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O.P. Singh’s Incredible Journey from Books to Badges!

Ever wondered what it takes to transform from a student of theory to a leader in action? From the lecture halls of Delhi University to cracking the civil services exam, explore the milestones that define O.P.Singh’s inspiring ascent. Are you ready to be inspired by the story of ambition, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence?

Read on for a glimpse into the extraordinary!

Crime, Grime and Gumption
Crime, Grime and Gumption || O.P Singh

***

The academic scene at the DU campus was competitive. I mean, you could really feel it, the sense and the urge to learn, to grow big. I found my years at DU intellectually most satisfying. I cannot escape the mention of some of my professors with whom I had the privilege to cover a distance. Randhir Singh, the master of political theory and thought, was an exceptional professor. His oratory skills had the audience eating out of his hands and he was quite popular among the students too. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, another exceptional mind, handled comparative politics. International relations was the domain of Prof. Mahendra Kumar, while Prof. Susheela Kaushik talked about Indian politics. Last but not the least, Prof. M.P. Singh and Prof. R.B. Jain professed political theory and public administration, respectively. It was one august line-up and I immersed myself in the holy waters of Delhi academics.

 

Besides looking forward to the edifying lectures of eminent faculty members, I used to have after-dinner talks with Shekhar Singh, my senior in academics and also a lecturer at Kirori Mal College, till midnight. We would often discuss threadbare Western political thought, Indian political thought of leaders such as B.R. Ambedkar and M.N. Roy, and politics of representation and participation along with discussions on changing international political order. Shekhar Singh joined the IAS and retired as chief secretary of Telangana. The Central Library offered a refuge of a different kind. Innumerable boys and girls, research scholars and professors from different departments would converge and recreate a sangam, a confluence of varied interests. I, too, became part of the furniture in the library, and I could smell the aspiration for the civil services around me. I was convinced I had come to the right place. My preparation for the exam of my lifetime began in earnest.

 

I visited my mother and Gaya during the long breaks, especially during the summers. The train journey across the Gangetic plain held an unparalleled charm. In the company of friends and friends of friends, we travelled in a spirit of camaraderie. Second-class journey, reservation or no reservation, crowded platforms— nothing dissuaded our spirits of adventure. I still remember Gaya Station and its crazy, cacophonous milieu of coolies in red shirts, with their golden brassards in place, the shouting brigade of vendors and the lone shout of ‘chai-chai’ resounding even after one had left the premises of the rail station.

 

After my master’s with distinguished honours, I rested my eyes and hope on my MPhil programme in political science. My dream of clearing the civil services exam was still on. Deshbandhu College of Delhi University offered me a lectureship and I grabbed the opportunity. Thus began a small yet significant start to my career. Though my heart lay elsewhere, I was lucky to keep myself and my mind on course. The year was 1982. The urge and the thirst to do something big was alive and I knew it was just a matter of time.

 

Dates hold a strange fascination for me, and 19 May 1983 became another such landmark. No, it wasn’t the day of the results of the UPSC examination but the day I appeared for the selection interview. As I stepped out of the cool confines of the imposing UPSC building and on to Shahjahan Road, I exuded a certain confidence, the confidence of having arrived. The forty-five-minute interview had been a breeze. I was grilled by the chairperson of the interview board, R.O. Dhan. She was possibly the vice chancellor of some university and had real pointed questions in her armoury. Former IPS officer John Lobo, another board member, carried the legacy of having investigated the famous homicide case of Admiral K.M. Nanavati. From the United Nations to the Chauri Chaura incident, the interviewers were thorough in their approach.

 

The UPSC interview was held in the month of May. The news of my selection came through in June. Life has its own way of springing surprises. At times I think back on my journey to academic success, a candidate who cracked one of the toughest examinations in the country, in fact in the world. There is always a trigger that catapults one from a modest follower to a fiery leader. Fifth standard had been mine. I had started believing in myself and taking myself more seriously when I stood first then. This precisely was a moment when I reinvented myself afresh and a sense of competition was instilled in my young mind.

 

My training and induction were fixed to commence in the first week of December. For me, the ultimate had happened. God had blessed me with his indulgent embrace. My mother was with me in the momentous occasion, so were my sisters and brother Shree Prakash. Babuji was missing in the picture and that stung me.

 

And then, out of nowhere, the love of my life tiptoed into the family and straight to my heart.

***

Get your copy of Crime, Grime, and Gumption by O.P. Singh wherever books are sold.

‘Please, don’t. I am scared’ – The painful world of IVF clinics

Detailing the difficulty of undergoing infertility treatments, What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina is a nuanced, heart-breaking and heart-warming work on the indignities of medical procedures, the precariousness of motherhood, and what this means to women. In this excerpt, Rohini Rajagopal talks about one of her Intrauterine insemination sessions.

~

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.

Front cover What's A Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina
What’s A Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina||Rohini S. Rajagopal

I began our first IUI in July 2011 with the earnestness of a debutant, expecting early and prompt success… 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.

…It was a busy day at the hospital for Dr Leela, who was swamped with several emergency C-sections. I sat alone in the deserted waiting hall of the IVF clinic, biding my time. Other patients had left after their ultrasounds in the morning. No one else was lined up for a procedure.

…Finally, at around one, Dr Leela came and apologized for the delay. I was taken to the operating room, asked to remove my leggings and empty my bladder. I lay down on the bed and pulled a sheet over my naked legs. A tray of surgical instrument kits was placed on a stand next to the bed. I kept my fingers crossed, hoping there would be no speculum.

Dr Leela began briskly tearing the kits open one by one and getting ready for action. When she pulled out the speculum, I lost my nerve. The thin mask of composure I was wearing until then crumbled. I sprang up and held back her hand desperately.

‘Please, don’t. I am scared.’

As soon as I said it, I regretted it. What was I thinking? It was a meaningless request. And Dr Leela had no patience for such trembling and dithering. She was not known to offer empty, placatory words, ‘It’s okay. Just relax. It will not hurt you.’ My protest was an annoying interruption and she reacted sternly.

‘Take your hand off. I don’t need it here.’
The room became tense.

…The ninety seconds it must have taken to fix the speculum and inject the semen were excruciating, and not just because of the physical hostility of the act. Not just because it felt raw or sore or I was bleeding. But because it was a breach of my already fragile self. It tore through the membranes of my defences, leaving me exposed and helpless.

In a few minutes, it was over and the doctor left. The stainless-steel tools were taken out by the nurses. The housekeeping staff cleaned the floor. The room became empty again. The pounding in my heart ceased. I rested in the metallic stillness of the operating room for thirty minutes, drove home, ate my lunch and went to sleep.

That IUI was an eye-and-mind-opener of the path ahead. An IVF clinic is a cold place to walk into. It doesn’t matter which IVF clinic you go to. There might be a difference in degree, but the air is still chilly and biting. You must shed your inhibitions, modesty and fears quickly because the most crucial part of fertility treatment involves lying on your back, knees bent, legs wide open, while probes, catheters and lemon squeezers are thrust inside your vagina by professionals whose day job this is. What you need is the stance of a warrior, not the long-suffering bearing of a patient.

~

Years later, I am just a few weeks away from going into labour. Ranjith’s mother and I are alone at home. We are having a woman-to-woman conversation about the trials and tribulations of bringing a human into this world. We discuss pregnancy scans and the improvements in technology since her time. She speaks about her own repulsion and discomfort during an internal examination, which was necessary in her days when ultrasounds were not as prevalent.

She asks casually, only half-asking, but mostly reconfirming, ‘You’ve never had an internal examination, alle?’

I gasp and mumble something to the effect of, ‘Yes, I have.’ But the truth is, there was no short answer to that question.

~

What’s a Lemon Squeezer Doing In My Vagina opens up a discussion that we are hardly willing to have, sensitising us to the physical and emotional toll that medical procedures and social scrutiny take on women.

 

 

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.

The story of a tea-laborer and his path-breaking journey

If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.- Dr Martin Luther King, Jr

Bike Ambulance Dada, the authorised biography of Padma Shri awardee Karimul Hak, is the most inspiring and heart-warming biography you will read this year. It documents the extraordinary journey of a tea-garden worker who saved thousands of lives by starting a free bike-ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital.

Here is an excerpt from Bike Ambulance Dada by Biswajit Jha titled A Bike Ambulance Takes Shape.

Front Cover Bike Ambulance Dada
Bike Ambulance Dada || Biswajit Jha

Now that Karimul had a bike, he was no longer dependent on his cycle to ferry a patient. The bike gave the patients a greater chance of survival by ensuring they got to the hospital quickly. Karimul, too, was under less pressure, physically and mentally; he could be more certain of patients getting timely medical attention, be they sick or injured, and riding a motorbike was far less physically taxing than cycling all the way with a passenger.

One day, in 2008, when Karimul was enjoying a cup of tea with some acquaintances at a tea shop in Kranti Bazaar, one of them, Babu Mohanta, suddenly cried out. The engrossing discussion on political affairs was halted abruptly. The small group sprang into action to find out the reason behind Mohanta’s shriek. Investigations revealed that a snake had bitten him just above the ankle. Karimul immediately made up his mind to identify the snake, as this would help the doctor decide on the course of treatment; it was imperative in such cases. He saw the snake but could not identify it. Thinking fast, he somehow caught the snake and put it in a small box so that he could carry it to the hospital. He applied a pressure bandage on the wound as well. With the help of those around them, Karimul got Mohanta tied to his back and asked a villager to ride pillion with him. Before starting out for Jalpaiguri Sadar Hospital, Karimul instructed the man to make sure that Mohanta did not fall sleep. The snake, carefully locked in the box, accompanied them to the hospital.

On the way, they met with a huge traffic jam on the bridge over the Teesta, just 5 kilometres from the hospital. The road was chock-a-block with vehicles stranded on the bridge, all trying to find a way out and, in the process, aggravating the situation. As Karimul zipped past the four- wheeled vehicles, he saw an ambulance stuck in the traffic. When he asked the ambulance driver for the patient’s details, he was told that the man had also been bitten by a snake, and they were heading for the same hospital as Karimul. Manoeuvring his much-smaller vehicle between the cars and moving towards the hospital with Mohanta, the soft-hearted Karimul felt sorry for the patient in the ‘proper’ ambulance, unable to get out.

Karimul soon reached the hospital. Once there, he showed the snake to the doctor, who was at first startled but then observed it intently for a few seconds before springing into action with the treatment.

After getting Mohanta admitted, Karimul went back to the bridge where they had seen the ambulance. He saw that the ambulance, along with other vehicles, was still there; the patient had, unfortunately, passed away.

After a couple of days, Babu Mohanta was released from the hospital. He was the first person bitten by a poisonous snake in the village to be saved—all because of Karimul’s timely intervention and bike ambulance service.

Before this incident, though Karimul had ignored the taunts of some of the villagers and had gone about ferrying patients to hospital, he had sometimes harboured misgivings that his bike ambulance was a poor substitute for the conventional ambulance. But that day, he realized that his bike ambulance was sometimes far more convenient than a standard ambulance. From then on, there was no looking back for him. His new-found confidence enthused him to serve people with increased passion.

After he was awarded the Padma Shri, the Navayuvak Brindal Club, Siliguri, donated to him an ambulance that he used for some months. But the traditional ambulance not only consumed more fuel, it was also rather difficult to drive it to remote and far-flung areas. After some weeks, he stopped using that ambulance; though it is still with him, he doesn’t use it. Instead, he now has three bike ambulances at home; one is used by his elder son, Raju, another by his younger son, Rajesh, while Karimul himself mostly uses the bike ambulance donated by Bajaj Auto, which has an attached carrier for patients.

Thanks to Karimul Hak’s unique initiative, the bike ambulance has become popular in rural areas of India. Inspired by him, some social workers, as well as some NGOs, have started this service too, thereby saving thousands of lives in far-off areas of the country.

While Karimul has saved many lives, he deeply regrets not being able to save some. Still, he derives immense satisfaction from the fact that a person like him, with a paltry income and limited capacity, has made a difference in the lives of so many people. Relatives and family members of those who died en route to the hospital, or even after reaching the hospital, at least know that they, through Karimul, tried their best to save their loved one. This is a noteworthy achievement for Karimul, who dreams of a day when lack of medical treatment will not be the reason for someone’s death.

Bike Ambulance Dada is a must-read today as it will inspire us to do and be better in our lives.

Six Untold Stories that Give Us a Glimpse into Ruskin Bond's Life

There is no doubt that Ruskin Bond is one of India’s most beloved writers. At least three generations have grown up reveling in the exquisite simplicity of his writing and aspiring to the carefree childhood among the hills, to the tales that he weaves with all the soft, natural magic of the mountains themselves.
All his stories, fiction and non-fiction, have such tantalizing hints of autobiography that many of us have often wondered as to the sources of his characters-those ordinary people with the very slight idiosyncrasies that he has elevated beyond the mundane to a magical place in his readers memories. And just like reading a Ruskin Bond book takes his readers go back to a place in their mind unique to their own reminiscence, The Beauty of All My Days is no ordinary chronological autobiography but a piecing together, a remembrance of things past, an aggregation of the incidents, friends, books and movies that have shaped him to become the person he is.
Read on for six untold stories that give us a glimpse into Ruskin Bond’s life


When his first moment of literary glory funded a party for a crew that sounds like the gang from A Room on the Roof

“And then I sold a story to The Illustrated Weekly of India, the country’s premier English magazine, editedby C.R. Mandy. It was a trifle, a school story or skit called ‘My Calling’, but it brought me fifty rupees, a princely fee in those far-off days (August 1951). I gave a party for my friends—Somi, Chottu, Haripal, Kishen, Ranbir and Co.—and declared myself to be a fully established writer, although it would be several months before I sold another story!”

The elusive woman who features in different forms in so many of his stories

“Maplewood. I take Sushila and her cousin down to the stream. We’ll picnic near running water, I tell them. Down comes the rain! It comes rushing down the hill—running water everywhere! We run for it, run for home. Get home drenched. Sushila, beautiful with her hair dripping and her blouse clinging to her slender figure.”

The first venue for his literary output seems a combination of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and Gerald Durrell’s My Family And other Animals!

“My first real writing room was that tiny room on the roof, a barsati on top of a rambling old building in Dehradun, which had once been the Gresham Hotel and later the Station Canteen and was now occupied by various tenants, among them my mother and stepfather and my three small brothers and sister, not forgetting an Alsatian and a dachshund.”

The hotel from hell that he inhabited as a broke teenager en route to London

“Ah! Lamington Road . . . Sometimes I see you again in my dreams, or rather my nightmares, for youand your seedy little hotel were indeed a nightmare for a pimply seventeen-year-old without friends ormoney. They gave me a small bare room with a rickety chair and table and a bed made of wooden slatscovered with a lumpy mattress. There was no window, not even a skylight. The toilet served several rooms. This wouldn’t have mattered, but within an hour of taking up residence I was making frequent trips to the lavatory.”

The great escape from school that is referenced in the evocative story The Playing Fields of Shimla’

“‘I think it was Brian, searching for a cricket ball, who discovered the tunnel…The great escape! It hadn’t taken us anywhere, really, but to be outside the school instead of inside, made a lot of difference to us from a psychological viewpoint. That feeling of being hemmed in was no longer there. We returned to our dormitories the conventional way—through the open school gate—but we had broken bounds, and that made us feel special.’”

A steady diet of MGM musicals

“I was paid about £12, a useful amount, and I had planned to spend it on clothes, but just then a number of big musical shows were running in London’s theatres, and all my spare money went on seeing them. Paint Your Wagon, Guys and Dolls, Pal Joey and others. And having grown up on a rich fare of Hollywood musicals, I couldn’t resist going to see these stage performances; but they did eat into my income.”

There, but for the grace of God, go I, his fear at almost having become one of the ‘lost boys’

“There were many Fishers and Spreads ‘left behind’ across the country, left to fend for themselves, forthere was no godfather or fairy godmother on hand to support them. And they come to mind while I am writing this memoir because they remind me of how close I came to being one of them. I was luckyin that I had a small talent, a talent with words.”


Each chapter of this memoir is a remembrance of times past, an attempt to resurrect a person or a period or an episode, a reflection on the unpredictability of life. For more posts like this, follow Penguin India on Facebook!

‘A Checklist For God’s Own Office’, An Excerpt

What happens when a vacation turns into a business opportunity? James Joseph, an NRI professional decided to take a family vacation in Aluva, Kerala where he stumbled upon a business opportunity in the form of jackfruits. Today, he is the founder of a successful entrepreneurial venture called Jackfruit365, an initiative to create an organized market for nutrient-rich jackfruits in India.
His book, God’s Own Office is a part-memoir, part how-to on how to integrate with the local community and set up a home office alongside nurturing your entrepreneurial ambitions.
On October 14, 2017, James is going to share his wisdom in a TedX Talk on how to set up God’s own office. He’s also going to dedicate the book to the late President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Here’s an excerpt from the book God’s Own Office, it’s a checklist of what you need to have to set up your own home office in a remote part of the country.
A Checklist For God’s Own Office
1.Do you have an unwavering conviction to return home?
2. Do you have a constant focus to return home? Does that keep you awake?
3. Have you earned the right to return? Can you pass the Mohammed versus Mountain test?
4. Can you still uproot your family? Can you still pass the inchworm test?
5. Do you have the right location for God’s Own Office?
a. Easy travel connectivity to your base office
b. Reliable digital connectivity
c. Constant source of positive energy to work alone
6. Can you arrange enough backup to avoid disruptions?
a. Power
b. Broadband
7. Do you or your employer have the right technology for remote working?
a. Digital presence information
b. Instant messenger
c. Online audio/video conferencing
d. Desktop sharing
e. Remote access to corporate network
f. Cloud services to store and share data
8. Can you make your home office sound proof?
9. Do you have the discipline?
a. Work without supervision
b. Handle interruptions by family and guests
10. Can you still stay on top of the mind of your colleagues and management?
11. Can you be a local ambassador for your employer?
12. Do you have options to adopt start-ups near your home town?
13. Can you ensure the safety of your family when you are away from home?
14. Can you allocate sufficient time to help your children remain globally competent in a small town?
15. Can you help your children integrate well in a regular school?
16. Are you willing to help people around you?
17. Are you happy to reconnect with extended family back home?
18. Can you find enough activities to recharge yourself in a sleepy village?
a. Adopt a farm
b. Participate in cultural activities
19. Do you have the resilience to stomach the dark sides of a small town?
a. Avoidable deaths around you
b. Bureaucracy
c. Need for extra humility, patience and tolerance
20. Will the economics of God’s Own Office work for you?

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Divya Dutta

In a career spanning more than two decades, Divya Dutta has appeared in multiple Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalam and English films. She is noted for playing a wide variety of roles in various film genres, and has established herself as one of the leading actresses of parallel cinema.
Here are a few things you may not have known about the IIFA Award winner.
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Find out more about Divya Dutta in her memoir Me and Ma.
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