HydRAW 2022 NovemberReads

6 min readDec 23, 2022

Write-ups and book reads of our members in November, 2022

Even for the penultimate month of the year, we have an exciting list of book-reads and write-ups. As the year winds down, our readers have kept up their reading tempo.

First the write-ups and then the lists.

Muralidharan Parthasarathy (on Letters on Himself and the Ashram) : This is volume 35 of 36 volumes of the thoughts, lectures, works and letters of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry have made available all the 36 volumes in pdf online. This volume 35 is about 800 pages. Most of the letters in the volume are on the Yogi in Sri Aurobindo. Among his luminary contemporaries like Gandhiji, Swami Vivekananda and Ramana Maharishi, we find many of his candid remarks about Gandhiji and Vivekananda which are critical. About Vivekananda Aurobindo writes, “His idea of seva was a need of his nature and it must have helped him- it does not follow that it must be accepted as the universal spiritual necessity.” About Gandhiji and Congress are bitter mostly; to share one, “As far the Hindu-Muslim affair… The recognition of communal principle by them at Lucknow made them permanently a separate political entity in India which ought to have never happened — the Khilafat affair made that separate political entity as organised political power.” He was able to foresee India’s partition as early as 1936. There are many letters about his enlightenment on a particular day when he was in prison and his view on yoga and meditation are to the level of Nirvikalpa Smadhi. He gives guidance and clarifications more on these topics only in this huge volume. He elaborates on the discipline in the Ashram, the dos and don’ts and about the Mother. Due to the threat of arrest and stalling his activities, eminent Tamil poet Subramanya Bharathi spent his last years in Pondicherry. It seems Aurobindo and the legendary poet never met. These publications are rich resources to understand Aurobindo and the Mother.

Arun Kumar (on Valli) : It is a well written and translated book about migrants, forests and what happens if forests disappear. Read and enjoy the book.

Fizza Younis (on House in the Cerulean Sea) : A beautiful story with a beautiful message. In a world where magical people are regulated by the government, a man working with the department of magical creatures finds himself questioning his reality and what’s right or wrong. He works with orphanages and reports back to the relevant department. His reports decide which orphanages will stay open, providing homes to orphan magical children, and which will close. He has never questioned what happens after his reports are processed. But on one particular assignment, he meets children and the caretaker who changes his opinion for good. He realizes that children are first and foremost children. They don’t need to be isolated and judged, rather they need love and protection. Now, he will never be the same. He can no longer do his job and stay emotionally detached. Just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are bad or that you should be afraid of them. If we take the time and learn about each other’s differences, we might end up loving our differences. Everyone is beautiful just the way they are. And that’s the central message of this beautifully written story that will take you on an adventure and change your life forever. I thoroughly enjoyed the way it’s narrated. I loved the main character and his way of looking at things. He is perfect to tell a story like this. No wonder the “extremely upper management” picked him to visit the house in the Cerulean sea. Although told from an adult’s point of view, this book is meant for children. I listened to an audiobook of this and would recommend it to all listeners. It’s a very well-narrated story. It has some fun moments, and some sad ones, but mostly it is a thought-provoking book meant for those who are always ready to open their minds to new ways of thinking and looking at things.

Manohar Grandhi (on The Entrepreneur Rollercoaster). This book begins from Darren’s first business of selling water filter. He talks about the mistakes he committed in his first business. He talked a lot of things like how he sucked at real estate business. He used to write his prospects as ‘hit list’. Then one of his friends who told it should be ‘helping list’. He talks about how he redefined his definition of success. He talks about what matters in business. He talks about what factors are important when it comes to hiring. This book is just likes his other book The Compound Effect which has a lot of teachings based on his real life interactions and his interviews with super successful people for his success magazine. This is a must read for anyone who even has a thoughts about entrepreneurship.

Hari Arayammakul (on The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida) : This novel about the horrors of civil war in Sri Lanka employs a new style of storytelling — conversation by ghosts who died in the conflict. The protagonist is Maali Almeida, a photo journalist, who was killed recently. Stuffed with high doze of dark humour the brilliantly written novel carries you along easily.

Dhruva Nalla (on Persuasion) : It’s a romance novel, about the love- hate relationship between Annie Elliot and Captain Wentworth. Annie Elliot gets engaged to Wentworth but lady Russel tells Annie not to marry him because of his low- social status. The remaining part of the story is about them meeting after couple of years and how they react. The plot of the story is quite simple, but it contains several interesting characters and the satirical humour which makes the book breezy.

Usha Sreedharan (on Persuasion) : Jane Austen’s literary work much resembles the novel Pride and Prejudice. The central theme of both the novels are love and marriage of nineteenth century which revolve around wealth, statue and class distinction. In Pride and Prejudice, mother of four girls Mrs Bennet is anxious about getting married her daughters to wealthy men. Love between Darcy and Elizabeth (Pride and Prejudice) and navy background captain Wentworth and Anne, daughter of Sir Walter (Persuasion) fail and the marriages do not happen because of mismatch of family status and wealth and class difference. By the end, the central characters get married despite social stratification.

(on The Great Indian Novel) : It is a satirical novel by Shashi Tharoor. The characters and events of the Mahabharata are retold in modern Indian history and resemble renowned political leaders.

Muralidharan Parthasarathy

  • Letters on Himself and the Ashram by Sri Aurobindo

Manohar Grandhi

  • The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
  • The Enterpreneur Roller Coaster by Darren Hardy

Arun Kumar

  • Song of the Soil by Chuden Kabimo and Ajit Baral
  • Valli by Sheela Tomy and Jayasree Kalathil
  • Birbal’s Painting and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • Half the Reward and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • Birbal and Akbar’s Ring and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • Stories of Trees From India by Katie Bagli
  • Telugu Pedda Kathalu edited by Mohammad Khadeer Babu
  • How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community by Mia Birdsong
  • Catch the Moustache Thief by Sukumar Ray
  • Fields of Pearls and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • Crying of the River and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • The Trick of the Stick and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • Akbar’s Disguise and Other Stories by Sunita Pant Bansal (contributor)
  • RSS: The Long and Short of It by Devanura Mahadeva

Fizza Younis

  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
  • If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang
  • Like No Other by Anna Jacobs
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai
  • Verity by Colleen Hoover
  • A Pirate in Time by Megan Happel
  • Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
  • Unravel the Dusk by Elizabeth Lim
  • Cinderella and the Duke by Lydia Drake

Hari Arayammakul

  • The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Dhruva Nalla

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen

Usha Sreedharan

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

Mahboob Hussain

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell