Books Voices

Growing Up as Girls in India Where Books and Stories Control or Open Up Your World – ‘The Brown Box’ Ep.1

In episode 1 of 'The Brown Box' podcast for eShe, host Rani Jeyaraj speaks to authors Gayatri Jayaraman and Koral Dasgupta about growing up as Indian girls surrounded by books.

eShe is delighted to present a new podcast series ‘The Brown Box’ in which host Rani Jeyaraj discusses the good, the bad and the crazy that make up the country we love, India.

Through conversations with inspirational women from different walks of life, we discuss the complexities of life as an Indian woman. Through topics ranging from food and books to colorism and gender violence, we discover similarities, we learn to accept differences and we unpack the Brown Box.

Rani is a content creator who has spent over 20 years telling the stories of different individuals from the APAC region through videos and podcasts. Beginning her working career as a model, it didn’t take long for Rani to realise that her true calling was behind the camera and not in front of it.

She worked her way up from a runner to an assistant director, finally branching out on her own as an ad film director. A shift to Singapore allowed her to broaden her passion for storytelling. She now creates ads, travel shows, online content and podcasts – the format doesn’t really matter, she just loves to tell people’s stories.

Rani Jeyaraj

In this first episode created for eShe, Rani chats with two authors and book lovers about the books that shaped them and moulded them into the women they are today.

They reminisce about a time when as Indian girls – growing up without the distraction of multi-channel cable TV and also without the freedom to roam the streets that the boys had – books were companions, allies and friends. They discuss the power of stories to open up our worlds and also how decisions about who tells stories and whose stories are told, can control and limit these worlds.

Gayatri Jayaraman

Gayatri Jayaraman’s most recent book, Sit Your Self Down, is an honest take on her journey into the practice of Vipassana. Her first book, Who Me, Poor?  tackles the subject of urban poverty. She has also written Indigenious and Shambhu Immortal. With over 20 years of experience as a journalist, Gayatri writes insightful books that shed light on subjects not often tackled in most popular literature.

She runs Shamah | शम:, a Mind Body Spirit counselling practice in Mumbai where she conducts walking meditations, support groups and therapy sessions. Her latest book, Anitya, a mind, body, spirit guide to change, releases this year.

Koral Dasgupta

Koral Dasgupta describes herself as a compulsive storyteller – she has published five books ranging from academic nonfiction to relationship dramas.

Whilst teaching marketing management studies, communications and creative writing at Mumbai’s Mithibai College, Koral turned her course notes into her first nonfiction book, a study of the phenomenon called Shahrukh Khan.

She is the founder of, a story laboratory led by crowd-sourced narratives. She also consults with educational and corporate bodies on content and communication projects and workshops.

Her new series of books, the Sati Series, takes a look at the Panch Kunya of Hindu mythology, all of whom had partners other than their husbands, and yet were revered more for their purity of mind than their purity of body. The first of the series Ahalya released last year.

Listen here:

Do share your thoughts about the podcast in the comments below. You can reach Rani Jeyaraj on

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