Changemaker and Author: Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty is a favorite author among young children and adults. She is an engineer, author (in both languages, Kannada and English) and social worker and has won numerous such as Padma Shri. She is the chairperson of the Infosys Foundation and a member of the public health care initiatives of the Gates Foundation. She also established the Murty Classical Library of India at Harvard University.

Quote from Sudha Murty

Appreciation and accolades have always come naturally to Sudha Murty- in school and college she topped the class with honors. She also has the distinction of being the first female engineer at TELCO. Murty has done a world of work through her foundation with her focus on education, female empowerment, hygiene and poverty alleviation.

Quote from Sudha Murty

She is an exuberant mentor with a million stories to tell. Her enthusiasm is infectious and her compassion for the downtrodden and love for children shines in her writing.

Happy b’day, Sudha Murty!

Reading the Epic in the Month of Rain and Ramayana

Ramayana Masam or the Month of Ramayana is an important month especially in the southern state Kerala, India. It is observed in the month of ‘Karkidakam’, which refers to the monsoon season between July to August. During this time, the Ramayana epic, which tells the story of Ram and Sita and the travails they face, is read in Hindu households; no other auspicious events take place at this time, only treatments and prayer.

Ramayana at the Pothi.com Store

This is the right time to speak about some Ramayana editions that have been self-published at the Pothi.com Store:

Ajai Kumar Chhawchharia has written several versions of the Ramayan including The Kaagbhusund Ramayan or The Aadi Ramayan, Barvai Ramayan of Goswami Tulsidas, Saint Surdas Ram Charitawali and Geetawali Ramayan of Goswami Tulsidas.

You can see pencil sketches of the Ramayana in a book by Hiru Ray.

Adhyayma Ramayanam by Ezutthachan is a Malayalam poem where a parrot recites the Ramayan to Parvati at Shiva’s bidding. Dr. Sukumar’s book Ramayana in 30 Days is an English translation of this Kilipattu or bird song, thereby making it accessible to non-Malayalam readers as well.

Krishnakumar T K simplifies the Ramayana in seven editions of the work Ramayana Simplified.

Geeta Kasturi is a scholar and author who compares the poetic renditions of the Ramayana. Check out Triveni Sangam.

 

Listen to Young Voices on International Youth Day

International Youth Day is celebrated annually on 12 August to bring youth issues and young voices to the mainstream. The General Assembly endorsed the recommendation that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.

The 2021 theme for the day is Transforming food systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health. As the population grows, there are more and more challenges that younger people must face. The planet needs to be restored to its natural equilibrium and biodiversity must flourish if we want to have food systems that benefit all of mankind.

On that note, Pothi.com would like to celebrate the voices of some of our young writers at the Pothi.com Store:

Footprints on the Moon

Footprints on the Moon is the second Young Author Program Anthology. The Young Author Program (YAP) is a writing workshop designed to give young writers the tools they need to write their own fiction. In this anthology, young writers explore diverse subjects including vampires, wizards, pets, friendship, career choices, magic and dreams.

A Window to Young Minds 

A Window to Young Minds is the first of the yearly anthologies, Short Stories by Young Writers. The twenty-three wonderful stories in this book are handpicked from 2017 contest entries. The talent of these young writers shines in their command of storytelling and their unique take on genre—from a pirate love story to the Hindenburg disaster on May 6, 1937, in New Jersey.

Young Voices

YOUNG VOICES features fifteen pieces of fiction from fifteen student writers from around the world. Whether discussing social issues, pondering everyday truths, or examining human relationships, the authors in Young Voices are doing us all a great service. We need them and their artistic peers to keep observing humanity around them and let their words and images move us forward, indeed, to truly guarantee us all a better tomorrow.

Listen to Young Adults

Not by a young adult but pertaining to communicating with them. The myths of adulthood and understanding teenagers in the new age have been busted.

Which book for or by young writers have you enjoyed recently?

Dialect of the Soul: Maithili Sharan Gupt, the Hindi Poet

Maithili Sharan Gupt was born in Uttar Pradesh on this day in 1886. He is well known for bringing to the fore the pain of unacknowledged women characters in mythology and history. He was the voice of the shadows.

Maithili Sharan Gupt 1974 stamp of India.jpgAt one of our BYOB Parties, one of our reader friends spoke about Maithili Sharan Gupt’s classic work Saket (Saket means Ayodhya-vasi or one who lives in Ayodhya). In this rendition of the Ramayan, the author speaks from Lakshmana’s perspective and portrays his wife’s Urmila’s resilience and poetically renders the pain of separation that she must endure. These themes also appear in Yashodhara, where Buddha’s wife laments over her husband’s choices.

Maithili Sharan Gupt was a proponent of plain dialect (Khari Boli) poetry and his poems revolve around the epics of Hinduism and Buddhism. He was a recipient of many awards including the Padma Bhushan and he was christened Rashtra Kavi by Gandhi. Maithili Sharan Gupt is most loved for the way he deals with his female protagonists as he was progressive for the time.

He was an honorary member of the Rajya Sabha where he shared his poetry about matters of national importance.

Know the Emperor of Hindi Novels: Munshi Premchand

Munshi Premchand was born on this day in 1880. He is the first writer who made realistic Hindi fiction so accessible to readers. Some of his famous works include Gaban, Seva Sadan and Godaan.

Twelve Facts About One of the Greatest Authors India has Produced

  1. His real name was Dhanpat Rai Srivastava.
  2. His first pen name was Nawab Rai; Premchand came later.
  3. He is called Upanyas Samrat– Emperor of Novels.
  4. One of the characters who makes a repeated appearance in his novels is that of the stepmother.
  5. His first novel has disappeared.
  6. He married too young. The marriage soured quickly and he married a child widow later on. This was revolutionary at the time.
  7. Premchand initially wrote in Urdu- he began writing in Hindi later on in his career.
  8. Premchand was an enthusiastic reader of classics in other languages, and translated several of these works in Hindi.
  9. In 1923, he established a printing press and publishing house in Benares called Saraswati Press but he was unable to run the press owing to financial issues.
  10. Premchand did a cameo as the leader of laborers in the film Mazdoor that he wrote the script for- the film never hit the screens as some influential businessmen were against it.
  11. He wrote largely about social injustices, choosing themes like dowry, widow remarriage, corruption and the freedom struggle.
  12. In 1977, Satyajit Ray made a film based on Premchand’s short story Shatranj ke Khiladi, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Hindi. Watch the movie here.

Which Premchand story do you love?

Books on the Kargil War on Kargil Vijay Diwas 2021

Kargil Vijay Diwas observed on 26 July commemorates the victory of the Indian soldiers over the infiltrating Pakistani troops. On the 22nd anniversary of this landmark day, we have identified a couple of books that deal with the Kargil War and patriotism.

Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by [Rachna Bisht Rawat]Kargil: Untold Stories from the War by Rachna Bisht Rawat

Rachna Bisht Rawat interviews Kargil war survivors and martyrs’ families. Her earlier books chronicle war as well but in this book, since Kargil is so close to home, she is able to provide a crystal clear picture of the captains, grenadiers and brave soldiers who participated in the war effort. The book is a testimony to the bravery of our troops and provides a bird’s eye view of conflict.

Kargil: From Surprise To Victory by General V. P. Malik

General V.P. Malik, former Chief of the Army Staff, analyses enemy action and surveillance hiccups in the mountainous Kargil region.  His detailed account throws light on war strategy and the heroism of the Indian Army.

“Neglect of the military history of the nation reflects a weak strategic culture and a lack of military confidence.”

A Ridge Too Far: War in the Kargil Heights, 1999 by Amarinder Singh 

A deep dive into the battles that were fought in the Kargil Heights and a military analysis of what actually happened in the mountains in 1999, starting from what led to the conflict, the build-up of the Army for the offensive and the battles fought by ten heroic infantry battalions in extremely hostile terrain.

Kargil: Turning the Tide by Lt. General Mohinder Patel

An objective account of the operations of 8 Mountain Division in their efforts to evict the enemy from the Drass-Mushkoh Sector during Op Vijay. Lt Gen (then Maj Gen) Mohinder Puri led the division during the operations and is the author. The Kargil war had a high casualty count and multiple gallantry awards were distributed.

The Kargil Girl: An Autobiography by Gunjan Saxena

Gunjan Saxena was part of the Operation Safed Sagar launched by the Indian Air Force. She  informed the army of key enemy positions, even narrowly missing a rocket missile attack.

 

 

We identified a couple of military narratives at the Pothi.com Store that you could check out.

Vikram Chandra: India’s Trailblazing Scribe

Vikram Chandra was born on this day in 1961. He studied in the US and today lectures at the University of California, Berkeley.

His first book Red Earth and Pouring Rain revolved around James Skinner, an Anglo-Indian soldier. This was the beginning of accolades. He won the 1996 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. He was also recognized for his short story collection Love and Longing in Bombay. He always had his pulse on the plot and worked on film scripts in Bollywood too.

What Vikram Chandra is loved for is his voluminous work Sacred Games featuring the Mumbai underworld and peopled by characters like Sartaj Singh and his Ganesh Gaitonde who jump of the page. His magnum opus is about Mumbai and the layers of possibilities that it has laid on its characters. Sacred Games took Chandra eight years to write and it was later adapted as a popular web television series by Netflix. His non-fiction book Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty  was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

He’s also the founder of Granthika, a great author resource. Since Chandra faced many hurdles while trying to keep track of his characters and their complicated timelines in a setting like Mumbai, an almost living entity, he wanted to find an easier way to digitize narration and simplify the author’s work.

Happy b’day Vikram Chandra!

8 Cookbooks for Chefs and Hungry Readers Alike

Today being Personal Chef’s Day, we browsed through a couple of books that chefs would benefit greatly from. Some of the books on the list are from the Pothi.com Store too- we have a great many titles under the cooking category at the store.

When we interviewed Bridget White-Kumar, author of several cookbooks, we asked her about some pointers while writing a cookbook.

“Writing a recipe book isn’t easy,” she said. “A lot of hard work goes into it since one has to get the recipe right after many, many trials and errors. Once a recipe is written, it will be the guide to be followed by many. Only when one has mastered the dish, can a foolproof recipe be written.”

Cookbooks to Nibble on:

Mastering the Pakodas: The Snack for all Seasons by Sangeeta Khanna

Come monsoon and there is the desire to indulge in pakodas and adrak (ginger) chai. The author of Mastering the Pakodas is a botanist and microbiologist and a hardcore home-made food believer.

 

An Indian Sense of Salad by Tara Deshpande Tennebaum

Many of us see salads as a purely Western concept but the local produce in India offers a green mine when it comes to potential salad ingredients. Tennebaum deconstructs the Indian vegetable and adds a splash of additional nutrition to the Indian meal.

The Dal Cookbook by [Krishna Dutta]The Dal Cookbook by Krishna Dutta

Dal is the staple diet of most Indians. Krishna Dutta examines the different dishes where lentils can be used including khichari, dosas, vadas, pappadam.

 

 

660 curries by Raghavan Iyer660 Curries by [Raghavan Iyer]

This book is an exhaustive compendium of cooking styles from across India. Feast on curries, appetizers, traditional cuisines, biryanis, breads, blends, you name it.

 

Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation by [Madhur Jaffrey]Quick & Easy Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey 

70 easy-to-prepare recipes by India’s favorite cook Madhur Jaffrey. Her recipes are great for newbies too. Watch Madhur Jaffrey talk about Indian cuisine and the history of Indian cooking here.

 

Cookbooks at the Pothi.com store

Indian Grandmas' Secret RecipesIndian Grandmas’ Secret Recipes

25 vegetarian recipes by 16 cooks in the age range of 70-95. The recipes span different parts of India.

 

 

Amader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother's KitchenAmader Barir Khawa Dawa: Bengali Recipes From My Mother’s Kitchen by Ratna Mukherjee

The author collects a 100 of her mother’s incredible recipes of traditional Bengali dishes- day-to-day fare and festive occasions.

 

ANGLO-INDIAN DELICACIESAnglo-Indian Delicacies by Bridget White-Kumar

An easy and unpretentious guide to delectable Anglo-Indian Cuisine. The author has won the ‘Best Culinary History Book’ awarded by Gourmand International Spain, World Cookbook awards, 2012.

 

Which cookbooks have you indulged in? Do mention in the comments.

Remembering Manohar Malgonkar, the Prolific Writer Everyone Forgot

One contemporary of the writer Mulk Raj Anand we know little about is a writer who was born on this day in a village in Karnataka – Manohar Malgonkar. He donned many roles-army officer rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, columnist, civil servant, game hunter, mine owner at Jagalbet and farmer.

His experience in various spheres reflected in his prolific output of short stories, essays and fiction and non-fiction novels and those who have read his work (few and far between) know that his stories focus on India during British colonization (The Princes, A Bend in the Ganges) and India post-independence (Distant Drum). His novel A Spy in Amber was adapted into the Hindi film Shalimar.

He lived in ‘Burbusa Bungalow’  in Uttara Kannada District, Karnataka and he passed away in 2010.

Visual Friday: Writers of India – Chitra Divakurani

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