'Prakashotsav' — an Intoxication

Ashok Karania

Intoxication found at Gujarat Vidyapeeth premises! Intoxication of love, respect and admiration for Prakash N Shah (પ્રકાશ ન. શાહ  ka નશા)

The occasion was the public felicitation of Shri Prakash N Shah - the many with many roles! The auditorium was overflowing with double its capacity and people occupying the aisles, areas between dais-chair, service area - whatever space one could find. The Saturday evening distractions or the 40 degree heat did not stop the admirers to throng at Gujarat Vidyapeeth. The audience grabbed every word like a gem and the 2.5 hour event ended too soon - never mind the endless sweating! 

‘Prakashotsav’ - The festival celebrating Prakash N Shah was organised by his friends, well-wishers and Sarthak Prakashan team. 

The evening started with a mock court where the most loved culprit Prakash N Shah was produced in the court of judge Hasmukh Patel. The lawyers Ketan Rupera and Urvish Kothari conducted the proceedings with the help of Ashish Kakkad. The public prosecutor Urvish Kothari produced a stellar list of witnesses to prove the charges against Prakash N Shah. Ratilal Borisagar, Ashish Mehta, Ashween Kumar Chauhan, Binit Modi, Biren Kothari, Nayanbahen Shah and other stellar figures accused Prakash Shah of several crimes - the burning ambition of being a prime minister, torturing the world with his cryptic and incomprehensible language, creating a cult of his own, communist leanings, hidden acting skills, etc. The court proceedings were ably proved with strong logic, evidences and confessions of the witnesses.

The mock court was followed by the release of Urvish Kothari’s book on Conversations with Prakash Shah. Prakash N Shah was felicitated by the a section of citizens of Ahmedabad.

The grand finale was the speech of Prakash N Shah. He expressed his gratitude for the great gesture.

He recounted his journey. His central thought was - Yukta and Mukta. He spoke about Gandhi. He spoke about the impact of three primary books on his life. The audience was listening as hypnotised by David Copperfield but time came calling….

Prakash N Shah’s intoxication and values will remain…An evening to remember for a human to never forget …..


The white clothes, the simple spectacle and the straight from the heart laughter is how I visualise him whenever we say Prakashbhai. His simplicity, his vision, his clarity and his friendliness is his magic that drives us to him again and again.

Thanks to Vipool Kalyani and Gujaratilexicon, I have the greatest fortune of spending lot of time with him and knowing him. The Nireekshak Digitization and other initiatives got us working together.

Prakash N Shah is a towering personality but he is our Prakashbhai. Our DadaGuru….Sri Sri Sri Dada Guru…Not many can see the Halo behind him…So you see he does have a cult! He is also the business partner of my spouse - they are still searching for their Eureka moment! 

e.mail : [email protected]

photo courtesy : The Facebook wall of Jugalkishor J.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features

The Way You Look at Me

Aarti Nair

There are both merits and demerits of living in the same city, same country all your life. Merits being that you can be deeply rooted and connected to a particular place, its people, and you have the ability to feel that place better than others. Demerits that you lack exposure of what there is in the world outside, how do different cultures survive, and co-exist. At least this is what I used to think when I left India in 2018 for my Masters in London.

Although this is not the first blog that I am writing while in London, there is a series of them. I have written down my experiences as a reader, my daily finances as a student, my first hand experiences of cooking, and how a new person can survive in London. Funny part, the last piece I wrote about London (which was later translated and published in a fascinating Gujarati publication), has stark differences from this one. I wrote that London is a place where your judgements don’t matter. It was true to my experience by that time. But what I have experienced in the past few months is quite new, something I have never felt before in life. Before I reveal what is that feeling, a little background about the character that I am.

I am 28 years old and so far in my life, I have not given a damn to what anyone thinks of my appearance. I have easily survived without feeling the need to apply makeup on my face on any regular day. I do not disrespect or detest women who do. I just know it is not for me. The only ‘makeup’ I put everyday is a kajal and a lip balm. I have confirmed with ‘experts’ that both of those things don’t even count as makeup in the real world. At 21, I cofounded a company of my own, was a columnist for a daily newspaper, published long-ish essays, write a decent-enough blog, and have attempted stand-up comedy too. So at this point, I know I can successfully survive in this world, without putting anything on my face. Apart from that, I dress the way I please. I do not find the need to follow any fashion trend, nor do I feel the need to buy clothes in each and every festivities or events. People around me get to learn (the hard way) that if they insist me to do something against my will, they will get some uncomfortable answers. So most people either wholeheartedly love me for the way I am (my father, my lover, close friends) or just learn to keep their concern within themselves. I have been surrounded by adorable people who even a new earring or a slight change of appearance would fetch positive compliments. I do have body image issues, yes. But I am aware that it needs to be constantly correct; not my body, but that image in my own eyes. Nevertheless, for a girl, it is not just convenience that her close ones accept her the way she looks, but it also strengthens her. Hence, I have turned out to be a strong woman who is extremely self-aware, and would not be affected by anyone’s damn opinions. Until I moved to London.

In the past few months, I have been around a few people who perhaps see me differently. I had no idea that working in an extremely commercial area of London, travelling with people dressed up in blue suits and people with the ‘perfect office-look’, can take a toll on you. There is a split second difference between glancing at someone and staring at them. The speciality of human expressions is that even if you do not use words, you can just look at someone and make them feel something. What was happening was completely non-verbal communication. But more often than not, I felt judged by other ‘perfect’ looking people around. It is obvious that I am not just talking about some random people but even some of the people around me. How do you deal with someone’s judgement when they do not even bother to verbally address it? What do you do about being hated from the first moment, even before you get the chance to present yourself?

In one of my long conversations with a dear friend asked me: When you are outside home, do you think of what is in your head or do you look at others and think of, “What do they think of me?” Lately, both of us have been thinking more of the latter. It is hard to know what came first. Is it the privileged ‘looking down upon me’ make me insecure or is it my insecurity that bothers me when they look down on me? In London, I came face to face with my colonial heritage. The things from my country’s history which I thought was a thing of the past, and did not matter to me today, was deeply ingrained within my system. So much that I did not even know. I am extremely aware of my surroundings, and most living beings have this inherent ability to know when they are being looked at. I know when I am being stared at. The question is why? Is it because I dress too simply, or I apply no make-up or is it my skin colour or that I don’t have a gym-sculpted body or all of these? Can they see that my shoes are a little worn off? It is difficult to not think of these questions, and not question yourself when it happens everyday? As a result of this, your mind remains in a constant battle within. How much should I give up and what is non-negotiable to retain? Well, it is perhaps too late for me to unlearn my ideals of simple living. Never in this life, do I think that I will be drawn to wearing make-up. Fortunately or unfortunately, my course in London has even instilled the question of, “Do I really need it?” before I buy any new piece of clothing (more about that, some other time). How often should you remind yourself that what others think of you is none of your business?

One thing I know for a fact is that at its root, the behaviour of looking down upon someone is in itself the greatest sign of insecurity. It is their insecurity about themselves that they are transmitting into you. So I consciously do not feel a sense of intimidation or respect for people who do this. Some people around who are friends, also do it without having the slightest indication of how toxic this behaviour is. When this friend seemed to advice, “Oh you don’t have a foundation? Everyone must have a good foundation.” I had swiftly replied back, “Well, as Sheldon Cooper has said, everyone needs to breathe in oxygen and release carbon-di-oxide. Everything else is optional.” Next time, she was surprised that I did not know what a lip-scrub was.

London happens to be one of the most diverse cities in the world. I have seen open expressions of all forms of love, gender and sexuality here. But in that diversity, also exists an unsaid, subtle class-colour snobbery. And if you are not careful, it cuts through you, and sucks you in, like a vampire saga. Once you have adapted to this mindset (become a vampire), you spread this self-loathe to others by mirroring what your loathers do/did to you.

On the other hand, I am not a good hater either. Hating creates heart burns that I have never been a fan of. Loathing them, of course, helps in easing down the frustration of being rejected/not accepted but it is only temporary. In the world of social media, we can also get into the race of posting pictures online to further get validation about ourselves. Unfortunately, this validation is also temporary. More often than not, it screws with our mental health. Early in this year, I quit Instagram. Especially because I told myself: “I am going to be enough for my own validation.”

Nevertheless, if not cautious, you easily begin mirroring them. I have to keep telling myself that I CAN NOT look at myself the way they look at me. I repeat my father’s words (in his voice) in my head, something that he has told me hundred times: You are beautiful the way you are. I repeat what a dear friend in India used to say, “You have nothing to prove.” One has to walk with their heads held high. There are days when the nature brings a calming effect on you. I am addicted to napping in the parks. Or seeing the water flowing through the canals. Or cycling aimlessly with a beautiful sunset over your head. Some days are more difficult than others. On those days, my books become my support. I take my book in my hands and put all my focus on it. So whether it is the tube or the footpath, I remain engaged in something empowering. After all, I have learnt after falling multiple times, how not to internalise other people’s bullshit.


Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / Features