The Author Show Season 2 (TASS2): Manali Manan Desai in the hot seat in conversation with Sanjay Chandra and Vardhan Dharkar

Sanjay Chandra is the author of The Gymnast, and The Life and Times of a Common Man.

We would also like to bring authors of Indian regional languages and from outside India on The Author Show for our readers. Interested authors may please connect with Sanjay Chandra


Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Mis(s) Adventures of a Salesgirl by Aashisha Chakraborty

All of us, or at least most of us, have secrets in our lives – either those that we did not divulge or those that were kept from us – almost always to not break relationships.

Enakshi, a 25 year old young woman, the lead protagonist of this book, also has one such secret kept from her, though hinted at by her close ones. She could not guess, not could I, till the truth hit us, almost towards the end of the book. Surprisingly, it did not break Enakshi, nor her relationships – they became stronger, with an empathy difficult to see in current times.

In between, we have the 25-year-old Enakshi completing her business management, and going to Chennai for her internship. If hell would have a name, it would be this city for the lady. She is required to study the market by a strict boss, who refuses to acknowledge her. She is clueless of the local language, faces unknown biases – gender, no toilets for women in the field, sexist innuendos, a stalker, etc etc.

I loved the way that the author tackled sensitive issues, never faltering. There was not a dull moment. The other characters were also well etched, even as they supported the story of Enakshi.

That is the beauty of the storytelling of the young author.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast, and The Life and Times of a Common Man.

Contact for Book Reviews, The Author Show, Guest Blogs, and Creative Writing Workshop.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: The Reluctant Doctor by Balesh Jindal

I shifted to Delhi towards the end of 1997. I had often travelled to Gurgaon on a highway, which at that time was nothing much to boast about. I have seen the metamorphosis of this road to an expressway. But, I had not thought much about the localities that I would pass through, which are as dense as any urban jungle, and which I now associate as an integral part of the capital city of India.

It is in these localities, which were nothing more than villages with vast expanses of agricultural lands in the mid-eighties, that the author of the book found herself running a rural clinic, fresh out of medical college. She had dreams of moving out of the country. But her father had other ideas for her, and he gently nudged her into a journey, now spanning almost 40 years.

And what a journey it has been. It is not just the years, it is the transformation that has taken place from a rural setting to urban – people who turned rich overnight selling their farmlands in the name of development. The ills that would plague a youth which did not know the way to keep a level head burdened by the riches – drugs, unwanted pregnancies, fights, and much more.

And this lady, our author has seen it all. The book is about changes in our society – some good, some bad – as Balesh has seen. The book is contemporary as it is relevant even for the youth of today. Real life anecdotes and incidents make the book an interesting read.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast, and The Life and Times of a Common Man.

Contact for Book Reviews, The Author Show, Guest Blog, and Creative Writing Workshop.


Spiritual Tree by Vardhan V Dharkar

Many of us have a hobby of growing plants. No matter how small the area may be, we find a place to grow the plants. We have a good understanding that to grow a plant we need

  • Good soil
  • Good seed
  • Ample Sunlight
  • Adequate Water and
  • Good Fertiliser

If any of the above ingredients is missing or is not available in sufficient quantity at the right time, then the plant’s growth will suffer. To make sure that the plant grows well, we go to great lengths to ensure that we prepare good quality soil, we procure good quality seeds. We find a good spot where there is ample sunlight. Every day we water the plant adequately. We nurture the plant with good fertiliser. In addition to above, we also make sure that weeds do not grow along with the plant. At frequent intervals we remove the weeds. We also know that for a plant to grow, lot of patience is required. It cannot grow overnight. We watch the progress of the plant every day to make sure all the above ingredients are available in right quantity at the right time. When all of the above is done then the plant grows and rewards us with good quality fruits.

Similar to the physical plant, there is a spiritual plant. Just as physical plant needs many ingredients to grow, the spiritual plant also needs many ingredients to blossom into a beautiful tree. The ingredients the spiritual tree needs are

  • Swadharma
  • Pure thought
  • Guru
  • Reading scriptures
  • Bhakti and faith

To grow spiritual plant, we need to identify our swadharma. Bhagwad Gita, Chapter three, verse thirty five says “Performing ones natural duties, even if tinged with faults, is far better than performing someone else’s duty perfectly”. Swadharma is the first step in starting our spiritual journey. The second step is to ensure that we have pure mind. Just as we take great care in selecting good quality seed, we have to ensure purity of thoughts and mind. The mind should have only positive thoughts, love and affection at all times. Having identified our swadharma and made sure our mind is pure; the next important step is to have a guru. The word “Guru” means “Someone who dispels the darkness from your life”.  He will guide us and will provide the guidance so that our journey of growing spiritually remains on right track. Guru’s role is vital and very critical. Once you have a right Guru, your journey to grow spiritually will progress unhindered. To water the plant of spirituality, we need to read the scriptures, listen to discourses of the gurus, understand and assimilate the philosophy of life. Bhakti and faith are the two fertilisers that will provide a right stimulant to the growth of the spiritual plant. They need to be given at frequent intervals to ensure the consistent growth. Just as we remove weeds from the plant, we have to do the same thing with our spiritual plant. Here the weeds are the negative thoughts, hatred, lack of self-belief and attachment to senses. We have to be on constant guard to ensure that these negative thoughts do not enter and pollute our mind. These negative thoughts stunt spiritual growth

We give enough time for physical plant to grow and blossom, similarly we need to give sufficient time for the spiritual tree also to grow and blossom. We have to remember that growing a spiritual plant is not a 20/20 cricket match; it is a test match of five days. It is not one hundred meter sprint; rather it is a marathon race. We can win this marathon only with patience and time.

 Our growth in spirituality is assured when we sincerely and consistently follow the above path.

Happy growing spiritually!!

वर्धन वसंत धारकर
०६ मार्च २०२३

Musings of a Pioneer: Au Revoir!

It has taken me more than a month to gather strength and pen my thoughts about the eventual truth that we all know about, but are too scared to face, till circumstances force us to look it in the eyes.

How do you bid farewell to people whom you have known your entire life! Words are not enough to put a lifetime of memories on paper. It has been a difficult and trying winter for me, as I look back and reflect on the times that I spent with those who have now merged with the eternal.

The first to go was the one with whom I was connected for more than my life on this mortal earth – 9 months or so more. Yes, she was my mother. There are myriad memories, but the uppermost in my mind are those of her possessive protection – which was never stifling – and the bridge that she was between us children and our father. I took her love for granted, hoping that my gestures were enough to convey my love.

The next to go was my maternal uncle, my mother’s younger brother. I do not know what his feelings were as he might have held me in his arms when I was born. He would have been only a 17 year old young boy at the time. In fact, I also never felt the urge to ask him about the emotions that might be going through his heart at the time. The reason was simple – he never treated me as a child. We spoke as equals. He made me feel special without overtly talking about it. Now we will talk no more.

The last was someone who I met 25 years ago – not a lifetime, but no less also. We met professionally, lived in the same complex and developed a healthy regard for each other. Our children grew up together. Our younger daughters developed a friendship that would be the envy of all. We moved on, but spoke occasionally. Every time that we spoke or on the rare times that we met, he would ask me to come home to reminisce about our times together over a glass of wine. That never happened.

Now there are unsaid thoughts and a regret that I should have made efforts to be more communicative. The three deaths have also brought home the fact that our time on the planet is limited, and there is a lot to be done, a lot to be said to dear ones. There would never be enough time; but I can try.

I do not know if there is a supreme being in the other realm who would judge me. I only hope that when I close my eyes, I do so with a satisfaction that I tried my best.

Au revoir my dear ones… Till we meet again… This time we will talk… And do the things that we wanted to do together.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: Seashore at Twilight by Yudhajit

This is the story of Vivek and Lucy and their love for each other. Vivek is missing for two years, feared dead in a flight that could not land in Bhutan due to poor weather conditions and the plane is presumed to have crashed. Lucy is trying to pick up pieces of her shattered life as she is asked to travel to Sri Lanka for work, where she meets a look-alike of Vivek, who does not recognise her.

The above broadly describes the storyline, which should lead to a predictable happy ending, as Vivek makes an entry in the story somewhere in the middle of the book. It is the twists and turns in the story that make it interesting.

The language is simple and easy to read. My complaint is about editorial inputs – grammar and vocabulary. A fast read, which will appeal to movie buffs.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast and The Life and Times of a Common Man.

Contact for Book Reviews, Author Show, Guest Blogs, and Creative Writing Workshop.

Book Reviews by a Pioneer: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Circumstances can bring out the worst or the best in us. We may endlessly argue about the bad in a person, but there is also good, which may manifest in adversities.

This Pulitzer award winner novel is about the best that a human being can be. Marie Laure’s father builds a model of their Paris neighbourhood for her to navigate the real streets when she goes blind at the age of six. German occupation of France forces them to flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast to live with a grand-uncle, with a national treasure in his custody. He builds another model of the new neighbourhood for his daughter.

In a parallel track, Werner, an orphan in Germany, is enchanted by a radio. He goes on to master the skills to repair radios, and joins the Germany of Hitler, as a tracker of radio signals by the resistance. Travelling through different countries with the German army, he lands in Saint-Malo.

Here, the paths of the two orphans merge. Here, they display the strength of character, that raises them beyond the ordinary.

This is a heart touching story that makes you believe in the good in you in the difficult times that we are living in.

The review is by Sanjay Chandra, author of The Gymnast and The Life and Times of a Common Man.

Contact for Book Reviews, Author Show, Guest Blogs, and Creative Writing Workshop.