Book Reviews



Author: Geetanjali Shree
Translator: Nita Kumar
Publisher: Niyogi Books (Pp 223, ISBN 978-81-933935-0-5, Rs 395)

Mai, the word itself brings out emotions. Mai or mother is someone who holds the entire family together, who sacrifices her life for her family and whose love has no bounds. But, she is also considered to be the weakest in the family, yet she often emerges as the strongest. The book looks at a family in a North Indian town, which is a joint family. Three generations of women and their men live different strategies of adjustment and achievement to accommodate patriarchy. At the centre is mai, the mother, seemingly weak and silent, but it is she who holds together the subtle patterns of relationships and agencies, and quietly carves out a life for herself as also for those around her. Her New Age children are obsessed with rescuing her from the ‘prison’ and escaping themselves; but as the story unfolds, any simplistic notion of bondage and freedom goes for a toss.

A beautiful tale of love and approved viagra pharmacy emotions, the author uses simple incidents from life, weaving together a story which will touch every heart. A must read book for all!

- Varsha Verma



Author: Rochelle Almeida
Publisher: Lexington Books, New York (www.rowman.com)
(Pp 227, ISBN 978-1-4985-4588-4, US$ 100)

During the British Raj in India, a new community was spawned by the union of white settler men and Indian women. Called Anglo-Indians, they aligned themselves to the British, and when freedom-hungry Indians mounted their frenzied “Quit India” campaign, the Anglo-Indians assumed they too had to leave and go “home” to Britain, a home they had never seen. From India’s Independence in 1947 until the 1960s, some 50,000 Anglo-Indians migrated to England, confident they would be welcomed in their faraway paradise.

What transpired after they reached those chilly shores in the subject of Britain’s Anglo-Indians, an absorbing book by Rochelle Almeida, a clinical professor of global cultures in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University, who charts the plight of this community from its earliest beginnings, evidenced by many pages of bibliography. Making several visits to Britain from her Connecticut home, the author interviewed hundreds of Anglo-Indians who, under the cloak of anonymity, felt free to speak their minds on the prejudices and injustices they experienced in their early days, facing such insults as: “Why don’t you go back to where you came from?” and landlords and employers freely practising racial discrimination by denying them rented accommodation and jobs, respectively.

However, after several teeth-gritting years, all worked out well, even better than expected, on every front. As one firstgeneration Anglo-Indian migrant journalist commented: “Life is so very different and wonderful from what it was when we first arrived here...with our bizarre misconceptions, culture clashes, sensitivities and chips on our shoulders the size of the Taj Mahal. We are now more mature and happier than we have ever been.”

The irony is that neither the authorities of Independent India, nor the departing British, had wanted them to leave India, as Almeida discovered. This is an informative and highly readable book, meticulously researched by the author who is also an international journalist.

- Rudy Otter



Author: Sushil Talwar
Publisher: KW Publishers, New Delhi
(Pp 1292, ISBN: 9789386288707, Rs 7800)

Soon after the outbreak of the First World War, the Military Cross (MC) was instituted as a reward for junior army officers and warrant officers for gallantry in the field. It filled a gap that was particularly vacant in the British Army, which, other than the rarely awarded Victoria Cross, had no gallantry decoration to which a junior officer might aspire. Indian and Gurkha officers of the Indian Army were equally eligible for two other gallantry awards: the Indian Order for Merit and the Indian Distinguished Service Medal.

In spite of this substantial difference between the two honours systems, eligibility for the MC encompassed officers serving with both British and Indian Armies and the Colonial Forces, irrespective of creed or ethnicity, and by the close of the Second World War more than 50,000 awards had been granted.

Measured in terms of total MC recipients, the number of officers of Asian origin seems relatively modest – albeit compensated by their eligibility for two other highly prized decorations of at least equal standing. Nevertheless, a total of 1,056 awards were gazetted to 1,039 officers in this category, 17 being granted a second award.

A comprehensive record of all recipients of the MC and the circumstances of their awards has never been published. This entirely new ground breaking work goes a significant way towards filling the gap by providing comprehensive details of MC awards sanctioned for officers of South Asian origin who served with the Indian Army and the Indian States Forces in all conflicts up to August 1947. While almost all recipients were either Indians or Gurkhas, awards to Burmese, Malays and Siamese have not been overlooked.

For each entry, the rank, name and regiment or corps of the officer is provided, together with the date and page number of the London Gazette and/or Gazette of India announcing the MC award. The date and operational area of the gallantry action are also specified together with the full citation or recommendation that led to the award.

Each entry is supplemented by details of the officer’s military service and any other rewards received. Additional data of relevance to his services have been sourced from unit histories and contemporary narratives, and a considerable amount of time has been spent collecting photographs of MC recipients and these occupy nearly one hundred pages. Many of them have been found with families who have little or no knowledge of their ancestors’ gallant deeds.

- Vasu V



Author: Swami Vivekananda
Publisher: Teenage Publishers
(Pp 264, ISBN 978-9385385629, $11.99)

The present lifestyle has deteriorated one's physical and mental health. People are too busy and have little patience and tolerance. What we forget is that our bodies need to be treated like temples and considered sacred if we hope to live fully and completely.

This lifestyle can be changed by getting up early and starting your day with Yogasanas. The book teaches you to practise right breathing and right diet for mental balance. It also teaches you coordination of mind and body. Yoga can also change your lifestyle from chaos to tranquility. Written in an easy to understand manner, the book will be a ready reckoner for one and all. It will help you not only to improve your health, but will also help you think more clearly.

- Vasu V



Author: Subas Pani
Publisher: Niyogi Books, New Delhi
(Pp 240, ISBN 978-93-85285-56-1, Rs 1,995)

Ratha Yatra, the ancient annual festival of the chariot journey by Lord Jagannatha, the presiding deity of the great temple Srimandira at Puri, is one of the grandest spectacles on earth. Jagannatha along with siblings Balabhadra and Subhadra ride three colourful chariots in their annual sojourn to their garden house and birthplace Gundicha Temple where they stay for seven days before returning. Ratha Yatra is rooted in ancient traditions, myths and legends and embodies the most colourful elements of the classical and folk cultures of the Indian subcontinent and the Odisha region.

This book is a comprehensive account of Ratha Yatra, which is a unique event in the entire world. Rich in detail, the book covers a wide span including the sacred geography of Puri, legends surrounding the temple, the unique architectural style of the temple complex, the elaborate preparatory summer festivals leading up to the main festival and the process of making the chariots. It brings alive every stage of the intricate rituals and ceremonies lasting almost two months, giving a complete portrayal of different phases of the festival. With around 250 pictures, the book is a treat for the eyes.



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