What makes up a good life? A great job, good home, loving family…and a healthy body and mind. Very often we tend to ignore the ‘health’ aspect, until we face a problem. This is when someone needs to step in. Someone, who can guide us in a holistic manner. Through the story of Amit Malhotra, a 35-year-old investment banker, life coach Jasmin Waldmann talks about this journey towards fitness, which we all mean to undertake, but very often don’t.
When fiction meets non-fiction
This is a self-help book that tells a story. This format makes it appealing to readers. Remember the age-old “Show…Don’t Tell” rule for writing? Well, through Amit’s story, the book shows how a healthy fulfilling future is indeed in our reach, without appearing to be preachy.
Amit Malhotra lives the proverbial good life. He has a great job and is doing financially well. He owns a house in one of the most envious neighbourhoods. He has a loving family comprising of his wife and two children. It is all perfect is it not? Not really. The young successful man loses a close friend and colleague to a fatal heart attack- right in the middle of a conference. This shocking incident forces him to look into his own life- and the drastic changes he needs to make in his diet, lifestyle and attitude if he does not want to meet the same fate.
A holistic look
Amit gets in touch with a life coach named Natalie Kofman. Then begins a journey that sets him on a path of holistic development that involves fitness training, life coaching, mindful eating and meditation.
One of the important concepts that this book brings out is the fact that good health is not just about reducing weight. Weight-loss is just one aspect of the entire package. It needs to be combined with a healthy illness-free body, good attitude, peaceful mind, nutritious food and attention to happiness in life and relationships.
The gradual change in Amit’s mind-set as he interacts with his life coach, mirrors the changes that one expects to see in oneself. At the end of each chapter, one gets a glimpse into Amit’s diary, where he notes down the key things he has learnt and his thoughts on the process of change. This mindfulness on Amit’s path, also expresses and shows the gradual change that he experiences on the path to personal transformation- not only in his weight and fitness, but also in his relationships with his family, team at work and above all, himself!
What’s in it for the reader?
As a reader of a self-help book, it is nice not being told what to do, but instead, through an example, being shown what to do. This is exactly what Jasmin Waldmann does. By following the path and journey of Amit, who in a sense reflects most of us today, readers can pick up cues as to the life changes that they can implement in their own lives.
The book also outlines the role of a life coach who has emerged in recent times as a professional who can help in holistic development of the individual. It glides through information about the Pilardio concept (a workout that combines Pilates and Cardio) and the JaWa Diet. Jasmin Waldmann is the inventor of Pilardio and the developer of the JaWa Diet.
Change Me by Jasmin Waldmann is a book that could be a good starting point for a series of small but effective changes in order to transform your mind and body.
Title: Change Me
Author: Jasmin Waldmann
Publisher: Jaico Books
Genre: Health, Self-Help
Bibek Debroy provides a very intellectual morning fix for many readers. His famed limericks (a humorous five-line poem with a rhyme scheme aabba) encapsulate current events in a short poetic burst. It leaves the readers with a smile and a different insight into what is happening in the world around us.
Penguin has compiled some of these limericks in book form. Bibek Debroy’s The Book of Limericks is a commentary on 2017. While the book is filled with brilliant limericks, the illustrations accompanying each limerick do complete justice to the experience of reading the book.
These witty verses are based on current events. In a few rhyming lines the limericks reflect social, political and economic themes and events.
For instance, we can all recollect an incident from last year, involving a politician getting abusive with airline crew. He puts it thus:
This MP is a crassy chopper,
Deft in wielding a dusty slipper,
He gave the crew several whacks.
Downgraded now to railway tracks,
How will he next flap his flipper?
Of the infamous board battles that marked last year, he says….
Why is an internal board battle
Grist for media prattle and tattle?
Is it because a backseat mentor
Remains a perpetual tormentor,
Treating a company like personal chattel?
Or the issue with China
The dragon breathes more fire
Threatening consequences dire,
With Bhutan in sight
It displays its might,
But there is nothing to make India perspire.
There are few limericks that transcend specific time bound current events. These are a general comment on societal trends, and not related to a specific political event.
After International Yoga Day
Don’t stow that may away.
A fetish once a year
Will make it appear
As no more than a symbolic sobriquet.
One which particularly moved me is:
At least once a year
Gandhiji is held dear.
Motions having been made
And due respect paid,
Life moves back to the usual gear.
Some of the limericks can be read with a new perspective, now that the year has gone by and situations have changed.
Is the rampaging bull
Covering our eyes with wool?
Does the tango with growth
Not do justice to both?
Does capital market lug more than real can pull?
In short, a great book for a different kind of reflection on the year gone past!
Though I’m no Bibek Debroy, here’s a little ode to the book, in limerick-style of course!
Digest the year past in poetic form
Minus sensationalism and storm
A souvenir of the year gone by…
Read and devour news differently…at least try!
Who knows what insights can be drawn?
While all his fans continue to relish his limericks that appear in the Mint newspaper, I’m sure the of 2018 will call for a new compilation for the year gone by in true Bibek Debroy style!
Title: The Book of Limericks
Author: Bibek Debroy
Illustrator: Sayan Mukherjee
Genre: Non-Fiction, Current Affairs
The ‘hOle books’ by Duckbill experiment slightly with the book form. As the name suggests, these books with a ‘hOle’, add a fun element to the book. There is a hole at the top right end of each book, which somehow younger children find very fascinating! As is typical of hOle books, the very construction of the book with a hole, is an added attraction!
The protagonist, a young boy named Sandy, notices that his mother is becoming very fat. She explains to him that his little baby brother or sister is growing inside her tummy. But, Sandy has some really urgent problem to attend to. Aftab, a little boy is “trapped “in Mrs. Gupta’s crèche. Sandy is duty bound to rescue him. After all, Sandy is 7 and Aftab is 6. Sandy is older and wiser!
Rescuing Aftab turns out to be a fun adventure, not without its share of challenges and confusions! How does Sandy sail through the entire event? The book follows this adventure in a way that is very appealing to young children.
Humour is something that immediately entices children. Right from the very first chapter, titled ‘Mummy is an elephant’, the book establishes the thread of humour that runs through it. Laced with really witty words and simple language, the book is sure to appeal to young children who love to see themselves steering adventures!
This is a great way to introduce chapters to beginning readers. The lovely illustrations by Chetan Sharma also add to the experience of reading the book.
It’s a funny story about an eventful day long adventure.
A good introduction to chapter books for young readers.
The hOle books for younger readers are a fun lot!
Title: Sandy to the Rescue
Author: Rupa Gulab
Illustrator: Chetan Sharma
Publisher: Duckbill Books and Publications Private Limited, 2018
Genre: Children (Fiction)
Age group: 5-8 years
Spunky. Sassy. Straight from the heart. That’s exactly what one can expect from Shobhaa De’s writing. Seventy and to Hell with it, her latest book marks seven decades of De’s life. As she turns seventy her sharp analytical gaze turns inwards. She dissects, analyses, opines…starting off from the fact that she is now seventy, and what it means to her. De runs us through a gamut of topics and issues that have been an integral part of her life.
One of the basic and most honest premises in the book is that seventy is seventy. Unapologetically seventy. Shobhaa De makes no qualms about that. She does not try to sugar coat it by saying that seventy is the new fifty! Yes, we may have a romanticised view of age, but the body does not really respond that way. So, seventy it is. But, whoever said that seventy is not fun?
While the book is indeed all about Shobhaa De, nowhere does one feel that it is narcissistic. In fact, it is more of a conversation with readers. A friendly conversation where De sometimes evaluates her ‘take’ on life.
When De started writing she was known as a society writer. While her columns were always a tongue-in cheek look at the current socio-political scenario, her novels were a witty portrayal of the elite. However, her later works have been very personal. For instance, Speedpost was a collection of letters to her children. Shobhaa at Sixty, was also about age, but a little more external if one could say that! With her latest, she is at her reflective best.
A gamut of ideas
The book starts off with the idea of “space” and what it means to different people at different times. She takes on many different subjects including the social media jungle we find ourselves in, ageism, sexism, parenthood, relationships, politics and much more.
She shares her exasperation about social media when she says:
FB does not encourage the use of mirrors. It prefers filters. We all strive to present versions of our true selves, hoping to fool the rest. Since the pantomime is effortless and in most cases harmless, we carry on and on, our free hours consumed by an activity that is essentially hollow and futile.
Her opinions on parenthood have always been evidently strong and clear. For instance, she says:
I don’t understand the word ‘interfere’ when it comes to children. There is no such thing as ‘interference’. Either you are intimately involved in the minutiae of their lives or your children could be dead.
Amongst the different ideas that emerge from the book, what comes across most passionately is De’s love for the youth of today- her immense respect for the generation of today, and also a deep strong concern for rights of women. She has always been known to voice what she believed in and the book is no different. She is privy to, and empathizes with what she calls ‘the secret lives of women’ who constantly have to walk the tightrope. In fact she dedicates the book to “all female gladiators”.
What a waste that gigantic heap of ‘cant’s’ becomes over time. A futile and expensive waste of a woman’s best years- her best energies, talents, her most passionate feelings of love. If only women could discard all the ‘cant’s’ and embrace the ‘cans’.
In my opinion, Seventy and To Hell with it seems to be De’s most confessional work yet! De weaves in her unique perspective on life, with her witty and irreverent observations of the world around us. She uses interesting examples from our social and political scenario as well as anecdotes and instances from her vast circle of family and friends to illustrate many of her points. But perhaps at the end of it all, the underlying message that really hits the reader is that without the solid foundation of love, life does not have meaning!
Penguin Random House, 2017
We often associate the word etiquette with a certain kind of elitism. Many people think that etiquette rules apply to high-fliers of society and to certain exclusive formal situations. This could not be farther from the truth. Image consultant and grooming expert Rukshana Eisa redefines etiquette rules and applies them to our day to day lives in her new book, The Golden Code: Mastering the art of social success.
She establishes a case for following etiquette rules in regular life situations and not view good etiquette as something that is only restricted to certain business and social situations for a certain group of people. Having convinced us that etiquette rules and their application must just be second nature to us, Eisa moves on to identify these rules through three different areas- communication, personal grooming and entertaining.
Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,”. Eisa speaks about importance of body language. She talks about crucial aspects of business and social communication such as handshakes, exchanging business cards, respecting space, communicating in a job interview, writing a resume, conversation in a social set up- what and what not to say, telephone etiquette and so on. She also devotes an entire chapter to tricky social situations, including ones involving children with bad manners!
We live in a time where the Internet and social media are an integral part of our social lives. Quite aptly, Eisa incorporates topics such as email etiquette. Again, in keeping with the times she has tackled issues like gym and supermarket etiquette rules as well!
Beauty maybe skin deep, but no harm really enhancing it from outside as well as within right? This section covers the basics of skin care, makeup, eating well, dressing and accessorizing to bring out the best in you. I found this section to be quite useful and brimming with handy tips and tricks! Diet, skin care and fashion- this section breezes through what’s to know in these areas. Appearance is after all the basis of first impressions, more often than not. Hence, there is no running away from that!
How can you be a great host? And, how can you be the best guest? What are the etiquette rules you need to follow in social situations involving entertaining, be it at a home or in a restaurant or party hall? What are the specific rules to remember when it comes to fine dining? And, what do you do if you commit a faux-pax?
This section handles these questions and more with ease. A very useful part is the topic of tipping, which is indeed something that could get confusing. Eisa covers this area really well, outlining the tipping conventions not only in India but also in different countries of the world. For instance, it was interesting to see that not tipping in a restaurant in the US may be taken quite offensively, and tipping a waiter in Japan may be looked at with offense as well!
Eisa not only outlines the good etiquette rules, but also covers in detail what one could do in case one makes an etiquette blunder or in case someone else does. For example, in the section on handshakes she not only covers what a good handshake is but also talks about what you can do if someone makes a social blunder like holding your hand too long, giving you a bone crushing handshake and so on!
Easy and breezy
The book is a light and informative read. The language is very simple and direct. Apt illustrations and captions intersperse the text. Important points are highlighted not only though images by also through side boxes and captions.
Eisa has extensive experience in training a wide range of people in etiquette rules. What also makes the book interesting is that she weaves in many personal experiences from her interactions with people, in order to illustrate her point.
Eisa is clearly writing for an Indian audience and hence she incorporates many elements unique to Indian culture (example, namaste as a replacement for a handshake in some situations).
“Think about any question you’ve had regarding the how’s of human interaction and the answer is always the same. Etiquette. It is the bedrock of basic human behaviour and the key to a kinder, nicer world,” says Eisa. This is exactly what the book sets out to accomplish, in a simple easy-to-follow format. Read through it once and then use it as a go-to manual from time to time.
Well, the book clearly also establishes that etiquette rules! Why is it important to read this one? To put it in the words of Shweta Bachchan Nanda, who quotes in the preface, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression “.
Author: Rukshana Eisa
Publisher: Jaico books
Can motherhood be a milestone that marks the beginning of a new career? For Ambika Tiku Hathiari, the experience of searching for a book for her daughter, led to the creation of a novel concept. Not only that, but it sparked off the idea of a dedicated self-publishing platform for writers of children’s books. Anyone who has looked for a self-publishing platform in India, knows that finding one tailor-made to cater to the unique genre of children’s books, would have earlier proved difficult. Not anymore!
MomSays is an online platform committed to help create beautiful and content rich books for children.
BookedForLife chats with Ambika Tiku Hathiari, Founder and CEO of MomSays to know more about the journey of the platform and how it is geared to help those who want to write for children.
And yes, we also take a glimpse into some of the books published by MomSays.
MomSays was born out of your personal experience of looking for a book for your daughter. What exactly sparked off the idea?
That’s true. My own personal desire to put something down for my daughter led to this. But, that was just one trigger. Today if I have to reflect back on that personal journey that culminated into what MomSays is today, it is not just about a book. It was about encapsulating and putting together your values and your time spent with your child. The experience was more to do with the fact that I was creating something that my child would look back at and cherish…something that I would cherish. It is more than a book. It is a passage of values, of great times, of recording a memory in a sense. Lot of parents want to tell stories- their own stories to their children. This is a physical way of expressing it.
Why the name MomSays?
I’ve discovered on the way that fathers are equally involved in writing…in fact, are probably more involved in writing! I’ve actually got a trademark for DadSays as well! MomSays is actually not so much of a “mother says” kind of platform. When I was thinking about the venture, I realized it was more about my ideas that I wanted to communicate to my daughter through the book. I realized that I often say, “my mother said this”. It is something we carry with us. It is not just about a book. When I got down to thinking, the name MomSays was a representation of that feeling of carrying forward something, remembering what was told to you. The name also has a play in terms of being a little authoritative. But if you look at the brand and the logo, we have tried to keep the colours a little more fun and very reflective of what a parent is.
How do you ensure that the quality of the books you publish is at par with set standards?
It begins with the fact that I am a consumer. I am one of the many mothers who would buy books. I hold my brand to the same standards. Quality means a lot to us. It means the simple things like the paper quality, the binding, the printing and so on. But it also means that we give a lot of emphasis to the creative design of a book. That is where it begins for the child. We have engaged with artists who especially work with children and they are the best in the field. Whenever we engage with a designer and illustrator we share our guidelines with them. We ensure that the quality is good. How we put the whole book together also illustrates our quality. We have retailed at popular stores like Kitaab Khana, Granth, Kahani Tree and so on, and the bookstores have always told us that our books have really good quality. I think it is all about holding yourself to the same standards and not accepting anything that you would not buy.
MomSays is essentially a self-publishing platform in India. What kinds of services do you offer?
Besides writers of children’s books, our audience is parents and teachers who wish to write for children. The services we offer begin from design, illustrating, printing, editing and so on. We give feedback to the writer. There is an option to apply for an ISBN. We offer everything that needs to be done to get a book that can be at par with other books in the market. We also do many interactive sessions in schools with particular books. This is quite author driven. For example, we had a book on the theme of yoga, and we had the author actually do a yoga session with children…with all the animal poses! They loved being exposed to yoga through storytelling. Once we had a book on caterpillars and the author actually got a caterpillar for the session.
What platforms do you retail on?
The most important platform is our website, http://www.momsays.co.in. We also have some books on www.amazon.in. We retail through some independent book stores. We participate in varied book fairs as well.
Does a parent-writer have any specific advantage over any other writer?
It begins with a good thought and a good thought can come to anybody. An established author has a bit of an advantage over somebody who is exploring writing for the first time. But, if you have it in you it is just a matter of taking that first step. But it is the love for children is the common factor. If that is amiss, you can’t write a good book for children!
What kind of books do children today like to read?
We work up to the 9-10 age group. Each child is different. Children like fun. The minute there is something that is fun, or something funny, they are hooked! They are also very interested in characters. It means a lot to them, to see a character do something. That’s why they get attracted to series! They associate a lot as well. A child takes in things visually. Their world is very simple. They also like new facts and they are intrigued by it. If they hear something new they get awed by it. They like to know more. Either they like a book or they don’t. If they don’t, well, they don’t! No matter how much fun you try and make it, they will not like it.
With the plethora of book options available in the market, and with increasing number of wirters wanting to publish their stories, it often becomes a challenge to identify books that will really appeal to children. But, this self-publishing platform in India has gladly taken up the task by giving a platform to those closely connected with children, to express stories that have a deeper meaning and personal connect.
Mathematics can be very cool. But, if you’re got a set of math techniques up your sleeve, that can be supercool and impressive. Yes, even in this day of calculators and computers, math prowess does score points! Maths Sutras from around the World: Speed Calculations on your fingertips by Gaurav Tekriwal takes a shot at bringing some marvellous math techniques from around the world.
A mathematical world
Have you ever spared a thought as to how exactly math is taught in different countries? Tekriwal has explored and studied math systems world over. He picks out the best amongst the lot and presents a fairly diverse range of math techniques drawn from different cultures.
The concepts of Indian Vedic Mathematics have been given key importance. The bar modelling technique from Singapore is another system that the author talks about. Then, there is the famous Japanese grid puzzle culture (think Sudoku!) that finds expression in the book through the description of Kakuro and KenKen puzzles.
The book has ten chapters covering different math concepts through specific and well-researched math techniques.
Turning conventional math over
I always thought that addition and subtraction are only done right to left. However, the chapter on Addition highlights a left-right method of mentally adding large numbers! The Super subtraction method described in the book also does likewise. He describes the Base Method of Multiplication derived from teachings of the Indian saint Tirthaji in the early twentieth century. Besides the four basic computational skills the book also tackles word problems, fractions, squares, percentages, square roots and times tables.
This adage is probably most true for mathematics! The book has numerous activities and worksheets for all the concepts and techniques described.
Yes, this is a book about math, but do look out for some interesting stories inside as well! Wherever relevant, Tekriwal has included some interesting stories and facts related to the mathematical concept. For instance, I found the story of Jakow Tractenberg who built a new system of mental arithmetic whilst at Hitler’s concentration camp quite inspiring!
Age no bar
While this book is primarily addressed to school going math learners, it would be of interest to anyone interested in mental arithmetic.
With gadgets at our finger tips, many people actually wonder at the relevance of mental calculations. As the author describe in the book, the brain behaves exactly like a muscle. It needs regular exercise. Besides impressing people with your skills, metal math prowess lead to a sharper mind and better logical reasoning skills! So, it’s time to sit back and let these Math techniques work up some mathe-magic!
There are many books on good leadership skills, each with its own merit. Become: The 5 Critical Conversational Practices that Shift ‘Who You Be’ as a Leader by Sameer Dua seeks to invoke and evoke ‘missing conversations’ that often block the way for good leaders.
The book is filled with many practical examples that define what these ‘missing’ conversations are and how leaders must have them. It takes a very empowering approach to leadership, where good leadership skills encompass much more than textbook principles.
The book uses the COACH approach (Care, Observe, Actions, Commitment, Holding Space of Conversation) to illustrate this unique model of good leadership skills. All these five elements are the conversational domains that leaders need to work on.
‘BECOME’ is an interesting name for a book that talks about good leadership skills. What made you choose this title?
As I have stated in this book, “Leadership” is not a job category; it is a set of conversational practices. Every conversation is a new opportunity to practice and apply the critical leadership conversational skills elaborated in the book. In my assessment, as a leader you never fully arrive. You are always in the making. As a leader, you may be a beginner, minimally competent, competent, expert or even a master – at each stage, you are in the process of ‘becoming’ the next stage.
In the book “Mastery”, George Leonard states, “Mastery is not really a goal or destination but rather a process, a journey”. Masters are always in this ongoing process of ‘becoming’, by going deeper in their subject.
If you are not in the process of ‘becoming’, then you reach a dead end. And that is the beginning of your decline.
What is critical for leaders to recognize is that you don’t ‘become’ by knowing more, you ‘become’ by shifting your practices, and in case of leadership, by shifting and creating new conversational practices.
You mention at the onset of the book that “if people around us are not delivering results, we are not having the required conversations with them”. It is refreshing to see this shift toward a more internal locus of control. Yet, why do so many people in leadership positions miss this point?
It’s easy to take a posture that “I have done what I could do. Now, if the results have not happened, it is because of something or someone external to me”. This is ‘comfortable’ posture, even if this posture does not deliver results!
The posture I am inviting the readers to take in this book, that is, “we are responsible for generating any result we want that matters to us” is confronting. It challenges you. It makes you think. It makes you start to question yourself. Look around the world we live in – everyone is blaming external circumstances. Very few choose this posture.
And those who do, generate results – for themselves, their teams and their organisations.
“Become” invites people to a new practice –of taking responsibility rather than that of blame; of looking for what may be missing in their actions, rather than look for what may be missing in someone else’s actions.
This book is all about ‘missing conversations’. How would you define a missing conversation?
My claim is that the path from where you are to where you want to be is that of ‘Conversations’. You will notice every result – big or small – the genesis of that result is in conversations. So, if the genesis of every result is in a conversation, and if your results are not being generated; then there is a missing conversation.
A missing conversation can be a conversation one has with oneself, or with another. This is tied in with my response to your earlier question – as a leader we need to take a posture to look for these missing conversations. If your conversation does not give you the desired result, then ‘that’ was not ‘the’ missing conversation. Start looking again. Till your conversations give you the desired result.
We either look for the missing conversations and have them, or we face the consequences of not having these conversations.
You speak about generative practices, that are conscious practices that shape a new habit or behaviour. You also mention journaling as one of the generative practices you use. Could you elaborate a bit on this?
Let me borrow from Stephen Cope’s work in his book, “The Great Work of Your Life” where he interprets the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagwad Gita. He states, “Mastery is almost never a result of mere talent” He goes on to add that “a certain quality of sustained and intensive effort is required – a quality of effort that has come to be called ‘deliberate practice’” When you engage in these ‘deliberate’ practices, you shift your automatic behaviours and habits.
And journaling, I assess, to be once such practice. When you journal, you engage in a conversation with yourself. And like most conversations, you never know what new possibilities can emerge through that conversation. Begin the conversation with yourself. And when you get stopped – ask yourself a new question. My claim is that when you sit to journal, the ‘conversation’ starts to flow. Often, you will be surprised with what you come up with. This is not just my experience, but that of many of my program participants who actively engage in this practice.
‘Become’ is a book filled with many questions. There are reflective questions at the end of each chapter. But, even during the course of a chapter you have put in varied questions. Do you feel this style of writing somehow leads the reader to assume a more active stance?
For me reading a book is engaging in a conversation with the author. When you are in a conversation, you do take an active stance. I’d like my readers to connect what is in the book with their life. And hence, the reflective pauses, the powerful questions, and the practices in each chapter. I believe it is in moments when your experience is stretched beyond your comfort zone is when you have greatest potential for real learning.
What is the next book you are working on?
I am currently working on two projects simultaneously. I am consulting a global organisation and supporting their leaders in generating a result that they have historically never delivered before. I believe the fundamentals are the same. I want to make this work a case study and come out with a book on this work. I believe it will be of value to many leaders and organisations. The second book is on certain irrefutable laws of leadership. These laws are blind to leaders within organisations. And because they are blind to these laws doesn’t mean that they are not paying a price – the price of this blindness is that they are not delivering desired results.
Well, this is not a book to simply read and put away. It is a book you need to work on if you want to get the full advantage of imbibing the good leadership skills described here. It is replete with questions for reflection and points to consider. There are several case studies as well to illustrate the points mentioned. To aid understanding, there are many diagrams, tables and relevant infographics that make the reading easier. Here’s a toast then, to good leadership skills!
Good financial habits, like most good habits are rooted in childhood. Unfortunately, teaching children about money is not something that all of us do consciously in an organized manner. We may take financial literacy for granted, but we live in a consumerist and unsure world where it is important to be equipped with sound financial skills.
How much does your child know about money? My first book of money by Ravi Subramanian and Shoma Narayanan talks about money specifically in the Indian context. In short, look at it like a sort of guide to financial literacy for children.
The money story
The authors approach the task of dispelling financial knowledge in a manner that children connect to the most – a story. So here’s the way the narrative progresses- twins Aman and Anya are visiting their grandparents. A small incident related to paying the milkman sparks off a discussion on money.
From barter to digitalization
The book starts with explaining the concept of barter system and the evolution of money. It ends with the idea of digitalization. Well, the rest of the book contains everything in between!
Values and practicality
As the story progresses one can see that the information about money is either linked to ‘values’ or ‘facts’. This balance is really important. After all, what’s the sense in having knowledge if one can’t use it in the right way?
Some of the value based concepts the book purports include judging how much money one really needs, the difference between needs and wants, the importance of planning expenditures, not spending more than you have and setting money aside for charity.
Of course, the practical knowledge expressed in the book is vast and some of the key points include knowing about the concepts of banking, ATM, banking transactions, currency exchanges, loans and savings, deposits, credit cards, investments, interest and so on. There is an entire chapter devoted to demonetization and mobile wallets. The chapter on inflation and investment simplifies these concepts for children and teenagers.
Ready for some Financial exercises?
Teaching children about money must entail practical experience. At the end of each chapter there is a well thought-out exercise which reinforces the concept illuminated in the chapter. This exercise is best carried out with an adult in tow!
When it comes to the story of money and its evolution there are some pretty interesting facts to share. The book has these facts neatly boxed and these make for some interesting side reading as well.
There are some vivid illustrations by Bombay Design House that add to the element of interest.
The book is aimed at the 9 – 14 age group. However, in order to make it an interactive experience, we feel it’s best read with an adult. If you’re looking at teaching children about money, this book is an apt start.
Title: My first book of money
Authors: Ravi Subramanian and Shoma Narayanan
Reading level: 9 – 14 years
Publisher: Penguin Random House India, 2017
In 1984, Paro, a powerful society novel by Namita Gokhale made its debut on the Indian literary scene. Paro was first published by Chatto & Windus in London. Paro, Dreams of Passion told the tale of the beautiful seductress Paro. But, there is another character in this book, Priya, whose life could not more different than Paro’s. She belongs to the middle class, struggles to earn little luxuries of life, belongs to a very traditional family where rules of good and bad and the boundaries of men and women are very clearly defined.
Namita Gokhale recreates the Indian society of the eighties. Paro and Priya are two extremes in terms of their position and social status. Yet, as women, they are at par. Both have a fierce sense of independence, and irreverence. In a twist of fate, their lives are intertwined. Satire and wicked humour are very much a part of narrative. This is in fact one of the best pleasures of reading a book that is full of social satire.
What I found striking as well were the powerful protagonists. Both women chose not to be a victim of the patriarchal society. Both, albeit in their own ways, cautiously negotiated their way through a society where women are still expected to adhere to norms and parameters that are not necessarily fair. But, these women were risk-takers who balanced their own desires and simultaneously carved a niche for themselves.
Ordinary lives? Well, Paro was certainly not meant for that! As Priya comments “I stared at her for some time and wondered whether she would have been able to survive a nice ordinary life,”
In the first book, it is Priya who ‘learns’ from Paro.
“One day I asked her outright how it was that she managed to manipulate people the way she did. I mean, I always did my duty and worried about other people’s feelings, and never even got a ‘thank-you’ in return; everybody just took me even more for granted than ever before. And here she was, twisting everybody around her little finger,”
The second book, Priya: Take Two, which was published in 2011, has Priya as the narrator. Twenty-five years into the future, Priya takes on the narrative. India is changing. Societal norms are different. Priya is older…and wiser. Life does throw some unpleasant surprises, but her resilient self makes peace with life- on her own terms. Still enshrined in the image of a traditional “bhartiya nari”, Priya takes a wicked shot at society, living life the way she wants to, and refusing to bow down to the traditional expectations of the role of a woman in society.
The ‘lessons’ she has learnt from Paro unconsciously creep into her very being.
“She taught me that life’s rules can be bent by those who dare”.
It is interesting to see how characters grow and mature. How the same characters live in a changed world…? What’s better in fact is that the two books are now in a single flip edition. Paro: Dreams of Passion (1984) and Priya: Take Two (2011) merge together. Double Bill: Paro-Priya by Namita Gokhale puts one more feather in the cap of the illustrious author.
DOUBLE BILL: PARO-PRIYA, Namita Gokhale, January 2018