Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Friday, 31 August 2012

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

I discovered Desiderata when in Engineering college; a time when I was figuring that I had ended up committing four years of my life to a course I wasn't at all interested in. I was swamped then by a feeling of ennui, of restlessness, of a vague plague that I would never know what I ree-ally wanted to do with my life and time...

It was at that time that I found Desiderata and I copied it down in long hand in a pharmaceutical notepad that my elder sister who was a Doctor had given me. I still have it with me.

At a time of raging hormones and dwindling hopes, of mindless confusion (best summed up by the Urdu word 'ghubaar') Desiderata calmed me. I'd read it aloud in my cubicle in the Girls' hostel, read it to myself when I felt life was getting to be too much, and it would soothe me - there is wisdom in the poem, no doubt, but there is also inexplicable gentleness. "Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself."

There was some confusion about the poem's origin but that's resolved now and the credit firmly belongs to American writer Max Ehrmann. May his soul rest in peace, he gave this writer the gift of a lifesaver without knowing it - which is the enduring gift of art.

Desiderata tells you that it is okay, whatever you're feeling shall pass, for "the universe is unfolding as it should". And it does. And it will. So, if you are looking for a pick-me-up or just need a friend or just want to savour a lovely poem, go read Desiderata. My tip: read it aloud, softly and gently, to yourself, and you'll find peace. Here goes:

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

And if you'd like to listen to it, here is a brilliant rendition. 


  1. Those are Prophetic words. I remember a forceful story from my school days where the protagonist, an Indian expatriate, switches from "I am the Divine Flame" to "Ahum Brahmaasmi", repeated to oneself, for tiding over pent up angst.

    Personally, I find Nietzsche's 'The Flies in the Market-Place' highly effective. Thanks for sharing.

  2. nice one.,ay these sentenses give peace and solace to disturbed minds

  3. Thank You Manreet for sharing this. I wrote something after reading this post. I had to.

    If you feel like, then read it here

    Thank You, again.

  4. Sadly enough I am going through exactly what you went through in your college. Stuck in an engineering college.

    I really liked your post. And the poem. I hope I find solace too. =')

  5. Nice stuff... Keep Blogging! Hope to get to read more of such works...Cheers

  6. Thanks for this. Sounds like I should check it out.

  7. It was good to freshen memories of these lines and how soothing are they. I was a kid when i first read them. My brother who was in high school at that time, had cut it out of magazine and stuck it on his room's wall.It was in a glossy yellow paper with a black border. Thanks for this post :-)