Monday, June 23, 2008

Dear Popples...

Do you have a dream? I guess its human that each one of us dreams. Just that the nature of dream varies from person to person. Someone dreams of making to the top business school in the world, someone dreams of making the next generation application for the internet, someone dreams of starting his/her own firm, someone dreams of buying the best apartment in the town, etc, etc. The central point here is that most of these dreams are centered around personal benefits to an individual, be it social, material, intellectual, etc. It's like playing the game with the me, myself and my world as lynchpins. But there are still people in this self-interested world for whom the driving agents are us, ourselves and our world.

Yes, I am talking about a very respected and elderly person who would be as old as my maa and who dreams altogether in a different perspective, Anouradha Bakshi. Anou’s dream is to save the dreams of others, isn’t it something very special. In the last 10 years hundreds of children have found their dreams coming true because of Anou and her selfless initiative, Project WHY.

Here I am not trying to make a hyperbolic introduction of Anou to impress you, as this is no Oscar award night nor I am canvassing for any election candidate. This is just a brief intro to this simple and forward-looking lady. Anou was voted 'Citizen One 2005' by the India Today group and in the same year received the 'Red and White Silver medal for Social Bravery'. She is the daughter of an Indian Ambassador and has seen many parts of the world. With a Masters degree in French, she was an interpreter to the likes of Indira Gandhi and Jacques Chirac.

From what I know, the inspiration behind Project WHY are the last words of her diplomat father 'Don't lose faith in India'. These uncomplicated words reaffirmed Anou's conviction that, in spite of numerous lapses in our country, still there can be ways to do things better. Improvement may be a mirage, but still reachable. Long periods of introspection, as to how all these endless 'why's' need to be answered, culminated in starting Project WHY in 1998. Anou blogs without fail, penning about each and every little activity that is happening at Project WHY. Dive in here, to get the up to date info and I can bet you that this would open an entirely different world before you.

I have supported Project WHY for a while now, and am proud to be a part of this fraternity. It's just not me, its us as many of my friends have helped me support this movement during times of need. I am just a drop in the ocean of volunteers who give their time and energy for this movement.

When a person, has seen all these and more, scripting a book is quite a spontaneous act. What say? And so did Anou, whose first book, 'Dear Popples' was published in May 2008. I am just going to tickle your curiosity, and leave the rest for you to read.

'Popples', guess even if you searched a dictionary, it's hard to find this word, then how come Anou got this name. Anou has breathed and lived a considerable part of her life, feeling the pulse of 'Popples', an adorable child from the slums of Delhi. Barely a year old, 'Popples' sustained third degree burns and the hospitals ignored him, and let him to die on the streets. Anou fought a rough-and-tumble battle, to bring this soul from the jaws of death. From then on these two individuals became friends for life, with Anou wearing the hat of a godmother and absorbing the pain of the child and his scars. The cicatrices were deep but Anou scribbled numerous letters anticipating that the power of words would one day win over the Popples's physical and the psychological scars.

Each letter is addressed to 'Popples' that ends with a trademark signature, Maam'ji as this was the nickname 'Popples' used for Anou. And so goes the title.

There are definitely more tales to read in this book. Many of those who have read this book have left their comments here at Jo, has left a poignant review after reading this book.
I don't know how would a person categorize your book. It is well crafted like a fiction, and the narratives of Popples in between makes it a real life account, at times it takes form of an autobiography, and then of a biography - I don't know where it falls, but the story does fall to one's heart. The book is well organized as it is in the form of short letters so it doesn't make a boring read. The short letters full of the warmth of your love for little Utpal is what glues the reader to this book.
On June 28th'08 a small book launch for 'Dear Popples' is being organized at Reliance Time Out, Ambiance Mall, Gurgaon between 11 am and 1 pm. If you are in town, do attend this event and meet Anou. There is no formal invitation and do inform your friends and relatives who are interested, so that they can also join in.

You can order the book here at Indiaplaza or at here at

Keep reading and remain connected.

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At 6:16 AM, Blogger RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

An amazing lady, and a touching story of Popples. Thanks for sharing.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger kallu said...

You can't know how inspiring this has been. I teach a few underprivileged children and at this point have been wondering whether I should put more into getting this more organised or get into a school for privileged children. Now I know, thanks.
Wonderful people exist and make everyone so rich


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