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Reading Room: I'm a Gandhi junkie: Josy Paul

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | November 23, 2012
Books were the only form of entertainment, apart from playing outside the house in the bygone days. The thought is shared by Josy Paul, chairman and NCD, BBDO India, when he says books and their characters were the 'playstation' of his mind.

I must confess that nowadays, I am unable to finish a full book any more. The mind wanders into so many zones, especially when YouTube brings me live feeds. So, I follow a T20 format of reading. It's the shortest format of the reading game. I dip in and out of various books at the same time, mixing it all up like a DJ.

Josy Paul

I have two books that I've just started on, Jinnah vs Gandhi by Roderick Matthews and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. Both are fascinating, for now!

I like the thought of going home to these books. I'm a Gandhi junkie and I read everything about his inspiring life. We even opened an advertising ashram in his name. As for Autobiography of a Yogi, it's a gift from a friend. It's a healing experience to go back to spirituality, philosophy and simple living in a complicated world. I grew up on J Krishnamurthy and the spiritual discourses in college and find it very stimulating. I love autobiographies. It's like sitting in your living room with a bunch of great guys who have nothing left to lose so they tell you their truths of life. These passionate confessions reveal many secrets. It helps me make sense of my world.

My all time favourite book is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. It's a mad look at war. It was my bible for many years. I still read the occasional pages. It liberates my thought-controlled mind.

Next, I have a set of the latest Esquire magazines with some interesting essays, debates and articles on today's world issues. It promises to be an antidote to the high decibel noise on Indian news TV.

I don't have any favourite author in particular. I love random reading and the serendipity that comes with it.

As for my childhood reading, I grew up reading most of the Enid Blyton stories - Famous Five, Secret Seven, Fatty and the FindOuters, and Mallory Towers. Then there was the William series by Richmal Crompton, the Billy Bunter series by Frank Richards, War Comics, Amar Chitra Katha, and the Biggles series by Captain W E Johns. I read voraciously as a child, almost a book a day. I lived the life of these characters and assumed their role. It was the 'playstation' of my mind.

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