Pay it forward

Children, Women, Men


“I need a job at NalandaWay,” Hema told me.

This was seven years ago. Hema is a bright creative person and she had just finished her Masters in Electronic Media from Anna University.

“Why don’t you do a short 3 months internship with us, that way we get to understand your strengths and you will know if you like us?” I suggested. She agreed. She joined the team that made films on issues that affect children.

Two months into the internship she became anxious about her prospects.

“If I prove that am an effective communicator, will you confirm my job?” she confronted me again.

I nodded with a smile.

She quickly went on Youtube and searched for ‘Allu Arjun interview.’ Allu Arjun is a huge film star in Telugu cinema. In the video the interviewer asked the actor about his fans and he talked about a letter that he had received from Hema. My eyes lit up in surprise as I did not think stars really responded to fan mail, in the pre Facebook, Twitter era. He continued saying that he was touched by the love and admiration that Hema had for him.

If she could get a film star to talk about her letter in a public interview then she can make videos that could change adults’ negative behavior towards children. This was a clincher.

Hema worked with us for many years and later she went on to be selected for the prestigious “Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship.” She currently works in the violence prone red corridor of Chattisgarh.

Hema came to visit me recently and I gifted “Children, Women, Men” by Sundara Ramasamy. I love his writings so much that I have re-read many of his short stories.

More power to you Hema.

#PayItForward #GiftABook 18/100

Pay it forward

The Karamazov Brothers


“The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.”

I love this quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in “The Karamazov Brothers.” Truth be told, I have not read the book. After I started ‘gift a book’ project few months back, this is the first time I have gifted a book that the receiverhad wanted. There was a special reason to why I did that.

Dhivya is an eclectic reader of Tamil literary fiction. Earlier this year, she introduced me to Sundara Ramaswamy. ‘Su Ra’ as he is popularly called, has to his credit many short stories, poetry and three novels in Tamil. I fell in love with his writing instantly. I feel that there is some kind of magical realism in his words, which is simple, funny but profound at the same time.

Sample this; in his short story ‘Crows’ he writes,

“Whenever I told the older crows, ‘I am a poet as well,’ they looked at me with a little smile. It seemed to me that they said, ‘That is really not very important to us.’ It struck me as perfectly fair that as long as I took no notice of the poetry of their world, they were at liberty to ignore the poetry of mine.”

Or this from “Children, Women, Men”

“Once you learnt English, you never understood other people’s misfortunes.”

His works have also been translated in English. “Children, Women, Men” and “Under the Tamarind Tree” are my favourites.

So when Dhivya demanded a book of her choice, I had to oblige.

People, introduce me to new writers. And if I fall in love with the writing you can demand a book of your choice.

‪#‎GiftaBook‬ ‪#‎PayitForward‬ 17/100

Pay it forward

Nine Lives

Pay it forward

This week, while waiting to meet a friend, I ventured into a small bookshop at the Defence colony market in Delhi. As soon as I entered, a bright red book fell on the floor right next to me. It was “Nine Lives” by William Darlymple. The book sensitively profiles the lives of nine mystics from different parts of the country. The story of a Jain nun who undertakes “Sallekhana,” a Jain practice of undertaking voluntary death at the end of one’s life, had made a big impression on me.

I bought this copy and decided to gift it to someone. Why not a stranger? Maybe.

So the impulsive idea was quickly put into action when I returned to Chennai. The plan was to write a brief note inside the book, gift wrap it and leave it silently at a café, so that someone would pick it up. After writing a brief note, to my utter surprise, I found that the book had been autographed by the author William Darlymple himself.

Earlier this evening, I dropped into one of my favourite cafes in Chennai, Ashvita Nirvana in Besant Nagar and left the book on a table, informed the staff about my idea and silently walked out.

I hope that the person, who picks up this book, reads it and feels inspired, like I do.

I am praying that this book continues its magical streak in the life of one more person. ‪#‎PayItForward‬