Book Review: Shashi Tharoor’s Inglorious Empire

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 “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressedby Martin Luther King, Jr.,

Dr. Shashi Tharoor is an Indian politician, a former United Nation diplomat who is currently a member of Indian parliament (Lok Sabha). He is also an acclaimed and an amazing writer who has authored over 16 bestsellers, all of them centered on India’s history, culture and politics.The Inglorious Empire is a manifestation of the British legacy of imperialism and oppression which gives a bitter account of India’s devastation by its Colonial masters.

Shashi Tharoor, the author is known for his fiction and non-fiction works. He is also a globally recognized speaker on India’s economics and politics. He is the author of hundreds of articles and columns published in The Indian Express, The Hindu, The Times Of India and many other global publications.The book reiterates and reincarnates the planned exploitation done by the Britishers in India in a very factual and self-explanatory way. Some of the major themes and ways in which the Britishers oppressed the Indians are mentioned by the author in the book which includes:

Book Review – Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta

Elixir

Book Details:

Author: Sinjini Sengupta

Publisher: Readomania

Available for purchase at the below link:

https://www.amazon.in/Elixir-Sinjini-Sengupta/dp/9385854542

Review:

I was aware about the success of “Elixir” as a short film and the rave reviews it had been garnering at various International Film Festivals. So, when I read that the story has taken the shape of a novel, I was eagerly looking forward to get my hands on it. However, I wasn’t aware of the plot of “Elixir” till the time the book arrived at my abode. The moment I read the fascinating blurb, my curiosity was piqued and I was intrigued to know more about Manisha and her parallel world.

Plot Summary

He is an affluent entrepreneur and she is a successful professional. They have a perfect life or so it seems. It is their 10th anniversary – the big one, the special one! But why isn’t Manisha happy? Why is she feeling a void? On a perfectly normal day, while on her way home from work, Manisha enters a coffee shop and then her life starts changing. She meets a man there and he comes to her in her dreams that night, and every night thereafter.  She starts a new journey with him in parallel to her existing life. But what happens when the lines between her reality and dreams get blurred? Will Manisha be able to find her answers through her parallel existence?

What Works

  • The vivid and poetic prose – With Elixir, the author takes the reader on a journey which is heart-breaking yet fulfilling, melancholic yet uplifting. What I loved the most about the novel is its sublime poetic prose and vivid imagery which hooked me right from the beginning. As the story progressed, I was gradually immersed into Manisha’s world and was a part of her reality as well as her dreams. When you get to read lines like the ones I am quoting here just a few pages into a novel, you know you are in for a literary treat.

“When rain hits the earth, it brings a few pieces of the sky down with itself…have you ever seen it? The pictures shift as you do…the tall towers, the TV antennae, the row of pigeons on electric wires…and far beyond, if you look, the endless blue of the horizon. These solitary reflections, they last throughout the dark nights…And then? Then, on the morrow when the sun comes calling, they go back. To make the sky one whole again. But wait. Can the sky ever be whole, with such void all over itself?”

Nothing will change if we believe nothing will change

// This article has been published on Women’s Web and is also available on the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/12/article-on-feminism-surprising-response/

Something incredible happened today! A man chanced upon my article on the Myths of Feminism and after reading it, he dropped a message in my inbox. He mentioned that he was someone who used to quite often mock the concept of feminism and though he did not intend malice, he enjoyed flouting at his feminist friends.

However, he admitted that he felt guilty after reading my article and realized the damage he was causing by countervailing the efforts of those contributing towards the movement. He also confessed that his own understanding of feminism was flawed and now he has resolved to actively advocate for this cause. After having come across derisive comments about feminists splashed all over social media every other day, I had to read this reader’s message several times to ensure I was not hallucinating. No prizes for guessing that I am absolutely ecstatic after reading his note to me. Through the power of my pen, I had set out to do my bit to bring about a change, albeit a small one at my level and this incident reaffirms my belief that I am on the right track. For someone who has been told innumerable times by many that “Nothing will change” as an outcome of my endeavour, this feels like a vindication of sorts.

This incident actually made me traverse back in time. It has been more than 4 years since I actively began to get involved in volunteering with NGOs. I can vividly recollect some of the things I have been hearing ever since.

“Anu, I am proud of you. But, will doing all this really change anything? Trafficking will continue to happen. Nothing will change till the mindset of people changes”.

“Why will someone change their views just because you or for that matter anyone else is asking them to? Do sensitization workshops really work?”

“Oh! It is wonderful to read what you write but those who really need to change will not change just by reading an article.”

So in a nutshell, “Whatever we do, nothing will change till the mindset of people changes.”

And then we are also cynical about the positive transformation of this ‘mindset’. Why? Humans are meant to evolve and I know a good number of people who have changed their thought process and outlook with time, including myself.

Short Story – And She Shut The Door

// This story is the winning entry for “Muse of the Month November” contest conducted by Women’s Web and has been first published at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/11/and-she-shut-the-door-motm-winner-short-story/

Kalki struggled to shove the dazzling embellished azure Kurti down her body. She glanced at herself in the mirror. Less than two years ago, she was inside the same trial room, effortlessly slipping into clothes two sizes smaller than the one currently in her hands. Before she could meander further into the past, she was called out for frantically by her present.

“Kalki, are you done? Aarav is getting cranky and wailing too loudly.”

“Yes, give me a minute Akash.”

As Kalki tried to placate her adorable and impish 8-month-old, she noticed that Akash’s gaze was fixated on the lady standing beside them in the lift of the shopping precinct with a tiny tot in her arms. Donning a striking red maxi dress on a body with just the right curves, she looked every bit alluring. Kalki was in awe and wondered how some women manage to have the perfect figure even after childbirth. She let out a deep sigh and followed Akash who was headed towards the basement parking lot.

“Which restaurant do I have to drop you at? And don’t forget to come back home on time. I don’t want to be late for my official call.”

“Mainland China. Yes, I will come back on time and in case Aarav is too grouchy, just give me a call.”

Kalki was keyed up to meet her dearest college chums, Prisha and Shakti. Though she was a bit apprehensive about whether Aarav would be fine without her, she was also looking forward to her first little break since the time motherhood had happened. She had managed to convince Akash to look after Aarav, who agreed to do so for only two hours because, as usual, he had to attend an important official call with his onsite project team.

Battling the tiny terrors

//This article has been sponsored by Odomos and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/battling-the-tiny-terrors

“If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.” – Unknown

Trust the tiny terrors to wreck havoc in our lives; not just within the confines of our homes, but outside too. Mosquito bites are not just bothersome, itchy and uncomfortable, but they can also be fatal. We are all aware of the rampant prevalence of mosquito borne diseases like Dengue, Malaria, Chikungunya etc. These are life-threatening ailments which are caused by particular types of mosquitoes and the alarming death statistics bear testimony to the fact that mosquitoes are now among the deadliest foes of our country.

The Painter’s Magic – By Aadya

//This story has been submitted by 10-year-old Aadya who resides in Hyderabad. She had written this tale as a part of  the Children’s Day Special Creative Writing Event which I had conducted in the city. The kids were given different word prompts to pen a short story and her prompts were “Rainbow”, “Creative” and “Farmhouse”//

In the heart of the quaint town called Artland lived a creative painter. He loved his farmhouse because he would get lots of ideas to sketch and paint over there. Sometimes, he would draw such amazing pictures that those would be taken to the art gallery in the town. One day, a strange but interesting thought came to his mind. He had the urge to go inside the beautiful work of art created by him. He called up his friend who was a magician and expressed his desire to him.

Super Short Story – Theme “Fear”

I took part in a Halloween special micro-fiction challenge in which we had to write a tale in less than 50 words using the word “fear”. This is the super short story I came up with as my biggest fear is losing my loved ones.

Super Short Story 12

Short Story – Is it just my responsibility?

// This story is the winning entry for “Muse of the Month September” contest conducted by Women’s Web and has been first published at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/09/motm-winner-papa-dont-preach/

“Oh! I have done all the research. It is an excellent day care with encouraging feedback from parents, some of them being my friends. I also liked the infrastructure and aura of the place and felt positive vibes emanating from the staff there. The best part is that they have the facility of CCTV cameras through which I can monitor Kaeira at any time of the day and this gives me a strong sense of comfort and security. I think Kaeira will enjoy the company of kids in the day care and will get the kind of stimulation she probably misses at home. So, I…”

Nipa’s tête-à-tête over the phone with her dearest comrade was brought to an abrupt halt by a rebuke from her mother-in-law.

“Nipa, you will burn the vegetable. Can you finish off your work first and gossip with your friend later?”

Nipa grimaced and hung up the call, and made a dart for the kitchen. As she deftly stirred the greens with a spatula, a silent, little tear drop trickled down from the corner of her eye. Her mother-in-law was never pleased with Armaan’s choice for matrimony and had never hesitated to articulate this disappointment. “Overambitious, too modern, selfish” were just few of the terms used to describe Nipa and dissuade Armaan from tying the knot with her. But, he was clear about what he wanted and his family had to eventually give in.

Even though things began on a bitter note, Nipa tried her best to maintain a cordial relationship with her in-laws post marriage and was successful to some extent. However, this was at the expense of doing things she was not comfortable with sometimes, but because they would visit each other just for a few days, she thought it was fine to let go. But after her father-in-law’s demise, her mother-in-law moved in to live with them permanently and then began the challenge of living under the same roof. It dawned upon Nipa that she had built the foundation of the relationship with unnecessary expectations and fulfilling them constantly had become an obligation and daunting task now. She was the one who was always compromising to maintain peace at home. The scoffs that seemed trivial earlier had started piercing through her like daggers.

No more labeling my child

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/no-more-labeling-my-child

As a new age parent, I find myself exhibiting paradoxical behaviour sporadically. That’s because as we are evolving and aligning our parenting methodologies with the ever changing times, we are also somewhat influenced by several other factors, both external and intrinsic. More often than not, we are aware of what the right thing to do is in a given situation but we end up contradicting our own ideologies. Refraining from labeling my child has been one such aspect of parenting which I personally have struggled with for a while. Most of us do understand the repercussions of tagging our children and strongly believe that it is unfair to refer to a child as “bad girl”, “bad boy”, “arrogant”, “stubborn” etc. Indulging in attaching such labels to them is not only an insensitive act on our part but can actually leave a long-lasting impact on the child who is at the receiving end. Sometimes, the psychological damage can be irreversible. Children behave according to their age and their personalities are not even fully developed. In fact, negative labels can lead them to believe that they belong to a certain bracket and then they subconsciously start manifesting those traits. But, as the famous adage goes – it’s easier said than done, more so when it comes to parenting. In spite of acknowledging all of this, I found it difficult to not label my daughter at times in the past.

I recall an incident when I was undergoing a particularly tough day and was feeling debilitated. My daughter was having a typical toddler meltdown over an insignificant matter (well, insignificant according to me!) when we were inside the lift of our block. In a fit of anger coupled with a state of mental frenzy, I retorted with a bitter “You are a bad girl and so stubborn” comment and continued to utter these words. At that point, I just took her back home instead of taking her to the park but felt awful later on when my temper had diffused. I knew in my heart that what I was saying was extremely unwarranted and thoughtless, all the more because I did so in the presence of some acquaintances. Yet, I could not hold back those hurtful words. I wondered why. Was it because I was just frustrated? Or was it my way of justifying my inability to control her tantrum? I don’t know the reason for sure but what I do know is that it was a parenting blunder. The next day, my heart broke when my daughter repeated my words and in the midst of a casual conversation told her father that she was a “bad girl”. The twinge I felt at that moment is something I can never forget. That day onward, I sincerely began to work towards attaining a grip on my emotions and one of the things I did was to identify the triggers for these outbursts.

How NOT to create a fussy eater!

//This article has been sponsored by Junior Horlicks and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/how-not-to-create-a-fussy-eater

The other day I was whining about my toddler’s exasperating antics in the presence of my friend and I was consoled by her with just one statement – “At least you do not have to worry about food and her eating habits. That is a big thing you know.”  Well, I get that a lot, because frankly my daughter is not a fussy eater and most of my friends are aware of this. However, this does not mean that she blissfully gobbles up all her meals every day, but that has never been my expectation. I know that for most parents, a key concern is “Oh! My child does not eat” and I absolutely empathise with their situation.

Personally, food is never a matter of anxiety for me whether at home or outside, because my 2-and-a-half-year-old tiny tot is experimental and usually finds something to her liking in most situations. Partly, I would say I am fortunate but I would like to believe that this is also because of my weaning approach with her since the beginning. I would love to share some tips here which hopefully can help parents to raise children who have a healthy relationship with food. However, let me clarify at the onset that this is not a rulebook. Every child is different and hence, I would urge you to ultimately follow your own instincts when it comes to introducing your child to solids. Whatever I am penning down in this article is just based on my own experience and research – this is how I went about helping my child to embrace food and not be averse to it.

Let go – It may seem beyond the bounds of possibility in the beginning but we really need to learn to let go of our own apprehension and fretfulness if we want our children to associate food with happiness.  When I started the process of weaning with my daughter, there were days when she did not ingest even a morsel of food, and I would just let go to normalize the process for her without making it a battle of sorts. I did not want to overwhelm her and wanted to let her take it slow. I let her develop a taste for the various food items offered to her at her own pace.

I would recommend every parent to read the book “My child won’t eat”. It marvelously elucidates how we need to align our own expectations to tackle this “problem” before we expect anything from the kids. In the initial years, children have tiny tummies and hence, they do not require large portions of food. In fact, in the first year, solid food is not the primary source of nutrition (breast milk or formula milk is) and food is just a supplement to fulfill the growing nutritional needs of the child. So by letting go we are not depriving our children of nutrition but are rather helping them by not pushing too hard.

Allow them to self-feed – I think this is the most important factor which aided in getting my child interested in food. She used to self-feed certain kind of foods since the time she started with her intake of solids and because of that, she began to enjoy the process of eating gradually. Most of us think that babies cannot self-feed and worry that they might choke themselves. This is where research comes into play. Making ourselves aware can help curb such concerns related to weaning. The fact is that children without teeth can very well chew soft food as their gums are strong enough for that. We just need to ensure that the finger food or whatever else they are being offered is squashy yet firm and well cooked. Also, we need to understand the difference between gagging and choking. Most of the times kids can handle gagging by themselves and choking can happen even when we feed them mashed or pureed food. The best bet is to equip ourselves to handle such an untoward situation. There is an excellent video on YouTube which explains how to deal with a child who is choking and how to identify it. Also, I know that self-feeding causes so much of mess and it can be such a daunting task to clean it all up. But it all seems worth it today when I witness my toddler relish a meal tidily.