Pay it forward

Sacred Games


Uma leads my projects team at NalandaWay. A bouncy and generally a very happy person. I have known her for over four years now, and someone who has become very important in our work with children. She has a warm personality and it is very hard to catch her without a beaming smile.

On one hot sunny afternoon in Chennai, both of us were getting out of a school in Mylapore. We were slightly relaxed that the review of our programme had gone well with the trustees of the school. We had been anxious about the review for over a week.

“How old are you?” I had always wanted to ask this question to her. She has had long years of corporate experience behind her but always carried a youthful exuberance.

“Never ask a woman her age,” she said and gave her characteristic smile.

More than anything else, what is most noticeable about her is the total absence of cynicism in her attitude to life that usually comes with getting older. Both of us were walking towards my car and I noticed she was dressed rather festively for a school visit.

“So going for a wedding or a concert later?” I was curious.

“Nope,” and in a shy voice continued, “my husband had gone out of the country for the past ten days and I am meeting him for coffee now. Thought I might dress up for him,” and winked at me.

For my turn, I was now smiling ear to ear. Apparently love is real.

Uma is a fan of crime thrillers and I gifted her, “Sacred Games” by Vikram Chandra.

‪#‎PayItForward #‎GiftABook‬ 22/100

Pay it forward

Dongri to Dubai


I am a huge crime buff. From Godfather to Nayagan, Rock and Rolla to Satya, Reservoir Dogs to Aranya Khandam; I loved them all. Surprisingly my appetite has been more for films than novels. The real lives of dons have always intrigued me.

“Dongri to Dubai” by S. Hussain Zaidi is a go to book on crime and mafia dons in big bad Bombay. The book chronicles the stories of notorious gangsters like Haji Mastan, Karim Lala, Varadarajan Mudaliar, Chhota Rajan, Abu Salem, and Dawood Ibrahim from 1947 to 2011.

Totally unputdownable.

Unlike earlier, This time I had some trouble getting the cafe managers to agree to my idea. Two cafes did not agree to leaving the book on their tables. Perhaps I should not gift wrap it anymore, just a gift bag might work. When the second cafe turned down my ‘gifting a book to a stranger’ plan, I decided to give away the book to a stranger directly.

So congratulations Aparna, hope you like this book.

In medias res

He could be my son

He is a demon. He raped and killed a daughter. She would have burnt while he pleasured; she would have trembled when he rejoiced; she would have wailed when he violated.

He deserves to be punished. What if he was my son? He would have been in school wearing a uniform. He would be naive, intelligent, brash and full of hope.

Of course he needs to be punished, but he is just a child, can he still get one more chance to repent and ask for forgiveness?

He has committed a heinous crime, but he will become a good person if we show love.

He is just a child.

He could be my son.