Lessons from Books: Turning Our Gaze from the Soaring Skylines to the Sordid Undercity

Sunday, November 29, 2020

When driving out of Mumbai’s international airport, many upper-income Indians and foreign visitors may prefer to avert their gaze and look elsewhere. Anywhere else but at the sight that greets them at the Annawadi slum, where thousands are packed with a staggering density into a few hundred ramshackle huts.

But Katherine Boo was the kind of visitor who was unwilling to look away. Of course, as the wife of the Indian historian, Sunil Khilnani,

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Lessons from Books: Decoding P.G. Wodehouse and the Ploys of Humour

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Those who are exhausted by the grim graphs that chart the pandemic’s climb (or retreat), might do well to re-engage with P.G Wodehouse. To watch, with quiet chuckles and the occasional, loud cackle, as Bertie Wooster devises another harebrained scheme to extricate himself from a betrothal to the wrong woman or a distasteful prize-giving ceremony foisted on him by a wrathful aunt. And moreover, ignores the sage advice proffered by his all-knowing valet,

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Lessons from Books: How Parental Privilege Can Adversely Impact Children

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

It doesn’t take much to inhabit privilege in India. If, as a family, you own a house, a car, and your kids attend a somewhat decent private school, you are already materially distanced from the vast majority who throng our towns and cities. But people who belong to this exclusive set, even on relative terms, are usually aware that prosperity ushers different anxieties. One of the most common parental concerns echoed in such circles centers around the motivation of children.

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Sridhar Balan, Author, Publishing Veteran and Literary Columnist, Charts A Bibliophile’s Journey

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The Library Book: Susan Orlean Recalls an Idyllic Time inside Libraries

Harry Peak was often characterized by his “very blond” hair. Growing up in Santa Fe, not too far from the giddying dazzle of Hollywood, the kid had a flair for theatrics and drama. But his skills often slid into playing the kind of pranks or telling the kind of lies that would garner attention. Later on, as an adult, he told his family that he had landed acting parts in movies,

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Dwelling in Books: The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Dwelling in Books

Like most readers, I feel like only a part of me lives in the real world. An equal or sometimes larger, almost disembodied self dwells inside pages – some pored over in years past, some recently encountered, some vividly recalled, many others awkwardly forgotten or misremembered. Since then the self has morphed. I thought that it might be fascinating to bump into some of the earlier voices, some calling out from the intimacy of my home library,

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Weaving Gandhi’s Favorite Bhajan with Visions of Compassion

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Gandhi’s Thrust Towards Compassion

On a recent morning walk with a friend, we were talking about how society obsesses with “success” and the necessary “competitiveness” one should cultivate to achieve it. On the other hand, “compassion,” a quality that, as studies show, contributes more to inner wellbeing than any external status marker, is rarely targeted. On Gandhi’s birthday, perhaps we should turn our lens towards an attribute that the leader tried to consciously expand inside himself and in his followers.

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Snigdha Poonam: Charting a Dream Career from a Journalist to an Acclaimed Author

Friday, September 18, 2020

For a particular writing project, I needed to understand how small towns in India were getting transformed by the forces of late modernity and conspicuous materialism. While Bollywood was both plying and shattering conventional notions in movies like Bareilly ki Barfi and Masaan, I was looking for an updated version of Butter Chicken in Ludhiana, Pankaj Mishra’s snapshots of his meanderings across small towns in the mid-90s,

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Leveraging Lessons From A Personal Health Crisis to Found a Startup: Jyotsna Pattabiraman Forges Lifestyle Solutions To Usher Personal Wellbeing

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Jyotsna (Jo) Pattabhiraman: Develops Resilience to Sudden Changes

The mythical “Fountain of Youth” has often served as the object of quest stories. After all, can any treasure chest be more appealing to mortal beings than everlasting youth and the longest-possible, healthful life? More so perhaps, during our locked in lives, when ambulance sirens are simultaneously savage and banal.

Jyotsna Pattabiraman was to realize the fragility of life plans, and our dependency on vulnerable bodies well before the pandemic had hurtled into our work-life spaces.

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Integrating Work, Life and Place: Manvel Alur Champions Ecological Causes in the IT City

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The Way Home: Mark Boyle Chooses to Live Without Technology

To relinquish technology in 1845, when Thoreau set out to live in Walden, doesn’t seem nearly as impossible as the feat accomplished by Mark Boyle, who adopted a similar retreat in 2016. At a time when those of us who are digital natives live in techno-saturated environs, Boyle, a Business graduate of Irish origins, resolved to live without electricity, “a phone, computer, light bulbs,

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Fusing Space-Time with Action: Alok Sinha, Author, Entrepreneur and Board Member, Forges a New Model

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Alok Sinha: Records Memorable Experiences

Alok Sinha was only 30 years old, when he was part of a Tata Motors team that presented a business plan to Ratan Tata, the then Chairman. Tata’s critique spotlighted two key metrices: market share and net profitability. For most young executives, in their early 30s, such an instance might have dissolved into a hazy episodic memory, evoking traces only of the elation of such a rare encounter.

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Lessons in Leadership from Gandhi’s Life: Choosing a Role Model

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Gandhi Encounters Raychandbhai During an Emotionally Fraught Period

The contemporary obsession with self-improvement traces back to ancient antecedents, as far back for instance, as an Egyptian genre called the ‘Sebayt’ or ‘teaching’ published around 2800 B.C. Correlating current trends with historic parallels, like in the character formation of Mohandas Gandhi drawn from the historian Ramachandra Guha’s illuminating volumes on the leader’s life, we might be both comforted and surprised that Gandhi himself, especially in the early years,

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Broadening Horizons with Curiosity: Anshuman Bapna, ex-Chief Product Officer, MakeMyTrip and Founder, Terra.do, Widens His Impact.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Anshuman Bapna: Forges an Enviable Life-path

In early Feb 2020, who could have imagined a café conversation between Anshuman and me would soon acquire the otherworldly glow of an irretrievable past? At the hip Terra Bites in Koramangala, a drum near the window displayed a message scrawled with a black marker: “We Are Open.” Even in the fourth phase of the nation’s lockdown, that sign feels as tantalizingly invisible and wickedly beckoning as Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station (from which Harry Potter and his wizard friends depart to Hogwarts).

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Using a Crisis to Deepen Oneself : Nandita Lakshmanan, Founder & CEO of The PRactice, Excavates Meaning From Setbacks

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Pema Chodron: Abiding With Fear

Few people, if any, can predict the exact contours of the world when we
emerge from the ravages of the Corona virus. But the sudden ceasing of sights
and sounds we were accustomed to – the hubbub at a café, the squeals of
swerving buses – have reinforced the underlying fragility of everything. It’s
heartening then, at such a time, to absorb lessons from Pema Chodron,

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Choosing to Live in Magic: Somak Ghoshal Forges a Creative Life Path

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Somak Ghoshal: Discovering the Riches of English Literature As a Young Adult

The Mint Lounge has always been a favourite weekend read. Especially the book reviews that dissect the profusion of works spawned by Indian authors. While the Lounge, overall, is peopled by a particularly gifted set of writers, I’m expressly captivated by the pieces penned by Somak Ghoshal. He not only evokes a book’s texture and theme within a tight space,

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Engaging in Deep Work: Aditya Sondhi Explores New Horizons

Friday, January 24, 2020

Aditya Sondhi: Fosters A Living Room Theatre Group

On a Saturday night in January, the wind has a biting snap to it. About twenty people, some with stoles wrapped around their necks, others sweater clad, file into the yellow glow of a living room. There are signs of a party: the clinks of beer-filled bottles, the splash of wine in glasses, water smushed into paper cups. But few other sounds. The conversations are hushed,

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Climbing the Second Mountain: Lakshmi and Subodh Sankar, Founders of Atta Galatta, Create a Storied Bookstore

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

David Brooks: Embarking on a Personal Quest After a Divorce

In The Second Mountain, David Brooks, acknowledges with a beguiling honesty, that at the age of 52, he felt suddenly unmoored. His three-decade long marriage had ended, and he was “lonely, humiliated, scattered.” For someone who possessed all other markers of social success – his job and reputation as a New York Times columnist, wealth, kids,

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Lessons in Leadership From Gandhi’s Life Inside Prisons

Sunday, November 17, 2019

In the historian Ramachandra Guha’s extraordinarily-researched, brilliant chronicle of Gandhi’s life, one gets a fascinating glimpse of his life inside prisons. After all, the nation’s leader often courted arrest for willfully defying unjust laws. For a man who was renowned for being frenetically active, and constantly surrounded by friends, colleagues and followers, one wonders how he spent his time in confinement, which lasted for weeks, months or even years.

After each arrest, Gandhi was prepared to martyr every aspect of himself

In the month of January 1908,

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How Careers in Art can Deepen the Spirit: The Inspiring Life Stories of Gitanjali Maini and Sister Wendy Beckett

Monday, October 28, 2019

Gitanjali Maini: Foraying from HR to the
Art World

Situated inside the heart of Bengaluru, gallery g (www.galleryg.com) seems to freeze time and halt the city’s perpetual busyness. Designed with an elegant sparseness – shafts of light on wooden floors, the arresting views of a vertical garden, a lobby area that sports prints of the legendary Raja Ravi Varma – the space embodies a reprieve from the trafficky tumult. When you step inside,

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When Purpose Steers a Career Trajectory: Rajesh Navaneetham’s Transformational Journey

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

David Whyte: An Encounter with a Stranger

David Whyte, a poet who engages with
American corporations to inspire creativity, once had a transformational
encounter with a stranger. Whyte was in his early twenties, and had recently
graduated from college with a degree in Marine Biology. Struggling to land a
job, he was despondent about his future. Around then, he had checked into a friend’s
farmhouse, in North Wales. On a cold wintry evening,

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Living in Gated Spaces: My Impetus for Writing No Trespassing

Thursday, October 3, 2019

I’ve lived in gated spaces for many years. Mostly inside apartment complexes, and more recently, inside a project with townhomes and villas. While none have been as elite or as exclusive as Fantasia, the fictional setting in No Trespassing has echoes of the places I’ve inhabited. It’s a very convenient life for people from the middle and upper-middle class – for one thing, you get a 24/7 supply of power and water, access to a host of amenities like a pool and a badminton court – and you also feel like you belong to a community,

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