Here is a cross-section of comments people have made about Jillian Haslam, the author of Indian.English.
"“When I was first introduced to Jillian Haslam’s story I had the same reaction as everyone else—I was immediately struck by its power and how many people it could touch. It is such a moving, sweeping and dramatic story that can resonate with anyone and change so many by bringing Jillian’s messages into people’s hearts and minds.
It is a truly inspirational story, which carries many themes: forgiveness, overcoming problems and adversity, building mental resilience and resistance to hardships in life. It is also about showing the impact of abuse and discrimination, but doing so in a way so as to grow understanding of the horrors of these and to encourage much greater tolerance and commitment to the appreciation of the need for truly embracing diversity.
If asked why I want to produce and help make ‘Indian. English.’ into a major feature film, my answer would quite simply be ‘entertainment’. But how can a film about abject poverty and the abuse of children in one of the world’s worst slums be entertaining? The answer is that it will not be just any film, but a dramatic, poignant and soul wrenching one that will soar into hearts and minds. Horrifying it may well be, but it will also be hugely uplifting.
It will be about recognising that everyone can be part of ‘passing the kindness along' and sear the universal life lesson of hope. Across international wide screens it will spread the message that charity and kindness come from a humble place and that the human spirit can overcome the worst of times. That to me is ‘entertaining’ and as the film concludes the audience will have felt an important and deeply moving inner experience that will stay with them; it will certainly be something they will tell their friends about.”
— Cyrus Yavneh, Producer Indian.English.
"INDIAN.ENGLISH., Jillian Haslam’s unforgettable memoir, makes Slumdog Millionaire look like the fantasy it is. Strange as it may seem, there is much hope on display in the book, a living testament to the true heart of the author herself, who survived a hopeless childhood in the slums of Calcutta. Jillian is a saintly spirit who has kept her mind upon the end that endures. She remains one of the only people I have personally ever met whose greatest dream in life is to help others escape oppression and miserable circumstances. Knowing where she came from and how she accomplished it makes me know she will realise her life’s work. The words ‘cannot recommend her highly enough’ are not high enough recommendation for her. A kind, compassionate, honest, loving, and giving lady.”
—Manuel Freedman, Filmmaker, MFM, Los Angeles, CA, USA
"This is the story of an ordinary woman with extraordinary courage. Brought up in the hustle and bustle of Calcutta, Jillian Haslam has recorded her earliest memories in this book – the struggles and abuse she faced while growing up, heartaches of loss and the many obstacles she had to overcome in making life positive for herself and for others. But at the end of it all, she comes across as a person who has unbelievably gained by all the negatives in her life. Not many emerge from such hardship & deprivation with such a positive attitude towards life. What she has learned from her own life and from her studies, she applies to helping others cope with the vicissitudes of fortune. Truly a remarkable person with a remarkable story to tell. "
—Neil O’Brien, Former member of Parliament (India)
"Jill, I read your Book, Indian.English today which I ordered from Flip.kart.I used to be a voracious reader of Novels,Biographies etc.After I finished reading the Memoir of yours,my emotions and sentiments ran high and was humbled & overwhelmed by the nuanced reflective real story of yours which provoked my thoughts to unfathomable extent.The book is undoubtedly awesome, inspirational, insightful, enlightening, incisive, and heart-touching. It touched me, my inner sense as well.The Book rather impacted me to go back to the British colonial days and its aftermath in this great city where your childhood was spent. Having read the book I would rather mention that no amount of words will be suffice to admire the sheer grit, perseverance, determination, sacrifice,compassion and to top it all the outstanding leadership of your persona. Really privileged to have a rare friend like you. Take the liberty of wishing you Good luck and God speed in all your endeavours."
— Samarendra Dash, Kolkata (India)
"I engage with most of my more sympathetic subjects when I write about them but Jillian Haslam’s story moved me to tears from the moment I started working on her for my Leading Lights column in the Asian Voice weekly newspaper. I found Jillian’s story told simply but forcefully, and the directness had an impact that I would like for my own books.
Jillian is remarkable not only for overcoming her own history but for using it as an upbuilding example with which to help others. She does not feel sorry for herself or ask for sympathy, rather she seems to wish us to connect with the millions who, like her, had very tough childhoods of extreme poverty.
Jillian Haslam has a lot to offer the world and I hope she gets the opportunity to reach wider audiences through her speaking engagements and her writing.”
– Rani Singh, BBC Broadcaster, Contributing Writer; Forbes India, Special Assignments Editor, ABPL Group, Author: Sonia Gandhi: An Extraordinary Life, An Indian Destiny, Foreword by Mikhail Gorbachev
"I had the privilege of working with Jillian Haslam in the late 1990′s, when I was the CEO of Bank of America in India. She was President of the Bank of America Charity & Diversity Network and was an outstanding worker in every way, one of the best in my banking career of 35 years. I thought I knew Jillian well — until I read her book, Indian.English. During the years I worked with her, I had absolutely no inkling of what she had gone through in her life, given her professionalism, optimism and stoic dedication to her work. Jillian’s book is poignant, sad and at the same time hopeful and uplifting. Her own life has been exemplary in many ways; her capacity to deal with adversity seems immeasurable. I was very much affected by the book, in a positive way. I am certain every reader will find inspiration and lessons from this hard-hitting autobiography and will learn even more when listening to her telling her story of how she goes from a life of nothing to achieving unbelievable success“
—Ambi Venkateswaran, Consultant, Aozora Bank Ltd., Tokyo (Formerly, Managing Director & North Asia Regional Head, Bank of America Corporation)
“A startling account of an English/Indian family which stayed in India after Indian independence and suffered through excruciating times, losing several children, the girls suffering abuse while living in conditions on the margin of slums and homelessness. Amazing to learn from such real life experiences, it shows how the past does not have to determine ones future “
—Tom Groenfeldt, Freelance journalist, NYC, USA
"First of all whilst reading of the terrible experiences you underwent, I kept thinking that my own three children are probably of your generation, and how well fed and comfortable their lives were, living as we did in Gibraltar at that time. I just kept thinking, if only I had known of your terrible situation and the assistance I could have given you all.
Having read the book, I must say that I concur with everything that is written in the four ‘Forward Comments’ about your book: Indian English, and the wording is better than I could accomplish.
However, I would like to add that all through the book I had a deep feeling of love for this young girl who went through such terrible privations, and gave so much to her mother and siblings. And also such admiration for her mother who sacrificed everything for her family. Indeed she should go down in history equal to Mother Teresa."
—Brian Foster, Spain
"In Indian. English. A Memoir the author Jillian Haslam recounts her harrowing experiences as an Indian English girl growing up in Calcutta, India; transitioning to her current position as a life coach and motivational speaker now living in the UK. The life-changing message in this book can be summed up in a quotation by Booker F Washington – ‘…success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed’. Jillian’s voice persuasively and powerfully delivers hope and inspiration that no obstacle is insurmountable and that anyone can rise above any challenging circumstances through sheer persistence, determination, self-belief and love.”
—Delicia Ravel, United Kingdom
"The story is a heart-rendering account of triumph against unimaginable odds – poverty, prejudice and serious illness visited on a family left behind in India in the decades after the British withdrew. One could not have imagined that such less-fortunate remnants of the English community in India even existed and moreover what challenges they faced in these troubled times. I now understand how that it is quiet humility and inner strength that got Jillian who I have known for over six years to where she is today."
— Rob Keller, London
“I just finished your book. Fascinating, sad, uplifting, depressing, hard to believe and very interesting.”
— Stephen Brand, President, The New Enterprise Factory, Massachusetts, USA
“Thank you for sharing your very personal story with us. Dealing with loss takes courage, strength and self-help which you have abundantly expressed and which you are now eager to share with others. Many who are facing similar adversities will benefit greatly from your story. You are living proof that with help and determination there is sure to be light at the end of the tunnel.”
—Sylvia James, Perth, Australia
“Hi Jill, What a fantastic book , you have put your heart out. One needs lots of courage to write about all the pains and abuse they have gone through. The language is simple, the pain and suffering you have gone through has been put on papers straight from the heart. I could visualise all the incidents and fear you and your family has gone through. I could relate myself with many such incidents, fear and pain you have experienced. It will be an honour to work with you for such a noble cause or get associated with you in any way. I also thank Lenka for inviting you for the meeting, without her I would have never met you, it was destined for me with a reason to meet you.”
– Ms Sukllikar, Advantage Women Group, London
“I personally know Jillian and her past has only influenced her present & future in the most positive of ways. Meeting her, you would not believe her story of growing up, as she is lovely, very bright and extraordinarily generous!”
– Lisa Penn Solomon, London
“The more I associate with Jillian Haslam I know she is the epitome of FAITH, HOPE AND CHARITY.
Her autobiography INDIAN.ENGLISH displays a character of determination and strength. It is this characteristic that helped to shape her future. Unreservedly, she focused on education - literary, psycological and business. Her willingness to get down to grass roots in learning and hard work has enabled her to achieve outstanding business acumen on leadership skills beyond her youth.
Her most appealing personality trait is genuine gratitude, generosity and humility that is endearing and yet she is strong enough not to be taken advantage of. She is a philanthropist and uses all her business acumen to empower and encourage volunteers to help the aged, children, unemployed and disabled.
As a motivational speaker she has an amazing ability to understand her audience and forges forward with confidence holding them spellbound no matter how she feels at the time. I have heard her talks on video, You Tube and on TED. I was beyond inspired seeing her face to face deliver a speech on Mental Resilience for Authors at The Harrow Writer's Circle in the presence of authors, budding authors and writers.
Jillian Haslam is a rounded personality and does not hesitate to walk the walk and talk the talk in any situation always displaying a smile and making people feel comfortable. Her quality of mindfulness enables people around her feel assured and empowered. Leadership and trustworthiness is encompassed in the freshness of Jillian Haslam and brings to the fore faith, hope and charity as the core values to strive for.
– Edith Cassel, London
"THE HASLAM GIRL
It is indeed strange that exactly a year ago I took my wife to meet someone I had already met twice who I was increasing admiring and my wife equally fell for the young lady as much as I did. She called on us at home yesterday since she was in Kolkata and had heard that I have been advised rest and its curfew time at home for me.
I did not know her earlier and someone referred me to an article in a newspaper of a young girl from Kolkata who had made it big – a rags to riches story which as usual people are sceptical about. What was also true is the support she now gives in Kolkata to various NGOs who support children in so many ways and support of the elderly is also something she valiantly champions. Her way of giving back to society. Commendable indeed. The love she transmits to hundreds of less fortunate by merely reaching out a hand is unique and I have seen the genuine love returned in no small measure.
We somehow connected on Facebook through people who knew us both and when you really have not met someone you too are sceptical. Now I have met her so often I can say that we have met a gutsy young self educated woman who not only succeeded in fighting the odds but has stood out as a motivational speaker across continents inspiring groups she talks too, hosts a radio show and has her head firmly on her shoulders. She is not afraid to tell her story which must be exceptionally hard to do. But she tells it simply without any drama or effort and I can only be proud to call her our friend.
There is great mutual respect as we relate to each other in what we do. We came from similar backgrounds only I was fortunate to be born into a fairly privileged home – she had to fight every inch of the way. Her book Indian English is to be made into a blockbuster film and I hope it tells an honest story which will inspire many other young men and women to challenge the odds which they face. I have always believed they could and I have reached out to help such people throughout my life.
You will certainly hear more about Jillian Haslam as the months pass. Not only because she is not afraid to look back on her past but because she has not looked back when reaching into the impossible dreams and targets she has set for herself.
Stay Blessed young lady and tread the path you have chosen carefully. You are brave enough to meet any challenges that may be throw in your path so go in peace into 2017.”
— Michael Robertson (Kolkata, India)
"I read the book - it's amazing. I especially took to your mum. I felt like I knew her. It was heartbreaking to reach Chapter 13, what I feared for all along.
In some ways I struck some similarities between your life and mine - what you went through when mum was sick and generally your whole mindset since you were little. I loved the Dum Dum chapter. I loved the relationship you had with Vanessa, hope you guys are still as close. The games you played by cleaning utensils with the ash, for lack of toys, I would have wept for you many times but I don't seem to be able to cry. But I shed a tear occasionally...
I loved the samosa guy, God bless his soul. The meat guy. The shopkeeper. My jaw dropped from the response you had for Mrs Cleophas - I don't think I would find it within me to do that, I keep things to heart too much. Your mother Jill, she taught you well. She was the most beautiful soul. I loved her. In some way I felt sorry I wasn't there to help out, however crazy that may sound.
I'm so sorry for what you guys went through in your childhood.
But it happened. The best thing is you were able to pull out of the hell hole you lived in, and helped your siblings out of it too. Better yet, your dad did pass away knowing the tide had turned for his children. Great teachings he had; the resilience, I would say you borrow a little from your folks - they did the best they could in their circumstances. They really tried.
Anyway, I shouldn't be reminding you all this!!
You were God-sent to mail the book all the way for me here. Just know that it made and will continue making a difference in ways you couldn't have imagined...And I think it will make for a fantastic movie, really would. And I pray you will find a team to bring it out as the story comes out in the book.”
— Peter Mwai
"Thanks for drawing in all the threads of resilience. Survival is one thing but long term making the most of the cross we have to bear with hope and determination is the spark we need to carry on regardless. This is a very important issue. Your book on the subject (The Irrepressible Mind) should be kept in the library, psychiatrist’s bookshelf and held by The Support Alzheimer’s Research for staff and carers to get an indepth awareness.”
— Edith Cassel
"Salutations, The Almighty God has listened to you. You are blessed by Him. I'm proud of you my sister.
I Wish you a bright future ahead and all the very best. I pray to the Almighty God to bless you abundantly and always so that you can reach to your mission, vision and goal.
Your book is an inspiration to me and many others. During my next meeting with you, I've to get it endorsed by you..
— Sriprakash Bhattacharya
I was honoured and indeed privileged to meet you at the Autumn Lunch meeting of YCA at Netherton Poppleton - you won't remember me but we had a hug at your book signing! I just wanted to say that your talk moved me to tears and I find it unbelievable that you have risen from the depths of despair to the wonderful woman you are today. I was brought up in a loving family and can identify with what you said about children listening to older people. My formative years were spent with my grandparents and even when my parents got their own house I was never more than a few minutes from my wonderful grandparents who I loved so dearly. Never a day went past that I didn't spend time with them and I loved listening to their stories; I have continued that link with my own grandson. He recently told his teacher that 'grandma is a war veteran and will come into school to speak with the children'. I told him that at 72 I am hardly a war veteran although I was born during the second world war. 'But grandma, you tell me such a lot of stories' he said. The stories were of course about my family who served, so I was happy to respond to Harry's request and enjoyed an afternoon telling the children the stories that my grandparents and parents had told to me. I made sure that I told them that all people are not wicked and that they must understand that in both sides of the war the people were someone's family, and the children solemnly agreed with me. Jillian, I always recall a 'saying' of my grandmother - where it came from originally I don't know. But she told me 'there's so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it ill becomes any of us to talk about the rest of us.'' How very true, and I try to apply that saying to my everyday life. God bless you Jillian, and all your family who owe you so much. Love from Pam
— Pamela Vinnicombe , YCA, UK