Stress. This is the word that is the bane of our existence today. It is the cause of a number of lifestyle diseases, mental health issues and can negatively impact our holistic well-being . Yet, we grapple with stress management techniques! Why is achieving the stress solution so difficult in the age of information overload?
Dr. Chatterjee is all set to simplify stress management. In an authentic voice born out of his medical practice and informed research, he presents four pillars on which you can build a stress-free life.
In The Stress Solution by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee you will read about a multidimensional approach to stress management. After all, stress solutions need to address more than one area of our lives.
I would like to use the analogy of a car here. Just like a car wouldn’t get going without all the four wheels working well in harmony, we can’t handle stress without adopting a multi-pronged approach.
The book focuses on purpose (how having a sense of purpose can help you deal with stress), relationships (how to nurture and develop them), Body (how physical wellbeing is linked to stress free living) and Mind (this section deals with mental well-being but more specifically talks about the tech menace that is so rampant today).
The Stress Solution is written in a lucid manner. I love the use of terms that really stick in your head and ensure that you remember concepts from the book. For example, he talks about MSDs or Micro Stress Doses that basically refer to little things that add to the stress we experience in day to day life. He elaborates on how to LIVE (Love. Intention. Vision. Engagement). In a sense, he dresses the concepts in a way that one can remember the key point.
We live in a world where stress does not merely stem from one source. We live in an ecosystem of stress! The book considers all these different angles. It then tackles topics such as time management, need for solitude, having a good morning routine, giving due importance to key relationships, eating healthy, exercising, sleeping well, handling tech addiction that somehow seems crazily pervasive nowadays, reconnecting with nature, decluttering your surroundings, breathing correctly, meditation and much more.
For me, the one of the most crucial part of this book was the section on relationships. Have you tried the 3D greeting with your partner? This is a little 15 seconds secret revealed in the book…Similarly in the section that talks about good eating habits and the relationship of food to stress, I found the Eat Your Alphabet Chart really easy to use and implement.
Twenty-first century living is harming our minds. We’re filling our heads with stressful information, bombarding ourselves with noise and light. Infinite distractions vie for our attention. We think nothing of continually drowning our thoughts in news articles, status updates, health blogs, text messages, notifications or emails. This information overload is playing havoc with our mental health.
It is at such times that we need to step back and reassess the situation. Are we living in a way that is indeed best for us? Are we allowing stress to overtake our lives in a manner that will prove harmful to us in the long run?
The Stress Solution by Rangan Chatterjee is a book that speaks to us in a language that we understand. Filled with authentic information and observations, and very practical tips, it’s your resolute guide to living a stress-free life!
BOOKS BY RANGAN CHATTERJEE
Title: The Stress Solution
Author: Dr. Rangan Chatterjee
Genre: Health, Non-fiction
When you’re a child, thinking out-of-the-box comes naturally. Backyard Adventure by Amanda Thomsen is a book that is filled to the brim with ideas and tips to reclaim the childhood that ‘should be’. As gadgets and structured lessons fill our children’s lives, a book like this is a reminder to slow down and savour beautiful moments that will go on to make the foundation of a child’s life.
The book is filled with many pictures and short snappy ideas on fun projects that children can do in their own backyard. These are real images of things done by real children and hence will definitely be inspirational.
Some of the projects may require a little bit of help from adults, if the children wish that is! There are some big projects such as building a fort or tepee, or a hideout with straw bales and tree branches, or a cardboard castle, complete with instructions. Then there are other executable ideas such as making creative sandboxes. There are instructions and suggestions on how to set up ‘tinkering’ areas such as a science lab or a musical studio, again by using easily available material. Children are also encouraged to make a ‘giant mess’ in some specially designed experiments. For those with a green thumb there are hints as to what they can grow. Some of the ideas involve messing around in the wild, or doing science experiments, again often messy! Another set of tips revolve around how kids can capitalize on their backyard space in the dark! (hint- it has to do with glowing objects!)
The materials required for these projects are simple things that one uses at home. In fact, most of the things are recyclable and these projects are all eco-friendly in that sense. Children can make use of waste and old stuff to indulge in these!
In all, the book is filled with easily executable ideas. Older kids (tweens) would be able to do these by themselves while younger ones would need some help from adults.
Some ideas for backyard fun that appealed to me:
Take a pick from your favourite ideas and bounce them off on your kids. You will soon discover that the backyard is a blank canvas…. paint your fun the way you like! And who knows, backyard adventure may not just stop with the kids!
Title: Backyard Adventure
Author: Amanda Thomsen
Publisher: Storey Publishing
Genre: Self-Help, Non-fiction
Perhaps of all things in the world, power is the most coveted. Leaders rule nations and understandably they wield power. They have the power to effect changes. They have the power to create and to shape narratives. However, what happens when these individuals propagate falsehood? At the heart of it lies delusion- a false belief. Delusional Politics is an ambitious aim to understand and chronicle this phenomenon.
Based on over four decades of work in the diplomatic field, Hardeep Singh Puri offers an insightful look at how the most powerful people in the world can be delusional and how their policies impact the future of the countries they rule.
There are many examples of delusional politics in the world – both currently, in recent history as well as from instances that occurred way back in time. While it is interesting and insightful to glean through these, Puri narrows the focus of the book to delusional politics concerning three case studies – United Kingdom post Brexit, USA post-election of Donald Trump and the story of India.
The book examines the delusional thinking and decision making of Trump against the background of several examples such as backing out of the Iran deal, relationship with North Korea, rejecting the Paris Accord and so on. It tries to critically look at Brexit and its aftermath. But perhaps most interestingly, it looks critically at the post-colonial reconstruction of India, and brings it right into modern politics.
What is interesting about the very premise of the book is that it talks about people in power, who do not necessarily have any kind of apparent ‘shortcomings’. How then can they, and a team of powerful and ‘intelligent’ advisers make decisions that may not ultimately prove good for people? “I was astonished and alarmed to know that behavioural science or psychology does not focus on how seemingly normal persons, without any known history of mental illness, can display delusional behaviour in their actions on a regular basis. The people around them come to accept this as normal. Such behaviour then tends to be rationalised as part of a ‘belief’ devoid of objectivity and facts” he writes. It is interesting to observe this in action as one reads the book.
We live in a post-truth world. We live in a society where data is used to form narratives and create them, rather than use facts. Delusional Politics paints a picture of how the narratives presented to us today are constructed. Don’t the complex algorithms of the social media platforms we use lock us into a tunnel vision? Isn’t it easier now than ever before to play with the complete lack of objectivity that people have today? The book illuminates how we the people more often than not become victims of delusions propagated by those in power. To add on to this problem, people who share ideological clusters stick together and share beliefs based on emotions rather than facts.
Singh makes an interesting comment in the section on global governance- if all individuals in the world had a choice they would most likely choose peaceful coexistence as opposed to war. Then, why are nation states leading the world into an existential crisis? He looks at crucial aspects of global governance. With over four decades in diplomatic relations it is natural that he should analyze the role of the UN against this concept of delusional thinking, which he does. The section on terrorism and how delusion informs the approach to it is also quite insightful.
Against the background of these unexpected and surprising events he talks about how the media got it all wrong. The fourth estate has suddenly lost the credibility it has enjoyed in the past. This is the background to the book. His critical look aims to provide a macro view of world politics. It is an ambitious search, but an increasingly important one nevertheless!
Singh’s subtle humour adds its own special charm to the experience of reading Delusional Politics. It is true that Mr. Singh has the benefits of hindsight as he assesses these conditions. Despite that, it is a great lesson to understand the very high costs of delusional politics, and the disaster that can happen when a delusional politician is not able to “See through the final play in this game of chess”.
I feel that this book is as much about the common people, about you and me, as much as it is about delusional politics and the delusional politician. A delusional politician can make decisions that prove costly to the country, and lead to decline of the mightiest empires. But, can we really blame it all on those in power? This is why is it important for us to understand delusional thinking….because important decisions on security, trade and policy are often made by people who show signs of delusional thinking and decision making. Delusional Politics should be everyone’s concern!
Title: Delusional Politics
Author: Hardeep Singh Puri
I first met Ashtar Tashi at an intimate gathering of a group called “House of Entrepreneurs”, a platform for sharing business stories and helping others in their journeys. Tashi struck a chord with every member of the group. Her willingness to share lessons from her healing practice, was evident. When she handed us a copy of her book, “Keep Shining”, I knew it was a deeper dip into the many internal observations and lessons she has mustered over years of spiritual healing practice. “It’s my belief that all of us have the ability to go deep within and explore our highest potential to shine our brightest,” says Ashtar. This belief thus lends the book its name.
Here are excerpts from our conversations that stemmed from the varied thoughts presented in her book and motto, “Keep Shining”.
In Keep Shining, you speak a lot about energies. How could one stop negative energies from impacting us? Could you give our readers couple of simple suggestions that they can implement easily?
Everything around us has energies. The smallest particle of atom to the largest being on the planet holds its own brand of energy. All of nature’s elements and every breath we take, is energy. So, we are nothing but energy. Even our thoughts, words and actions carry energy-positive or negative, but energy all the same. Many people are sensitive to energies and feel them a little more strongly than others. Many experience the impact of energies but can’t really recognize or put a finger to what or why they feel a certain way when energies impact them.
Negative energies are felt as discomfort, uneasiness, a sense of sadness and malaise, and sometimes when deeply percolated into our auras, the negativity takes form of disease. To help stay away from these negativities I would definitely recommend what I follow myself..
First and foremost, every day on waking in the morning, sit up in bed and say a prayer of gratitude. This helps open up your heart and soul to receive more blessings from the universe
Don’t seek approval from others for everything. Invariably, most people tend to be judgmental and if you keep seeking approvals and validations you are giving out the message of not trusting your own self. That makes you vulnerable to being judged and put down for your own efforts. Such experiences shall deplete your energies more.
Believe that you are perfect the way you are. There is Perfection in Imperfection. So, whatever your flaws or frailties, live with them. Of course, make the efforts to change that which does not resonate with you, but stop beating yourself for characteristics that otherwise define who you are. Nobody is perfect and no one should be perfect either.
Don’t spend time with people and in places that don’t make you feel comfortable. We as humans are inherently intuitive. When you walk into a place where you feel uneasy, or meet people who make you feel uneasy, take that as a sign to move away. Do not hang out with people (even though they may be close friends) who enjoy indulging in idle gossip, demeaning others, being disrespectful, back biting etc. All these are sure energy downers and being around these negative energy magnets you will surely feel low and create anxiety and negativity for yourself.
Each chapter in the book talks about one aspect of life- for example, Drawing boundaries, emotion of fear, and so on. Which of these topics/aspects personally resonates with you the most?
All chapters have been written through my life experiences. I have shared what’s closest to my heart and my life learning. Many are direct personal experiences as you would have read and some are also via my clients who have sought guidance and help from me.
The chapters of Self-Love and Fear resonate the most with me since these have been my true-life transforming experiences. I did suffer a lot with lack of self-love, inspite of having so many people who loved me. It took a lot of inner work and introspection for years, for me to realize that I did not need approvals and I had to muster up the courage to walk alone on my terms and still know how special I am and need only to love myself.
The fear aspect was deeply ingrained via some childhood misconceptions and I carried the fear within me for years. I realized how much it was harming me by draining me emotionally besides being tiring for the mind and body. I then took the steps forward to deal with it.
In both the situations I realized that I had to do the work of healing, repair and resolving, by myself. Alone. It was my battle and I had to fight it and win it, all by myself.
As we all know, morning routines and how we start the day is crucial as it sets the tone for the day. How do you start your mornings?
I wake up with a smile for sure. And the first things I do are look at the skylight in my room and say a prayer of gratitude. Gratitude for the comfortable and restful sleep and the blessed opportunity for a brand-new day where I look forward to sharing my love and light with many more people.
Only after doing this little ritual do I step out of the bed. I also chant the Gayatri Mantra (the Mantra of Light) facing the east and when I splash water on my face, I chant the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. I ring the gong at my altar every morning to send out good energy vibrations and blessings to the universe and all its beings.
In “Keep Shining” you talk about abundance and how gratitude opens the doors to whatever we seek in life. However, how can one ensure that asking for abundance does not stem from greed?
Gratitude is the essence of the human soul and is embedded in our DNA. We sometimes may forget it but it cannot be wiped out. Hence, when we experience abundance and express gratitude, it is obviously coming from that space within us that feels and knows that we are blessed with something, due to the benevolence of a higher grace.
But greed is what appears when gratitude is forgotten. Some people may “ask” from greed and it will be given as well (remember the universe doesn’t judge or refuse anything to us) but it will be given for a short period of time. When it is asked for, again and again with the hidden motive of greed, one day it will stop coming. The universe is “smart” that way. That’s the way it works. It will wait for us to fall flat on our face and perhaps learn some valuable lessons.
The aspect of greed changes the inner quality of a human being. Many things that otherwise come easily, greed would slowly make them difficult to come by and the abundance shall stop. Human beings may or may not acknowledge this happening but it is the truth.
You also talk about guardian angels in the book. Do you feel that people must do something to ensure that the connection with these angels remains strong?
Guardian angels are around us at all times. They wait for us to ask them to help us in our times of need. They nudge us with a gut feel or intuitions sometimes when something has to happen. They do this to make their presence felt. To keep the connection strong, all you need to do is to keep calling on them and asking for their help and guidance.
So, whether it is a task that seems challenging and you need your wits about or it’s a new creative idea that you are seeking, ask your guardian angels to come around and assist you. The only energy you need to have while seeking guidance from them is faith that they can be trusted and will help. And they do!
After reading your book, I felt that as an adult I need to unlearn and relearn a lot! I think it is important to introduce many of the concepts you have spoken about to children. Are you planning to write about these ideas specifically for children?
Yes, after writing Keep Shining! Find Your Happiness Quotient, I too felt that the young generation also needs answers to so many questions. They are sometimes too skeptical and unsure about whom to ask. It maybe from the fear of being judged or sometimes they feel they shouldn’t ask certain things at all and life will figure itself out.
One day while I was in the swimming pool with my teenage daughter and was sharing thoughts about life, she suggested I write a book for youngsters. Thus, the idea germinated and I started work on it.
It’s a book that is aptly called “Life Lessons on Piggyback”. It will have chapters on different issues that come up as questions in the minds of the young. From a topic such as Who is God, how to handle guilt and anger, Dealing with comparisons, and much more, the book holds the hands of young readers and walks them through the maze called life. I shall be completing it soon and sharing it with the world!
What suggestions would you give potential readers about getting the maximum benefit out of the book, Keep Shining? Any tips from you on how to approach the book?
The whole idea of writing the book was not to preach but rather share my own life stories and experiences. The real concept was to reach out to millions of people in the world, knowing that each one of us faces the same or similar issues. Frankly, when we know that we aren’t alone we can try and not be harsh with ourselves. We would then be able to understand the real truth behind our issues so we can deal with them and resolve them.
The approach to this book is nothing but to just flow and read what you feel you need to read first followed by what you may need to know about next and so on and so forth. I have many people writing to me telling me how much the book has helped them It feels like a friend is sitting across and talking to them. I feel humbled with such feedback. I have others who say they bought the book thinking they want to understand only one aspect of their life but land up reading all 19 chapters because each chapter resonates with them. The book is written the way I speak. Simple and lucid and the concepts are explained in a simple manner.
Indeed, Keep Shining is a book that will touch your life just as a friend would. You know that you will not be judged, because the friend has been through the same challenges. It’s that kind of warm fuzzy feeling of being loved, for who you are.
Title: Keep Shining!
Author: Ashtar Tashi
Publisher: Balboa Press
Genre: Self-help/ Healing
Natasha Mehra Must Die is the first book in the Doomsday Trilogy by Anand Sivakumaran. It is an extremely fast paced thriller based on a mythological legacy spanning two millenniums which culminates in the present.
As the title succinctly suggests, someone is out to obliterate every female named Natasha Mehra regardless of age and nationality. The protagonist, Natasha Mehra (of course!) is a college student who is spunky but a social outcast of sorts due to her past experiences. She catches on to this deadly plan and rounds up all Natasha Mehras. Unanticipated friendships spring up despite the arduous circumstances. The plot gets even more intriguing with a two millennia old secret organisation, an assassin and a Natasha Mehra (obviously!) who has the sight of precognition. At this point in the book, it does not matter that you do not believe in the concept of precognition, how much violence people get away with, without the police anywhere in the picture or the graphic images the gruesome murders evoke. By then, you cease to bother about these trivial matters. The only thing you care about is what happens next!
For a racy thriller, the characters are very well defined. Most of them have shades of grey that make them realistic and easy to visualise. This book defies the notion that the first book of any trilogy sets the ground and eases into the storyline. Anand Sivakumaran thrusts you headlong into the eye of the storm. You continue with bated breath up to the end, until the last few pages calm you down just enough to eagerly wish that you had the second book in the trilogy in your hands. Like many reviews have declared – truly unputdownable!
Title: Natasha Mehra Must Die
Author: Anand Sivakumaran
Publisher: Fingerprint Publishing
Celebrating the spirit of a true poet on his centenary calls for a dip into nostalgia. It calls for looking at the elements in his life and in his work that made his craft transcend time. Kaifiyat honours poet Kaifi Azmi, who was one of those rare public figures who truly walked his talk. His intense verses seen in the context of his life prove the age-old adage right- The pen is mightier than the sword!
Shabana Azmi, Kaifi’s daughter has written a moving forward to the book. It paints a very poignant canvas against the background of which, the reader can appreciate Kaifi’s poetry in the context of his roles as a family man. His daughter’s tribute brings out the man behind the lyrical, strong and timeless poetry. It also shows how the poetic and the political merged in his life, and just grew stronger as years went by. The afterword by his wife seals the book by honouring the man who as a true poet saw himself as a vehicle of social change.
The introduction to his life and works that precedes the translations in the book also give an insight into his childhood and early experiences that moulded his worldview. Kaifi won numerous awards and state honours for his work. His life and his work resonated strongly with each other. He was also a renowned lyricist. While his film lyrics are found in Devanagari in Meri Awaaz Suno, all his non-film poetry is found in his collected works, Kaifiyat. This specific translation however has a selection of his poetry on women and romance.
Contemporary themes and concerns found expression in his work. His poems spoke out strongly against what was wrong in society and politics. His was a voice against oppression. Today, we live in times where it has become norm to create narratives. People have allegiance to whatever narrative works for them without ever bothering to look at something from varied perspectives. Today, the reputation of the fourth estate has been openly destroyed. It is in such times that a society turns to voices that rise above contrived narratives. This collection reminds us of the duty of the poet or artist in society- to speak up against narratives and to speak up against anything wrong.
Can one expect the richness of Kaifi’s poetry in Urdu to be evident in the same manner in English, no matter how much linguistic prowess the translator has? The translations do bring out the beauty of the verses. The original verses in Urdu are also printed alongside.
Reading his words immediately makes the novice understand how language can be powerful. You never know what surprise the poem will throw up- In Sarojini Naidu he calls her ‘both blazing flower and fragrant ember’ thereby playing with the words mischievously. Woman is a fiery feminist piece that tells the woman to walk beside the man,
« Break the idol of custom, step out of restrictions of conservatism
Cast aside the frailties of luxury and the whim of delicacy
Walk out of the circle of honour drawn by the spirit
If love becomes a prison break free of love too ».
Strong imagery and lyrical words thus pervade the entire collection.
Kaifiyat also has a selection of Kaifi’s film lyrics. Most of these songs are well known and popular gems of Hindi Cinema. They are so familiar as they are a part of our collective culture. However, when one reads these words as verses and poetry, one is able to go beyond their soulful music and appreciate the beautiful lyrics as well.
To the Reader: If you enjoy reading poetry, and specifically translations from Urdu, you may also like to read our story on Meena Kumari’s poetry: https://www.bookedforlife.in/books-and-ideas/meena-kumari-the-poet-a-life-beyond-cinema/
Translated by Rakhshanda Jalil
The romance of retired life often comes shattering down when faced with reality. How can one thrive in retirement? Eric Thurman’s book, Thrive in Retirement offers simple secrets to being happy for the rest of your life. Post-retirement years beckon. Life will be, we hope, a constant party….and the joys of doing what we love and always wanted to do will come to us unbounded. Yes, this is the happily ever after that many seniors dream about. But, is it all that enticing as it looks to be? Is it that simple to thrive in retirement? And is it all that rosy?
Enter: a reality check.
There are a few critical factors that will matter most to your life after retirement. Thrive in Retirement by Eric Thurman addresses what those factors are, and also offers practical tips on how to actually make your retirement dreams come true.
The author urges readers not to romanticize retirement. It may sound harsh, but the ground realities are where one starts with. This is not to say that he is negative about retirement. All he purports is to think realistically about it.
The book is filled with several case studies and references from actual people, mostly friends and acquaintances of the author. However, one of the major positives of the book is that the voice and personal opinion of the author looms large. And this, I think, is the strength of the book. This makes the book highly personal. It also makes it more relatable.
This is not to say that the book is just a personal narrative. No, it is much more than that. It is a practical guide. The very first task the reader has to do is be aware of five areas that are vital in old age and then assess himself or herself within those parameters. These areas are Mind, Body, Relationships, Soul and Finances. Then, the author talks about three P’s: Purpose, Pleasure and Peace. You can increase happiness by adding Purpose, Pleasure, and Peace, and the book is full of practical suggestions to accomplish this. While this may echo what one finds in a self-help book, the suggestions here are tweaked for the senior age group. For example, what are the things that would give a senior a sense of purpose in their retired life?
Till death do us apart
The book talks about death- an issue that most people are uncomfortable about. He starts off with talking about his wife’s death and then suggests why it is important to prepare for death in order to live! This is one of the sections of the book that I admire greatly. He talks about how one can be prepared for death- by repairing relationships, getting closure, deciding on factors like painless death and so on, and a host of other practical tips. He also discusses the epidemic of loneliness and offers suggestions on how one can form a compass of relationships. The descriptions of how loneliness can feel are heart wrenching! He outlines the issue of money and financial security. These are hard topics, but what seniors really need to focus on the most.
The appendices have some guided forms that clarify certain issues. The first form contains a list of relevant legal and practical information which would be useful to family and would smoothed stuff out. Another form contains a template for messages that communicate messages to loved ones. Yet another is a list of wishes that you want to convey. These are practical ways of bringing ‘closure’.
These are just some of the ideas. The book is filled with many more suggestions, peppered with many motivational quotes and personal examples from the author’s life.
Thrive in Retirement by Eric Thurman takes a realistic and honest look at retired life. It encompasses the good, the bad and the ugly elements of the same. It is a book that gives hope and happiness and encourages the reader to look forward to retirement. But, at the same time it does not sugar-coat this stage of life.
Title: Thrive in Retirement
Author: Eric Thurman
Celebrities have been documenting their journey to stardom in the form of memoirs and books for a while now. However, only a few have managed to weave fictional stories without letting their own experiences colour the narrative. Vivaan Shah is one such actor turned writer who has channelled his love for crime thrillers into a fictional story. Famous for his role in blockbuster hit Happy New Year, and son of veteran actors NaseeruddinShah and Ratna Pathak Shah, Vivaan Shah has dabbled into the role of author in his latest crime thriller, Living Hell.
As the name suggests, Living Hell explores the dark underbelly of Mumbai’s shiny exterior. This noir mystery murder tells the story of Nadeem Chipkali, a criminal turned police informant who is embroiled in the murder conspiracy of his neighbour Makhija when he accidently stumbles upon the crime scene. What ensues is a chilling tale of accusations, lies and betrayal that keeps you at the edge of your seat.
The character arc of Nadeem Chipkali is well developed and really evokes your emotions. His razor-sharp focus and presence of mind during extreme conditions is what makes him a remarkable character. The story outlines his transformation from a lazy, uninspired bum with mounting worries to a sensible patient man who needles his way out of a heinous conspiracy using his intelligence and an unlikely crew of misfits. Indeed, following this character development also adds the extra element of interest in the book.
All the supporting characters have played their parts well, but it is Shah’s tight writing and gripping plot-line that makes this an unforgettable read. It’s a slim volume that one can finish easily over the weekend or on a flight, without noticing the hours slip by! Aptly named, Living Hell is a great read for those who want to delve into the dark and dangerous depths of the city of dreams.
Title: Living Hell
Author: Vivaan Shah
Publication: Penguin India
The Ramayana Secret by Anurag Chandra (published by Om books International) reimagines the motives and the reasons behind the sequence of events that we have come to associate with the Ramayana. The story starts off with a king narrating the ‘true’ story of the epic, and rejecting the version that had been popular so far.
The book faithfully follows the chronology of events that have been depicted in the Ramayana. However, the interpretation of those events and the reasoning behind what happened has been put under creative interpretation of the writer. He views the same story from a completely different lens and creates a narrative around it.
The sub stories and sub-plots such as Ram’s wedding to Sita, his banishment from Ayodhya, his adventures in the forests, Ravana kidnapping Sita and the ultimate war between good and evil, all are faithful to the original. However, Chandra views these from a completely different and original lens.
An important aspect of the story is the reference to ‘pataal’. The ‘underground ‘world has often been referred to as a living hell in mythology. However, what if that were not true? What if this world held secrets that no one on earth had ever imagined? What if the inhabitants of this world were in fact a more advanced species? This theme also runs throughout the book.
Ram’s portrayal as the complete man, an icon of all that is good, just and fair continues in this reimagined story. What struck a chord with me was that I found Ram’s leadership prowess easy to place in a contemporary context.
There is a philosophical tinge that runs through the story, especially towards the end- the concept of futility of war, and yet, the necessity for it! The nature of ‘dharma’ and the dilemmas it throws up have been chronicled in the book.
In a sense The Ramayana Secret by Anurag Chandra seeks to reiterate the age-old concept of Ram Rajya in a contemporary context. And, if this means viewing the order of events in the epic with different eyes, so be it!
Title: The Ramayana Secret
Author: Anurag Chandra
Publisher: Om Books International
Netflix wisely presented an apt New Year’s gift for its viewers- A brand new series called Tidying up With Marie Kondo. Well, that’s not surprising since a majority of people all over the world today grapple with the burden of having too many things. Our consumerist culture threatens to swallow not only our money but all peace of mind and tidiness of our homes!
Marie Kondo, for the uninitiated, is a name almost synonymous with a decluttered, minimalist and Zen-like lifestyle. She is the author of the best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Her book, Spark Joy has lead millions of readers to hone their sensitivity to joy.
Recently, I saw a graphic version of the book, which will definitely appeal to those who enjoy the genre! I realized that The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo presents the fictional story of Chiaki, a young woman based in Tokyo who has cluttered apartment, messy love life, and a general lack of direction. Not surprisingly, there enters Kondo and works some life-changing magic! The philosophy is the same, but for readers who connect more with fiction, this book is a great way to get initiated into the Marie Kondo magic!
The premise is simple- decluttering, as per Marie involves keeping only those things that spark joy and as for the others, thanking them and letting them go. While she has specific guidelines for different categories of things such as clothes, books and so on, the processes are all geared towards honing your sensitivity to joy.
While reading Kondo’s books will give you a very comprehensive idea of her philosophy of tidying up, there is nothing quite like seeing her in action. The Netflix series shows Marie Kondo helping out one family at a time. She has a very warm and peaceful aura to her. The families in question are diverse- young couples with kids; those living in together; empty nesters; singles and so on.
On the practical side it’s good to see how she stores and folds specific objects such as bags, shoes, undergarments, keepsakes and a variety of other things. She does not recommend fancy storage items. Simple boxes seem to be her favourite tools!
Marie takes out every single book and collects them all at one place. Then she asks individuals to hold each book snd question themselves if the book sparks joy. If the books have been stored in boxes she wakes them up! However, she also says that with books one needs to ask the question- by having these books, will it be beneficial to your life going forward? Books represent thoughts and values.
I have written about her approach to book decluttering specifically in this post-https://www.bookedforlife.in/books-and-ideas/tidying-books-life-changing-magic-mundane-activity/
It helps to see people address issues within themselves and their lives through the process of clearing up. Whether it is letting go of possessions of a deceased, or asking how some object will remain relevant in one’s life forward there is a decluttering of the mind as well.
When you see participants cry or feel relieved, question themselves and change their views, or proclaim how the experience has changed their relationship, you realise that Marie Kondo has got her finger on the pulse if what ails modern society- the problem of too much.
Marie Kondo has struck a chord and her popularity is unquestionable. However, she has a fair share of critics as well. Some people feel that the concept of sparking joy is not always relevant. Some things may not spark joy but you may still have to jeep them for practical reasons. Some find her actions of thanking inanimate objects including the home itself a bit farfetched.
I personally like the philosophy of gratitude she propagates! You may be interested in her gratitude journal, Life-Changing Magic: A Journal: Spark Joy Every Day, which is peppered with inspirational quotes from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It is basically a 3-year record to spark joy. You can see what exactly sparked joy on the same day for three years. More than decluttering, this journal is for gratitude.
Having read her books and watched the series on Netflix as well, I think that the combination of her books and the series will definitely lead to meaningful change in your physical and mental space! It is up to you to finally decide what you want to apply to your life. For me, the philosophy of sparking joy promoted by Marie Kondo has definitely found resonance!
BOOKS BY MARIE KONDO: