Always celebrate a story teller

Work High, Sleep LowWork High, Sleep Low by Vinay Singh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have known Vinay Singh since 1980s, when he was briefly back at his alma mater University of Roorkee (now Indian Institute of Technology). This is immediately after his MBA from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. This fact should not come in the way, when I am reviewing (for others to read) his debut effort in writing a book. But it also raises a question, if you do not know Vinay personally, and if he is not a billionaire many times, Everest summit climber many times, and a rockstar - Why should you read his memoir (or anyone like him)? The answer is - Absolutely yes, if the author is an engrossing story teller. Yes, Vinay is an engaging story teller. He may digress sometimes in his first book, sometimes be too naive in his childhood recollections but he tells his stories with clear eyes, and earnest energy. His memoir starts with the concept of "over learning" where you over train beyond needed to reach the immediate goal. He claims he learned from his mountaineering experiences where mountaineers do a series of practice climbs of ascent and descent from their base camp before they attempt the final summit, and this prepares climbers for any unforeseen eventuality during their final summit. He thinks this concept has kicked in automatically for him when his life veers away and his father is the author of this "training for life" in his case. In his own words, "The thought process, that ultimately led to this book, started with a question - Is recovery possible for someone who turns out to be a mediocre student at the University of Roorkee and IIM, and after migrating to the United States finds himself with a divorce decree and without a job? The answer, in my case, seems to be in the affirmative".

Yes, Vinay has established himself in US as an entrepreneur, has been remarried for many years, and has raised his daughters with love for mountaineering and adventure. They as a family continue to do hikes, and "expedition style" summit climbs on many different continents.

Is that all? No.

He has attempted to summit one of the most challenging hill right now in the world. In countries like India, opening of economy brings in the time bomb of ambition. India now has more than 1.3 billion people, with a huge youthful bulge. The demographics of India has hundred of millions of young people. And, they all are hungry for opportunities and upward economic movement in today's world. Are they prepared for opportunities of 21st century? They are not. The primary education, except for few affluents, is completely letting them down.

Vinay in his memoir recounts his continuing experience of opening an evening school in his father's ancestral village. He and his family did this for the love of memory for his father, and a will to act upon. Vinay in his last few chapters describes why children in rural India have all the odds against them. He talks about challenges in building an evening school with the help of his family and friends. Shiksha Vikas Vidyalaya in Chanchli is an evening "free" school for learning English, Math Skills, Reading, and Writing as a supplementary effort to teach them to climb the summits of tomorrow. This is the most audacious summit, he is attempting to climb as an individual.

Perhaps, this is an enough reason to read his memoir.

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