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10 Awe-Inspiring Memoirs That Will Stay with You Forever

Embark on an enthralling journey through this collection of ten inspiring memoirs that delve into the extraordinary lives of remarkable individuals who faced daunting challenges with unwavering courage and hope. Each of these resilient tales will tug at your heartstrings and remind you of the indomitable human spirit.

Lost To The World
Lost To The World || Shahbaz Taseer

Lost to the World is the remarkable true story of Taseer’s time in captivity, and of his astonishing escape. It is a story of extraordinary faith, bravery and sorrow, with moments of kindness, humour and empathy, offering a hopeful light in the dark years of his imprisonment.

While deeply harrowing, this tale is also about resilience. Taseer countered his captors’ narrative of a holy war by immersing himself in the Quran in search of hope and a means to see his own humanity under even the most inhumane conditions, and ultimately to find a way back to his family.


Water in a Broken Pot
Water in a Broken Pot || Yogesh Maitreya

Incredibly moving and hauntingly honest, Water in a Broken Pot is the memoir of Yogesh Maitreya, a leading independent Indian Dalit publisher, writer, and poet. Encompassing experiences of pain, loneliness, depravation, alienation, and the political consciousness of his caste identity, this intimately moving memoir is a story of resilience and raw brutality. Growing up in a working-class family with meagre wages to get by in life, Yogesh writes of his father’s struggle against alcohol and passion for cinema; of intergenerational dreams shattered; working day and night shifts in factories; the struggle of being lost, overlooked and unmentored in India’s schooling, college and University systems which continue to be casteist, exclusionary and hostile; and feelings of lovelessness, loss and heartaches.


Nowhere Man
Nowhere Man || Shivalik Bakshi

Capt. Kamal Bakshi fought in the 1971 Indo-Pak War and went missing after the Battle of Chhamb–the bloodiest battle of 1971. Although no one from his battalion had seen him get killed, no one had been able to locate his body. And so, the military declared him ‘Missing, Believed Killed’–the ambiguous status assigned to soldiers when their death cannot be confirmed.
However, six years after the war, the Indian government changed its mind. The Ministry of External Affairs announced in Parliament that Indian intelligence agencies have reason to believe that Pakistan had not been truthful when it handed over the list of Indian POWs in its custody. It went on to state the names of at least forty Indian soldiers still believed to be in Pakistani custody and one of the names was Kamal Bakshi’s.
This book has been written by his nephew Shivalik Bakshi. It is his story, recreated from his letters, diaries, recollections of those who crossed paths with him and published accounts of the Battle of Chhamb.


A Walk Up The Hill
A Walk Up The Hill || Madhav Gadgil

A Walk Up the Hill is an account of Madhav Gadgil’s life walking up and down the country’s hills and dales, watching peacocks dance and elephants prance, living among fisherfolk on the west coast, horticulturists on Western Ghats, and the tribals of Manipur and Maharashtra, all the while being a part of a vibrant scientific community.


Faf Through Fire
Faf Through Fire || Faf Du Plessis

In Faf Through Fire, Du Plessis lays bare the story of his growth, from a youth with a questionable moral compass outside of cricket to a leader known for his integrity, values, honesty and empathy for his teammates. He reflects on how influential leaders, such as Gary Kirsten, Stephen Fleming, Doc Moosajee, Graeme Smith, A.B. de Villiers, Owen Eastwood, Russell Domingo, Ottis Gibson and M.S. Dhoni, helped mould him into a man who leads with grit, purpose and a love of people. He also explores the destructive relationships, offering his perspective, in devastating detail, on his final years of international cricket. Neither the changing room nor the boardroom is off limits in this no-holds-barred account.


The Defiant Optimist
The Defiant Optimist || Durreen Shahnaz

From growing up with constrained life chances, to working as the first Bangladeshi woman on Wall Street, to becoming a global leader in impact investing, Shahnaz takes us on a mesmerizing trek of innovation, compassion, and enterprise. We accompany her to villages in Bangladesh where she helps women entrepreneurs learn to proudly sign their names, and on visits to venture capitalists who walk past her to shake her male employees’ hands. We go to a garment factory where women labour for low wages, and to a town in India where microfinance offers women enough capital to run grocery stores and tailor shops. Along the way, the birth of her two daughters only fuels her relentless pursuit of a world where girls are valued. Finally, armed with financial backers and a plan, Shahnaz successfully launches the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ Series, the world’s first tradable financial product for investing in underserved women’s livelihoods.


Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye
Kitne Ghazi Aaye, Kitne Ghazi Gaye || Lt Gen. K.J.S. ‘Tiny’ Dhillon (Retd)

In Kitne Ghazi Aaye Kitne Ghazi Gaye, ‘Tiny’ Dhillon opens a hitherto-closed window, not only to his life but also to Kashmir. He recounts fascinating tales about the toughest challenges he encountered, from age three right up to those from his multiple tenures in Kashmir from 1988 to 2020, where it was his responsibility to maintain a balance between counter-terrorism operations on the one hand and to use military soft power on the other. Dhillon retraces his entire journey, from being a young boy to becoming the Commander of the Chinar Corps, with Kashmir as an inseparable part of this story.


Zikr In the light and Shade of Time || Muzaffar Ali

Muzaffar Ali’s autobiography is a peek into this wealth of experience-a close look at Ali, prince, poet, philosopher, film-maker, automobile aficionado and artist. Zikr is also a rich interior portrait of an artist, as Ali takes us behind the scenes of films like Anjuman and Gaman, speaking of the sensibilities that shaped them and the influences on his work. Above all, this is a book that resounds with a deep love for life.


Lata Mangeshkar A Life in Music
Lata Mangeshkar A Life in Music || Yatindra Mishra

An ode to the majestic life of the late Lata Mangeshkar, Lata: A Life in Music celebrates art in its totality and tells the life story of India’s most loved vocal artists. The result of Yatindra Mishra’s decade-long dialogue with the great singer, it also explores the lesser-known aspects of the great artist, introducing the readers to Lata Mangeshkar as an intellectual and cultural exponent and providing a rare glimpse into the person behind the revered enigma.



Heart Tantrums
Heart Tantrums || Aisha Sarwari

In order to be able to survive, Aisha Sarwari was told, love and devoted acts of service will always light the way. These however, become the very reason of her complete unravelling.

In this large and messy voice of a memoir, Heart Tantrums artfully describes the scatter of catastrophic losses-the loss of her father in early adolescence; leaving behind her family home in East Africa; and trying to fit into a completely different culture in Lahore after marriage. In 2017, when Aisha first held her husband Yasser Latif Hamdani’s brain MRI against the light, she began to also lose the man she loved to a personality-altering brain tumour.

A curated playlist of Ravi Shankar’s music

We often think of the serious artist as one who is difficult or contrary, who struggles in anonymity. Ravi Shankar does not fit this description: he was a charismatic extrovert who earned and loved the limelight, a polished performer who brought a new professionalism to Indian music. There was something irresistible about him, as millions of fans (and dozens of lovers) would attest.

– Oliver Craske 


Oliver Craske’s captivating biography Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar is a labour of love. Born out of over 130 new interviews and unparalleled research and access into the legendary musician’s life and works, this is the first biography of Pt. Ravi Shankar. It immortalises an already unforgettable man by transposing his mesmerizing body of work and the rhythms of his life into the written word. Going a step further, Craske has also curated a playlist of Pt. Ravi Shankar’s work, a combination of short and long pieces that enhance our insight into the maestro through the medium of his genius – music. Here are Craske’s notes on some of these tracks, explaining in his own words why he chose these particular pieces:  


An Introduction to Indian Music [from Sounds of India (1957)] 

A short spoken introduction, with demonstrations on sitar, tanpura and tabla. Recorded on Ravi’s first US album. Gives us a sense of how earnestly and engagingly he played the role of pioneer, educating his new audiences but trusting them to listen with open minds. (4:08) 


Dhun Kafi [from In London (1962)] 

Kafi is a springtime raga, associated with the Holi festival and the romance between the gods Krishna and Radha, a favourite theme of Ravi’s. Here he plays it in the light classical thumri style, with tabla accompaniment by Kanai LalThis recording, one of Ravi’s own favourites, is the likely inspiration for George Harrison’s Beatles song Love You To (on Revolver), which was based on the same raga and recorded shortly before the two met in 1966. Both tracks open with an arpeggio on the sitar’s sympathetic strings, and the melodic resemblance is closest between 2:30 and 3:05 here. (12:38) 


Tabla Dhwani [from Portrait of Genius (1965)] 

This album Portrait of Genius is a fine example of how Ravi raised the profile of percussionists, previously the poor relations of Indian classical music. Under Ravi’s directionTabla-Dhwani features three tabla players, the masterful Alla Rakha taking the lead and improvising freely, with flute accompaniment by Paul Horn. Absorbing in its deceptive simplicity. (4:53) 


Raga Kedara [from The Living Room Sessions, Part 1 (2012)] 

Aged 91, he recorded his last two albums at home, fooling around on sitar along with Tanmoy Bose, latterly his regular touring tabla accompanist. The result was an intimate, close-miked snapshot of his late-period inventiveness, the fruits of a lifetime. His fingers may not have moved quite as adroitly as in his heyday, but this playful rendition of Raga Kedara, from the Grammy-winning first volume, shows how fertile his mind was to the last. (4:47) 


Dhun [from Ravi Shankar at the Monterey International Pop Festival (1967)] 

Playing Monterey Pop in 1967 marked the arrival of Indian music into the Western mainstream. Ravi’s three-hour set, accompanied on tabla by Alla Rakha, closed with this dhun in one of his own ragas, Pancham Se Gara. It has an emotional crescendo and such an ecstatic climax that when D. A. Pennebaker cut his famous documentary of the festival, he realised that the only place to put this sequence was at the end of the film. Nothing could follow it. (19:41) 


Front cover of Indian Sun
Indian Sun || Oliver Craske


What Ravi Shankar has left behind is inimitable and irreplaceableThrough his magnificent literary homage, Oliver Craske ensures that the genius lives on through the pages of history.  

The full playlist is available here.

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