Tag Archives: India

“The Girl In The Garden”, By Kamala Nair

By some quirky logic of Kindle, this book was coming up on top every time I updated my Kindle with more books. Finally I gave in to the Kindle’s logic when I was not able to settle on anything else and started reading this book “The girl in the garden”. I did not know that it is author Kamala Nair’s first book. I probably confused her with some other name. The book is about the journey of teenage girl living in US back to small town in India with her mother. She is not interested in going back specifically leaving her father alone in US but it seems she was not given any choice.

After she gets over her first shock of being in India and staying with large family, she ends up finding lot more than she had thought of. She finds out about her mother’s old romance, her family’s murky history and also the story of unknown girl who has been locked away in a forest due to facial deformity.

I liked some parts of the book but a lot of time I found my attention wavering and I just wanted to reach the end. It was not because I was hooked up but I was looking to finish the book and start something else. Some of the parts just did not seem real even if you consider some old age customs and issues that may plague the society in rural India. Yes, there is a lot of stigma attached with kids having deformity on face but the family is supposed to be running a hospital and should have known that treatment can be done for such issues. Yes, people want to hide unwanted pregnancies but they do not give away all their freedom to some unknown person and keep on living in its shadow for so many years.

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Learning Ancient India Through “Amar Chitra Katha” by Anant Pai

I recently read about demise of Anant Pai who was the creator of “Amar Chitra Katha” comic book series and I was immediately reminded of my early school days when these comic books were craze amongst kids. We used to get these comic books as gifts for various contests in school and then we used to read them and exchange them with other kids to read as many stories as possible.

These were short comic books about Indian religion, mythology, history, folk-tales and culture. That was the era when TV was still not popular and TV-series like Ramayana and Mahabharata were still some years away. These books were a great source of learning, entertainment and education for kids in that age. We had read many of those stories before but they came alive through pictures in these books and since the content was kept short and to the point, it was more entertaining.

Of course the series became so popular that it started attracting criticism as well. Many people termed them as too simplistic or idealistic. Some people accused them of racialism and some kind of color discrimination. Some people also said that they were not authentic since their research was not broad-based. But I think a lot of this criticism was unjustified. There was a need to reach out to children through a simple medium that they could understand and make them learn about India’s past. Even if it painted an idealistic picture, it was much better than complete ignorance.

With the changing times, they have also changed. Now there is an online store for these stories.

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The beginning with “My Experiments with Truth”

This is the first post I am writing on my blog where I want to write about the books that I have read and how they have changed my life or sometimes just given me moments of happiness in otherwise stressed life.
There cannot be a better book than “My Experiments with Truth” to start this journey. A book that helped me 20 years ago when I had read it for the first time and now again when I read it last month. The author of the book “Mahatma Gandhi” is probably one person whom I have admired more than anybody else. There have been many other people whom I have admired and looked up to but then all of them have failed in my eyes at some time or other but not Mahatma Gandhi. This does not mean that he has not made mistakes in life. There are parts of his biography where I do not agree with him, where he has made mistakes. But at no point I find him going against his conviction. He is always the first to admit his mistakes. His whole character has an integrity which is flawless. He is doing what he is preaching and he is preaching only what he firmly believes in. There are no two faces to him.
The book which is his autobiography brings out this aspect in such an inspiring way that you feel wonder at his frankness.
Last time when I read his book, I was at a stage in life where my confidence was at all time low. I was shy, introvert, could not speak in groups. I used to feel that all my friends are much ahead of me in life and I have lost all hope in life and I will never be able to catch up with them in the race of life and I was 16 years old. I guess lot of people at that stage suffer from this. The life when it is just starting looks as ending already. This book brought in me that confidence and faith which I needed at that time. The fact that the person who being a lawyer could not speak facing a judge could move 30 crore Indians with his speach later in life told me that life is not over for me. What is important is to follow your convictions and desires and the results will come out some day. I have seen this change happenning in me over the years. I have found that in the end it is my faith and conviction which has seen me through the darkest times.
I know there are lot of people out there who do not agree for what he has written in this book and in fact criticize him for his experiments on education, medicine, celibacy, religion, freedom struggle. But he still did those experiments with courage that is unparallel. He was the biggest scientist in that sense doing his experiments. Many of his experiments did not give results. But who says that a person has to be right all the time. Yes, he must have failed and in some cases even if he succeeded there were no followers for those results but that is what makes him a human being, a scientist. He is not saying that he is telling sacred words which have to be followed like words of God. All he is telling is about his experiments. The idea that they are experiments mean that they can be wrong or may not give results. But the fact remains Satya and Ahimsa did bear the results for India and its people.
In the end, I would say it is a great book by a great human being and I thank him for giving us this gift.
Till next time

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