Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thinkfest: Explaining India: The Most Persistent Mistakes we Make

The one session we at The Book Lovers are looking forward to at the Think Festival event? It has got to be Explaining India: The Most Persistent Mistakes we Make with Pavan Varma, William Dalrymple and Ashish Nandy.

William Dalrymple after spending many years in India and travelling through length and breadth of this country would definitely enrich the session with his insights and knowledge. Ashis Nandy needs no introduction he is an Indian political psychologist and a contemporary cultural and political critic. He is, without a doubt, India's most formidable and controversial intellectual, its most arresting thinker, and a cultural and political critic without perhaps any equal in South Asia. And joining the two would be Pavan Varma , he is a senior bureaucrat of the Indian Government and a seasoned diplomat. The author of a dozen books on equally diverse areas such as biography, poetry, social sciences, civic affairs, and history. His book The Great Indian Middle Class (1998) tends to be the first one that people read when they try to decipher the rise of the middle class in India. Being Indian (2004) is a masterpiece that even Indians should read to understand who they are and why they are. The subtitle says “The truth about why the twenty first century will be India’s.”

So with three stalwarts as a part of the panel the session without a doubt will be truly engaging and interesting. How do I think the session will progress and the topic that would definitely be deliberated and discussed upon as per me would be the unity in diversity of this country- is it over rated? Are the various states at war amongst themselves and the nation as a whole? Are we hurtling into the development zone without an actual plan in place? Is there an order in the madness that we see today? Am sure William Dalrymple would be able to give us keen insights into this.

The most persistent mistake would be the politics that our politicians have been playing since time immemorial that of religion and caste. Can India afford to move ahead if it continues with the games our politicians play. Is coalition politics a boon or a bane for this nation? I would really like to hear Ashis Nandy on this.

Can India move to the next level without good relations with our immediate neighbours? What about the great Indian middle class which has been the driver in this growth story of India. Where are we headed as a nation. What are the past mistakes that we absolutely have to learn from and the persistent problem that people face in this great Indian nation?

This session is something we excitedly look forward to on day 2 of the festival. Let’s see if it shapes up as we imagine it to be!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Think Fest: Siddhartha Mukherjee

As we mentioned there are too many speakers we are excited to hear from at this year’s Think fest but one speaker we are eagerly looking forward to hear would be Siddhartha Mukherjee. 
Siddhartha is the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. The book gives the reader a detailed account of the history of this deadly disease and how the war is being fought against it by doctors across the world. The India-born doctor teaches medicine and is a cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Centre.
His book was published in the U.S. by Scribner and in India by HarperCollins Publishers India, the book was inspired by a personal event. One day a patient with stomach cancer asked Dr. Mukherjee a simple question about her prognosis: “Where are we going?” That led the author to think the larger scope of the question in terms of cancer research. The book before going on to win the Pulitzer has already received critical appreciation from many quarters.
Detailing the long history of the disease and the battles being fought to conquer it through case studies, the book also provides a glimpse into the future of cancer treatments.
"From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the 19th-century recipients of primitive radiation and chemotherapy to Mukherjee's own leukaemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through fiercely demanding regimens in order to survive and to increase our understanding of this iconic disease," according to information about the book on the Pulitzer website. The book, the site says, is a "magnificent, profoundly humane biography of cancer".
So after a brief profile about his book and him what we would really like to hear from him at the conclave would obviously be how and where India lacks in terms of research, treatment in tackling this growing disease. What are the steps and measures could be implemented. More than research there is also a lack of understanding of this disease in India, cancer is still stigmatized. Lack of counseling, lack of understanding of the disease and most importantly lack of support groups can make the person suffering from the problem a lot more miserable than the disease itself.
As his topic of discussion is ‘How tragedy can Inspire’ would really like to know his thoughts on how families, friends of such affected people can continue to encourage and enthuse the person battling the disease. At a personal level I had seen a family member suffer depressive behaviour due to physical changes in appearance, the after-effects of chemotherapy, losing appetite etc.. What can one do to keep the motivation levels high? How can we create a network or solace group for patients.
Besides this would love to know the latest research happening on cancer front, honestly look forward to a day when cancer treatment would not be as grueling as it is now. It would be interesting to hear his thoughts at the summit and considering he has lived in India what are his thoughts on India battling and finding solutions for the big C?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Think Fest Think Blogger!

The Book Lovers blog is proud to be associated with one of the most looked forward to event this year, The Thinkfest, it is going to be held in Goa from 4th November to 6th November. With a stellar list of speakers our excitement to be a part of this event knows no bounds.

So who are the speakers we at The Book Lovers are absolutely looking forward to hear? Here is our list: William Dalrymple, Mohammed Hanif, Pulitzer prize winner for his book The Emperor of all Maladies Siddhartha Mukherjee, Naipaul *yippee* and Sudhir Kakar. Ashish Nandy and Pavan Verma also form a part of this interesting list of speakers!

So while we eagerly look forward to the event we would be sharing what we would want to hear these speakers speak about and the topics they could touch on before the event. Of course they will not necessarily but hey why not think about the possible discussions? That's the whole fun part!

Until then you'll could get more details on their site Go on have a look and if possible join us at the fest!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Review: Desperate in Dubai

Desperate in Dubai was one book which I had to read after reading a lot of heavy non-fiction books! And the book didn’t disappoint. The book is set in Dubai and it revolves around  the lives of 4 women. The book has its glamour, luxury cars, hotels all that you would think of when you think Dubai! If you pick up the book thinking it is a regular flippant chick-lit, let me tell you that this book ain't. 

Leila who has been in search of a wealthy husband for over a decade, while running her own successful business, we then have Nadia who has moved to Dubai for her husband’s career only to realize that this move could result in her unhappiness. Sugar has moved to Dubai after living in London all her life to escape her past and last is Lady Luxe, the rebellious and gorgeous Emirati heiress who wants to live her life by her rules at the same time trying to maintain a balance with her family’s expectations.

All four seemingly from different backgrounds but their stories all come together and you realize that all are running for the elusive thing called happiness. So while Lady Luxe is maintaining her double life to keep herself and her family happy, she is also hiding a big secret from her friend Leila. While Leila in her desperation to get hooked to a rich Emirati ends up getting influenced by Nadia, leading to unhappy circumstances all around. Nadia also does not have it easy when she realizes her husband is in a relationship with another woman, and Sugar is grappling with her past, trying to move on in a new city.

Extremely well written, will keep you hooked and engrossed in the lives of these 4 women. The book is well paced and language is lucid which makes this book a page turner. It is hard to believe that this happens to be the author’s first book. Honestly I have nothing to say that could be reworked in this book to make it a better read. It is a lovely read just the way it is.

My recommendation: girls absolutely go for this book, you sure will enjoy it!

Review: Does he know a mother's heart?

One book that made me cry while reading it? It would definitely be Arun Shourie’s ‘Does he know a mother’s heart? How suffering refutes religion’. The book actually made me question my belief in god. Yes the book is so well written with convincing arguments and proofs as to why he says what he does.

Aditya, Arun Shouries’s 35 year old son was declared as suffering from an injury to brain, Cerebral Palsy at birth, that prompted his wife and him to move back to India from US so that Adit could be brought up surrounded by the love of his grandparents, cousins and family. It deals with all the trials and tribulations they as a family have gone through in bringing up Adit. Their struggle to find a good school for Adit, their love for him taking them to various gurujis and ashrams to help him. It narrates many incidents that will tug any person’s heart. Every episode narrated is a lesson on love and patience that one can have as a parent. I have many a times as a mother been frustrated at the situation I find myself in and go into the feel sorry for myself mode, but this book turned out to be an eye opener and made me believe no struggle is big enough to handle and handle with love and tolerance.

What is clear is the father’s immense love for his child. The book written straight from the heart makes him question god’s ways. Why does god choose to give suffering to some? Why does he subject children to sufferings? What makes god make someone perfect while some grapple with imperfections? Aren’t we all equal in his eyes as is universally known? Isn’t his love for all the same? Then why are some discriminated…

Some serious questions the book throws up and with equally valid proven explanations. The book takes the reader through the holy texts of various religions to prove his point.

It is a book which I would highly recommend all to read. If philosophy and religion is something you like reading then this is a book worth picking up.

Hats off to Arun Shourie for coming up with a book which is straight from the heart. A book that has no qualms in refuting some well known religious texts. Well researched and well argued.