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Ashok Rajamani, The Day My Brain Exploded, January 6, 2015

Cardinal Points welcomes Ashok Rajamani, internationally published author, poet, artist, essayist, radio host, voice actor, and activist to our show. Ashok begins the show sharing the story of his near-fatal, massive cerebral hemorrhagic stroke on the day of his brother’s wedding in 2000 when he was 25 years old, “My brain exploded basically.” Ashok explains that he had a Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), “a tangle of arteries and veins inside your brain.” Some of the challenges that he has to contend with as a result of his brain injury are epilepsy, distorted hearing (tinnitus) and vision, erratic amnesia, and blindness in half of both of his eyes. Ashok’s seizures didn’t begin to occur until 2 years after his brain bleed. The visual distortions that he is challenged by are called The Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS). Ashok stated that Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is personal. “It’s an injury that one can’t detect visually.” “A lot of people who suffer from it look “normal.” “I’m like a Christmas present that’s nicely wrapped but is like a broken toy inside.” Ashok’s partial loss of his sight has presented some interesting challenges; like entering the women’s room because the “wo” was omitted from his sight. Shaving also became a challenge when he initially was shaving only half of his face and cutting himself unknowingly. “I became a living Picasso painting where half of my face was mangled.” He felt less intelligent than he used to be and wondered if he would ever be normal again. Ashok also experienced anger and bitterness towards his brother and people his own age because this didn’t happen to them, “how come they didn’t get it.” There was also loneliness, “I felt no one else could understand it.” Ashok had a near death experience on that day in 2000 “that was very interesting.” “I saw a blue ocean and I became fish like and I was swimming against this thick liquid and there was a white hole I was swimming into.” Ashok learned that in life “there is something bigger than us.” This experience brought him closer to God/Goddess. “We are far more than we think we are. We are far more than this physical world.” Ashok feels that because of his brain injury he has “been given two lives for the price of one”, “a second life.” “Ashok 1 died on that day and this is Ashok 2.” Ashok believes he is now wiser because of his experience. “I realized all of the things you collect, all of the physical collectibles that you have that you obsess over, none of it matters.” On one level Ashok feels ancient because of what he’s been through and on another level he feels like a new born looking through different eyes. What has motivated him through his recovery process was his desire “to live again.” “We as humans are a lot stronger than we think we are.” Ashok doesn’t know if he’d be here today if it weren’t for the support of his family, particularly his mother.

Our discussion then turns to the topic of racism. Ashok is of Indian descent and has experienced racism as a result of it. When men of color are successful they’re called arrogant but when white men succeed they’re called “go getters.” Ashok is a figurative artist. Before his brain injury his portraits were symmetrical but now because of his visual loss his portraits lack symmetry, but have more “emotion.” Ashok is a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, “what you think about and thank about you bring about.” Having a positive mind set matters. Ashok finds that the practice of Yoga and meditation centers him. Regarding meditation he states “If you can get ten minutes a day it centers your being for the remainder of the day and hopefully for your life.” Ashok then educates us about “Ayurvedic Medicine which is an old form of therapy that was developed in South India.” “Ayurveda and herbs have been more beneficial for me.” Ashok has also used humor to help with his healing. “You can either laugh about your pain or cry about your pain and I’ve chosen to laugh about it.” He’s been having some fun with laughter Yoga. “Laughter is a wonderful healer for your body.” Ashok created a audiobook to make his written book more “accessible to blinded, visually handicapped people.” “I wanted my life story to be told through my voice.” Ashok said “crisis brings us to our calling.” He feels his calling or dharma is to tell his own truth…and to help others teach their truth or speak their truth.”

Today’s Cardinal Point: The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.~Mark Twain

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Ashok Rajamani

Ashok Rajamani is an internationally published author, poet, artist, essayist, radio host, voice actor, and activist in New York City. Heralded by Barnes & Noble as one of the “Great New Writers of 2013,” Ashok Rajamani is an internationally published author, poet, artist, essayist, radio host, voice actor, and activist in New York City. He is also a nationwide speaker, having conducted multiple reading engagements in events and venues such as the United Nations International Symposium on Cultural Diplomacy; “Masala in Words: A Night of South Asian American Writers,” New York City (headliner); Barnes & Noble, New York City; Barnes & Noble, Princeton NJ; Barnes & Noble, Holmdel NJ; Words Bookstore, Maplewood NJ; Decatur Book Festival, Atlanta GA; “Explosion of the Explosion” Brain Injury Book Launch, New York City; “Ashok Rajamani: Brain Injury as Confession,” New York City; “Brain Injury Warriors,” New York City (headliner); and Brain Injury Association of New York State. In 2000, at the age of 25, Ashok suffered a sudden, near-fatal, massive cerebral hemorrhagic stroke due to an undetected birth defect. Though surviving, he was left with lifelong bisected blindness, epilepsy, distorted hearing, erratic transient amnesia, metal staples in his brain, and ultimately, a carved skull courtesy of open brain surgery. The final consequence of his body’s very own 9-11: an irreverent and decidedly unconventional memoir about a day that exploded not only his brain, but the world around him, entitled THE DAY MY BRAIN EXPLODED: A TRUE STORY. The memoir received worldwide acclaim, hailed by multiple global media outlets, including Publisher’s Weekly, Harper’s Magazine, The Times of India, Washington Post, Booklist, The Atlantic Monthly, BBC, and more. After the hemorrhage, he emerged as a proud brain injury rights advocate, and became a board member of the International Brain Injury Survivors Network, as well as Subject Matter Expert (SME) for the Brain Injury Association of America. In addition to his memoir, Ashok’s prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as Danse Macabre, Scholars & Rogues, South Asian Review, Three Line Poetry, Mantram, Catamaran, 50 Haikus, Monsters of the Rue Macabre, Armageddon Buffet, Pulp Metal Literary Magazine, and dozens more. He has been host for Brain Injury Radio worldwide, and belongs to the Authors Guild, New York Writers Coalition, Asian American Writers Workshop, and South Asian Journalists Association. Ashok is a Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of New York University, where he received his Journalism degree with Kappa Tau Alpha honors. He attended Columbia University for advanced cultural studies.

Websiteashokrajamani.com

Where you can purchase Ashok’s Audiobook:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Audible ,iTunes

Simply Audiobooks, Findaway World, Overdrive

Midwest Tape, Downpour, Blackstone Audio, Ambling Books, eMusic,

Baker & Taylor, Follett, Midwest Tapes , Recorded Books

audiobooks.com

spokenwordinc.com

LearnoutLoud.com