Know your Author

We all love to read autobiographies and biographies of rich and famous…and we have our favorites too! But if we explore this segment little more we will be taken aback by countless biographies and autobiographies on the shelves of bookstores and libraries…you name it, they have it. Be it a sportsperson, politician, singer, actor, dancer, industrialist, writer…the list is endless. There are millions of books available on their lives and achievements. Here, Smita Dwivedi writes about Pooja Bedi, author of Time Pass – an autobiography of her mother Protima Bedi, Indian model turned Odissi xponent.

The biographies of great men and women have been written and rewritten not only to glorify their great deeds, but also to provide great inspirational tales of achievement, sacrifice, courage, commitment and exemplary qualities. To start with, let me ask a question –‘Which is the most inspiring Indian biography?’ To put an end to our instant wilderness of thoughts, let me tell you the answer. It is Shrimad Bhagwad Gita – the autobiography of Lord Krishna. Yes, in India and world over, it is one of the most read autobiographical literature. As per Dr Sonal Mansingh, “It is so amazing that I have read it more than 10 times.”

Pooja’s Time Pass

Out of many famous autobiographical books some are literary masterpieces which contain volumes written about fascinating and famous people and events. So why one more? To which, Pooja Bedi replied, “The book Time Pass is my tribute to my mom – Protima Bedi. She had this wonderful habit to pen down all her emotional, personal and intellectual thoughts which were wandering within her. And she had a huge collection of her writings, which I explored when she was not with us.”

Protima was always known for her outrageous lifestyle. She was quite an icon, defying sexual taboos and challenging hypocrisies. And her nude run on the Juhu beach in Mumbai was her way to condemn society. Living life on her own terms, her death also came dramatically as she would have wanted. On August 17, 1998 while on pilgrimage to Mansarovar, a landslide killed 200 people. Among them was Protima Bedi.

While reading heaps of manuscripts by Protima, Pooja got a chance to know her mom much better. So how was the journey of writing an autobiography of your so called controversial mom? To which she replies, “Well I always stood by mom, she had given us a great lifestyle. I was always given my right to choose my ways. The diary entries and her writings were her own views and opinions about the external world. And these really helped me in knowing her better. I wanted that not only me…but the whole world should know her the way she was. So I decided to compile it in – Time Pass.”

But why such a unique

name: Time Pass? And she explains, “Her life was fun, she lived every moment to the fullest. Whenever we asked her about life, she always replied it’s a Time Pass.” And for Pooja, autobiographies of successful people are quite inspiring.

-“Over the course of my lifetime, something had been changing in India to turn it into the kind of place where reinventions became possible.”

Anand GiridharadasWhat are Papa and I doing here?” Anand Giridharadas got this text message from his mother when his sister was considering moving to India from California. Giridharadas was already working in India. His parents were at their home outside Washington, D.C.

Giridharadas’ parents immigrated to the United States in the 1970s, part of the great Indian brain drain. Giridharadas says he never thought he’d follow the reverse route back to India. “My childhood behavior was wanting to keep India at bay,” he says. “The first thing I learned about India was that my parents had chosen to leave it.” India, for him, meant family trips with suitcases stuffed with gifts—Gap khakis and Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky. In some ways, India was defined by the things one could not get.

“But over the course of my lifetime, something had been changing in India to turn it into the kind of place where reinventions became possible,” says Giridharadas. His book, India Calling, is about that transformation. “It was not just me as a young man going East and reinventing myself. The more important part of the story is that a lot of other people, including Indians themselves, were finding in their country opportunities to reinvent themselves.”

Giridharadas came to India to work for McKinsey & Company. He stayed on to write for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. That allowed him to have a ringside view of this changing India.

He sees many reasons for this transformation. “A lot of people overplay the singular role that capitalism has played,” Giridharadas says. He sees a subtler but more profound cultural shift. “A lot of Indians are acquiring an idea of self and selfhood, that they matter against the claims of the family, against the claims of their caste, against the claims of the state.”

Some of that has happened through an unlikely medium—television. Giridharadas says in small town India, television “arrives actually as a force of uplift.” It does not just advertise cars and detergents. A young man named Ravindra told him if you saw a man catching an anaconda on the Discovery Channel, you knew that he was probably the best person in the world at catching an anaconda. “In a very small town, the idea of seeing the best person in the world at doing anything is such a revelation,” marvels Giridharadas.

Ravindra, son of farm hands, raised in a small town in the middle of nowhere, came from a world that accepted things as they were. But he pulled himself up by enrolling in a slew of coaching academies for conversational English and computer classes. Now he owns his own English language academy and a roller skating rink. When Giridharadas met him, he was conducting a Mr. and Miss Umred Personality Contest for his town of Umred, population 50,000, in Maharashtra. “He has become the ambassador of escape for a young generation craving it,” says Giridharadas.

In that process, the Ravindras of India are becoming more comfortable in their own skin. They eat out at fancy restaurants but are unabashed about preferring ghar ka khana or home-cooked food. At one time, men like Giridharadas’ grandfather held the reins of power. His tweed coats, pucca English and membership in the right clubs all spoke to that. “The old guard is still holding on,” says Giridharadas. “But there is a clear shift away from their rule toward one that looks and feels much more Indian, much more rooted in the soil.”

Its patron saint is perhaps industrial tycoon Mukesh Ambani. Ravindra wants Giridharadas to show him every photograph he has of Ambani on his laptop. Ambani takes business colleagues to the temple, and hankers for real food after a designer meal at Nobu, the exclusive Japanese restaurant in New York.

But ambition and a can-do spirit alone cannot propel millions up the economic ladder. “You have an abundance of workers who cannot find jobs and an abundance of jobs who cannot find workers,” says Giridharadas. “What needs to happen is to develop an educational system to align the two.”

Giridharadas will be watching to see if that happens. He’s back in the United States now, finishing his Ph.D. He says America gave him self-confidence but India gave him “a sense of community.” He hopes to write more books, and not just about India. “But I know that India will be a permanent part of my life,” he says. “I will live there again.”

(Sandip Roy, currently in Kolkata, is an editor with New America Media. Article reprinted from SPAN magazine, May/June 2011 issue.)

You Can win…these three words just flash in my mind every time I hear Shiv Khera’s name. And I am sure this is common to most of us as well. Khera is the author of 12 books including International Best Seller “YOU CAN WIN”, which has sold over 2 million copies in 16 languages. Shiv Khera A book is a condensed capsule of knowledge,” isn’t it a great thought to kickstart, asks Shiv Khera, and I agree, as an avid reader. Khera needs no introduction. Be it as a motivational book author, educator, business consultant or a successful entrepreneur. Besides, he is a much sought-after speaker… internationally. He inspires and informs people, helping them to realize their true potential. His 30 years of research, understanding and experience has helped people on the path of personal growth and fulfilment.

He has been recognised as a ‘Louis Marchesi Fellow’ by the Round Table Foundation, an award given to, among others, Mother Teresa. Lions Club International has honoured Khera with ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for the cause of ‘Humanitarian Service to Society’. Rotary Club has honoured him with the ‘Centennial Vocational Award for Excellence.’ He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows.

In a thought provoking conversation with the man himself, Smita Dwivedi (SD) of AABP unravels the myriad shades of his personality while experiencing a never before positivity. Excerpts.

SD: When and how did you start writing?

Shiv Khera: Well I think this goes back to almost 35 years ago, when I left India. That was the time I went through a programme by Dr Norman Vincent Peale, who has written a book The Power of Positive Thinking. He’s a wonderful man and his words had made great impact on my conscience. It was then that I decided to write a book and it would be international bestseller. For many years I researched and collected information before I actually started writing book in 1992. My first book – You Can Win – got published in 1997 in Singapore.

SD: How has been your journey as an author?

Shiv Khera: In all my 35 years, which I spent in North America, I met many influential as well as ordinary people. I feel they all have contributed to my life, especially Mr Peale, who had transformed my overall thought process. Surprisingly, before this I had never read a comic but afterwards I became an avid reader, started reading almost 40-50 books a year, which totally changed my life. And since then I have been busy reading and writing.

SD: What inspires you to be active with your writing?

Shiv Khera: The one and only motivation was that if somebody has contributed to my life, which changed my life personally, professionally and socially…so it is my time to pay back to society. If they had not contributed, I would not be there where I am. So I just want to give it back to the community and next generation. And when I realised that, it was almost 23 years ago in late eighties. It was at that time I started volunteering my time in maximum security prison in United States. I went there to conduct attitude and self esteem programs and I saw maximum behavioural change in inmates. Maximum security prison inmates are real hard core criminals. The experiences I had in the Jail of US years ago still motivate and inspires me.

One more interesting experience I would love to share. One day as I was leaving out of the session from the jail, I was stopped by an inmate, so I asked him ‘What have you learnt in the past few weeks’ and he replied…I feel good and also started reading my Bible. At that moment I felt that when I would leave the jail I would be a contributing member to the society and that was the biggest clarification of my mission. As a volunteer, I was not being paid but such experiences were the biggest pay off.

And I saw lives changing; I decided to go to the corporate world as well. And it was really big transition for me and my career.

SD: How and when did the idea to author You Can Win actually emerged?

Shiv Khera: The big question was ‘why one more book’ when there were a number of motivational books available. Why would anybody buy my book? And my answer was that my book would be different. You Can Win addresses life with a very positive perspective. It is very down to earth, written at fifth grade level and filled with real life experiences, so people can easily relate to it and the obvious reaction while reading goes like ‘Oh that happened to me’ or ‘I went through that’ or ‘I heard that’. The book appeals both to the head and to the heart…it has both logic and feelings. So that is why when people buy it, they say yes it makes sense and their lives change.

SD: How did you decide the title?

Shiv Khera: I was in Singapore with a person who was in part editing with me. While we were brain storming, the first thing that came to our mind was the title. And we both were of same opinion that this is a book for winners. And so we came straight to You Can Win. If a person could be a winner after reading a book… so, the title was apt.

SD: Who are amongst your favourite authors and what books have you read?

Shiv Khera: At a given time...I read 8-10 books simultaneously...I read 5-10 pages of one book then start reading the other and so keep on reading simultaneously. I certainly read what I want to at a moment. I love to read non-fiction books but don’t like fiction. These books basically give another perspective and keep me motivated as well. Napoleon Hill - Think And Grow Rich; Dr Thomas A Harris - I’m OK - You’re OK; and Norman Vincent Peale - The Power of Positive Thinking are amongst my most favourites.

SD: Are there any challenges you face as an author?

Shiv Khera: The biggest challenge and concern in India is piracy. There are not many authors whose books have sold over 2 million copies. I am being paid royalty for that but the numbers could be much more, if we put a check on piracy.

SD: What are your favourite activities besides writing?

Shiv Khera: Whatever little bit time I get, I love to spend it with my family. I am very fond of dogs. I have four Rottweiler, all are huge, and I love playing with them. I have two grandsons; I just love their company and have fun with them.

SD: What can our readers expect next from you?

Shiv Khera: I am ready with my next book on positive parenting. I never thought earlier that parenting is such a big issue, but today all around the world, the biggest concern is positive parenting. Now parents are more concerned about their children values and principles. And what I found is that the problem is not with the child but is with the parents. So, it is definitely going to help people.

SD: Any message you want to share?

Shiv Khera: The only thing I want to say is that there’s no substitute to good reading. A good book gives you the wisdom of ages in a capsule format. I feel if behaviour has not changed learning has not taken place. I would like to end with Henry Ford’s quote: “Whether You Believe You Can, Or You Can’t, You Are Right.”

told Dr Raghunath Mashelkar, the eminent scientist and recipient of Padma Shri (1991) and Padma Bhushan (2000) awards in recognition of his contribution to nation building. But this interview has nothing to do with his achievements as a scientist and achiever but as an author whose latest book on Gandhi has made him part of an Indian’s everyday conversation. Excerpts. Dr Raghunath Mashelkar Dr Raghunath Mashelkar’s Timeless Inspirator – Reliving Gandhi has been creating waves across the country. Ritu Goyal (RG) caught up with Dr Mashelkar (Dr M) at his office on a sunny afternoon where he spoke about what Gandhi meant to him, how the book originated in his mind and where he sees the book heading.

Bejan Daruwalla – the laughing Buddha!
Bejan Daruwalla needs no introduction. Being acknowledged as one of the hundred great astrologers in the last 1000 years in the Millennium Book of Prophecy, published by Harper Collins, USA, Bejan is also one of Asia’s most read and largest selling authors. We bring you a detailed account of the life of this man of wisdom, who besides being a successful astrologer is also a professor, poet, writer, thinker, critic…and above all a foreteller of goodness, in a tête-à-tête with Smita Dwivedi.

Bejan Daruwalla is the world’s most famous astrologer, and a regular on television shows worldwide. Besides, he is also a best-selling author and columnist. He has been a professor in English and currently his articles are published in various newspapers like The Sunday Times of India (Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata), Telegraph (Kolkata), Navhind Times (Goa), Dell Annual Horoscope 1998 (New York), News India (New York), and Berkeley Communications (London) to name a few. He had been a guest on BBC - Hard Talk India, London; ABC and NBC, USA; Star News, Zee TV, Sony, etc. He was invited to America, the Philippines, London and Pakistan, in fact the only Indian astrologer invited to Pakistan What’s more! On July 16, 2000,

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the then prime minster of India, invited him to predict the future of the country.

Q: When and how did you start writing?

Bejan: I was 25 when Asia Publishing House published my first book of poetry called Wheel of Fire. Being a professor of English, expressions came naturally to me. It was in year 1958-59 that this book gave me instant fame as a poet. After sometime, there was a terrific crossroads in my life. I completed a book on short stories and signed a contract with some publishers. But then my publishing company went bankrupt. And so in 1969, I went to Philippines as an astrologer.

Q: What inspires you to be active with your writings even at 80?

Bejan: My favorite word is love…it’s my nature to love and this inspires me to write poems even today. I write poems on Lord Shiva, Ganesha and even a 25-year-old girl. I would have been a painter; I would have painted this whole world with love. Oh! I love to have such a vast canvas.

My faith in Lord Ganesha instills me with all the positive energy. So, there’s always a vibe in me that keeps me on. I spend time on writing regular features and columns, besides working on poetry and astrology books.

Q: How has been your journey as an author?

Bejan: I have written around 200 books, which include three collections of poetry and 150 books on astrology. My satisfaction comes not from writing books but from the fact communicating with the people. This year, my annual forecast book is also translated in Russian. It’s been quite sometime since I started writing forecast books.

I have many books on astrology and so it’s difficult to mention all titles. But one book worth a mention is I am the sky, which won the first prize for Paperback Publishing at the Delhi Book Fair.

I feel lucky to have worked with the finest publishers from all over, which include Orion Publishing, Paperback Publishing, Times Group Books, Hind Pocket Books, Lovdev Publishers, Avon, Ranvir Books – Mumbai, etc.

Q: What can our readers expect next from you?

Bejan: As of now, I am very excited about my latest book 2012 – Will the World End, which is all set to hit the bookshelves. And I am sure it is going to be a wonderful book. I researched and researched a lot before writing this book. I studied science, technology, galaxies, black holes, astronomy, astrology, and so on. And I found out that technology and humanity will marry each other and stay together. To sum up, I would say ‘I care and I dare’. This would definitely be one of my finest books.

I have a great affection for kids. I laugh with them and cry for them. They are world’s most beautiful creation. Even when this whole world will come to an end, the only thing that would remain will be a child. Even the most barbarous God doesn’t have heart to kill a child. I have also completed a book on short stories for children, which is still pending with the publisher

Q: Which was the first book that you read?

Bejan: Oh! That’s Shakespearean literature for sure. I have read a lot of it.

Q: Who are amongst your favourite author/writer?

Bejan: Well, to start with… I like Kamala Suraiyya aka Kamala Das, an Indian writer who wrote in English and Malayalam; Keshav Malik, an Indian poet, critic, arts scholar, and curator; Pritish Nandy, a Indian poet, painter, journalist, politician, media and television personality, animal activist and film producer, to name a few. And my latest favourite is Chetan Bhagat, an Indian author who has written Five Point Someone, One Night @ the Call Center, The 3 Mistakes of My Life and 2 States: The Story of My Marriage.

Q: What else keeps you busy besides astrology and writing – be it hobbies, likes and dislikes?

Bejan: I am fond of listening to music of great classical maestros like Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Zubin Mehta, Bismillah Khan, etc. I do listen to contemporary music as well. I love to play with children, and like to observe them for hours. I love to laugh…oh! It’s my favourite one…Hahaha.

Q: What message would you want to give to our readers?

Bejan: Yes, I want to give a Mantra for success and it goes “Observe and Hard Work”. If any one sticks to these two virtues…he/she will get success for sure. And always remember brighter side of a story…no matter how tragic the end was. See good, do good. Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah!