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Updated: May 21, 2010 18:49 IST

Searching the Indian soul

A. P. S. Malhotra
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Author Raksha Bharadia. Photo:Sushil Kumar Verma.
The Hindu
Author Raksha Bharadia. Photo:Sushil Kumar Verma.

Author Raksha Bharadia on her involvement with the “Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul” series

“When Westland publishing house, which holds the rights for the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul' book series, decided to cash in on the spiritual nature of Indians and the soulful encounters in their everyday lives, by publishing ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul', they approached me to work on it, and collect the 101 stories for the first book,” says Raksha Bharadia, the effervescent author of books like “Me —A handbook for Life” and “Roots and Wings – A handbook for parents”. In New Delhi recently as part of a countrywide tour, she is currently conducting the Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul Writing Workshop. Raksha says, “Since then, the journey has been very fulfilling.”

“Although I have a background in Economics and Political Science from Kolkata University, I was later drawn to writing,” says Raksha, who displays a deep rooted conviction and penchant for connecting with people, an essential trait for someone tasked with compiling stories based on life experiences of individuals. Raksha believes that “writing is a cathartic experience, particularly for Indians, who are normally reserved when it comes to disclosing or sharing personal experiences”. She adds, “While most contributors for these books are from metros, there is an increasing visibility of authors from second rung cities also, like Nagpur and Bhopal.” Age is a non-issue.

Encouraging response

Raksha has been involved in all subsequent releases since the first book was launched — “Chicken Soup for the Indian Romantic Soul”, “A 2nd helping of Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul”, “Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage Soul” and “Chicken Soup for the Indian Armed Forces Soul”. She notes, “The response has been very encouraging; the one on the Indian Armed Forces soul is the first instance when such a compilation has been attempted anywhere in the world.”

On how she manages to reach out to such a large section of creative writers — mostly unknown and unpublished — Raksha discloses, “Over the years I have compiled a comprehensive database; for the first book I received around 700 contributions and it was quite a challenge to shortlist 101 stories from such a vast bank.” She adds, “While some of the stories are complete in all aspects, most require considerable editing; sometimes, even a single line manages to catch my attention and I feel it worthwhile to develop it, for which I talk to the author.”

The affable Raksha gives an inkling of the series she will be working on in future — the golden years for those leading a retired life, and teenage love and friendship.

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