“Restless: Chronicles of a Policeman” by Dr V. R. Sampath IPS

I must admit that I found it rather difficult to write a review of “Restless: Chronicles of a Policeman” by Dr V R Sampath IPS (Retd). On reflection, I think the difficulty was in distinguishing between Dr Sampath the person and the book he wrote. From what one gathers from the book, Dr Sampath is an admirable and talented individual. He comes across as being honest, upright and with a big need to satiate his inborn curiosity to learn new things. I particularly liked his message that we need to constantly re – invent ourselves in order to survive, if not flourish in a fast changing world. This message has huge impact as most people tend to become complacent with their successes. Consequently they feel all at sea when the world around them changes and makes their skills redundant.

This message has been exemplified by the author in his own life as he has transformed himself with the passage of time. As far as career is concerned, he started work in a bank then was selected to India’s prestigious Indian Police Service where he served with distinction for 25 years . Most of his batchmates would have stayed on in the Police Service and retired, but Sampath being restless left the service at the peak of his career. He still had a decade of service left before the age of retirement. He joined India’s private sector businesses and held important positions there, working with some of the country’s top most industrialists like the Ambanis and the Adanis, to name a few. He then left the world of business, to begin all over again as a student when he enrolled for the MFA program in Creative Writing in the United States. Of course, the fact that both his sons were well settled in the United States contributed, I would imagine, to this decision.

The book itself is in two parts, the first half ” Mechanical Life & Awakening” deals with his career as mentioned briefly above. The chronicles of a policeman were not as exciting as I imagined they would be. There are descriptions of waiting for cadre allotments, transfers, postings and the like but not too many incidents about his experiences as a top cop. The few that have been described have been very well written which leads me to believe that instead of the book being equally divided in two parts, I would have preferred if the book was 75-80 % about his policing days and 20-25 % about his explorations of life, for the many like me who are less spiritually inclined. He could later have written a separate book built on Part 2 of this book. Sir, by the way, as a child you read Erle Stanley Gardner and not Perry Mason.

The second part is titled,  “Exploration, Expansion and Integration.” As you will appreciate, this lifetime of diverse experiences enabled Dr Sampath  to think deeply of life and what it means in its entirety. Being of a scholarly and spiritual bent of mind, he did not rest content with his first Ph.D  ( about Airline Security) in India. He is currently working towards the Master’s degree in Fine Arts specialising in Creative Writing and subsequent PhD in Consciousness Studies at School of Consciousness and Transformation at the California Institute of Integral Studies. He summarizes the essence of his life experiences in one sentence: ” Life is accidental and random in occurring, unless your consciousness level is high enough to neutralise them.”

Dr Sampath said he, all through his life and career held on to his identity which has four parts. In his own words, he says, ” first and foremost , I am a Hindu; second, I am a Tamilzhan, third , I am a Brahmin; and fourth I am a Srivaishnavan. I am aware that all four have been under siege for hundreds of years. I am confident that one day, all of them would triumph.” Hats off to you, Sir.

All in all, if you are spiritually inclined and would like to explore what life means you would love this book. If not, the second part could be heavy reading as it needs concentrated attention as it has vast amounts of information and insight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Born Smiling: A Father’s Tribute” by K Ravi

How would you react if, God forbid, you were to be pre deceased by your child? Just the very thought would shock and send you into a frenzy, right? My friend, K Ravi who went through this sad experience took the courageous decision to write a book, as a tribute to his daughter.  I am delighted that he has recently joined our ranks as a published author. My sincere congratulations to him. His book, ” Born Smiling: A Father’s Tribute” was published earlier this month. I am so happy for him as I know how much the writing of this book means to him.

I had the pleasure of being invited to be the Guest of Honour at the book launch. We had an interesting conversation on what motivated him to write the book, what he hoped to gain from the experience and how it could be of help to others whose children may be facing depression and other difficulties.

A roar of applause greeted Ravi’s announcement at the book launch that all sale proceeds from this book would be donated to two NGOs carrying on laudable service, namely Sa Mudra Foundation, and Youth Empowerment Foundation. This is indeed a moving gesture on his part.

In the foreword to this book, I wrote, ” Perhaps the saddest thing that can happen to any parent is to have their child pre-decease them. A mortal blow from which many never fully recover. Sushmitha, the author’s beloved daughter passed away in April 2016 when she was just 34. It is to the author’s credit that he found it in himself to write in considerable detail about his daughter and the life she led. ”

 

I went on to say, ” In his introduction, the author expresses the hope that this book will help others in similar circumstances as his daughter as she suffered from time to time with acute depression. An article in ” Medical News Today” says, ‘The causes of depression are not fully understood but are likely to be a complex combination of genetic,  biological, environmental, and psychosocial factors.’  Reading this book will tell you how apt this definition is. The author needs to be commended for his honesty in sharing his life story and his grief.”

The book is currently available with Sa Mudra Foundation but will soon, I am informed by Ravi, be available on online portals like Amazon and the like.

By the way, I have known Ravi for 45 years as he was my classmate in XLRI, Jamshedpur. He can be contacted at : ravikris4@gmail.com.

 


“Train To Nowhere” by Anita Leslie

Over the decades I have read ever so many books about the Second World War. Most have been by professional journalists or by the military top brass who have written about their own experiences. I have just finished what must be one of the best autobiographies I have read which has the Second World War as a backdrop. This is “Train To Nowhere” by Anita Leslie, a young lady from a well to do aristocratic Anglo-Irish family who was distantly related to Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. In 1940,  aged 26 she joined the Mechanised Transport Corps where she became a qualified mechanic and ambulance driver, to do her bit for the war effort.

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“Losing Amma, Finding Home” by Uma Girish

The title of the book was extremely catchy. ” Losing Amma, Finding Home” grabbed my attention at the book store. The brief description of the book, ” A Memoir About Love, Loss and Life’s Detours” made me buy it right then.  I am glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed Uma’s book. Perhaps I could relate to the descriptions more as I am very familiar with the middle-class Madras (now Chennai) milieu she writes about. Continue reading ““Losing Amma, Finding Home” by Uma Girish”

“Return To India” A Memoir by Shoba Narayan

I have always loved reading memoirs and was delighted to come across, ” Return to India” by Shoba Narayan. Here she writes of the angst caused in most Indian-Americans caught in a within the mind crossfire between the country where they were born and bred as children and their adopted country which has given them more than abundant monetary and other worldly conveniences they would not have got in the Old Country.

Shoba was highly focused on her goal as a teenager growing up in Madras ( as Chennai was called in those days) and her goal was to go to the United States away from the protective, cloying environment provided by family and friends. She imagined being free of all constraints and living a life of her own where she could start afresh and do whatever she pleased in a land of endless opportunity. Continue reading ““Return To India” A Memoir by Shoba Narayan”

“Lucknow Boy” by Vinod Mehta

I have seen Vinod Mehta often on television programs where he holds forth on a variety of issues. I have known him to be a strong supporter of the Congress Party and a self- proclaimed “pseudo-secularist.” It was with considerable interest therefore that I read his memoirs titled, “Lucknow Boy” published by Penguin India. The book gets its name from the fact that Mehta grew up in Lucknow and stayed in touch with the city of his childhood and youth. Continue reading ““Lucknow Boy” by Vinod Mehta”

“Lost Victories” by Erich von Manstein

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I want to become a complete writer.

If you are a Second World War buff, like me, I am sure you would have read many biographies and autobiographies from the Generals, Admirals, and Air Chief Marshals who led the Allied troops to victory over the Axis forces.

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