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Our November books are here to warm you up!

Warm greetings, fellow bibliophiles! 

November is a month full of traditions and festivals, and we want to add to the celebrations with our carefully curated list of exciting new recommendations. This month, we are enthralled to share a mesmerising list of books that engulf experiences, warmth, and the essence of belonging. Focusing on people and real stories, the recommendations for this month have been chosen to remind you what it means to be human. Get ready to go on a journey as you scroll, and grab a piping hot cup of coffee for the ride!

 

Women of Influence||Rajni Sekhri Sibal

Women of Influence is a compilation of the untold stories of ten women IAS officers who have walked the extra mile and made a difference despite facing major pressures in governance. Having worked in the civil services for thirty-seven years, Rajni Sekhri Sibal has been in a unique position to see things at close quarters, which is why she presents narratives that provide an insight into the challenges of being a woman IAS officer, and also highlight episodes where the protagonist displays immense courage and commitment during the most difficult of times. The narratives are inspiring tales of ten strong and efficient women of substance, and their extraordinary careers wherein they made a difference.

 

A Place in My Heart||Anupama Chopra 

A Place in My Heart is a many-splendored thing. It is a celebration of the power of storytelling. It is also an account of a life lived in the Bollywood trenches. National Award-winning author, journalist and film critic Anupama Chopra writes about fifty films, artists and events that have left an indelible impression on her and shaped her twenty-five-year-long career. A Place in My Heart is a blend of recommendations and remembrances, nostalgia and narratives. Above all, it is a testament to Chopra’s enduring love for all things cinema.

 

Resolve||Perumal Murugan

Perumal Murugan’s Resolve is both a cultural critique and a personal journey: in his hands, the question of marriage turns into a social contract, deeply impacted by the ripple effects of patriarchy, inequality and changing relationships to land and community. In this deceptively comic tale that savagely pierces the very heart of the matter, translated with deft moments of lightness and pathos by Aniruddhan Vasudevan, Perumal Murugan has given us a novel for the ages.

 

Annapurna Devi||Atul Merchant

Legendary musician Annapurna Devi’s life has been shrouded in mystery. The only people whom she met and communicated with were her disciples who used to visit her for music lessons, which included some of the greatest musicians our era has seen, including Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Bahadur Khan, Aashish Khan, Dhyanesh Khan, Nityanand Haldipur and Basant Kabra, to name a few. Full of anecdotes and untold stories, this is her life story as told by her to her disciples over a while, giving valuable insights into their Guru Ma’s personality, music and teachings.

 

The Odd Book of Baby Names FC
The Odd Book of Baby Names||Anees Salim

Written with the lightness of comedy and the seriousness of tragedy, the playfulness of an inventive riddle and the intellectual heft of a philosophical undertaking, The Odd Book of Baby Names is Salim’s most ambitious novel yet. Layered with multiple perspectives and cadences, each tale recounted in sharp, tantalizing vignettes, this is a rich tapestry of narratives and a kaleidoscopic journey into the dysfunctional heart of the Indian family.

 

Farside||Jaishankar Krishnamurthy, Krishna Udayasankar

When Charulata Srinivasan returns from the US to Mumbai following the unexpected death of her brother, Ravi, in an accident, she stumbles on something that suggests a more sinister game is in play. With her suspicions that Ravi may have been murdered dismissed by the police, Charu has no choice but to turn to Ravi’s best friend, David, and retired-policeman-turned-detective Anand to help her piece together the truth.

 

Yogi Adityanath||Sharat Pradhan, Atul Chandra

Is Yogi Adityanath India’s next Prime Minister in the making? His unprecedented rise in the Bharatiya Janata Party and his over-the-top campaigns and displays of his photograph along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on billboards, among many other moves, seem to suggest his political ambition.

Tracing his early life, entry into electoral politics and elevation to the position of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, this book evaluates many untold stories of Yogi Adityanath.

 

Vipassana||

Bestselling author Shonali Sabherwal’s latest book is for anyone looking to start meditating. With a detailed guide and a focus on Vipassana, it shows you how to control the highs and lows in life and take charge of your happiness. It teaches you how to occupy a state of equanimity and be present in the moment through an ancient technique used by the Buddha for enlightenment. Lift yourself on this journey from misery to happiness, from defilement to purity, from bondage to liberation and from ignorance to enlightenment. Turn your life around through Vipassana.

 

Sleeping Like a Baby||Himani Dalmia, Neha Bhatt

Sleeping Like a Baby serves as the ultimate bedside companion for parents, packed with all the modern tools you need to build a stronger connection with your children and enable age-appropriate sleep for their optimum growth. The book does the seemingly impossible: blending traditional wisdom and the latest research, it gives us a revolutionary approach to achieve longer naps, better night sleep with fewer wakings, a happier baby and more joy and rest as a family, without resorting to fraught practices like ‘sleep training’. Endorsed by some of the most eminent child sleep experts and written in a style that is deceptively simple and accessible, Sleeping Like a Baby is the final word on responsive and restful sleep for caregiver and baby. All night long.

Chamor||Sheba Jose

This nerve-wracking novel is set in a verdant village of Central Travancore in Kerala, which, though unique in many ways, is no exception to the daily truths of life in India. The characters in this story are at the mercy of their universe, which, unfortunately, does not discriminate between the good, the bad and the ugly. In the end, they have nobody but themselves, and their relationships with each other, to fall back on. Poignant and perceptive, the story of Chamor will haunt you for a long time.

 

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The Force Behind the Forces||Swapnil Pandey

The Force Behind the Forces is a collection of seven true stories of eternal love, courage and sacrifice. Written by an army wife, Swapnil Pandey, this book brings to light moving stories of unimaginable valour in the face of broken dreams, lost hopes and shattered families. It proves that bullets and bombs can only pierce the bodies of our soldiers, for their stories will live on in the hearts of these brave women forever, women who have dedicated their lives to the nation, without even a uniform to call their own.

 

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Furrows in a Field||Sugata Srinivasaraju

H.D. Deve Gowda has been in public life for nearly seven decades. Despite his long, arduous yet fascinating journey that began in a poor peasant household in the plains of Hassan, there has been no comprehensive assessment of his life and work. This biography endeavours to professionally fill the gap.The book’s narrative is instructed by Gowda’s rich parliamentary record, archival material and interviews conducted with people associated with him at various stages of his life. The layered narrative is further nuanced by Gowda’s voice, gargantuan memory, a close reading of the time when he made history and the currents of destiny that preceded it. When Gowda became prime minister, many people intuitively registered that our democracy had not been rigged or captured by elites and dynasts, and there was indeed space in our system to rise for a self-made person with no godfathers. It generated hope and continues to do so.

 

Midnight Freeway||Vivaan Shah

Yogesh Moolchandani, a disreputable builder, is dead. All the signs say suicide but there was nothing wrong with his life. He had just cracked a deal and things were looking hale and hearty for him. CCTV footage from the night of his death shows him crashing into a toll booth at a speed of 180 km per hour on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The dealer he had purchased his car from had received five missed calls from him just five minutes before the time of the alleged crash. As the authorities try to find out why Yogesh was calling his car dealer frantically, the plot begins to thicken. Who, or rather what killed Yogesh Moolchandani?

 

Being Adivasi||

The seventh volume in the ambitious Rethinking India series, Being Adivasi: Existence, Entitlements, Exclusion looks at the process of development and how it clashes with the rights of the Adivasis. Persistent problems faced by the Adivasis-land alienation, indebtedness, vanishing minor forest products from government forests and displacement from their ancestral lands-led to their impoverishment. The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act and the Forest Land Rights Act (FRA) enacted by the previous governments were decisive steps towards the empowerment of the Adivasis. However, at present, the implementation of these provisions has taken a back seat. This volume of the Rethinking India series presents the views of the Adivasis and the Denotified Communities on the process of development and its clash with their rights.

 

Undocumented||Rejimon Kuttappan

Our complicated and fragile global economy relies on the unacknowledged labour of  a subterranean network of  undocumented migrant workers. Despite them providing vital support to host economies, governments continue to turn a blind eye to these migrants’ woes without any consequences. In the absence of  documents to speak for them, their human rights are systematically abused, their voices are ignored, and their existence is refuted. 

 

In Undocumented, journalist and migrant-rights researcher Rejimon Kuttappan brings to light the lives of these oft-ignored migrants through stories of six Indians in the Arab Gulf, and through them, voices the plight of  millions more. Delving into both personal and national histories to establish where we are and how we got here, the author lays bare the lives of  people betrayed by their own into human trafficking, into poverty, and into exile in a land that only glimmers with promise.

 

The Lone Wolf||Neha Dwivedi

The Bangladesh Liberation War was nearing its bloody end when Colonel Ashok Tara, then a twenty-nine-year-old major, was assigned the task of rescuing Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s family which was being held hostage by the Pakistani Army. Ashok Tara, unarmed, entered the lion’s den and negotiated with the hostile soldiers for the release of Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation and his family that included a young Sheikh Hasina.

The Lone Wolf is Ashok Tara’s story, charting the course of his celebrated yet quiet life as a member of the armed forces. Neha Dwivedi’s writing expertly captures our hero’s humble beginnings, his life-altering experiences, and offers a blow-by-blow account of a seminal event in Southeast Asian history. As much as it is the story of Colonel Ashok Tara’s bravery, it is also the story of a bleak-yet-victorious period of Bangladesh’s quest for freedom.

 

Brandvantage||Trupti Bhandari, Arvind Bhandari

Brands are everywhere. We may love them, or despise them, or even disparage them, but we can’t be indifferent to their invasive presence in our lives. Today, brand managers, fresh out of campus, are either clueless about what they are supposed to do; or are besieged with baggage from the past that handicaps them from expressing their point of view. This book aims to take all kinds of brand custodians on an enriching journey, so they can delight consumers, generate revenue for their company and positively impact their careers.

 

Transform||Chandramouli Venkatesan

Transform focuses on people management, which the author demonstrates is a very important pillar of success. That is because leadership and managing are the means, while the end impact is what they do to people. Insightful and practical, Transform is a comprehensive book on leadership and management that covers all important concepts while giving practical implementation techniques for each.

 

 

Revolutionaries, escape and betrayal

A riveting account of a clandestine station in 1942 that broadcast recorded messages from Gandhi and other prominent leaders to devoted followers of the freedom struggle while moving from location to location to dodge authorities, reporting on events from Chittagong to Jamshedpur fighting the propaganda and disinformation of the colonial government for nearly three months—until their arrest and imprisonment in November of the same years. Here’s a book that follows the extraordinary story of Usha Mehta and her intrepid co-conspirators who filled Indian airwaves with the heady zeal of rebellion.

**

In Ushaben’s words:

‘The die was cast. The patriotic urge moved the people to challenge the authority of the government in all conceivable ways. Sometime before the Quit India struggle started, some of my colleagues and I were thinking of what to do in case the movement was launched, because it was our hearts’ desire to contribute our humble might to the freedom movement. Demonstrations and public meetings did not appeal to us much from the very beginning. During the Dandi Satyagraha, some of my friends and I had done the work of distributing the illegal Congress bulletins by going from house to house. Now we began discussing how best we could contribute to the Quit India struggle. Babubhai Khakar, a businessman and a co-student in the rashtra bhasha (national language) class, joined us in the discussion. Based on my study of the history of revolutions in other countries of the world, I suggested that if we could establish a radio station of our own, it would help us very much in keeping the people informed about the latest developments in the movement. A perusal of the history of the campaigns had convinced us that a transmitter of our own was perhaps the need of the hour. When the press is gagged and news banned, a transmitter helps a good deal in acquainting the public with the events that occur. We had realized the tremendous propaganda value of a transmitter, and the idea that with a powerful transmitter we could reach foreign countries thrilled us. So, Babubhai, I and other colleagues decided to work for a Freedom Radio.

Front cover of Congress Radio
Congress Radio || Usha Thakkar

‘We began discussing ways and means for raising the necessary finances. Most of us were students and young individuals who had not yet settled in life. We discussed for many long hours but could not find a solution. Our only income then was the pocket money we used to receive from our parents and that was hardly adequate for financing our project. Just when we were on the point of dispersing in a dejected mood, my old aunt who was a widow and one who had participated in earlier freedom struggles and who was listening to our discussion from the adjoining room came out along with Manu, a close relative, with a box in her hands, and boosted up our morale by saying, “Children, do not worry. Here is my stree dhan, the box containing my jewellery gifted to me at the time of my marriage, which I have preserved all these years with great care. You sell it and use the money for your work.” When we hesitated, she said, “I am not sorry to part with my jewellery. What better use could I make of it than by putting it as an offering at the feet of Mother India?”

**

Usha Thakkar brings to life this high-voltage tale of derring-do, complete with stouthearted revolutionaries, thrilling escapes and a cruel betrayal in her new book Congress Radio: Usha Mehta and the Underground Radio Station of 1942.

Everything is different pandemic time around – by Paro Anand

In her timely masterpiece Unmasked, Paro Anand writes of despair, courage and hope. Through eighteen short stories, she introduces us to characters who feel familiar and their stories intimate.

Here’s a glimpse into the author’s mind as she delves into the subject that inspired the book.

~

Unmasked FC
Unmasked||Paro Anand

Remember the song from the TV series – Orange is the New Black? Could well reflect our lives right now. Trapped, trapped, trapped…

For me, as for many, the pandemic has been a test, a trial and in some cases, a triumph.

So how did it change me as a writer? For one, I realised that I probably can never be a writer who hides away for long periods to write in glorious isolation. No. I need the excitement of beating hearts around me. I need the furious curiosity of young minds shooting questions and testing me to the limit. I need the fear I feel that teenagers will reject me and my work and words outright. I need to hear the twang and slang of young people to get their voices and language spot on. Otherwise, I am just an old-ish aunty pretending to be groovy. (see, there’s one word that is a dead giveaway.) I realised that social distancing just isn’t my thing.

So pandemic time around, where do I go, as a writer? Where do I find the life force to draw my words from?

And of course, there is only one answer. Virtually. It meant thinking, not out of the box – but differently inside the box, or the four walls of your room. To write about the outside people while being kept away from them.

 

For a while, I was totally trapped into inaction. And I am a writer who writes compulsively. Every day. yes, every single day. But with the world closing in on itself – and a sudden load of housework – I found myself distanced from my work. If I don’t write, the creativity tap shuts off, the muscle atrophies. Pulling myself out of ditches of real despair wasn’t easy, but it was greatly helped by the excitement mounting in my personal life. I had grandchildren coming. Three of them! The anticipation spurred me on to writing two picture books – Babies in my Heart (Dil Mein Bacha Hai ji – in Hindi) and RooRoo.

Both books are published by Ektara who had also given me a fellowship just prior to the pandemic. While having the fellowship was great – I mean, to be paid to sit home and write is every writer’s dream, but it also meant that there was tremendous pressure.

While the distractions of Nani and Dadi hood were wonderful, I was being eaten up by the need to write. Especially to write the kind of brutally honest young adult reality fiction that I am better known for and love. I need to write this genre like I need to breathe. The world was choking because of the pandemic and so was I.

There was a brutal reality taking place right outside and I wasn’t being able to come to grips with it in my writing. I realised it was because of two things that I was stuck. Firstly, I need to let a feeling, a thought ‘cook’ for a while before I can jump in. the second is the I always have a need to empower my young reader to do better, be better. Not in a moralizing way, but simply because, through my interactions, I have come to sincerely believe that if anyone can make a difference, it is young people.

But in this locked down world, how were children or anyone going to do any better when we were all trying to save our own arses?

My own children, soon to be parents, meanwhile, just pressed on. My daughter becoming very involved in relief programs for the Dharavi slums and that is what unlocked and unmasked my creative flow. The image of the high-rise, high-end flats of Mumbai with the world of shanties and chawls at their feet. Yet each was bound by a common enemy and it was coming to get us all. No one, no matter how rich or powerful was being left untouched. The help was flowing both ways, no matter who you were. There was a one-ness to the world even though we were socially distanced as never before.

It was when my three grandsons were actually safely home that I had this ah ha moment that – simply – life goes on.

 

I started to write stories on the pandemic – nineteen of them to signify COVID’S 19. Because of my staunch belief in young people, I placed a young girl’s poem as chapter 1. It is called “What would you do?” and it asks, no, demands positive action. The poem came from a young girl who was part of a virtual writer’s workshop I was conducting.

The stories all reflect the connectedness of us all.

 

The funny thing was, I was working on the manuscript during the first wave. As my agent tied up with Penguin RandomHouse and work began in earnest, the editor on the book disagreed with the title. She and the marketing team felt that, because the book was still some months away, the pandemic would be a bad memory that no one would want to remember. So we had to elude to it, but not have the dreaded word in the title. She, in fact, came up with the lovely title, Unmasked, hoping that’s how we would all be. But…well, we know that is one big BUT. With at least 3 waves.

I had my 19 stories of horror and hope and going in my mind. The way different people were responding and coping and stepping up, or going into hiding. Priya Kuriyan, the illustrator too, didn’t merely illustrate the stories, she depicted her own visions of the times. The cover, I just love for the way it ties the two worlds of the stories together.  The sheer variety of experience made the subject of each story easy. And that’s when it struck me….well there is a surprise ending to the book that will make each copy of it unique and different.

Because everything in this moment in history is different pandemic time around. And though it is something we may never want to remember, this is a time that we will never be able to forget.

 

 

 

 

The first step to saving the environment

When we were young, we’d study about the environment and how we as humans are contributing to its degradation. But that was just something we were told…as adults, we seldom do all we can as individuals to help the environment.

 “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” -George Bernard Shaw

The first step in a healthy environment is to understand it better. And here is a list of books to help you with just that. We all can do our parts to help the environment, and we must begin immediately.

 

Jungle Trees of Central India

Covering an area larger than France, and including five of India’s most visited tiger reserves, the forests of Central India are one of the country’s most iconic wildscapes. Jungle Trees of Central India is a lavishly illustrated and user-friendly field guide to every wild tree you are will see in this entire region. A culmination of four years of research, the book has over 2000 photographs with thumbnail keys to all the bark, flowers, fruit and leaves. An ideal companion for your travels in the region, this book will turn you into an expert tree spotter and take your enjoyment of wild places to another level.

 

Rage of the River

On 17 June 2013, a normally calm Mandakini came crashing down from the hills in Uttarakhand and destroyed everything in its path: houses, bridges, dams and the town of Kedarnath. Thousands of people perished and lakhs lost their livelihood.
Three years after the disaster, stories from the valley-of pain and sorrow, the state government’s indifference and the corporate goof-ups, and the courage and heroism shown by the locals in the face of an absolute catastrophe-still remain largely unheard of.

 

Churning the Earth

 

The world stands so dazzled by India’s meteoric economic rise that we hesitate to acknowledge its consequences to the people and the environment. In Churning the Earth, Aseem Shrivastava and Ashish Kothari engage in a timely enquiry of this impressive growth story. They present incontrovertible evidence o nhow the nature of this recent growth has been predatory and question its sustainability. Unfettered development has damaged the ecological basis that makes life possible for hundreds of millions resulting in conflicts over water, land, and natural resources, and increasing the chasm between the rich and the poor, threatening the future of India as a civilization.

 

The Vanishing

Every year, our planet loses over 150 species of plants and animals, and India is very much in the midst of this mass ‘sixth extinction’. We are losing species in our backyard—where are the once ubiquitous sparrows, or the fireflies that lit up our nights? And in the forests, iconic species like the great Indian bustards are down to a hundred, while flamingoes are poised to be wiped off the map of India.

 

The Girl and the Tiger

 

Isha is a girl who loves animals but struggles in the confines of school. When she is sent away to live with her grandparents on the Indian countryside, she discovers a sacred grove where a young Bengal tiger has taken refuge. Isha knows that the ever-shrinking forests of India mean there are few places left for a tiger to hide. When the local villagers also discover the tiger, Isha finds herself embroiled in a life or death cultural controversy.

 

Bones of the Tiger

Majestic and beautiful, ferocious and lethal, the tiger has captivated the imaginations of people the world over for centuries. Inspiring myth and folklore as a graceful creature and terrifying predator, this big cat has long paced the jungles of Asia in a history strewn with conflict between man and beast – man-eating tigers have terrorized people for centuries. But in the twenty-first century, this conflict has turned on its head – tiger-eating men fund a very lucrative black market for tiger parts, and poachers and habitat destruction have brought the population down to less than 3200 individuals in the world today. A true adventure tale, Bones of the Tiger tells the fascinating story of one man’s quest to save the man-eating tigers of Nepal.

 

Whispers from the wild

Some people talk about nature, others listen to it. Listening can reveal wonders like how to befriend an elephant, how to talk to a tiger and how to live in the jungle. Many such amazing experiences crowd this volume containing the unpublished writings from the early and last years of the well-known naturalist, the late E.R.C. Davidar, besides his acclaimed book Cheetal Walk. A lawyer by profession and a shikari-turned-photographer, he established maybe the first ever private elephant corridor in India, near his jungle-cottage, and undertook the first census of the Nilgiri Tahr along the entire range. The book is enriched with photographs from the family album, and not only enlightens us about wildlife and conservation in the Nilgiris, but becomes a memoir of a jungle lover and his family.

 

Animal Intimacies

What do we really know of the intimate-and intense-moments of care, kinship, violence, politics, indifference and desire that occur between human and non-human animals?
Built on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in the mountain villages of India’s Central Himalayas, Radhika Govindrajan’s book explores the number of ways that human and animal interact to cultivate relationships as interconnected, related beings. Whether it is through the study of the affect and ethics of ritual animal sacrifice, analysis of the right-wing political project of cow protection, or examination of villagers’ talk about bears who abduct women and have sex with them, Govindrajan illustrates that multispecies relatedness relies on both difference and ineffable affinity between animals.

 

No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today’ In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This book brings you Greta in her own words. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the un to mass street protests, no one is too small to make a difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.

 

Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet

 In 2009, scientists identified nine planetary boundaries that keep Earth stable, ranging from biodiversity to ozone. Beyond these boundaries lurk tipping points. To stop short of these tipping points, the 2020s must see the fastest economic transition in history.
This book demonstrates how societies are reaching positive tipping points that make this transition possible: Activism groups such as Extinction Rebellion, or the schoolchildren inspired by Greta Thunberg demand political action; countries are committing to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions; and one tipping point has even already passed – the price of clean energy has dropped below that of fossil fuels.

 

Restore the Earth – How you can contribute to the 41st Earth Day

Our planet isn’t doing that great. We know that. We hear it, read about it and even talk about it. But what really is the problem? Who is responsible, why is it happening and most importantly, what can we do?

The first step in the direction of change is awareness – understanding the problem and what steps we can take as individuals. And so, Penguin Random House India would like to share a list of some of the books that will help you get started on this journey.

 

Conflicts of Interest

India’s foremost environmentalist, Sunita Narain, gives a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s green movement. While outlining the enormous environmental challenges that India faces today, Narain talks about how corporate lobbies and political interests often scuttle their effective resolution. Conflicts of Interest also includes an ‘environmental manifesto’, a blueprint for the direction India must take if it is to deal with the exigencies of climate change and environmental degradation.

 

Environmentalism

In this book Ramachandra Guha, an acclaimed historian of the environment, draws on many years of research in three continents. He details the major trends, ideas, campaigns and thinkers within the environmental movement worldwide.

Massive in scope but pointed in analysis, written with passion and verve, this book presents a comprehensive account of a significant social movement of our times and will be of wide interest both within and outside the academy.

 

Thirsty Nation

Presented in the book are innovative, cutting edge ways to combat the water crisis and ways of investing in the right projects. The roles of technology, finance, and a general view of domestic and foreign investment in water are explored by the authors and practical and lucrative financial advice is offered making it an important book in the present ecological and financial environment.

 

The Vanishing


The Vanishing takes an unflinching look at the unacknowledged crisis that India’s wildlife faces, bringing to fore the ecocide that the country’s growth story is leaving in its wake—laying to waste its forests, endangering its wildlife, even tigers whose increasing numbers shield the real story of how development projects are tearing their habitat to shreds. It tells us why extinction matters, linking the fate of wildlife to ours.

 

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet’s slide toward certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

Five DIY recipes that will help you to take the first steps to a zero waste life

In this world full of plastic and chemical waste, how can you help save the planet?

Did you know that there will be more plastic than fish in our seas by 2050? Did you know that it takes 20,000 litres of water to make a pair of jeans? Did you know that we have a massive food wastage problem, and yet millions die of hunger each day?

Sahar Mansoor  founder and CEO of Bare Necessities, a zero-waste social enterprise and Tim de Ridder present  Bare Necessities-How to Live A Zero Waste Life is your one-stop guide on how to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle in India. Filled with activities, insights, recipes, tips and how-to guides, it is a must-read for anyone wanting to make a positive change in their life and to our environment.

Read on for five easy-to make recipes that will drastically improve both your own health and that of the environment, while also producing absolutely no waste!

 

  1. Sustainable behaviour begins with your very first activity of the day-brushing your teeth! This recipe ensures your pearly whites are treated to only clean ingredients, while making sure there are no squeezed out plastic tubes of toothpaste ending up in the landfill.

Peppermint Party Toothpaste

You will need:

  • 1 part baking soda,
  • 1 part coconut oil,
  • A few drops of peppermint essential oil.

All you need to do to get naturally clean teeth is to mix it all together in a bowl until it becomes a paste and then place it in a reusable container for the next time you brush your teeth. While this may taste and appear to be different from the toothpaste you’re used to, it is worth trying out.

  • To use the Peppermint Party Toothpaste:
    • Scoop a tiny dollop with a teaspoon on to your toothbrush (you could start using this and a bamboo toothbrush at the same time) before every use.

 

  1. Your muscles need to be thoroughly rejuvenated when you begin your day crusading for the environment, Ditch the pricey and plastic packaged bath salts for a simple recipe that is even more effective.

Lemongrass Bath Salt

You will need:

  • 1 part rock salt/Epsom salt/pink Himalayan salt (or a combination of all),
  • A small drizzle of coconut oil,
  • A few drops of lemongrass essential oil,
  • Rose petals.

For a naturally rejuvenating bath, follow this method:

  • Gradually mix each of these ingredients in a bowl in chronological order,
  • Place it into a reusable container for use when you bathe next.

 

  1. Busy days means sometimes your hair needs and extra kick without an extra hour of shampooing. But store-bought dry shampoos are often aerosol based, which contribute to air pollution and often have chemicals that can damage your hair in the long run. This dry shampoo recipe is safe for both cake and your hair!

Dessert Dry Shampoo

You will need:

  • 1 part cornflour,
  • 1 part cocoa powder,

All you need to do is put the cocoa powder into a bowl, followed  by the cornflour. This one is really easy to make, with no complications involved:

  • Stir the two ingredients with a spoon until there are no distinct ingredients, that is, you can no longer see any white from the cornflour. The mix should be light brown in colour.
  • Place this in a container for you to use when you need it.

 

  1. There’s nothing more infuriating or exhausting to handle than a clogged drain whether in the bath or in the kitchen! While you might be tempted to pour plastic sachets of commercial drain cleaner down the pipes, do the water bodies in your area a favour and stop pollution at its source with our much more environmentally friendly concoction.

Pipe Cleanse-Unclog Your Drain

You will need:

  • 1⁄2 cup baking soda,
  • 1⁄2 cup white vinegar,
  • A wet cloth,
  • Hot water.

Unclog your drain by:

  • Pouring the baking soda down the drain,
  • Follow with white vinegar,
  • Cover the opening with the wet cloth
  • Let it sit for 5–20 minutes (based on how clogged your drain is),
  • Pour some hot water down the drain.

This trick will work wonders for mild clogs!

 

  1. After a long day of saving the environment one small step at a time,  unwind and pamper yourself with this nourishing facemask.

FaceTime (as nature intended)  Facemask

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon rice flour,
  • A pinch of turmeric,
  • 1 teaspoon honey,
  • 1 tablespoon of mashed banana, tomato, orange, papaya or pineapple.

All you have to do is:

  • Blend the dry ingredients together,
  • Drizzle some honey to form a paste-like consistency,
  • Finish off by adding your preferred fruit in.

Use it like any other face mask. It is a great natural alternative that will provide you with supple, hydrated skin. However, make sure you only use this mask once a week.

 

The three critical rules of working as a consultant

Management consulting is seen as a glamorous profession. But behind the mystique are the consultants who put in extraordinary effort, cultivate great problem-solving skills and display fine personal attributes to capture the attention and respect of their clients.

The Mind of a Consultant opens up that world to the readers through the story of Samantha Thomas, a character modelled on many excellent consultants, who gives us a glimpse of what goes on inside the mind of a consultant.

Here is an excerpt from when Samanta is an intern and learns the three critical rules of working as a consultant.

 

‘Is the presentation ready?’ Hamid was unapologetic in his question.

It was 2 a.m. Samanta had been working for more than eighteen hours straight on the presentation for the client leadership team that was to be presented the next day. She was expected to be part of the presenting team alongside Hamid, the project manager and partner who owned the account. Hamid was six years her senior and from the same institute she was attending. He was highly respected by his colleagues and the project team members looked to him for guidance.

She thought back over the past few weeks, remembering the first day she had arrived at Pinnacle for her internship. It was like a dream come true. Her first official day as an intern at Pinnacle. She, along with thirty-five fellow interns from some of the best management institutes in the world, had been participating in the internship orientation. Two of the senior partners and a few engagement managers who could make it were part of the two-day programme.

While partners spoke about the culture and the attributes of great consultants, the engagement managers were more operational. They spoke about the tools and the support that were available to interns. They shared Pinnacle’s knowledge base, along with templates for ppts and Excel sheets, which were life-savers for the interns when they started out.

At the end of the second day, the interns were provided with laptops and their project assignments. Samanta was assigned to a large organization-transformation project in the retail industry. The organization was exploring strategies to enhance growth and increase efficiency amid changing industry dynamics. Her project manager for the assignment was Hamid. At the time, Hamid was participating in more than half a dozen similar assignments worldwide. He was always up to date on the latest happenings in the industry and often considered an expert in the field.

The first time Samanta and Raghav, a fellow intern, met Hamid to work on the project, he came across as passionate and knowledgeable. It was obvious that he was an accomplished consultant.

‘I want you guys to challenge me,’ he told them. ‘it’s important that you get a head start and not waste time doing things that don’t matter to this project.’

He gave them presentations and materials to read, a brief on the client requirements and the names of some resources in the firm that he thought could be helpful.

‘Get ready to fly out tomorrow to meet the client,’ he said. ‘We’re having meetings with some of the key management team members before doing a few store visits to understand their set-up. You need to be up to speed on everything that we know about the client by then.’

One thing Samanta learnt from Day One was that consulting constantly needed one to learn and travel. That was the best part about being at Pinnacle. It treated its team members as star talent, and believed that its people could figure out a way to deliver on even the toughest assignments.

Samanta and Raghav spent their time leading up to their trip reading more on the retail industry in general and the company in particular. Pinnacle had some wonderful case studies and industry knowledge available that they found helpful. There were different terminology and business metrics that Samanta and Raghav had never encountered before, but Hamid encouraged them to learn all of it, and learn it well.

‘You don’t want to be seen as novices. You should be able to ask and understand questions in areas that are relevant even to the CEO.’

The following day, Samanta, Raghav and Hamid started on their trip to see the client. Samanta had been told that she was lucky to be doing her first project with Hamid, so she took advantage of the uninterrupted cab drive to ask him questions. there was one in particular she couldn’t help asking.

‘How did you earn so much respect from your peers?’

Hamid raised his eyebrow at her, a smile on his face. Samanta shifted uncomfortably in her seat. She was probably the first intern to ever ask him that.

Hamid gave a short laugh at her discomfort before answering. ‘How do you think, Sammy? And you too, Raghav.’ Samanta thought for a moment. There were several possible reasons, or, more likely, a combination of several of them.

Raghav chimed in first. ‘Maybe hard work? or domain knowledge?’

Samanta nodded. She had been thinking along the same lines. She added her own thoughts. ‘I would think project-management expertise would have something to do with it. Is that part of the reason?’

Hamid nodded and smiled. ‘All of those are correct, but there are three main rules I live by in this firm.’ he held up his fingers as he counted them off.

‘Rule 1: strive for knowledge.

‘Rule 2: build your best coalition.

‘Rule 3: Always be ahead of the client.

‘Each of these is critical when working as a consultant.’

The Mind of a Consultant hands you all the tools necessary to build a successful professional career in an easy-to-understand manner.

Seven Fascinating Gastronomic Glimpses into Rana Culture and Cuisine

What happens when two distinct regal cultures come together in the hands of a lady who is both a wonderful conversationalist and a wonderful cook?

The Rana name has been synonymous with the history and culture of Nepal for centuries. The beautiful palaces of Nepal were known not only for their glamour and architecture but also for their royal feasts. The recipes of the food served were closely guarded by the cooks of the palaces and a lucky few who inherited them from earlier generations. Rohini Rana has collected and documented the recipes precious to each Rana prime minister’s family.

Showcasing magnificent food from the palaces, this luxurious and beautifully illustrated cookbook attempts to preserve these recipes for future generations, and posterity, while also giving quaint snippets of the history and unique cultural practices that shaped the creation and ingestion of this delightful cuisine.  Read on for some of these very  interesting gastronomic glimpses.

 

1-Fascinating and often contradictory customs existed side side by side especially  when it came to non-vegetarian food

Certain meats were totally taboo and never crossed the thresholds of the bhanchas (kitchens) of the Bajais’ dominated realms. Pork was considered unhealthy and not partaken of inside the palace kitchens or dining hall. However, the wild boar held a prestigious position in all joyous occasions.

 

  1. The interesting overlap of military and culinary history is evinced in the unlikely influence of Awadhi cuisine brought about by Nepalese help granted to the British during the 1857 War of Independence.

The local cuisine was influenced to a certain extent by the khansamas (cooks) brought in from Mughal India after the loot of Lucknow during Jung Bahadur’s time. Since then the Khansamas and the Nepalese Bajaes and ‘Bajais’ (Bhramin men and women worked in tandem, though in separate kitchens, perfecting a style of fusion cuisine that has become famous being unique in its Rana flavor.

 

  1. An oft-overlooked description from the Ramayana became the basis for the tradition of a truly grand feast of 84 dishes which is the mainstay of most Rana ceremonies even today

The main ceremony, which totally involves and rotates around food is the Chaurasi Byanjan. This ceremony is still a must during Pasni (rice feeding of a child), Bartamand (sacred thread Ritual) and Biyah (wedding). This tradition goes back to the epical story of the Ramayan and the wedding celebration of Sita’s marriage to Ram where King Janak is supposed to have served 84 Chaurasi (varieties of food) at the banquet.

 

  1. This strange (but strangely reasonable) taboo on what is probably one of the most commonly eaten poultry.

The only bird that did not reach their ornate platters was the common chicken, because it pecked at dirt and droppings so was not considered hygienic. With the waning of shikar trips and shikaris the chicken finally found its way to the cooking pot, although in a separate kitchen.

 

  1. Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day around the world, but the Ranas certainly bucked tradition in this regard.

Coming to the meal patterns of the Rana households, breakfast was not common if taken at all. Lunch was the main meal usually had at 10 am in the traditional ‘junar ko bhancha’ or room adjoining the kitchen.

 

  1. Despite the Ranas’ progressive social reforms in many ways, caste rigidity dominated the culinary department.

The Ranas were extremely orthodox in their eating habits and never partook of rice cooked by any other than a Brahmin or someone of the same caste as themselves. There are many interesting stories of Jung Bahadur creating quite a few faux pas at Queen Victoria’s dining table because of his fastidiousness.}

 

  1. Rice seemed to have a very special role even amidst the plethora of Rana dishes considering it had to be eaten in a specified room!

Dinner was usually at 6 or 7 pm served in the rooms upstairs with a variety of rotis, cheura meat and vegetables. If rice was being served, it had to be partaken of in the junar ko bhancha again

Making Excellence A Habit – A chat with the man who tells us how

 Dr Mohan is one of the few practicing doctors in India who have contributed to research, education and charity in such a large measure. His book, Making Excellence a Habit documents the fundamentals of what makes a person achieve meaningful success. While hard work, passion and focus emerge as winning lessons, delicate and tender learnings from Dr Mohan’s life, such as empathy or spirituality, are not forgotten.

Here is an interview with the man himself on his proudest moments, people that inspire him, and his writing a book!

 

  1. When you look back, what are some of your proudest moments?

            Establishing the largest chain of diabetes centers in the world, and the sustained growth and development of the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation as well as our Education Academy and the charitable clinics that we run are some of the proudest and most fulfilling moments of my life.

When I started working with my father in 1971, there was not a single private hospital or centre dedicated to diabetes in the country. Today, diabetes has become a much sought-after specialty and everybody wants to practice diabetes. This, I think, is largely a reflection of the 50 years of our work which went into building up the specialty of diabetes. Perhaps, my greatest satisfaction is that, without any formal Government or University backing or support we have been able to contribute a large chunk of the diabetes research done in India and our work has helped to place India on the world map of diabetes research. Looking back, these are very satisfying indeed.

 

  1. Who are some of the people that inspire you?

I have several people who have inspired me in different ways. Firstly, my spiritual Guru, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, for, it was He who demonstrated to the world that it is possible to offer world class health care for the poor, completely free of cost. My father Prof. M. Viswanathan was my mentor and it was he who brought me into this field of diabetology. My wife, Dr. Rema Mohan was a very strong-willed person, who battled cancer while contributing extensively to her field, diabetic retinopathy. In the medical field, Dr. Venkatswamy, the founder of Aravind Eye Hospital and Dr.S.S. Badrinath, the founder of Sankara Nethralaya inspired me a lot, as did Dr. Anji Reddy, Chairman of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and Dr.N.K.Ganguly, the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

 

  1. Will you write a second book? 

            I would definitely like to write a second book if I can find the time to do it.

 

  1. How did you manage to write a book alongside your busy schedule?

           I would say that it was my passion to write and to inspire youngsters which kept me going. Although it did take some time, I am happy I was able to eventually complete it.

 

  1. If you could give advice to an inspiring writer, what would it be?

           My advice to aspiring writers would be to tell their stories with as much human interest as possible as people love to hear stories that are told well. There should also be a message for the readers, particularly for youngsters who should get inspired to achieve excellence in whatever they do. Whichever the type of book that the writer is attempting to write, he or she should spend enough time thinking about it and to see how it will be useful to society.

 

Making Excellence a Habit is a behind-the-scenes account of a person honoured internationally for delivering path-breaking care to hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes.

Battling Infertility and what they don’t tell you

What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing in My Vagina? is a witty, moving and intensely personal retelling of Rohini’s five-year-long battle with infertility, capturing the indignities of medical procedures, the sting of prying questions from friends and strangers, the disproportionate burden of treatment on the woman, the everyday anxieties about wayward hormones, follicles and embryos and the overarching anxiety about the outcome of the treatment.

 

Here is an excerpt from the chapter where she first encounters a lemon squeezer.

 

I heard of ‘artificial insemination’ for the first time in a Malayalam movie when I was eight or nine years old. It was Malayalam cinema’s cult classic Dasharatham (1989), which was so ahead of its time that even now I am not sure if its time has come. A leading mainstream actor, Mohanlal, plays a rich, spoilt man-child who decides to act on a whim and have a child through surrogacy. He finds a desperate woman who needs money for her ailing footballer husband’s medical treatment and agrees to rent her womb. They draw up a contract, turn up for the procedure, and fifteen days later she is pregnant! No failed attempts, cancelled cycles or any other complications. With this movie lodged in my brain for reference, I thought fertility treatments were an easy-peasy lemon-squeezy affair. To be fair to the movie, it is not about infertility. It’s about a healthy, fertile couple who use artificial insemination for conception. It may well have happened that quickly and effortlessly in real life too. But the movie glosses over the unseemliness and hardships of the treatment. For those who have seen the movie, I hate to burst your bubble. Welcome to the world of ART.

I began our first IUI in July 2011 with the earnestness of a debutant, expecting early and prompt success. I had not dealt with sickness or physical incapacity in any significant manner until then, being blessed with a constitution that rarely fell prey to illness. I sailed through ten years of school without any noteworthy episodes of fever. My haemoglobin level typically hovered near the fourteen mark. When Ranjith caught the swine flu, despite my being in close contact with him my natural immunity provided the necessary shield against the deadly virus. My good health was my secret pride and I had taken it for granted all my life, expecting the body to tag along in whichever direction I pulled it. Therefore when we started treatment I anticipated the same level of responsiveness and performance from it. But for the first time, my body, specifically the reproductive apparatus, proved to be a terrible let-down, insolently ignoring my instructions.

The procedure itself was relatively simple with only a few key steps. The first step was pills to stimulate my ovaries to release multiple eggs. The second was follicular study. Follicles are tiny fluid-filled balloons in the ovaries that function as the home of the egg. They may expand from the size of a sesame seed (2 millimetres) to the size of a large kidney bean (18 mm to 25 mm) during the course of the menstrual cycle, eventually bursting to push the egg out. The follicles are measured at regular intervals during a cycle to ascertain if they have matured and are ready to release the egg. This is done through a transvaginal ultrasound (TVS).

I was not a big fan of TVS. It involved insertion of a long, slim plastic probe into my vagina and twisting it around to get a close look at the uterus. Magnified images of the uterus appeared on a computer screen. I was appalled the first time when the doctor covered the transducer with a condom and dipped it in lubricating gel, indicating that it had to enter an orifice in my body. I thought that scans, by definition, were non-invasive. It caused some discomfort, but it was not very painful. Eventually, I learnt to relax my muscles and spread my legs far apart to make things easier. I wished I didn’t have to get a TVS, but if I had to then I could tolerate it.

The cycle got off on the wrong foot from the very beginning. The first ultrasound showed only one big-enough follicular blob (at 13 mm). The other four or five follicles were too small, indicating they might not reach maturity. This meant I might have only one egg despite taking drugs to stimulate the release of many.

In the next ultrasound, my ovarian plight did not show improvement. The lead follicle was still only at 15 mm (way below the 18 mm mark of maturity) and the others had not grown at all, looking like they were giving up on ovulation altogether.

There were no outward symptoms to show if the follicles were fattening or dying (this is true for most reproductive processes). So at every ultrasound I went in expecting miracle growth, only to be told that my seeds were lagging poorly behind. I felt helpless at the response from my body because there was nothing I could do to expand the follicles. If it were an outwardly manifest condition I could have applied my inner reserves of resolve and determination to improve the outcomes, in the same way that I would do daily exercise and physiotherapy to regain strength in an injured leg. But my action, or inaction, had no bearing on the ungovernable follicles.

We waited a couple of more days and did a third ultrasound. This time the news was worse. The lead follicle had ruptured; it hadn’t waited for the others to catch up or even to reach its own full maturity. There was nothing left to do but to hurriedly put the sperm inside the uterus since an egg (presumably underdeveloped) had arrived and was waiting. The sperm transfer was scheduled for the same day.

what’s a lemon squeezer doing in my vagina | Rohini S. Rajagopal

I rang up my manager and said I would be taking the day off to address a personal emergency. An hour later, Ranjith drove in from his office to give a semen sample. He came in, gave the semen sample and left. He did not stay any longer because he had meetings that could not be rescheduled at such short notice.

I had come to the clinic at eight in the morning assuming I would just pop in for the ultrasound and pop out. An easy day with only the bother of TVS. But when I heard that I would have to stay back for the IUI, I inwardly experienced a mini-heart attack. Early on, while describing the procedure, Dr Leela had mentioned that the sperm would be injected inside the uterus using a catheter. Having heard the words ‘inject’ and ‘catheter’ in conjunction with my vagina, I thought it best to look up the process in detail on the Internet. One of the first search results showed that during an IUI the doctor uses a ‘speculum’ to pass the catheter into the uterus. It was a surgical instrument inserted inside the vagina or anus to dilate the area and give the doctor a better view. I did a quick search on Google Images to know what it looked like. The photos that flashed on my screen sent ripples of shock through

my system. It looked like the stainless-steel lemon squeezer found in a kitchen. It was made of metal and about the same size as the kitchen tool. It had two blades to widen and hold open the vagina and a third handle with a screw to lock the instrument into place.

What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing in my Vagina offers a no-holds-barred view of Rohini S. Rajagopal’s circuitous and highly bumpy road to motherhood.

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