Lessons Learned from Mahatma Gandhi

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Lessons Learned from Gandhiji

Mahatma Gandhi needs no introduction. His life, struggle and triumph has given us democratic governance, economic freedom and an identity on the world’s stage. He was an extraordinary man with simple tastes and firm beliefs. With just the power of his personality, charm and dreams, he became a force to be reckoned with. His life is a legacy that can teach us innumerable lessons. Here are a few lessons that these people have learned from him –

Krish Murali Eshwar, Vaastu Expert, Mentor and Innovator 

No matter how many times you fail, your faith in your vision and the courage to work hard at your vision every waking minute of your life will ultimately make you succeed.

Venketesh Ramakrishnan, Novelist

Gandhi was an innovator. He was always trying out new methods in politics just as an inventor would in science. His inventions have inspired mankind to achieve what was often considered impossible

Devika Fernando, Novelist

This is what I learned from Gandhi – Act like a nobleman but live like a pauper

Mohan Visu, Marketing

Self-belief – this is the first and foremost lesson he has taught me. I am named after him as Mohan by my dad. (his full name is mohandas karamchand ghandhi). The sad part is, I dislike him and differ from his ideology. Still, hats of to this immortal man.

Sundari Venkatraman, Novelist

“Be the change that you want to see in this world” said Mahathma Gandhi. I truly believe in this quote and follow this maxim in my life

Raja King, Business Analyst

“Eat simple food” This is the simple thing I learned from Gandhi. I love non vegetarian food and eat at least three times in a week. After reading about Gandhi I stopped and became a Vegan. And I started eating simply and moderately. Thanks to Gandhi ji

Rubina Ramesh, Writer and Blogger

One lesson close to my heart is no one is your enemy. Your view may vary. If you can win a person with love so be it or else carry only the happy thoughts of that person and move on. Both for your sake and hers or his.

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Writer, Editor and Book Reviewer

Lessons learned from Gandhi ji… 1. Truth is the best way to speak but being polite while telling the truth is even better. 2. Be satisfied and appreciate what you have, big or small is important as some people don’t have anything. 3. Material possessions do not always make you happy. Letting go is the best thing to do at times.

Sridevi Datta, Writer and Blogger

From Gandhiji, I learnt the insurmountable strength of truth and peace and how they can usher in freedom at both the micro and macro levels both for self and the Nation because one cannot be envisioned without the other.

Afroz Alam Sahil, RTI Journalist

Today when the world is passing through a very critical stage, people are looking back to Gandhi and resorting to Gandhian means to find out solutions to the modern and complicated problems.

This establishes the utility of his means and methods and makes him relevant even today. Fortunately, Gandhi’s work-place Champarn is my hometown. During my school days, I used to spend some time under the shadow of Gandhi’s big statue. I’ve been inspired by Gandhi to do Satyagarha against the atrocities being committed on the people of India in India.

I have seen all the Ashrams that are neglected presently and are in a fragile state. Gandhi has been at the centre stage of most of our (my) writings. I had made a small documentary “Journey of Champaran” on Gandhi while being in College. During that period I got the chance of being close to Nirmala Deshpande and Shobhakant Jha. Nirmala Deshpande introduced me to the behavioural aspect of Gandhi. She was very fond of me. At present, I’m working on a book on Gandhi’s Satyagraha in Champaran.

I am also reminded of my father who died on this day, four years ago. A believer of Gandhian ethics, he told me that non-violence and peace are the fundamental principles behind the sustenance of human civilisation. My struggle as an RTI activist draws inspiration from both the Mahatma and my Abbu.

Sonia Rao, Writer

“You don’t need to use violence to get what you want. Unceasing persistence, unflinching faith in yourself and unwavering belief in your goal will get you what you want.”

Janaki Nagaraj, Blogger, Book Reviewer and Writer

The three monkeys of Gandhi which says- see no evil, hear no evil and talk no evil.
Today, even though we don’t want to we are exposed to the evils. My mantra is not to remain quiet after seeing them but to do something about them…if not in a big way, a small way in which I feel that I am the change that I want to see in the world.

Ruchira Khanna, Blogger, Book Review and Writer

I stand by the motto that violence/anger can never be the key to resolve a situation. It is very easy to point fingers at someone who failed at a task, but gotta look at his credentials cause we have yet to achieve many of those.

Lessons Learnt from maintaining a Diary


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Lessons Learned

I’ve been writing a diary from the age of 10. Initially I would write the small incidents of my school life, the anger towards by biological mom and her indifferent behaviour, but later I started writing poetry in Hindi, Marathi and English. I experimented with stories and also wrote my opinions about social issues.

Many a times when we are stuck in a challenging situation or problem, we associate ourselves so much that we seldom look beyond the situation. Writing the situation in a third person’s view, gives a fresh perspective and helps us take better decisions.

Over the years, words became my best friends and through them I could vent out all my emotions. Putting the emotions of love, curiosity, anxiousness, jealousy, hatred, hurt and guilt on paper helped me to calm myself. Writing a diary was highly therapeutic and it helped me gain more control over my emotions.

Recording anecdotes from my life helped me to capture those wonderful moments and today when I read some of my old diaries, I am surprised to see how much I’ve grown as a human being. Memories stay alive in the form of words in the diary and your diary could be a best gift to someone whom you love!

Writing my gratitude list at the end of the day makes me appreciate my life even more. I urge the readers to write at least three things they are grateful for everyday night, in a small notepad of your choice. You will be amazed by the results.

Writing regularly helped me hone my writing skills. I write random stuff for ten to fifteen minutes, describe the sky, the leaves, the road, the buildings or a rainbow. Its fun and who knows maybe you could be a bestselling author in future.

Gayatri Aptekar

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Gayatri Aptekar

A curious student of Life, Gayatri believes in the power of Dreams. She quit her career as a Research Associate to follow her passion of writing and interacting with people. A Master Practitioner of NLP, she is a NLP Healer and a life coach. She can be found at “Outside the Kitchen Window” (gsaptekar84@gmail.com ) wielding her magical wand to pen her thoughts, poems, fictitious stories, mouth-tingling recipes and book

Writing is an art which brings peace to your soul. Why wait…go grab an awesome diary and some super smooth colourful pens!

Lessons Learned from Rejections

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Rejections are bad. They hurt us because we usually take them personally. It feels like they undermine our self-worth and our value as a person. On getting rejected, we have a variety of reactions. We might feel that:

– we’re no good
– we suck at everything
– we don’t try hard enough.
– our best will never be sufficient.
– fate will never be on my side
– why wasn’t I born smarter like xyz?

Take your pick of the self belittling put downs listed above. At one time or another we’ve all run through one or more of them.

As a writer one has to learn how to handle rejection properly. Take it from me, it’s part of the training. icon smile Lessons Learned from Rejections I have had a huge number of rejection slips/emails and I think, so has any writer who’s tried to get published.  While at the time I felt really, really bad, with time and armed with more knowledge and experience of the writing and publishing world, it has come across as indisputable truth to me that rejections are good. Yes. Really. That’s a fact because they help you in many ways. For instance they help you :

– To understand and define your goal better.

– To face your errors.

– To grow.


These days self publishing has become easy and accessible. However, I hold that one should self publish only after multiple rounds of trying for traditional publishing.  It might lead to rejections. It would lead to rejections and that would hurt.  But if you look beyond that, it will help you to hone and sharpen your craft even better than a writing workshop. If you take it in the right way. My experience is mostly in romance genre so focusing on that though it applies to most genres.
Let’s face it: No one is born a writer. Just like no one is born a runner. Or golfer. Or dancer. Singer. And so on…

So rejections will be there to tell you how far you have come. How much further you still have to go. (No telling that for sure by the way)

Now let’s look at the possibilities.

  1. If you query for a manuscript for first or second time you might probably get
    a standard reject.
  2. You might get something like good but not suitable.
  3. Or you might get an R and R (revise and resubmit). A book doesn’t get through the door without edits.
  4. On rare occasion it might, if you have been with a house for years and know what they’re looking for.

A standard reject is a red flag. You better not think of self publishing at this stage. It means your writing is just not developed enough to entice the editor. It’s not up to par. Face it. You need to work on the craft, not the story. You need to get your story pitch or structure right.
It shouldn’t stop you from submitting to other publishers. But in between each submission, try to read over and improve your expression, narration and story structure. Also story idea.

In the second case, if you get interest, congrats. It’s the same if you get an R and R. To me both are rated equivalent. The editor may not be looking for your story but your story has got ‘it’, the element to pull a reader in! Your writing has reached that certain level.  You have crossed one threshold.
You may still need to work. But now your work will be directed at tightening the story, the story scene, not your craft. You’ll need to know about subplots, pacing, character arc but the voice, the style…that part is there.

The next step depends on you. Remember publishing houses have a brand image to maintain. They would pick and choose stories which fit in or have a possibility of fitting in with their market. Read their guidelines and a few of their books and you’ll get an idea what they’re about. If you’re hell bent on getting published with that particular publisher, keep trying and keep reading the latest books they’re bringing out. Read them critically. Break them down and analyse what’s lacking in yours (according to their requirements) and you’re sure to get there.

If you feel you can’t follow guidelines, you can look for submitting elsewhere which better fits your book.

If you can’t bend your story according to editorial nudging, then understand that self publishing is there as a road to having total control over your story. However, it’s not without the ups or downs. That’s the matter of discussion for another day.
To sum up that’s what I’ve learnt from rejections. And to be very frank I’ve had them from the best of the best in publishing. Then when I submitting my book, Against All Rules, I began to see the change. I heard back from most of the places where I submitted my book. Quite a few told me they loved it but… That was the catch. The story had to be modified to fit in with what they were publishing. But the consistent rejections instead of working against me, worked for me and gave me faith in the story. Two editors of prominent houses told me they totally loved the characters. With that kind of feedback, there was no looking back from this story. I worked on it, reworked and got feedback from experienced people constantly. And then took the plunge to self publish the book.
So never let a rejection pull you down. But don’t ignore it either. Assess and reassess your work constantly. If you’re like me, you’ll always see errors but then you start getting positive reactions and you know now you can take a chance.

All the best with your writing. And do share what you learnt from rejections – or even successes! icon smile Lessons Learned from Rejections

About Summerita Rhayne

Summerita Rhayne loves to write sensual and emotional romance. There’s no knowing when some quirky – or sometimes even not so quirky – happening in daily life might trigger her right brain and then she’s off craving a new story. She loves writing characters who learn and grow and find their way out of their troubles and emotional hang-ups. Hot, sensual heroes and sassy but sweet heroines mostly fit the bill in her stories. She also believes that a touch of humor never goes amiss in a book.

She divides her time between family, job and writing – and loves winding down with music, movies and the internet!

Email her at summeritarhayne@gmail.com

Or follow via Twitter @SummeritaRhayne

Lessons Learned from Swimming

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Lessons learned from swimming

I learned swimming exactly 18 years back in Adelaide and almost forgot it entirely since I did not practice at all once I finished the 10 lessons.

My daughter on the other hand began weekly swimming lessons when she was three and has continued ever since.

The summer vacation of April-May 2014 again saw me making my way to a swim school in Bangalore. This was one held at a school near my home, making it accessible and the Olympic sized pool seemed immensely inviting. The fee was only Rs. Three thousand and the organisers and coach claimed confidently that I would be able to swim within the 15 sessions.

I decided to take the plunge, once more. After all I had always wanted to master the art of the fish and glide around as effortlessly in water.

A few things struck me in the 15 sessions that the coach trained us in and I will share them here.

Effort and ease-balance

Strangely there can be something like too much effort. One can keep making efforts and allow oneself to get stressed when one hasn’t got any further with learning a particular thing. If I got caught up with moving my arms and legs and breathing, all at the same time and lost my sense of inner ease, I would sink. When I made myself take part of my mind away from the effort and brought it to rest in such a way that I enjoyed whatever progress I made, it all worked out well.

On day one for about 10 minutes, putting my head under water felt like an ordeal. When I was okay with that, then letting go of the edge of the pool and letting the body float felt like a big ask, for another ten minutes. Finally what made each new bit I learned click into place was trust in the trainer, his teaching in what he obviously excelled at, as well as his being there, to protect in the case of a mishap. Trust in myself also kicked in along with trust in the greater energy that protects.

Weightlessness of lack of control-back float

How we love to be in control. The lack of it feels like the ground is slipping from beneath our feet. The back float needed the letting go of any need to control the body, in any way. No sooner had I done that I was floating, looking up at the blue sky. The second any fear or hesitation crept into me, I sank.

Fear- action despite fear

On day 7, the coach took our batch to the deep end of the pool, to dive. I was horrified. We had just learned to swim for a couple of breaths before we sank into the shallow end of the pool, where we were being taught and had to stand up and re-start.

We simply had to dive and swim towards the shallow end of this gigantic pool. I was scared and each time I dived, despite knowing that the coach was right there, I went in shivering slightly. However as the inward dive culminated into an upward arc, I managed, same as the others to swim and breathe and swim and breathe, till I reached the shallow end. So also many a time in life, action needs to be taken, come what may.

It was interesting to see how the fear of drowning worked wonders. Then on all of were swimming for many more breaths.

Rain and swimming-a different perspective of nature

It began to rain one evening, while we were still in the pool. Drops fell on us, which we didn’t mind one bit since we were already wet. It was a unique experience to be in water and feel the raindrops falling on our heads. Unfortunately we were asked to pack up early due to the fear of lightening.

The sight of the moon in the sky and tall trees on one side of the pool as we floated and swam was hypnotic.

Interestingly, being inside the water element instead of the regular terra-firma gave nature a rich, new feel.

Ego and learning-cannot be together

A very obvious point and one which goes with any learning is this. There were swimmers whose styles were rural and largely self-taught. They swam well but they were ready to start from zero and learn swimming from scratch. Ego had no place here.

If a person can’t be a fish it’s okay-acceptance

We started with various thoughts goading each one of us. One wanted to change one’s style, one wanted to improve technique, one wanted to be more graceful and few simply wanted to be able to swim.

Whatever the initial motivation and dream one had, one had to be able to enjoy and appreciate what one learned. Even if one hadn’t reached the point where one wanted to be, it was okay.

I had to accept that I had learned swimming but needed lots of practice. This acceptance had to be an enthusiastic one so that I would then continue to persist and practice as and when possible, enjoying and appreciating the entire process.

I have continued to practice whenever the weather is suitable, in the apartment swimming pool, oh! the joy of splashing water, playing and swimming laps with the eight year old is unparalleled. Sometimes this even is a family event, with the husband joining us.

I can’t say I am any closer to gliding about like a fish than I ever was, but a fish can’t walk can it icon smile Lessons Learned from Swimming

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Sunila Vig

About Sunila Vig

Sunila lived in Australia for twelve years and all over India as a child. Now she lives in Bangalore, India with her family.

She is a lecturer of Communication to MBA students and is a practising Yoga teacher.
Sunila was introduced to books by book-loving parents at an early age and devoured them at every opportunity.

Nature, music and art mean a lot to her and she loves solitude and noisy fun in equal measure.
She expresses herself through a variety of creative channels-singing, pottery, sketching and writing.

Sunila writes fiction and poetry both in English and Hindi. Her debut collection of short stories in Hindi, “Nirjharr”, was published by the Karnataka Hindi Sahitya Parishad.

Poetry and short stories authored by her have been published in a variety of medium.
She is a Post graduate in English Literature from Kuvempu University in the verdant Malnad region of Karnataka, that has given the world a large number of writers and artists.
She can be reached through her FB page


Blog www.sunilavigauthor.blogspot.com

Twitter @whitefielder

Lessons learned from Driving

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Lessons Learned from Driving

Driving is something which I wanted to learn from years but then I had a phobia of driving. Yes you heard it right, thanks to my numerous dashing car (the game) experiences and the suggestions that my friends gave me, ‘Please you never drive a car the population of India will start decreasing’ But recently, I made a vow to get over this phobia and to learn driving. Everything in life teaches us many things and driving too taught me some lessons for lifetime.

The road is full of idiots I am sure you might have heard this one before, as a tagline of Ceat tyres and it is truly apt for the Indian roads. I came across a group of college students completely engrossed in their mobile phones crossing the road and suddenly they stopped…exactly on the middle of the road and started giggling. I was confused as to what to do….and had to apply the break immediately.

Walk and talk is not a safe option When ‘Idea’ came up with this idea of ‘Walk and talk’, little did they know that people will take it seriously. I come across college students to old aunties, who are super busy talking over the phone, completely ignoring the road and the vehicles. And if I honk, then they immediately give me that stare as if I have stolen their priceless treasure.

Rules are made to break My instructor was busy teaching me the rules of right and left indicator when I saw a man taking a left turn without giving the indicator. How am I supposed to know if he is going to take the straight road or turn left? Seeing the confused look on my face, my instructor said, “Madam, this is India, here rules are made to break”.

You have complete control As a driver; I have the complete control over my car. I can stop, accelerate and decrease the speed at my will and how cool is that. We have the freedom to choose which route to take and when take, don’t we? I wondered, isn’t it the same with life. We have complete control of how to respond, what to think and how to act, don’t we?

I am enjoying this phase, wherein I get to drive a different car every day. Hopefully, I break the myth that women are not that great at driving icon smile Lessons learned from Driving

Gayatri Aptekar

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Gayatri Aptekar

A curious student of Life, Gayatri believes in the power of Dreams. She quit her career as a Research Associate to follow her passion of writing and interacting with people. A Master Practitioner of NLP, she is a NLP Healer and a life coach. She can be found at “Outside the Kitchen Window” (gsaptekar84@gmail.com ) wielding her magical wand to pen her thoughts, poems, fictitious stories, mouth-tingling recipes and book

Lessons Learned from my Grandpa

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Lessons Learned from my Grandpa

There is a naughty child hidden in every old man. My Dadu had one too. That naughty child would peek out every once in a while and make someone bear the fruits of his pranks. Me. But as with the case of every innocent – they teach you so much in every step they take. So did my Dadu. Why I am associating him with a child, I don’t know. For it was his fingers, which guided my first steps. Or is it due to the fact, that I remember bidding him adieu as his vacant, innocent eyes looked upon me with a tinge of sadness. Earliest memories of him taught me:

Love for Books: I remember he had a locked cupboard. My curiosity knew no bound as to what was in there. During those days, I would imagine all sorts of sweets and later as demands in my life introduced me to the green notes- I would think it was Ali Baba’s cave. It wasn’t. It was full of first editions of Bengali Literature, Works of Shakespeare and some very old Chinese Literature. The smell of old books, with those yellowed, papery delicate pages makes me still hold old books with such reverence.

Though I still have one question for him – why did he keep it locked? I mean, I was a young kid. He could hardly blame me if a few small fingerprints with great blops of mango pulp left some permanent marks. He was a possessive old man, I tell you. And on top of it, he left me those books and that same feeling of possessiveness – shattering all my dreams of Ali Baba’s treasure cave.

Entertainment need not be Expensive: In today’s gadget filled world, this is a rare commodity. I remember the time when a new club had opened in Ranchi. I think it was called Gymkhana. Can’t recollect. But, I do remember that the cost of membership was very high and I wanted it bad. Why? Not because I wanted to dance in the wee hours of the night but simply because Archana, my then best friend had it. I was furious when I was denied the privilege on the ground that it is a wastage of money. Archana’s parents got the award of being the best parents in the world while I declared, to my family, that I was born by mistake in this household where simple pleasures of life was denied. Like a warrior, I battled the whole family but could not even make a dent in their indulgent smile. Of all the times, they chose that moment to show solidarity!

Only Dadu understood how much I wanted that. He asked me why I wanted it so bad. I remember mumbling that it will clear my brain after a hard day’s work. I was in year 5. He did not laugh. Next day was Sunday. He took me to a grove.

Early morning, when the mist was just deserting the earth, the smell of oak touches your soul. A blanket of acorn covered the damp earth. Small squirrels scampered everywhere. The beauty intoxicated me and for a moment I forgot my resolution to stay angry. I ran about, squealing in delight, at the scampering squirrels. (Note to animal lovers: I thought they were playing hide and seek with me). I hugged Dadu and thanked him for bringing me here. He smiled at me and said, “well sweetie, since you are relaxed now ….”and took out a wretched Wren & Martin from the back seat of the car. I was duped !

About Rubina Ramesh

Rubina Lessons Learned from my Grandpa

Rubina Ramesh

Rubina Ramesh is a writer/ blogger at The Book Club. Her passion for books made her realize that there is world of book lovers out there. Her writing stint started with Indireads and now she is working on two manuscripts – a Romance and a mythological. She just hopes they see the light of the day soon.

Lessons Learned from Being Divorced


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Lessons Learned from Being Divorced

I grew up with a dream of having my own fairy tale, adding chapters to that vision every single day and imagining how perfect it would be with my prince charming. But reality does not abide by your plans and life throws you curveballs. What actually happened was that, I was barely married for two years and standing at the brink of a divorce with a year old son. And if you are willing to learn the process of getting a divorce can teach you so many things.

  1. I learnt to pick myself up piece by piece and reform me, creating version 2.0. It was tough, because the only thing I wanted to do is wallow in self pity, and all the wallowing did feel good but eventually I realised that I have to get up. No one was going to do it for me.
  2. I began to understand myself better because no one around me could. I turned to people for advice but they weren’t able to help. They could never understand that even though it was a bad relationship, it still was two years of my life, two years where I had invested my heart and soul in trying to make the best of what I had.
  3. I learnt not to feel sorry for myself. More than half the people I knew were doing that for me and it did not feel good.
  4. I had the backing of an amazing family who refused to feel sorry for me (they still refuse to), and found friends that are proud of the person I am. And these are the people who are a part of my life and my son’s life today and who will be there forever.
  5. I also found that not everyone in society looked at divorce negatively. It did not make a single iota of difference to them as to whether I was married or not. I have learnt that the people who value me for me and not for a relationship status are my true friends and well wishers.
  6. I learnt to believe in myself and what it means to truly be confident and face the world with my head held high. I also know how hard it was to stand up for what I believed in, when the people were branding me selfish, and through that the only thing that kept me strong is the belief that I am the only one that knows what is right for me and my son (until he starts thinking for himself, then it will be a whole new ball game).
  7. I learnt the value of pursuing my dreams, my talents, of happiness (the true wala happiness not the fairy tale kind), of friends and friendships, of trust and of confidence. Some bad things in life end up being good for you after all.

About Jaibala Rao 

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Jaibala Rao

Jaibala Rao is a Writer and a Poet whose life revolves around the people she loves, her family, her friends and her toddler. Having been reading since the moment she learnt the alphabets, stories have given her many adventures. Every moment fascinates her and she believes there is something good in everything. When she writes she tries to write about a moment or an emotion, a story that caught her attention. She draws inspiration from everything around her and tries to put forth her opinion. She has just taken a tiny step into the writing world, by writing on her blog and online magazines.

Connect with her at –

Website: http://jaibalarao.com

Gravatar: https://en.gravatar.com/jaibalarao

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JaibalaRao/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/JaibalaRao

Lesson Learned from Dad


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Lessons Learned from Dad

Birthdays bring special memories. This whole month would have been a celebration if he had been with us. But sadly he chose to leave us early. I guess God missed his benevolence much more than we did. What lessons could I possibly pass on to my readers? In more ways than one it was a life well lived. A life filled with hope, love and inspiration. Let me just pick out some valuable lessons which I learnt by just being with him.

LOVE ALL: This is the first, most important and perhaps the most difficult lesson to observe in life for matter how genuine we are the world around us seems unfair but he did it so effortlessly till the very end. I have tried to walk in his footsteps till date. Trust me it’s difficult but spreading love has given me people who have stood by me through thick and thin. Forget the hurt and embrace love.

DREAM BIG: He was a fisherman’s son from the remote villages of RAMESWARAM. He was just a tiny part of a very large family with hardly any financial support but that didn’t deter him from dreaming big. Though medicine was his first love he ended up being a Chartered Accountant. His pursuit didn’t end there though. My little brother is now a doctor. The seed which was sown many years ago has now begun to bear fruit.

TOUCH LIVES: Dad’s life isn’t measured by the number of years he lived but by the number of lives he had touched throughout his journey. He just knew instinctively when to lend a hand to someone in need. I have never heard him say no nor did he expect anything in return. His no demands- no expectations still holds good for me too. All the goodness that people see in me is just a mere reflection of what I got from him.

BE THE CHANGE: “Your life is nothing but a reflection of the choices that you have made”. That’s what dad used to say every time I went into self pity mode. If your life seems unfair change it and re-structure it the way you want it to be. Your fate is in your hands. Stop blaming and start trying for I know you can. I guess I have given my life the best possible shot I can and I guess I owe it all to his immense faith in my abilities.


About Salesh

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I am Salesh… People call me differently abled..  I consider myself special. I feel privileged to be able to things which others cannot. This blog is just a way of expressing myself and connecting with you people.

Connect with Salesh here –

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/dipakfernando?fref=ts
Blog – http://saleshdipak.wordpress.com/


Lessons Learned from Journalism

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Lessons Learned from Journalism

Bikash C. Paul has been a Journalist for many leading media brands in India including top channels like NDTV, ETV, News X and Times Now. Starting his career in mass media as a Reporter twenty-two years ago he gradually moved to back room news operation, shaping up agenda of top English channels in the country. As one of the top journalists in the current media scene, he has seen many phenomenal stories taking shape and has worked on many important national scoops. An expert in content management and news analysis, Bikash has many valuable lessons to share about media and journalism.

You have had a long association with media as a journalist and as an editor. Please share the lessons you have learned from this profession.

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Bikash C. Paul

The greatest learning experience has been, of course, to see, feel and understand the evolution of Indian media through these two decades. It’s mind-boggling to learn the changing complexion of Indian media….its emergence from the shadow of traditional print and wire to TV, on-line and convergence. It’s fascinating to observe how the media has been shaped up infusing fresh outlook in content generation and its presentation; it’s interesting to find how a whole new generation of editors dared to challenge the status quo, exploring uncharted areas in journalism. Undoubtedly, it has been an enriching experience to be an active participant of every ups and downs of this roller-coaster journey.

No other country in the world has so many varied hues of journalism….it has a robust regional news market catering to the local needs; it has an extremely aggressive Hindi news space which has its own unique way presenting news to the masses; it has a few ‘elite’ English channels that had no other option but to shed its upmarket tag to grab shares from regional and Hindi channels.  As a backroom news manager for the past several years in top TV channels, my job has been to understand, interpret and act to the need of audience. Creation of new forms of storytelling, conceptualizing contemporary content and putting it on air for the audience has been the greatest challenge for me.

On a lighter vein….journalism taught me how to work 24 hours, even sometime without any break. It taught me how to work in a tight deadline skipping many lunches and dinners. It taught me how to miss social gatherings, company of family and friends. It taught me how to sneak into home after midnight year after year. It taught to twist a story to fit the editor’s whims even sometime distorting facts here and there. It taught how to rub shoulder with bigwigs and feel myself too a big shot carrying an inflated ego!

You have a passion for political and economic journalism. What lessons have you learned here?

Governance had been my key area of functioning as a reporter.  With the launch of economic reform in 1991, however, the governance in India changed forever. Politics and economy mixed in such a manner that it brought a paradigm shift in the thinking process of all stakeholders, government officials, political parties and media.The initial era of reforms had taught us to analyze public policies through the prism of political-economy. The understanding is still valid asno political party can ignore the linkages between public policy and economy in today’s globalizing world.

As a journalist, you must have seen thousands of headlines, making news and history. What was the most pivotal moment of your career as a journalist and an editor and the lessons learned from it?

There are many and a few did make their places in the history. Sample these: Babri Masjid demolition that I covered for a leading Pakistani newspaper; coverage of Parliament attack when I myself was holed up in the mess inside; assassination of Nepal’s King Birendra and his family; Indo-Pak Agra summit between Vajpayee and Musharraf just after Kargil War and Advani’s “Bharat Uday Yatra” in the run-up to general elections in 2004.

It had been terribly a daunting task to cover Babri demolition and subsequent riots for Pak media from the epicenter. I was then a ‘Correspondent’ for Pakistan’s leading daily The News International in its Delhi bureau. For me, it was a great challenge to present a factual reporting without sounding biased.  I precisely did that. However, my dispatch used to be grossly changed in the desk in Islamabad. Worth mentioning here the eight-column banner headline on the demolition next day: “Babri Masjid reduced to rubble in ‘secular’ India”!

Terror reared its ugly head in Parliament premises in a calm morning in 2001. The House had a brief adjournment….me and NDTV’s Divya Malik Lahiri along with late Pramod Mahajan and Arun Jaitley were enjoying a few relaxed moments in Mahajan’s chamber. Suddenly we heard gunshots and all rushed to the lobby. We found frantic activity in the lobby with Parliament security personnel, SPG running helter-skelter. We were told “terror strikes Indian Parliament”and the rest was all history! The next few hours were literally a face to face encounter with death.

The assassination of king Birendra and nine others in the royal family of Nepal was the bloodiest mass murders of royals in recent history. On a Saturday morning, Nepal woke up to unbelievable news of the massacre that decimated an entire line of the Shah dynasty that had ruled the Himalayan Kingdom for 233 years.The nation refused to accept that King Birendra (who was not only a royal figurehead but also revered as the living incarnation of Vishnu) was murdered by his own son Prince Dipendra. “Shocking” must be an understatement, Nepal exploded in utter frustration, confusion and overwhelming grief and anger. Conspiracy theories abounded and the simmering rage below the surface turned violent in major towns with spontaneous outbursts demanding the death of ‘real murderers’. The streets turned to battlefields with burning tires, stones, overturned cars, uprooted trees, attacks on Indian journalists and direct clashes with security forces, killing many. It was the time of hardcore reporting, sometimes even defying curfews till midnight.

The 7-km-long funeral procession–from the Army Hospital to the crematorium on the bank of Bagmati river–was a very public farewell! Disconcerting, painful and a terribly emotive journey! It seemed as though the entire population of Nepal had lined up shoulder to shoulder to bid farewell to their beloved royal family. People armed with bouquets and prayer scarfs wailed in grief…flowerers rained down from every nook and corner on the way. As the flames leapt higher and higher engulfing the bodies….it started drizzling. A TV commentator remarked….even the God was crying. I too cried…forgetting the very sense of ‘objectivity’ in journalism.

The Indo-Pak Agra summit took place in the backdrop of simmering uneasiness between the two countries following the Kargil War. While for Atal Behari Vajpayee, the summit was an apt manifestation of his artful diplomacy and statesmanship, for President Pervez Musharraf it was more of a domestic compulsion ensuring his one-upmanship back home. The high-profile summit was surcharged with hype, melodramatic ups and downs and unprecedented media ‘plants’ from both the sides. The most dramatic moment was when India rejected an ‘almost-signed’ joint declaration at the last moment and a frustrated Musharraf terming it as a ‘handiwork of hawks’ in Vajpayee government. Musharraf had to go back empty-handed…but we, the journalists, learned many valuable lessons about political and diplomatic maneuvering that takes place at a summit level.

Advani’s “Bharat Uday Yatra”, spanning across almost 8000 km and 16 states in the run up to 2004 general election,  was another learning experience. I would remember the Yatra for two reasons : (a) How Advani tried to shade his pro-Hindutva image, making a desperate bid to ‘re-position’ himself so that he is acceptable to Muslims. (b) Politicians and journalists alike were sure of NDA’s victory riding the wave of ‘India Shining’ slogan. The overwhelming public response to Advani’s Yatra strengthened our belief of another term for Vajpayee.  But the huge gatherings proved to be deceptive and misleading. We all failed to understand the underlying resentment in public mind. And important lessons learned here was never to take electorates for granted.

You have worked closely with many media stalwarts like Dr. Prannoy Roy, Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami and Jehangir Pocha.  Any notable experience or lessons learned from them?

Of course, Dr Prannoy Roy stands apart…a great soul, a perfect gentleman, a great teacher and most crucially an immense contributor to Indian journalism. I must say Dr Roy is a rare breed, who believes in quality journalism based on facts devoid of sensationalism, right information with lots of social obligation. He taught us that despite the shifting landscape of journalism, the talent, tenacity and passion to do meaningful work is ever-present. “Do that….and you will never be out of place”, Dr Roy once told me.

I have seen very few journalists as inhibition-free as Barkha. As a boss, Barkha was non-interfering and a driving force for quality work. Her tenacity and passion to do something big is quite infectious. I can vividly remember one incident. I was then a Special Correspondent in ETV. Barkha used to report for NDTV. On a chilly afternoon, we all were waiting outside Palam Technical Area in New Delhi as the then Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh was to fly to Kandhahar with four Pak terrorists who were being released in exchange of Indian hostages of IC-814.  While we all wanted to grab the footage of the historic moment, Barkha had a different plan. She wanted to be a part of Jaswant Singh’s entourage to Afghanistan! A relentless persuasion and argument with the MEA officials followed, obviously in vain. But her perseverance to achieve an impossible task was remarkable!

Arnab Goswami is a dreamer. He dreamt of making Times Now number one channel in the country….and he has done so. Arnab’s passion and fierce conviction whatever he does—right or wrong—is unmatched. Arnab bulldozed many age-old concepts in TV journalism….he has narrowed down the differences between English and Hindi channels. His managerial style is of one-upmanship and it broke all set standards inside the newsroom. I was a part of his launch team and worked almost 17-18 hours a day even when the channel was not on-air. In his lexicon, there is nothing called breathing space….he himself does not take it, nor does he give it to anybody. Arnab experiments everyday almost with all stories in its treatment, writing style etc. He takes risks even when he knows that he may be wrong. Arnab inspired me to push my journalism further.

I have lost a mentor, a great story-teller with impeccable English, Jehangir Pocha few weeks back. I worked with him for almost five years…closely. He had nurtured me, polished me and most crucially tolerated me with a sense of great affection and indulgence. His knowledge in business journalism was unmatched in the industry. It was he, who helped me emerge as a news manager with multi-tasking skills…from strategic planning to building great team. Jehangir used to tell me ”Journalism is at a crucial stage. The opportunities are endless given the growing capabilities of digital media. Tap it.”

In your experience what was the best scoop that you worked on and the lessons learned from it?

My national scoop on Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee report on defence purchases during Kargil War was damningly critical about the Union Defense Ministry and its Minister George Fernandes, for stonewalling documents from the House body. The revelation created massive row in Parliament day after day, leading to an opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee Government.

Another national exclusive….how fake stamp scam-fame Abdul Karim Telgi was patronized by the then Karnataka minister Roshan Baig and his brother Rehan Baig. I filed a document-based story that was aired in ETV Kannada as a campaign forcing Roshan to resign from the state ministry and Rehan had to surrender to police following a FIR.

Any lessons that you want to share with wannabe journalists?

I have often encountered many peculiar situations. Many aspiring journalists have come to me for two specific kinds of jobs…reporting and anchoring. Sadly, many seem to have glamour as their main criteria to be in the profession. This is a dangerous trend and I would advice wannabe journalists to get rid of such inhibitions, as journalism is certainly way beyond all this. Explore other avenues and let passion for quality and work be your hallmark.

If you can travel by time, what lessons would you share with your younger self?

I wish I had made less mistakes. I wish I had broken more national scoops with real impact….wish I would have less emotional in professional relationship and most crucially, wish I would have made a balance between my work and family life. Given a chance I would have followed Ratan Tata’s philosophy, “Do we really need to get so worked up? It’s ok. Bunk few classes, score low in couple of papers, take leave from work, fall in love, fight a little with your spouse…it’s ok. We are people, not programmed devices. Don’t be so serious, enjoy life as it comes.”

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Lessons Learned from My Ten-year-old

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Mornings in my household are always a rush like any other house. Getting two kids and a husband out of the house on to school and office respectively takes a lot of juggling and preparation. A hurried shower and a cursory glance in the mirror makes up my ‘My time’. During which, my mind is racing ahead with thoughts about the day and tasks to be accomplished in my own small business.

Over the years, the time I spent on myself, decreased steadily. The jump from the corporate world to the entrepreneurial bandwagon was anything but smooth. The demands on my time were more and the multi- tasking between personal and professional commitments were always a mind-boggling process. Somewhere my drive and dreams changed not by conscious effort. My aspirations and desires for my dreams vaporized.

In my house I had a teenager with raging hormones and an eight year old with endless questions. Between music, drawing, sailing and dance classes time for myself, became a distant second. Mother had forewarned me, on this phase of life and how it was necessary for me to take a step behind and pay attention to myself.

As they say, life happens, when you are busy making plans. Years have rolled by and my teenager has blossomed into a confident young woman heading out to forge her own path in the world. With one out of the nest, suddenly time hangs, and I started noticing the changes in me. I could not recognize myself. I have morphed into this middle aged, overweight grey haired and dark circled woman that I cannot connect with. But this cannot be me. Who is this stranger looking at me?

One such morning, I stood in front of my mirror, a million similar thoughts and questions floating and gently colliding giving rise to more questions than answers. Where is that ‘I want to make a difference in the world’ person gone? What happened? Where have I left my identity behind? My eight year old, now ten, silently watching me studying my reflection, gives me a hug and says ‘ Mum you are the most beautiful and kind girl ever. I would never ever trade you for anyone else mom. You always understand when I want you to. No matter how much I get angry with you I wouldn’t want to trade you.’

In his eyes, I see the wonderment and awe. He sees beauty, love and compassion in my lines and aged body. To him, it does not matter that I have a double chin or I walk at a slower and more measured pace.

So how can the same reflection invoke two different and diversely opposite views. I realized that I was looking at myself the wrong way. My ten years old has taught me that what matters is, I am there when my kids need me the most. I have enabled them to grow and internalize characters that are inherent in being human, Kindness, attentiveness, active listening with a non- judgmental approach. This then, is my identity.

My two children are a reflection of who I have become, happy and well adjusted. Shaking my head and promising myself some of that ‘Me’ time soon I look at my son and say ‘Let’s catch that movie we both wanted to see’.

The goal post in our lives for success, dreams and ambitions are ever changing and shifting. The idea then, is to keep aiming and shooting new goals.

About Radha Srinivasan

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Radha Srinivasan

I am a mom, entrepreneur, experiential marketer, brand communication consultant, amateur photographer, reader, writer and above all a compulsive dreamer. Literature and poetry features in all that I endeavor to do.

In my mind I have traversed the globe through the books I read. I have lived in Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow. I now call Chennai my home. I majored in Literature, Psychology and Journalism for my BA degree.  I have a post graduate degree from NIFT. Avid interest in theater and performing arts though now time does not permit.

I am eternally curious. I am passionate about appreciation of arts and arts related such. In short I am your average Indian woman.