Autobiography

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and the Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Autobiography, Nonfiction, Graphic Novel
Imprint: Vintage, UK
ISBN: 978-0-099-52399-4

Marjane Satrapi is also the author of Embroideries and Chicken with Plums. I have not read any of her other novels, therefore I won’t be comparing Persepolis with other works of the author.

Persepolis is the autobiographical graphic novel that tells us the story of Marjane Satrapi’s life in and out of Iran. It is one of those rare books that swallow the reader into its world as soon as they read the first line. The Satrapis are Iranians with a modern outlook towards life. They suffocate during the revolution and suffer immensely when the war begins in Iran. Though they belong to the family of the last emperor of Iran, who was ousted by rebels with the help of English, they live like normal public. Satrapis have seen it all in Iran. The young one of the family is Marjane Satrapi, the author of this book. As a child, she is brought up by liberal parents and grandmother, and tried to suppress by fundamental Islamist. War is etched in her life. Relatives, friends and neighbours disappear in weird circumstances. Those who survive, they leave the country as soon as possible. Those who can’t, they send their children abroad. The same happens with Satrapis too. Marjane’s parents send their only child to Austria because they don’t want her to grown up in regressive environment after living in a progressive environment since birth. A teenage Marjane finds it difficult to adjust in Austria where people treat foreigners, especially refugees, badly. The Western culture daunts her, but she manages to survive. Only after a bad breakup with a cheating boyfriend, Marjane returns to Iran after four years. Iran has worsened further. Marjane readjusts to Iran. Her parents have aged and so has her grandmother. Her friends have changed beyond recognition. Leftover relatives give her free unwanted advice. How does she cope with the changes in her country during her childhood and teenage? In what way does the country affect her life? What does she do in Austria? What does she do after coming back to Iran? Read Persepolis to know.

This book has two parts because it is a combination of book one that is about childhood and book that is about teenage and early adulthood. Though there are no quote-worthy lines, each line by every character teaches you something about life irrespective of whether you are in Iran or not. All the illustrations in the book are in black and white, pretty much as in life. It is a hard-hitting fact that you realise while reading this book that not everybody has all the privileges, and this is conveyed through simple narration and illustrations. There is no negative point of this book. You can’t find one even if you try to.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is for everyone irrespective of your favourite genre. If you are a parent who wants to teach your child about life or just want to keep them grounded, or keep yourself grounded, then this humble book is especially for you. Stay humble.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Nonfiction, Humour, Autobiography
Imprint: Ebury Press
ISBN: 978-0-09-195717-9

Mindy Kaling, the comedian and screen writer best known for the shows The Office and The Mindy Project, is the author of this book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns).

In this book, the author talks about her non-athletic, book nerdish childhood, her family and about being a Hindu, how she made friends, moving to New York, staying with best friends in a house, trying to find a show biz job, the crazy drama called Matt & Ben done along with her best friend Brenda, how The Office changed her life, concepts that she doesn’t understand and she loves, the way she looks and about how her funeral needs to be. There are few segments like Somewhere in Hollywood Someone Is Pitching This Movie and Revenge Fantasies While Jogging which are not that great. But there are also few segments that are exceptional like Men and Boys, and Married People Need to Step It Up, and everyone should read them. I give her points for writing as it is and without hesitating about anything, even about her lack of knowledge about certain things. An uninhibited account of her “concerns” in her world.

This book is totally hilarious and completely relatable. One-time read that won’t disappoint you.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Review by Shridhara K T

Finally I have finished reading; it was a long read! I am talking autobiography of a great leader world has seen so far – ‘LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ by Nelson Mandela and the role of ‘freedom’ throughout his life!

The book has a fascinating childhood story of a South African child, youthful life of a law student, heart touching story of an oppressed man, patriotic story of a freedom fighter, a sad but thrilling story of a prisoner, a leader who succeeded in his goal and a perfect love story which shows how important trust and sacrifices are in life.

As I was going through this masterpiece, I started seeing Mandela as the mixture of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Subash Chandra Bose, for he believed that while fighting you should change your mode in accordance with what your enemy chooses. He started with non-violence but then strongly felt that an army is necessary to fight the enemy and started building it, but when the government was ready for the talks he switched his gears and convinced ANC that they stop armed struggle. This shows the adaptability a leader should have. No matter what ones principles are, one should side step if the situation demands so.

A funny thing happened when I was going through his life in prison: I found many similarities between a prison and a hostel. Yes, you read that right! The routine life in hostel makes one forget about the time and outer world. The wardens make the rule and students are reluctant to follow it, officials would come and listen to the problems but there is a very little change after that. Students give nick names to wardens and other officials, students try to break out of the campus, having a visitor excites you! In hostel, the only thing worse than bad news is no news at all. It is always harder to cope with the disasters and tragedies one imagines than with the reality, however grim or disagreeable. A letter with ill findings was always preferable to no letter at all! (Now replace students by inmates, hostel by prison and read again!!

According to me the best take away of the book is that lot of leadership qualities have been discussed with real life situations. I would like to share some of the quotes from the book here:

‘As a leader one sometimes takes actions that are unpopular or who’s results will not be known for years to come’
‘Experience is the foundation of leadership and that obligations to the people take precedence over loyalty to an individual’
‘Sometimes there is nothing one can do to save something that must die’
“Exercise is a key not only to physical health but to peace of mind”
‘Truly to lead one’s people one must truly know them’
‘There are times when a leader must move out ahead of the flock, go off in a new direction, confident that he is leading his people right way’
‘Sometimes it is necessary to present one’s colleagues with a policy. Fact is already a fiat accompli’*
It also has a message for the mass “Do not expect to be driving a Mercedes or swimming in your own backyard pool the day after the election ….”

Finally he concludes saying “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more to climb. I have taken to rest to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended”.

All we need to know is “The darkest hour is before the dawn.” I truly enjoyed reading it and LONG WALK TO FREEDOM’ goes to shelf as one of my favorites.

* Fiat accompli = fact accomplished.

ಬಾನಯಾನ, ಕನ್ನಡಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುವಾದಿಸಿದವರು ವಿಶ್ವೇಶ್ವರ್ ಭಟ್ (A Kannada translation of Simply Fly by Captain Gopinath)

For English translation of the review of this book, please scroll down.

ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ ಬರೆದವರು ಸತೀಶ್ ಜಿ

ಬಾನಯಾನ – ಕ್ಯಾಪ್ಟನ್ ಗೋಪಿನಾಥ್ ಅವರ ಜೀವನಾನುಭವದ ಸಾಹಸಗಾಥೆಯ ಕನ್ನಡಾನುವಾದ. ಇದನ್ನು ಕನ್ನಡಕ್ಕೆ ತಂದವರು ಈಗಿನ ಕನ್ನಡಪ್ರಭ ದಿನಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯ ಮತ್ತು ಸುವರ್ಣ ಸುದ್ದಿವಾಹಿನಿಯ ಪ್ರಧಾನ ಸಂಪಾದಕರಾದ ವಿಶ್ವೇಶ್ವರ್ ಭಟ್ ಅವರು.

ಕ್ಯಾಪ್ಟನ್ ಗೋಪಿನಾಥ್-ರವರು ಅಪ್ರತಿಮ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗರಲ್ಲೊಬ್ಬರು, ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬ ಯುವಕನಿಗೆ ಆದರ್ಶಪ್ರಾಯರು. ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ನಮ್ಮ ಜೀವನದ ಯಾವುದೋ ಒಂದು ಹಂತದಲ್ಲಿ – ನಾನು ಒಬ್ಬ ಯೋಧನಾಗಬೇಕು ಎಂದೋ, ಒಬ್ಬ ಕೃಷಿಕನಾಗಬೇಕು ಎಂದೋ, ಒಬ್ಬ ಉದ್ಯಮಪತಿಯಾಗಬೇಕು ಎಂದೋ, ಒಬ್ಬ ರಾಜಕಾರಣಿಯಾಗಬೇಕು ಎಂದೋ ಕನಸು ಕಂಡಿರುತ್ತೇವೆ. ಆ ಕನಸುಗಳೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನು ಒಂದೇ ಜನ್ಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಸಾಧಿಸಿ ತೋರಿಸಿದರಲ್ಲದೇ, ಅದೆಲ್ಲದರಲ್ಲೂ ಯಶಸ್ವಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದು ಗೋಪಿನಾಥರ ಹಿರಿಮೆ. ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಅವರು ತಾವು ಈ ಕನಸಗಳನ್ನು ಕಂಡದ್ದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಆ ಸವಾಲುಗಳಿಗೆ ಎದೆಯೊಡ್ಡಿದ್ದರ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಛಲ-ಹಟಗಳಿಂದ ಕಷ್ಟಗಳನ್ನು ಎದುರಿಸಿದ್ದರ ಕುರಿತು ಸೊಗಸಾಗಿ ವಿವರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇದು ಕೇವಲ ಅವರ ವೈಯಕ್ತಿಕ ಬದುಕಿನ ಕಥನವಲ್ಲ ಅಥವಾ ಆತ್ಮರತಿಯ ಅನಾವರಣವೂ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಅವರ ಸಾಧನೆಯ ದಾಖಲೆ ಎಂಬುದು ನಿಜವಾದರೂ, ಅದು ಕೇವಲ ನೆಪ ಮಾತ್ರ. ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಓದುತ್ತಾ – ಸಾಧಕ ನಿಮಿತ್ತ ಮಾತ್ರ, ಸಾಧನೆಯೇ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಎಂಬ ಅಂಶ ನಮಗೆ ತಿಳಿಯುತ್ತದೆ. ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಏನಾದರೂ ಸಾಧಿಸಬೇಕು ಎಂದು ಬಯಸುವವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಪ್ರೇರಣೆಯ ಗಣಿ; ಬಾಳಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಜಿಗುಪ್ಸೆಗೊಂಡು ನಿರಾಸೆಗೊಂಡವರಿಗೆ ರಾಮಬಾಣ. ಇನ್ಫೋಸಿಸ್-ನ ನಾರಾಯಣಮೂರ್ತಿಯವರು ಹೇಳುವ ಹಾಗೆ – “ಸಾಹಸ ಹಾಗೂ ಉದ್ಯಮಶೀಲತೆಯನ್ನು ಪರಿಣಾಮಕಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ಹೇಳುವ ಈ ಕೃತಿಯನ್ನು ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಬ್ಬ ಯುವಕ ಓದಲೇಬೇಕು”.

ಆರಂಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಗೊರೂರಿನಲ್ಲಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಬಾಲ್ಯದ ದಿನಗಳ ಕುರಿತು ತಿಳಿಸುತ್ತಾ “ಬೆಳೆಯುವ ಸಿರಿ ಮೊಳಕೆಯಲ್ಲೇ” ಎಂಬ ನಾಣ್ಣುಡಿಯ ಪ್ರಸ್ತುತಿಯ ಸಾಬೀತು ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಂತರ ಸೇನೆಗೆ ಸೇರಿ, “ಬಾಂಗ್ಲಾ ವಿಮೋಚನೆ” ಯುದ್ಧದ ಭಾಗವಾಗಿ ಸಮರಾಂಗಣದ ಅನುಭವಗಳನ್ನು ಓದುಗರ ಮುಂದೆ ತೆರೆದಿಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ಇದಾದಮೇಲೆ ವಿಶ್ವವನ್ನು ಸುತ್ತಾಡಿದ ಚಿತ್ರಣವನ್ನು ಮೂಡಿಸಿ, ತಾವು ತಮ್ಮ ಹಳ್ಳಿಯ ಜಮೀನಿಗೆ ಹಿಂದಿರುಗಿ ಬಂದಿದ್ದನ್ನು ವಿವರಿಸುವಾಗ, ನಮಗೆ “ನಮ್ಮೂರೇ ನಮಗೆ ಮೇಲು” ಎಂದು ಹಿರಿಯರು ಯಾಕೆ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು ಎಂದು ಅರ್ಥವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.

ನಂತರದ ಜೀವನದಲ್ಲಿ ಜಮೀನಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೃಷಿಕನಾಗಿದ್ದು, ಗೃಹಸ್ಥಾಶ್ರಮಕ್ಕೆ ಕಾಲಿರಿಸಿದ್ದು, ರೇಷ್ಮೆಕೃಷಿ – ಹೈನುಗಾರಿಕೆ ಮಾಡಿದ್ದು, ಏನ್ ಫೀಲ್ಡ್ ಮೋಟಾರ್ ಸೈಕಲ್ನ ಡೀಲರ್ ಶಿಪ್ ಪಡೆದದ್ದು ಮತ್ತು ಇನ್ನೂ ಹಲವಾರು ಸಾಹಸಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ವಿವರಗಳನ್ನು ಓದುವಾಗ ನಮಗೆ ರೋಮಾಂಚನವುಂಟಾಗದೇ ಇರದು. ಆದರೆ ಕಥೆ ಅಲ್ಲಿಗೇ ಮುಗಿಯುವುದಿಲ್ಲ, ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ರೋಚಕ ಹಂತ ತಲುಪುತ್ತದೆ. ಅದೇ ಭಾರತದ ಪ್ರಥಮ ಅಗ್ಗದ ವಿಮಾನಯಾನ ಸಂಸ್ಥೆ “ಏರ್ ಡೆಕ್ಕನ್” ಸ್ಥಾಪಿಸಿದ ಕುರಿತಾದ ಜ್ವಲಂತ ಕಥನ . ಯಾವುದೇ ಕುಂದುಕೊರತೆಗಳನ್ನು, ತಪ್ಪುಗಳನ್ನು ಮರೆಮಾಚದೆ ಇದನ್ನು ಚಿತ್ರಿಸಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ತಮ್ಮ ಕನಸುಗಳನ್ನು ಸಾಕಾರಗೊಳಿಸಲು ಹೆಣಗಾಡುತ್ತಿರುವ ಹಲವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಭಾಗ ನೀಡುವ ಹುಮಸ್ಸು ಅವರ್ಣನೀಯ.

ಬಂಗಾರದ ಮನುಷ್ಯ ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಡಾ|| ರಾಜ್ ಹಾಡಿರುವ ಹಾಗೆ “ಕೈಲಾಗದು ಎಂದು ಕೈಕಟ್ಟಿ ಕುಳಿತರೆ ಸಾಗದು ಕೆಲಸವು ಮುಂದೆ”, ಕ್ಯಾಪ್ಟನ್ ಗೋಪಿನಾಥ್ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಿಗೆ, ಯುವಕರಿಗೆ ಹೊಸ ಸವಾಲನ್ನು ಧೈರ್ಯದಿಂದ ಎದುರಿಸಲು ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಮೂಲಕ ಪ್ರೇರಣೆ ನೀಡುತ್ತಾರೆ. ವಿಶ್ವೇಶ್ವರ್ ಭಟ್ ಹೇಳುವಂತೆ  “ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಮುಗಿದಾಗಲೇ ಗೋಪಿನಾಥ್ ಪ್ರತ್ಯಕ್ಷರಾಗುತ್ತಾರೆ, ಓದುಗರ ಕಣ್ಣಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಜವಾದ ಕ್ಯಾಪ್ಟನ್-ನಂತೆ ಗೋಚರಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ.” ಈ ಪುಸ್ತಕದ ಕೊನೆಗೆ ಬಂದಾಗ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನಸ್ಸಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಸ್ವತಂತ್ರ ಚಿಂತನೆಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ, ಆತ್ಮವಿಶ್ವಾಸ ಮತ್ತು ಪರಿಶ್ರಮವಿದ್ದರೆ ಸವಾಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಹೇಗೆ ಮೆಟ್ಟಿ ನಿಲ್ಲಬಹುದು ಮತ್ತು ಎಲ್ಲಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಮಿಗಿಲಾಗಿ ಜೀವನದ ಸಾಮಾನ್ಯ ಸಂತೋಷಗಳನ್ನು ಮನಸಾರೆ ಆನಂದಿಸುವುದು ಎಂದರೆ ಇದು ಎಂಬ ಉತ್ತಮ ಚಿತ್ರಣ ಮೂಡುತ್ತದೆ.

English translation of the review given above in Kannada:

Review by Satish A G

Baanayaana is the Kannada translation of Captain Gopinath’s autobiography Simply Fly. It is brought to Kannada by Bangalore Suvarna News and Kannada newspaper Kannada Prabha’s Chief Editor Vishweshwar Bhatt.

Captain Gopinath is one of the matchless Kannadigas, an inspiration to the youth. All of us at some point in our lives would have dreamt about becoming a warrior or farmer or an entrepreneur or a politician. Not only did Captain Gopinath become all that in a single life, but also proved to be successful. In this book, he has richly talked about his dreams, the hurdles he faced and the determination he had. It is neither just his autobiography nor a narcissistic, egoistic story to make himself look God-like. Though book is a true record of his achievements, it is only a pretext. While reading this book, you will understand that the person is only means to the success and success is important, not the person. This book is a goldmine of inspiration for people who want to achieve greatness in life; an elixir to the depressed souls. Like Infosys’ Mr.Narayanamurthy says “Youth should read this book which explains adventure and entrepreneurship effectively.”
Captain Gopinath spent his early days of childhood in Gorur. Then he joined the army, “Bangladesh Liberation War” and he enthusiastically talks upfront with the readers about it. Then he beautifully paints a picture on the canvas of your imagination about his travel around the world only to tell us how he came back to his village, back to his roots.
Later he talks about how he became a farmer in his land, his married life, his experiences with sericulture and apiary, about his dealership of Enfield and other ventures which are exciting. Instead of story ending there, it reaches an interesting stage. It is the founding stage of India’s low fare airlines “Air Deccan”. While talking about it, he does not hide any drawbacks and explains undisguised mistakes. For many who are struggling to make their dreams come true, the encouragement given by this part of the book is inexplicable.

As sung by Dr. Rajkumar in a Kannada movie Bangarada Manushya which means “If you think you are unable to do any work and do nothing about it, your work cannot progress”, Captain Gopinath inspires students and youth to face new challenges boldly. Vishweshwar Bhatt says, “Gopinath appears in front of you as you finish this book, as the true Captain to the readers.” At the end of the book, we get a real good picture about what independent thinking, self-confidence, hard work being better than all other solutions and above all, a mindset to appreciate the joy of small things in life.