Tag Archives: penguin

BOOK REVIEW: ‘SHIKHANDI … And Other Tales they don’t tell you’ by Devdutt Pattanaik

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Copyright@shravancharitymission

‘SHIKHANDI … and other tales they don’t tell you,’ by Devdutt Pattanaik.

The subject title was published in the year 2014 by Zubaan in collaboration with Penguin Books. The price of the book is Rs 299. Although, I had heard about this book some time ago I had not read it. I took the book to hand only recently. It comprises of some 176 pages.

    The book deals with the discovery or Invention of Queerness. There are different types of people in the world with different types of physiology. There are races, religions, communities who define queerness in their own peculiar manner. Before planning to write this book I’m sure the author must have done a great deal of homework. He must have studied various communities, races and religions to spin out the content of this particular book. I find a growing trend in some publishers these days where they place the name of the author more prominently on the cover page, and in bigger fonts, than the title of the book which only goes to show that the publisher has more confidence on the brand of the author on account of his or her accumulated titles than the subject book’s content. But this obviously comes after the author has made a mark for himself. Is this one such case I wonder?

    The subject title was published in the year 2014 by Zubaan in collaboration with Penguin Books. The price of the book is Rs 299. Although, I had heard about this book some time ago I had not read it. I took the book to hand only recently. It comprises of some 176 pages.

    The author has made a few daring attempts in the book to put Hindu Gods and Godesses in utter starkness that makes them look frivolous which the author could have avoided. And that also gives one a feeling that the intention behind that act of God is not comprehensively understood or narrowly missed by the author well enough, even when, he has gone through Hindu texts, and some fifty-four select bibliographies that he mentions in the book. The author runs all over. From queerness to hijras, cross-dressers, Gods, mythology and the short stories therein, and then finally it appears as if the author has lost direction. Where, one starts missing the central theme of the book, but was it even there one wonders. In some pages, one wonders, if it is just a collection and free-fall of short stories which is not what the book was intended to be.  Even the emotions of characters are not elaborately emoted. The author goes on to say that India is an agricultural community and so it was common to see women as mere fields with men as the farmers who sow seeds.

    The author has captured the content of this book in thirty chapters mostly out of Hindu mythology—Mahabharat, Ramayan including South Indian and other religious texts such as Purans, Bible and Greek mythology. The author builds the content of queerness on the premise that—Patriarchy asserts men are superior to women. Feminism clarifies women and men are equal. Queerness questions what constitutes male and female.    Queerness isn’t just modern, Western or sexual, says mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik. Take a close look at the vast written and oral traditions in Hinduism, some over two thousand years old, and you will find many overlooked tales, such as those of Shikhandi, who became a man to satisfy her wife being put under a cover. Playful and touching—and sometimes even disturbing—these stories, when compared with their Mesopotamian, Greek, Chinese and Biblical counterparts, reveal the unique Indian way of making sense of queerness. Net-net the book is about the queer retelling of, Indian myths, by the author. But I also have a different take on this book.

    The book would have been more powerful had ‘Queerness’ not been the title or the central theme of the book. For it is dominated more by short stories where queerness spins out as a by-product. And the stories needed to be presented with more of a foreground and background. Author ne dil khol ke nahin likha hai yeh kitab. He has tried to stuff in a lot of content in very few pages and therefore the book doesn’t impact you.

  I would give the book six out of ten.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

MIRAGE

(Published in February 2020. The book is a collection of eight short stories. It is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Notion Press)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

BOOK REVIEW: NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    This is a book by teenager climate activist Greta Thunberg, published on 30 May 2019. It consists of a collection of eleven speeches which she has written and orated about global warming and climate crisis.

    Greta Thunberg, born in 2003, August, one day decided not to go to school. Instead, she started to strike outside the Swedish Parliament. Her actions sparked off a global movement on climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike to save our planet. This helped her earning the prestigious Prix Liberte, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Greta has Asperger’s syndrome (a developmental disorder characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests). She considers it a gift that has enabled her to see the climate crisis ‘in black and white.’

    ‘No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference is Greta’s first book in English, a collection of her speeches from climate rallies across Europe to audiences at the UN, the World Economic Forum, and the British Parliament. Her next book, ‘Scenes from the Heart’ is a memoir, jointly written with her mother, the opera singer, Malena Ernman, her sister Beata Ernman, and her father Svante Thurnberg.

    The subject book is by Penguin. In all 68 pages. In her speeches she makes some very relevant points that are as follows:

  • When school started in August this year I decided enough is enough. I sat on the ground outside the Swedish Parliament. I school-striked for the climate.
  • Climate scientist Johan Rockstrom and some other people wrote that we have at most three years to reverse growth in greenhouse –gas emissions if we were to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement. Since then over a year and two months have already passed, and in that time many other scientists have said the same thing. Since then a lot of things have got worse and greenhouse emissions continue to increase.
  • In Sweden we live our lives as if we had the resources of 4.2 planets. Our carbon foot-print is one of the ten worst in the world. This means Sweden steals 3.2 years of natural resources from future generations every year. Those of us who are part of these future generations would like Sweden to stop doing that. She is not shy of criticizing her own country while trying to save the planet from global warming.
  • Many people say that Sweden is a small country, and that it doesn’t matter what we do. But I think it does matter what we do. I think if a few girls can get headlines all over the world by just not going to school for a few weeks, imagine what we could do together if we wanted to.
  • Newspapers continue not to write about climate change even when they know climate is a critical question of our time.
  • Many politicians have ridiculed me and us. They have called me retarded, a bitch, a terrorist and many other things.
  • When I was eight years old, I first heard about something called climate change, or global warming. Apparently a thing human beings had created by their way of living.
  • If burning fossil fuels was so very bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn’t it made illegal?
  • Countries like Sweden, the US and UK need to start reducing emissions by at least 15 percent every year to stay below a 2 degree Celsius warming target. Now IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) say that we have to aim for 1.5 degree Celsius.
  • No one ever speaks about the aspect of equity, or climate justice, clearly stated all over in the Paris Agreement and the Kyoto Protocol, which is absolutely essential to make the Paris Agreement work on a global scale. This means rich countries need to get down to zero emissions, within six to twelve years, so that people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built, such as roads, hospitals, electricity, schools and clean drinking water. Otherwise, how can we expect countries like India or Nigeria to care about the climate crisis if we, who already have everything, don’t care even a second about it, basis our actual commitments to the Paris Agreement?
  • Why should I be studying for a future that’ll soon not be there, and moreover, when no one is doing anything whatsoever to save it?
  • Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every day. There are no policies to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.
  • According to the IPCC, we are less than twelve years away from the point of no return to disaster. There are no grey areas when it comes to survival.
  • Here in Davos—just like everywhere else—everyone is talking about money. It seems that money and growth are our only main concerns.
  • We are now at a time in history where everyone with any insight of the climate crisis that threatens our civilization and the entire biosphere must speak out. The bigger your carbon footprint—the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform—the bigger your responsibility.
  • In May 2018 I was one of the winners in a writing competition about the environment held by Svenska Dagbladet, a Swedish newspaper. I got my article published when some people contacted me, among them was Bo Thoren from Fossil Free Dalsland.
  • On the 20th August I sat down outside the Swedish Parliament. I handed out fliers with a long list of facts about the climate crisis and explanations on why I was striking. The first thing I did was to post on Twitter and Instagram what I was doing and it soon went viral. Then journalists and newspapers started arriving. A Swedish entrepreneur and businessman active in the climate movement, Ingmar Rentzhog, was among the first to arrive. He spoke with me and took pictures that he posted on facebook.
  • Many people say that we don’t have any solutions to the climate crisis. And they are right. Because how do you ‘solve’ the greatest crisis that humanity has ever faced? How do you ‘solve’ a war? How do you ‘solve’ going to the moon for the first time? How do you ‘solve’ inventing new inventions?
  • The climate crisis is both the easiest and the hardest issue mankind has ever faced.

    This is a priceless book written by a teenager activist hence I would not like to rate it. Instead, I would like to recommend the book to every citizen of the world.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

INTERESTING FACTS FIGURES & QUOTES EPISODE 25

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Burkina Faso is the least educated country of the world with a literacy rate of 21.8%. It is a landlocked country in West Africa.

William Shakespeare termed old age as the second childhood.

Maize Corn is the most produced grain in the world. Whereas, wheat covers most of the earth than any other crop.

Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and one of the largest religious monuments of the world, on a site measuring 162.6 hectares. Originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to God Vishnu for the Khmer Empire. It was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century.

Are pigs the neatest of animals in the world: Contrary to popular belief, pigs are unable to sweat; instead, they wallow in mud to cool down. Their mucky appearance gives pigs an undeserved reputation for slovenliness. In fact, pigs are some of the cleanest animals around, refusing to excrete, anywhere near their living or eating areas when given a choice.

Staple diet of America: Whether it’s roasted, baked, fried, transformed into a patty, or used in a salad, sandwich or casserole, chicken remains a major dietary staple in the United States. Americans get almost as many calories from chicken as they do from bread, according to the USDA.

There is one major difference between a ROM (that is read-only memory) and a RAM (that is random-access memory) chip: ROM can hold data without power and RAM cannot. Essentially, ROM is meant for permanent storage, and RAM is for temporary storage.

Basketball is probably the most popular indoor sports in the world.

In a disturbing trend, tigers in the country are increasingly being killed by snares, even in the core areas of the sanctuaries. In the last nine years, 24 tigers and 114 leopards have suffered slow, agonizing deaths due to these traps. Worryingly, apart from poachers, local communities are also using these wire noose snares to kill the big cats preying on their livestock.

There has been a steady increase in tiger population in the last few years. India had 2,226 tigers as per the 2014 All India Tiger Estimation. This accounts for a 60% jump in tiger population compared to 2006.

Tigers need large habitats as they have high juvenile dispersal rates. Tigers have lost more than 95% of their historical range.

“Everything is ready except the east wind,” is an ancient Chinese proverb that translates to how can everything be ready without the thing which is most crucial.

Recently, the catastrophic disappearance of emperor penguins from Antarctica made global headlines. The colony of adults and nursing chicks was among the largest in the world. It sank without a trace due to global warming, because of weakened ice collapsing on unchilling waters. The tragedy is similar to the proverbial collapse of a star caused by the death of a sparrow.

In less than sixty years Singapore has transformed from a poor developed country into one of the richest—its per capita income is now double that of Australia. Singapore will be in a class entirely of its own by 2050.

Men argue. Nature acts–VOLTAIRE, French historian and philosopher.

If you destroy a free market you create a black market—WINSTON CHURCHILL, Prime Minister of U.K.

The poetry of earth is never dead—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand—A Chinese proverb.

I want a brighter word than bright—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced—JOHN KEATS, English romantic poet.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Share it if you like it

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

LITERARY CORNER: “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by Kim A Wagner.

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about.

    Time doesn’t dilute the scars of hateful crimes. I’m pointing at the “Jallianwala Bagh” massacre, a crime perpetrated by Brigadier General Reginald Dyer. People who died in that slaughter, I’m sure, must be turning in their graves on each anniversary of the crime that was unleashed on April 13, 1919 by this devil. With that logic the victims by now must have turned at least a hundred times in their proverbial grave. But the apology from the British is yet to come. This monster, Brigadier Dyer later died on 23 July 1927. Winston Churchill called him a rotten apple simply to disavow his own responsibility.

    But then the rotten apple grew in his own backyard colony called India. General Dyer is also called, “the Butcher of Amritsar,” because of his order to fire repeatedly on a crowd of peaceful protesters. This resulted in the murder of at least 500-600 people and injuries to over a thousand more. Subsequently, Dyer was removed from duty and widely condemned both in Britain and in India. But he became a celebrated hero among some with connections to the British Raj. Some historians argue the episode was a decisive event towards the end of the British rule in India.

    Many books have been written on this particular massacre. Latest being “Jallianwala Bagh: An Empire of Fear and the Making of the Amritsar Massacre,” by historian Kim A Wagner. Wagner teaches, the history of colonial India and the British Empire at Queen Mary, University of London. He has written extensively on the subject of ‘Thuggee,’ the Indian Uprising of 1857, and resistance and colonial violence more generally in 19th and 20th century global history. The book has been published by Penguin, and the price is below Rs 500 in Amazon. Even though it has been a century since Brigadier General Reginald Dyer ordered Indian Army troops to open fire upon an unarmed crowd at Jallianwala Bagh on April 13, 1919, the memory of it is still painful for Indians. British historian Kim Wagner has taken a fresh look at the incident in this book. There are some advance praises about the book, a couple of them are as follows:

  1. “In the cautionary tale provided in Jallianwala Bagh, it is enduring racist fear that lies at the heart of precipitate violence. Analytically sharp but gripping to read, the book is a page turner.”—says Barbara D. Metcalf, Co-Author of “A Concise History of India.”
  1. In the compelling yet exacting study Kim Wagner combines the intimacy of the storyteller and the distance of the historian to evoke the “micro story” of the massacre while understanding it as the “final stage of the much longer process”, stretching back to Sepoy Uprising. Mining a variety of sources—diaries, memoirs and court testimonies—he uncovers fresh perspectives and examines the relation between colonial panic and state brutality with sophistication, sincerity and style rare in published accounts of this much-trodden ground.”–says Santanu Das, Author of, “India, Empire and First War Culture.”

    The book gives a good overview of the massacre from all corners and all stakeholders. Was Jallianwala Bagh massacre a one-off incident, as portrayed back then and even today by many? The book tries to answer that. The author feels rather than being an unprecedented event, the Amritsar massacre revealed the racialized logic of a colonial violence, and we find the exact sentiments expressed by British officers involved in the suppression of the Indian Uprising of 1857, for instance.

    An apology that describes General Dyer as a rotten apple, which is, essentially what Winston Churchill said in 1920, is not an apology at all but rather an attempt to disavow any form of responsibility in terms of the Raj and the British Empire in general.

    There is often a debate about the troops who open fired. Some say they were Gorkhas and Pathan troops. The author with his research tries to clear the air when he says. There probably were a few Sikh troops also present but we have to remember that the British at the same time did not think of the local population in communal terms. Dyer refers to the protesters simply as ‘rebels.’ The composition of the force he took with him to ‘Jallianwala Bagh’ was largely accidental.

    To a question about Indian Army veterans who had served in World War-I, being among the unfortunate crowd that got killed and injured the eyewitnesses describe how veterans called out for people to lie down to avoid being shot, so there were clearly demobilised soldiers in the crowd.

    British Empire apologists often dismiss the Indian National Congress’s findings about the tragedy and settle for government estimates to save their skin. The Indian National Congress actually estimated that 500 had been killed but that 1,000 might not be an exaggerated estimate—based on the door-to-door inquiry made by local agencies, some 540 names were found, and the author feels that somewhere between 500 to 600 were killed and, perhaps, three times that many wounded.

    As per the book it was not a pre-meditated plan. Dyer believed he was entering a war zone and was fully prepared to shoot at anyone who defied his ban on public meetings. He did not know what the layout of the city or Jallianwala Bagh was. Once he arrived at the Bagh, he did not care much about who was actually present but simply open fired without using his brains.

   There is no evidence about the 120 bodies that were recovered from the well. Eye-witnesses describe one or two people falling in it, and Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malviya thought they saw one or two bodies floating in the well, later that summer—which was nothing more than a clay-pot and some old clothes floating in the well. There was a merging of the canal feeding with the holy tank, which runs under Jallianwala Bagh, since we know that some people climbed into that to flee the bullets and that several bodies were later recovered.

    Lastly, Churchill denounced Dyer in 1920 but it was not because he found indiscriminate violence in the Empire unacceptable, but rather because Dyer’s actions made it so difficult to defend British rule in India. That is also why he was eager to depict Dyer and the massacre as ‘un-British.’

    The massacre has been portrayed in several movies, starting with Attenborough’s Gandhi. But author Kim Wagner thinks none of them make more impact than re-enact the set of visual tropes first deployed by Attenborough. There is almost a checklist of recurrent motifs, including Dyer ordering his troops to fire, and people throwing themselves into the well or getting crushed against a locked gate, crying kids sitting next to their dead parents. To break new ground in this respect would require a break from these filmic conventions.

    Jallianwalla Bagh is often the least talked about episode in the British circles but yes to an extent or rather to quite an extent during the trial it helped in understanding the British colonial policy. The Hunter Commission was set up partly to assuage moderate Indian nationalists and Montagu, the Secretary of State for India, never expected it to reveal the things it did. The fact that this was such a large inquiry, which elicited so much evidence, not least Dyer’s own testimony, means that this was probably the best-recorded colonial atrocity within the British Empire up till that point.

    Well if you’re interested in history and the sad chapters of Indian history this book is for you. Well written and great in detailing and largely unbiased barring certain chapters where you get some eerie feeling it sails through in the Indian Ocean without turbulence. A historians prime job is to lay down history in proper perspective where the author I think has not failed. I would give the book seven out of ten.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

*

https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

*

Share it if you like it

*

Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Our posts are meant for our readers that includes both children and adults and it has a huge variety in terms of content. We also accept donations for our mission. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

*

Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

RHYTHM … in poems

(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

*****

 

 

 

ANATH BABU’S TERROR by Satyajit Ray

Copyright@shravancharitymission

ANATH BABU’S TERROR

Satyajit Ray

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Initiative—

This is only an attempt to create interest in reading. We may not get the time to read all the books in our lifetime. But such reviews, talk and synopsis will at least convey what the book is all about

 

    Who doesn’t know Satyajit Ray. The famous ‘Oscar’ fame film director from Tollygange and even Bollywood. Some may not know he was also a great writer. This short story of his ‘Anath Babu’s Terror’ was published earlier in one of his story collections of a dozen stories originally written in Bengali as ‘Ek Dojon Goppo.’ 

     The story was subsequently published in English under a Penguin title edited by Ruskin Bond as ‘The Penguin Book of Indian Ghost Stories’ in the year 1993.

SYNOPSIS

        ‘Anath babu’s terror’ is tale of a ghost hunter’s dare into a haunted house. The narrator, while going on a holiday to write in peace to Raghunathpur, meets Anath Babu in the train. The person appears eccentric and strange and is quite oddly and traditionally dressed. The narrator meets him again in Raghunathpur and discovers he is interested in strange and esoteric things and has travelled from one end of India to the other in search of authentic ghosts. He has spent all his life gathering information about life after death, spirits, vampires, draculas, werevolves, black magic, voodoo and the works. He has spent twenty-five years living in haunted houses, dak bungalows, and indigo cottages. Soon he comes to know about a haunted house, where the body of a Haldar who had been found lying dead on the floor, stone cold, with eyes open and staring at the ceiling.
He tells the narrator that he has decided to spend a night in the west room, the most haunted room of the house. But before that he and the narrator go to investigate the house, where Anath Babu can smell a spirit lurking in the house. The next day the narrator is unable to concentrate on his work and so he goes to meet Anath Babu, to investigate about his ghostly experience. When, the writer asks him about last night. He doesn’t answer, and on the contrary he asks the narrator to go to the west room, to get his answer. The narrator does so and when his eyes fell on the floor, a sudden creep, a wave of horror swept over him. He found Anath Babu lying on the floor, stiff and stone cold, staring at the ceiling with a look of horror in his eyes! When, he tried to run. He found Anath Babu in the passage outside laughing raucously, and his voice was drowning him in it, and also paralysing his senses! Later the narrator finds himself in his house, and his friend telling him about Anath Babu’s dead body in the mansion.

    FULL STORY

    The story is spine chilling and will grip you all over. Sitesh Babu, sick and tired of a long drift at work thinks of taking a break. He works for one of the dailies in Calcutta. Writing indeed was his hobby. He had a couple of short stories that needed further focus. For which he needed a peaceful surrounding to iron out his thoughts. So he applies for ten days leave to visit a quiet place where he could complete his stories. And, decides to head for Raghunathpur.

  But then there was a reason for his choosing Raghunathpur. Where, an old college mate of his, Biren Biswas, had his ancestral home. And while they were chatting in the coffee house one evening, talking of possible places where one could spend one’s holiday. Sitesh told Biren that he had applied for leave. To, complete his book. For which he was looking for a quiet place so that he could concentrate. Biren was spontaneous in offering him free accommodation at his home in Raghunathpur. He even said, ‘I would have gone with you, but you know how tied up I am at the moment. But you won’t have any problems as Bharadwaj will look after you. ‘He’s worked for our family for fifty years.’ Thus Sitesh decided to visit Raghunathpur. Where, on his way in the train he met Anath Babu. Sitesh just had a suitcase and that too was filled with a packet of writing paper.

    The coach was packed. Anathbandhu Mitra happened to be sitting right next to Sitesh. About fifty years of age. Not, very tall. Hair parted in the middle with a sharp look in his eyes and an amused smile playing on his lips. He appeared to have dressed for a part in a play set some fifty years ago. For no one these days wore a jacket like that, nor such collars, or glasses, or boots.

    They began to chat. It turned out that Anath Babu, too, was going to Raghunathpur. ‘Are you also going on a holiday?’ Sitesh asked him. But he did not answer and seemed to grow a little pensive. Or it may be he had failed to hear Sitesh’s question in the racket the train was making.

    The sight of Biren’s house pleased Sitesh very much. It was a nice house. With a strip of land in front that had both vegetables and flowers growing in it. There were no other houses nearby. So the possibility of being disturbed by the neighbours was non-existent.

    Despite, protests from Bharadwaj. Sitesh chose the room in the attic for himself. It was an airy little room, comfortable and totally private. He moved his things upstairs and began to unpack. It was then that he realised he had left his razor blades behind. ‘Never mind,’ said Bhardwaj, ‘Kundu Babu’s shop is only five minute walk from here. You’ll get your “bilades” there.’

    He left for the shop, soon after tea, at around 4 p.m. It appeared that the place was used more or less like a club. About seven middle-aged men were seated inside on wooden benches, chatting away to glory. One of them was saying rather agitatedly, ‘Well, it’s not something I have only heard about. I saw the whole thing with my own eyes. All right, so it happened thirty years ago. But that kind of thing cannot get wiped out from one’s memory, can it? I shall never forget what happened, especially since Haladhar Datta was a close friend of mine. In fact, even now I can’t help feeling partly responsible for his death.’

    Sitesh bought a packet of 7 O’clock blades. Then he began to loiter, looking at things he didn’t really need. The gentlemen continued, ‘Just imagine, my own friend laid a bet with me for just ten rupees and went to spend a night in that west room. I waited for a long time the next morning for him to turn up; but when he didn’t, I went with Jiten Bakshi, Haricharan Saha and a few others to look for him in the Haldar mansion. And we found him in the same room—lying dead on the floor, stone cold, eyes open and staring at the ceiling. The naked fear I saw in those eyes could only mean one thing, I tell you: ghosts. There was no injury on his person, no sign of snake-bite or anything like that. So what else could have killed him but a ghost? You tell me?’

    Another five minutes in the shop gave Sitesh a rough idea of what they were talking about. There was, apparently, a two-hundred-year-old mansion in the southern corner of Raghunathpur, which had once been owned by the Haldars, the local zamindars. It had lain abandoned for years now. A particular room in this mansion that faced the west was supposed to be haunted.

    Although in the last thirty years no one had dared to spend a night in it after the death of Haladhar Datta. The residents of Raghunathpur still felt a certain thrill thinking of the unhappy spirit that haunted the room. The reason behind this belief was both the mysterious death of Haladhar Datta, and many other instances of murders and suicides in the history of the Haldar family.

    Intrigued by this conversation, Sitesh came out of the shop only to find Anathbandhu Mitra, the gentlemen he had met in the train, standing outside, with a smile on his lips.

    ‘Did you hear what they were saying?’ he asked.

    ‘Yes I couldn’t help it.’

    ‘Do you believe in it?’

    ‘In what? Ghosts?

    ‘Yes.”

    ‘Well, you see, I have heard of haunted houses often enough. But never have I met anyone who has actually stayed in one and seen anything. So I don’t quite …’

    Anath Babu’s smile deepened.

    Would you like to see it? He said.

    ‘What?’

    ‘That house.’

    ‘See? How do you mean?’

    ‘Only from the outside. It’s not very far from here. A mile, at the most. If you go straight down this road, past the twin temples and then turn right, it’s only a quarter of a mile from there.’

    The man seemed interesting. Besides, there was no need to get back home quite so soon. So, Sitesh left with him.

*

    The Haldar mansion was not easily visible. Most of it was covered by a thick growth of wild plants and creepers. It was only the top of the gate that towered above everything else and could be seen a good ten minutes before one reached the house. The gate was really huge. The mahabatkhana over it was in shambles. A long drive led to the front veranda. A couple of statues and the remains of a fountain told us that there used to be a garden in the space between the house and the gate. The house was strangely structured. There was absolutely nothing in it that could have met even the lowest of aesthetic standards. The whole thing seemed only a shapeless heap. The last rays of the setting sun fell on its mossy walls.

    Anath Babu stared at it for a minute. Then he said, ‘As far as I know, ghosts and spirits don’t come out in daylight. Why don’t we,’ he added, winking, ‘go and take a look at that room?’

    ‘That west room? The one …?’

    ‘Yes. The one in which Haladhar Datta died.”

    The man’s interest in the matter seemed a bit exaggerated.

    Anath Babu read Sitesh’s mind.

    ‘I can see you surprised. Well, I don’t mind telling you the truth. The only reason behind my arrival in Raghunathpur is this house.’

    ‘Really?’

     ‘Yes, I had learnt in Calcutta that the house was haunted. I came all the way to see if I could catch a glimpse of the ghost. You asked me on the train why I was coming here. I didn’t reply, which must have appeared rude. But I had decided to wait until I got to know you a little better before telling you.’

    ‘But why did you have to come all the way from Calcutta to chase a ghost?’

    ‘I’ll explain that in a minute. I haven’t yet told you about my profession. Have I? The fact is that I am an authority on ghosts and all things supernatural. I have spent the last twenty five years doing research in this area. I have read everything that’s ever been published on life after death, spirits that haunt the earth, vampires, werewolves, black magic, voodoo—the lot. I had to learn seven different languages to do this. There is a Professor Norton in London who has similar interest. I have been in correspondence with him over the last three years. My articles have been published in well known magazines in Britain. I don’t wish to sound boastful, but I think it would be fair to say that no one in this country has as much knowledge about these things as I do.’

    Anath Babu spoke very sincerely. The thought that he might be telling lies or exaggerating things did not cross Sitesh Babu’s mind at all. On the contrary, Sitesh found it quite easy to believe what Anath Babu told him and his respect for the man only grew.

    After a few moments of silence, Anath said, ‘I have stayed in at least three hundred haunted houses all over the country.’

    ‘Goodness!’

    ‘Yes. In places like Jabalpur, Cherrapunji, Kanthi, Katoa, Jodhpur, Azimganj, Hazaribagh, Shiuri, Barasat … and so many others. I’ve stayed in fifty-six dak-bungalows, and at least thirty neel kuthis. Besides these, there are about fifty haunted houses in Calcutta and its suburbs where I’ve spent my nights. But …,’

    Anath Babu stopped. Then he shook his head and said. ‘The ghosts have eluded me. Perhaps they like to visit only those who don’t want to have anything to do with them. I have been disappointed time and again. Only once did I feel the presence of something strange in an old building in Tiruchirapalli near Madras. It used to be a club during British times. Do you know what happened? The room was dark and there was no breeze at all. Yet, each time I tried to light a candle, someone—or something—kept snuffing it out. I had to waste twelve matchsticks. However, with the thirteenth I did manage to light the candle; but, as soon as it was lit, the spirit vanished. Once in a house in Calcutta, too, I had a rather interesting experience. I was sitting in a dark room as usual, waiting for something to happen, when I suddenly felt a mosquito bite my scalp! Quite taken aback, I felt my head and discovered that every single strand of my hair had disappeared. I was totally bald! Was it really my own head? Or had I felt someone else’s? But no, the mosquito bite was real enough. I switched on my torch quickly and peered into the mirror. All my hair was intact. There was no sign of baldness.

    ‘These were the only two slightly queer experiences I’ve had in all these years. I had given up all hope of finding anything anywhere. But, recently, I happened to read in an old magazine about this house in Raghunathpur. So I thought I’d come and try my luck for the last time.’

    They had reached the front door by now. Anath Babu looked at his watch and said, ‘This sun sets today at 5.31 p.m. It’s now 5.15. Let’s go and take a quick look before it gets dark.’

    Perhaps Anath Babu’s interest in the supernatural was infectious. Basis which Sitesh Babu readily accepted his proposal. And like Anath even Sitesh was eager to see the inside of the house and that room in particular.

    They walked in through the front door. There was a huge courtyard and that looked like a stage. It must have been used for pujas and other festivals. There was no sign now of the joy and the laughter it once must have witnessed.

    There were verandas, around the courtyard. To their right, lay a broken palanquin, and beyond it was a staircase going up.

    It was so dark on the staircase that Anath Babu had to take a torch out of his pocket and switch it on. They had to demolish an invisible wall of cobwebs to make their way. When, they finally reached the first floor. Sitesh thought to himself, ‘if it wouldn’t be surprising at all if this house did turn out to be haunted.’

    They stood in the passage and made some rough calculations. The room on their left must have been the famous west room, they decided. Anath Babu said, ‘Let’s not waste any time. Come with me.’

    There was only one thing in the passage: a grandfather clock. Its glass was broken, one of its hands was missing and the pendulum lay to one side.

    The door to the west room was closed. Anath Babu pushed it gently with his forefinger. A nameless fear gave Sitesh goose-pimples. The door swung open.

    But the room revealed nothing unusual. It may have been a living-room once. There was a big table in the middle with a missing top. Only the four legs stood upright. An easy chair stood near the window, although sitting in it now would not be very easy as it had lost one of its arms and a portion of its seat.

    Sitesh glanced up and saw that bits and pieces of an old-fashioned, hand-pulled fan still hung from the ceiling. It didn’t have a rope, the wooden bar was broken and its main body torn.

    Apart from these objects, the room had a shelf that must once have held rifles, a pipeless hookah, and two ordinary chairs, also with broken arms.

    Anath Babu appeared to be deep in thought. After a while, he said, ‘Can you smell something?’

    ‘Smell what?’

    ‘Incense, oil and burning flesh … all mixed together …’ Sitesh inhaled deeply, but could smell nothing beyond the usual musty smell that came from a room that had been kept shut for a long time.

    So he said, ‘Why, no, I don’t think I can …’

    Anath Babu did not say anything. Then, suddenly, he struck his left hand with his right and exclaimed, ‘God! I know this smell well! There is bound to be a spirit lurking about in this house, though whether or not he’ll make an appearance remains to be seen. Let’s go!’

     Anath Babu decided to spend the following night in Haldhar mansion. On our way back, he said, ‘I won’t go tonight because tomorrow is a moonless night, the best possible time for ghosts and spirits to come out. Besides, I need a few things which I haven’t got with me today. I’ll bring those tomorrow. Today I came only to make a survey.’

    Before they parted company near Biren’s house, Anath lowered his voice and said, ‘Please don’t tell anyone else about my plan. From what I heard today, people here are so superstitious and easily frightened that they might actually try to stop me from going in if they came to know of my intention. And, ‘he added, ‘please don’t mind that I didn’t ask you to join me. One has to be alone, you see, for something like this …’

    Sitesh sat down the next day to write, but could not concentrate. His mind kept going back to the west room in that mansion. God knows what kind of experience awaited Anath Babu. He could not help feeling a little restless and anxious.

    He accompanied Anath Babu in the evening, right up to the gate of the Halder mansion. He was wearing a black high-necked jacket today. From his shoulder hung a flask and, in his hand, he carried the same torch he had used the day before. He took out a couple of small bottles from his pocket before going into the house. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘this one has a special oil, made with my own formula. It is an excellent mosquito repellent. And this one here has carbolic acid in it. If I spread it in and around the room, I’ll be safe from snakes.’

    He put the bottles back in his pocket, raised the torch and touched his head with it. Then he waved Sitesh a final salute and walked in, his heavy boots clicking on the gravel.

    Sitesh could not sleep well that night.

*

    As the dawn broke, Sitesh told Bharadwaj to fill a thermos flask with enough tea for two. When the flask arrived, he left once more for Halder mansion.

    No one was about. Should I call out to Anath Babu, or should I go straight up to the west room? He stood debating, when a voice  said ‘Here—this way!’

    Anath Babu was coming out of the little jingle of wild plants from the eastern side of the house, with a neem twig in his hand. He certainly did not look like a man who might have had an unnatural or horrific experience the night before.

    He grinned broadly as he came closer.

    ‘I had to search for about half an hour before I could find a neem tree. I prefer this to a toothbrush, you see.’ Said Anath.

    Sitesh felt hesitant to ask him about the previous night.

    ‘I brought some tea,’ Sitesh said instead and added, ‘would you like some here, or would you rather go home?’

    ‘Oh, come along. Let’s sit by that fountain.’ He replied.

    Anath Babu took a long sip of his tea and said, ‘Aaah!’ with great relish. Then he turned to Sitesh and said with a twinkle in his eye, ‘You’re dying to know what happened, aren’t you?’

    ‘Yes I mean … yes, a little …’

    ‘All right. I promise to tell all. But let me tell you one thing right away—the whole expedition was highly successful!’

    Anath poured himself a second mug of tea and began his tale:

    ‘It was 5 p.m. when you left me here. I looked around for a bit before going into the house. One has to be careful, you know. There are times when animals and other living beings can cause more harm than ghosts. But I didn’t find anything dangerous.

    Then I went in and looked into the rooms in the ground floor that were open. None had any furniture left. All I could find was some old rubbish in one and a few bats hanging from the ceiling in another. They didn’t budge as I went in, so I came out again without disturbing them.

    I went upstairs at around 6.30 p.m. and began making preparations for the night. I had taken a duster with me. The first thing I did was to dust that easy chair. Heaven knows how long it had lain there.

    The room felt stuffy, so I opened the window. The door to the passage was also left open, just in case Mr Ghost wished to make his entry through it. Then I placed the flask and the torch on the floor and lay down on the easy chair. It was quite uncomfortable but, having spent many a night before under far more weird circumstances, I did not mind.

    The sun had set at 5.30. It grew dark quite soon. And that smell grew stronger. I don’t usually get worked up, but I must admit last might I felt a strange excitement.

    Gradually, the jackals in the distance stopped their chorus, and the crickets fell silent. I cannot tell when I fell asleep.

    I was awoken by a noise. It was the noise of a clock striking midnight. A deep, yet melodious chime came from the passage.

    Now, fully awake, I noticed two other things—first, I was lying quite comfortably in the easy chair. The torn portion wasn’t torn anymore, and someone had tucked in a cushion behind my back. Secondly, a brand new fan hung over my head; a long rope from it went out to the passage and an unseen hand was pulling it gently.

    I was staring at these things and enjoying them thoroughly, is when I realised from somewhere in the moonless night that a full moon had appeared. The room was flooded with bright moonlight. Then the aroma of something totally unexpected hit my nostrils. I turned and found a hookah by my side, the rich smell of the best quality tobacco filling the room.’

    Anath Babu stopped. Then he smiled and said, ‘Quite a pleasant situation, wouldn’t you agree?’

    Sitesh said, ‘Yes, indeed. So you spent the rest of the night pretty comfortably, did you?’

    At this, Anath Babu suddenly grew grave and sunk into a deep silence. Sitesh waited for him to resume speaking, but when he didn’t he turned impatient. ‘Do you mean to say, ‘he asked, ‘that you really didn’t have any reason to feel frightened? You didn’t see a ghost, after all?’

    Anath Babu looked at Sitesh. But there was not even the slightest trace of a smile on his lips. His voice sounded hoarse as he asked, ‘When you went into the room the day before yesterday, did you happen to look carefully at the ceiling?’

    ‘No I don’t think I did. Why?’

    ‘There is something rather special about it. I cannot tell you the rest of my story without showing it to you. Come, let’s go in.’

    They began climbing the dark staircase again. On their way to the first floor, Anath babu said only one thing: ‘I will not have to chase ghosts again, Sitesh Babu. Never. I have finished with them.’

    Sitesh looked at the grandfather clock in the passage. It stood just as it had done two days ago.

    They stopped in front of the west room. ‘Go in,’ said Anath Babu. The door was closed. Sitesh pushed it open and went in. Then his eyes fell on the floor, and a wave of horror swept over him.

    Who was lying on the floor, heavy boots on his feet? And whose laughter was that, loud and raucous, coming from the passage outside, echoing through every corner of the Haldar mansion?

    Drowning Sitesh in it, paralysing his senses his mind …? could it be …?

    He could think no more.

*

    When Sitesh opened his eyes, he found Bharadwaj standing at the foot of his bed, and Bhabatosh Majumdar fanning him furiously. ‘Oh, thank goodness you’ve come round! ‘if Sidhucharan hadn’t seen you go into that house, heaven knows what might have happened. Why on earth did you go there anyway?’

    Sitesh could only mutter faintly, ‘Last night, Anath Babu …’

    Bhabatosh Babu cut him short, ‘Anath Babu! It’s too late now to do anything about him. Obviously, he didn’t believe a word of what I said the other day. Thank God you didn’t go with him to spend the night in that room. You saw what happened to him, didn’t you? Exactly the same thing happened to Haladhar Datta all those years ago. Lying on the floor, cold and stiff, the same look of horror in his eyes, staring at the ceiling.’

    Sitesh thought quietly to myself, ‘No, he’s not lying there cold and stiff. I know what’s become of Anath Babu after his death. I might find him, even tomorrow morning, perhaps, if I bothered to go back. There he would be—wearing a black jacket and heavy boots, coming out of the jungle in the Haldhar mansion, neem twig in his hand grinning from ear to ear.’

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi

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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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BOOKISH VIEW: SUPERSTAR INDIA–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–SHOBHAA DE

Copyright@shravancharitymission

Khidki (Window)

–Read India Read initiative–

TITLE: SUPERSTAR INDIA

–FROM INCREDIBLE TO UNSTOPPABLE–

SHOBHAA DE

PUBLISHED BY PENGUIN IN 2008– 456 pages 

Abridged for a quick read

 

    The book is full of masala … quite like the proverbial Bhanmati ka pitara—the wonder casket. It seems, whatever, dawned her mind and heart. She just penned it down—so in many ways she has opened her heart. Shobhaa is, as old as independent India. So, she runs through India keeping that in mind, in her flamboyant narrative style. But the content is quite scattered and even skewed at places. In fact any regular gazer of a newspaper or a periodical may find a great amount of familiarity with the content. So, while reading the book the reader might just start reminiscing, where he or she had read it earlier. As ‘SUPERSTAR INDIA’ is not some deeply treasured secret in this day and age of internet, driven by search engines, and the aggressive paper and electronic media. So a lot of it seems to be a lift-off from there. True enough. The book is well styled, well ornamented, orotund, and is quite generous. With the munificent usage of ‘within-the-brackets’ that simplifies or elaborates the meaning of many of its subtle sentences—her aristocratic and well born writing style—I guess. Also, in galore there are ellipses and punctuation marks. The narration is loudly verbose but with sound construct of sentences, of course to zenith the literary astuteness. In a nutshell it is a good detailing of, the already circulating India’s contemporary and ancient history of those times, in a monotonous and drowsy speed and style. Where, she could have sharpened the content by not leaving it open ended and maybe with some sub-chapters and even span breakers.

    Nevertheless, the book also has some latent strengths, within the long spans of boredom. She is indeed very bold and doesn’t spare anyone which is plus point. She brings in a wide range of topics. But it doesn’t tie up all to well, to derive any lessons of life. So an average reader may not find it very interesting. Especially, if he has mistook the book for an interesting stretched out story. Although the title of the book is SUPERSTAR INDIA. But in reality she is more critical than appreciative about her. Where, I’m forced to think. As to why did Shobhaa think of writing this book at all? It remains a mystery to me. Did she want to criticize the West? Or did she want to praise India. Down the line she also criticizes Indian men to raise the flag of Indian women? She praises India only when she compares her with the Western World. Otherwise, she is critical about her most of the times.

    She starts off well with her visit to Agra but then she goes all over the place after some sixty odd pages. Where, she covers personalities, political system, Indian beliefs, Hollywood, Bollywood, the Mayawatis and the ilks, schedule caste and tribe in great detail. 

    She downloads most of what she knows about India. But then it does not add up to a formidable plot. No doubt she throws her heart out, by being abusive, frank and quite unbothered. But all of that doesn’t churn into an interesting read. Let’s not forget the acid test of any book is the impact it leaves behind after you’ve completed it. She has flagged some great facts and some interesting points as mentioned below:

    People still correlate Bollywood with old songs and not the new ones/She appreciates India here and there, but also criticizes her, no end. But when she compares India with the western world she begins to praise her/Describes how India is evolving sexually/Talks about Indian realities/Promotes the Taj Mahal/Paints a picture of Indian hospitality/Book satisfies the Indian ego but only partially. As it even magnifies the chinks of Indian civilzation/Reveals many hidden facts about Indian Corporate Inc/Facts about foreign citizens of Indian origin … like Zubin Mehta and Laxmi Narain Mittal to name a few/India’s great culture of sacrifice/She sounds like an American Born Confused Desi (ABCD) herself. When she makes fun of Indians when it comes to their age old customs and habits/Her views are quite clear about how we treat our elders/describes an Indian family life/ She also talks of metro cities and its cultures but doesn’t go so much in detail about the rural areas barring the established religious and social practices/Indian weddings including destination weddings/Intermittently even speaks of her family/Talks about big brother America and page 3 culture/At quite a few places it is India versus the Western world/Talks of Indian spices in the US/Talks of Indians being superior in many ways where she builds the tempo in certain pages/Very vividly she describes the contemporary lifestyle  of the Indian megapolis/Indian shamelessness while defecating in the open/She even errs out to see love making in Bombay chawls/Bathroom habits/Death rituals/Bombay municipal corporation/Describes Indians as sex machines/Writes quite bluntly about sex/Talks about ‘nazar’—the evil eye. And calls herself a firm believer of that/She even talks of death rituals/ She is very bold and doesn’t spare anyone—is what I liked about the book/She is descriptive but doesn’t connect the dotted lines/ She describes the lives in China and Pakistan quite well.

 Some catchy lines from the book

    ‘When all hell fails, we pull out Gandhi. The Mahatma has saved India’s ass in more ways than one. If he only knew how frequently and arbitrarily we use the Gandhi trick to impress outsiders.’

    ‘Most Indians are like elastic bands, ready to stretch themselves or shrink, depending on circumstances.’

    ‘Adjust’ is a favourite word in India, and is used across the board, even by those who barely speak intelligible English.’

    ‘The trouble is Indians aren’t used to being prosperous. We are more comfortable dealing with poverty—after all, poverty is a staple here, and has been for centuries.’

    Well … if you have the glorious time and patience pick it up.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases especially cancer. Should you wish to donate for the cause. The bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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Shravan Charity Mission is an NGO that works for poor children suffering from life threatening diseases. Should you wish to donate for the cause the bank details are given below:

NAME OF ACCOUNT: SHRAVAN CHARITY MISSION

Account no: 680510110004635 (BANK OF INDIA)

IFSC code: BKID0006805

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Our publications

GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE

(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)  

ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY

(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)

AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES

(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)

REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD

(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)

TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN

(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha

(ALL THE ABOVE TITLES ARE AVAILABLE FOR SALE IN AMAZON, FLIPKART AND OTHER ONLINE STORES OR YOU COULD EVEN WRITE TO US FOR A COPY)

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