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Essential Mental Health Reads for Every Stage of Life

In today’s world, physical health often takes centre stage, and it’s easy to overlook the significance of our mental well-being. But here’s the truth: mental health is just as crucial as our physical health, if not more. As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s essential to shine a light on the books that can serve as powerful allies in our journey toward mental wellness. From braving through the ups and downs of adolescence to finding peace and fulfillment in later years, these books are here to guide and inspire you.

So, let’s say yes to taking care of ourselves and explore how books can help us feel good!

 

 

Divorce is Normal
Divorce is Normal || Shasvathi Siva

A divorce rate of around 1 per cent is often boasted about with pride in this country, without much critical thought spared for what it actually means. When Shasvathi Siva decided to end her marriage, she realized exactly how difficult getting a divorce was in our society and legal system. Since then, she has been working towards ensuring that others have it easier, and this book is an endeavour to share her learnings with great empathy and sagacity. Divorce Is Normal is an invaluable companion for anyone contemplating separation and divorce, and a necessary reminder for everyone else that divorce is normal. Through her story, Siva brings to readers fresh insights on unhappy marriages and divorce in the Indian context, helping expand perspectives so that people can overcome societal stigma and accept a brighter, happier future. Filled with practical tips, comforting stories and endless compassion shaped by a lived experience, this book acts like a warm hug and a stern friend all at once.

 

Take Your Time & Hurry Up
Take Your Time & Hurry Up || Joey Kidney

Have you ever felt lost or alone in your thoughts, feelings and experiences?

Take Your Time and Hurry Up continues Joey’s experiences as he leaves his early twenties and heads toward adulthood. This book appeals to anyone who is navigating ‘adulting’ without a compass or a map, and who is searching for a sense of belonging.

Joey gently encourages his audience to find comfort, mindfulness, guidance and connection. A clear theme is woven through each passage: a reminder to slow down. After all, what’s the rush.

How to Win an Election
How to Win an Election || Menaka Raman

The middle school elections are coming up and everyone is in a frenzy of making posters, promises and predictions.

When Sachin is disqualified from contesting the elections, he sets out to help his best friend Mini win. But their path to victory is littered with runaway lizards, incriminating bathroom graffiti, hacked videos and dangerous baked goods.

Which candidate fears Mini so much that they will descend to such villainy? Mini and Sachin must find out—or be disgraced forever.

 

Living with Adi
Living with Adi || Zarin Virji

Adi Krishnan is different!
He is a bright student, who loves to read, and remembers everything down to the smallest details—yet he has no friends. His unusual view of things makes his classmates and teachers regard him as a weirdo.
Will the bullying ever end? Will people accept him as he is? Will he gain the respect of others, especially his dad?
Award-winning author Zarin Virji creates the extraordinary journey of an ordinary boy, narrated by him, his family, classmates and a teacher. And how, despite the challenges, living with Adi is, in fact, unexpected, delightful and funny.

 

sad glad
Sad Glad || Sidhartha Mallya

One morning, Sid wakes up feeling different. He can’t quite put his finger on why. The day seems gloomy, and Sid doesn’t feel like getting out of bed.

Luckily, Duke, Sid’s best buddy, senses that Sid needs comforting. He gently encourages Sid to accept all the different emotions he is feeling.

A helpful companion for a dull day, this assuring picture book is filled with many feelings and thoughts that offer a lot of hope!

 

The Myth of Normal
The Myth of Normal || Gabor Maté, Daniel Maté

Over four decades of clinical experience, renowned physician and addiction expert Dr Gabor Maté has seen how health systems neglect the role that trauma exerts on our bodies and our minds. Medicine often fails to treat the whole person, ignoring how today’s culture stresses our bodies, burdens our immune systems and undermines emotional balance.

Now, in his most ambitious and urgent book yet, Dr Maté connects the dots between our personal suffering and the pressures of modern-day living – with disease as a natural reflection of a life spent growing further and further apart from our true selves. But, with deep compassion, he also shows us a pathway to health and healing.

Filled with stories of people in the grip of illness or in the triumphant wake of recovery, this life-affirming book, co-written with his son Daniel, proves true health is possible – if we are willing to reconnect with each other and our authentic selves.

 

What Happened to Grandpa
What Happened to Grandpa || Nandini Nayar

Something strange is happening to Grandpa. Words and names are slipping away, and favourite faces and places are becoming distant memories.

As Grandpa’s family seems to be losing him, it is up to Neha to remind them about the things he stood for. She shares his adventures and spins his stories, but will that help them remember Grandpa and celebrate him?

In this heartwarming picture book about love, loss, and remembering, discover the priceless bond we have with grandparents and how their memories live on.

 

The Body Keeps the Score
The Body Keeps the Score || Bessel van der Kolk

The effects of trauma can be devastating for sufferers, their families and future generations. Here one of the world’s experts on traumatic stress offers a bold new paradigm for treatment, moving away from standard talking and drug therapies and towards an alternative approach that heals mind, brain and body.

 

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before?
Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? || Dr Julie Smith

Drawing on years of experience as a clinical psychologist, online sensation Dr Julie Smith shares all the tools you need to get through life’s ups and downs.

Filled with secrets from the therapy room, this is a must-have handbook for optimising your mental health. Dr Julie’s simple but expert advice and powerful coping techniques will help you stay resilient no matter what life throws your way.

Written in short, bite-sized entries, you can turn straight to the section you need depending on the challenge you’re facing – and immediately find the appropriate tools to help. From managing anxiety, dealing with criticism or battling low mood, to building self-confidence, finding motivation or learning to forgive yourself, this book tackles the everyday issues that affect us all and offers easy, practical solutions that might just change your life.

 

When the Body Says No
When the Body Says No || Dr Gabor Maté

Drawing on deep scientific research and Dr Gabor Maté’s acclaimed clinical work, When the Body Says No provides the answers to critical questions about the mind-body link – and the role that stress and our emotional makeup play in an array of common diseases.

When the Body Says No:

– Explores the role of the mind-body link in conditions and diseases such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and multiple sclerosis.
– Shares dozens of enlightening case studies and stories, including those of people such as Lou Gehrig (ALS), Betty Ford (breast cancer), Ronald Reagan (Alzheimer’s), Gilda Radner (ovarian cancer) and Lance Armstrong (testicular cancer)
– Reveals ‘The Seven A’s of Healing’: principles in healing and the prevention of illness from hidden stress.

 

 

Mum in a Mess
Mum in a Mess || Sanjana Kapur

When Mum breaks a coffee jar, it does not seem like a big deal. But then, Mum starts acting very strangely. What is Vishi to do?

 

Conversations with the Career Doctor
Conversations with the Career Doctor || Saundarya Rajesh

India ranks among the bottom end of countries when it comes to women’s participation in the workforce, as per research conducted by the International Labour Organization and other reputed institutions. Despite pushing gender inclusion to the forefront and making considerable progress, it is clear that Indian women don’t have it easy today. Conversations with the Career Doctor is a ready-reckoner that women can refer to whenever they are confronted with a challenge. It provides a powerful toolkit for every Indian woman professional to lead a strong, secure and successful career.

 

Buddha in Love
Buddha in Love || Geetanjali Pandit

Geetanjali’s quest for happiness in relationships . . . failed. Time and again. A short-lived abusive marriage and its subsequent emotional, mental and social fallout forced her to question all her assumptions about romance and relationships.
Buddha in Love distils all she learnt. We are not born relationship-ready. A loving partnership takes effort, and, contrary to what you might expect, to achieve it you have to work on yourself. What does it take to be in a successful relationship? Do all relationships look the same? Does a relationship equate to happiness? Why and when should you marry?

Demystifying Needs, Wants, and Desires in ‘The Autobiography of God’

Learn the true meaning of self-discovery in ‘The Autobiography of God’ by Lenaa Kumar, where desires go beyond mere wants and needs.  In this book, Lenaa shares her remarkable story spanning eighteen years—a journey of overcoming anxiety, depression, and the constraints of the rigid psychiatric system. ​

Read this exclusive excerpt to uncover the keys to profound self-discovery and unlock the answers to life’s most pressing questions.

 

The Autobiography of God
The Autobiography of God || Lenaa Kumar

 

A major side effect of Self-Realization is the loss of any need, want or desire due to the experience of One-Self as all-there-is!

 

Many have stopped at that level of mind where logic and reason become unnecessary.

 

This is where I am grateful to my family and friends for putting me in psychiatric care. Due to this, Desire could arise once again, and I am living out my potential rather than wandering as a bliss bunny!

 

As long as one is in a body on earth and identified with the body, the experience is always ‘duality’.

 

That of knowing I am One and whole, Infinite and Eternal and yet experiencing my-Self as separate and individual, finite and mortal. Mastering this balancing act is the Mastery of Life.

 

In the rest of this book, I will share with you all the techniques and tools I used to balance duality and reach a high integration of Conscious and Subconscious, Body and Mind, Energy and Consciousness.

 

Some basics first:
Need signifies the lack of something.

Want signifies the choice to have something.

Desire signifies a deep wanting, hopefulness and wishfulness with the added emotion of longing and imagination of having it.

 

The Paradigm Shift of Desire
Where does desire come from?
Putting aside the commonly believed idea that desire arises from within the mind, let us look at desire as a command to achieve or create or experience something, coming into the mind, in the form of vibrations, from the unknown or rather from the I/Life, and being translated by the intellect as an idea that then becomes a desire, that is then sent as an impulse in the body to Do something.

 

This paradigm takes away all the stress of having chosen a particular decision and instead the mind is able to focus on the task that it has been entrusted with by Consciousness/ I/Life.

 

This leads to a clear alignment of body, mind and I. I/Consciousness/Life gives a command to the mind that appears as a desire, which then prompts action from the body so that the being, moves towards achieving that desire which leads to the experience that I wants the mind to have, so as to break the identification of I with body/mind/intellect.

 

Every true, deep and intrinsic desire one feels is a command from Life itself to this mind so that the body may do what is needed for Life to experience itself, as Consciousness Bliss.

 

Desire vs Need
If you find yourself living in a box of needs, then you are in one of the boxes in Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of needs.

 

Pyramid of Needs

One must have a clear idea of one’s needs. However, desire is the thing that makes one get out of bed in the morning (especially, to go to work). To beat depression, one must desire something.

The desire for self-esteem is a paradox. We try to impress others with our material possessions and with how worthy they should think we are of their holding us in high esteem when the very need is for self-esteem, which only you can give to yourself.

 

 

Two modern-day issues with this area are:
1. Self-esteem is confused with social standing or status. This has to do with borrowed desires. They are the root of all misery. You can never enjoy their fruit, because the seed wasn’t yours, to begin with. If social media or peer pressure is the source of your desires in life, anxiety, stress and depression come free with it.

 

2. Not knowing what you truly want. Unless you take time with yourself to cut out everyone else’s desires that are filling you, your true desires will not surface. They are buried somewhere deep down along with your childhood memories.

 

While biological and psychological needs demand their fulfilment rather drastically, aesthetic needs are just as painful as all others when unfulfilled. Here, the dilemma is that it doesn’t look as important as a need, but it is an overwhelming personal need.

 

The desire for creativity, freedom and expressing authenticity and knowing the truth is the highest of human needs. Existential angst and the heights of anxiety about the unknown accompanied by the depression of not fitting in, not knowing how to evolve, confusion about truth and searching, without knowing what for, are the hallmarks of this stage. It is at this stage of our desire for deeper meaning that we feel most alone and at times lonely. This stage of anxiety and depression is a luxury. You get here only when the other levels of needs are satisfied and not escaped. Congratulate yourself if you are at this stage because desire takes on a whole new meaning from here.

 

Waking up to the meaning of desire from this stage we see it as a sign or force that rises within us to propel us in the direction of evolution, truth and destiny. Like all pure creativity, desire comes from a source beyond our limited perceptions of self. Then desire is seen as the fuel to unleash one’s true and individual potential. Desires are signs that lead to higher synchronicities, showing us the way to our higher self.

 

***

Get your copy of The Autobiography of God by Lenaa Kumar wherever books are sold.

Office Secrets: 7 Habits of Very Happy Managers

Imagine a world where managers not only excel at their jobs but also radiate happiness in the workplace. In Office Secrets by Harish Bhat, we uncover seven simple habits that can bring a smile to any manager’s face. From relishing a hearty lunch and planning fun weekends, to keeping presentations brief and even engaging in healthy gossip, these habits offer a refreshing yet practical approach to finding joy and success in the office.

Get ready to discover the secrets that will completely transform your work life, as revealed in this excerpt from Office Secrets.

 

Office Secrets
Office Secrets || Harish Bhat

***

Seven Habits of Very Happy Managers

Short presentations, saying no to multitasking and making weekend plans—here are some ways to keep a smile on your face.

 

Stephen Covey, one of the most admired management gurus of modern times, passed away a few years ago. Most of us have read
his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Thousands of people have claimed that this book has changed their lives and careers forever.

Here, I pay a simple but irreverent tribute to this influential thinker, on behalf of all office goers. I believe it is important for managers to be both happy and effective. Since Covey has already revealed how we can be highly effective, I tell you what it takes to be very happy at work. Just follow the seven simple habits described below, and you will smile every day.

 

First Things First, Eat a Good Lunch

As Covey says, we must put first things first. Therefore, a good and relaxed lunch in office takes the highest priority. Without it, you can never really be happy. If you hurry through this essential meal or skip it, you are likely to find yourself in a grumpy mood throughout the afternoon and evening. Your stomach may begin grumbling and you may end up eating too many fat-laden cookies during the rest of the day, which is not good for your waistline or your heartline. On the other hand, a delicious and healthy lunch, had with colleagues, with a good measure of talk and laughter, is a recipe for good cheer

 

Begin with the Weekend in Mind

Covey’s book advises us to always begin with the end in mind. We modify this advice slightly, and urge you to begin with the weekend in mind. The weekend is an enduring source of happiness, and therefore deserves a lot of attention and planning. Have you made a booking at that Thai spa? Have you decided where to party hard, and with whom? What about dinner with your glamorous ex-girlfriend, who has hinted that she wants to get back in touch with you? If your boss is in a generous mood, could you request him for an off day either on Friday or Monday, thereby creating an extra happy and long weekend? These are just a few of the many complex weekend choices we
are faced with, so clearly we have to begin preparations in earnest by Monday morning.

 

Keep Your Presentations Brief

We must recognize that no one, not even the chairperson, wants to attend a long and serious PowerPoint presentation these days, when there are many other interesting office pastimes to pursue. So, if you have to think win-win, your presentations must never exceed five slides and must conclude in ten minutes flat. You will find that most things can be summarized within that length and time. Also, your boss will be so happy with the quick ending that he is likely to approve your budgets immediately. If you want to deliver true happiness, begin and end your presentation with an appropriate comic strip visual which makes people smile. That will leave just three slides for the serious stuff, which is just about perfect.

 

Silence Is Really Golden

Managers love talking at meetings, and this is what gets them into deep trouble in the first place. So, you are likely to be the happiest if you keep as silent as possible, unless you have dramatic views that can potentially change the course of your company’s history. Let others in the room argue and fight among each other, while you remain, like the Buddha, calm and composed amid the gathering storm. Take copious notes, but don’t speak. Once in a while, look up, smile and nod enigmatically at the people who are doing the talking. They will regard these gestures as signs of deep wisdom and understanding.

 

Engage in Healthy Gossip

Scientific studies have consistently revealed that cubicle gossip is a great source of happiness. If you are a creative individual, you can actually be the source of some gossip. Otherwise you can choose to merely be a conduit for the grapevine. Either way, you are adding to the HQ (happiness quotient) of your office, which is so important in these stressful times. The conference room, email, water cooler, lift, office loo—they are all perfect locations for such talk. There is a caveat to be borne in mind, though. Healthy gossip has boundaries which need to be respected.

 

Don’t Multitask

Many managers think they must display their professional manhood by engaging in several activities at the same time. They believe multitasking is essential, given the multiple demands at the modern workplace. They also feel good that they are intellectually competent enough to do many things at once. Don’t believe in such rubbish. Multitasking is a recipe for being short of breath throughout the day, which, as we know, leads to hypertension and all its attendant ailments. In addition, it ensures that none of the jobs you are doing ever receive your full attention, leading to a state of niggling unhappiness at all times. To be really happy at the workplace, address one job at
a time, and do it really well. By doing this, you may complete fewer tasks during the day, but you will leave the office with a spring in your step

 

Refresh and Renew Yourself

Covey speaks about the need for reflection and for renewing yourself, the last of the seven habits he prescribes. This habit is as important for happiness as it for effectiveness. Unless you give yourself time every day to think and relax, you will never really be happy with yourself. There are many practical methods to achieve this. Define daily digital blackout periods, when you will not go anywhere near a computer or a mobile phone. Pursue a creative passion outside the workplace—this could range from painting (which is generally safe) to music (which may be dangerous if you are a bad singer and sing in public). Take time out to run or play tennis or work out in the gym, and use this time to blank out your busy mind. Finally, don’t meet or speak to your boss for at least two days each week, and see for yourself how completely this relaxes your entire being

 

I think the eighth and most important habit of very happy managers is our ability to laugh at ourselves, which is the first step to having great fun at work.

***

Get your copy of Office Secrets by Harish Bhat from your nearest bookstore or on Amazon.

Best books to read this October

October is when there’s no denying the chill in the air. It’s no surprise then that it is one of the best months to cozy up with a new book! Get ready to bookmark this page with this list of our latest releases!

Full of intriguing stories from across different lands. to finding the best beauty rituals, fascinating biographies and so much more, scroll through this list to fill up your October reading calendar.

Babasaheb

My Life With Dr Ambedkar

Savita Ambedkar, Nadeem Khan
Babasaheb by Savita Ambedkar
Babasaheb by Savita Ambedkar

Born into a middle-class, Sarasvat Brahmin family, Dr Sharada Kabir met and got to know Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar as a patient riddled with life-threatening diseases, and eventually married him on 15 April 1948, getting rechristened as Savita Ambedkar. From the day of their wedding to the death of Dr Ambedkar on 6 December 1956, she aided him in some of his greatest achievements-drafting the Constitution of India, framing the Hindu Code Bill, writing some of his most celebrated books, including The Buddha and His Dhamma, and leading millions of Dalits into Buddhism.

The Wisdom Bridge

Kamlesh D. Patel
The Wisdom Bridge by Kamlesh D. Patel
The Wisdom Bridge || Kamlesh D. Patel

The intentions, thoughts and actions of the elders are caught by the hearts of the children. The children observe, learn and imbibe the teachings quickly and faithfully, and the elders have the responsibility to not only raise the children well, but nurture and guide them in a way that they can lead fulfilling lives.

Daaji in The Wisdom Bridge offers nine principles to guide you, the reader, to live a life that inspires your children and your loved ones.

Ritual

Vasudha Rai
Ritual by Vasudha Rai
Ritual || Vasudha Rai

RITUAL is a collection of practices aimed at optimizing, harmonizing and maximizing the natural energies of the day and night

Renew your mind, body and spirit with activities such as sunbaths, sound healing, cleansing kriyas, beautifying masks, massages, breathwork and navel therapy. From sunrise to sunset, nightfall to dawn, these exercises will help you find moments of clarity, relaxation and bliss.

Gautam Adani

R.N. Bhaskar
Gautam Adani by R.N. Bhaskar
Gautam Adani || R.N. Bhaskar

Gautam Adani needs no introduction. One of the richest men in the world, he also helms a business empire that is now India’s largest player in ports and renewable energy. He is also the country’s largest private sector player in sectors like airports, city gas distribution, power transmission, thermal power, edible oil, and railway lines. Yet, look beyond these facts, and startlingly little is known about Gautam Adani, the maverick businessman; about his motivations and vision; about his life, and the episodes, minor and major, that propelled him to make the choices he did.

Winning Middle India

T.N. Hari, Bala Srinivasa
Winning Middle India by T.N. Hari, Bala Srinivasa
Winning Middle India || T.N. Hari, Bala Srinivasa

Is there a fundamental new catalyst that can significantly enhance access, affordability and quality of products and services to hundreds of millions of Indians? This catalyst is in the form of a new generation of start-up founders who are leveraging technology platforms, smartphone access, and rapid digitization of the Indian consumer. These young founders don’t carry the baggage of the past and are attracted to the opportunity of breaking open the massive market of Middle India-the next 400-500M Indians just below the top of the pyramid. This book is about this new and powerful force of change blowing across India-what it takes to harness this and reshape the destiny of this country.

Against All Odds

The IT Story of India

S. ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan,  N. DayasindhuKrishnan Narayanan
Against All Odds by S. 'Kris' Gopalakrishnan, N. Dayasindhu, Krishnan Narayanan
Against All Odds || S. ‘Kris’ Gopalakrishnan, N. Dayasindhu, Krishnan Narayanan

The story of Indian IT is the story of trials and triumphs, persistence and resilience, and luck, foresight and planning. This book chronicles the history of Indian IT over the past six decades. It includes interviews with over fifty pioneers who built and shaped the Indian IT sector. Conceived as a book on business history, this book analyses the evolution of India’s IT sector and helps readers understand the importance of collective efforts in building world-class sustainable institutions.

Nights of Plague

Orhan Pamuk
Nights of Plague by Orhan Pamuk
Nights of Plague || Orhan Pamuk

It is April 1900, in the Levant, on the imaginary island of Mingheria-the twenty-ninth state of the Ottoman Empire-located in the eastern Mediterranean between Crete and Cyprus. Half the population is Muslim, the other half are Orthodox Greeks, and tension is high between the two. When a plague arrives-brought either by Muslim pilgrims returning from the Mecca or by merchant vessels coming from Alexandria-the island revolts.

To stop the epidemic, the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II sends his most accomplished quarantine expert to the island-an Orthodox Christian. Some of the Muslims, including followers of a popular religious sect and its leader Sheikh Hamdullah, refuse to take precautions or respect the quarantine. And then a murder occurs…

The Song of the Cell

An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human

Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Song of the Cell by Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Song of the Cell || Siddhartha Mukherjee

From Pulitzer Prize-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The GeneThe Song of The Cell is the third book in this extraordinary writer’s exploration of what it means to be human-rich with Siddhartha Mukherjee’s revelatory and exhilarating stories of scientists, doctors, and all the patients whose lives may be saved by their work.

Hello Bastar

Rahul Pandita
Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita
Hello Bastar || Rahul Pandita

With direct access to the top Maoist leadership, Rahul Pandita provides an authoritative account of how a handful of men and women, who believed in the idea of revolution, entered Bastar in Central India in 1980 and created a powerful movement that New Delhi now terms as India’s biggest internal security threat. It traces the circumstances due to which the Maoist movement entrenched itself in about 10 states of India, carrying out deadly attacks against the Indian establishment in the name of the poor and the marginalised. It offers rare insight into the lives of Maoist guerillas and also of the Adivasi tribals living in the Red zone. Based on extensive on-ground reportage and exhaustive interviews with Maoist leaders including their supreme commander Ganapathi, Kobad Ghandy and others who are jailed or have been killed in police encounters, this book is a combination of firsthand storytelling and intrepid analysis.

Tejo Tungabhadra

VasudhendraMaithreyi Karnoor
Tejo Tungabhadra by Vasudhendra, Maithreyi Karnoor
Tejo Tungabhadra || Vasudhendra, Maithreyi Karnoor

Tejo Tungabhadra tells the story of two rivers on different continents whose souls are bound together by history. On the banks of the river Tejo in Lisbon, Bella, a young Jewish refugee, and her family face daily threats to their lives and dignity from the deeply antisemitic society around them. Gabriel, her lover, sails to India with General Albuquerque’s fleet seeking wealth and a secure future for themselves. Meanwhile, on the banks of the Tungabhadra in the Vijayanagara Empire, the young couple Hampamma and Keshava find themselves caught in the storm of religious violence and the cruel rigmarole of tradition. The two stories converge in Goa with all the thunder and gush of meeting rivers. Set in the late 15th and early 16th century, Tejo Tungabhadra is a grand saga of love, ambition, greed, and a deep zest for life through the tossing waves of history.

Degh to Dastarkhwan

Qissas and Recipes from Rampur Cuisine

Tarana Husain Khan
Degh to Dastarkhwan by Tarana Husain Khan
Degh to Dastarkhwan || Tarana Husain Khan

Tarana was an indifferent eater and an unenthusiastic cook until a chance encounter with a nineteenth-century Persian cookbook in Rampur’s fabled Raza Library started her off on a journey into the history of Rampur cuisine and the stories around it.
Part food memoir and part celebration of a cuisine, Degh to Dastarkhwan answers the question-‘what constitutes and distinguishes Rampur cuisine?’

Rethink Ageing

Nidhi ChawlaReshmi Chakraborty
Rethink Ageing by Nidhi Chawla, Reshmi Chakraborty
Rethink Ageing || Nidhi Chawla, Reshmi Chakraborty

Veena Iyer, aged sixty-six, got a degree in dance movement therapy. She is training to upgrade her skill and now runs various workshops.
B.R. Janardan, aged eighty-seven, started running after sixty and has sixteen full marathons under his belt.

These important stories illustrate the shifting narrative for ageing in India. They battle the ageism that is deep-rooted in Indian culture with fixed notions of ‘approved’ behaviour. Grandchildren? Yes. Pilgrimage? Yes. But companionship? Gasp! A second career? Why the need?

Leopard Diaries

Sanjay Gubbi
Leopard Diaries by Sanjay Gubbi
Leopard Diaries || Sanjay Gubbi

In India, the leopard is a poster boy of the fight to preserve wildlife, but in many countries, it faces either ecological or local extinction. A worrying phenomenon, given that these cats carry out important ecosystem services that have not been fully understood yet.
In Leopard Diaries: The Rosette in India, Sanjay Gubbi, who has studied and documented the leopard for nearly a decade, gives us a close look at this fascinating creature. From detailing its food habits to throwing new light on how the young are reared, from offering suggestions on tackling leopard-human conflict to imagining the future of this arresting animal, this book is a 360-degree view of the leopard, its ecological context, its fraught relationship with the human world, and how wildlife and human beings can find a way to co-exist.

Ranis and the Raj

Queeny Pradhan
Ranis and the Raj by Queeny Pradhan
Ranis and the Raj || Queeny Pradhan

Traditionally, history has been telling us the stories of kings. In the long tradition of history writing, his-story has always dominated over her-story. Though queens evoke a sense of romance and their stories are told like fairy tales, it is common enough to find that these stories end in tragedy. In India’s history, not all queens are remembered today. Some are celebrated; while others have been almost ignored by historians.

In Ranis and the Raj, Queeny Pradhan has selected six queens. All the six queens are from the nineteenth century and have faced the British Raj, the East India Company and the Crown. Unlike the biographical convention in traditional history writing, the research in this book can be placed in the realm of ‘microhistory’. The life stories of these queens are fragmented due to the ‘silences’ and ‘invisibilization’ in political history of the time, and this book aims to fill these gaps.

The Essentials of Hinduism

Trilochan Sastry

Hinduism is an ancient religion, philosophy and way of life. Unlike other great religions that are based on a small set of books, there are hundreds of texts in Hinduism, most of which are very voluminous. They span not merely centuries, but millennia. And most importantly, these ancient scriptures are all in Sanskrit which many do not know. Therefore for a beginner with an interest in Hinduism it is a daunting task as you don’t know where to start such a study. In The Essentials of Hinduism, Trilochan Sastry unpacks all the ancient texts from the Vedas to the epics covering the entire range of scriptures and everything you need to know about them in an easy-to-read and accessible way making it of special interest to Hindus and those from other religions and nations, and even those who are agnostic or atheistic.

How to live a sustainable lifestyle the fun way-a chat with Sahar Mansoor and Tim De Ridder

  1. How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the way industries and individuals are looking at waste generation and sustainability?

-The pandemic created such a large amount of waste from the outset. However, it also rekindled intimacy with parts of our lives that we may have disconnected with. Examples include our kitchen, homes and nature. This reconnection found at an individual level is mirrored by many industries that have grown and/or launched during the pandemic. Specifically, food packaging and e-commerce businesses have developed new ways to operate in a changed world while reducing environmental footprints. In these ways, the pandemic has provided additional perspectives about the things that truly matter on an individual level and what can be innovated and developed at an industry level.

 

2. The zero-waste life is difficult but as your book has shown clearly doable especially for individuals?  Do you have some tips for larger families especially those with infants since infants do generate a lot of waste such as diapers etc.?

  • One thing that we have focused on in the book is to illustrate that choosing to make a change is the first big step and one that has been undertaken by individuals and organisations across the country. The examples we have used are there to highlight how doable these actions are and what resources are available. For families with infants for instance we have detailed some organisations that retail cloth diapers such as Bumpadum and Super Bottoms. Additionally, In the first two years of life, an average child needs 280 pieces of clothing, most of which are only worn for about two or three months. As a result, a vast amount of kids’ clothing ends up in landfills, losing value and creating adverse environmental impacts. Sharing/circulating clothes among friends and family or at clothes exchanges are ways to reduce waste while making your own gifts for your children and/or involving them in the creation is a unique and memorable way to reduce waste.

 

3. Capitalism is to a large extent dependent on obsolescence and therefore, on waste.  What message can you send to large business concerns that could inspire them to adopt more sustainable practices?

  • There is no doubt these days that sustainability and reducing waste is the way forward, there is so much research on this now. For businesses wanting to know how to do this make sure to keep it simple by designing out waste from your current system, this could include creating/using high quality products that have a longer life and can be reused in other fashions in the long term. A prime example is e-waste where the core elements of computers, phones and other devices needs to be reused because there is a finite supply of the raw materials. By incorporating models of reuse and refill into business operations each company can make a positive difference for their people, the planet and profit too.

 

4. Both of you have travelled extensively. Can you describe one incident or anecdote from your travels that really shaped your ideas on sustainability and its impact?

  • Tim: I’ve been fortunate to visit a number of remote and beautiful locations such as the Himalayas. Yet, when I visited there was always waste that polluted rivers and mountain tops. This impact changes the way that people live and needs to be addressed at a systemic level so that the livelihoods of communities and the environment can improve. I’ve witnessed community-based initiatives recently that promote the sale of sustainable and traditional products rather than imported plastic items that was one of the causes of waste in the area. This type of example illustrates a number of benefits of sustainability.

 

  • Sahar : Throughout my narrative, in our book I speak about my time working in northern Karnataka. This opportunity provided me with the opportunity to spend time in rural India and learn from communities that were choosing sustainable practices, including hand sewing traditional clothes designed to last a lifetime not just to be worn a few times and replaced. This type of practice fills my heart with so much love, it is a perfect picture of how sustainable practices value the environment, rural communities and experiences of travelers who are truly fortunate to visit these locations. There are many lessons to be learnt from people across our diverse country.

 

5. Bare Necessities has some wonderful recipes and DIYs using easily available ingredients that replace many less environmentally-friendly products. Let’s simplify these even further. Can you name 5 ingredients that you could survive with on a desert island?

  • This is a fascinating case study! I hope I never end up trapped on a desert island but if I did and wanted to create some of the DIY recipes I’d hope to find coconuts, bananas, yellow gram & green gam, along with honey and turmeric. Many of these ingredients form the backbone of the recipes we have shared and could provide sustenance too. For instance, coconut oil/water and the flesh of the coconut can be used for rehydration and if needed for personal care recipes for your skin, hair and teeth. Similarly, bananas, gram, honey and turmeric can be used for nutrition, cleaning and self-care. It’s pretty cool to think about but let’s hope we never get stuck on an island, I much prefer to make these products in Bangalore with my manufacturing team.

 

6. Have you noticed any positive impacts on your personal health since you switched to more sustainable personal care products?

  • There are many that I gained from the point where I made the shift to a zero-waste life. I would actually enjoy taking a deep dive into the benefits of the changes to my personal care routine through a longitudinal study now that I use organic face masks among other products. One area that doesn’t need a long-term evaluation is on the impacts in the kitchen. Many of the benefits I gained in my life combined both the decisions in my personal care routines for the things I placed on my body with the items I consumed. Overall my health improved markedly due to this combination of not using products with harmful chemicals while eating more raw and whole foods instead of packaged.

 

7. Which sector of the economy do you think will experience the most change as more buyers shift to sustainable consumerism in the future?

  • An area that we mentioned a little above with innovations from businesses aiming to reduce their environmental impact. Specifically, the creation of sustainable packaging is an area that is likely to experience significant growth. The use of hemp, mycelium and seaweed for example is seeing the development of alternatives to packaging made out of plastic and styrofoam among other harmful materials. This is an area of exciting change for the future and one that may well revolutionise business and increase the uptake of people involved in the circular economy, thus enabling a transition to a more sustainable/earth-friendly lifestyle.

 

 

Time for some tough questions with Deepak Ramola

50 Toughest Questions of Life invites people to have a conversation about themselves with themselves. Author Deepak Ramola’s quest began after he was inspired by the life lesson of a young girl who said, ‘Life is not about giving easy answers, but answering tough questions.’

Today we ask him some questions, to understand him and his journey a little bit better.

At what point did you decide to write a book with your experiences?

Last year, in February, while standing at the self-help section of a bookstore, I had an epiphany that most books were full of answers. I was curious to find out how people would respond to a book of questions. I had so many of them documented over the years, I started to give them shape and context for the book. I started writing in school for debates competitions and school magazine, I guess the seeds were sown there.

What is your favorite part about this book, and what was the most challenging question for you?

Front Cover 50 Toughest Questions of Life
50 Toughest Questions of Life || Deepak Ramola

Favorite part:

The stories that follow each question, encouraging people to put themselves at the centre of their life without guilt has been my goal with the book. I really love the story about the visually impaired girl who talks about the advantage of being blind along with the Mexican stories about the two trees of harm and healing.

Challenging part:

To keep it simple and honest. I was cautious to never over-impose my answers on to the readers but nudge them just enough to come up with their own. I had to go through a personal emotional roller-coaster with each of the 50 questions. Particularly reflecting on my toughest goodbye, how can someone make me feel loved was hard.

You started with around 500 questions, how did you come down to 50?

I followed my instinct on what seemed difficult to me and then, how people over the years responded to certain questions. I shuffled the list quite a bit with each draft. There are so many questions that I am yet to answer for myself, so I pulled them out in hope for a sequel to this book. Lastly, these 50 questions I feel are the ones we all need to answer collectively as the human race to be more kind and empathetic.

Who were the people that inspired these questions?

My mother never went to school but treated life as her classroom was a big inspiration for me growing up. Many questions emerged from our conversations. She taught me that literacy and education were two separate things and if we ask the right questions, we can educate ourselves beyond the infrastructure of curriculums. Apart from that Oprah Winfrey. Maya Angelou. Vishnu Kaushal. My team at Project FUEL. Interactions with Syrian refugees. My sister Deepika. And people I have learnt from and taught over the last 11 years. David Cooperrider once said, “We live in the world our questions create.”

What was the first question you ever wrote? And what is your next question going to be?

First question:

How would you introduce yourself with love?

Next question:

Have you ever given up on something beautiful and why?

Meditating for Healthier Emotions – a Lesson from Ikigai

Ikigai is the Japanese word for ‘a reason to live’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed in the morning’, and we all have it. It’s the place where your needs, desires, ambitions, and satisfaction meet. A place of balance. It’s a small wonder that finding your ikigai is closely linked to living longer.

As we find ourselves in challenging times, it’s important to keep our minds healthy. Embracing the impermanence of things and meditating is hence, necessary and in this excerpt from Héctor García and Francesc Miralles’s book, Ikigai, you will learn just that.


Meditating for Healthier Emotions

In addition to negative visualization and not giving in to negative emotions, another central tenet of Stoicism is

knowing what we can control and what we can’t, as we see in the Serenity Prayer. Worrying about things that are beyond our control accomplishes nothing. We should have a clear sense of what we can change and what we can’t, which in turn will allow us to resist giving in to negative emotions. In the words of Epictetus, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.”

In Zen Buddhism, meditation is a way to become aware of our desires and emotions and thereby free ourselves from them. It is not simply a question of keeping the mind free of thoughts but instead involves observing our thoughts and emotions as they appear, without getting carried away by them. In this way, we train our minds not to get swept up in anger, jealousy, or resentment.

One of the most commonly used mantras in Buddhism focuses on controlling negative emotions: “Om.

man.i padme hūm.,” in which om. is the generosity that purifies the ego, ma is the ethics that purifies jealousy, n.i is the patience that purifies passion and desire, pad is the precision that purifies bias, me is the surrender that purifies greed, and m. is the wisdom that purifies hatred.

The here and now, and the impermanence of things

Another key to cultivating resilience is knowing in which time to live. Both Buddhism and Stoicism remind us that the present is all that exists, and it is the only thing we can control. Instead of worrying about the past or the future, we should appreciate things just as they are in the moment, in the now.

“The only moment in which you can be truly alive is the present moment,” observes the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

In addition to living in the here and now, the Stoics recommend reflecting on the impermanence of the things around us.

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius said that the things we love are like the leaves of a tree: They can fall at any moment with a gust of wind. He also said that changes in the world around us are not accidental but rather form part of the essence of the universe—a rather Buddhist notion, in fact. We should never forget that everything we have and all the people we love will disappear at some point. This is something we should keep in mind, but without giving in to pessimism.

Being aware of the impermanence of things does not have to make us sad; it should help us love the present moment and those who surround us.

“All things human are short-lived and perishable,” Seneca tells us.

The temporary, ephemeral, and impermanent nature of the world is central to every Buddhist discipline. Keeping this always in mind helps us avoid excessive pain in times of loss.


Finding your ikigai is easier than you might think. This book will help you work out what your own ikigai really is, and equip you to change your life. You have a purpose in this world: your skills, your interests, your desires and your history have made you the perfect candidate for something. All you have to do is find it.

5 Tips in Which You Can Tone Your Life

Venugopal Acharya is a practicing monk at the ISKCON. In his book Are You Connected, he shares the different skills and experiences that help one feel loved and in touch with one’s self, the people who matter and God. He also highlights the need to delve deeper into the meaning and purpose of life and gives tools to achieve peace of mind.
Here are five tips from the book which will help you connect with you true self.


Tell us how you are toning your life.

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