Mind the Empathy Gap

“Mind the Empathy Gap” – is a phrase we designers often use these days. Apparently, there are three types of Empathy. (Empathy is not sympathy.)

  1. Cognitive Empathy: It is the kind of ability which helps us to evaluate a situation and then understand what someone else is experiencing and feeling about it. You can grasp the situation but you probably don’t feel anything about it.
    e.g.: I “know” what you feel.
  2. Emotional Empathy: This is the next level of empathy. You not only understand what the other person is feeling or going through but also actually feel similar emotions yourself. You have an emotional reaction about it. You start feeling others pain.
    e.g. : I “feel” what you feel.
  3. Compassionate Empathy: The third and the deadly level of empathy. This triggers a much deeper and stronger reaction than just knowing and feeling about it. This type of empathy triggers actions because you know it might or might not happen to you ever but right now it is happening to someone else. You might or might not know the person. But you still feel all these. This is part of social intelligence.
    e.g. : I am going to try to make you feel better.

So when you have the 3rd king of empathy you are practically doomed. You run to rescue animals, you leave your lucrative career and try to improve the lives of poor or tribal folks, you become an activist. You volunteer at orphanages instead of partying with your friends. You run to a flooded zone to rescue survivors. You cancel your plan and help random accident victims on the road.  You protest about some government atrocity even though you know you might get into trouble for that. All these things make you more human and humane. All of you make the world a better place. I choose humane over empty-shell. Cheers to that.

Book Review :: Singha Durbar – Rise and Fall of the Rana Regime of Nepal By Sagar S.J.B. Rana

Book: Singha Durbar – Rise and Fall of the Rana Regime of NepalUntitled-5
Author: Sagar S.J.B. Rana

Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: 1 May 2017
Genre: Non-fiction, History, Politics
Rating: 5/5

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Nepal, a former Hindu country, was declared a secular state in 2007 after a successful people’s movement of 2006 that brought a complete abolition of the monarchy.  The Nepalese Royal Massacre, occurred on 1 June 2001, which led to the downfall of a royal clan and the Nepalese Monarchy in all in the years to follow, was my only knowledge of the history of Nepal. The book Singha Durbar – Rise and Fall of the Rana Regime of Nepal by Sagar S.J.B. Rana is my first ever encounter with the detailed history of Nepal.

According to newspapers of June 2001, the Crown Prince Dipendra became the king even after killing his father King Birendra and other family members. Later, King Birendra’s brother Gyanendra Shah became the king after the death of Dipendra who was in a coma for 3days of his kinghood from self-inflicted fatal injuries. I was surprised and disturbed knowing such a thing still could happen in our modern world. After reading this book I understood clearly how monarchy worked with all its past glories in Nepal and they just followed their tradition.

I must mention some of the Kings and Maharajas or Prime Ministers and their pioneering contributions in the making of Nepal.

King Prithvi Narayan Shah, son of Dravya Shah, the Raja of Gorkha, was finally successful in founding the Kingdom of Nepal in 1768 with the support of The Gorkha army containing not more than 1,200 men at any time. The same Gorkha army joined the British army during British rule as the Gorkha Regiments which merged with Indian army after India’s independence. King Gyanendra Shah was the last king of the Shah Dynasty.

Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana was the founder of Rana dynasty. His influence reduced the Shah Kings to puppets. His legacy was the “Muluki Ain”, a comprehensive and uniform legal code that covered the entire country.

Maharaj Bir Shumsher introduced piped drinking water system in the valley and underground drainage and sewerage lines in the inner cities. A well-equipped modern hospital constructed by Bir is still serving the people of the valley.

Maharaj Chandra Shumsher minimized the isolation and reduced the hardship of the people by building bridges, ropeways, foot crossings etc. Bir and Chandra both sent a number of talented young professionals for training overseas who returned with superior skills and new technical knowledge. In addition to that, Chandra successfully emancipated slaves and arranged for their rehabilitation.

There are plenty more overwhelming facts and incidents of bravery and brutality alike to change my perception of Nepal entirely.  Even though it is such a small country, its history is nothing short of extraordinary. The role it played during British rule and World War I, the way it stopped Russia and China from entering through Tibet border is worth knowing. Nepal’s bittersweet relationship with India is also an eye-opener for me. Especially the fact that the old Indian city Banaras was so much important politically for Nepal was completely unknown to me.

It was one of my regrets that I haven’t been to Nepal yet. I am planning to visit Nepal soon and it is so thrilling that I am well-equipped with the detailed knowledge of its history.

The notes section at the end of the book is very useful to know and understand the sources and hard work behind the making this book. History lovers and travelers alike must grab their copies soon.

Sagar S.J.B. Rana, being a descendant of the Rana family and actively involved in politics, has created an unbiased and valuable document for us.

About the author: Sagar S.J.B. Rana was born in February 1938 in Baber Mahal palace, Kathmandu. He holds an MA in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford. A descendant of the Rana family, he and his brothers were also actively involved in the Nepali Congress party, the principal democratic force that opposed the politically active monarchy. Sagar became a full-time activist in the mid-1970s. He was a Member of the Central Working Committee and the Head of Department of International Affairs of the Nepali Congress in the critical years, 2003–2006. Founder chairman of the Federation of Handicraft Association of Nepal, the author is involved with different institutions related to art, culture and heritage conservation. He is currently the Vice President of the Nepal Art Council.



Book Review : : Modern Poetry of Iran by Aziz Mahdi

Book: Modern Poetry of Iran
Translated by: Aziz Mahdi

Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: 1 March 2017
Genre: Poetry
Rating: 5/5

Buy @ Amazon



The book “Rubaiyat E Omar Khayyam”, translated in Bengali by renowned Bengali poet Kazi Nazrul Islam, with a beautiful blue hardcover in our bookshelf always attracted me like a magnet. I was not allowed to read that book even when I was 12 years old. I was always told that I was not old enough to read such kind of poems. Little did they know I was already listening to Omar Khayyam’s Ghazals through Indian singers. Ghazals wrote by Rumi and Hafiz of Persia, Mirza Ghalib and Muhammad Iqbal of North India, and Kazi Nazrul Islam of Bengal were also a part of our lives. I read that book one day while hiding under my grandfather’s bed. I was exposed to the beautiful world of Sufism at a very early age. Many of the major historical Ghazal poets were either Sufis themselves (like Rumi or Hafiz), or were sympathizers of Sufism. Although the Ghazal is most prominently a form of Dari poetry (a variety of the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan) and Urdu poetry, it is now found in the poetry of many Indian languages.

Persian literature, one of the world’s oldest literature, spans two and a half millennia. Parsis (Parsee), the members of a group of followers of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, emigrated to India in the 10th century. Proto-Indo-Iranian language is the ancestor of a majority of Indian languages and Iranian languages. The significance and influence of Persian poetry in world literature are priceless. The numerous innovations in the arts of calligraphy, manuscript illumination, and bookbinding by the Indo-Persian book production and publishing houses just strengthened that relationship. India became the main center for the production of Persian books and journals with the introduction of lithography in the 19th century.

Even though I am very much familiar and in love with the old era Persian and Iranian poets and their poetry, my knowledge of modern Iranian poetry is very limited. When I was offered to review the book “Modern Poetry of Iran” translated by Dr. Aziz Mahdi via mail from Writersmelon I was ecstatic. How many times do we get such opportunities? And I was not wrong. The book was a parcel of bliss.

Delhi-based Dr. Aziz Mahdi, a doctorate in Persian language, is a poet, writer, and translator. He did justice to the poems and is able to transfer the essence of the Iranian language into English. The book cover art is a perfect example of minimalist traditional Iranian floral art. I loved the cover so much. The Preface by the writer, consisting valuable information on past and present of Persian poetry, is an added attraction to the book.

This book contains a collection of the finest examples of modern Persian poems over the last hundred years, written by the poets I haven’t heard of before. I was thrilled to find that some of the poets are even of my age. The first poem in this book “Moonlight” is written by Nimā Yushij (born Ali Esfandiāri) who is considered as the father of modern Persian poetry.

“Moonlight is trickling down
Firefly is glowing up
Nothing breaks the sleep of these people
But the sorrow and grief of these sleeping souls”

These lines immediately touched my heart.

My favorite one is “House” by Manuchehr Ateshi.

“Is your house cold?
I shall put the sun in an envelope
and post it to you”

The poems are chronologically arranged. I have observed a very interesting point as I progressed through the pages, the objects and subjects have changed drastically with time and generations. Whereas the poets born before the mid of 20th century talked about mostly horse riders, nights, twilight, beloved, love, loneliness, birds, flowers, sun, moonlight, and nature, the poets born after 50’s mentioned words like trains, bicycles, photography, camera, electricity, television, videos, martyred, and even landmines in addition to all that. They even mentioned the older famous poets.

“But I am sitting on this rickety wheelchair
in my daughter’s rented house
endlessly watching the same channel
in the same street!”

First Man by Mohammad Hossein Ja’fariyān

This shows very clearly the transitions of our world. Poetry conveys a lot of information about the country and culture it belongs to. This book is not only a pleasure to read but also a document of changed culture and lifestyles of Iran.
In my opinion, this book is one of the best options if someone is looking for an introduction to the modern era Iranian poems or a poetry lover.

BOOK REVIEW :: Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar

Book: Men and Dreams in the DhauladharMenandDreamsintheDhauladhar
Author: Kochery C. Shibu

Publisher: Self Published
Release: 26 January 2013
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5

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The story starts with Nanda, an engineer from Kerala, joining a Hydel project in Dhauladhar. He is running away from his past. Slowly he adapts the life at the campsite.

Khusru, a Kashmiri youth, was abandoned by his parents in childhood.  He was brought up by his uncle Usman and his wife. After losing his uncle to army shelling he was forced to join the terrorist training camp as they promised him to reunite with his parents.

Rekha, a doctor, wants to be a professional dancer. She keeps delaying her marriage with a doctor, which was fixed by her grandmother. She believes in true love and waits for the perfect man until she meets Khusru.

These are the three main characters in this story whose life eventually take them to the campsite of Dhauladhar.

My Evaluation

The life at the campsite of Himalaya range is harder than one might imagine. Same with the life of  Bakarwal Gujjars.

The plus point of this book is that it shows us the unknown aspects of lives of the characters. Different cultures, different lifestyles are described nicely. Character building with simple language is another plus.

Then comes the minus points.
There are many characters introduced with so many backstories but they are not really important to the main plot.

The long and detailed descriptions of project work with machines, tools, and jargons were tiresome and boring at some point. They hardly made any sense to me since I have no idea and interest in any such technicality of such projects. They broke the flow of the story in my opinion.

Rekha’s falling in love with Khusru seemed absurd to me. Trying to portray it as true love even more absurd. If the author had put some more effort to show their emotions, some more conversations between all the characters instead of explaining project work the story would have been much more enjoyable.

From the beginning, the story seemed like a thriller to me but in the end, nothing happens at all. The ending was rushed. After building so much expectation the novel ends up being a disappointment to me.

There were so many typos and grammatical mistakes. A thorough editing is badly needed.

‘I received an e-book from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

BOOK REVIEW :: Unlawful Justice by Vish Dhamija

unlawfuljusticeBook: Unlawful Justice
Author: Vish Dhamija

Publisher: HarperCollins India
Release: 29 May 2017
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Rating: 5/5

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One fateful afternoon Maheep Singh, the son of a proclaimed businessman, Maninder Singh, committed the most heinous crime of raping and brutalizing a minor girl named Baby. Baby is the daughter of Gayatri, the household help of the Diwan family. Vansh and Priti Diwan’s daughter Vamini is a classmate of Meheep. Vamini treats Gayatri as her surrogate mother and Baby as her sibling she never had.

Vansh is one of the biggest criminal lawyers of the city. Maninder is the biggest client of his law firm. The crime took place at the Diwan’s residence which made the entire situation into a bigger mess. Baby was still in a coma when after some investigation the police department was able to make some sketches of Maheep and asked Vansh to identify the culprit. Now Vansh is torn between family and business; ethics and money. Maninder approaches Vansh to help him settle the matter with Gayatri and offer her money. Priti, a lawyer herself, stands up against Vansh and threatens that their marriage will be over if Vansh even considers helping the criminal.

Priti seeks the help of their best friend Akash Hingorani who is considered as the best criminal lawyer in the city. Amid all the chaos they need to solve a murder case too.

What happens to Baby? How do they punish Maheep? Is Vansh a rotten businessman beyond repair or his better sense prevails? Will he be able to save his marriage and regain the respect he lost? Did Baby get justice or did money and power win? Just don’t wait. Buy here and read. I can assure that you won’t regret.

My Evaluation

This is the first ever book I have read of Vish Dhamija and I must admit that I wasn’t expecting much from it. But when I decided to finally read it I couldn’t put it back till I finished it. The narration style, the detailing and the right amount of everything i.e. emotion, dialogues, suspense etc. made this book so good. From the first sentence, the story grabbed my full attention.

Maninder’s reaction to his son’s crime is so typical. And my blood boiled reading his dialogues. Priti and Vansh Diwan’s verbal clash made me dislike Vansh instantly. How can people consider money over a human’s life? But Vansh actually represents a large part of us in this society. Indifference is the word. Most of us don’t feel the pain and plight of the people until we are hit with the same fate.

The story gives us the insight into the thought process of people who are not directly harmed but somehow connected by love and to what extent they can go to help those loved ones who are not blood-related or relatives.

There are some criticisms I have read regarding the court procedure narrated in this story. For that, the author himself wrote a note at the back of this book. I agree with that. If he needed to stay true to the court procedure he would have needed to stretch the storyline for many many years.

The best part is, I couldn’t find any flaw in this book.


‘I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

BOOK REVIEW :: Messed Up! But All for Love

35171166Book: Messed Up! But All for Love
Author: Arvind Parashar

Publisher: Srishti Publishers & Distributors
Release: 1 May 2017
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2.5/5

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This is a story of love, friendship, betrayal, and revenge. Neil and Gauri are a loving married couple, being Gauri the most understanding and mature one and Neil being the messy one. Both of them have their set of very good friends to fool around with and lean back on when time needs them to. Tom, Jerry, and Jasoos are the friends Neil can count on at any time. Mehr is the pillar of support for Gauri.

Their lives were quite normal until they set out for a combined trip with all of their friends to Cuba. There Neil and his friends meet Drishti and her husband Somesh by mere accident and everything changes in all of their lives. After coming back from the trip Drishti gets abducted by someone. Drishti and Somesh were already dealing with a troubled marriage. She even suspected that Somesh is having an affair with someone. But then Drishti falls in love with Neil.

Was it really an accident when Drishti and Neil met for the first time or was it a setup? Who was behind that? How did Neil mess up so bad that he gets imprisoned? Was it only Neil’s actions that his life is so messed up or someone else is there plotting against him? Will he be able to save his marriage with Gauri at the end? What happens to Drishti? Read the book if you want to find out.

My Evaluation
The story is good but the narration is really very bad. The main story starts with “A hundred days ago” but I couldn’t join up the counting of days of past and present. It sounded a bit weird to know all the details of others lives and actions in first person narration. And weirder was when detailed descriptions of intimacy and intercourse came up while Neil was narrating the story to his boss Ganga. Also, for a senior executive working with a top brand, Neil gets a lot of time to hang around with friends and then go for back to back vacations abroad.

In a nutshell, the story was promising but didn’t live up to my expectation. It is really messed up.

‘I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

Tiny Tales :: 1

Tiny Tales: 1

It was dark and cold night at the sea beach. There are hardly any tourists apart from them. She waited for him by sitting there. She couldn’t keep up with his pace at which he walked away from her. She was shocked seeing he could leave her in that dark sea shore alone. She waited. Because she believed her love would return to that spot eventually. She could have gone back to her room and waited. But she was scared for his safety. He was drunk and enraged. The sea was dangerous and so the deserted sea beach. She was scared for herself too for the risks she was aware of at such place.

He returned, but not to her. Seeing her seated on that rock he slowly took a shortcut to the hotel. Unaware she kept on waiting for him and someone else came to her. He was lurking in the dark bush for a long time assessing his chances with his victim. Moments later the sea roared, as usual, hiding the unusual faint scream from her mouth.

Next morning everyone asked, “What was she doing there at such hour alone?” “What was she wearing?”
That followed “She was asking for it. A girl like her deserves this.”