Jack Canfield, American motivational speaker and author, who is best known for the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series of books is going to be in India in mid-April.

He is scheduled to conduct workshops and promises to bring to life his book ‘The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be’.

He has certainly become successful and if his ideas worked for him, perhaps there is merit in them. Anyway, this column is not a plug for his workshops; I am more interested in his books. 

He is a Guinness Record holder for having the most number of books on the New York Times best seller list. I am not one for numbers either but I liked the first ‘Chicken Soup’ book that I read and went on to read a few more. There are a whole lot of them – for couple’s souls, single souls and a thoughtful teacher gave my son ‘Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneurial Soul’ when he finished high school.

Almost two years ago, at a poetry session I ran into an old acquaintance, Rajyashree Dutt who asked me to contribute an article for ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Couple’s Soul’. That was the first I knew of country-specific books in the series. Soon, Shalini Saran asked me to write for the ‘Chicken Soup for the Indian Single’s Soul’. A compilation of articles from several people, these tell stories of love and relationships. 

When Raj asked me to write for the book, I was a little apprehensive. She was asking me to bare my soul, so to speak. After some thought and some exchanges with her, I was persuaded that it would be a cathartic experience for me. And as the series is about inspiring others, perhaps my story would strike a chord with someone somewhere. 
I plunged into it and accepted Shalini’s invitation happily and at her request tried to get more people to write or share their stories with me. While single female friends were at ease with letting me tell their stories, single male friends were aghast and I had to let them be.

One of the stories that I was able to tell was about an American whom I met in Goa. Iona Leriou shared my table one evening at Cavala and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She was sixty plus but looked 40; she had four children, the eldest was older than me and she worked at the American School in New Delhi. She was quite happy to share her experience of being single in India. Sadly, she succumbed to lung cancer before the book was published.

Knowing her, albeit briefly, enriched my life – she made me open up to people again and to make new friends. Life constantly throws us challenges and our relationships are what sustain us – this is perhaps what is served up in a book of chicken soup.

By Sandhya Mendonca (Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for the Herald Goa)

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