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Ten things about Manohar Parrikar you may have not known!

Former Defence Minister and four-time Goa Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar was one of the most reported personalities in India’s smallest state. But the privilege of researching for his biography ‘An Extraordinary Life: A biography of Manohar Parrikar’ gave us several fresh insights about his personality. And some lesser known nuggets too.

Listed below are ten lesser known facts about Parrikar. And no, this piece doesn’t mention his fetish for fish curry… For that nugget and more, read the book!

 

By Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

 

Lucky number 13

Shunned and feared by many, Parrikar, a passionate contrarian, considered ‘13’ as his lucky number. Born on December 13, the number, he would often say, brought him good luck in politics. The registration plate of his last official ride, a Hyundai Santa Fe, bore the number 1313. His mobile phone numbers ended in 1313 and 131213. In 2000, he formed a government and was sworn-in as Chief Minister of Goa for the first time with the help of 13-non BJP MLAs. In 2017, he cleverly manoeuvred his way to the top post yet again with the help of… you guessed it right: 13 BJP MLAs!

 

Never a full term

Despite being sworn-in as Chief Minister of Goa on four different occasions from 2000-02, 2002-2004, 2012-2014 and 2017-2019, Parrikar never completed a full five-year term in office. Anxious about a revolt brewing within his government, Parrikar got the state assembly dissolved in 2002. In 2004, he was ousted by a resurgent Congress. In 2014, he was handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to join the central cabinet as Defence Minister. And in 2019, he died in office, after just two years in office as CM.

 

Accidental electoral debut

This fact has managed to duck attention altogether. After his initial grooming in the RSS, Parrikar’s initial role in the BJP was that of an organizer, as one of the secretaries of the party’s state unit. In 1991, BJP leader late Pramod Mahajan entrusted him with the responsibility of selecting a candidate for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat in the general elections. Parrikar could not shortlist a single credible candidate for his party, because contesting a popular election on a BJP ticket at the time was considered synonymous with certain defeat, and a poor defeat at that. With no candidate available, Mahajan directed Parrikar to contest the election. Parrikar’s defeat in the 1991 Lok Sabha polls was the only electoral loss in his political career.

 

Bookworm

Parrikar was known to read just about everywhere. In the front seat of his official car, in hotel lobbies, at the airport and even on the seat of his loo. He devoured books like he customarily devoured his political opposition. In 2013, at a book release event, he confessed that his house had two toilets. “I am currently reading a book on the Mahabharata. It’s in one toilet. There’s another book in the other toilet,” Parrikar said then.

 

Music to the soul

Amid spasms of pain while undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer in New York, Parrikar looked to Hindustani classical singer Jitendra Abhisheki for solace. He loved to listen to Marathi bhavgeets (devotional songs) too. His favourite singers were Sudhir Phadke, Bharat Ratna Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Abhisheki and Rahul Deshpande. Phadke’s ‘Dehachi Tejori’ (God’s vault) and Veer Savarkar’s ‘Sagara Prana Talmala’ (O Ocean, my heart is restless) topped his list of favourite songs. In his later years, he liked listening to Rahul Deshpande, whose songs were downloaded to his Ipad.

 

Mercedes mania

As a young businessman, when his political journey was still some distance away, Parrikar ambition was to own a Mercedes car. Once he walked the political path however, he realised that owning a Mercedes would impair public perception of him.  After all he was beginning to be known for his ‘common man’ identity. So he dropped the idea altogether.

 

Control-freak

Parrikar’s style of governance was marked by a chronic disregard for existing administrative systems, with excessive power wrested in his person. Ministers were mere puppets in his abrasive style of governance, as Parrikar, his few handpicked bureaucrats and upper caste coterie members pulled all the strings. There was a key reason why Parrikar kept stalling his departure to Delhi as a cabinet minister. Because Modi mirrored his traits, when it came to governance-style and control. “I was a king in Goa. In Delhi, I am just one of the many princes,” Parrikar lamented to his friends.

 

Tech travails

For an IIT alumnus, Parrikar shied away from using new technology for communication. Apart from using a mobile phone to make and receive calls, he had no other use for the instrument. According to those close to him, accessing emails reluctantly was as far as Parrikar would go, when it came to embracing technology.

 

Money management

For a man, who is often lauded for planning and vision, Parrikar was pretty much financially broke when he returned to Goa, soon after passing out of IIT-Bombay and marrying Medha. He was so short on money, that his mother, Radhabai, paid some of his insurance premiums for a while.

 

Swachch Goa

India woke up to the ‘virtues’ of co-branding Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary with a cleanliness gig, as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachch Bharat Mission in 2014. But the initiative was first launched by Parrikar as Chief Minister of Goa on October 2, 2002. He preferred to call it ‘Clean Offices Day’, when government servants were called to their respective offices on the national holiday and directed to spruce up the premises and immediate surroundings.

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An Extraordinary Life || Sadguru Patil, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

 

Sadguru Patil and Mayabhushan Nagvenkar answer questions on the life of Manohar Parrikar and the process of writing a biography

Over the last two decades, the exploits of one man, an IIT-Bombay alumnus, changed the way mainstream India looked at Goa and the political goings-on in the country’s smallest state. An Extraordinary Life traces the life and times of Manohar Parrikar through the informed voices of his relatives, friends, foes, bureaucrats and IIT contemporaries. The daily battles of a gifted individual are brought to the fore as he encounters love and vices. But more importantly, it showcases his rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defence minister.

Read below an interview with the authors:

 


 

Writing a biography needs an author to write without bias. How difficult is that and how did you make sure of it?
The battle with bias is a constant one. A biography is less about relaying everything about a person’s life. It involves a process of curating a selection of events, personality traits and portrayal of relationships, so as to convey an account of one’s life, which is as accurate as it can get. The key is of course getting the selection right. It’s like a well curated menu, which has the right balance of hors d’oeuvres, main courses and desserts. You simply can’t make do with desserts alone. 

 

Could you share a moment while writing this book which made you pause in awe of Manohar Parrikar’s life?
The account in the book narrated by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh functionary Ratnakar Lele. He talks about a young Parrikar drawing water from a well when everyone else was asleep, using a coir-rope tackle and a pitcher for four hours from 11 pm to 3 am, because an electric water pump malfunctioned at an RSS camp attended by hundreds of swayamsevaks.  After he was told about Parrikar’s feat, Lele even checked the calluses on his swayamsevak’s palms to verify the story. 

 

To make sure you cover all angles while writing biography involves extensive research; could you share with us the research process?
Manohar Parrikar as a subject wasn’t a new one for us. As journalists we had covered developments involving him and the BJP extensively for our respective media publications. There was a blind spot though; his family. We laid a lot of emphasis to weave his family, including all his siblings and children, into the biography’s narrative. Their stories helped add fresh facets of his personality and familial relationships which were rarely discussed before, to the manuscript. 
The discipline of research involved meeting up with Sadguru and drawing up multiple questionnaires for resource persons we had identified. The questionnaires would be constantly updated ahead of second, third visits. Sadguru did a bulk of the information-gathering for the biography. Every time we met, we would discuss the day’s draft which needed to be written which was my responsibility. This research was complimented with both short and long deadlines to complete the daily quota of writing and for finalising individual chapters and eventually the manuscript. 

 

Do you have any advice for writers wanting to delve into the biography genre?
If you are diligent enough, the obvious won’t be missed. But one still has to look for the scattered pearls. And sometimes, you need to know which oyster to shuck open to get to that missing pearl. 

 

The life of a politician involves tremendous sacrifice; which one incident from Manohar Parrikar’s life did you think made him rethink how to balance work and personal life?
Just to set the context right, the word ‘sacrifice’ tends to read with a positive overtone. Something about it does not seem to be in harmony with the word ‘politics’, the way we see it in India in general. As far as Parrikar’s life goes, there appeared to be an imbalance between his family life and his political mission. The latter seems to have overwhelmed his time, leaving little for the former. But there is one incident, where Parrikar, who was rarely known to indulge own sons when they were young, made time during an official trip as Defence Minister to China, to buy a toy excavator and a truck from a shopping mall, for his grandson Dhruv. 

 

Do you think there should be more representation of youth in positions of power?
For the sheer need to break the status quo of stagnant political thought, yes. 

 

 You’ve covered politics extensively over the past years; any suggestions for people of this generation who wish to join politics?
If you are looking for tips from writers vis a vis joining politics, then maybe you don’t have it in you to make it there. If you feel you are cut out for it, just take the plunge. You will either learn to swim or be cast ashore by the tide. 


 

Get your copy of An Extraordinary Life here

Curl up with these monsoon reads!

With the monsoon season coming up, there is nothing better than opening your windows and sitting down with a good book and the soothing smell and sound of rain filling your house. Don’t have a good book? We can help you with that, all you have to do is check out the bookshelf below!

An Extraordinary Life

An Extraordinary Life || Sadguru Patil, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Over the last two decades, the exploits of one man changed the way mainstream India looked at Goa and the political goings-on in the country’s smallest state. An Extraordinary Life traces the times of Manohar Parrikar through the informed voices of people in his life. His daily battles are brought to the fore as he encounters love and vices, showcasing his rise in politics from the son of a grocery store owner in a nondescript town, a sanghachalak in Mapusa town, an Opposition MLA and leader, to a chief minister (on multiple occasions) and, finally, to a defense minister.

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Goner

Goner || Tazmeen Amna

She’s a young woman trying to deal with the dark and intoxicating side of life with haunting memories of an abusive ex-boyfriend, a broken family, and obvious mental health issues. Finding herself on a consistent downward spiral, she tries to grapple with her incessant attraction to all things that are bad for her, ultimately culminating in the form of a medical emergency.

With no job, months of expensive therapy, and a mystery man in her life will she be able to recover from her embarrassing wastefulness?

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Hunted by the Sky

Hunted by the Sky || Tanaz Bhathena

Gul has spent her life running. She has a star-shaped birthmark on her arm, and in the kingdom of Ambar, girls with such birthmarks have been disappearing for years. So when a group of rebel women called the ‘Sisters of the Golden Lotus’ rescue her, take her in and train her in warrior magic, Gul wants only one thing: revenge.

Cavas lives in the tenements, and he’s just about ready to sign his life over to the king’s army to save his father who is terminally ill. As the chemistry between the two grows undeniably, he becomes entangled in a mission of vengeance, bringing Gul and Cavas together in a world with secrets deadlier than their own.

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Rising Heat

Rising Heat || Perumal Murugan

Young Selvan’s life is no longer the same. With his family’s ancestral land sold to make way for the construction of a housing colony, his childhood has been denuded. In the ensuing years, as the pressures of their situation simmer to a boil, Selvan observes his family undergo dramatic shifts in their fortunes as greed and jealousy threaten to overshadow their lives.

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Lallan Sweets

Lallan Sweets || Srishti Chaudhary

Tara Taneja lives in the small town of Siyaka, running a Maths Centre and working for Lalaji, her grandfather, at the famous Lallan Sweets. The laddoos sold are made using a secret family recipe that contains a magic ingredient known only to Lalaji. Choosing to retire, Lalaji decides that Lallan Sweets will be earned, devising a quest for his three grandchildren. With the help of her long-time crush and neighbor, Nikku, Tara pursues the quest to battle old secrets, family legacies, and unexpected dangers.

Will this journey bring them together or lead to a bittersweet end?

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Girl, Woman, Other

Girl, Woman, Other || Bernardine Evaristo

Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet.

Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados.

Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace.

Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain. Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country: ever-dynamic, ever-expanding, and utterly irresistible.

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Sex and Vanity

Sex and Vanity || Kevin Kwan

The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon, Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan returns with the glittering tale of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men: the fiancé of her family’s dreams and the man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story. Here’s a daring homage to A Room with a View, a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.

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Yes to Life In Spite Everything

Yes to Life In Spite of Everything || Viktor E. Frankl

Just months after his liberation from Auschwitz, renowned psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl delivered a series of talks revealing the foundations of his life-affirming philosophy. The psychologist, who would soon become world-famous, explained his thoughts on meaning, resilience, and his conviction that every crisis contains an opportunity. Despite the unspeakable horrors in the camp, Frankl learned from his fellow inmates that it is always possible to say ‘yes to life’ – a profound and timeless lesson for us all.

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Always Day One

Always Day One || Alex Kantrowitz

At Amazon, ‘Day One’ is code for inventing like a startup with little regard for legacy. Day Two is, in Jeff Bezos’s own words, ‘stasis, followed by irrelevance, followed by an excruciating, painful decline, followed by death.’ Through 130 interviews with insiders, from Mark Zuckerberg to hourly workers, top tech journalist Alex Kantrowitz drills down into exactly how each CEO has implemented their own radically innovative culture – and how your business, startup or team can do the same

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A World Without Work

A World Without Work || Daniel Susskind

New technologies have always provoked panic about workers being replaced by machines. In the past, such fears have been misplaced, and many economists maintain that they remain so today. In A World Without Work, Daniel Susskind shows why this time really is different. Advances in artificial intelligence mean that all kinds of jobs are increasingly at risk and Susskind argues that machines no longer need to reason like us in order to outperform us.

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The End of October

The End of October || Lawrence Wright

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons–microbiologist, epidemiologist–travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city, in this race-against-time thriller that predicted it all.

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Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar

Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar || Oliver Craske

Over eight decades, Ravi Shankar was India’s greatest cultural ambassador who took Indian classical music to the world’s leading concert halls and festivals, charting the map for those who followed. Indian Sun is the first biography of Ravi Shankar. Benefitting from unprecedented access to family archives, Oliver Craske paints a vivid picture of a captivating, restless workaholic, who lived a passionate and extraordinary life – from his childhood in his brother’s dance troupe, through intensive study of the sitar, to his revival of the national music scene; and from the 1950s, a pioneering international career that ultimately made his name synonymous with India.

5 times Karma had us laughing out loud

All his life, Karma has defended his village from monsters, creatures and forces of darkness. He’s not the bravest or the smartest kid, but he always tries to do what’s right.

Through his latest adventure of stopping one of his classmates, who has shown up to school as a zombie, there are many instances where Karma has us amused. Here are 5 times Karma had us laughing out loud in Evan Purcell’s newest addition to the Karma Tandin, Monster Hunter Series – Karma Meets a Zombie


“Last month, I’d stopped a shark monster from eating my classmates. She was the school librarian. She even wore a fake human head on top of her shark head. I’d scared her off thanks to my bravery (and dumb luck), but not before she (I think) ate one of my classmates.”

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“We stood in silence for a long time. What else could we say? It’s hard to make small talk with the undead. After a bit, we started walking.”

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“Quick tip: if you’re surrounded by a screaming mob of people, don’t tell them to calm down. It does not work.”

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“But I couldn’t ignore a monster. That went against every belief I held dearly, every brain cell in my growing, twelve-year-old brain.”

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“I love Chimmi. He’s my closest friend. He’s always there for me. But he does not come up with good plans.”


Is this zombie really bad? Is he dangerous, or is he just under some horrible spell? Read Karma Meets a Zombie to find out!

Authors’ roundup: Mental health recommendations for you!

As we collectively grapple with unprecedented challenges, crises and uncertainties, mental health struggles have become more important to address than ever. In a socially distanced world, it is easy to feel cut-off and lonely. But taking care of ourselves and our minds is priority.

As our most trusted companions, finding the right books can go a long way in us helping ourselves feel better and understand how to take care of ourselves. We reached out to some experts and authors for their recommendations for books that can help us cope with our mental health struggles.

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Seema Hingorrany, Clinical Psychologist/Author/Trauma Expert

 

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Option B || Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

This is a wonderful book for overcoming setbacks and building resilience in these trying times

 

M is for Mindfulness by Carolyn Suzuki

M is for Mindfulness || Carolyn Suzuki

A book I refer to all my clients for introducing children to concepts of mindfulness.

 

My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel

My Age of Anxiety || Scott Stossel

This one is revealing memoir of life with anxiety.

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Anjali Chhabria, Psychiatrist

 

With the world going through a pandemic and a resulting economic crisis, we are going to see a lot of emotional upheaval. Mental health has never been as significant as it is today. It is important that each one of us learns to pick up signs and symptoms of distress in people around us so that we can give them the necessary emotional first aid immediately.

In a time like this, I recommend reading:

Inside a Dark Box by Ritu Vaishnav

Inside a Dark Box || Ritu Vaishnav (Author), Rujuta Thakurdesai (Illustrator)

How to Travel Light by Shreevatsa Nevatia

How to Travel Light || Shreevatsa Nevatia

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Himanjali Sankar, Author and Editor

 

I wouldn’t call my recommendations essential mental health reads as much as stories that have stayed with me, because of the intensely troubled, attractive and sensitively drawn protagonists in each. From the young neurotic woman in the very powerful 1892 short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, to the wild and marvelous Antoinette in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea – a feminist, anti-colonial response to the representation of the mad woman in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre – to more recent explorations of troubled minds as with Theodore Finch (charming, volatile, wise, yet ultimately unable to help himself in a way that is both tragic and life-affirming) in All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. These are books that are special to me and I would love for everyone I know to read them if they haven’t done so already.

 

All the Bright Places || Jennifer Niven.
Jane Eyre || Charlotte Bronte
Wide Sargasso Sea || Jean Rhys
The Yellow Wall-Paper || Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Nandhika Nambi, Author

 

Gone are the days where mental health was stigmatized, misunderstood, cast aside and ignored. Now, more than ever, we need to be conscious of our mental health and its undeniable importance.

What better way to delve into these pressing problems than through the pages of a book? Read to understand, read to help and read to heal. Here are my recommendations:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Turtles All the Way Down || John Green

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Fish in a Tree || Lynda Mullaly Hunt

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story about Anxiety by Sarah Wilson

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Story about Anxiety || Sarah Wilson

Straight Jacket by Matthew Todd

Straight Jacket || Matthew Todd

This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets

This Too Shall Pass || Milena Busquets (Author), Valerie Miles (Translator)

Untamed: Stop Pleasing, Start Living by Glennon Doyle

Untamed || Glennon Doyle

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Ritu Vaishnav, Author and Journalist

 

Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through The Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh

Fear || Thich Nhat Hanh

This is the book that I turn to whenever I need to find some calm within. The perspective it offers might be great for your mental health too. I tend to gift this one a LOT!

 

How to Travel Light by Shreevatsa Nevatia

How to Travel Light || Shreevatsa Nevatia

This is a memoir about living with bipolar disorder. It talks about both depression and mania. The candour and humour keep it from turning too heavy or intense despite the subject matter.

 

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar || Sylvia Plath

This one is dark and disturbing, made even more painful by the fact that its brilliant author died by suicide shortly after it was published. This one is not for everyone, but pick it up if you can handle a hard and gut-wrenching look at the mind’s capacity to torment.

 

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit Listened || Cori Doerrfeld

I would especially recommend this picture book to those who wish to support someone going through a difficult phase. Go ahead and be their rabbit!

 

After the Fall by Dan Santat

After the Fall || Dan Santat

What happened to Humpty Dumpty after his great fall? This beautiful picture book talks about recovering from trauma and getting back on your feet.

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Tazmeen Amna, Author

 

My life in the recent past has been extremely fast-paced. I often find myself experiencing depressive symptoms, or in an emotionally excessive hyper state. Honestly, there is no better way for me to calm myself down and feel good about myself than reading. There are certain books that smell and feel like home- they’re like a warm cup of hot chocolate, like melting marshmallows over a bonfire on a winter night!

My go-to feel-good books are Penguin Classics: Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, David Copperfield.

David Copperfield || Charles Dickens
Great Expectations || Charles Dickens
Little Women || Louisa May Alcott
Pride and Prejudice || Jane Austen

Sometimes, for fun, I read children’s fiction such as Sleepovers by Jacqueline Wilson– that book takes me back to childhood days of sincere friendships and miniscule struggles.

Sleepovers || Jacqueline Wilson (Author) Nick Sharratt (Illustrator)

Contemporary Fiction is always relatable and fun to read too; I am a fan of Namita Gokhale, (Paro: Dreams of Passion, Priya: In Incredible Indyaa), and I love me some Sophie Kinsella (My Not-So-Perfect-Life), and Jojo Moyes. I recently enjoyed Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin too!

Ayesha at Last || Uzma Jalaluddin
Paro || Namita Gokhale
Priya || Namita Gokhale
My Not So Perfect Life || Sophie Kinsella

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Jane De Suza, Author

 

A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby

A Long Way Down || Nick Hornby

A hilarious, life-affirming book about four people who set out to commit suicide. An incisive look at missed opportunities, being left out and finding others like you.

 

Wild Child and Other Stories by Paro Anand

Wild Child || Paro Anand

Riveting stories about children’s reactions to abuse, loneliness, failure, racism. The story cores down fearlessly to issues that should be discussed with the young.

 

The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time || Mark Haddon

A young teen who the world dismisses as autistic, triumphs over his disabilities to find the truth.

 

Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto

Em and the Big Hoom || Jerry Pinto

A brave account of a mother swayed from manic highs to lows.

 

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Writing a book and where to start!

After every good book she reads, ten-year-old Wisha Wozzariter gets sad. She wished she had written that book instead! She wishes, more than anything else in the world, that she were a writer! One day, she meets a Bookworm, and takes many a wild ride on the Thought Express!

Here is an excerpt from that incident from Payal Kadadia’s book, Wisha Wozzariter!


Wisha Wozzariter loved reading. She read before school and after school. She read before lunch and after lunch. She read before dinner and after dinner. She would have read all day and all night if she could.

Wisha hated bad books, but she hated one thing even more: good ones. Good books always left her feeling she could do better if she were to write a book of her own. She’d put down a good book, sighing, ‘Now that’s a book I could have written.’

On her tenth birthday, Wisha read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She hated it more than anything. There was no reason something this good should not have been written by her. She got to the last word on the last page, then sighed, ‘Now that’s a book I could have written!’

Wisha Wozzariter||Payal Kapadia

‘Why don’t you?’ said a green little worm, popping his head out of page no. 64.

‘Who are you?’ asked Wisha, startled.

‘Why, a Bookworm, who else?’ said the worm, sounding surprised. ‘I’ve heard you say the same thing after every good book. So why don’t you?’

‘Why don’t I—what?’ said Wisha.

‘Write a book, write a book,’ said the Bookworm in a sing-song voice, wriggling his way out on to the cover.

‘I wish I was a writer,’ sighed Wisha.

‘Well, you are Wisha Wozzariter,’ said the Bookworm.

‘So I am! But I don’t quite know where to begin.’

‘At the beginning, of course,’ said the Bookworm, rolling his eyes. ‘Got some time?’

‘Yee-es. Why, what do you suggest?’ asked Wisha.

‘A trip to the Marketplace of Ideas,’ said the Bookworm. ‘My treat.’

Wisha jumped up. ‘Sounds more exciting than wishing all day! How do we get there?’

‘Close your eyes and hold my hand tight,’ said the Bookworm. ‘We’re catching the Thought Express.’

‘When does it come in?’ asked Wisha.
‘Don’t know. Are your thoughts always on time?’ ‘Not really.’
‘Well, then, we might have a little wait ahead of

us,’ said the Bookworm. ‘It would help if you were to say your name to yourself a few times.’

So Wisha closed her eyes and said, ‘Wisha Wozzariter, Wisha Wozzariter, Wisha Wozzariter.’

The Thought Express was a little slow and a little late, but it came in, sure enough. And when it left for the Marketplace of Ideas, Wisha and the Bookworm were on it.


How do the two get along, and what adventures do they find themselves on? Read more about the book here to find out!

Meet Prem, an eleven-year old Torchbearer with an imagination!

Like any bored eleven-year-old with an imagination, Prem makes fantastic wishes. So when his father drags him to a monsoon-lashed Mumbai, Prem know it’s futile to dream of home. Instead, he wishes for a genie, a dragon and some superpowers. What he certainly doesn’t wish for is a quest to save some gods who are at the brink of extinction.

He finds that the gods’ last hope lies in the hands of those who channel the mysterious power of the Vedas. Caught in a cosmic crossfire, with a talking fish, some inventive monkeys and a few unexpected allies, Prem learns of his true identity-as a Torchbearer.

Here is an excerpt from this lovely book by A.B. Majmudar that talks about how Prem finds himself in Mumbai and all the wishes he makes.


Like any eleven-year old with an imagination, Prem Tripathi made fantastic wishes, especially when he was bored. And he had been bored a lot lately. His father, a professor of ancient Indian mythology, had decided to leave his university job in America to go work at an old research institute in Mumbai. After some sightseeing and a few nights spent at a nice hotel, they had come to a dilapidated old building where Professor Tripathi could bury himself in old Sanskrit manuscripts.

The research institute must have been abandoned for years. Prem and his father had gotten into a fight as soon as they had arrived at the institute. Prem didn’t understand why he had to be there instead of enjoying a typical summer vacation under the blue skies of Midwestern United States: riding bikes, whizzing down waterpark slides, going on roller coasters and playing football with his friends in thebackyard. Instead, his father had dragged him all the way to India, and not the exotic India of The Jungle Book.

The Torchbearers||A.B. Majmudar

‘I can’t believe I’m here, about to be devoured by cockroaches,’ Prem had grumbled to himself. ‘Or geckos.’

Professor Tripathi had smiled, ignoring Prem’s frustration. ‘You know, when you were a baby, you used to coo at the geckos. Kept you entertained for hours.’ Although Prem had been born in India, his father had left with him for America after Prem’s mother had passed away. They hadn’t been back since then.

Now, a few weeks since they landed in Mumbai, Prem had finished reading all the books he had brought with him. So he spent the morning avoiding his dad, who was probably involved in either dusting or research, and soon found himself bored, leaning against the chalky gray wall surrounding the institute, watching the monsoon clouds roll in. Seeing the blue sky suddenly covered in storm clouds made him scowl. ‘Just like my life,’ he mumbled.

Prem glowered up at the sky. The air seemed to hold its breath, and even the stray dogs stopped barking for a moment. Then, with a faint flash of lightning and a distant rumble of thunder, the first raindrop fell. Big, warm drops of water splattered into the dirt, disappearing instantly. Soon the drops darkened the ground, and puddles formed in the dust on either side of the road.

‘So this is the monsoon,’ Prem said to himself as he raced to stand under a large tree. His black hair was slick in minutes despite taking cover, his shirt soaked through. With a shrug that seemed to say, ‘What’s the point?’ Prem stepped out from under the tree. He cupped his hands and let the rainwater fill his hands. He released the water with a satisfying splat onto the soaked ground. He did it again. With every handful of water, he made a wish. Wish, splash. Wish, splash. At first, he wished it would stop being so hot. But then, he figured, why not wish big?

So, Prem wished for a letter by owl post, ideally from Hogwarts, but any decent wizarding school would do. Wish, splash. He wished for a tollbooth to take him to lands beyond. Wish, splash. Rabbit hole, splash. Genie, splash. Dragon, splash. Hot-air balloon, splash. Superpowers, splash. Anything that would break the string of boring days, splash. Anything that would lead to adventure, splash. The one thing that Prem was sure he hadn’t wished for was a tiny talking fish. But, of course, that’s exactly what he got.

He had just collected yet another handful of water when a tiny fish dropped into his hands. Wish, splash, fish.

It called out to Prem in a tiny voice, ‘Don’t drop me!’

Prem looked closely at his hands, stilled in a cup. He saw a golden fish, smaller than his fingernail, floating in his hand. He peered at the fish. It was shimmering, despite the cloudy skies, like a flame.


Who is this talking fish and what adventures will Prem find himself in after this moment? Get a copy of The Torchbearers to find out!

Veena’s disastrous ‘new ideas’ and why you must always refuse!

In Asha Nehamiah’s book, Trouble with Magic, Veena is full of bright ideas. She gets Aunt Malu to use her herbal magic to make something new and wonderful. But magic has its own rules, and soon Veena and her aunt are in big trouble!

Here is an excerpt that tells us why Aunt Malu is reluctant to try Veena’s new idea.


Aunt Malu should have refused to try out Veena’s new idea. Trying out her nine-year-old niece’s ideas always landed Aunt Malu in trouble.

Once, Veena suggested they get free season tickets to the circus. Aunt Malu agreed happily. When they
got there, Aunt Malu found that the free tickets were their payment for helping the lion tamer clean the lion cages.

With four lions inside them!

Another time, Veena had got her to try the Adopt-a-Pet plan. This was a wonderful plan that found homes for wounded animals. Aunt Malu couldn’t decide which of the pets she adopted gave her more trouble: the mynah with the broken wing, or the lame mongoose.

The mynah could copy the sounds of a telephone ringing, the doorbell buzzing and the pressure cooker whistling. So Aunt Malu kept rushing from kitchen to front door to telephone till she got so tired that she could barely stand.

And the mongoose wouldn’t stop stealing food from their neighbour’s kitchen.

The worst was the time Aunt Malu had agreed to make a pair of grass-cutting roller skates as a gift for Veena’s father, Mr Seshadri.

He was Aunt Malu’s older brother. He loved gardening and was very proud of his lawn. It was  the best lawn in the neighbourhood.

Veena had come up with the idea of fixing sharp blades on to a pair of skates. This meant that a person would be able to cut grass just by skating over it. It was an absolutely brilliant idea—if it worked.

There was great excitement when the gift was put together and wrapped. But the skates were a total failure!

To begin with, Mr Seshadri found it impossible to skate on the grass. He tripped and fell so many times that he was soon covered with cuts. He stopped trying to skate when he hit his forehead and was left with a bump which became the colour and size of one of his prize-winning brinjals!

When Veena tried them on, she found that she could manage to skate over the grass. But instead of cutting the grass, the skates pulled out huge bunches of it. This left big bald patches on Mr  Seshadri’s beautiful lawn. Mr Seshadri was not pleased.

That’s why Aunt Malu should have been more careful when Veena entered her workroom one morning and said, ‘I have an idea!’


Get a copy of Trouble with Magic to know if Aunt Malu made a mistake, and what Veena’s idea was!

We’ve been grounded for a peculiar crime

Sinister aliens are on the loose in Archit Taneja’s book, The Case of the Careless Aliens! Money is appearing mysteriously in unexpected places around the city. UFOs have been spotted in the sky. If aliens are trying to take over, they have been very careless indeed!

In this excerpt, we meet the SUPERLATIVE SUPERSLEUTHS, one of whom – unfortunately, at present, is grounded. But why?!


It’s been chilly and windy this weekend. That’s perfect weather to stay home, eat ice cream and popcorn, and laugh at crime shows on TV.

My plans went bust when Aarti called on Saturday afternoon. She said she’d been grounded and needed moral support. She pleaded on the phone for what seemed like a century in plead years.

‘You get grounded all the time! You’ve never whined about it before!’

‘I’ve been grounded for two weeks,’ she muttered in a cold voice.

Getting grounded for that long is unheard of. One would need to commit an unspeakable crime. It was especially hard to believe, since Aarti’s parents were super anti-punishment and all that sort of stuff.

‘What did you do, exactly?’

‘Er … I can’t tell you. It doesn’t matter, anyway,’ Aarti mumbled. She was barely audible now.

‘Are you really grounded? Friends aren’t allowed to visit when you’re grounded, right?’

She hung up.

That made me curious enough to want to go over. She was either making all this up to lure me to visit or she’d actually done something really crazy this time. Perhaps she was too embarrassed to talk about it. In either case, it sounded like fun!

I packed my bag with stuff for the weekend. I picked up a case file I had prepared a few months ago. It contained notes on the peculiarities of Aarti’s room. I slipped in a few empty sheets, just in case there was some sleuthing to do.

Aarti’s dad opened the door; he gave a half- hearted smile and asked me to come in. He returned to the dining table and sat opposite Aarti’s mum. They resumed what sounded like a serious conversation. I am used to getting a warm hug from both of them whenever I visit. The radio was playing old boring music instead of the regular upbeat stuff.

I wondered if something bad had happened. Maybe someone they knew got into an accident or something. But why would Aarti be grounded for that? I really doubt that she nicked the car and ran over someone; she’s never been fond of the idea of driving.

Aarti’s grandparents were over. They were there quite often since they lived in the apartment right across

from Aarti’s. Grandma was watching a documentary on TV. She hates those and shrugs whenever I am anywhere close to the TV remote because she knows I’m into anything that involves learning.

It all seemed very unusual.

Aarti’s mum asked me to make sure that she didn’t have too much fun and that I talk to her about being a good child. Grandma nodded in approval. Of all people, they chose me to put sense in her head. Aarti’s really done for this time. I’m so excited!

‘Your family is acting weird,’ I said.

Aarti sat calmly on her bed. Her room was scattered with newspapers. She separated the pages containing comics and puzzles from each day’s paper, and threw away the rest.

‘Tell me. Why are you grounded?’


Why do you think Aarti is grounded? Get a copy of The Case of the Careless Aliens to find out!

Books to keep the little ones busy with, this July!

What’s the best way to keep your child entertained and busy this July? Summer plans might have got cancelled, but you can still send your child on an adventure! Choose from this list of books from authors like Sudha Murty, Ruskin Bond, Ira Trivedi and many more.

Stay safe, healthy and inspired with this list.

How the Onion Got Its Layers

How the Onion Got its Layers || Sudha Murty

Have you noticed how the onion has so many layers? And have you seen your mother’s eyes water when she cuts an onion? Here is a remarkable story to tell you why.
India’s favourite storyteller brings alive this timeless tale with her inimitable wit and simplicity. Dotted with charming illustrations, this gorgeous chapter book is the ideal introduction for beginners to the world of Sudha Murty.

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My Genius Lunch Box

My Genius Lunchbox || Uma Raghuraman

Written by Uma Raghuraman-a masterchef of a mom, a super popular food blogger and Instagrammer-My Genius Lunch Box is every parent’s go-to book for fifty fun, nutritious and simple vegetarian recipes that can be made on a school day.

Featuring stunning photographs styled and shot by the author herself, this book is divided into six sections: one for each weekday and a bonus section that includes recipes for bite-sized snacks!

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The Piano

The Piano||Nandita Basu

This is the story of a friendship between a young girl and her piano. The piano was made many decades before the girl was born. And it travelled from leipzig, Germany, through war-torn France and England come to Calcutta during the independence struggle. Finally the girl and the piano found one another, until circumstances separated them… This is a story of love and loss, of unexpected bonds and loneliness, and above all, it is a celebration of the power of music.

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Skill Builder Phonics Level 1-4

These books contain simple and easy-to-do activities, crosswords and puzzles to help young learners hone their reading, writing, vocabulary and spelling skills through play. By engaging in fun and challenging tasks, your child will learn and master language concepts that are also applicable in a wide range of everyday contexts. The series is suitable for children
aged 6+ (Level 1) to 9+ (Level 4).

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Song of India

Song of India|| Ruskin Bond

Sixteen-year-old Ruskin, after having finally finished his school, is living with his stepfather and mother at the Old Station Canteen in Dehradun. Struggling to begin his writing journey, he tries to make a passage to England to chase his true calling. But as he prepares for his long voyage, the prospect of saying goodbye to the warm, sunny shores of India looms large.

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Om the Yoga Dog

Om the Yoga Dog|| Ira Trivedi

It’s fun yoga time with Om the Yoga Dog, Prana the Frog and Moksha the Elephant! Learn and master essential asanas like Roaring Lion and Tummy Sandwich, pranayama techniques like Anulom Vilom and meditation exercises like Yoga Nidra.

Packed with easy-to-follow instructions and step-by-step illustrations, this calming book helps your child develop flexibility, strength, inner peace and mindfulness.

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Peppa Pig: Peppa Loves Yoga

Peppa Loves Yoga||Peppa Pig

It is a very busy day at Peppa and George’s playgroup, but they have a very special visitor coming in the afternoon. Miss rabbit is going to teach the children how to calm down and relax with yoga. The children love learning all the different positions… And the parents love picking up their calm children!