Volume 2 Issue 5www.justbooksclc.comblog.justbooksclc.com CONNECT July 2011 For limited circulation A JustBooks Publication Tagore: The Timeless Song Pg 10 and cultural identification and theIt is Rabindranath Tagores 150th lengths people go to for its sake. What lies Quizbirth centenary and Anindita at the heart of Gora is as relevant today asSengupta discovers why many of his it was a century back. Rising fundamen-works are still relevant and affect- talisms, liberal angst and the general impossibility of choices plague us, muching. the same as they did our ancestors. A similar timelessness is evident inAnindita Sengupta Tagores 1916 novel Ghare-Baire (trans- lated as The Home and The World), Pg 14R which was also made into an acclaimed abindranath Tagores epic novel film by Satyajit Ray. The quiet stand-off Just Gora (1910) tackled what were some of the most burning issues of between the rational, westernised Nikhil Kids and the patriotic revolutionary Sandeepthe early 20th century-the perils of resonates even in modern times despiteOrthodox Hinduism, theviability of a liberal alter-native like the BrahmoSamaj, colonialism and theonslaught of westernisa- Pg 15tion. It has now beenadapted into a Kannadaplay which recently playedin the city, a reminder of AuthorTagores lasting appealand relevance. It was Profiletimed to celebrate Tagores150th birth centenary. Theyear is likely to be dottedwith many suchreminders. cle and play out their disagreements. Born in 1861 in Calcutta, Nikhil encourages Bimala to venture outTagore went on to be of the inner chambers and take an activeknown as many things- interest in the world. Such a move cannotpoet, translator, writer, be without its repercussions and thesesinger, painter, recipient of form the narrative and thematic pivot ofthe Nobel Prize, refuser of the book. Bimalas awakening, her tenta-knighthood, opposer of tive forays into matters she does notnationalism, founder of understand and her struggles to copeSantiniketan and the man with the heady rush of new things havewho inspired countless special relevance in a time when the BPOartists, writers and film-makers. boom, call centre culture and inter-city the fact that the overwhelming back- migration are changing the way women Partly, this is because Tagores concerns ground of the book-imperialist rule-is not access the world. The argument betweenseem timeless, or at least, endlessly open there. Also relevant is Tagores attitudes rational objectivity and passionateto interpretation and appropriation in towards and depiction of women. In nationalism are also going strong givenpresent-day contexts. Gora is a case in Ghare-Baire, Nikhils wife Bimala is the the context of Irom Sharmila, Maoists andpoint. Overtly, the story of inter-commu- central figure around which the two cir-nity love, it probes the nature of spiritual contd on pg 2...
2 JustBooks Connect - July 2011 contd from pg 1... From the Editor’s the Kashmir issue. Desk Tagores Chokher Bali, which garnered much praised when it was made into a movie by Rituparno H e was a famous poet, writer, Ghosh in 2003, is perhaps playwright, musician, painter less easy to relate to mod- and a spiritual guru. He did ern contexts. Dealing with not go to a conventional school nor widowhood in the late 19th did he get a college degree but he century, it traces the story went on to win the Nobel Prize in of young widow Binodini Literature. He spent most of his life whose life of self-denial towards establishing and growing and dissatisfaction has Vishwa-Bharati, an institution where destructive effects on her his aim was to find the truth and life and on those around blend the learning methods of East her. While in urban house- and the West. holds, that vision of wid- And that was just one Tagore, owhood may seem like a Rabindranath Tagore, from Jorasanko far cry, the books theme of Thakur Bari. Other Tagores from moral strictures strangling Jorasanko were similarly multi-talent- humane urges is still signif- ed. icant. From grandfather Dwarkanath, In the glowing foreword father Debendranath to Rabindranath to Tagores most celebrated Tagore; they all contributed immense- work, Gitanjali, WB Yeats ly to Bengal renaissance. One brother says: "I have carried the man- was a well known scholar, musician uscript of these translations and playwright; another brother was about with me for days, read- the first Indian to join the ICS while ing it in railway trains, or on the top of that the poems in Gitanjali affect me less another was a poet, translator and a omnibuses and in restaurants, and I have than his novels. I dont believe that the philosopher. often had to close it lest some stranger would translations convey the musicality of the The women of this family were not see how much it moved me. These lyrics--- originals at all substantially. I also find far behind either. One of the sisters, which are in the original, my Indians tell me, the continual preoccupation with God a Swarnakumari was the first Bengali full of subtlety of rhythm, of untranslatable bit tiresome. Saying this reminds me of woman novelist; her daughter Sarala delicacies of colour, of metrical invention--- another Tagore 150th birth anniversary Devi Chaudhurani was a prominent display in their thought a world I have celebration held earlier in the year. The freedom fighter, who started the first dreamed of all my live long. The work of a occasion was the inauguration of the NGO for women. supreme culture, they yet appear as much the newly established Tagore Centre in Extended family members like, growth of the common soil as the grass and Bangalore. Abanindranath and Gaganendranath the rushes. A tradition, where poetry and reli- Professor U.R. Ananthamurthy, who Tagore, who grew up in Jorasanko gion are the same thing, has passed through heads the centre, had organised for poets were principal artist who established the centuries, gathering from learned and in numerous languages to read or per- Bengal school of art. unlearned metaphor and emotion, and carried form their work on stage. Afterwards, A supportive and encouraging eco- back again to the multitude the thought of the there were speeches by scholars and writ- system where individuals have free- scholar and of the noble." ers. Ashish Nandy pointed out —and I dom and ample opportunities is the At the risk of being blasphemous, I say am summarising roughly—that what sort of place where talent grows and Tagores legacy needed was less deifica- from where successful people come tion, more astute and from. This family is a case in point. honest exploration. We at JustBooks believe that provid- I can only echo this. ing the eco-system of our libraries will We are used to worship- encourage the literary minds-young ping our greats, to rais- or old-of our country. ing them to the status of In this edition we pay tribute to gods. In literature, this Rabindranath Tagore on his 150th sort of one-dimensional birth centenary. We have tried to find applause yields nothing out what makes him and his work still very useful. relevant in this 21st century. Doing honour to We also look into the Tagore family Tagores memory tree to know about all the successful demands that we contin- people and learn from them and their ue to look at his work eco-system. with fresh eyes, continue Do tell us what you think of this edi- to praise but also cri- tion and send us your feedback to edi- tique, continue to reap firstname.lastname@example.org new meanings of his songs.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 3On Beauty The Story That Must Not be ToldZadie Smith Kavery NambisanPenguin PenguinAnindita Sengupta Pushpa Achanta A T man hit by mid-life crisis sleeps around a his book is about realities that must be lot and manages to infuriate his wife and seen. And people who should be heard. kids. While it is a work of fiction, a consider- Meanwhile his professional rival takes potshots able part of The Story That Must Not be Told at him and his kids stray in various ways. seems to be based on facts. Howard Belsey, the man in question, is British- And though its set in Madras (now known white and his wife Kiki is African-American. His as Chennai), many facets of the underlying main affair Carol is also American, but white. story are true of other cities in India. As one What ensues are complications that have as much reads this absorbing book, one may need toto do with race as with simple man-woman binaries. Add a gen- remind oneself that the many tales and char-erous mix of America academia to this. Where Smith really acters in it are actually fictitious. For, a lot of what is written isexcels is in her ability to tell a story well, even the little story. about daily occurrences in most slums in India. It is not sur- The book is made up of moments piling up on each other, con- prising that this novel was shortlisted for the Man Asiansistently vibrant, alive, and delightful. Literature Prize in 2008. The Discovery of Ancient India Wild SwansEarly Archaeologists and the Beginnings of Archaeology Jung ChangUpinder Singh TouchstonePermanent Black Dr. RajagopalanDr. Rajeshwari Ghose W e are all in awe of todays China. T his book is a history of Indian However, China was in continuous Archaeology, which ends with the dawn turmoil for about five decades, till the of the 20th century. But for the work of late 1970s. The communist dictatorship of Mao the early 19th century archaeologists, and their isolated it. The few external accounts of this supporting team of epigraphists, numismatists period border on either extreme admiration or and others, much of Indias past would still total skepticism. remain buried in the graveyard of history. Wild Swans is a uniquely credible story of Hence, the author calls her book The three generations of Chinese women. JungDiscovery of Ancient India. Chang represents the third generation, both the fodder and The decipherment of the Brahmi script and the identification product of the tyranny of the Cultural Revolution. She leftof the Piyadasi of the Asokan inscriptions opened up a dramat- China in 1978 on a scholarship to U.K. This book reflects on heric vista into Indias past. The excavations undertaken in experiences of growing up in a turbulent China and her mothersBharhut, Sanchi, Amaravati and other places enlightened us on unburdening on the earlier two generations. The real wonderearly Buddhist art and practice. The author sets out to capture seems to be not what China is today- but what it could havethis drama of recovery. been- for the better or worse- for mankind. Women and Money The Soul of LeadershipSuze Orman Deepak ChopraSpiegel & Grau Random HouseAradhana Janga Manjula Sundharam A uthor Deepak Chopra shows how to A hard hitting in-your-face analysis of discover the skills we need in order to why women shirk from dealing with realize our potential, create new money and why they should manage opportunities and lead people through their own finances. enlightenment. He defines what leading from Complete with a "save yourself plan" and a the soul means and gives examples of leaders step-by-step monthly guide to help you get on who succeeded by evolving. your feet and plan your finances for your fami- With an easy to remember formula to lead, ly and your retiremenent. the author guides us to evolve as leaders. The In Women and Money, Orman helps with her book is a great inspiration for not just leaders but for anyoneknock-on-the-head kind of attitude when it comes to women who wants to evolve spiritually and lead a fulfilling life. Byand their reluctance to deal (save and grow and not earn and showing us how to apply the secrets of leadership in everydayspend) with money. The book does serve to provide a skeletal life, The Soul of Leadership guides us to thrive in the midst ofdetail that can be followed by all. chaos. For detailed reviews check out justbooksclc.com
4 JustBooks Connect - July 2011Belonging When she became an exile at home...The Convert: A Tale of Exileand ExtremismDeborah BakerPenguinGeetanjali Singh ChandaT he image of peeling away layers of onion skin most aptly describes the wonder of reading Deborah BakersThe Convert. As one peels away layerafter layer the straightforward tale givesway to a philosophic and religious explo-ration, and from there it reads like adetective story and then with a shock of and Extremism though raises interesting married an older Pashtun, whomrealization we are plunged into the world questions. Maryams "exile" at one level is Mawdudi had assigned as her guardian.of psychological disorders, schizophrenia fairly literal and straightforward. But is Despite her trials she wrote over 30 booksand Freudian analysis. Pakistan the real exile or was she an exile critiquing the liberal, secular and licen- But at the core of the onion is just more in her birthplace, America? She often tious West.onion. The discovery of the living and describes herself as a misfit, and is mar- The real Margaret or Maryam remains abreathing Jameelah when the author ginalized in and by the society. And as complex mysterious figure. Some onemeets her face to face feels hollow. The for "extremism" there are extremists aplen- who had written and illustrated her firstfeisty, disturbed, articulate, gutsy, and ty, foremost among whom is Maryam novel at the age of 12. Margaret was a col-maybe mad, young woman who cleaned herself. The word "tale" and the writing lege dropout and had done time in aout her bank balance and set forth for an style might confuse some readers into series of mental health facilities. Was sheunknown land in 1961 is now a faded, wondering if this is a piece of fiction. It is a disturbed and mentally unstable personarthritic old woman in a post 9/11 world. not. Indian born Mawdudi is an iconic —diagnosed as a schizophrenic —whoseAlthough the world has changed some figure of Islamic revivalism in the subcon- future in the United States of the early six-issues persist - especially of an instinctive tinent. A journalist, theologian and politi- ties would have been a life-time of con-hostility to Islam. cal ideologue he was the leader of the finement in some asylum? Maryams world though has shrunk to conservative Islamic political party the Misunderstood and unable to adjust tothe four walls of her room. At this point Jamaat-I-Islami in Pakistan. "normal" life in America, consigned toshe seems so unreal and ephemeral that it Having corresponded with Margaret sanitariums by parents who had given upis hard to feel much sympathy or sense of and been impressed by her learning he on her, her future looked bleak.connection with her. invited her to Pakistan to join his house- Margarets conversion and move to The structure of the book with its bril- hold. After her arrival and conversion Pakistan enabled a life within the strictliantly interwoven narratives of Jameelah though there was a falling out between code of conduct of Islam that seemed toand Baker makes the narrative layered the two. Jameelah was first sent off to the provide an anchor.and deep. The reader gets to hear both Mawlanas friends in the tiny provincial The discipline and strict rules werevoices distinctly. Bakers quest to enter town of Pattoki and then ended up in a probably a necessary structure withinthe soul of her subject is beautifully artic- psychiatric ward. which normal life became possible forulated: "Anonymity is my vocation. … When she was released from there she her. It was a safe haven that allowedHaunting archives, reading letters com- escape to a cerebral space from whereposed in agony and journals thick with “Misunderstood and unable to she could write with feeling aboutunspeakable thoughts, I sound the inner- issues of purdah, gender segregationmost chambers of unquiet souls, unearth adjust to "normal" life in America, and the like. The routine of domesticitydramas no one would ever think to make consigned to sanitariums by par- where her co-wife even took care of herup." Deborah Bakers two previous ents who had given up on her, her children probably also created a sensebiographies - In Extremis: the Life of of normalcy and belonging.Laura Riding which was a finalist for a future looked bleak. Margarets At the end the reader is not clearerPulitzer Prize for Biography and more conversion and move to Pakistan about what could have been the moti-recently A Blue Hand: The Beats In enabled a life within the strict vations for this exile and conversion butIndia demonstrate the same keen sym- it certainly raises some interestingpathy for her subject. code of conduct of Islam that issues and is a pleasure to read both for The subtitle of the book A Tale of Exile seemed to provide an anchor.” its artistry and its subtle content.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 5Mapping it! Cartographing her own mapA Map of the World the reader as the long suffering “Alice would design her own silent type and also a not very honest or competent husband or maps to find her place in theJane Hamilton even a practical father. He frequently doubts Alices world, as a child, hence theAnchor Books parenting skills, while Alice her- title. Now she has to navigate self comes across as a character, who is quick to judge and in her way through a complicat-Reshmi Chakraborty Howards own words, always sees ed case, complex emotions and the worst in people. She also has a rather unsteady relationships and a mind fullW hen cornered by the investigat- and volatile temperament and is a of guilt.” ing officers in her school, Alice bit unbelievably lost in her own Goodwin in an unguarded, head.volatile moment says, “I hurt every- despite the tragic events that occurbody". As it often happens in sensa- there. In fact, there are parts thattional cases, that one utterance pins will make you laugh, parts whereher down and gets her marked you will identify with Alicesguilty in the eyes of the townspeo- parental dilemma as she strugglesple. to make her stubborn older daugh- Alice: mother of two, school ter eat her breakfast. The story maynurse and a dairy farmers wife and take time to hook you but once ithelper is accused of the dirtiest does, A Map of the World turnscrime possible-abusing a student out to be quite a page turner.sexually. It doesnt help that she isguilt ridden and suffering her ownsilent torture. Y ou find yourself rooting for the Goodwin family who are vic- tims of terrible circumstances and Her best friend Theresas far from harming anybody. It isyoungest daughter has died while also a very honest account ofunder Alices care —drowning in human nature and the inner battlethe family pond —and Alice thinks many of them go through.it was her fault. There are cracks in Alice and This forms the premise of the Howards marriage that they aretrouble —emotional, physical and trying very hard to stretch andsocial— that befalls the Goodwin cover. Theresa and her husbandfamily. Alice is a volatile character, Dan deal with the loss of theira loner with a tendency to get lost daughter Lizzy in their own sepa-in her own vivid imagination and rate ways, he going into a shell atsomeone who speaks her mind. She work and she still trying to dolost her mother at a very early age good and stay positive.and was left with a father busy in The book is also a critique of thehis own world. Alice would design legal system and an insensitiveher own maps to find her place in media which sometimes declares athe world, as a child, hence the title. It does come across as a surprise that in person guilty even before the trialNow she has to navigate her way through a school where she is the nurse, no one has begun.a complicated case, complex emotions comes forward to support her. Overall, A Map of the World is a bitterand relationships and a mind full of guilt. T heresa, with her homemade sand- sweet tale of several lives, each of them The story is narrated through the voic- wiches and her willingness to see the etched deeply and accurately byes of the protagonists, beginning with goodness in everyone even in the face of Hamilton. She lends the novel a comfort-Alice, then her husband Howard, then tremendous personal loss does come able pace so that it moves from the sceneback to Alice again. The method works across as a little too perfect though she of everyday domesticity to a courtroomfor the story as it reveals the complexities, too is hiding her own feet of clay. drama with considerable ease.insecurities and doubts of the different Hamiltons writing is powerful enough The book was later made into a moviecharacters in the book, from Alice and to make the reader empathize with the starring Sigourney Weaver and JulianeHoward to Theresa and even her largely characters who are very human and try- Moore and you can see that the plot lendsabsent husband Dan. ing very hard to keep their heads above itself easily to dramatization. No character is perfect in this book, the water. Perhaps reading the book will piquewith each one having fallible traits and A Map of the World is not a sad read your interest in watching the film, like ittheir own incompetency. Howard strikes did for me.
6 JustBooks Connect - July 2011MusingsBuy, Borrow and Enjoy:the book-lovers strategiesto a wholesome readingexperience the book once, it makes sense to borrow the books instead of buying them. While many would think twice beforeRam Mohan Susarla buying books given the escalating costs of the hardcover versions, borrowing books does not need much thought as the lend- ing costs are far lower than what oneA s any book lover would tell you, might spend when buying a book even at getting your hands on a book by a bargain store. your favourite author is well There are some like me who buy andworth the effort involved. borrow books as well. This is because There are many ways in which one can buying books for reference and collectionget the books that one wants. We can purposes can go hand in hand with bor-either buy the book or borrow it from our rowing books of the popular fiction cate-acquaintances and friends. gories that can be read and returned. Of course, with the proliferation of Though I have detailed the variouslibraries like JustBooks, the process of ways in which one can get the books thatreading books that we want has been one wants, it needs to be rememberedmade a lot simpler. When I was growing that it is the actual reading experienceup, there were not that many avenues for that counts more than anything else.buying or even borrowing books. It does not matter how one acquires the One of the ways by which I used to read books. What matters is the pleasure or thethe books that I wanted was to enrol enjoyment that one derives from readingmyself in the British Council or the USIS these books.(United States Information Service)library. But, things have changed now. Ever T he process of acquiring books must be seen as a means to an end and not an end in itself.since India opened up its economy and Hence, buying, borrowing and circulat-liberalised the country, it is easier to buy ing books among friends are all stepsand borrow books. towards making the actual reading expe- Gone are the days when one had to wait rience enjoyable and worthwhile.patiently for the book to arrive in the While buying and borrowing may beaforementioned places. All one has to do seen as two different activities, thenow is to enrol in any of the lending process involved in both is essentially thelibraries and enjoy a wholesome reading same as they entail getting to know aboutexperience. the book and then getting ones hands on Further, with many paperbacks being the book after evaluating the book by become easier and simpler. The irony isavailable at throwaway prices, even own- reading reviews and the blurbs. that one can use what is essentially a vir-ership of books is not that much of a drag No matter whether we borrow the book tual medium to enhance the experience ofon ones pocket. or buy the book, the process of acquisition a physical process. This convergence is One might very well ask, is it better to and the reading experience are common. something that was not available when Ibuy a book or borrow one? The answer to For those who are pressed for time, the started reading books and I truly believethis question depends on whether one convenience of online ordering means that the youth who are coming of agewants to reread the book and read parts that they can get the books that they want now are indeed lucky to have so manyof it at different times or whether one is without having to go through the hassle avenues for reading.content with reading the book and return-ing it to the library. When we want to build a book collec- of visiting the bookstore or the library. In this age when the internet has opened up new vistas for just about any- O f course, it is never too late and hence reading books in these times is easier for those who are older as well.tion, it makes sense to buy books from the thing that we do, the reading experience Finally, we have to remember thatpopular bookstores, order them from has similarly been transformed as well. though we might do whatever it takes toonline bookstores or pick up the used Without getting into the debate of the e- get the books that we want, it is alsobooks from any of the various bargain books versus the printed ones, it would important not to let the book gather dust.bookstores. suffice to say that with so much of acces- So buy or borrow but do read and enjoy However, when the intention is to read sibility at the click of a mouse, things have the book.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 7Tagore’s world The Tagore Household Patrika, The journal of the Samaj. age when very few girls went to school.Puspa Achanta discovers Debendranaths oldest son She developed the Balak Sakhi Samiti forthat achivement runs deep Dwijendranath (1840-1926) was a great the upliftment of women and was the scholar, poet and music composer. He author of several books.within Tagore family and wrote extensively in the newspapers andit’s roots magazines of the day, on literature, phi- The Next Generation T losophy and religion. He was the editor he youngsters of this illustrious of Bharati (a periodical of the Samaj) and Thakur dynasty also contributed sub- Tattwabodhini Patrika. He was also a stantially to society, the arts and litera- Pushpa Achanta pioneer in Bengali shorthand. ture. Dwijendranaths second son Satyendranath (1842-1923), Sudhindranath (1869-1929) was a Debendranaths next son, was the firstH renowned author. Satyendranaths e was a poet, painter, playwright, Indian to join the Indian Civil Service in daughter Indira Devi (1873-1960) distin- novelist and musician whose 1864. A prolific writer, poet and song guished herself in literature, music and work in the arts and society has composer, he too edited the the womens movement. She marriedhad a lasting impact on India before and Tattwabodhini Patrika. Pramatha Chowdhury, a renownedafter its political inde- scholar, essayist and poet whosependence. But what were work influenced Bengali litera-the family members of ture considerably.Rabindranath Tagore Obviously, most descendants(anglicized version of of the Jorasanko Thakur familyThakur) like? Who or were very talented. Further,what were their early they were raised in an environ-influences? Did the writ- ment filled with literary debatesing of Rabindranath affect and discussions, musical com-others in his household or positions, painting and theatri-was it the other way cal performances.around or both? Initially, the women were Jorasanko Thakur bari tutored at home. Discovering(Bengali for "Jorasanko that a governess used a roteThakur household") was learning method, Debendranaththe ancestral home of introduced a better teacher,Gurudev and his clan. Ajodhyanath Pakrashi, a male Located in Jorasanko, a outsider in the womens quar-neighbourhood in north ters. Such incidents strength-Kolkata, it is now a muse- ened the prevalent progressiveum on the Rabindra outlook in the people of theBharati University cam- household.pus. While his ancestors Even Rabindranath had stud-were probably well known even earlier Debendranaths third son ied very little, formally. Apparently, hisfor their wealth and business acumen, the Hemendranath (1844-1884) was a strict wife Mrinalini Debi and sister-in-lawTagore family became prominent from disciplinarian responsible for looking Kadambari deeply impacted his writings.the time of Rabindranaths paternal after the education of his younger broth- Pratima-daughter of Rabindranathsgrandfather Dwarakanath Thakur (1794- ers as well as administrating the large grand niece Binayini Devi and who later1846). family estates. He composed a lot of married Tagores oldest son An ambitious and educated man who "Brahmo Sangeet" and also wrote articles Ratindranath, the first vice chancellor ofloved good life, Dwarakanath descended on physical science. Visva Bharati University, was a painterfrom the Jorasanko branch of a zamindari Jyotirindranath (1848-1925) , and writer who assisted Rabindranath infamily with its roots in Bangladeshs Debendranaths fifth son, was a scholar, producing some of his dance dramas andJessore district. Dwarakanath was active- artist, music composer and theatre per- plays. Swarnakumari Debis daughterly involved in social reform along with sonality. Proficient in Bengali, Sanskrit, Sarala Debi Chaudurani was a renownedhis friend Raja Ram Mohan Roy and oth- English, Bengali, Marathi and Persian, he writer, musician and freedom fighter.ers. He also sowed the seeds for later gen- rendered Bal Gangadhar Tilaks Gita Other descendants like Pragya wroteerations of his family to pursue literature Rahasya into Bengali in 1924. He also cookery books, which are popular evenand fine arts and society. translated other books and wrote, direct- now. Sushama Tagore chose to empower ed and acted in plays and was a song- women instead of being engaged in art or Tagore and his Siblings writer. writing. Among Debendranaths daughters,D warakanaths sons Debendranath The Jorasanko Thakur bari contributed Swarnakumari Devi (1855-1932) was a to the Bengal Renaissance and other (1817-1905) and Girindranath were gifted writer, editor, lyricist and social spheres of life and culture, immensely.associated with the Brahmo Samaj. worker. She also edited Bharati and a Therefore, summarizing their achieve-Debendranath, father of Rabindranath childrens magazine; an exception in an ments is challenging, yet illuminating. Tagore, launched Tattwabodhini
8 JustBooks Connect - July 2011 Reader’s Reader’s contribution The 39 clues challenge Voice Toyotomi Hideyoshi areN some of the powerful erul is described as the "Queen Cahills who have made city of Navi Mumbai", it has the positive contributions dur- distinction of being a purely res- ing their lifetime.idential and educational township. But The Cahill family treethe book lovers of this place were comprises of four mainalways waiting for a library. So it was a branches. They are: thegreat feeling when JustBooks, Nerul power-hungry Luciansopened last May. founded by Luke Cahill, What differentiates JustBooks from the strong and sportyany other library is its unique style of Tomas founded byfunctioning, kiosk and the wonderful Thomas Cahill, the inven-collection of books. tive Ekaterinas founded I have opted for the Avid Reader by Katherine Cahill, andmembership, where I get to take four the creative Janus foundedbooks and two magazines at one time. by Jane Cahill.With different types of book lovers at The major theme of thehome, this plan suits us perfectly. Tamil novel is talent and power.books for my father-in-law, fiction nov- Soumya Satyajit The historical members of the Cahillels for my daughters, magazines for me, family are all talented. Each branch hasall at the same time in one go. And being specific talents in a certain area; for Ton Avid Reader plan I get the privilege example the branch Janus has artistic he first book of the 39 Clues seriesof door delivery! abilities. has started off with a bang, as it Yes, JustBooks caters to the needs of Though the members of each team in was meant to be. Rick Riordan (ofall ages, likes and more importantly has the family have special talents, Amy and the Percy Jackson series; which won thea collection of regional language books. Dan are viewed as the main threats; Red House Childrens Book Award) hasThe members suggestions or requests because of their proximity to their put his vivid imagination and his profi-are noted down and implemented to a grandmother. Therefore they continu- ciency at writing into good use.great extent. ously have to be on the run while The story begins with Dan and Amy All this is possible because of searching for the clues. Cahill proceeding to attend their grand-Mrs.Bhanumathi Ganesh, who not only mothers funeral.owns the library, but is present there They aremost of the time and is actively orphans andinvolved. A special mention to the help- their grandmoth-ful staff who are enthusiastic in assisting er was their onlythe members, including the security beloved closeguard who guides the new members in relative.operating the kiosk. At the funeral they find out Girija Ramasubu that she, instead Nerul, Navi Mumbai of leaving them her mansion, had given them and the other Cahills two options. To either take one million dol- lars each or put their lives at risk and What happens to Dan and Amy? Does search for the 39 clues scattered across any of the other Cahills manage to slow the world that would make them the them down? Do they safely get to the most powerful people on the planet. first clue? Go on and flip through the Amy and Dan decide to take the chal- book. You will find that it will prove to lenge but they are only one of the many. be an exciting read! They have to battle other power greedy Cahills to beat them to the clues. Soumya is a 9th grade student of Like in Rick Riordans Percy Jackson, Sishu Griha, New Tippasandra. An many of the well-known names in histo- avid reader of books, she loves read- ry are said to be part of the Cahill fami- ing mystery and fantasy. While her ly. To name a few, Benjamin Franklin, favorite author is Agatha Christie. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and She also likes to play chess and bas- ketball.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 9Readers’s Contribution “Doing what it takes”The Nordstrom Way to tude toward cus- tomer service, thoseCustomer Service Excellence who are willing to go the extra mile,Robert Spector willing to take ini- tiative and to workWiley hard. Its also interest-Deepa Bhat ing that most cus- tomer oriented organizations such as SouthwestN ordstrom has been legendary in Airlines also place customer service, so much so emphasis during that it almost seems mythical. hiring.Any program on customer service can- It would be inter-not go without a mention of Nordstroms esting to hear fromcustomer service. When I chanced upon readers about thethe book The Nordstrom Way to Indian organiza-Customer Service Excellence, at my tions that theyJustBooks branch, I was quite excited to know of are out-find out more and see if the stories about standing in their customer service. Sadly, are possibly "fun" places to work in.Nordstroms customer service were in my experience, barring a few organi- A key insight from the book for memyths or a reality? zations in the hospitality sector, cus- was that either employees fit into the A word of caution though, after read- tomer service in the Indian industry Nordstrom culture or when they dont,ing this book you may just expect similar seems to be very dismal. they leave.service from stores that you visit, so 2) Empowering the frontline: to serve While there is respect for employeeskeep your expectations at bay. the customer a great deal of emphasis is and time for fun, the focus on hard The book is divided into sections, each placed on "doing what it takes" to serve work is the central, integral part of theexplaining the Nordstrom way of the customer. Employees go out of the Nordstrom culture.how the spirit of customer service is way to meet the customers needs such The belief of the founders in providingingrained into the culture of the organi- as getting them an item from another unparalleled customer service is empha-zation. store, home delivery, dropping a pur- sized throughout the book. The passion Some interesting take-aways for me chase to the airport and so on. and commitment of the top leaders, con-from the book are: This takes away precious work hours sistency in practicing the values, continu- 1) Hire right: Pay attention at the hir- which could cost them a commission, ous communication and a congruenting stage, hire people who have the atti- but in the long term this wins reward and recognition system are the Nordstrom a loyal customer and fur- cornerstones for building a culture of ther purchases. customer service. 3) Mistakes are fine: as long as Last but not the least, the leaders role you learn from the mistakes. in defining the purpose of the organiza- 4) Recognition of efforts seems to tion and communicating it to the be the key in motivating and retain- employees is very critical in developing ing employees: Recognition in form the culture of the organization , be it that of appreciation letters or public of customer service, quality or opera- announcements inspires the employ- tional excellence. ees to focus their efforts on the cus- Having read this book, my expecta- tomer. I believe that each of us could tions as a customer are now viewed apply this in recognizing and prais- through "Nordstrom" glasses. When my ing our family & showing our appre- billing took over 45 minutes at a restau- ciation to them. rant, I began to hear little voices in my 5) Incentives also play a huge role head,"Maybe they going to make it up to me in driving employees towards cus- : maybe a discount on my meal, maybe a tomer service and sales: The com- complimentary dessert " and I was so dis- mission structure is very interesting, appointed as all I got was a huge bill. being linked to the value of sales as well as the hourly pay of the Deepa is a member of JustBooks, employee. Indiranagar. She juggles the hats of I had an impression that organiza- being a mom and a HR consultant, tions that excel in customer service and is interested in reading a varied range of books.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 10 1. Rabindranath Tagore was 4. Tagore returned his knighthood: born in: In protest of massacre at Jallianwala Shantiniketan Bagh Dhaka In support of Swadeshi movement Kolkata All the above. 5. In his later years, Tagore worked towards: Growing Visva-Bharati University Translating Gitanjali 2. This sister of Tagore was a renowned novelist: Studying for law Swarnakumari Soudamini Saratkumari 3. Name the famous family magazine of Tagore household: Ghare-Baire Bharati Tattwabodhini Patrika Kolkata, Swarnakumari, Bharati, In protest of massacre at Jallianwala Bagh, Growing Visva-Bharati University JUSTBOOKS J u s t B o o k s r e c o g n i z e d TOP 5 F orbes Magazine recently fea- N EW A RRIVALS tured JustBooks 1. Those In Peril by Wilbur and its founder Smith R.Sunda Rajan, in 2. Pure Sequence by Paro Anand an article titled 3. Idea Man by Paul Allen Reading made 4. Adapt by Tim Harford Easy - Why 5. Siachen Glacier by Harish JustBooks Kapadia Libraries Work . The article cap- tured a sense of what JustBooks R ECOMMENDED libraries offer 1. Beijing Coma by Jian Ma members in this 2. The Everest Hotel by Allan one comment from Sealy a member of ours: 3. Apradhini by Shivani Trans. by ‘"The clichéd Ira Pande image of a library - 4. The Prophet by Khalil dusty, books Gibran untouched, no one 5. Into Thin Air by Jon knows what is where Krakauer - is done away with," says Ramesh Prabhu, a Image Courtesy: Girish GV, Forbes India book lover and a R ENTALS member of Just Books.’ 1. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffery Archer It also describes what could await JustBooks in the future. Here is 2. 2 States: The Story Of My an excerpt from the article “He also sees an opportunity to convert Marriage by Chetan Bhagat his libraries into community centres and grow other businesses 3. And Thereby Hangs A Tale by through that, such as holiday planning and developing a music Jeffery Archer hub.” 4. The 39 Clues:Vespers Rising Check out the article at this URL: http://business.in.com/article/work- by Rick Riordan in-progress/reading-made-easy-why-just-books-libraries-work/25832/2 5. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown From JustBooks blog - http://blog.justbooksclc.com
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 11 Meet the other Tagores in a hope that this would pave wayWomen of the Tagore for other Bengali girls.Household Jnanadanandini, Rabindranaths sister-in-law was ably supported byChitra Deb her husband and was the first one to step into the wider world over-Translated from Bengali by Smita coming all opposition and restric-Chowdhry and Sona Roy tions. She made a trip to England to bePenguin with her husband, and later on to Bombay; both a first since womenAradhana Janga seldom went outside the house unaccompanied. She brought back simple yet delightful ideas from her trips like celebrating birthdays, get- ting a photographer to take pic- tures of the entire household and modernizing the tradition- al way of dressing. In 1876, Swarnakumari, Rabindranaths sister authored Deep Nirban, which amazed readers with its erudite lan- guage and command over the one voluminous research paper with plot without any feminine inhibi- absolutely no chapter breaks. tions. Unfortunately, Chitra Debs style of Incidentally, she also empathized writing leaves much to be desired as she with the status of widows in the leaps from one incident or one person to society and attempted to make them talking about multiple people, most of financially independent by educat- the time without any proper reference. ing them. The reader is left groping in the dark Chitra Deb covers several genera- and the only way out seems to be to tions of the Tagore family spanning bookmark the family tree and refer to it more than a century. Few know that multiple times for every couple of pages; Vande Mataram was first set to not really the best way to read a book. music by one of Rabindranaths No doubt that Chitra Debs researchT agore might be a well-known nieces, Sarala, whose interest in was probably painstaking in order to get name, but not much is known music was exemplary in addition to her her facts right, but having gone to such about the women of the Tagore literary pursuits. lengths (the book spans 500 pages), thehousehold. This lengthy treatise by Her contribution to Indias freedom book could have been arranged better.Chitra Deb covers generations of women movement notably included opening a Important groundbreaking milestonesof the Tagore household, some very store to advertise and popularize the use like Swarnakumaris concern for the wid-well-known, some relatively known and of Swadeshi goods, exhorting Indian ows, and Chandramukhi and Kadambinimost unknown. youth to enlist in the army in large num- being Indias first two female graduates, The role of women in Indian society is bers, and publishing nationalistic articles is lost in the milieu of other lessera highly-discussed topic even in the 21st in her magazine. accomplishments.century. Then what it might have been Devika Rani, a well-known actress, One ends up feeling that Chitra Debback in the 19th century? Couldnt have married into the Tagore family and had found it necessary to comment on everybeen much, given the customs of child a successful stint under her production woman in the Tagore household irre-marriage, Sati, denial of education and company. Sharmila Tagore is another spective of their achievements and con-literacy, restrictions on going outdoors, name well known in the Indian film tribution, resulting in a confusing con-singing, riding in a coach or talking to industry. The list of women of the coction that does not make this a pleas-men outside the family. Tagore household that Chitra Deb covers urable read. The translation from Bengali Womens liberation then was more seems endless. to English by Smita Chowdhry and Sonarelated to womens education, womens For someone who isnt familiar with Roy is however faultless.rights and emancipation. Some women the Tagore family, the family tree at the This is a book that no doubt couldmanaged to fight it out on their own, end of the book that takes up just over a have been more interesting had it keptwhile others were supported by their hundred pages would prove monumen- its expectations a bit more clear, but readfamilies to forge ahead. tal. Of course, a scholar on the other it if you are curious about the Tagore In 1851, Saudamini, Rabindranaths sis- hand would salivate over the same for surname or the women of the Tagoreter was admitted to school by her father his thesis on the subject. The book is like household.
12 JustBooks Connect - July 2011Survival instinct Against all oddsSubhash Bhushan This conclusion served as a strong basis for Frankls logotherapy. Logotherapy, from Greek word logosW hat would you do if you have- meaning, is a type of existentialist been whisked from a success- analysis that focuses on a will to mean- ful life in the middle of the ing. Rather than power or pleasure,night to a torture camp and your entire logotherapy is founded upon the belieffamily has been tortured and wiped out? that it is the striving to find a meaningEverything that you have known as civi- in ones life that is the primary, mostlized and human has been blown away powerful motivating and driving forceto pieces. in humans. Most would lose hope, fritter awaywhatever is left of their lifeand contemplate suicide. Notso with our subject of thisarticle, Victor Frankl. The Austrian born psychia-trist developed a brand newThird Viennese school of down, a friend, familyPsychotherapy, to be able to member, or even God,battle his own demons, and who would expect not toto spread this knowledge be disappointed. Franklamongst all who struggled to concluded from his expe-live another day of no hope. rience that a prisoners On September 25, 1942 he, psychological reactionsalong with his wife, and his are not solely the resultparents were deported to the of the conditions of hisTheresienstadt concentration life, but also from thecamp. There Frankl worked freedom of choice heas a doctor in a clinic until always has even inhis skill in psychiatry was severe suffering. Thenoticed. inner hold a prisoner has He was then asked to estab- on his spiritual self relieslish a unit to help newcomers on having a faith in the Fto the camp overcome shock and grief. rankls concept is based on the prem- future, and that once a prisoner losesHe later set up a suicide watch unit, ise that the primary motivational that faith, he is doomed.where all intimations of suicide were force of an individual is to find a mean- Viktor Frankls 1946 book Mansreported to him. ing in life. The basic principles of Search for Meaning chronicles his expe- To maintain his own sanity and self logotherapy are: First, Life has meaning riences as a concentration camp inmateworth in the dismal conditions, he under all circumstances, even the most and describes his psychotherapeuticwould frequently go outside and give miserable ones. method of finding a reason to live.lecture to an imaginary audience about Second, our main motivation for living According to Frankl, the book intends to"Psychotherapeutic Experiences in a is our will to find meaning in life. answer the question "How was everydayConcentration Camp". He believed that by And third, that we have freedom to life in a concentration camp reflected in thefully experiencing the suffering objec- find meaning in what we do, and what mind of the average prisoner?" Part Onetively, he would thereby end it. we experience, or at least in the stand constitutes Frankls analysis of his expe- In later part of 1944, he was transport- we take when faced with a situation of riences in the concentration camps,ed to Auschwitz and then to Turkheim. unchangeable suffering. while Part Two introduces his ideas ofWhereas, his wife and mother were Frankl also concludes that there are meaning and his theory of logotherapy.murdered in other concentration camps H only two races of men, decent men and is story and this book have inspiredand he father died in Theresienstadt. On indecent. No society is free of either of many, including Steven Covey, ofApril 27, 1945, Frankl was liberated by them. He concluded that the meaning of Seven Habits fame.the Americans. The only other survivor life is found in every moment of living; In the post-war years, Frankl pub-in his family was his sister, who had life never ceases to have meaning, even lished more than 32 books, lectured andescaped by emigrating to Australia. in suffering and death. In a group thera- taught seminars all over the world and It was due to his and others suffering py session during a mass fast inflicted received 29 honorary doctorate degrees.in these camps that he came to his hall- on the camps inmates trying to protect He died on September 2, 1997, of heartmark conclusion that even in the most an anonymous fellow inmate from fatal failure. He is survived by his secondabsurd, painful and dehumanized situa- retribution by authorities, Frankl offered wife, children and grand-children.tion, life has potential meaning and that the thought that for everyone in a diretherefore even suffering is meaningful. condition there is someone looking Source Credits: Wikipedia.
JustBooks Connect - July 2011 13In FocusFriends and allies of JustBooksSapana RawatThis month we met and talked to Mr.D. Ravi Kumar and his wife Chitra,the franchise owner of JustBooks,Frazer Town. Ravi is well-known inthe JustBooks community as heblogs for JustBooks and now heheads the Franchise Development atStrata Retail. So if you are interest-ed in becoming a franchise owner of aJustBooks branch in your area, he isthe person you should be talking to.Tell us a little bit about yourself andyour family.You could say I am a typical namma ben-galuru huduga- born, brought up andcontinuing to be educated in Bangalore.Our roots are in Trichy, Im told, though Ihavent traced them yet!. Chitra, my wife& co-owner of our Frazer Town library, isalso from Bangalore but has plenty of rel- bit hard and I realised that while running this and we will roll them out shortly.atives in Tamil Nadu. We have three a JustBooks franchise can provide theschool going kids who love to lend a butter-jam, one still has to earn the bread. How much of time do you spend at thehand running the library. Two of them JustBooks outlet personally? Howare pretty avid readers running through Why and how did this franchise option rewarding is the experience of interactingthe childrens section in like, 30 seconds, happen? with your members?which is an exaggeration, of course. But I am very familiar with Frazer Town and Whatever time we spend at the library,then, three kids are an exaggeration, its surroundings. I enquired about the we feel its inadequate. We wish for morethanks to soft population control meas- possibility of a franchise in this area and time there but we have to balance work,ures in India! when given the go ahead, we spared not family, kids and library. That said, we get efforts. Still there were hurdles which, a lot of pleasure interacting with ourWhat were you doing before joining through a combination of zeal, pig head- members and every suggestion, feedbackJustBooks as an employee? edness, limited resources, amazing sup- and complaint is taken seriously.Ah ah! I was, in the given order, a mem- port from a well wisher (you know whober of JustBooks, Indiranagar, then blog- you are!) and perhaps destiny; JustBooks, What kind of books do you read person-ger for JustBooks (eager beaver at best, Frazer Town was born. ally? Who are your favourite authors?inconsistent at worst!), a franchise owner I love India and am drawn to books aboutnext and now I head the Franchise How has been the customer response to its diversity, its history and its mytholo-Development at Strata Retail -brand own- JustBooks as a concept & your library, in gy. My favourite authors are Gurcharaners of JustBooks. It cant get better than particular? Das, Shashi Tharoor, Devdatt Pattnaik,this. Overriding all this, of course, is the People have been amazed that we pro- Ashok Banker and gosh, this list could gofact that we are huge fans of JustBooks as vide an excellent ambience, pocket on and on.a concept, its founders, our library & friendly membership schemes, attentivestaff, my fellow franchisees, my team & customer service, wide variety of books What is your advice to book lovers whocolleagues with whom I enjoy working. with new titles every week, magazines would like to turn entrepreneurs through option, home delivery etc at a reasonable JustBooks?How has been your experience on work- reading fee. If you like books, reading and meetinging full time and taking care of the people, this is one business that youFranchise? What do you think will be a great addi- should consider seriously. However, likeBefore I joined JustBooks as a franchisee, tion in terms of value to your existing all businesses, you will still have to takeit appeared that I had plenty of time. Id members? initiative, think on your feet and devisefantasize about actually wanting to leave A combination of events, promotions and strategies to get members. It is fun andmy job and run the library full time. Then activities within the library will be good rewarding once you get past the criticalon becoming an employee here, reality value, I think. We are working towards mass of memberships.
14 JustBooks Connect - July 2011 Just KidsSilly Dilly The author, Kuntie Ramdat Balkaran is an experienced writer of childrens books.Kuntie Ramdat Balkaran She has written several otherIllustrator: Anitha Balachandran books, similar to Silly DillyAge group: 2-8 yrs for children, such as LittlePages: 28 Monkey Gets Lost: WhereScholastic Animals Live, A Cat Called Trouble Maker and Mouse Sees the World!. The illustrator, Anitha Balachandran has worked in the field of designing booksJayanthi Harsha and animations for young children for quite a while, now. Her other projectsD illy is a young duckling, who is includes Song Of The clearly different from his sib- Bookworm, and more lings. Not only does he have a notably, Mister Jeejeebhoywholly different appearance, but also And The Birds, which shehas a different perception of the world has written and illustratedround him. Every creature he comes herself.across appears to be a dangerous wild Most of the books meaninganimal to him. is conveyed through the pic- One fine day Dilly goes on a tour of tures, which according to thethe farmhouse with his family and they main theme of the story isend up meeting quite a number of ordi- largely, of animals. much difficulty. There is even morenary farm animals, this sets silly Dilly First, the animals are portrayed in scope for them to expand on the storyrunning for his life, as he believes that a such a way that the reader sees them as and add more facts about the animalsbunch of dangerous creatures were out Dilly sees them and finally as how silly along the way.to get him. Dillys mother sees them. After reading the story, the young But every time his mother informs him All along the way, facts are given, for reader will feel a certain sense of satis-that he is over-reacting and reveals the both wild and farm animals. This will faction of a story well-told with a fittingcreature to be relatively harmless. help children get information about ani- end. The facts about the animals intro-Things go along these lines throughout mals, whats special about them, their duced in the story will arouse interestthe story, until Dilly finally meets a crea- features and habitats etc. and curiosity in young children andture which his mother is unable to label The repetition of some sentences like might encourage them to learn moreas harmless. "Run for your lives", or "Oh silly Dilly, about animals, not just through the Read on to find out the creatures silly How can that be?" will amuse and stay in story, but through other sources in gen-Dilly meets on his tour of the farm and the memories for toddlers and parents eral.the identity of the final creature. alike. The story is a very effective way Young children will certainty find This book was written and published for parents to introduce young children pleasure in revisiting this story againin 2009 by Scholastic. to animals and their habitats without from time to time! JustBooks Picks for Young Readers Goodnight Moon by Margaret Brown Moin And The Monster by Anushka The Children Of Hurin by JRR Ravishankar Tolkien The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle The Karate Mouse by Geronimo Stilton Terror On The Titanic by Samit Basu A Blessing from Above by Patti Henderson Aditi And Her Friends In Search of Taranauts 5:The Mystery Of The Shemeek by Suniti Namjoshi Silver Syntillas by Roopa Pai