Rao : Almost all the bloggers I have known till date nurture a dream of being a published author one day. But only a handful of them are. Some have written entire books, while a few have been published in Anthologies. But who would think a roadside tea seller in Delhi has over 20 books published in his name? I am, for one, bowled over by this information. This man has really inspired me to leave my procrastination behind and get writing with the pen. NOW!

5) Karibeeran Parameswaran & P Choodamani: For me, being a humanitarian always comes first. And this couple will always be at the top of my list. The 2004 tsunami literally washed their life away as they lost their 3 children in it. But not ones to lose hope, they rescued and sheltered many orphaned children. Today they are parents to 26 such children, making sure their future life will be brighter and better. I salute thee Karibeeran and Choodamani !

6) Tauseef Siddiqui : Dharavi, the largest slums in Mumbai, is also one of the largest in the world. Until now, it has most often been in the news for its poverty and squalor. But Tauseef along with his friend Fahim started Be the Local Tours to promote a never before explored section of Mumbai, Dharavi. A section of Mumbai that is written off as the underbelly, Tauseef shed light on the fascinating Eco system hidden within this slum and turned the image around into an international tourist attraction. Today because of his relentless efforts, Dharavi is looked at in a whole new light. Hats off to this young boy for his revolutionary idea and showing the world that India is not only a land of the poor and snake charmers. We also have the most hard working and intelligent people who are working hard to make it big in an emerging economy.

I’m voting for Satender Sharma’s, Vijayan’s, Pamela and Anil Malhotra’s, Laxman Rao’s, Karibeeran Parameswaran & P Choodamani’s, and Tauseef Siddiqui ‘s #WillOfSteel and blogging on BlogAdda to help him/her get felicitated and eventually enabled by JSW.

Book Review : Ramanayana, The Game of Life

I have never been a fan of the mythological drama genre. SO even though the husband loved the Nagas series, I haven’t read it yet. But sometime back I read a book called the “Palace of Illusions” which dealt with the story of Mahabharata from Draupadi’s point of view. All my knowledge of Mahabharata hitherto had only been from the famous tele-series of the 90s by the same name. But the book had so much more to offer. And that is what got me hooked on. Last year I read Shubha Vilas’ Rise of the Sun Prince. Initially I found it a little slow. Maybe it had something to do with my expectation. I had expected it to be something of a story built around Ramayana, which it was, but in a “motivational speaker” kind of way. It starts with how the Ramayana came into being, about Valmiki and why he was chosen to write it. But with the amount of information that I never had, it had me hooked on in no time.

And when BlogAdda approached me to review the second part of this book, there was no way I was not doing it. The sequel to the book, Shattered Dreams, starts with king Dashratha fighting his inner demons. He decides to relinquish the throne and make his eldest son Rama the new king of Ayodhya. Thereafter starts the story of love, anxiety, betrayal and politics. It feels so much like an everyday story of any Indian household. I think we have the likes of Sumanthra, Kaikeyi, Kausalya, Lakshmana, and Bharatha in our families. The author goes through the stages from Rama’s abhisheka as a king to the time he is sent to the exile. Even though we read a lot of motivational and self healing books, there are various places where the author drives home a point in such a subtle way, using Ramayana and its characters as a backdrop that you would be left wondering how you didn’t figure it yourself. Pretty much like what the Bhagwad Gita preaches. That everything is right before our eyes. We just need to discover it through connecting better with our inner self.

What didn’t work for me in the first few pages of the book, became a strong point for me later. I loved the footnotes at the bottom of each page where the author shared wisdom and analogy about situations that are so similar with our regular life. That how all things that appear godly, have such simple humane traits behind them. And how, it is not the people who are gods, but their learning, manner and character that makes them so.

Let me quote some gems from the book:

– Diplomacy is an art that changes your body language drastically with no change in the language of the heart

– A fasted belly and a fattened ego sometimes reside in the same body!

– Love is not a passive monologue but an action packed movie that ends with pleasing the beloved.

– Damned by despair and buoyed by hope. Isn’t that what life is about? Life is a combination of hope and despair. The one that dominates you, carves your personality.

I have had to read the book in a week in order to facilitate this review. But truth be told, this is one such which should be held longer, like a drink, stirred, and held in the mouth to taste it completely. So hold on to your drinks and enjoy 🙂

This review is a part of the biggest Book ReviewProgram for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

Love is Vodka – A Shot Ain’t Enough – Book Review

Love is Vodka
Title : Love is Vodka – A Shot Ain’t Enough
Author : Amit Shankar
Publisher : Vitasta Publishing Pvt Ltd
ISBN : 978-81-925354-4-9
Number of Pages : 203
Price [INR] : 195
Genre: Fiction

Being a love child; Moon is anything but a conventional teen. With a leading TV news anchor as her mother, an aspiring entrepreneur as her boy friend, the word LOVE baffles her. The whole idea of having one partner and love being eternal intrigues her.

Life turns upside down when she falls for her mother’s boyfriend. Destiny further complicates things by blessing her with a mega modelling assignment and turning her famous overnight. A war between her head & heart exposes her to various hues of love.

Will she decipher the true meaning of love? Embark on an exhilarating rendezvous with Moon and discover love like never before.

The book revolves around a teenager and love-child Moon, who has had a not-so normal upbringing because of her mother’s Payal Malik’s rebellious thinking. Payal Malik is a hot shot journalist who has spent all her life in the field of journalism, fighting out the cut throat competition and finally emerging at the top. She is now the editor of a leading national news channel. Her father is French and although Moon has never met her, she keeps in contact with him through emails and chats.

Moon’s problems are typically what all teenagers go through during this phase. She has a boyfriend who she thinks she is in love with, but cannot understand her attraction towards other men at the same time. She knows she is beautiful, and yet she longs for people’s approval by posting her pictures on Facebook and waiting for more “likes” and “comments”. Her behavior typically stems from the fact that even though the mother has provided much more than for all her needs during her growing up years like a palatial bungalow, a chauffeur driver car and the spoils, she has raised her with an iron hand. Moon longs for her mother’s sensitive side, and without realizing keeps searching for it in the form of love from men.

Life gets out of control when she falls in love, and eventually moves in with her mother’s “friend”. She is all of 19, he is 45. Their chemistry sure is crackling in the beginning, but of course it has it’s fireworks because Moon is an excited teenager who wants to do all the wacky and weird stuff whereas he, being the director of an ad company has been there, and done that. And probably cannot take risks at this point in his career.

And so, Moon keeps getting in and out of relationships with nobody but her confused mind to blame.During the second half of the book, after the fiasco with the mother’s boyfriend, she comes back to her mother’s place, only to leave it again for an Anna Hazare like political revolution. She realizes she wants to do something worthwhile for the country. At the same time, she s also confused as to why Gautam (the guy who is spear heading the revolution) doesn’t care a hoot about her beauty, even when she is ready to give all of herself to him.

The book looks promising in the beginning, as the author sketches Moon’s character quite aptly for a pampered silly teen-aged girl. but somewhere along the way, he loses plot. The book just seems all over the place. Too many things are happening but none for a reason. The book completely loses its steam towards the end and then I just waited for the last page. I thought everything would converge to amount to something. But to say the least, I was disappointed.

My rating 2.5/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

My Do-It-Right Story!

It was during one of the examinations. We, the younger class ( I guess 7th standard) were made to sit with an older class (10th or 11th standard). The guy sitting next to me was typically one of those guys who come to the examination hall on the sole merit of the guy sitting behind/front of him. But, alas, it was not to be. That day, due to the seating arrangement and his bad luck, we were seated on last bench. And apparently this bhaiyya’s (that’s what we used to call our seniors in school) friend was the one who had to sit behind him and prompt him the answers but he was made to sit in the adjacent row’s first seat. There was no way these two guys could have helped each other.

The bell rang. The exam started. As a junior, I was in awe of the seniors and the senior classes because their syllabus was so much tougher. For the first one hour, I remember, this guy hadn’t attempted a single question. He just kept turning the question paper and answer sheet. He was writing down the questions. I felt weird and initially thought that may be they had a certain way of attempting the answers. But after the first hour, it was clear to me that this bhaiyya had not studied anything for his exam. I could sense that he was growing restless with every passing minute. As soon as the bell rang indicating that the first hour of the 3-hour exam was over, he sat upright. I think he just decided he had to do something to salvage his exam.

And so, he prodded the guy in front of him to show him something, anything. The guy reluctantly kept his answer sheet a little to his left so that this guy could copy down his answers. And so the cheating started. This bhaiyya must have used to doing this because he did manage to con the supervising teacher. All the awe  and importance I had been feeling of sitting with a senior flew out of the window. They were supposed to be intelligent guys, cracking difficult questions. And he wasn’t supposed to be asking a 7th grader (i.e. me) if I knew answers to any of his questions.

I warned him. And the first time I did, he just smiled. I told him that if he continued doing what he was, I would inform the teacher. But I don’t think he had any idea that this 7th grade girl, who wasn’t in the least intimidating (not even 5 ft tall and very thin) would have the guts to do anything like that. He continued with his antics, and I with my warnings. He just kept ignoring them. Finally, when I could not take the breach of the righteousness taught to us any longer, I walked up to the teacher and told her that the bhaiyya sitting next to me was continuously cheating from the guy in front.

The teacher immediately walked up to both of them, snatched their answer sheets and made a huge cross on them with a red pen and wrote “Caught cheating”. It was quite awkward after that. I walked back to my desk and this bhaiyya was sitting forlorn. He threatened me with a “dekh loonga tumhe” (I will see you later).

But today when I look back at this incident, it sends shivers down my spine. Haven’t we all heard gruesome tales of kids harming and killing other students and even teachers who have in the past reprimanded the? We hardly heard of such stories in the past. Today they are an everyday reality. What if that bhaiyya had been a psycho too who would try to harm me for the fiasco I caused? I was a harmless little girl and I am sure I would not have been able to avert it. But those were good times I guess. Kids back then had some goodness in them. So what if they were caught cheating? So what if they were tipped off by a junior? They didn’t come back at me. I am not sure if the scenario had been the same had this incident happened in today’s times.

Dropout-15-sexually-assaults-12-year-old-mentally-challenged-girl

Three-minors-held-for-sodomy-and-murder-in-southeast-Delhi

crimes-by-juveniles-in-india

With all the vices this world has for kids these days – from child abuse to misleading advertisements that have kids at their hearts, there are few things left that let kids learn about right and wrong or retain their innocence. Tata Capital’s initiative to publish a book of DoItRight stories, for kids and by kids is something about which I feel from the heart. And that’s why this story from my own childhood is my contribution to this initiative.
I wish all kids and parents read these stories and it has a far reaching effect on the kids. That Honesty, Kindness, Compassion, Respect and Integrity are not just words. They are virtues that will hold them in good stead for along long time to come. And will take them very far in life 🙂

I am sharing my Do RIght Stories at BlogAdda.com in association with Tata Capital.

 

 

Shoes of the Dead – Book Review

Book: Shoes of the Dead
Author: Kota Neelima
Publisher: Rupa Publication
Language: English
Pages: 274
Price: Rs 495

This book is serious business. Coming from someone who is an editor at the Sunday Guardian, I wouldn’t expect any less. With this book, Kota Neelima takes you on a tour of the real world the farmers in our country occupy. Farmer suicides happen in abundance, many because of debts. Others because of successive crop failures. Either case, the farmers’ families want the compensation by claiming it to be a debt related death. The government on the other hand, keeps rejecting claims after claims of debt related deaths, real or not.

Crushed by successive crop failures and the burden of debt, Sudhakar Bhadra kills himself. The powerful district committee of Mityala routinely dismisses the suicide and refuses compensation to his widow. Gangiri, his brother, makes it his life’s mission to bring justice to the dead by influencing the committee to validate similar farmer suicides. Keyur Kashinath of the Democratic Party – first-time member of Parliament from Mityala, and son of Vaishnav Kashinath, the party’s general secretary – is the heir to his father’s power in Delhi politics. He faces his first crisis every suicide in his constituency certified by the committee as debt-related is a blot on the party’s image, and his competence. The brilliant farmer battles his inheritance of despair, the arrogant politician fights for the power he has received as legacy. Their two worlds collide in a conflict that pushes both to the limits of morality from where there is no turning back. At stake is the truth about ‘inherited’ democratic power. And at the end, there can only be one winner. Passionate and startlingly insightful, Shoes of the Dead is a chilling parable of modern-day India.

 
Not that you should judge a book by it’s cover, but I really liked the simple yet compelling cover of Shoes of the Dead. A barren drought affected land at one end, and Rashtrapti Bhawan, the corridors of power at the other.Separated by “Shoes of the Dead” (Not literally though!)
The book deals with the farmers’ suicides in the much publicized Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. The book is gripping because as you read, you realize you are reading something that is true, even though you wish it weren’t. It gives you deep insights into the so-called democratic system of the country where the only driving factor for the political babus is public votes. Pursuing the chair and sticking to it is the only thing that matters. An account of how dynasty politics still runs in the system. The book will scare you as you realize the ministers care a hoot about the farmers. And if this trend of suicides continue, who’s going to produce grains and food for a country of 1.25 billion?
Even though this is not fiction, names have been suitable changed and the author has done justice to character building in the book. The language is simple and the book is a clear winner as it stands on a strong foundation of good content, etched out beautifully. 

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!