I love unraveling the person through the words: Saumya Kulshreshtha

“Warrior of Change” is an initiative to inspire positive change in the minds of people and empower them to start their own journey through powerful stories of real people striving hard to make a difference.

Our next Warrior of Change is the Founder of Poet’s Collective and Maha Varta, Saumya Kulshreshtha. She is full of love, happiness, and warmth for everyone around. She fights hatred with love and darkness with light.

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  • I met you first time during my Book Launch and you were the most wonderful person in the whole room. You are the perfect epitome of Poetry. What does poetry mean to you?

    Interestingly, poetry has meant different things to me at different points of time. As of today, it means two things – stories and solace. Stories because I personally find resonance in the kind of poems I get to hear from people who attend my gatherings. What drips through their carefully polished words are their innate sentiments and stories, and I love unraveling the person through his words. Solace because I write when it becomes impossible to contain. When nothing seems to offer any kind of comfort, your own words become powerful and meaningful. Poetry, personally, means allowing the self to become a beacon of hope and meaning.

  • You have conducted hundreds of creative writing workshops on Poetry and Indian Mythology. You also serve as the Advisory Board of “Youth for Heritage Foundation.”How was your experience conducting workshops?

Indescribably gratifying! To conduct a workshop or even to do a talk is an act of tremendous responsibility. Add to it dollops of thrill, and there I am, standing in front of a crowd of eager listeners, telling them all I have learned, for that is the only way to make knowledge grow.

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I have been fortunate to have been placed in front of crowds who have known me a little, and hence are welcoming and warm. They possess an eagerness to learn, and I possess an eagerness to teach, as well as learn more than them in the process. I am hungry to learn. An audience that doesn’t challenge me beyond what I know does not inspire me. For instance, my most difficult, and yet most fond workshop was in Saharanpur with school children, where I was at odds to comprehend the language (as well as the idiom) to converse with them on. But, since we all possessed a clean slate, we created some great poems collaboratively, with expressions so unique that a faint proud smile automatically appears on my face the moment I think of it.

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I conduct workshops/lectures on mythology, poetry appreciation, and poetry writing, creative writing, effective communication, visualizing ideas, literature (particularly Indian writing in English) and anything else allied to these fields which present an opportunity to learn. The great thing is, these random workshops have led to a full-blown course which I conduct in IIIT Delhi, teaching mythology and poetry in alternate semesters, in addition to teaching communications in Shiv Nadar School, Gurgaon, and Noida.

  • Do you believe that Artists have a responsibility towards society?

Always. It is a firm belief. First, artists have a responsibility towards themselves, because the nascent expressionist within them needs to be identified, needs to be tested, needs to be given flight. However, once artists enter the public domain, where they are aware that they have influence, and they are potential catalysts to bring about positive or negative changes, they cannot eschew their larger responsibility. Art is capable of inspiring and provoking the masses into thought and action. The past is a testimony to how movements have been inspired and encouraged through songs, theater, speeches, performances, and today is no different in that regard. In fact, with the advent and spread of social media, socially responsible art is more a reality today than ever before.

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  • How do you manage a full-time job with social activities?

 

Passion and prioritization. When you are really passionate about doing something, you always find the time. On instances, even I am baffled by a number of tasks I am simultaneously involved in, but I have learned to set my priorities right. Efficiency while completing tasks helps. Admittedly, I am not the best manager of time – that is one virtue which I consistently fail at getting right, but people don’t get to know of it because my efficiency goes up as deadlines loom near. I work really well with deadlines and have devised a personal reward system for myself.

I think what really helps my work is also the fact that I give a lot of time to myself. ‘Me-time’ is necessary for creative pursuits, and I have been blessed with friends and colleagues who understand this.

  • You are someone who truly believes in kindness and love despite all the hatred in the world. What is your message for your followers?

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Don’t give into violence. Don’t give into hate. Don’t give into anyone who convinces you that our world is a bad place to live in.

Agreed, that the world is difficult, disappointing and devastating at times, even violent, but, my dear, we all belong here together. Strive to create islands of love and peace around you and hope fervently that your island keeps growing, that the peace and love of your heart spread out like an infection. Now, more than ever, it is important that kindness and goodness speak up to quell at least some shades of violence which are increasingly being normalized in our world.

And lastly, learn. Learn as much as you can, in as many ways as you can. Read, watch videos, talk to people, travel, and don’t give up this pursuit till you are convinced that never in life can a single narrative exist. That only perspective is real, rest is illusory.

To know more about her, log on to her Blog

Lessons from Bhagvad Gita

Once the four Pandavas asked Krishna:

Q: “What is Kaliyuga and what will happen during Kaliyuga?”

A: Krishna smiled and said, “Let me demonstrate to you, the situation of Kaliyuga.” He took a bow and four arrows and shot them in four directions and ordered the four Pandavas to go and bring them back.

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Each of the four Pandavas went in the four different directions to search for the arrows.

When Arjuna picked an arrow, he heard a very sweet voice. He turned around and saw a cuckoo singing in a spellbinding voice but was also eating the flesh of a live rabbit which was in great pain. Arjuna was very surprised to see such a gory act by such a divine bird he left the place immediately.

Bhima picked arrow from a place, where five wells were situated. The four wells were surrounding a single well. The four wells were overflowing with very sweet water as if they were not able to hold water and surprisingly the well in the middle of these four overflowing wells was completely empty. Bhima was also puzzled at this sight.

Nakula was returning to the place after picking up the arrow. He stopped at a place where a cow was about to give birth. After giving birth the cow started licking the calf but continued to lick it even after the calf was clean. With great difficulty people were able to separate them and by that time the calf was injured badly. Nakula was puzzled by the behavior of such a calm animal.

Sahadeva picked arrow which fell near a mountain and saw a big boulder falling. The boulder was crushing the rocks and big trees on its way down, but the same boulder was stopped by a small plant. Sahadeva was also amazed at this sight.
All the Pandavas asked the meaning of these incidents. Krishna smiled and started explaining.

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“In Kaliyuga, the priests will have a very sweet voice and will also have great knowledge but they will exploit devotees the same way cuckoo was doing with rabbit.

In Kaliyuga poor will live among rich, those rich will have the enormous amount of wealth which will actually overflow but they will not offer a single penny to the poor same as the four wells didn’t have a single drop of water for the empty well.

In Kaliyuga parents will love their children so much that their love will actually spoil them and will destroy their lives similar to the love shown by the cow to her newborn calf.

In Kaliyuga people will fall in terms of character like the boulder from the mountain and they will not be stopped by anyone at the end only the name of God will be able to hold them from doom like the little plant held the boulder from further fall.”

~ Uddhava Gita, Srimad Bhagavatam

Being a Single Mother is very Romantic, not Easy: Sushmita Sen, Miss Universe 1994

This Article was originally published at Different Truths under my Column -Relationship Rationale

A few years ago, adoption was only for couples who could not have their own biological children. Sushmita Sen, being one of her kind, was the first and foremost of single women to apply for custody of a baby girl.

“Being a single mother is not easy. It’s very romantic, but it’s not easy. Yes, that is true (went to court for my first daughter). I was 24-years-old and I had been trying since I was 22 to become a mom by the process of adoption. In addition, they did not allow it. It took us a while and we got the custody for my baby,” she shared in one of her interviews.

She was barely 24 when she brought home her first baby girl, Rene, which means re-birth. Adopting the second girl was more difficult than the first one for her.

“But the second child was actually a bigger court fight than the first one. Because in India, the rules said that you could not adopt a daughter after a daughter. You have to adopt a son. Moreover, I wanted to adopt a daughter, so 10 years I fought and then my Alisah came. It was a long wait,” she shared.

She is unique. Her soul is far more beautiful than her body. A true lover of life, she celebrates everything that comes her way. It cannot be as romantic as she displays for a 40-year-old single mother of two girl-children. She wants to get married to the right person.

“I have been much attached, just not married. I do not know, I think we are all unique and we are somehow told by everyone else that this is the right age to get married. This is the right age to have children. This is the right age to retire. I just wanted to take life at my own clock because I believe everybody is unique. I came close to marriage twice. However, better sense prevailed I think. I will get married and I think in the due course of time, I think that too will happen,” she says about getting married.

Sushmita Sen is a living legend, fiercely powerful, brave, and unafraid. She is an inspiration for thousands of women. She is a living proof that women can be whatever they wish to be. In one of her interviews, she shared what her father said to her, “Please look at my daughter. Do you think I’ve raised her in a way that her only identity is to be someone’s wife?”

She teaches our society as a lesson that everybody is unique. We are humans and not machines. Not everything has to go with the same clock. Get married in 20’s, have kids by 30, buy a house by 35 and the list goes on. Marry at 21, do not marry at all, have kids, adopt kids, or do not have them at all. Do what you believe is right and not what society wants you to believe.

How I fought with Depression – Apurvaa

“Warrior of Change” is an initiative to inspire positive change in the minds of people and empower them to start their own journey through powerful stories of real people striving hard to make a difference.

Our  Sixth Warrior of Change is the Owner/ Founder of Fitness GrooveApurvaa. India’s Best Fitness and Wellness Experts have trained her. She represented a Yoga event on 21 June, International Day of Yoga in New Delhi. She was a professional Jazz dancer, Reiki Grand Master, a young Entrepreneur and now a Yoga Guru.

Here is an inspiring story of a True Hero in her own words;

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Hi,

This is Apurva Saxena from Delhi. I read about “Warrior of Change” Interview Series shared on social media and thought to share my life’s story about how I fought with depression and came back to life. And it wasn’t an easy way choosing my profession as a yoga teacher!
It was that time when my results of the final year of college ( Bachelors in History .)  in June 2008 were out and I was hit by some chemical reactions in my brains. Some doctors even refused to write the diagnosis on the paper. I was not in my normal consciousness for 4 weeks. I was getting hallucinations and I went into my own imaginary world. By the time I got back to my normal self, my family told me that I was unwell for quite a long time. My treatment had started and I was told that I was affected by some type of serious depression. It took me around a year and a half to get back to my normal life again and meanwhile I had gained 25 kgs as a result of the side effects of the medicines. I had stopped seeing myself in the mirror as I refused to accept the person I had become.
For me, my life had come to an end and I saw no ray of hope. What saddened me the most was that some of my school friends spread rumors that I had become mad or faced some mental craziness. They not just made fun of me but made fun of my illness.
I was trying really hard to come out of that safe shell I had created for myself where I avoided talking to people, going out of my home and was hell scared of driving.
A person who had been a topper in her academics in college, won competitions in dance or music performances, a professional Jazz dancer, her life had come to a Halt.
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But I didn’t give up on life and I fought back!
I started practicing Positive affirmations for my health, I resumed back to my yoga practice after taking permission from my doctor. Yoga helped me in the reduction of my medicine dosage and gradually it pulled me out of depression!
I was gaining my confidence back and I enrolled myself in PG Diploma in tourism and aviation from Kuoni Academy. I slowly gained my confidence back and had lost 15 kgs in a year as well with the help of yoga and positive affirmations.
I cleared my PGDM and even got selected in an MNC after completion of my course as a travel executive. But that job wasn’t giving me enough happiness as compared to my one hour of Yoga class!
I realized I’m born to practice and teach yoga as it gave me Immense happiness and contentment!  My family has always been very supportive and they encouraged me to become a yoga teacher. But again the society! People looked down upon me and started questioning my profession and looked at me with real pity! It was that time in 2010 when people didn’t consider unconventional professions any good or worthy to do! But my family stood by my side like a wall! I got my professional training from a reputed yoga school in Noida and then I didn’t look back, I did many professional courses in fitness from Reebok and  Master level courses from Yoga Alliance International.
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Also got training and practice in  Ashtanga Yoga from India Yoga, Mysore recently. After teaching yoga as a freelancer for three years, I opened up my yoga studio in 2013 with the name of Fitness Groovee,  I also worked for Reebok in 2014 for their Raahgiri program as their ambassador for yoga and took yoga sessions for almost a year at Connaught Place, New Delhi. Got affiliated under Yoga Alliance International in 2015 trained almost a 100 students independently in 2 years and today I run an affiliated branch of one of the most esteemed Yoga schools – Mokshaytan Yoga Sansthan and conduct their professional courses.
Now I not just run yoga classes but also take yoga sessions at some of the best corporates of the country!
Life taught me a lesson and made me a warrior and brought the best out of me when I saw the worst state of health and suffered from depression! I never lost hope and kept going on!
I am attaching my web page and link of my Facebook page.  I just want to motivate many women out there who are fighting with depression, I want to tell them that just hang on there and fight back. Never give up!

We are Proud of you, Apurvaa

Much Love,

Nikita

You can read all the other Interviews HERE

Are Marriage Jokes all about Wife-Bashing?

This Article was originally published at Different Truths in my weekly column, Relationship Rationale.

We often come across the messages where wives are insulted and ridiculed in the name of humor. I recently received this message on my WhatsApp: “A successful husband is one who makes more money than his wife can spend. A successful woman is one who can find such a man!”

The internet is flooded with marriage jokes with a subtle sexism. A few examples are:

Before marriage, a man yearns for the woman he loves. After marriage, the “y” becomes silent.

A little boy asked his father, “Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?” In addition, the father replied, “I don’t know, son, I’m still paying for it.”

A bus full of homemakers going on a picnic fell into a river, all aboard died. Each husband cried for a week, one husband continued for more than two weeks. When asked, he replied miserably – “My wife missed the bus”

We often become an instrument in spreading this kind of evil humor that stereotypes wife as a woman who only knows how to spend money she has not earned.

“Your husband called. He said buy whatever you want.” This might look like a plain joke but here is what you are saying when you make a joke about your wife spending all the money:

  • My wife is unable to make her own money
  • My wife does not understand money and how it is earned.
  • My wife does silly things like shopping

It was not only the men who were sharing these jokes, the women were too. They spread like wildfire. Demonetisation in India acted like a fuel for firing more jokes on women.

Have you watched the video where husband calls to complain to his mother-in-law that the product he got from her is a defective piece? Refund, please.

Jokes, where women are compared to a lifeless object, are definitely not acceptable. Men sure lead a difficult life as their in-laws treat them as Kings and Emperors. It is not easy to live a life without millions of expectations from in-laws and extended families even neighbors.

The neighbors are quick to judge a newly married woman. Not all men appreciate jokes of this kind. The truth is some men are happily married. Yes, happy and married are not an oxymoron. I have witnessed, with my friends and cousins, who openly express such sentiments of sexism on their wives.

It is not just women alone who suffer from this kind of message—men and children are also negatively affected. It does as much hostile damage to a man, Ray says, because the theme intensifies the pressures on men to be a provider, to be masculine, and if they cannot, they are a failure. The message of benevolent sexism tells girls they are too fragile, and their job is to be pretty and be put on a pedestal, Ray said. “This also perpetuates self-doubt in girls and stifles their developing sense of self-efficacy and agency that are critical aspects to basic human contentment.”

These are not light-hearted jokes but carry a subtle message of dehumanising and objectifying women. There are many heterosexual households where women make the money and the husband takes care of the household. We never hear the jokes on wife asking the husband, “Where did you spend all my money.” This could be disastrous for their marriage, as it would hurt the male ego. Why can we take liberty with women but not men?

How a man and woman are earning and spending their money is a personal matter. If men have a problem being a breadwinner, they should confess it to their wives and be willing to take care of the household and children. Laughing on your wives does not make you a Hero!                                  

What Women should Stop Wearing after 30

This Article was originally published at Different Truths

Are you tired of reading articles and watching documentaries obsessed with what women should do in their thirties?

“Cool Outfits Ideas for Women in their Thirties.”

“20 Items You Definitely Need to Toss by the Age of 30.”

“What not to wear in Your Thirties.”

“Fashion for 30-year-old Women.”

And all the “Blah-blah-blah.

Thirty is an attitude. Thirty is a belief. Thirty is an affirmation that you are now unstoppable.

Thirty is just a number if you do not bang your head thinking over it.

We can thank the Internet for romanticising the twenties as a decade of taking chances, falling in love, going on solo adventures, and being crazy. Do we stop doing all that in the thirties or forties?

The answer is, “No. We are humans and that is what we do best – make mistakes.”

So, why do we fuss so much about numbers? Be it the size we wear, the candles on our birthday cake or the score in exams.

The Twenties were for experimenting with people, careers, and ideologies. It was a decade of making mistakes and learning lessons. You meet many temporary people in your twenties. People overwhelmed you, controlled you, and dictated your choices for a decade. Not anymore.

By now, you understand who your friend is and who is just pretending to be. By now, you understand that nobody else decides what happens in your life. By now, you have transformed into a woman who knows her own worth and would not let anyone treat her any less. It is the time to roar.

Your wardrobe is just a wardrobe. It does not dictate the dignity and grace of your extended family. Stop being a puppet of the society’s expectations and judgments. Your worth is not dependent upon their approval.

Women should stop wearing the weight of other people’s expectations and judgments after turning 30.

©Nikita Goel

I do fear the Almighty – Sabi Shaikh

“Warrior of Change” is an initiative to inspire positive change in the minds of people and empower them to start their own journey through powerful stories of real people striving hard to make a difference.

Our fifth Warrior of Change is a dear friend and Best Selling Author of two books, Sabi Shaikh who fearlessly exposes fraudulent publishing companies and fake Artists. He is bold and brave and I am honoured to feature him as a Warrior of Change.

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  • Your first book, Via Delhi was about inter-religion marriages and won hearts of thousands of people. What was the inspiration behind picking a subject, which is much debatable in our Indian society?

The biggest problem in India is “Char Log kya kahenge” and those “Char Log” inspired me to pen down Via Delhi.

We are living in the year 2017 and this stupidity of “What will the Society think” must stop.

  • You have always raised the horn against Fake Publishers and Artist Cons. Does it ever bother you that you could get in real trouble some day?

Do I look like the guy who’d be bothered about this? Just Bring it on!!!

I have always stood up against what is wrong and I will continue doing so. The troubling part bothers me none.

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3- ” Fearless” is one word that is apt for your personality. Is there anything that you fear at all?

Yes, I do fear the Almighty.

4- ” Knocked Out,” your second novel is already getting a great response within a few months of its release. What is the strongest belief or ideology behind your second novel?

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My second book is about the “Never Say Die” attitude. If have a dream and if you chase that dream with full passion and dedication, then no one can stop you from conquering your Dream. Be true to what you really want in life and even the universe will start finding out ways to give it to you.

5- What is your message for the Youth of India who desperately wants a change in society but is willing to very little to bring that change/ become that change?

Be the change cause trust me no one is going to change anything for you. If you want to change the system, then you must change yourself first. Being in your comfort zone is not going to help you in bringing about a change. Be Fearless and start taking up a stand for what is right.

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Love at the end is more powerful than all rebelled forces combined – Priyank Aryan

“Warrior of Change” is an initiative to inspire positive change in the minds of people and empower them to start their own journey through powerful stories of real people striving hard to make a difference.

Our first Warrior of Change is one of the India’s most influential and powerful Filmmakers – Sanjay Tiwari who has carved a niche for himself in his early 20’s and is truly unstoppable. His movies are a mirror to harsh realities of our society – Be it a hunger stricken village “Bundelkhand” or indifference towards left-handed people “Ulte Hath”. To read the complete interview, click here

Our second Warrior of Change is a One-Man Army – Ashish Sharma who has started a revolution all by himself to make Delhi, begging free by 14 June 2017 and send those 3.68 lakhs kids to schools anyhow under his ambitious project – OneGoOneImpact

Our third Warrior of Change is India’s Best Selling Author, Priyank Aryan who raises voices on communalism, inter-community love & marriages, the association of religion with terrorism, child molestation, marital sex versus rape, building passion into profession & presents the real face of Indian society through his books.

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  • Your debut novel, “I am dead, but my heart beats” was a best seller. It touched hearts of thousands of youngsters and inspired a positive outlook towards Inter-cultural marriages. What was the inspiration behind picking a theme, which could have created a rebellion from the society?

Inspiration came from my girlfriend Payal’s unfulfilled desire of seeing a book, which should address the issues faced by youngsters in love, just because they belong to different communities. Initially, I did not take it seriously but after her sudden demise, to overcome that shock, I realised that by completing her wish I can give a strong, positive, happy ending to my story. That is how I began with my first book.

See, every fictional work involves an inspiration from real life scenarios and so, sensitive issues of castes or religion were bound to appear in my book. However, those who believe in rebellion are the ones who strictly adhere to religious or spiritual writings, so to make such people understand I used logical verses from our religious books like Bhagwad Gita, Bible, and Quran etc, which mentions about love or marriages being free of any boundaries. I used those deductions and inserted comments of priests in my story where the religious gurus themselves confirm of love outside community not being a sin. I did some research and carried out few religious surveys and then connected love with caste/religion in my story. Henceforth, as of now, nobody has been violent and hopefully, my book will not face any violence ever. Love at the end is more powerful than all rebelled forces combined.

 

  • It would have been very challenging to use the backdrop of riots in Muzaffarnagar, understanding how Indian audiences often outburst on open display of such sentiments. How did the whole experience change you as a person?

As a person, I had that courage to answer questions if raised. Firstly, I presented the Muzaffarnagar incident with an altogether different look. During the actual riot, nobody from both the communities tried to save lives, but in my story, it happened. I used the backdrop of a riot to show how strongly being together can help us save lives. So, the message was to spread the idea that leaves aside the cause of riot, if every single person helps one person of the opposite community, if love, friendship and relationships exist between families of opposite communities, then whatever the situation may be, all of them connected by some common thread will always try to save lives of their known ones. This thought in my mind changed my overall personality too, I lost all the hesitation of facing an outburst because I knew am giving the solution to problems, and that is never going to hurt anyone’s faith or sentiments. I was simply following the religion of humanity, which is greater than everything else is, so I got more mature and brave as an individual while handling this topic of social impact.

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  • You have raised voice against Terrorism crowned on a specific community and country, which is brave and fearless on your part. Share your views on the same issue.

There is a one-line view when we talk about terrorism, any specific community dragged with terrorism or a country defamed in the name of terrorism. In addition, the view or thought process says ‘No religion, community, or country teaches terrorism. There are some groups of people who are involved in wrong and sinful practices that defame a particular religion, community and henceforth the country. So, let’s eradicate such sinners who spoil the name of a community and country. It is wrong to call everyone bad because of a small section. We should feel bad for ourselves that we are not able to remove those bad groups, so, we can’t defame any community, religion or nation to hide our failure in removing anti-global elements’.

 

  • Your latest novel is named, ‘God & His Girlfriend’ which again is about breaking the stereotypes of religion. Tell us more about the book and its theme.

‘God & His Girlfriend’ highlights the important issue of why Islam is dragged with every terrorist attack. It projects the wrong notions spread by some bad people or groups in the name of global development for their community and we tend to believe their words and start saying bad for a religion. Therefore, the basic objective of the story is to portray the false ideologies being spread in the name of religion to defame it.

 

The book also talks about following our passion and how to make it really big, it discusses child molestation cases which are curbed down by families, the book also highlights issues like forceful sex post marriage not being tagged as a rape or an illegal act. In addition, the best part is that a beautiful love story is spreading all these messages directed at bringing positive changes.

 

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  • Do you think that Art should inspire a change in society? How far do you think you have succeeded as a Writer in bringing about that positive change?

Definitely, art is a very powerful tool and can create a huge impact to inspire positive changes in the society.

As an author, I have just started my endeavour to inspire positive changes. For me, real success will be on the day when I can see people practising changes. As of now, I have got feedback from many readers that they agree to my words, they have accepted my story with open heart. If I talk of real life changes, then yes, a couple of families has been inspired by my story, which made them change their decision, and they allowed a happy marriage of their kids who were in love with someone out of their community.

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Therefore, I am into this journey of bringing changes through my stories and it may take time, but people are being influenced positively, so I hope it will have a large-scale impact some day.

It was wonderful interviewing you. To know more about him, log on to his Author Page on  Goodreads

Our fourth Warrior of Change is the Owner/ Founder of Reebok Fitness- Apurvaa. India’s Best Fitness and Wellness Experts have trained her. She represented a Yoga event on 21 June, International Day of Yoga for about 100 people in Delhi