In My Hands Today…

Asura: Tale Of The Vanquished – Anand Neelakantan

13563459The epic tale of victory and defeat… The story of the Ramayana had been told innumerable times. The enthralling story of Rama, the incarnation of God, who slew Ravana, the evil demon of darkness, is known to every Indian. And in the pages of history, as always, it is the version told by the victors that lives on. The voice of the vanquished remains lost in silence.

But what if Ravana and his people had a different story to tell? The story of the Ravanayana has never been told. Asura is the epic tale of the vanquished Asura people, a story that has been cherished by the oppressed castes of India for 3000 years. Until now, no Asura has dared to tell the tale. But perhaps the time has come for the dead and the defeated to speak.

“For thousands of years, I have been vilified and my death is celebrated year after year in every corner of India. Why? Was it because I challenged the Gods for the sake of my daughter? Was it because I freed a race from the yoke of caste-based Deva rule? You have heard the victor’s tale, the Ramayana. Now hear the Ravanayana, for I am Ravana, the Asura, and my story is the tale of the vanquished.”

“I am a non-entity – invisible, powerless and negligible. No epics will ever be written about me. I have suffered both Ravana and Rama – the hero and the villain or the villain and the hero. When the stories of great men are told, my voice maybe too feeble to be heard. Yet, spare me a moment and hear my story, for I am Bhadra, the Asura, and my life is the tale of the loser.”

The ancient Asura empire lay shattered into many warring petty kingdoms reeling under the heel of the Devas. In desperation, the Asuras look up to a young saviour – Ravana. Believing that a better world awaits them under Ravana, common men like Bhadra decide to follow the young leader. With a will of iron and a fiery ambition to succeed, Ravana leads his people from victory to victory and carves out a vast empire from the Devas. But even when Ravana succeeds spectacularly, the poor Asuras find that nothing much has changed from them. It is then that Ravana, by one action, changes the history of the world.

In My Hands Today…

The Architect’s Apprentice – Elif Shafak

22571629In her latest novel, Turkey’s preeminent female writer spins an epic tale spanning nearly a century in the life of the Ottoman Empire.

In 1540, twelve-year-old Jahan arrives in Istanbul. As an animal tamer in the sultan’s menagerie, he looks after the exceptionally smart elephant Chota and befriends (and falls for) the sultan’s beautiful daughter, Princess Mihrimah.

A palace education leads Jahan to Mimar Sinan, the empire’s chief architect, who takes Jahan under his wing as they construct (with Chota’s help) some of the most magnificent buildings in history. Yet even as they build Sinan’s triumphant masterpieces—the incredible Suleymaniye and Selimiye mosques—dangerous undercurrents begin to emerge, with jealousy erupting among Sinan’s four apprentices.

A memorable story of artistic freedom, creativity, and the clash between science and fundamentalism, Shafak’s intricate novel brims with vibrant characters, intriguing adventure, and the lavish backdrop of the Ottoman court, where love and loyalty are no match for raw power.

In My Hands Today…

Roll Out The Champagne, Singapore! – Catherine Lim

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30 stories about ordinary Singaporeans at their best and worst, their joys and griefs and angers, their dreams fulfilled or lost. They are tales about the awesome human condition and the even more awesome human spirit, interweaved with the author’s vignettes of her nearly 50 years in Singapore, such as how she came from Malaysia to live in Singapore and her run-in with then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

Stories include:

  • The Quitter Who Stayed
  • A Sock on the Jaw, a Blow on the Solar Plexus
  • The Taximan Cometh
  • A Writer’s Roller Coaster Ride
  • The BKBC (bo kia bo chap) Interview
  • Little Red Dot
  • A Good Man in Singapore
  • Elvis Presley Gave Me a Winning 4D Number
  • Thanks , but No Thanks, Censorship!
  • The Sixth C

In My Hands Today…

Tell a Thousand Lies – Rasana Atreya

13529957In a land where skin colour can determine one’s destiny, fraternal twins Pullamma and Lata are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart.

Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn’t enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She’s well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing – you name it. She’s also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school.

Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married. Unable to grasp the depth of Lata’s desire, the twins’ Grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl.

Distraught, Lata rebels, with devastating consequences. As Pullamma helps ready the house for her older sister Malli’s bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma’s future in ways she couldn’t have foreseen.

Tell A Thousand Lies is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but ultimately realistic look at how superstition and the colour of a girl’s skin rules India’s hinterlands.

In My Hands Today…

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder – Arianna Huffington

18594634In Thrive, Arianna Huffington makes an impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world.

Arianna Huffington’s personal wake-up call came in the form of a broken cheekbone and a nasty gash over her eye — the result of a fall brought on by exhaustion and lack of sleep. As the cofounder and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group – one of the fastest growing media companies in the world – celebrated as one of the world’s most influential women, and gracing the covers of magazines, she was, by any traditional measure, extraordinarily successful. Yet as she found herself going from brain MRI to CAT scan to echocardiogram, to find out if there was any underlying medical problem beyond exhaustion, she wondered is this really what success feels like?

As more and more people are coming to realize, there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office. Our relentless pursuit of the two traditional metrics of success – money and power – has led to an epidemic of burnout and stress-related illnesses, and an erosion in the quality of our relationships, family life, and, ironically, our careers. In being connected to the world 24/7, we’re losing our connection to what truly matters. Our current definition of success is, as Thrive shows, literally killing us. We need a new way forward.

In a commencement address Arianna gave at Smith College in the spring of 2013, she likened our drive for money and power to two legs of a three-legged stool. They may hold us up temporarily, but sooner or later we’re going to topple over. We need a third leg – a third metric for defining success – to truly thrive. That third metric, she writes in Thrive, includes our well-being, our ability to draw on our intuition and inner wisdom, our sense of wonder, and our capacity for compassion and giving. As Arianna points out, our eulogies celebrate our lives very differently from the way society defines success. They don’t commemorate our long hours in the office, our promotions, or our sterling PowerPoint presentations as we relentlessly raced to climb up the career ladder. They are not about our resumes – they are about cherished memories, shared adventures, small kindnesses and acts of generosity, lifelong passions, and the things that made us laugh.

In this deeply personal book, Arianna talks candidly about her own challenges with managing time and prioritizing the demands of a career and raising two daughters – of juggling business deadlines and family crises, a harried dance that led to her collapse and to her “aha moment.” Drawing on the latest groundbreaking research and scientific findings in the fields of psychology, sports, sleep, and physiology that show the profound and transformative effects of meditation, mindfulness, unplugging, and giving, Arianna shows us the way to a revolution in our culture, our thinking, our workplace, and our lives.

In My Hands Today…

Tsunami Kids: Our Journey from Survival to Success – Paul Forkan & Rob Forkan

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On December 26, 2004, Rob, Paul, Matty, and Rosie Forkan, ages 8-17, lost their parents in the tsunami that devastated Sri Lanka. They faced a 124 mile trek to get home to safety. The ingenuity, and resilience they displayed was the result of their unusual upbringing. Taken out of school, they received an unconventional education, carrying out voluntary work for charities in India alongside their parents. Since the tsunami, Rob and Paul have created a multinational brand, Gandy’s Flip Flops, based in the front room of their rented home, and set up Orphans for Orphans, a charitable organization that uses 10% of the profits to support children deprived of education, nutrition, and medication. This is a heartbreaking yet uplifting journey, told by two inspirational survivors.