Time Pieces – A Whistle-Stop tour of Ancient India, is like a quick read for those who want to know something about history but without getting too deep into it. I have always enjoyed reading books by Nayanjot Lahiri on Indian history. This book comes as a delight as most scholars end up writing for other scholars, assuming a base level of knowledge of the subject. This book makes no such assumption. It just takes you on a mini roller coaster ride to the really ancient past of India and opens 10 windows to give you glimpses of it.
In 10 carefully chosen Time Pieces, Lahiri takes us through the history of things that are important to us today like Love, Food, Environment. Yes, she uses the same lenses to tell the story of the past. In an anecdotal manner, she tells you some stories and tells you what our really distant ancestors probably did about these things. She tries to put the timeline in perspective & this always makes you feel small and irrelevant in the overall things of the universe.
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I am happy that she begins the book by talking about the journey. History is, after all, a journey into the past. It was great to learn about the journeys that humans have been taking all throughout history. And some of them recorded in places like Sanchi Stupa. I liked the threads of continuity she brings out in these 10 themes. You suddenly realize that you are a part of the ancient heritage she is talking about.
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This book for the first time brought out the biases that the author has. She leaves no opportunity to do right-wing bashing. In a book that talks about ancient times, there is no need to bring in some very temporal debates. Someone studying human history spread over thousands of years should be aware that multiples views must have existed in society all the time. We may know only those views that were documented in some form or of which we have recovered some material. I think she showed her vulnerability by unnecessarily bringing her own inclination into the picture.
Language is simple and engaging. The author has kept it absolutely jargon-free. Making it easier and less daunting for a layperson. There are ample images and illustrations to go with the story.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book. I think we need more such books that tell history like the story, that join threads on specific subjects through the ages. Books like this can convert many readers into history enthusiasts. I hope more such books are written by historians and scholars. History would become a trending subject to read.