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Banish your boredom with fantastic books

Now that you’re down with spring cleaning, its time to reward yourself and curl up with a nice book. This month, we have a few authors writers who will change the way you view the world and people. Create your list and banish your boredom with these fantastic books…reports Asian Lite News

What Have We Done, by Alex Finlay

Five teenagers forged an unbreakable connection while residing at Savior House, an abusive group home for troubled teenagers, 25 years ago. Despite the fact that they lost touch, they all went on to lead fulfilling lives. When group members start dying, they are compelled to have a reunion that none of them wanted in order to track down the murderer.

Hello Beautiful, by Ann Napolitano

After growing up without any attention from his family, William Waters finds solace in hoops in college. William rapidly integrates into the close-knit Padavano family after meeting Julia Padavano, a vivacious girl who is very close to her parents and three sisters. William never thought he’d be the one to break the family apart, despite the fact that cracks are beginning to show in the family.

Evil Eye, by Etaf Rum

Yara believes she has successfully escaped her traditional Palestinian upbringing when she marries a charming businessman and relocates to the suburbs. Even so, Yara doesn’t seem to be fulfilled by even her ideal family and ideal work. However, as Yara’s world starts to fall apart, she learns that the upbringing she believed she had left behind has finally had an impact on her and her daughters.

Stateless, by Elizabeth Wein

Stella North is delighted to be participating in the first air race for young adults in Europe in 1937 as the only female pilot. The world is searching for something encouraging to follow in the wake of the Spanish Civil War and the rise of the Fascists. But when one of the pilots is killed, the competition rapidly turns savage because each of them has a dark past they must keep hidden.

Hang the Moon, by Jeannette Walls

Author of the popular memoir The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls also wrote a book about a tough young woman living through Prohibition in Virginia. Sallie Kincaid, despite having a comfortable upbringing, was expelled from her family after her counsel caused her younger half-brother Edie to have a mishap. Sallie, who is currently working as a bootlegger, is determined to reclaim her position in the family.

Fear and Other Stories (Translated by Hemang Ashwinkumar)

Fear and Other Stories is a reminder of the inherent dangers of the Dalit life, a life subjected to unimaginable violence and terror even in its most mundane moments. In this collection of short stories, veteran Gujarati writer Dalpat Chauhan narrates these lived experiences of exasperation and anger with startling vividity. His characters chronicle a deep history of resistance, interrogating historical, mythological and literary legends, foregrounding the perspectives of the disenfranchised.

Epic Tales of Wisdom, by Nityananda Charan Das

Epic Tales of Wisdom takes children on an exciting, enlightening, vivid and imaginative adventure through the epics. The stories bring to life a world inhabited by gods and goddesses, sages and saints, demons and monsters and others. This precious treasury of stories helps them evoke interest in the scriptures and sets the foundation of love for God’s creation.

Retold by godman Nityanand Charan Das in a child-friendly manner the stories allow kids to explore, perceive, comprehend and inspire their curious minds. The subtle lessons in the book capture timeless wisdom from Indian mythology and offer valuable insights on how to get through the rough and tumble of life. Nirzara Verulkar’s illustrations add zing to this book of educative, entertaining and enlightening tales that aspires to make kids spiritually richer and morally and socially stronger.

LAB HOPPING: a Journey to find India’s women in science, by Aashima Dogra & Nandita Jayaraj)

From Bhopal to Bhubaneswar, from Bangalore to Jammu, Aashima Dogra and Nandita Jayaraj engage in thought-provoking conversations with renowned scientists like Gagandeep Kang, Rohini Godbole, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and Prajval Shastri, as well as researchers at earlier stages of their scientific careers. These dialogues about the triumphs and challenges faced by women offer fresh perspectives on the gender gap that continues to haunt Indian science today.

Pineapple Street, by Jenny Jackson

This unputdownable debut follows three women in an old Brooklyn Heights clan: one who was born with money, one who married into it, and one who wants to give it all away.

Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected, carefully guarded Stockton family, has never had to worry about money. She followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood, sacrificing more of herself than she ever intended. Sasha, Darley’s new sister-in-law, has come from more humble origins, and her hesitancy about signing a pre-nup has everyone worried about her intentions. And Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t (and really shouldn’t) have, and must confront the kind of person she wants to be.

Shot through with the indulgent pleasures of life among New York’s one-percenters, Pineapple Street is a smart, escapist novel that sparkles with wit. Full of recognisable, loveable – if fallible – characters, it’s about the peculiar unknowability of someone else’s family, the miles between the haves and have-nots, and the insanity of first love – all wrapped in a story that is a sheer delight.

The Love Wager, by Lynn Painter

After yet another disastrous date, Hallie Piper decides it’s time to grow up. She gets a new apartment, a new haircut, and a new wardrobe. But when she logs into an app to find new love, she matches with none other than Jack: the guy the wrong kind of sparks had flown with just weeks earlier.

Agreeing that they are absolutely not interested in each other, Jack and Hallie realise that they’re each other’s perfect wing-person – and join forces in their searches for The One. They even place a wager on who can find romance first.

But when they agree to be fake dates for a wedding, all bets are off.

Because as they pretend to be a couple, they struggle to remember why dating for real was a bad idea to begin with . . .

Old Babes in the Wood, by Margaret Atwood

Atwood’s first new fiction publication since The Testaments, this deeply personal collection includes a stunning sequence that follows a married couple as they travel the road together, the moments big and small that make up a long life of love — and what comes after. The stories explore the full warp and weft of experience, from two best friends disagreeing about their shared past, to the right way to stop someone from choking; from a daughter determining if her mother really is a witch, to what to do with inherited relics such as World War II parade swords.

They feature beloved cats, a confused snail, Martha Gellhorn, George Orwell, philosopher-astronomer-mathematician Hypatia of Alexandria, a cabal of elderly female academics, and an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales. The glorious range of Atwood’s creativity and humanity is on full beam in these tales, which by turns delight, illuminate and quietly devastate.

Dirty Laundry, by Disha Bose

Keep your friends close and your neighbours closer…

Ciara has it all – a loving husband, well-behaved children and an immaculate home. But behind the filters, her reality is far from what it seems. Mishti is stuck in a loveless marriage, raising her daughter in a country that is too cold, among children who look nothing like her. Lauren is mostly happy, despite being judged for letting her kids run naked, wild and free. Then Ciara is found murdered in her pristine home and suddenly everyone is a suspect. Hushed whispers, secret rendezvous and bloody betrayals . . .

Everyone has their dirty laundry, but this goes beyond gossip. This is all-out war.

A deliciously scandalous page-turner about the dark side of suburbia that peels back the layers of Ciara’s insta-perfect life to reveal friendships gone rotten, manipulation masquerading as love and families riddled with lies…

Mastering Uncertaint, by Matt Watkinson & Csaba Konkoly

What separates the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and business tycoons from the rest? It’s not their superhuman intelligence. It’s something more fundamental: they understand how to turn uncertainty to their advantage. We all know that the future is inherently unknowable, and yet we behave and plan as though it is. Once we truly understand the nature of uncertainty, though, we can take practical steps to make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

In Mastering Uncertainty award-winning author Matt Watkinson and investor and entrepreneur Csaba Konkoly offer a masterclass on the workings of luck and probability. They show how to calculate when to make big bets and when to pull back. And they offer supremely practical advice on how we can improve our odds, whether through maximising our networks, learning how to read warning signs, or assessing where best to place our energies.

The unforeseen always occurs. Mastering Uncertainty shows you how to prepare for it and make the best use of it.

Outlive: The Science and Art of Longevity, by Peter Attia.

This is the ultimate manual for longevity.

For all its successes, mainstream medicine has failed to make much progress against the diseases of ageing that kill most people: heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Too often, it intervenes with treatments too late, prolonging lifespan at the expense of quality of life. Dr Peter Attia, the world’s top longevity expert, believes we must replace this outdated framework with a personalised, proactive strategy for longevity.

This isn’t ‘biohacking,’ it’s science: a well-founded strategic approach to extending lifespan while improving our physical, cognitive and emotional health, making each decade better than the one before. With Outlive’s practical advice and roadmap, you can plot a different path for your life, one that lets you outlive your genes to make each decade better than the one before.

The Letters I Will Never Send, by Isabella Dorta

Embrace honesty and heal beautifully.

In the letters i will never send, TikTok poet Isabella Dorta urges you to leave nothing unsaid and take comfort in moving poems on love, heartbreak, mental health and self-discovery.

With beautiful line illustrations and over 100 poems written in the form of confessional letters addressed to the most influential figures in your life:

Your younger self

Your future self

Your lover

Your body

Your family

and more

Take the ultimate step. Read, rip out, burn or send the letters out into the world. Write your own and share them with the people in your life. Just don’t hold back!

Eat to Beat Your Diet, by Dr William Li

Lose weight by eating more of what you love

Dr William Li’s first book, Eat to Beat Disease, showed us how eating the right foods can reduce the risk of chronic diseases, while also extending our lifespan and improving our overall health. Building on this groundbreaking work, Dr Li now brings us Eat to Beat Your Diet, a revolutionary, science-based approach to weight loss. Eating more of the right foods and adopting a “MediterAsian” diet (combining the best of Mediterranean and Asian diets) can promote fat loss and improve our metabolism in as little as 21 days.

Rooted in new science, Eat to Beat Your Diet offers a simple plan providing leading research on how supplements, sleep and exercise can help us defend the body against excess fat. With clear lists of fat-fighting foods and recipes, including a week-long detox and 3-week weight-loss protocol, this book empowers readers to lose 10-20 pounds healthily – all while enhancing enjoyment of food.

The Tools, by Phil Stutz & Barry Michels

Change can begin right now. Learn to bring about dynamic personal growth using five uniquely effective tools- from psychotherapist Barry Michels and psychiatrist Phil Stutz, subject of the Netflix documentary Stutz, directed by Jonah Hill.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you could tap into a new source of power – one that has been inside you all along – to solve your own problems and become the master of your life?

The Tools is an extraordinary psychological model based on the proven methods of Hollywood’s greatest psychotherapists. Phil Stutz and Barry Michels have over 60 years of psychotherapeutic experience between them. Together they have helped their A-list clients work through whatever has held them back be it insecurity, trauma, anger, lack of willpower, negativity or avoidance – to achieve their greatest work and find a deep level of fulfilment.

Now, at last, the acclaimed clinicians are sharing their methods in this eye-opening and empowering book. Introducing their five simple techniques, namely The Reversal of Desire, Active Love, Inner Authority, The Grateful Flow and Jeopardy, the authors clearly explain what they are plus how and when to use them. Astonishingly effective and beautifully simple – once you’ve learned a tool it takes only three to five seconds to use it – this book will give you everything you need to propel yourself forward to achieve your ambitions and be who you were born to be.

Why Politics Fails, by Ben Ansell

Why do the revolving doors of power always leave us disappointed? In Why Politics Fails, award-winning Oxford professor Ben Ansell shows that it’s not the politicians that are the problem, it’s that our collective goals result in five political ‘traps’.

Democracy: we all want a say in how we’re governed, but it’s impossible to have any true ‘will of the people’. Equality: we want to be treated equally, but equal rights and equal outcomes undermine each other. Solidarity: we want a safety net when times are tough, but often we care about solidarity only when we need it ourselves. Security: we want protecting from harm, but not if it undermines our freedoms. Prosperity: we want to be richer tomorrow, but what makes us richer in the short run makes us poorer over the long haul.

You’ve probably noticed a pattern here, which is that our self-interest undermines our ability to deliver on our collective goals. And these traps reinforce one another, so a polarized democracy can worsen inequality; a threadbare social safety net can worsen crime; runaway climate change will threaten global peace.

Drawing on examples from Ancient Greece through Brexit and using his own counterintuitive and pathbreaking research – on why democracy thrives under high inequality, and how increased political and social equality can lead to greater class inequality – Ansell vividly illustrates how we can escape the political traps of our imperfect world. He shows that politics won’t end, but that it doesn’t have to fail.

Letters to a Writer of Colour, by Deepa Anappara & Taymour Soomro

Filled with empathy and wisdom, personal experiences and creative inspiration, this is a vital collection of essays on the power of literature and the craft of writing from an international array of writers of colour.

‘Electric essays that speak to the experience of writing from the periphery… a guide, a comfort, and a call all at once’ Laila Lalami, author of Conditional Citizens

‘A whip-smart collection’ Kamila Shamsie, author of Best of Friends.

The Path to Ananda, by Swami Avadheshanand Giri

There are as many conceivable responses to these questions as there are people in this world. While happiness is a very individual concept, it is most often seen as containing a measure of health, prosperity, social status, professional or creative satisfaction, a loving family and friends. The problem is that all of these are transitory phenomena.

Through 101 short, workable capsules, The Path to Ananda: A Mystic’s Guide to Unlimited Happiness offers readers that knowledge again. This is a mystic’s guide for those who like following practical, easy-to-follow advice, knowledge that makes a difference, and wisdom that’s practical.

Nilavukkum Nerupendru Per (Rajesh Kumar)

Bhuvanesh and Tarun race towards the RS Puram Vinayagar temple. It’s a big day for Bhuvanesh. Today he will marry his long-time girlfriend Mukila at the temple, without letting their families know. Mukila has already called him to say she is on her way in a cab, but when she doesn’t arrive, Bhuvanesh, Tarun and a cop apprehend the cab she was in, in whose backseat, broken pieces of bangles are scattered. When the cab driver’s claims of dropping her at a flower market check out, Bhuvanesh, Tarun and others are alarmed. Where could Mukila be?

Qaidi (Commander Karan Saxena Series)

Gangadhar Mahant, the chief at RAW, sends Agent Karan Saxena on a secret mission to Beijing to rescue an Indian scientist who joined the Chinese government out of greed.

Working in a lab there, he has contributed to major advancements in the field of medical science in China. But now he has sent an SOS to be extracted to India. This is no cakewalk because the Chinese Secret Service always has its eyes on him.

With the help of other agents and informers working undercover-Prof. Koirala from Nepal, the drug peddler Hoshang and Neelkanth aka Kripashankar Bishnoi who can poison opponents in an instant-Commander Karan Saxena sets out on one of his most dangerous missions yet.

ALSO READ-Top business books for a new era of entrepreneurial journey

Books Lite Blogs London News

Bollywood and UK stars join Amish Tripathi for book launch

Indian HC Vikram Doraiswami, Amish Tripathi, Sonam Kapoor, Gurinder Chadha, Anita Rani celebrate the launch of War of Lanka book

On Thursday evening , 16th March, a host of UK stars and Bollywood celebrities including TV’s Anita Rani, Actress Sonam Kapoor, director Gurinder Chadha, Vue Cinemas’ Tim Richards, presenter Anita Anand, and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers Charlie Redmayne gathered at the London’s Taj hotel in St James to celebrate the launch of renowned author Amish Tripathi’s  fourth book in the blockbuster Ram Chandra series, War of Lanka, published by HarperCollins.

Amish Tripathi with Sonam Kapoor

Tripathi is currently the Director of the Nehru Centre and the Minister (Culture & Education) at the High Commission of India in the UK.  

In a lively conversation Sonam and Amish discussed writing about ancient texts, they talked about his journey into publishing, how he went from finance to fiction, self-publishing the first book in the bestselling Shiva Trilogy after it was rejected by over 20 publishers across India and how his books have mass audience appeal.

The Shiva Trilogy is now the fastest-selling book series in Indian publishing history, while the Ram Chandra is the second-fastest selling. Amish has gone on to be a phenomenon in Indian publishing selling over 6.5 million copies of his books in the Indian subcontinent.

Amish Tripathi with Gurinder Chadha

Besides being India’s fastest-selling author, Amish is also a TV documentary host and a diplomat, working as Minister (Culture & Education) at the High Commission of India in the UK.

The Chief Guest of the function was the Indian High Commissioner, His Excellency Vikram Doraiswami, who spoke of his love for Amish’s books from before Amish joined the diplomatic service.

Speaking about his latest novel, author Amish said: “I am humbled to already receive the love of millions of Indian readers for my books and I am very excited to be introducing these stories to UK readers for the first time with my fourth book War of Lanka, which is based on the Indian epic Ramayan; a tale of war, love, and betrayal.”

(L-R) The Taj general manager, the Indian High Commissioner, His Excellency Vikram Doraiswami,Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor, CEO of HarperCollins Charlie Redmayne and author Amish Tripathi

“The war at the end of the Ramayan, which represents the victory of Good over Evil, is what gave rise to the festival of lights, Diwali, which is celebrated to this day! I can’t wait for the discussions they encourage; offering new perspectives on old philosophies. I am grateful to HarperCollins for making it happen.”

ALSO READ: Sanskrit play aromatises the Nehru Centre London

Books Food India News

Dining with the Nawabs: A culinary journey through the royal kitchens

Dining with the Nawabs by Meera Ali and Karam K Puri: a book about culinary legacy of the Nawab Families. An exclusive feature by columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International.

Mughal emperors governed their vast empire with the help of nawabs – a title they bestowed on the semi-autonomous Muslim rulers of India. Over a period of time these nawabs became powerful rulers in their own right and created a distinct culture of their own, with food being one of its most everlasting legacies. Heavily influenced by Mughal staples and cookery techniques, the nawabs refined their cuisine by adopting local flavours, from the refined palates that dominate the table at Rampur and Avadh to the incredible array of delicacies from the kitchens of Bahawalpur and Khairpur, now in Pakistan.

For the first time, Dining with the Nawabs allows you a rare opportunity to visit the tables and palaces of these families, to learn more about their lifestyles and their love affair with gourmet cuisine. This special edition also comes with a ‘Kitchen Copy’, containing some of their most beloved family recipes that you can recreate in your own homes.

The families featured in this book have been and are the custodians of this proud culinary legacy. They share recipes which have been passed down across generations within the parameters of their royal kitchens. In these recipes and food tales, which showcase food as the epicentre of heritage and customs, the bigger narrative of an ancient philosophy and a way of life is revealed. Today, Indian food all over the world is synonymous with Mughlai and Nawabi cuisine. Biryani, pulao, kebab, korma, kofta, dumpukht and other dishes of the time have all made their way from a shahi dastarkhwan across homes. The families featured here however have their own unique version of these dishes; as these meals were once part of a shared heritage.

Dining With The Nawabs brings back the grandeur, decadence and is a tasteful reminder of the lavish brilliance of nawabi cuisine.

About the author and photographer

Meera Ali studied architecture at the Institute of Environmental Design, Gujarat. A designer, and producer of the feature film Jaanisaar, Meera manages the couture label Kotwara with her husband Muzaffar Ali. Together, they have also set up Maashra, an Avadhi dining experience.

Karam Puri is a fine art, travel and wildlife photographer. His books include School: Tales from the Doon School, Gujarat: A Journey, Lynndale, and The Indian Golf Story. His work has been shown and collected by galleries in New York, Hong Kong and New Delhi, and has been published by National Geographic’s Ten Best of Everything. He also teaches photography in Kashmir and climbs high peaks in the Himalayas.

Meera Ali (an insider into the nawabi culture, being married to the erstwhile rajah of Kotwara, Muzaffar Ali, and gourmand behind Maashra, a private Avadhi dining experience within their home estate in Gurgaon) and photographer Karam Puri journeyed from Gujarat to Tamil Nadu and Khairpur in Sindh, Pakistan, exploring the homes, kitchens and culinary heritage of 10 royal families for this one of a kind book.

About the publisher: Roli Books

Since its inception in 1978, Roli Books has been synonymous with pathbreaking and quality publishing. Roli is the only Indian publisher to own a chain of bookshops. Roli is the only Indian publisher to own a chain of bookshops.

Books Lite Blogs

A world on hold

As two young writers who hadn’t written non-fiction before, they struggled with narrowing down on how to do justice to a topic as grave, detailed and layered as the pandemic. Hence, they decided to tell it as it was, in the raw, unfiltered voices of those who were living through it…writes Vishnu Makhijani

For those who have lived through the Covid-19 pandemic, life will never be the same again. “A World On Hold” (Om Books International) brings you first person narratives by 20 writers, among them Shashi Tharoor, Vidya Balan and Nonita Kalra on what it means to those who have survived and lived to tell the tale.

“In the simplest terms, the book is an outcome of a late-night conversation between two friends who found themselves hopeless and helpless in the face of a global pandemic,” the book’s editors, Divita Aggarwal and Surabhi Sundaram, told in a joint interview.

“Even though we both experienced different impacts of the pandemic (Divita, the industrial and economic and Surabhi, the on-ground realities), we were aligned on our motivation: to contribute to the situation, bring to focus what people were going through, and most importantly create a living record of this historic time. Where uncertainty, loss of opportunities and fear was staring at us, all we wanted to do was document this transformational period. There was a seismic shift in the psychological, social economical aspect of life and so, we decided to make sure we never forget this,” they added.

As two young writers who hadn’t written non-fiction before, they struggled with narrowing down on how to do justice to a topic as grave, detailed and layered as the pandemic. Hence, they decided to tell it as it was, in the raw, unfiltered voices of those who were living through it.

“The aim was not to tell our reimagination of these peoples’ stories or our own experiences,” they said.

The selection process of the narrators was guided by their curiosity as well as the most prominent sectors affected (the knowledge of which they gained through news, social networks, and personal anecdotes. Examples of a few unique choices are Tanyel Kazim, a higher-education practitioner based in the UK who was laid off during the pandemic. Or Sunash Sharma, who volunteered to be a part of vaccine trials. They wanted to tap into unheard, or less heard of stories which the mainstream wasn’t covering but were equally important.

“Throughout, the larger aim was to have diverse voices and very nuanced narrations. For example, we wanted to have an influencer as a contributing narrator, discussing how content creation has evolved in the pandemic. Another industry we wanted to tap into was travel. So, we decided to club the two together and bring on board a travel influencer, Shivya Nath. Similarly, we wanted to hear from a working mom and cover the culinary sector. So, we brought Shilarna Vaze, a celebrity chef. The goal was to ensure that every narration is layered and relatable,” Aggarwal and Sundaram explained.

They write in the Preface that “conversing about these ordeals proved more therapeutic than triggering-both for the narrators and us”.

“Writing about the pandemic our approach to it, especially emotionally. It pushed us to constantly innovate. Learning about accounts such as that of frontline workers, allowed us to be more resilient and grateful. This journey helped in widening our perspective and having a more open-minded outlook towards this experience.

“When the world was still grappling with the first wave of coronavirus, we started writing this book with a clear mission: to document stories of unprecedented bravery, innovation, and emotion. Today, as we look back on the narrators we interacted with and how they have progressed over the past year, we realise their stories not only matched our expectations but also exceeded them. It is the stories of these twenty narrators and those of the entire world’s population that has reminded us of exactly how much strength we carry in us.

“We not only accepted that we now live in an unrecognisable world, but also deeply felt every emotion that comes with it. Smoothly, almost instinctively, we transformed every aspect of our day-to-day life. That is a sign of unparalleled optimism. We have also learnt how to channel a similar strength to other personal and professional aspects of life. It’s safe to say, we, along with everyone we know, are getting back to square one. Only this time, we are more courageous, more informed and a lot more hopeful,” Aggarwal and Sundaram maintained.

Fortitude is the common thread running through the narratives in the book.

“At its very core, ‘A World On Hold’ is a book that celebrates having courage in pain and adversity. Stories of a flight attendant, who chose to remain anonymous, bring out the courage of flying in unprecedented times. Her narrative brings out the sense of responsibility that airline-industry workers felt. Despite multiple personal hardships, she considered it her duty to bring home Indians who were stranded abroad.

“On-the-ground reporting brings out scenes of fear and grief in hospitals. But even in this, there is a glimmer of hope, a story by an anonymous police-officer who drove women in labour, to hospitals. There was anguish and heartache everywhere. But even in the bleakest of times, there was a ray of hope, guided by courage. There were people, ordinary people like you and me, who went above and beyond to help another,” the editors explained.

In-depth interviews with then Editor of Harper’s Bazaar India, Nonita Kalra (currently Editor-in-Chief of TataCliq Luxury) bring out the crises faced by lifestyle publications: how does a glamorous magazine stay relevant at this juncture? How does an editor steer a team, boost morale even as a publication changes and innovates at its core? Parliamentarian and author, Shashi Tharoor offers invaluable insights into the political workings of India’s response to the global pandemic. Actor Vidya Balan’s story brings out the challenges faced by the Indian film industry; the multi-crore industry had to shift – almost overnight – from creating for the big screen, to adapting to OTT platforms.

Quoting Francis Bacon, they said: “Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armor of the will, and the fort of reason.”

What next? What’s their next book/project on?

“We’re currently conducting primary research for India’s first book documenting untold stories of women in war roles. Across the armed services, women make up merely 0.5 per cent of per cent of the active-duty 1.4 million army personnel (2021) Undoubtedly, this representation is small and marginally growing — and their stories tend to be less often told to make room for legacies left by men who have shaped the narrative of service to the country.

“To be potentially published by a national publisher and adapted into an audio-visual format by an OTT platform, ‘Women In War’ will detail stories of fearless women in defence who have excelled at jobs that once weren’t even open to them. Their own stories, in their own words. Or of those who were with them in their final moments. The first-of-its kind non-fiction book aims to bring to you stories of astonishing fearlessness, and gets you closer than ever before to the personal bravery that Indian military women display in the line of duty,” Aggarwal and Sundaram concluded.

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Chronicles of an Immigrant Mother

I had to write down the issues, the biased situations, the frustration of being an immigrant and not having a status and being deprived of justice or my own son’s custodial rights even though I had not done anything wrong…an Francisco-based entrepreneur Sheetal Ohri speaks with Vishnu Makhijani

To be an author was never in the pipeline until she went through a custodial family law situation for her son, says San Francisco-based entrepreneur Sheetal Ohri, adding: “It was more of an Indian citizen vs US citizen issue in the US courts.”

“There was a bias towards US citizens depriving a mother of her own child’s custody based on immigration status,” Ohri told in an interview on her book “Custodial Battle: Chronicles of an Immigrant Mother who was Delayed Justice in Family Law due to Immigration Status” that has been nominated for awards in the US and the UK.

“I had to write down the issues, the biased situations, the frustration of being an immigrant and not having a status and being deprived of justice or my own son’s custodial rights even though I had not done anything wrong.

“The US family law itself was my inspiration to write about the system. Seeing the biased system, seeing how easily the system was swayed on the basis of citizen vs non-citizen, how the system was flawed when everyone thought US law was the best in the world. Sitting and seeing many cases before my own case and dealing with bias and injustice which was at times intolerable was the reason to write the book,” Ohri explained.

When she started writing her book, she decided that her voice needed to be heard and what better way than to write and be heard to the world through a book which could be resourceful for other parents dealing with similar situations, she added.

She went through many law books, family law data, self-help centres, and details for various states in the US. Extensive research was done on custody sharing and visitation rights, children suffering psychological effects due to parental alienation and much research on South Asian domestic violence.

The book narrates the traumatic tale of the protagonist, Ritika’, and her struggle with the American judicial system in the nearly decade-long custody fight for her son. This gripping and heart-breaking book navigates the reader through the mazes and loopholes of the judicial system in the US and how it tends to work in favour of the powerful and against the powerless.

Ohri tells an against-the-odds story through the character of Ritika and her Indian culture, weaving in her own experiences of that system and her efforts to overcome its many challenges, and imbuing it with her emotions and struggles, as she elevates Ritika’s stubborn refusal to back down in the face of her ex-husband’s oppression and the inequities — subtle and not-so-subtle — of American Family Law.

To this end, the writing of the book was a catharsis.

“Definitely, writing the book was emotional and a catharsis of sorts. After going through a journey of proving myself as a good resident and a good mother in US courts, where I saw bias happening in family court rooms, paying the same or more attorney fees as the other party, it was a relief to write similar situations for my book’s character.

“Writing about the courtroom scenes brought a sense of release more than anything, as that’s where the idea of writing the book had begun. By writing the book, I completed what I had intended to do, which is to let the readers get resources, understand the custody situation and immigration issues which not many understand unless attorneys are involved. I try to provide help through my book detailing family law situations and cases.

“The whole goal was to bring the positive side out from this story for the readers by sharing the story of Ritika, who fought against a powerful judicial system and even in times of adversity, never gave up on herself and her child,” Ohri elaborated.

Does she anticipate any changes in the law to prevent the recurrence of what she has recounted?

“I have seen changes in the last many years in the judicial system. There are training sessions being provided to understand our Indian culture. With the growing South Asian population, the courts are appointing mediators to get training to understand our South Asian culture and way of living. Many local South Asian non-profits are volunteering these trainings to advise on our culture. As far as the immigration status situation goes, the courts are looking into it case by case,” Ohri said.

What has been the response to the book?

“There has been good response to the book. The book has been sold in many countries via Amazon. The book was covered by many local and national print media, TV channels, and podcasts in California and the US. It is nominated for awards and received recognitions in the US, the UK and in India. In India, it is available for sale at Kunzum book store in New Delhi,” she said.

What made her switch roles from entrepreneur to writer and does she plan to take this up as a full-time career?

“I never switched roles. In fact, I continued both aspects of my life together. I wanted to bring the issue of immigration and non-understanding of our Indian culture to US family law courts and thus wrote the book. For now, I will continue to write books but I will also continue my journey as an entrepreneur,” Ohri explained.

What is the next book on?

“My next book is again on real issues. It is based on complicated relationships. I intend to write about real situations and real issues we all deal with in our lives,” Ohri concluded.

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Books Lite Blogs

UK born Indian author expanding his media footprint

His second book, ‘8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It and Let It Go’, has become an instant ‘New York Times’ best-seller after being released last week…reports Asian Lite News

UK-born Indian bestselling author of ‘Think Like A Monk’, podcast host, social media sensation, life coach and former Hare Krishna monk Jay Shetty is expanding his media footprint, now launching a talent agency, ‘Variety’ has learned exclusively.

Shetty, whose health and wellness podcast ‘On Purpose’ has featured the likes of Alicia Keys, Khloe Kardashian and Kobe Bryant, is said to have been downloaded more than 300 million times, but he has also been accused of plagiarism, which has made him get careful about attribution of quotes. Shetty now lives in California after spending four years as a Hare Krishna monk in India.

His second book, ‘8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It and Let It Go’, has become an instant ‘New York Times’ best-seller after being released last week.

Along with his partners Rula Zaabri, Brittany Louks and Blaire Zierke, Shetty has announced the formation of House of 1212, a full-service, purpose-driven talent agency that will represent creators, thought leaders and innovators who are impacting positive change, according to ‘Variety’.

Shetty will serve as co-founder and partner of House of 1212; Zaabri as founder and CEO; Louks as co-founder and president; and Zierke as co-founder and head of operations. Zaabri was previously Shetty’s chief of staff, overseeing business initiatives and managing his day-to-day operations.

The name of the agency ‘1212’ is derived from numerology. It is known as an angel number, which symbolises abundance, organisation and harmony with prosperity, growth and enlightenment centered at its core, ‘Variety’ notes.

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Books Lite Blogs

Take a sip and read a book

A Sip in Time by Pallavi Nigam Sahay contains India’s finest teas and teatime treats…reports Anjali Kocchar

Upon hearing the term “Chai,” what immediately comes to mind? What are the large, little stories that accompany chai? Chai has played a big part in bringing people together from the beginning of civilization. A drink that unites individuals and makes it easier for them to open up and share their untold tales and secrets. We might be able to listen in on some informal chats later while drinking chai. So, what?

“Chai is an emotion. The warm feeling or the prospect of making chai comforts me. Also, it is a get-together beverage for me. When I call people to my house, I always prefer serving tea over coffee,” chimes Anu. Her passionate love for chai is unmistakable.

“Chai is family,” adds Rakshita, another tea enthusiast who has a strong love for chai. Sitting far away in Seattle, she immerses herself in 3 cups of chai every day. Each cup acts as a trail of crumbs to connect her to her family in India. Here are three must-read books for tea-lovers.

A Sip in Time by Pallavi Nigam Sahay

A newly released recipe book, A Sip in Time by Pallavi Nigam Sahay contains India’s finest teas and teatime treats.

With 60 delectable dishes and lip-smacking recipes, this book will keep you wanting more chai. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of traditional more-sugar-less-milk chai or trending chamomile and Darjeeling teas, the book has something for everyone and resonates with readers of all ages and backgrounds.

Sahay, who is an adrak chai lover loves adding lemon grass leaves to her brew. “You cannot go wrong with lemon grass as it reaches your soul with a refreshing aroma and heals with its citrusy taste,” offers Sahay.

In the book, the author talks of discovering India’s first brew, aka.phalap, as she journeys into the densely forested areas of Upper Assam. She also talks of the medicinal properties of tea as kadhas-medicinal concoctions believed to cure a number of ailments-made using tea as a base.

The book will also take you to the lane of memories. Nostalgia is a key ingredient in her book of tea recipes. From Mumbai’s cutting chai to Haryana’s khaddi chamach wali chai, she talks about everything in the book.

Sahay is a published author, columnist and television show host. Her first book, The Bhojpuri Kitchen, published in 2017, won the Gourmand Cookbook Award for the best book in India in the Easy Home Recipes category and was recognised among the ‘culinary treasures of 2017’ by India Today.

The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzo

If you are not looking for a recipe book and want to learn interesting facts about tea’s history then you must purchase this book. In The Book of Tea, popular author Okakura Kakuzo explores how tea moved from being a medicine in China to a religion in Japan. The Book of Tea is not a history of tea, but of humanity and how the East and West and their values came together. This book is written poetically about how to understand the beauty of the present time, which is the central focus of a tea ceremony in Japan, is a must-read for those visiting Japan and who want to learn more about the reason behind the tea ceremony.

Kakuzo was a Japanese scholar and art critic who in the era of Meiji Restoration reform defended traditional forms, customs and beliefs. Outside Japan, he is chiefly renowned for his book.

Cancer Hates Tea by Maria Uspenski and Dr Mary L Hary

To start with, the book was a finalist for Best Tea Publication 2017 World Tea Awards in 2017. Author Maria Uspenski is the founder of one of the most popular tea shops, The Tea Spot. The book helps the reader understand the biology of the human body at the cellular level and how cancer affects it. It is an unusual read around tea that chai lovers would definitely find interesting.

The author, through this book, explains the healing power of tea, backed by 5,000 scientific studies, leaving the reader with a feeling of control over their own wellness. The book inspires the reader to overhaul old beverage habits.

You won’t find many books solely on tea related to cancer. But, this book will definitely catch your attention as it is an amazing tea story with wellness references backed by studies and many wonderful recipes.

While these are some of the tea books which I found unique and caught my attention, there could be many that you may like and can tell us in the comments section below. Before you go, just a sneak peek into the conversations over Chai people have to make your day:

“You don’t need any time travel machine if you have chai in hand,” says Meenakshi, a tea enthusiast. She says she cannot trade her chai time for anything. She and her friends meet once a week for chai and together go on a nostalgic drive of their college times.

And if you think matchmaking apps are setting you up for a thrill, making adrenaline course through your veins, Akshu’s words are piercingly intimate and you cannot stop resonating with them. “My partner has to enjoy tea as much as like I do. That is the underlining criteria of my dating choice. I should enjoy a cup with him at the end of the long day.” Love for chai means swipe right, isn’t it?

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Books Films Lite Blogs

‘I Am Onir and I am Gay: A Memoir’

Stressing that the Hindi film industry is extremely inclusive and has never been discriminated against owing to his sexual orientation, Onir adds the only roadblocks he has faced have arisen owing to the fact that he could not work on many ideas as they were not perceived as commercially viable…writes Sukant Deepak

While he had no plans to write a biography, thinking it was too early for him to do that, the fact that he never had a ‘reference point’ when it came to being “gay and proud” while growing up, pushed filmmaker Onir to pen ‘I Am Onir and I am Gay: A Memoir’.

“During the pandemic-induced lockdowns, my sister, who is the co-author pushed me to do it. Although we have always been close, the exercise of writing the memoir brought us closer. In fact, there were a lot of things she remembered better than me, especially from our childhood. She also got to discover several aspects of my life she was not aware of,” he tells at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival being organised by Teamwork Arts.

Adding that it was not really ‘catharsis’ that he experienced post finishing the book, the filmmaker, who won the National Award for the movie ‘I Am’ and made ‘My Brother Nikhil’, says it was nice revisiting his life as one seldom gets to do that.

“Writing the memoir gave me a chance to reflect upon different stages of my life and elements that have shaped me.”

Stressing that the Hindi film industry is extremely inclusive and has never been discriminated against owing to his sexual orientation, Onir adds the only roadblocks he has faced have arisen owing to the fact that he could not work on many ideas as they were not perceived as commercially viable.

“It was more to do with the subjects I wanted to explore as a filmmaker than me as a queer person.”

While he keeps hearing that his movies have been much ahead of their times– with ‘My Brother Nikhil’ being made in 2005, Onir says that the movie cemented his reputation as a filmmaker and he is glad that he was the ‘first one’ and not part of a herd.

“So, the problem is not with me but the world around. I cannot step back because people may not be ready. Works of filmmakers like Guru Dutt or Ritwik Ghatak we celebrate now were not accepted when they were made — not to say I am anywhere close to them. And I do not feel I am the only one. However, seeing that even after 17 years, my movies are still on platforms, it is much more empowering than immediate gratification.”

Though when it comes to OTT platforms, the filmmaker feels we use the word ‘revolution’ too casually and quickly. Citing the optimism among independent filmmakers when multiplexes mushroomed, he says one is witnessing digital platforms heavily tilted towards content that will get maximum eyeballs.

“Were they not perceived to empower independent filmmakers? Now, they are looking at movies with star power. Not saying that they do not have the right to get more numbers, but what is stopping them to support a few independent movies? Recently, I was presenting an award-winning Manipuri film but no platform was ready to accept it. Why, is Manipur not us?”

Currently working on his next movie ‘Pine Cone’, a story of a gay man through three decades of his life, the filmmaker says he started writing the movie after the sequel to ‘I Am’, titled ‘We Are’ ran into controversy and was rejected by the Ministry of Defence.

“It is a film that celebrates queer desire and has bits from my book.”

Believing that unless dialogues happen, acceptance towards anything that is perceived as not being mainstream will remain low, he adds, “Precisely why we need more narratives. It is only then that we can expect things to change,” he concludes.

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Books Food Lite Blogs

‘The Paradise of Food’ from the most brutal battlefield in house

A potent commentary on the times we live in, complete with darkness, alienation, and desires, the author tells that for an average family in India, the possessiveness towards the kitchen is akin to wars that take place for land and its resources…writes Sukant Deepak

He speaks slowly, and weighs words. Pauses. Insists that meanings are found in the ones not spoken and amidst spaces left blank. That when sentences feel lonely, hanging in a vacuum — they assume a new identity.

Author Khalid Jawed’s ‘The Paradise of Food’ (‘Nemat Khana’), translated by Baran Farooqi from Urdu which won the JCB Prize for Literature in 2022 is not just the story of Hafizuddin Mohammad Babar living in the crumbling ancient house or about vegetables, onions or garlic. Nor the four women, all named Anjum, he spends his life with. Neither just about what the author calls the most brutal battlefield in the house — the kitchen.

A potent commentary on the times we live in, complete with darkness, alienation, and desires, the author tells that for an average family in India, the possessiveness towards the kitchen is akin to wars that take place for land and its resources.

“There is a lot of good related to food, but let us not forget the darker side. It can be a cause of violence, fights, and a metaphor for unimaginable greed and lust… Sometimes I feel food is maybe the only universal language. The things we talk about, we use our tongue and teeth, the same elements we use for eating. The speech and eating organs are related to each other.”

Someone who believes that serious literature facilitates insights with poetic tools, and does not preach (“moral lessons are for children”), Jawed adds that everything need not be in plain sight. He however feels that today’s audience is just not trained for serious literature. “We live in a time where soap operas/entertaining literature thrive. Even the media seems to be an entertainment playground,” he laments.

Stressing that it is important that create a strong bridge, facilitated by serious critics, between writers and readers, the author says the writer’s work is to write from his/her subconscious mind. “If the writer continues to care whether people can understand it, he would not be able to strive for creative excellence.”

The writer, for who divorcing alienation and darkness is “unthinkable” in his fiction says everything is derived from the subconscious, that memories make us. “And someone has to write about the gloom that lurks in our soul, that slowly envelops everything around. “Let us not forget that even when there is light, the shadows constantly remind us that the sun will set.”

Stressing we tend to celebrate mostly Urdu poetry and not prose, Jawed opines that it is like having a feudal approach towards the language. “When Urdu is talked about it’s only about ghazals. But like other languages, Urdu also has multiple traditions that must meet the world, and that will happen only when it is translated.”

The author, who has been widely translated into English feels that unless a talented translator and major English publishing house step in, an Indian language book may not be able to pierce the haze. “You can reach the meaning through translation, but that is not important in high literature. It is the ways in which we reach the meaning that is paramount. Precisely why brilliant translators must exist.”

An Associate Professor of Urdu at Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi, Jawed feels that over the years, there has been a marked difference in the kind of students enrolling at the undergraduate level. “They are not multi-lingual and not proficient in English and Hindi, something that is bound to affect translations from Urdu in the long run.”

Lamenting that the entire Urdu ecosystem needs an overhaul, he says: “Look at Urdu newspapers. Leave alone the fact that they are full of mistakes, all they are concentrating on is minority issues. They will need to have a wider perspective and a more inclusive approach in order to educate their readers and have a stronger voice.”

Stressing that awards like the JCB are important considering the same lead to a massive jump in readership for an author, the author whose latest ‘Arsalan Aur Behzad’ is now out in Urdu, adds: “They maintain honesty and transparency, and the jury deals with things deeply. ‘The Paradise of Food’ is not an easy book, there are no easily decipherable ‘local’ themes.”

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Arts & Culture Books Lite Blogs

Inspirational reads for becoming better

British Council Digital Library has curated a collection of inspirational books that will guide you to enhance your social skills, discover your mission in life, or even manage your checkbook!

The New Year’s Eve felt happier and more promising than it has in a long time, making it a genuine occasion for celebration. Annual resolutions are more important than ever for helping you evaluate what’s really important in life and personal growth is on everyone’s wishlist. We shouldn’t take health and wellness for granted, as living through a global pandemic has taught us. Focusing on your body, mind, and soul in 2023 is a fantastic method to plan your long-term objectives for the new year.

Additionally, concentrating on your health and well-being doesn’t always entail starting a new diet or exercise regimen. Increase your goals by focusing on taking control of your mental health, establishing a better sleep schedule, or reclaiming your space. If you are seeking tips on becoming a better version of yourself, British Council Digital Library has curated a collection of inspirational books that will guide you to enhance your social skills, discover your mission in life, or even manage your checkbook!

Inspirational reads .(photo:IANSLIFE)

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations�and whose story inspires us to do the same. In her memoir, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her�from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it� in her own words and on her own terms.

Inspirational reads .(photo:IANSLIFE)

Atomic Habits by James Clear

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth. If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. This breakthrough book from James Clear is the most comprehensive guide on how to change your habits and get 1% better every day. No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving� every day.

Inspirational reads .(photo:IANSLIFE)

Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Do you ever struggle to finish the things you start? Do you frequently have brilliant ideas, but once the initial enthusiasm wears off, you find it difficult to put them into action? The answer is probably yes if you’re imaginative and ambitious. The issue is not with you. It’s not that you aren’t diligent, intelligent, or deserving; it’s just that you don’t yet have the one fundamental conviction that will transform everything: Everything is solvable. The book will educate your brain to think more optimistically and assist you in breaking down any desire into actionable steps, whether your goal is to quit a dead-end job, mend a broken relationship, create a business, master your money, or simply find two extra hours in the day.

Inspirational reads .(photo:IANSLIFE)

Good Vibes, Good Life by Vex King

How do you actually learn to love yourself? How to change unfavourable feelings into favourable ones. Is it possible to experience lasting joy? A beautifully designed book that is packed with motivational quotes and tried-and-tested advice on utilizing positivity to build a life you love. In this book, Instagram expert Vex King provides comprehensive answers to all of these queries. Vex overcame adversity to become an inspiration to thousands of young people, and he now uses his own experience and intuitive knowledge to motivate his readers.

Inspirational reads .(photo:IANSLIFE)

12 Rules for Life by Jordan B. Peterson (Audiobook)

How should we live properly in a world of chaos and uncertainty? Jordan Peterson has helped millions of people, young and old, men and women, aim at a life of responsibility and meaning. Now he can help you. The number one Sunday Times and Audible bestseller from ‘the most influential public intellectual in the Western world right now’ (New York Times) – read by the man himself.

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