Book Reviews

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Private Minds: 3 women, 3 cities, 2 generations - A psychiatrist shares a fictional case study of a family and its dynamics

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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

Learn to fight right, fight fair
It is not very often that we get to read a narration that takes us into the deepest minds of people, through the eyes of a therapist. Though this book is fiction, it is very useful reading for anyone who wants to understand human behaviour, particularly how relationships change, flourish and get destroyed within the family and outside.

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.

Please note: Private Minds has been written by Monica Bakre who is one of the earliest alumni of Banjara Academy's Diploma in Counselling Skills (DCS) course. She went on to do her Diploma in Life Skills, Masters in Psychotherapy, and was the first from Banjara Academy to be employed by the Ministry of Defence in the Indian Air Force Command Hospital as a clinical psychologist.
Book (Rs 275/-) available at: http://www.purushottam-bookstore.com
 

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Gopi Circle: Travels from Hampi to Bengaluru to farthest corners of Europe.

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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.

Gopi Circle

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.

He has analysed beautifully through keen observation, amazing insight and his wisdom what he has seen and felt since his birth in the British days. His love for heritage and nature is incredible. Here is a glimpse into his writing:

“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.”

An amazing book, to say the least. Caught up in the rat race of twenty first life in metro cities bursting at the seams, through this book we can take a walk to Gopi Circle, which unfortunately no longer exists, and then stroll into the nearby jungle to encounter a tiger, relive the night of India’s independence, take a ride in the grand old Ambassador car, feel the presence of village ghosts, migrate to Double Road of Bangalore, and move on to countries as far apart as Peru and Norway, almost touching the North Pole.
All this in one book – written in simple prose for the ordinary reader, and restricted to two-page chapters for the restless one. An absolutely enthralling book and a great learning, particularly for youngsters and city folk.
 

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My Experiments with Truth

Mahatma GandhiAs 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.

Mahatma GandhiYet, 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

 

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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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Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

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