Juggernaut Books and The Hindustan Times have launched “One Story, One Nation,” which brought together celebrities, sportsmen, politicians and ordinary folk from around the world to read Rabindranath Tagore’s classic ‘Kabuliwallah.’

“In a time when communication and connection are so important, I feel what better way to do that than through stories,” said cricketer Rahul Dravid, who read Part 17 of the story, divided into 18 parts.

Politician Shashi Tharoor, who read Part 1, said the story was one of his favorites from childhood. “It is the extraordinary sense of human love crossing all boundaries.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who read Part 3, said: “The story tells so much about human relationships and the emotions behind them, and what time, and the passage of time does to human relationships.”

Writer and scientist Raji Pillai, the only Indian American involved in the project, tweeted: “What an incredible honor to read with this group. A Kabuliwallah of sorts, 10,000 miles away from you in California, I keep you all in my heart.”

She quoted the opening lines of the song, ‘Ai mere pyaare vatan’ from the 1961 film, ‘Kabuliwallah.’ “Oh my beloved homeland, oh my lost garden, my heart is yours.”

'Kabuliwallah,' written by Tagore in 1892, is about a dry fruit seller from Kabul who comes to Calcutta to sell his wares. He befriends Mini, a five-year-old girl from an upper-class family. The story has been made into popular films in both Hindi and Bengali and is one of the best known of Tagore’s stories.

Other celebrities joining the initiative include: comedian Aditi Mittal, journalist Barkha Dutt, writer Chetan Bhagat, and fashion designer Sabyasachi, among others.

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