Designing Destiny: Daaji

2019: 34
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Designing Destiny: The Heartfulness Way.
Daaji (Kamlesh Patel)
Westland Publishers.
2019. Pp- 219.
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// What does destiny mean in the course of our lives?
What is fixed and how much can we change?
How can we design our own destiny? //
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The book is a simple yet an effective collection of wondering measures. Thoughtful and inspiring, Designing Destiny is book you need in your life, to get through the lows and to stay humble in the highs.

Daaji’s advice might feel like something we already know, but the way he comes out and makes us conscious of the power within us, the strength we carry and the capability and potential we harbour is that one push we need.

He addresses all three aspect that a human body experiences and the three aspects that lead us to the choices we make- thought, emotion, and action. From what is destiny and why should we talking about it, to the practices we can adapt.

Where all of us know of various relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga, Daaji also speaks of the emotional baggage we drag with ourselves, like anchors that pull us back.

At the end, nothing is more important than knowing and designing our destinies. Before we reach where we wish to, we need to ask the right questions, from ourselves and the universe.

Speaking from my own reading experience, I read the section on ‘Letting go of the Past’ (something that the book calls the ‘Cleaning Process’) twice. I feel that is one thing I need to learn.

We might think that such motivational books are common sensical, at least I do, most of the time, but in those 200 pages, if there is even one thing, one new thing that you can learn, that is enough takeaway, enough to take at least one step ahead, toward a healthier, more peaceful life.
So I hope you find something in there, like I did, and you smile when you learn that something.

A good 4 on 5 read.
Until next time πŸ™‚
Till then, happy reading!
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George Orwell’s birthday and an ambitious readathon

Guess who’s birthday is it today! George Orwell!
He turns 116 today! β™₯️
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And as a way of paying an ode to one of his most famous books turning 70- 1984, I’d hosted a readathon. It’s too embarrassing I couldn’t finish reading it myself, but I’m glad I could bring other bookstagrammers together. I’m proud of those who finished it on time, and a little envious too.
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Nonetheless, a lot of us are behind schedule, so you can still join us if you’d like, because we sure would 🌻
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I started this year with Animal Farm, it was my first read of the year, and my first by Orwell, followed by his essays on Nationalism. I was impressed by his words, his writing, and most importantly, his thoughts and ideas. And hence, chose to pick the legendary 1984.
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#QOTD – Do you too lag behind in readathons like I do? And for those who keep up with all the reading targets, I could use some tips!
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Until next time, happy reading! 🌼
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Panmacmillan’s new release for the Pride Month πŸ’«πŸŒˆ

Fighting a relentless culture of discrimination and homophobia, India’s LGBTQ+ community is finally on the road to inclusion and acceptance. While there are still miles to go, the Supreme Court’s landmark reading down of Section 377 in September 2018 came as a battle hard-won for those who identify as gay.
In the wake of this watershed judgement, Gay Icons of India celebrates twenty-two extraordinary personalities from the queer community who have resisted injustices through their art and greatly aided LGBTQ+ social movements. From dancers and poets to writers and artists, Hoshang Merchant and Akshaya K. Rath pay homage to these inspirational figures who stand steadfastly for equal love and the right to be different.

About the Authors-

Hoshang Merchant is the author of Yaraana: Gay Writing from India, Forbidden Sex, Forbidden Texts: New India’s Gay Poets and The Man Who Would Be Queen. A well-known poet and teacher, he has published over twenty books of poetry. He recently retired from the University of Hyderabad after for twenty-six years.

Akshaya K. Rath is Assistant Professor of English and teaches creative writing, gender and sexualities at NIT Rourkela. His book Secret Writings of Hoshang Merchant was published in 2016.

Snakes in the Meadows by Ayaz Kohli

2019: 33
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Snakes in the Meadows
Ayaz Kohli
Rupa Publications
2019. Pp- 278″By the end of 1999, when the rest of the world was awaiting the new millennium, Sawarnpur found itself bitten by the vilest millennium bug. It had become the cradle of militancy, and Pathri Aali suffered like an insignificant speck left to its destiny.”Jammu and Kashmir, 1987. It is the beginning of the end.
A story set in Pathri Aali, where legends appear true, the story speaks of dreams unfulfilled, love unrequited, of hate and anger and violence, and of lives changed forever.
“Snakes in the Meadows is a saga of the onset of militancy, the suffering and the resilience of Pir Panjal – the ‘and’ of Jammu and Kashmir.”This is one of the finest fictions I’ve read in a long while. The story, the characters, the narration, without a doubt, touches a part of you.Language is simple, convincing, moving, and as real as it could get in its fictionalityUs being oblivious to the tragedy in this part of our country, this book gives us a window into the world of common man of Pir Panjal.
It makes us realise upfront, how policies are so much more than just papers and signatures exchanged. On that piece of paper, lies the destiny of hundreds and the lives of thousand commoners. Sitting in our secure houses, living our comfortable lives, it is almost unimaginable for us to understand the extent of this change, this trauma, and this tragedy. His words paint a picture easy to imagine yet so difficult to fully understand in their entirely, their intensity.I have nothing but gratitude to offer, to Rupa Publications for this opportunity. I have a decent stack of literature on Kashmir, and this is another valuable addition to it :’)
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There are many Aslams and many more Ashwars in the valley and beyond. And their are thousands of snake in our beautiful meadows, up hill, and they’ve changed the fate of Jammu and Kashmir forever.I would like to end with a couplet from the book. It touched something special in me, not just with its deep meaning, but the context it’s used in:”Sab kahan kuchh lala-o-gul mein numayan ho gayien,
Khaak mein kya surtein hongi ki pinha ho gayein.”(Of all the good souls in earth’s bosom, some as poppies and roses germinated. The buried figures, are they there? Into myriad secrets surely they mutated)
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Birthday treats and lessons

” You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”
~ Woolf, Virginia.
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Birthdays had been really exciting for me till last year, but this year I realise it’s more about what you seek within, than what you wish to see outside.
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So here’s to a lesson, and here’s to me treating myself with the two sets I always wanted to read 🌻
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Here’s to hope, and here’s to happy reading 🍁
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#QOTD – tell me how you treat yourself on birthdays?
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My experience with Libraries and my love for Khushwant Singh!

Fikr-e-maash, ishq-e-butaan, yaad-e-raftgaan,
Is zindagi mein ab koi kya kya karey?

(Concern for livelihood, love for women, memories of the past, What else is there left to man in his life?)
~ Mohammed Rafi Sauda
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Khushwantnama brings to you one of India’s most prolific writers, Khushwant Singh, and his lessons from life- which are as surprising as the man himself.

Reading anything by Khushwant Singh, be it his articles, his novels, his essays, has always been pleasant for me. Drawn by this rawness, his honestly, and his absolutely raunchy ideas, I’ve always enjoyed having his words for company.
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And the same happened a few weeks ago, scrolling through dusty library shelves, looking for a boring textbook to refer to for exams, I found Khushwantnama, and it instantly brought a smile to my face.
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#QOTD- Tell me how often you visit libraries?
My visits have skewed down the past few years, I’ve started buying more books, but I still love the happy old smell of libraries, and every once in a while, I feel myself walking down that rusty aisle, my hands brushing softly against book spines.
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Lynch Files by Ziya Us Salam

2019: 31
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Lynch Files
Ziya Us Salam
2019. Pp- 193
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Lynch Files is a book of harrowing cases of discrimination and violence against Muslims and Dalits across the country.

So much has been said about this book, and I’m not sure if my words will be able to do justice to the importance this book carries.
If I had to describe it in one line, Lynch Files is an oddly disturbing yet a ‘revealing text’, a real eye opener. In every sense possible- social, political, cultural.

Ziya Us Salam brings to you the Dark side of our society, and a big reason to worry about.

Before I go deeper, the very first impression this book lead out was through its cover. The blood clots couldn’t be more convincing – it is like a ΰ€¦ΰ€Ύΰ€— (a dirty blot) on the face of our society. I didn’t need to say another word about me wanting to read it, every page of it.

It is an ‘insightful documentation’, indeed, as Avjit Pathak calls it.

From the rawness that these incidences are narrated with, with a glimpse of how they were received in the world, to the mass opinions around it, everything in the book wishes to stir us from our slumber, our conscious ignorance. In this process, it aims to sensitise us as well as bring it to general public awareness. The book compels us to feel, think, and feel some more again.
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I’ve read this book not just as a reader today, but as the citizen of this country, and even more so, as a human being.
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I wouldn’t like to go into the sensitive territory of political plotting and negative or positive imagery drawn in the text, of a certain political party over the other, but I think it’s important to mention here that I find this book and the author’s lens a liiiitle narrow.

I know, that to attend to one thing, it is unavoidable and almost necessary to not focus on another thing. To shed light on one side, the other side has to go into the dark, I get that.

But social events do not happen in isolation and it is a big mistake to assume so. A more holistic perspective, of maybe acts of lynching targeted towards other communities or maybe presence of such acts irrespective of the political party in power, would have added a little more authenticity to the text. Talking about the other side of the story would have only broadened its reach.

For a nation believed to be consumed by a Hindu majority, instances of violence against Hindus have been equally prevalent. Nonetheless, awareness and knowledge and sensitivity never harms anyone.

We associate religion with violence and that’s where we make the mistake.
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All in all, the language is convincing, the words chosen are direct and meaningful, and the book successfully communicates the idea it originated from, just the way it intended to.
It is an important read for all of us to know where this society is headed to, and where today’s anger is coming from, and how with full force, the impact this collective aggression is creating.
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About the Author –
Ziya Us Salam is a noted literary and social commentator. He has been associated with The Hindu for more than 18 years.
At present, he is Associate Editor, Frontline, and writes on sociocultural issues for the magazine besides doing book reviews.
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