Showing posts from March, 2013

Book Review: Indira Gandhi The Final Chapter

Book: Indira Gandhi: The Final Chapter

Author: Suraj "Eskay" Sriram

Publisher: Niyogi Books

ISBN: 9788189738891 

Pages: 175

Indira Gandhi is one of the most colourful political leaders of the country and one of the few whose recognition factor has not declined with time. Therefore, even a news bit or a book about her or even remotely connected to her is bound to generate interest. This is exactly what "Indira Gandhi: The Final Chapter" by cartoonist Suraj "Eskay" Sriram aims to achieve. In the book, the author attempts to present a snapshot of the Indian political and social scene of the 1970s and 1980s through a series of well planned witty cartoons and illustrations.

The role of cartoonists cannot be undermined in a democracy which is why the foreword by Pritish Nandy states that cartoonists also work like historians through cartoons that reflect the changing times. Therefore, in Eskay's book, the cartoons and succinct text capture the paradox that Indira…

Book Review: Things Fall Apart

In 1957, Ghana became the first African country to gain independence, thus the beginning of the end of the imperialist project. As African nations found their independence through the 1960s and 1970s, it has been a disturbing time and Africa still struggles to come to terms with the scars left behind by colonial rule. Hence, in its stark simplicity and grand complexity, African writer Chinua Achebe presents his masterpiece "Things Fall Apart" that centres around the events surrounding the most disastrous chapter in African history. 

The book follows the story of Okonkwo, a village leader who becomes one of the most powerful men in Umuofia, his ancestral village. As Okonkwo attempts to rise from anonymity to recognition, he carries along with him the traditions that the village expects of him. Even though he faces hardship throughout the novel, Chinua Achebe demonstrates the cultural expectations and beliefs of this region that are complex and difficult to comprehend, but cert…

Book Review: Lord of The Flies

Book: Lord of The Flies

Author: William Golding

Pages: 225

Publisher: Faber and Faber

ISBN: 9780571245895 

The children's novel "Lord of The Flies" by the Nobel laureate William Golding, was first published in 1954. However, "Lord of The Flies" is not an average read. To begin with, it has a plane crash thus leaving a bunch of school boys stranded on an deserted island. The entire book is set temporally during an unspecified nuclear war period. 

The book then introduces us to the unlikely protagonists Ralph and his sidekick Piggy, Simon and a bunch of other school boys. Ralph is elected as the leader of the pack due to his leadership qualities and popularity with the rest of the boys. He then befriends a choir boy Jack, who is the antagonist of the story. As the story progresses further, both come to eventually detest each other's presence as days pass and Jack becomes hungry for power. At first, they revel in the freedom but soon, the boys' fragile sense of …

Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue

There is certainly a distinct charm about Mumbai and the amazing surprises it throws up at regular intervals: The Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue is one such monument. Despite being around since 1884, it is one of the unknown heritage buildings in South Mumbai. Situated behind Khyber restaurant at Kala Ghoda, the synagogue is one of the most beautiful structures around the street. The synagogue was designed by Bombay architects Gostling and Morris and were paid for by the Sassoon Family and constructed by Jacob Elias Sassoon and his brothers in memory of David Sassoon, their father. The synagogue is about fifty feet long and about forty feet in height. Today, it is maintained by the Jacob Sassoon Trust. 
The synagogue was built in the Classic Revival style and originally had Minton tile floors imported from Stoke-on-Trent in England. The decorative interiors featured Victorian stained glass windows and rich Burma teak wood furnishings and an imperials staircase. The lower part of the build…

Book Review: Heart of Darkness

Book: Heart of Darkness

Author: Joseph Conrad

Publisher: Blackwood Magazine

ISBN: 9780786158676

Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is a fascinating text that lends itself fruitfully to continued analysis over the past hundred yes. The novella was first written in 1898 and first published serially in Blackwood magazine from February to April 1899. If it is true that works of literary merit can be and should be open to endless debate and interpretation, then Heart of Darkness is certain exemplary. Little wonder then, it is considered as his most enigmatic stories.
King Leopold-II of Belgium, had set his sights on the Congo river basin in Africa and had called a conference in Brussels in 1876 to examine the African situation and to pierce the darkness surrounding the continent. Eight years later, the details of the genocidal regime became public and Conrad's experiences there inspired him to write Heart of Darkness, as one of the most powerful condemnations of imperialism a…

Book Review: Rudaali

Book: Rudaali

Author: Mahaswetha Devi

Pages: 118

ISBN: 978170461388

Publisher: Seagull Books

The novella "Rudaali" is a heart-wrenching tale written by the Bengali author and Magsaysay Award recipient Mahaswetha Devi. The title of the book refers to a class of women called "Rudaalis" (professional mourners) who are called to cry at funerals of upper caste men. The practice is most common in the state of Rajasthan. The story tracks the life of Sanichari, who is named so because she was born on Sanichar (Saturday). 

Soon after her birth, her father passed away and her mother also ran away leaving Sanichari with her in-laws. Sanichari is married off to Ganju who lives with his ailing mother. Ganju dies at a village fair thus making her a widow. She now lives for the sake of her son Budhua, who worked in the nautanki and got married to a street prostitute Mungri. In the entire course of Sanichari's life so far, she has never cried or rather, did not have the time to cry.…

Book Review: Meanwhile, Upriver

Book: Meanwhile, Upriver
Author: Chatura Rao
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 206
ISBN: 9780143101543
At the heart of it, "Meanwhile, Upriver" by Chatura Rao is a simple book. It is a simple tale of two outsiders who swim against the current of the Ganga. The author Chatura Rao is a familiar name among children's fiction, so this is her first attempt at writing for adults. Temporally, the book is set in the bylanes and ghats of Varanasi. 
The story unfolds through Yamini Trivedi, a Maths teacher who is 38 and single who finds love when she meets Duncan Thewlis, a part-time dance instructor and a foreigner. Duncan is also a part-time writer who is in the city to write a book about the Ganges and the city itself. Running parallel to her story is that of 11 year old Shiva, who is believed to have been washed up against his foster father, Sadhu Bhyomkesh, an ambitious and charismatic sadhu. He lives in an ashram in Dashwaswamedh Ghat and passes his day in the hope that he can find his mo…

Book Review: The Scam

Title: The Scam

Publisher: Kensource Information Services

Authors: Debashis Basu and Sucheta Dalal

ISBN: 8188154091 

India has become synonymous with scams. The past few years have consistently confirmed our belief that probity has deserted us. At a time when Cobrapost comes out with a stunning expose on how private banks deal with some of the worst kept secrets of our society, of converting black money into white and as dealings are forced out of the shadows, as the faults of banks are revealed and virtues reduced, comes a time simply called "The Scam".

"The Scam" has been written by my former editors Mr. Debashis Basu and Ms. Sucheta Dalal, both eminent financial journalists. It maps the extraordinary story of two scams that rocked India separated by a nine year gap. The first scam took place in 1992 commonly known as the "Securities Scam" with the key player being stockbroker Harshad Mehta. The scam shook the nation's conscience as it was the biggest In…