Private Minds: 3 women, 3 cities, 2 generations - A psychiatrist shares a fictional case study of a family and its dynamics
Ali's Book Choice: By Ali Khwaja
The author of the book 'Private Minds', Monica Bakre is a practicing counsellor and psychologist with many years of experience in both educational and health sectors
The author, a practicing counsellor and psychologist with many years of experience in both educational and health sectors, has weaved a tale of three women of one family, and their interaction with a very sensitive and humane psychiatrist. The young psychiatrist, who is the narrator of the story, is frank in expressing his own feelings, doubts, uncertainties along with his expertise as a therapist trying to help them find their identity.
In a simple and narrative style, the story takes us through three cities and two generations, giving a deep insight into how life unfolds, how circumstances and people change, and what the needs of such people are.
This book is also very useful reading for budding counsellors, both professional and lay persons who wish to sharpen their skills of understanding and dealing with the dynamics of human relationships. It also comforts the reader to the fact that even a highly qualified and experienced psychiatrist is also human when it comes to the matter of the heart. Thus the reader ends the narration with a warm feeling that “Aaall izzz well” despite all the ups and downs and the challenges that life throws at us.
Gopi Circle: Travels from Hampi to Bengaluru to farthest corners of Europe.
Ali's Book Choice: By Ali Khwaja
The author of the book 'Gopi Circle', M. Bhaktavatsala whose talents spread over films, journalism, engineering, public service.
Very few people I know would have lived as fulfilling and as eventful life as “Friend Bhakta”, whose talents spread over films, journalism, engineering, public service, to name just a few.
This book, divided into 50 small chapters can well be the ethnic version of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, encompassing life from the Gopi Circle of Shivamogga to cars to Jog Falls to his studies and travels all over the globe. The author has perhaps surpassed the great Bhupen Hazarika’s writings and songs in projecting vivid images of every person or thing or place he has described so lucidly, that the reader is immediately transported to that era and place.
“Mahatma Gandhi Park, in the heart of Shimoga… was our playing field. Dotted as it was with trees – the favourite sport was…. well, climbing them. I can’t name those trees but I knew each one of them by sight, smell, touch and most of all moods. There was a tree to play under, read under, sleep under, sulk under. Some trees wept, some laughed, some danced with the winds, some stood like sentinels, most waited to embrace you – like people really.”
My Experiments with Truth
As a college student long ago I had read My Experiments with Truth, the autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi. I adored him and his qualities, but could not learn much from the book. This year I read it again. My respect for the great soul went up higher, because now I could see him as a simple, struggling, confused and exploring human being. Yet I could learn so much from his ‘experiments’, including the fact that he mentioned he should not be writing his autobiography while he is alive, because putting down his thoughts in writing will prevent him from changing his thinking or approach later.
Yet, he constantly changed his attitude. From being an ardent admirer of the British Raj, to becoming its greatest nemesis; hiding from his father and eating mutton to becoming such a staunch vegetarian that he declined to drink milk (one of the first vegans I suppose!). The beauty is that he never hesitated in admitting all his mistakes, page after page in his elaborate book. Nowhere do we see a hint of self-praise, or description of achievements, from the pen of a person who the whole world recognized as a ‘Mahatma’.
This book I am told is the world’s highest selling autobiography. And I am also told, that despite its highly subsidized price in India, his home country is one where the book does not sell much. What is the lesson we learn from this, can we introspect? After all we get a full day’s holiday on 2nd October to think.
By Ali Khwaja
Skills and Qualities for Effective Life
The book, Skills and Qualities for Effective Life, is written by Dr. S. Ignacimuthu, SJ, and published by Better Yourself Books (Rs. 170/-).
Topic-wise tips to improve life for yourself and for others
An amazing author, a Jesuit priest, a renowned scientist in the field of entomology, and a very humble human being – the right person to talk about how life can be made more effective.
The book contains 77 very concise chapters, each dealing with all important aspects of life, providing practical and easily practicable tips and tools. A significant point is that he has touched upon areas where one can improve oneself rather than trying to change the world. For example, he talks about how to make yourself trustworthy, rather than finding out how to trust (or distrust) others. He gives tips on how to receive feedback from others, rather than how to give feedback (read criticism) to others. Many chapters deal with self-belief, self-acceptance, self-examination and self-image. At the same time he shows us how to be a risk-taker, or how to keep trying.
Without in any way sermonizing or trying to preach to the reader, Fr. Ignacimuthu has brought out amazingly good methods to work upon ourselves, to accept responsibility, and to be pro-active in making our life better – regardless of the challenges or setbacks that we may have.
This is not a book to be read and set aside. It can be a bedside companion to end the day in introspection, a breakfast treat to face the day with greater vigour, or a mid-day energizer to stop routine work and think deeper into our life. Practicing each of these very practical inputs can actually bring in a marked change for the better, whether it is a teenager student, or a senior citizen. A must read, must keep, and must keep reading, book.
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Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja
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