Book Reviews - Tea Time Stories by Sudha Murty

Sudha Murty is an award winning writer and social worker in South India. She is married to the famous pioneer Mr. Narayana Murty, co-founder of Infosys, who changed the face of IT sector in India. This reading list edition mentions her books only, I'll do another one later. Mrs. Murty is a selfless lady - who utilized her wealth, power and resources, to help educate the poor children. Her initiative, Infosys Foundation, is silently doing wonders. They help sponsor education for many poor children. They have funded libraries all across schools of Karnataka, especially targeting the rural regions. What I love about her and her foundation is that they personally go to the rural areas to assess the needs, and then provide them with sufficient resources. Making a donation is one thing, but what if it doesn't reach the right person, at the right time? Her foundation ensures a personal visit to ground zero, thorough background checks and complete analysis of the situation, and finally delivery of the right resources. She is basically doing something, which makes my heart happy.

In addition to that, she is a great writer and teacher - sharing her wisdom through her engrossing anecdotes. Which led me to read some of her novels. You hear and read about her everywhere, but you get a peak into her actual work and life in these books. She also picked few subjects, especially for the women, to write on. They may have been written in the 80s, but some of them still hold a message for us today. Some of her novels are a work of fiction, but real people and their stories influence them. Her stories are inspiring, heartwarming and enlightening. Her visits to remote areas, encounter with generous poor people, and her train journey with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam (11th President of India, 2002-07), are some of the stories she shares with her readers. She writes the simplest everyday stories, with powerful messages.




I have listed below some of her books that I read. These books may not be your cup of tea, but you can always try it with a cup of coffee. (Or, a hot chocolate!!) :)

"Mahashweta", by Sudha Murty




Genre - Fiction

Rating - 5/5 stars

Briefly - Mahashweta is identified with the Indian Goddess of knowledge, education and intellect. The story line and character of the book have a lot to do with greater knowledge of life. We get blinded by bling and shiny things, and often overlook the real beauty of a person. Mahashweta is a magnificent story, no matter who reads it. Anupama is a very sweet and positive girl. She is caring and compassionate, without going overboard with it. I wouldn't say she suffers, because that's a very negative word, but is infected by a skin disease. Leukoderma is a skin condition, in layman's language, where one loses the pigments of skin (melanin) in different parts of their bodies. As far as I know, it is not a contagious problem, and can occur due to several reasons - poor diet, hereditary or trauma, being some of them.


However, coming back to the book - It is a hard reality - people sometimes isolate people with skin conditions, which may/ may not be serious. It is important to educate us about a situation, before jumping to any conclusion. The courage and willpower of Anupama is commendable. I love how compassionate she is towards everyone, in spite of the things she had to go through. I understand where she comes from; to have a blemished skin can be a curse. But I have come to believe with experience, there are people in this world who look much beyond looks and scars! (Or, leukoderma, in Anu's case.) Those are the people one should hold on to, and let go of all those who are just immature in their thinking. People often forget that, if given a choice, everyone would have opted for a flawless skin. But unfortunately some things are not in our control. Everyone's definition of beauty can be different. "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", they say. I feel - If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all. :) If you really have to judge, look at their hearts. Even then I would suggest looking for only positive attributes is the best way to go. I know it's easier said than done, but making it a habit will definitely help us as a society. These skin imperfections are why dermatologists are earning their living. So let's be happy for them!

All said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I especially love the ending, and the message Mrs. Murty has tried to convey through her story. Just like at the end of a movie we wait for a sneak peek into what happened to the characters & their story, similarly the author shares her insight into the real story this book was inspired from. That story alone says a lot about the book. A good read in my opinion.


"Gently Falls The Bakula", by Sudha Murty




Genre - Fiction

Rating - 5/5 Stars

Briefly - Relationships, especially that of partners or spouses, can be very complicated.  But it can be CURE-d by Communication, Understanding, Respect and Endearment. Now, I am not a professional nor have any experience to base this on. But still believe that for a relationship to work, both partners should be happy and supporting of each other. Everything can be solved or even rectified, with pure and honest conversations.

If Shrimati had been honest and persistent about her desire for a Ph.D., Shrikant would have never expected her to make all the sacrifices. Life will always bring obstacles your way, it's important to find an alternate route. Sacrifice is not always the answer, and both the partners, instead of burdening it on one, should make an adjustment. If sacrifice is the only answer, and the woman willingly takes upon the burden, the man should respect and compensate for it. But at the end of the day, it comes down to core values and intention of the person. I understand that Shrimati was not career oriented or ambitious. But her decision to get married doesn't mean that her desire/ love for history (or any other thing, for that matter) should die and not be put to productive use. Shrikant should have pushed motivated her to complete her Ph.D., and make necessary adjustments needed for it to happen. I know Shrimati had her own individual choice, but her decisions were influenced/ based on her love for Shrikant. Her priority was his happiness, and that's all she thought about. It's good to love someone enough to always think about his or her safety and happiness, but to hurt yourself in the process will only fetch you disappointment in the future. She did not give importance to her own desires. She did not express and he did not care. Soon, her priorities changed with changed circumstances. The lesson to learn here is - Relationships of all kinds are a constant work; they should never be taken for granted. When she realizes what went wrong, for the kind person she is, decided to keep it to herself. Nothing wrong with Shrikant being high on success and wanting to work hard, but relationships should not be taken for granted.

I recently saw a TED talk by Mr. Robert Waldinger. Based on a research it was gathered, "..good relationships keep us happier and healthier". There are 3 main lessons to learn - social connections, quality of relationships and healthier relationships equals healthy you. So spending time building, and mending your relationships, is as important as working towards improving your professional skills. What is the point of all the success, if you have no one to share it with?!

What an emotional and intense story. Took me by surprise, but learnt a few good life lessons. The end says it all, "..He thought once again. No one in this male-dominated society would appreciate her step but Shrimati had left him without even bothering about what people would think. She had acted on what she felt was right."

Some noteworthy quotes - 
  • "Education should bring simplicity and modesty."
  • "If you make up your mind it is not difficult."
  • "..there is no age limit for learning."
  • "He compared Shrimati's difficulties with Rama's, forgetting their level of sensitivity."
  • "People cannot be taught or told to love; it should arise on it's own."


"The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk", by Sudha Murty



Genre - Non-fiction

Rating - 5/5 Stars

Briefly - I am very generous with my ratings, but I give this one 5, because of the title story itself. This particular story, 'The day I stopped drinking milk' is such a sweet story. I appreciate and respect compassionate people. Even more so I respect those people who, with limited resources, are willing to share everything they've got. 'Life's Secret Lessons', is a list of 8 precious lessons the author learnt over the years as a social worker. This book has 23 short stories, which take only 10 minutes of your time each day, to read and ponder over the life lessons it has to offer. They are all thought provoking, and you will definitely take something from each one of them. What makes this a fresh and entertaining read is the sheer simplicity of the author.


"Wise And Otherwise", by Sudha Murty




Genre - Non-fiction

Rating - 5/5 Stars

Briefly - Just like the previous one, this one too is a collection of author's rich anecdotes from life. But this one, has by far, been my most favorite. If I am not wrong, this was the first book I ever read written by the author. She has 51 short stories in this book, without repetitive messages. If you keep busy, picking and reading one story a day, will only take 5 minutes of your day. And 10 more minutes, if you want to reflect on the story and the message it conveys. Some of the stories stuck with me. First thing you notice about this book is her dedication - "For the 'shirtless people of India' who have taught me so much about my country". She is a wonderful person (as I have mentioned before). Her story telling is brief, yet full of wise lessons. I would like to specifically mention a few stories, that I enjoyed reading - 

'A lesson in life from a beggar' - is a subtle reminder of being content in life as it is, being grateful for all that we have and helping others. It's very easy to find flaws in everything, but it takes courage and discipline to be happy in life.

'Idealists at twenty, Realists at forty' - tells us how we should take our lives in our own hands. Life throws lemons at you; it's not always necessary to know how to make lemonade. You can use it to your advantage, with whatever skills you've got. It's important to take control of your own life. Experience teaches you everything, as long as you are willing to learn. It's just a matter of finding the right thing to do.

'Bonded by bisleri' - the end of this story makes me smile. (Because of the clean water ocd thing, which I could relate to.) But it's far from being a funny story. It's difficult to imagine the pain and suffering of poor people in the world, not having enough food to eat. It's a heart-wrenching story. Eradicating hunger and poverty should be our number one goal in life for our society. This story tugs your heart and gives you the satisfaction of reaching out next time there is a natural calamity anywhere.


"The Old Man and His God", by Sudha Murty



Genre - Non-fiction

Rating - 3/5 stars

Briefly - As much as I love Mrs. Murty's stories and experiences, this book didn't have that impact on me. Similar to her other work of non-fiction, these stories did not have clear crisp messages, which I had become accustomed to. However, an interesting read, with 25 distinct stories and experiences from author's life.

Some noteworthy quotes - 
  • "Money is one thing that rarely unites and mostly divides people."
  • "A cuckoo should never dance and a peacock should not try to sing! (Acknowledge all the troubles and failures in our lives.)"


"How I Taught My Grandmother To Read And Other Stories", by Sudha Murty



Genre - Non-fiction

Rating - 4/5 stars

Briefly - It is the sweetest book. I had my mom read all of Sudha Murty books that I have read. She is such a gentle, yet strong lady. Her story telling is so simple, that it actually reminded me of my time with my grandmother. These books can be read by all generations, as the messages are so basic and influenced by daily lives. 

Some noteworthy quotes -
  • "It is better to be worn out than be rusted."
These may be ordinary books, if you have read similar ones before. But my ratings are highly influenced by not only the story or writing, but also the author itself. We need more kind and beautiful human beings in this world. And that's what makes these books so serene and precious.


Love & Peace
Shruti

Comments

  1. Hi, Greetings! I hope u r doing fine. I have a book review request. Pls may I have ur email id to send further details. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!

      I am fine, thank you. How are you?
      You can write to me at defineyellow@gmail.com.

      Shruti

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