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  • Writer's pictureRaji Writes

Raji's Recordings!

Updated: May 13, 2023

I have moderated book discussions and author interviews in the past few years, and even participated in a Readathon! The recordings are scattered all over the world wide web. I thought I’d assemble various links and share them.

Here's what follows:

  • Silicon Valley Reads author / book events in 2023, 2021, 2020 and 2019

  • One Story One Nation initiative in 2020: a reading of Tagore's Kabuliwallah

Read on, and check out the video links!

You’ve read about Silicon Valley Reads (SVR) in these pages before: a community engagement program that features books and an annual theme to bring people together. Its mission is to promote reading and literacy, broaden the exposure to and appreciation of good literature, and build a sense of a strong community. Three books are selected around every year’s theme, following which hundreds of author events and book discussions are planned around them.

The 2023 SVR theme is Journey to New Beginnings.

One of the books selected to showcase this theme is The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore.

You can read my brief writeup about the book here:

I spoke with author Amanda Skenandore, historical fiction writer and infection control nurse, on Sunday March 19th, 2023 in a virtual event sponsored by Silicon Valley Reads and Indian Business and Professional Women (IBPW). She spoke about her compelling characters, and how they brought purpose to life in the worst of times. Watch the recording here:

The viewers were kind enough provide some wonderful feedback, forwarded by SVR Director Reid Myers.

Verbatim Comments:

--I would have liked the author to talk more about the characters in her story. I was impressed with the host/interviewer whose comments and questions added a lot to the presentation.

--Raji's Q's & the Q's of her group illuminated the importance of her book. I did know before that Indian citizens still suffer from Hansen's disease. Now everyone should be able to receive drugs to cure, but of course they don't.... I did not know this, but because of Raji Pillai I do. I think this was the best event of all SVR events.

--Obviously, the interviewer/moderator was well prepared - and the time flowed so smoothly from the very beginning throughout the interview with Amanda.

--Both the person who interviewed and the author were so well prepared and engaging!

--Both the author and interviewer were excellent. Having heard Amanda speak at the kickoff, I didn't expect to learn a lot more at this program, but I did. It was very informative and quite interesting. Raji's questions were thoughtful, steered the discussion in interesting areas, and enabled some in-depth answers from Amanda.

--thought the moderator did a fabulous job with insightful questions, etc. and author quite responsive

--Very educational presentation.

The 2021 SVR theme was Connecting.

The main book selected was Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy’s book Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.

Read my detailed review of the book here.

I participated in a panel discussion on February 21, 2021 on Dr. Murthy’s book, sponsored by IBPW and SVR. The moderator was Michele Bolton, Executive Coach, Shailaja Venkatsubramanyan, retired professor, Neerja Raman, author and research executive, and yours truly.

We shared our perspectives on the ways we can connect with one another and build community. We spoke of working towards a society that better serves all of us: students, the elderly and the unhoused, using practices to foster physical and mental health, and service.

Watch the recording here:

The 2020 SVR theme was Women Making It Happen

The main book was Alpha Girls: The Women Upstarts Who Took on Silicon Valley’s Male Culture and Made the Deals of a Lifetime, by Julian Guthrie.

Read my review of the book here:

I spoke with Indian Alpha Girl Vinita Gupta, Founder and Chairman of Digital Link Corporation (now Quick Eagle Networks) and the first woman of Indian origin to take her company public in the US.)

Watch the recording here:

The 2019 SVR theme was Finding Identity in Family History

One of the selected books was The Stranger In My Genes by Bill Griffeth

I moderated a discussion with author Bill Griffeth at the India Community Center in Milpitas - yes, a pre-pandemic live event. While it was not recorded, you can read my review of the book and account of the event here.

Kabuliwallah Readathon!

In 2020 Juggernaut Books, a digital book publishing house headquartered in New Delhi, India, and Hindustan Times, an Indian English-language daily newspaper also based in New Delhi, came up with a wonderful idea they called One Story One Nation. They selected one of Rabindranath Tagore’s best known Bengali short stories, Kabuliwallah. Written in 1892, it is about is about a dry fruit seller from Kabul, who comes to Calcutta to sell his wares, and becomes friends with a five-year-old girl Mini from a well-off Bengali family. The organizers took Arunava Sinha’s translation of Kabuliwallah, divided it into 18 parts, and invited various celebrities as well as regular folks to read one part each.

Delgihted at this concept, I submitted a few readings, and naturally, they selected the one which I had recorded in the most haste, squinting at the camera with the sun in my eye. :-) Nonetheless, what an incredible honor to have the opportunity to read along with illustrious folk such as Shashi Tharoor, Lieutenant General Satish Dua, journalist Barkha Dutt, designer Sabyasachi, cricketer Rahul Dravid, and actor Twinkle Khanna.

Here is the video of all parts being read, stitched together: "watch how Tagore'a Kabuliwallah brought the nation together," as HT says. I read Chapter 10, which is at 11.52.

India Currents carried an article about it about:

Thank you for checking out my recordings. I'll update this site as I create / find more.


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