The Book of Hope is perfect for a nation that refuses to give up. Curated by The Better India, these stories serve as a pick-me-up when you're feeling down, or when you need a reminder that in the end, we'll make it through.
This book is an archive of a nation’s collective goodness. Stories are what connect us and remind us that hope is always possible, and the lives of these ordinary Indians
will surely inspire you. These are the experiences of real people who found love, overcame loss, worked towards achieving their dreams, or those who bravely fought
against societal norms. This book is a testament to the fact that anyone can do it — even you.
The Book of Hope: Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Indians
Shuttling between existentialist views and Grey's Anatomy, Lekshmi has an insanely disturbing habit of binge reading. An ardent lover of animals and plants, she also specializes in cracking terribly sad jokes.
A lover of people, cats, food, music, books & films. In that order. Binge-watcher of The Office & several other shows. A storyteller on her journey to document extraordinary stories of ordinary people.
A passionate foodie and history buff, Sanchari is a biotech engineer who fell in love with writing and decided to make it her profession. Each day, she looks forward to working on small campaigns for big causes and uncovering untold stories about India. When she is not busy at The Better India, she can usually be found reading, laughing at silly cat videos and binge-watching Netflix.
"Bade Bade deshon mein aisi chhoti chhoti baatein toh hoti rehti hain senorita"
Taking that SRK line a little too seriously, Gopi Karelia has dedicated the last few years of her career in discovering inspiring positive stories across our nation. A die-hard Bollywood buff, Gopi specialises in spontaneous singing and mediocre jokes. She believes Fleabag is a crash course on life.
Few things in life are as inspiring as telling people stories for Yoshita. On most days she likes to explore the mundane, ordinary, routine, procrastinator, saint and sinner stories. On other days it's a struggle between writing down multiple story plots in her email's draft folder and scheming to steal her neighbour's dogs.
A Mechanical Engineer turned homemaker, and a homemaker turned writer, Manabi chased her dreams until she became the Editor of The Better India - Hindi. She lives life like there's no tomorrow, never misses a chance to laugh and make someone smile.
Vidya Raja is an erstwhile lawyer whose once proudly-worn advocate’s robe gathers dust in her cupboard. She is hopeful it will be useful to her again sometime in the near, if not late, future. She is currently busy trying to write on a variety of interests while managing the rather busy schedules of her two boys.
They say you never forget your first love, and since Divya met hers, she hasn't been able to either. She's spent most of her life chasing one goal -- finding the right words to tell the perfect story, whether it's tales of ordinary women making big changes, or looking for untold chapters in history. Other than that, she spends her time trying to keep up with the music scene, planning her next trip, or spending her hard earned money trying out different kinds of food.
Rinchen Norbu Wangchuk
'Where are you from?' It's a question Rinchen Norbu doesn't really know the answer to. His family are native to Ladakh, but life has taken him from the steppes of Mongolia to the sweltering beaches of Chennai. Taking an interest in about a gazillion things including professional sports, popular music, entrepreneurship, politics, cinema, history, and the environment, he has found a home at The Better India where he can now explore them all.
Perpetually in an existential crisis, Ananya finds herself at home in books, good food and her mini apartment jungle. Mother of a 1-year-old beagle Momo and over 150 plants, for her, writing stories is equivalent to eating a perfect bowl of kadhi chawal- comfort in its purest form. When she is not doing either, you will find her indulging in one of the three-- binge watching horror series, doodling eyes or searching the route to Diagon Alley.
A passionate storyteller and Chevening alumni, Himanshu is proficient in identifying and writing inspirational stories of change-makers across India. His works emphasise creating an impact for readers in the field of environment, social change among various sections of society. Apart from being a coffee connoisseur, he is an enthusiastic trekker and strives to practice a carbon-negative lifestyle.
Serene Sarah Zachariah
Serene finds joy in the little things and believes that the best of stories are found during local bus rides.
Constantly looking for stories in people & people in stories, Tanaya Singh is forever amazed by both. She has been working with and for change makers since the beginning of her career and has been able to find a home at The Better India. She is passionate about the use of stories to create change and is always on the lookout for individuals and organisations whose stories deserve to be heard.
“I was buried alive for nearly seven hours before my mother and aunt dug my grave and pulled me out after hearing my incessant cries. I do not know if it was the grass covering the soil that helped me breathe or simply a fighting spirit that gave a less-than-one-day-old baby from Ajmer’s Kotda village the strength. But I refused to give up on myself,” says Gulabo Sapera.
“At 11, I knew I was different from other boys. But I couldn’t talk to anyone for fear of being scolded. We used to shift from one area to another area of Mahim, and that’s when I met a few friends who I was comfortable enough with to come out to as gay,” says Zoya Thomas Lobo.
“At a very early age, my uncles made me listen to a lot of rock music. On Sundays, my grandparents would play gospel music, which had a massive influence on me, for the whole household. In fact, the first time I ever performed in front of an audience was during a Sunday school church service. Folk music was introduced to me through the radio every morning before school," says D-Mon.
“She looked at me and said if this was about me being gay, she knew already. I had expected drama, even thought she might faint when I came out to her. She surprised me and how. What a rock star she has been," says Sushant Divgikar.
“My grandma used to cook with a lot of passion and I used to learn just by watching her cook. But it takes a lot of work to cook on a chulha, and that is how she wanted to prepare food on special occasions. The high flame from the burning firewood, the coal all contribute to unique flavours," says Sameer Sewak.
"She forgets things very easily—one moment she said something and then a few seconds later she has no recollection of what she said. These are difficult times but she is my wife and of course, I will support her," says Yogendra Shankar Chaudhry (87).
When newly-trafficked girls are brought in, they are put in what is called a pinjra or a cage. Triveni adds how the pinjra still exists in Kamathipura. It is a wooden cell or bunk where the victim is kept until she is brainwashed into becoming a seasoned sex worker.
“In four years, we failed hundreds of times before we started sharing it with friends. Slowly, they started paying us and became our initial customers. Word spread and Japanese expats started buying from us too. On a good day we baked 100 loaves of bread for the customers,” Rahul says.