Emergency Retold- Kuldip Nayar

Title- Emergency Retold

Author- Kuldip Nayar

Published- 2013

Pages- 320

Genre- Non-Fiction

The book is an account, a live third person account of the Emergency. Kuldip Nayar was a journalist, who was imprisoned during the Emergency and had to undergo the injustice inflicted upon the masses.

We all know that the Emergency was one of the darkest phases India had to go through post-independence. The sufferings of the people at large, the motives and selfishness of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the multiple reasons that were given to justify the action etc are fascinating to think about and to read.

The narrative is apt and the facts presented are amazing. The book has been written with a lot of background research and interviews with stakeholders and the affected parties. It critically examines the effect and the impact of Emergency in shaping up of the political destiny of the country. It does not mince words when describing the tyranny of Sanjay Gandhi during the phase or of the inability of Indira Gandhi to accept the truth of Sanjay.

I have read a similar book authored by Shri.P.N.Dhar, who was Indira Gandhi’s secretary during Emergency. The review of that book can be read here. I had the feeling that Dhar was sympathetical and too soft towards the Gandhis and was in denial to see what really happened during the Emergency. This book by Kuldip Nayar does not do that mistake and gives us a neutral and blunt view of what is what.

Another book that I would love to read on this subject is the one written by Coomi Kapoor. She was also a journalist back then and had lived through Emergency. It must be an interesting read.

Despite a few editing errors here and there, the book is good. Readers craving masala, stay away, for this one is dry and boring if you are expecting drama.

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The Fifth Estate- Comfort Food

We know that India has four estates- the legislature, the executive, the judiciary and the media. Without these, any country would not be complete. So in a way, we can say that an ‘estate’ here means something essential. I call dibs on calling ‘comfort food’ as the fifth estate because it provides comfort to people. Who does not want to live in comfort? There are many moments that we face, when we yearn for something that makes us feel better. What better way to deal with all the negativities than a bowl of say our favorite food?

So the discussion about food and writing about food came up in class, thanks to Nilanjana Roy. She, in this post talks extensively about food, packing it with interesting tidbits. How else would I have bothered to check out what Nimat-nama was? So that led us to discussing about our votes (context- read that post) for a national dish. No, I refuse to be a part of the Dosa bandwagon, because my dosa is mine. I would not fancy the liberal butchering of the soulful item with schezuan flavours. I would rather go and vote for Poori and Aloo masala. I mean, come on! They are Pan-Indian. Each state has its own version of this Sunday staple in most families. They don’t seem to hurt the wheat sympathisers from the north of the Vindhyas, it’s perfect!

So while we were discussing about our own choice of a comfort food, my thoughts never went past the first option- Paruppu Saadham and Potato Fry. To say the name in the language of High-end top notch-ish snootiness,

Steamed rice from the plains of Tanjore mixed in a generous serving of golden, cooked lentils with copious amounts of clarified butter, accompanied by a rich and sinful serving of potatoes, roast-fried to the optimum with a dash of exotic Indian spices. 

The blatant truth that the term ‘exotic Indian spices’ was nothing but our own mustard seeds, curry leaves, red chilli and turmeric powders, will only be known to us, the insiders. Moving on.

So that being said and my mind being the irritating monkey it is, reminisced about each time I had the heavenly meal. This meal means a lot to me, on a personal level. It actually represents something more than food to me. It reminds me of the days when my mom used to feed me with this. I was a child who did not like anything to do with curd or buttermilk. I abhorred the spicy rasam too, since I was apprehensive about the surprise it might give me down my throat. So this was the only other child-friendly alternative my parents had, to get me to eat.

So this combination resembles a warm hug in a bowl to me. Whenever I am sad, happy, ecstatic, angry, disappointed or 12345876235 other feelings, I would love to comfort myself with this. Although, these days, the list of accompaniments has become longer. For instance, there was this one time, recently, when I also added a cup of mango puree (made in Jugaad style) along with my staple supply and it was heavenly. The feel of warm rice and dal, with the essence of ghee in it well complemented by the spicy and crunchy potato fry is not something to be missed or to be taken lightly. If only all meals are like that! Sigh!

That brings me back to the point where I was pondering about the contenders for the honour of national food. I think our own Parotta (or Paratha, whatever!) is also equally, if not more, qualified to be chosen. Parotta has its own variety in every state. It can metamorphosise from the humble Kerala Parotta to Enna Brotta (Vanakkam Tamizhagam) to Aloo paratha and a bunch of other parathas with creative stuffings. 

Coming to think of it, Parotta offends the wheat and the rice sympathisers equally since it neglects both and is made of refined flour. It can be paired with vegetarian, non-vegetarian and anti-national gravies with ease and can be equally tasty and fulfilling. The biryanis can be damned and the dosas dare not be touched.

 

Perspectives- #3 Chris Huntington

All of us go through rough times in our lives. We battle it out, every time as if that is the last ever battle we fight. Sometimes, we feel tired and let it pass. I am reminded of this quote by Robert Frost that I used to tell to myself during tough times.

The best way out is always through

It is also true that every person who crosses our lives teach us something. It could be something simple or major, but they do it, knowingly or otherwise. It is on these lines that this post talks. The post is about a person who goes to a prison to teach the inmates and ends up learning a lot from one of the inmates.

The author shares his angst as a parent, who has adopted a son. He expresses his sadness on the fact that the boy would grow up oblivious to his own culture and roots. There is this truth that though the boy is better off with the author in terms of material wealth, he would still lose the old charm of his native. The author seems to realise this truth, which is surprising. In a time when people migrate in search of better material lives, not shying away from forgetting their roots, this author ponders on the value lost. It was fresh and strange to me, both at the same time.

We all have seen or experienced brain-drain at some point or the other. We also have this raging debate of our native languages dying out without anybody bothering to save them from extinction. It makes me think how much is all of it worth? Are we turning more selfish as days go by? Are we just bothered about ourselves and our families? Somewhere in the equation, aren’t we losing out on the bigger picture? I am not sure. These remind me of a poem by Bharathidasan, that I learnt during my high school.

“தன்பெண்டு தன்பிள்ளை சோறு வீடு 
சம்பாத்தியம் இவையுண்டு தானுண் டென்போன் 
சின்னதொரு கடுகுபோல் உள்ளம் கொண்டோன் 
தெருவார்க்கும் பயனற்ற சிறிய வீணன்“

The one who stays content with the welfare of his wife,

kids, food and wealth,

is the one who is of a heart that is as big as a mustard seed,

useless to anybody else.

We are becoming obsessed with our own happiness and fulfillment that we tend to undermine one major truth of life. Everybody is fighting their own battles. For each, their sufferings and issues form the crux of their existence. They go about those issues in a Do-or-Die mode. One just cannot blame them. It is the same fear of losing out that keeps them going. In a way, it has become a matter of survival of the fittest.

The author shares with us, one of the major lessons he learnt from one of the prisoners, Mike.

Be the best prisoner you can be.

This statement is a compassionate one if you think about it. It does not underestimate the struggle of other people. In a way, it acknowledges that one need not be similar to another in terms of problems and that all of us have certain limits and boundaries within which we may have to restrict ourselves in dealing with our issues. The statement gives credit to that component and implores us to put up our best show wherever we are and whenever it is. The author is right when he says that not everybody can do everything in life. In fact, even on an individual level, it might not be possible to do everything that one might have wished for. In such cases, the author tells us to live our best life, in any circumstance we may find ourselves in.

It is rare to find words of compassion around us. We all are in such a hurry that we fail to see the presence of another person near us. We do not really know who our own neighbor is and what they do for a living. For all we know, we might be sharing a wall with a serial killer, who is perennially high on LSD! (Just saying). We do not care anymore for such things, do we? There is one angle of people becoming sexually frustrated and do horrible stuff to kids, I agree. But we must realise that we would probably be the last generation who practically grew up, eating the same food as our friends in the neighborhood since all the families adopted us as their own, without any bias. We would also be the last generation who celebrated festivals together with the entire apartment sharing crackers and good wishes.

Perspectives- #2 Frank Bruni

This New York Times columnist is a revelation to me. His writings are smooth and provoke me to think emotionally. I happened to read two of his pieces, both fine ones, and it left me going back in time to look into my own life and my relationships with my father and sibling.

I have supportive parents. When I say supportive, I don’t mean someone who would go to the extent of sharing a drink with me, but someone who actually were available when I wanted to talk something or confide in them. May be that is what enabled me cruising through my troubled teenage without much of an issue. Even with such parents, I found his piece on his father relevant. I saw my life with my father when I was reading that piece. I will explain.

Fathers in many Indian homes are silent warriors. They strive every moment to ensure that there is food on the table and that his family is comfortable and not lacking anything. He might slog for long hours, do jobs that he doesn’t really like or having issues with his friends or colleagues, but we are not shown that side of his life. We are rendered blissfully unaware of those.

Growing up can do a lot of things to you. In many homes, girls grow up to move closer to mothers and boys to their fathers. This might be stereotypical and could even have stemmed from the set gender bias norms in our country, but that is how it worked for a lot of people I knew. This was in fact reiterated by my father when recently he called me up to tell me that until the age of four, I was extremely close to my father, such that I didn’t really fancy staying with amma. He mentioned this while he was trying to highlight that these days I am closer to Amma than I am to him. How I wish to tell him that nothing has gone wrong or it is not out of deliberation that I am closer to amma and that it was just how it happened. How I wish I could tell him that there are certain issues which would be better if discussed with someone of the same gender. Sigh!

There were times when I was told that my father had confidence and faith in me and my choices. Even if he did not highlight that himself, amma always ensured that she conveyed it to me. His confidence in me is what amazes me till date. Believe me when I say that I did not know it the moment when I was born. I took my own time to realise it and see it, all by myself. Till then, I had thought may be my father thought I was a dud head, who was confused about her life and who didn’t know the evil ways the society worked. He was and is a silent warrior. He suffers in silence and rarely speaks out what he is going through. That is how in fact we are cultured, isn’t it? Men are supposed to be macho and steely all the time while women are allowed the privilege to cry their hearts out. Men crying is seen as a sign of weakness. This generalisation actually is adopted as a vicious circle. Fathers don’t cry and seeing them serious all the time, sons avoid crying too. This goes on and on because, for any son, their father is their hero, their invincible emperor who is out to rule the world. My brother considers my father that way, I am sure.

I have a brother, who is like a baby to me. Even if he is 40 years old and I am 49, he would still be my baby. There are times when I have ruined his dreams when I joked about him being a marine engineer and a tea-master (Of course I did not know then that tea had strange strings of fortune with it). He has, in turn, made my life full of fun and laughter. I would have been a lonely, miserable kid if it was not for his presence in my life. We have tiffs even now. He seems to have a strange super power to gauge when I would be asleep and he could call and ruin my sleep. Hell breaks loose if I ignore his calls. Period. There is no appellate authority to plead to, for this heinous crime, FYI.

These write-ups, left me thinking if I would even stop to think about people and their actions twenty years down the line. The power of having an open communication channel, the significance of trivial bonds, the leniency that we are supposed to give our parents etc are usually under-rated. I wonder why. Is it because we are not afraid of losing these relationships? After all, it is our own family we are talking about. So what about the other working relationships? Are they working mainly because we put in that extra effort to maintain and nurture them? We could ponder over these issues for many a sleepless night, and I am sure we would be awed at the amount of taking-for-granted that we do.

 

Perspectives- #1 Chimamanda Adichie

This series, ‘Perspectives’ will have everything that I learn these days, which I feel I could share with you all. It could be well-written pieces, small things that I felt were significant enough, awesome articles or books that I stumbled upon etc.

I am fortunate to be a part of an amazing group of students, who never cease to amaze me with their thoughts and opinions. Even better are the teachers who introduce us to something new every day. That said, I would like to pen down my perspectives about a particular piece that supposedly took the West by storm when it was published. This piece is by Adichie describing the way the West chooses to portray the Third World.

I am sure we all would be familiar with the way India is stereotyped in the West by the West. We are vividly reminded of Slumdog Millionaire and Rajesh Koothrapalli from the Sitcom The Big Bang Theory. We have joined our American friends in laughing at the idiosyncrasies of Rajesh while reminiscing fondly about our days in India. More often than not, we might have also wondered if whatever we saw on screen was in any way reflecting the reality of the country we came from. But then, hey! That was only for representational purposes and must be taken in a comical sense. Similar is the image of SRK dancing to the tunes of Lungi Dance, singing about mixing lassi and coconut. Leaving aside the blatant fact that the lungi is different from the veshti (which is white or off-white in colour) the song and that particular movie was an abomination to the portrayal of Tamilians (please note that I am not using the terms Madrasis or South Indians, because I recognise that South India is more than just Madras). Owing to the above internal and not-so-internal conflicts of thoughts, I found the piece by Adichie relatable.

This piece is an attempt to bring to light the realities of what Africa, as a continent is. She is honest when she says that Africa is a group of many cultures and nations but then they are also strikingly similar in many aspects. Very much like India, right? A land that is a melting pot of cultures and languages. So much that India has a dance form that is unique to every state.

She talks about being expected to defend or be aware of something that happens in Egypt while she is from Nigeria. That is what we get to do in India. Many a time, I had wanted to pull Rohit Shetty and Honey Singh and slap them hard for the way they lacked in research while claiming to portray something. More so, especially because Shetty also took the name of the city which he claimed was instrumental to his story (or the lack of it). We also have such stereotypes in India. Madrasis, Settu, and a couple of other colorful names form very much a part of these stereotypes prevalent in India. Don’t even get me started on the North East India angle of it. While this mixture of cultures and languages might be common to insiders, the outsiders seem to be ignorant about these. Honestly, even insiders take geography for granted at times, but moving on.

Adichie then moves on to Madonna, who had adopted a child from Malawi. It is surprising how celebrities do a lot of things for the sake of symbolism or making a point, without actually intending to make a difference. This act of making the news somehow seem to have irked Adichie a lot. It irks me too, to be honest. The most recent example that I could think of is how our own Superstar keeps us on our toes talking about politics and the apparent system. The point being that there are many other ways, which are way better, to mean well to the people whom they say they care for, that would actually make a difference in their lives. Adichie goes on to tag such actions as ‘Cringe-worthy’. I felt she was justified in doing so. How big an impact is that if one child of Africa is given a better life in terms of money, health, and education? Isn’t these clear examples of giving them fishes instead of teaching them how to fish? And how is it good that the child grows up, in total oblivion to its own culture or identity?

The Western media portrays Africa as a perennially impoverished region. It seems to the viewers as if Africa is synonymous with poverty. In a way, they seem to glamorise the concept of poverty. The author takes a dig at this by calling out their hypocrisy when it came to wealth hoarding and appeasing and supporting of weak African leaders. She seems to imply that the cause and effect of such atrocities are the West itself. I feel the West has always had a major role in almost all the internal conflicts that are happening in today’s political world. Typical of someone who practises the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy.

Taking a leap to the above-mentioned idea of portrayal, I wondered how true it is that when someone says Africa, the immediate image that we get are that of thick jungles, malnourished kids, unclean streets, and chaos. This applies to almost all the third-world countries. Are we really the land of the snake charmers? By the way, I found India lovely and charming in Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend. But these form just a minor aberrations from the usual.

Do we take the effort to think beyond what is shown to us? Do we realise that there is much more to any place than what is portrayed by words or visuals? I think not. This is the author’s anguish as well. She seems to be thoroughly annoyed by the showbiz symbolism that Hollywood is famous for at the cost of her people in her own land. I found that anguish justified. There are many sides to any and every story, they say, and I second that fact with all my heart.

 

On A Fan-tea-stic Trail

Some call this their Elixir of Life. For some, this is their Holy Grail. A Chinese stamp that is loved by the entire world. 

Recently, I got a chance to visit the new outlet of Tea Trails, opened in Anna Nagar, Chennai. This was a place that I longed to go and when I got an opportunity to be their guest, my joy knew no bounds. After what seemed an eternity of searching and cursing the Google Maps, I located the place and walked in, to be welcomed by the Manager of the store.

He started off by explaining that Chai and Tea were two different things. While I have been a fan of the classic cardamom and ginger tea for a long time now, I hadn’t really thought about the difference between the two terms. Apparently, Tea is the version without milk and sugar, while Chai is the more Indianised version that we consume with milk and sugar.

Tea Pairings are more like Wine pairings. Not every food-tea combo is good. Some teas complement a particular kind of food, while some just doesn’t go well together!

I had the fortune to try out a fair share of the menu, along with its respective pairs. Silver Needle- Bun Maska, Kashmiri Kahwa- Burmese Tea Salad, Lapsang Souchong- Smoked Paneer Sandwich, Irani Chai- Onion Pakoras, Red Zen, a few other coolers and food, finally a dessert.

Silver Needle- Bun Maska 

Silver Needle is a variety of white tea. It had a very mild taste and was very light when consumed. It is paired with the classic Bun Maska, which is sugar filled mild bun topped with a dollop of butter. The combination was elegant and light even when had together.

 

Kashmiri Kahwa- Burmese Tea Salad

Next up was a brew of Green Tea, called as Kashmiri Kahwa. This one is had with almonds, saffron and other Indian Spices that gives it the distinct aroma of Indian Biryani. Pairing this up with a Salad is because of the low-calorie value of both the items, giving the health conscious people the full benefit of the tea. I loved the salad for it was crunchy at places owing to the occasional roasted Split Bengal Gram in it. Surprisingly, the salad also had infused green tea leaves that blended well with the brew I had with me.

 

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The Kashmiri Kahwa in the black cup and a plate of the Burmese Tea Salad, infused with Green Tea leaves

 

Lapsang Souchong- Smoked Paneer Sandwich

This is a Chinese Smoked variety of Black tea, which takes a little over 3 minutes to brew. The tea has its smoky aroma and aftertaste which is paired with a paneer sandwich. This variety of tea is a tad heavy and is aptly paired with a heavy food item. Well that being said, smoky dishes are not for everyone, so use your discretion while ordering this. I personally loved my smoky black tea.

 

Irani Chai- Onion Pakoras

Now we enter the Indian Chai domain. The Hyderabadi Special Irani chai was up for tasting and it was sweeeeeet (Yeah! That sweet). Being over-sweet is its trademark. Take sips of hot chai with bits of piping hot Onion Pakoras, that should be ideal for a rainy day.

Did you know?! Irani Chai is made with Condensed milk which is the reason for its extra-sweet taste

Red-Zen

This was another brew of hot tea that blew me away. This is technically not a variety of tea, but a tisane. Tisane is herbal extracts that do not form part of the tea family. Red Zen is one such extract of herbs, fruits, and flowers. It has a springy aroma which might remind you of some distant memory of Pot Pourri and may seem feminine for some of you. The taste was brilliant and refreshing, true to its name.

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Coolers

What about people who are not into hot teas but need something to cool their spirits? Fret not, for I also happened to try out some of their varieties of cool beverages.

Lychee Bubble Tea

The Classic tea, strongly flavoured of Litchies, with flavour-filled bubbles popping in my mouth. I would actually prefer to have the chewy variety of bubbles than the poppy ones (You can inform them of your choice when you place the order, actually). Nothing out of the ordinary, I found this too strong to my liking.

Matcha Shake

This Japanese Green tea is blended with cold milk and some butterscotch essence to present a rather heavy drink to the customer. The taste was good, with very slight trace of green tea. A healthy option when compared to the traditional milk shakes.

Better Wife

A rather controversial name, this drink is a mix of herbs, mint, and green tea. It reminded me of the mint lime coolers available in the market and was refreshing. A definite choice to beat the heat.

Veg Ham Bruschetta

I love bruschettas. The ones that were available here was well made with chunks of mushroom and basil leaves on the warm cheese. It was yummy and the taste lingers for quite a while.

Paneer Pizza

Again a heavy choice, which would go well with glasses of coolers, the pizza was generous in its toppings. So much so that I felt the thin crust was not able to handle the weight of all the cheese, sauces and the paneer chunks on its head. Extremely tasty, could have been cooked a little more, since the crust was still white and kinda raw.

 

Alfredo Penne Pasta

One just can’t have enough pasta. Let’s agree on that for peace to prevail. Well-cooked, amply loaded with black olives, capsicum, zucchini and chunks of tomatoes, the pasta had a distinct taste other than that of cheese. I think it extracted more of the zucchini pieces than what was necessary. The texture and the consistency were good though.

 

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The Alfredo Penne garnished with the usual suspects- The Oregano and Chilli Flakes

 

Schezwan Vada Pav

A Chinese twist to the desi vada pav, this was more like a potato pattice pav. Very yummy and piping hot, with all the right flavours, I enjoyed this one.

 

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Schezwan Vada Pav

 

Dessert- Chocolate Waffle with sauce and nuts

Freshly made choco waffles generously topped with Hershey’s chocolate sauce and nuts are enough to make a girl go weak in the knees. I would have still preferred those brownies to waffles.

 

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Choco Waffles with Chocolate sauces and nut toppings

 

All teas are freshly brewed and can be refilled twice each time you order, making it value for money

Each order of tea comes in a tray of steeping pot, a cup and a saucer with a timer. The card in the tray indicates how much time the brew must be steeped for and lets you handle it from there. If you need a stronger brew, feel free to dabble with the timing accordingly.

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The food is on the higher side of pricing. It sure is tasty and is suitable for those once-in-a-while cravings or splurging. Who doesn’t like that occasional pampering right?

The ambiance is great and so is the decor, which makes the outing picture-worthy. The people in there are cordial and warm, serving us with a smile.

 

The parking space is sufficient for two-wheelers and cars can be parked on the side of the road since this store is located at the fag end of an underused road.

My Picks- Kashmiri Kahwa with the Burmese Tea Salad, and a serving of the Red Zen

I had a great time and would recommend you to take yourself on a date to Tea Trails and experience it yourself.

 

*This is a sponsored post, although the feedback is honest*

Hangwoman- K.R.Meera

Title-  Hangwoman

Author- K.R.Meera (Malayalam) Translated by J.Devika 

Published- 2014

Pages- 432

Genre- Fiction

There are so many people out there, whose existence we take for granted. It could be someone close to us, or someone who is essential for us carrying on our day to day activities without a glitch. This book is about one such essential cog in the wheel of the Judicial system in India, the hangmen. A hangman is a person who carries out the death penalty by executing the criminal in the gallows.

This book, originally written in Malayalam, is about a family of hangmen. Set in the state of Bengal, the book delves into the lives and lineage of hangmen. The story revolves around Grddha Mullick,a greedy and manipulative hangman, his daughter Chetna Mullick, who is touted to be the first hang-woman of India and Mitra, an opportunist journalist who manipulates them for his benefit.

The death sentence awarded to Jatindra Banerjee for having murdered children forms the backdrop of the story. The emotions that run inside Chetna, the rich legacy that she is expected to carry forward, the state of her freedom over her choices in life, the pressure on her on the symbolism that involves hope for women all over the world etc form the crux of the story.

The book explores, in detail, the emotional crisis that Chetna undergoes due to all the above issues. It is not easy for an author to convey the feelings and emotions of the character to the reader, which I felt was superbly done here. It was intense at a few places, especially where the pressure of the media is portrayed and the point where Chetna’s brother dies. In fact, I felt the book was quite intense for me and hence I took a long time to finish reading this book. I took multiple breaks in between to come to terms with what I was reading. The book slowly absorbs us into the story and makes us look at various aspects of the world with revulsion and disgust.

The portions where the process involved in hanging a convict in the gallows is explained is informative. Honestly, I never knew that there was so much behind every death sentence executed. It made me look at certain things in a whole new light, like how it happens to people sometimes.

I liked how Chetna was stubborn in her decisions without giving into her father’s manipulation. But even then, her heart yearned for a love which will always remain unrequited. That part felt real. Her conversations with Mitra’s mother, a beshya, also were noteworthy.

The narrative is quite long for the substance of the story. There are numerous anecdotes which form a part of the legacy of the family of Grddha Mullick described during the course of the story. A thread of love, grit, determination, patriarchy and abuse is also woven intricately along the lines of the story, so as to give it more flavour.

The translation of the book has been done with great care, such that it feels original. Kudos to that. I would love to read the original one for there is every possibility that something was missed out in translation. The book is a lengthy read, which will be liked by people who love reading historical anecdotes along with the main story.

Lipstick Under My Burkha- An Afterthought

 

This post comes as an afterthought. A thought that cropped up in me after having watched the movie, Lipstick Under My Burkha.

The movie is about four women, from different walks of life. Each of them is dealing with their own set of problems. There is also a rule book prescribed for those women by the society which they are expected to adhere to at all times.

There is this middle aged widowed woman, who is seen as the bold and uncompromising matriarch of an entire mohalla. She commands respect and is warm to those living there. A young mother of three, who is seen working in a job and doing great at it, all unaware to her husband. Inside the confines of their bedroom, she is just seen as a woman who is supposed be an object of pleasure for him. An unmarried girl, who is forced to take painful decisions regarding her own wedding, because of many other constraints. This girl is seen as a repository where the woes of the other women are shared for consolation. Lastly, there is a young college girl, who yearns to live in her own free world, devoid of a burkha.

The stories of all these women are related and yet parallel. They all represent a certain class of our society and the expectations the society has of them, how ever unreasonable those expectations might be. Each of the above-mentioned women has been suppressed in various ways, which makes for a disturbing revelation later on in the movie.

I loved the way this movie opens a can of worms. I was left with the question of substitution. Would the degree of ostracising be the same, if it were men in the places of those women? One can only imagine. The movie, in a way, portrays what is wrong with the social set-up that we live in. The different rule book, the unrealistic expectations, the fear of being slut-shamed, the reluctance to assert one’s own preference or sexuality for that matter, everything.

The dark undertones (lighting) in around half the movie might be to convey the dark reality of the society that we live in.

Personally, I loved the movie for having been a mirror to our lives, and I swear any woman could relate to at least one scene in this movie on a personal level. The movie moves a tad slow at places, but overall, I enjoyed it. I just fervently hope that this spirit does not die down.

 

Ananta Shesha Naga- Sanjeev K. Sharma

Title-  Ananta Shesha Naga

Author- Sanjeev K.Sharma

Published- 2017

Pages- 279

Genre- Mythology- Fiction

An abysmal combination of words and grammar.

This book is a classic example of how a story can be layered unnecessarily and packaged to the unassuming readers as a “book”. Poor writing, pathetic editing and copious amount of cringe-worthy content find their places in this book.

This book is basically about an enchantress who is assigned the task of getting five powerful snake kings laid and stealing their power weapon from them. The resultant war between the three worlds of the Devas, Asuras and the Nagas (serpents) and who wins and who dies at the end, form the remaining part of the story.

The story begins only after a good 90 pages. Till then, its all about sex, written in a very poor way. Post that, bad editing makes up for the absence of sex in the story. By the end, I cursed myself for picking this up to read.

Erotica is different and writing crass content is different. For quite some time, all I was seeing was page after page of a sex scene, THE SAME SEX SCENE, explained in bad language.

Although the book showed a tiny ray of promise somewhere in the later half, it vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

All I could think about, after reading the book was that THE EDITORS HAD ONE JOB TO DO! Misplaced prepositions, different spellings for the same word on the same page, ridiculous usage of words, some non-existent, some out of context and some bad-sounding.

Here are some examples of what I would call the total absence of ‘editing’ (Click on each image to find what is wrong with them). I swear these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

This book does sheer injustice to the cover page and also to the reader’s expectations.

Story Mirror should seriously do a quality check within the organisation to stop this massacre on the English language. Their editors must undergo training in ‘editing’ before calling themselves one.

Would I be re-reading this? Heck No!
Would I recommend this? Not even to my worst enemy.

Disappointed.

Indira Gandhi, the Emergency, and Indian Democracy- P.N.Dhar

Title-  Indira Gandhi, the Emergency and Indian Democracy

Author- P.N.Dhar

Published- 2001

Pages- 440

Genre- Non-Fiction-Politics

Indira Gandhi is remembered for the Emergency more than anything else. This book, written by P.N.Dhar, who spent almost seven years working under her, tries to give the backstory and details about the event. A lot is written about the East Pakistan crisis, the denial of the economic aid to India by the United States, her relationships with the leaders of the neighbouring countries, the Emergency, her equations with Indian leaders, her relationship with Sanjay Gandhi and the Simla Agreement.

I read this book out of curiosity and I must confess that I was not entirely disappointed. Though about 40% of the book is filled with assumptions which aim to validate or justify Mrs.Gandhi’s actions that led to the declaration of Emergency.

Mrs.Gandhi had to come into the larger picture of Indian Politics after the death of her father, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru. She was initially dismissed as a powerless puppet (gunghi gudiya) by her own colleagues in the party and also her political opponents. How she rose to power within and outside her party, how she consolidates power in the country and how she asserts herself in the middle of the dominant patriarchy in the Indian political scene is described in this book.

Her relationship with Jay Prakash Narayan who was another prominent person during her days as the Prime Minister is also recorded in detail.

The Emergency was a very dark period in Indian history, there are no two ways about it. The way the author has tried to take a softer stand regarding that era made me a little uncomfortable. P.N.Dhar has tried to give a variety of reasons ranging from the ‘need to discipline the country’ to ‘ her decision being inevitable given the situation in the country in relation to neighbors, political opponents, and the judiciary’ for the imposition of the Emergency. If I may add, I understood then that that was the precise phase when Indian Judiciary lost much of its teeth. I did wonder how it would have been now, had the Judiciary been as powerful as it was back then.

Her perception and apprehension about her own son, Sanjay Gandhi is also covered quite in detail, especially his tyranny and waywardness. That portion is very interesting to read, to be honest.

I found this book to be heavily biased in favour of Mrs.Gandhi and her rule. Something that I had expected, but this was a bit beyond what I had imagined. I would suggest reading this book if you don’t have better books in stock to give information about the dark era.