I love books.
From Enid Blyton’s & Famous Five’s to Lord of the Rings & Harry Potters to Gurcharan Das’ & Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi’s – I love them all. Therefore, here, you will often find mentions of and discussions on books. While it’s not a conscious decision anymore, it is an organic manifestation of my love for them and probably a showcase of how much my life has been impacted by the words I’ve read.
When I was experimenting on the direction Joylogues will take, I had requested for support on my social media platforms. Since I loved books, I thought it’ll be a good idea to get people together and get them to speak about books that they like or are currently reading, one-on-one.
For us at Joylogues, this had a three-pronged purpose:
- To find if people need / are willing to make time for a conversation with a stranger – after all – we live in a super fast, super busy time. Though, I’m not sure if all this frenzy is actually creating any concrete value. But we wanted to find out if the world out there even needs a place to go to and have conversations at.
- To help people explore more – even through something as basic as reading a book. To help them realise that even something as simple as discussing a book can trigger a new momentum in their lives.
- To generate initial content for our conversation platform which is due for launch in mid-2019. To build a base and help people experience, at least in some small way, the idea of Joylogues.
And while I didn’t hope for too much, I was pleasantly surprised to see that many people offered help. One kind soul who volunteered to support was Vikrant Malik.
Vikrant is a trained oils and oleochemicals engineer and a reluctant MBA post that. In his own words – He’s “been working with consumer goods companies like ITC & GSK for the last decade. Also been a failed entrepreneur through 2015 to 17 when I took a break from corporate life- tried to build a neighborhood platform for connecting like-minded volunteers.”
We connected him to Mansi Sharma, a dear friend and family member of Joylogues. A former journalist, Mansi’s area of current work is mainly in Education and she is particularly interested in how we can embed values of sustainability in our education systems. She says – “I enjoy reading and finding unity in thought in philosophical, social science, psychological, religious or economic perspectives towards life and how to live it.”
With this, came into a being the following dialogue on the book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.
It will be interesting to note that while this brief dialogue started with the book, it quickly took its own shape. Vikrant and Mansi were able to move from what they found particularly interesting in the book, to their own belief and direction in life, meshing one thread of thought with another, naturally moving forward, learning from and contributing to each other. Even in this short exchange, there is an abundance of references to other works that they could connect with or draw learnings from.
This dialogue is everything Joylogues hopes to create in multitudes, in the future.
Here are excerpts of the email exchange between them:
Vikrant: Coming back to Sapiens the book, I got introduced to it via word of mouth from a podcast which I used to follow, the Tim Ferris show (which was a talk show format), also a lot of recommendations on Twitter I guess. I love the book just because of its sheer simplicity and engaging insights about human evolution.
I’ve always been a student of human behaviour and evolution per se, but this book really helped to simplify and structure my thoughts around some of the evolutionary topics like say agricultural revolution & how it ended up shaping our bodies and mind.
One of the key takeaways for me has been to remember my evolutionary past and ancestors, how it affects my present and may end up shipping our collective future as well. I did end up reading this book’s logical sequel Homo Deus as well. I think author Yuval Noah Harari has another book lined up in H2 this year, won’t mind checking it out as well
Looking forward to ur thoughts.
Mansi: Thank you for your email.
I read Sapiens back in 2015, on the recommendation of a friend who worked in publishing, whose taste in books I overall enjoy and I was not disappointed.
I was particularly taken in by his compelling arguments on the suffering of livestock – I am trying to make more sustainable life choices and this has created more mindfulness while choosing the food that I eat. We all know some of these arguments against how one should give up meat so as to avoid contributing to the adverse effects on the environment but his arguments, from the lens of this moral heart, made it far more appealing to me. I later looked up more readings in this area – both fiction (Coetzee) and non-fiction (Singer) to explore these arguments.
Is there any part of the book that particularly moved you?
Looking forward to hearing from you
Vikrant: Interesting that you remember about how livestock ownership initiated humanity towards the whole ‘herd’ mentality to nowhere (read capitalism). Also kudos to you for making bold lifestyle & professional choices as your personal bit.
I think for me Sapiens also tilted my interest towards nature & basic sciences (which has always been about observing nature & simple trial/error kind of experiments). One basic realisation was how everything is just a “story” we have collectively started believing in to find purpose & sometimes even communities around it. Also how modern life might be the first time that we are without any major crisis & hence somehow at personal/community/global level we might be without a common collective narrative. And, hence more & more cases of personal anxiety, stress, isolation might be on the rise.
So even my personal choices are tilting towards going back to the basics & more internally driven motivations. Even with food – I have moved from the high frequency / low-quality diet to 2 meals/high-quality food (as like my grandparents or like in my native village not long ago). But then, at the other end consumerism is at an all-time high too, so sticking to such choices in the urban environment is not easy.
Shall look for authors that you mentioned around sustainable living. One book which I remember reading is World Peace Diet– you become what you eat (in case of meat how we treat livestock is how we all are feeling as well in the neo cities now).
It’s just a random scribbling on a stream of thoughts that came post your email.
Mansi: When you spoke about entrepreneurship and how you “failed” at it, it made me wonder by what measures do we “win” or “fail”… I fully understand why you used the term – there are certain standards imposed on us, no matter what our starting points are – one reason why I took a break from my current work was to understand these terms, learn to be critical of those and create some new terms.
Education perhaps should serve this purpose. As I mentioned earlier, my organization is engaged in life skills and careers training and it’s extremely relevant for me to stay authentic to my work to be able to question my own understanding of “win” and “fail” else I tell my students to become Engineers or Doctors (and more recently game designers and investment bankers:))
A friend who is an expert in the field of Gender Studies introduced me to a book called “the queer art of failure” (I could send you an e-copy – also by the same author a very funny “Gaga Feminism”) who said we could learn a lesson or two about failure from our queer friends, who perhaps fail by all hetero-normative and capitalist standards set by the world around them. They have to constantly redefine for themselves the idea of success.
Lately, I am trying to subvert the conventional ideas of victory and failures in my own head, thinking more about nature and the lessons we learn from them instead…where creation and destruction exist together.. what goes up, comes down, what takes life, definitely dies. the important takeaway is that the process is cyclical and the lesson is one of resilience.
About your meal discussion, I have heard new age fitness gurus the “Do wakt ki roti!” diet.. if there is anything that can be branded and sold in this world it would be 🙂 I would be looking up the world peace diet book.
I do hope you are well and wishing you continued growth in personal and professional life.
Look forward to hearing from you