Sita Laxmi Narayan Swamy Shares Her Tryst With Books.


A product of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management and the London School of Economics, Sita Laxmi Narayan Swamy, Senior vice president, network marketing, Zee Telefilms Ltd always lived life on her own terms. A multifaceted personality with keen interests in a variety of domains like art, painting, reading and writing, this lady is a pleasure to talk to. Her enthusiasm, zest for life and never-say-die attitude is contagious.

My tryst with books

Her tryst with books began when, tired of moving from one town to another due to her father's transferable army job, she went and complained to him that just when she was beginning to settle down in one place and make new friends... it was time to move and pick up the pieces of her life all over again. As a six-year-old, she went and cried to him, "This is not fair papa. Every two years we have to move and I spend so much time making friends, only to leave them behind. That's when her father picked up a book, handed it to her and said, "From today, this is going to be your best friend."

"I think I took him rather literally (thankfully)," she says.

And the rest as they say is history. Books have become an integral part of Zee Telefilms senior vice president network marketing Sita Laxmi Narayan Swami's life and she boasts of a mammoth collection... a passion which has been lovingly nurtured over the years.

As a child, when she was grounded by her parents for any mischief, they realised that barring her from meals or playing with friends didn't mean a thing to Sita. However, it didn't take them long to find her Achilles' heel --- "No books for you," her mother then began saying! And that worked!!!

"I really feel that books are a great way to travel to places that you've never been to. They are a great way to listen to points of views of people you may never meet. Books also help a person who wants to keep learning - not just management fundas - but about human nature and life. They really elevate and liberate you and actually make you evolve. For me, life would be a lot less enriching without books," she says with obvious passion.

Being in the media a common complaint heard is - "I don't get the time to read!" But for Sita that doesn't hold true... more so because she makes the time to read! "I don't have to push myself to do it. I want to find the time to read. So I can easily trade a Saturday night outing for a book," she says.

My favourite books

There are three books that have shaped her into the person she is today. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. "It's about a little Prince who comes to Earth from a different planet. It's a story about him recounting his space-travelling experiences to a pilot he meets in the Sahara. It is also slightly metaphysical and spiritual as well in the sense that while he is talking about very real experiences, you keep reflecting and feeling that what was being said was so true about human beings as well," says Sita.

One line from the book that Sita has kept in her heart and lived by is - "'You can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye". "It's very beautiful and profound but it's true. What is obvious is sometimes not as important as you think and one needs to take out time and the energy to look beyond the obvious even at a day-to-day level," says Sita.

The other book I really like is Mister God, This Is Anna written by Fynn. "It's a beautiful book about this little girl from the street who has miraculously entered this big household. It revolves around her thoughts and philosophies and how it changes their lives."

The third one, a best seller that almost everyone has read, is The Alchemist by Paulo Cohelo. "Having said that, I have also read a lot of Paulo Cohelo's lesser known books like Veronica Decides To Die and By The River Piedra, I Sat Down And Cried," she says.

"When growing up, you tend to read books like The Fountainhead and it does leave an impact on you," she adds.


Fancy books on Physics too

"I also tend to read a lot of books on Physics and science because I like to read a lot about time and space," she says. Books by Stephen Hawkins like A Brief History of Time and also some on philosophy like The Gift of Now by Susan Squellati Florence have also caught her fancy.

"I've also enjoyed reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche," she says.

Love for Literature and poetry

She also harbours a special love for literature and dotes on books by W Somerset Maugham, DH Lawrence and shorts stories by O Henry.

"Now this may come as a surprise and a lot of people don't know this but I also read a lot of poetry. My favourite poet is TS Elliot. Of course, in India authors like Vikram Seth, Amrita Pritam and Gluzar," says Sita.

"I could go on and on for more than three hours on this and I'm sure by the end of it I'll end up recommending some books to you!" she laughs.


Management books

"I don't like the term management books because it makes them sound boring but of the books I really liked are Life After The 30 Second Spot by Joseph Jaffe. I love Tom Peters especially his latest book Re-imagine! and I loved Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner," she says.

Another book Sita enjoyed reading was Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands by Kevin Roberts and Business is Unusual by Anita Roddick, where the author talks about why she started Body Shop. "These books also go into corporate social responsibility. Of course you are creating products for the consumer and hoping to reap revenues out of it, but it delves into how you need to give back to the world, what you have got from it."

Her interest in books is surely a varied one. "In fact, when I go to a bookshop, the book calls out to me. I'm not much for reading reviews before buying the book. So most often I've read a book long before it has been declared a bestseller," she says.

Weekly itch to buy books

Sita frequently visits book stores since she feels the urge to buy books almost every week. "Every room in my house is filled with books. There isn't a nook or corner left in my house where books are not there since I possess many thousands of them," she says.

So if you want to catch Sita over the weekend, hit the bookstores and not some fancy club!

By Hetal Adesara

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