If you thought Kamasutra represents ancient Indian erotic literature, read this book to know that it is just a small speck in the spectrum of Erotica in Indian literature that has its beginnings right in the Rig Veda and is found in as much abundance in the folk literature around the country.
60+ pieces, excerpts, stories and poems from plethora of Indian literature, a lot of which I did not even know existed makes it quite an erotic reading – pun intended. I wonder how the authors put together such a vast collection of literature – how many they would have surfed and how many they would have read. They introduce each piece by telling a bit about the author, the time period in which he or she lived, the context where relevant, contemporary works, language and Continue reading
23 women writers of Indian subcontinent origin share their writing journeys – more precisely trying to answer – why do they write, when was it they wrote for the first time and of course the influences that went into writing. There seems to be a question on writing routine as they have all randomly tried to answer that.
What struck me the most in the book is the homogeneity that these 23 women share even when they come from diverse backgrounds. Each of them seems to be inspired by Virginia Woolf. At some point while reading I felt but for Virginia Woolf may be we would not had any of these women writers and I am not sure if that would have been a good thing or a bad thing. I have read a few of these writers and have liked Namita Devidayal and Tania James stories and I liked their pieces in the book intuitively. Most of these women took to writing to deal with their loneliness that came with leaving a job to take care of family or Continue reading
Malavikagnimitram is one of the earliest works of Kalidasa and critical analyst have always called it a bit raw and those who are good with words say that you must read it to know the growth of the poet, dramatist and author Kalidasa. I may have read bits and pieces of his works in school, but never got to read him in detail though I have all his works in original Sanskrit along with the translations in Hindi. I think I have been putting away reading that giant book for amount of time and concentration it requires. When you read the original in the language that you understand in minutest of nuances, you tend to get lost in the multiplicity of meanings thereof.
So when this small little book came to me, I read it as soon as possible to at least get started on that path. Translator – who in my opinion re-writes the book in his own way, talks about Kalidasa and his works in the beginning. He gives a context for the play and talks about Continue reading
Bahar Dutt – an animal lover and an environmental journalist talks about her various expeditions across India and a couple of them outside India to brings out the damage we are doing to the environment, ignoring the integral food chains that run through them – all in the name of development. Not to forget the displacement of people who inhabit in these places and for whom the forest are a part of their lives and not just a statistic like the urban dwellers.
In 10 stories that span from Delhi to valley of Chambal, to beaches of Goa, to Himalayan ranges of North East India and to Gangotri glacier she tells the story of her following a story for her television show. She talks about her own situation, she talks about the journey, she talks about the not so well known species of animals that usually do not make it to the endangered list and hence get no protection, she talks about Continue reading
I met Amitav Ghosh in Hyderabad at the launch of River of Smoke, the sequel to this book and I remember him talking in detail about the opium trade, as if that was all that the entire world was bothered about for the longest time. He claimed that Europeans came to India more for opium than any other thing. I believe he has centered his Ibis trilogy on the Opium wars of mid 19th CE and that’s all he was focused on.
This is an extremely well researched novel based on many different accounts of various aspects of the Opium trade in India. Set in 1838, it has characters from villages in what is now eastern UP, port in Calcutta and a ship that has come here to take coolies to black waters or island of Mauritius. This book is about the journey of various people who will get on board a ship called Ibis that leaves Calcutta. There is a bhojpuri speaking woman from a village on the banks of Ganga Continue reading
24 women writers talk about being married – to be precise why they still continued to be married to the man they are currently married to. All these women are American, at least by their citizenship if not ethnicity always and most of them have been married multiple times. Editors have divided the book into 4 parts – depending on the age of marriage. It begins with those ho have been married for more than 20 years to their current husbands, then those with 10+, then 5+ and then recently married ones. Initially I thought it is an easy way to classify the pieces, but as I read I realized that age of marriage has a lot to do with how women perceive it and deal with it.
First few pieces sounded very similar and I actually thought of putting the book down, but by the second section it got interesting and a wide variety of marriage confessions and adjustments coming into the picture. I admired editors for choosing wide variety of marriages Continue reading
Is it a romantic fiction or a crime thriller – is a question that I kept asking as I read the 300 odd pages of the book. There is a wild kind of romance between the two protagonists – both of who are strong people, but the love happens only in the end. The two are running after a faceless criminal and the situations and circumstances bring them together. Author has tried to set her romance in the midst of a crime / mystery thriller. Set in various continents it covers places like Kashmir, Ladakh, Tibet, London, Scotland, Mexico….though I wonder if this landscape was really needed for the plot or it was author’s familiarity with this place that brought them into the scene.
I liked the story – the unfolding of it was also nice. The constant dose of romance makes the narrative juicy when it begins to get dry. The constant tension between the protagonists has been well presented. The building up of their restrained yet passionate relationship is well done. Continue reading
Ruskin Bond would hands down top the list of most loved authors of India. His simple stories based in the surroundings of Dehradoon that he called Dehra and Mussourie take us to the quaint hills and its simple people. One is amazed at the sheer volume of work he has churned out.
In this small book, he talks about his love for books and how he discovered books and how they became his companion every time he felt lonely. The book is anecdotal, with small incidents from Bond’s life shared along with some pieces from his favorite books by his favorite authors. The book wraps up with a list of his favorite books.
Bond takes you through his childhood, his boarding school routine in Shimla and his holidays that he spent with his parents. He was born before Indian Independence, and his parents were fond of going on Shikaar. He brings out his disgust for Shikaar as a kid and how he would stay back in the guesthouse in the jungle Continue reading