Books - Non Fiction

Book Review: The day I stopped drinking milk (Sudha Murty)

Title: The day I stopped drinking milk (Life stories from here and there)
Author: Sudha Murty
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2012, Genre: Non-Fiction, Anthologies

Book review:

We people living in cities may not be able to guess that a basic commodity like milk could be a luxury to many living in remote parts of our country. Sudha Murty, the author of this book was shocked to learn that during one of her visits, and decides to stop drinking milk thereon. That is the reason behind the title of this book.

“Understand that life is a short journey. In that short journey, if you can show compassion to others, show it now”

The author, Sudha Murty, is the chairman of Infosys Foundation and has been involved with social work for a long period of her career. I also gather that she was a teacher, earlier. In this book, she shares some interesting true-life stories, incidents and people she came across, as she traveled the length and breadth across India.

Many stories are of people who have made good contributions to the society single-handedly: Like the story of the woman who builds a pond in her village with her own funds & with the help of British officers and the story of the woman who constructs a bath and arranges warm water for random strangers to bathe in her house!

Some stories are even supernatural – like that of the ghost teaching a man and that of the woman who sacrificed herself so that the village pond could be filled with water. There is one story where the author makes her student appreciate the richness/value of our culture/history, through a trip to a rural community.

“Most people do not have the same values when they get money. Money changes a person completely. Very few people can withstand the lure of money and they are difficult to find. I have learned that wherever there is money, people like to take advantage of the situation and maximize their return”

Isn’t this true? Imagine how difficult is it might have been for a social worker who wants to distribute money to deserving people. Actually, finding people who deserve them and checking the authenticity of their situation, is quite difficult.

Even if people have credible background/qualification, they change completely after they receive the aid. A couple of shocking real-life stories in this book stand testimony to that. I wonder how people could refuse to acknowledge the help received during their formative years?

“I realized then that only diseases and not honesty and integrity are passed down to the next generation through genes”

Fortunately, there are stories of people who do show gratitude for the help received. Like the girl whom the author finds traveling all alone in a train and then decides to support and educate her through the foundation.

The book offers positive stories/examples (mostly) and people should read them to appreciate how our nation is able to breathe easy due to the efforts and sacrifices of a few people, everywhere.

A few stories that did not present any message could have been avoided and the book feels slightly short. Or maybe, I wanted to read more! The writing style is very simple and even children/teens can easily understand this book.

“With age, I was wondering if I had started accepting a male-dominated society – but now I know that it isn’t true. No wonder I wrote that letter to JRD Tata in 1972”

Do you know about this incident? It seems, Sudha Murty was about to complete her technical education where she came across a job notice from a Tata group company which explicitly stated that only men could apply for the job. She considered this as gender discrimination and wrote a letter directly to JRD Tata, only to be called by him and offered the job! I read this story in Anada Vikadan (a Tamil magazine).

“A fire cannot be extinguished by another fire. It is only water that can make a difference”

That’s what the book is about. It is about inspiring people to become that water, instead of becoming fire. Nice book and quick read. Since wisdom gathered over the years has been shared in this book, it could be useful for everyone.

  • You could buy The Day I Stopped Drinking Milk: Life Stories From Here and There by Sudha Murthy from Flipkart or in India. [Disclaimer: These are affiliate links. I may get a small commission if you click on them and buy the product. Your price will not change.]

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