Trees, hills and makers of India: A book shelf of contrasts (IANS Books This Week)

October 28th, 2010 - 12:48 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) Chill out with some thought-provoking books this weekend as the mercury slides.

1. Book: “Makers of Modern India”; Written by Ramachandra Guha; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.599

The book is a comprehensive chronicle of India’s political traditions and those who helped render it a definite shape. Guha sketches the journey and contributions of 19 Indians through compelling excerpts from their writings and speeches.

The book also brings to light little known aspects of major figures in Indian history like Rabindranath Tagore and Jawaharlal Nehru and resurrects forgotten personalities like Tarabai Shinde and Hamid Dalwai. These makers of modern India did not speak in one voice but their perspectives were complimentary or at times contradictory. The topics they analyse include religion, caste, gender, language, nationalism, democracy, secularism and the economy — all that is significant in the human condition.

2. Book: “Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide”; Compiled by Pradip Kishen; Published by DK Books; Priced at Rs.799

The new edition of this book introduces the green traveller to every species of tree one is likely to come across between the river and the ridge in the capital. One does not have to be a botanist to enjoy the book nor does one have to live in Delhi. And even in wet coastal cities like Mumbai and Kolkata - the field guide will help eco-watchers recognise many types of trees. The book lists 252 species of trees with short texts, at least 1,100 full blown photographs and tips on the best places to check out trees in the capital.

3. Book: “Beautiful Thing: Inside the Secret World of Mumbai Dance Bars”; Written by Sonia Falerio; Published by Penguin-India; Priced at Rs.450

The writer was a reporter in search of a story when she met Leela, a beautiful and charismatic bar dancer. Leela introduces Sonia to the underworld of Bombay’s dance bars — a world of glamorous women, fierce love, sex, violence, customers, gangsters, police, prostitutes and pimps.

When an ambitious policeman cashes in on a tide of false morality and gets Mumbai’s dance bars wiped out, Leela’s proud independence faces the greatest test. In a city where almost everyone is certain that someone, somewhere is worse off than them, she fights to survive and win.

4. Book: “Classic Ruskin Bond: Complete and Unabridged”; A compilation of six novels by Ruskin Bond; Published by Penguin-India, Priced at Rs.499

The collection of six novels sparkles with the quiet charm and humanity that are the hallmarks of Ruskin Bond’s writing. It evokes nostalgia for a time long gone by. These poignant chronicles of life in India’s hills and small towns describe the hopes and passions that capture young minds and hearts — heightening the uneasy reconciliation of dreams and destiny.

5. Book: “The Story Must Not Be Told”; Written by Kavery Nambisan; Published by Penguin Books-India; Priced at Rs.499

Simon Jesumaker, an aging widower, aspires to do something worthwhile with what remains of the circumscribed frustratingly blameless, cocooned middle-class life. His aspirations are stirred by nagging guilt about the slum next door — incongruously named “Sitara”.

The well-off residents of the colony use Sitara’s residents for menial jobs. As Simon is drawn to the inhabitants of the shanty-town, the story plunges into the heart of the slum, bringing the most unlikely individuals on the brink of collision. It is a comment on the power play between the affluent and the marginalised that marks India’s dilemma in its switch from a conventional religio-democracy to a new republic.

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