Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RESTLESS DAYS AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS – by Ranjana Bharij - Book Review


RESTLESS DAYS AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS – by Ranjana Bharij
BOOK REVIEW

Rarely do you connect with a book after reading the first few lines. I did as soon as I completed the first paragraph of the prologue –

Autumn was setting in fast and the leaves had started changing color …… turning from green to multiple hues of golden, red and brown, all leaves finally fall off the trees and sail towards their final destination. Is one’s life also like a leaf, I ruminated?”

I was reminded of my own thoughts of the Fall of how it seemed to signify the circle of our own existence. ‘The Fall’ by Albert Camus has been another favorite influence in my life – stripping oneself bare, exposing one’s own hypocrisy and then rejuvenation. The Fall for me has a very great philosophical significance. So now you can guess why I connected with the book immediately.

Another reason, leaving gender biases aside, the book seemed to echo my own thoughts about the travails that a person faces moving up the ladder and holding on to all the values that he or she was brought up with, without compromises for selfish gains.  

The third and most important factor about the book is that it has been written in a manner that comprehension is never a problem. The simple lucid style of the author and the inherent honesty in expressing herself filled with exciting anecdotes from her thirty eight year long stint with a public sector bank make the book eminently interesting. Each of the thirty chapters stands on its own. Woven together they give you a glimpse of the author’s story as well as an insight into her steely determination to establish herself as an individual in her own right amidst what she feels was a male bastion. This aspect of her personality can be traced back to her parents who rejoiced at the birth of a girl child and equipped her with necessary strength to withstand the demands of the time.  

Perceptions and attitudes have changed over the decades after the seventies. What was once dubbed a man’s world is no longer true what with women occupying the topmost positions in both the financial world and the industry, but what the author went through in the early seventies in respect of gender bias is a reality. Let me confess that I and for that matter I am sure a large number of my colleagues would have been dubbed as MCP’s during those days. Let me tell you that looking back I have myself in jest written a poem on women’s liberation which my male counterparts applauded and my women colleagues had only one word for me – MCP.

Of special interest to me were the chapters 25 – ‘The Invisible Glass Ceiling’ and 27 – ‘Strange are the Ways’. I received the book last evening and I finished it this afternoon. This would vouch for its readability and sustained interest.

The epilogue – ‘Today when I look back, I can stand tall and laugh at all the people who challenged me, ridiculed me and told me that a woman cannot, but I did it. I did it my way, the hard way.”  Yes the author does exactly that – she stands tall.

THE AUTHOR

Ranjana Bharij loves to calls herself a true Indian. Her father hailed from Uttar Pradesh, mother from Rajasthan and her husband is from Punjab. She has travelled widely across the country as well as internationally first due to her father’s transferable job and later because of the high mobility in her own job.
An alumnus of Lucknow University, she taught Political Science in a Delhi University College for over a year before joining a public sector bank; she retired from there as General Manager in 2009 after devoting thirty eight years of her life to the service at the bank.
A champion of women’s cause, gender-equality is very dear to her heart. In her own words, neither her parents nor her husband ever let her feel that a woman is inferior to man in any manner. Naturally, any reference to her gender as a weaker sex in the organisational context agitated her to no end.
Currently, she lives in New Delhi with her husband Shiv while her two sons Rahul and Sidharth have settled in Canada and USA respectively.

Restless Days, Sleepless Nights is her debut book.