Chronicles of the Lost Daughters

 ' Narach' - The Original Cover Edition in Bengali I was hooked to reading this novel and finished it in three sittings. It had such colorful mix of characters both real and fictional. Various known names - ousted Nawab of Awadh settled in his Metiabruz in Calcutta of the 19th century. The Brahmo Samaj - the fight for women's education, doing away child marriage done in the name of shastras, and widow remarriage. Kadambini Ganguly - the first lady doctor of Bengal, Dwarakanath - the reformist, Rabindranath Tagore, and so many from the era. And a family that is divided by the dreams of a deceptive contractual labour, indentures, after slavery was banned, and is shipped off to Surinam.  Though the blurb mentions only Bhubonmoni, I think there is no one central character in the novel, rather it portrays women - from the child bride who faces death on her marital bed, to a widow assaulted several times by the low rapists to the high pandits, to one who has successfully come out

Zero Day

Being a fan of Hussain Zaidi's investigative works, I was excited to delve into his fictional novel and wasn't disappointed.  Zero day by Hussain Zaidi is definitely one of the best espionage themed books by an Indian author. The book played itself like a season of a TV series. The synopsis is simple i.e. key government services in Mumbai,  are made defunct one after the another, and are falling prey to cyberterrorism. The cybercrime division  led by a handful of daring officers are looking to foil the plot and capture the perpetrators. I could imagine the key characters being played by Manoj Bajpayee and KK Memon. Suspense was maintained throughout the book with the major reveals justifying the built-up.  The sequence of events were logically connected. Breakthrough happening in the cases was due to planned efforts by the protagonists and not some lucky chances or random realisations. The experience of the author was clearly visible in the accurate depiction of police investig

Lady Doctors

What would it be like for a girl of impressionable age to be surrounded by intellectual minds - progressive Brahmo samaj, nationalists, writers, poets and passionate orators. What would it have been like to see the best and worst of worlds - sheer support for the women’s education and stark criticism for the same citing Hindu religion and conservative traditions as the foremost reason.  Reading these chapters I wonder, what would our world be if these women and their supporters didn’t exist. Sati system wouldn’t have been abolished. Young widows would still be force fed opium and dragged to their dead husband’s pyre. Child marriage would not have been made punishable offence. Widow remarriage would have been viewed with censure and scorn by society till date. Girls would be still seen as anomalies in a male dominated classroom and workplace. The right to vote would have been still reserved for the men. And devadasi system would still be prevailing under the staunch conservative Brahmin

Notes on Dissent

I say dissent or disobedience is an important aspect of an individual. If your son or daughter has the exact same opinions as you, the exact same thought process as you do, and does exactly as you say every single time - that’s not something to be proud of. That is a point of concern even, in my humble opinion, as it shows that there is no difference between two generations. Dissent, once in a while, when need be, is essential for character building. Owning one’s own thoughts, instead of mimicking an elder’s. It is a necessity for progress and reform - to do away with old regressive customs practiced in the name of tradition, and make way for new ways of living. I do not subscribe to the belief that elders are always right, that ‘gurujans’ cannot be wrong, and we should always obey them without questioning. I understand that elders are humans, they grow each day in their thoughts and as individuals as we do, so they can be wrong, and it is our humble responsibility to challenge their b

Hometown Cha Cha Cha

This show appreciates the small town life, the pleasures of the slower life in the countryside, more specifically the seaside. The female protagonist loses her job as the dentist in Seoul, owing to a whistleblower act by her where she exposes her boss of minting money from unsuspecting patients admitting them for needless procedures. She visits Gongjin, a fishing village just hours away from Seoul, missing her last visit their with parents and reminiscing carefree childhood days. And decides to open a clinic there, go solo. And thus begins the lovely tale, with such dear and loving characters. As she learns to accept and appreciate ways of the people there and opens up to them, over the days learning her way to walk on their simple footsteps, we see amazing humane bonds get formed. Quirky characters, old grannies who love feeding people around them potato cakes, and teens, and kids petting a strange animal. I am forgetting it's name.  Korean world of sitcoms is so humane. It is so

Homi J Bhaba

It is rightly said, those who have a fascination towards all things abstract - art, music, fiction - that which involves a great deal of imagination, can excel in science, especially Quantum Physics. It needs a great deal of visualisation to understand and take an interest in the mechanics of atomic and subatomic particles that cannot be seen in naked eye. And that world of Physics which Bhaba was exposed to is so fascinating to read. Reading about research and revelations around electrons, positrons, cosmic rays, brings back the engineering days. I could relate so much, every discovery that gave shape to the new physics and differentiated it from the classical physics. How the calculation of speed and position of electrons would always be inappropriate, how the theory of relativity plays a part in many new questions, equations and discoveries. It was an interesting chapter for sure. Quantum Physics.  The journey of a young man from being sleepless as a baby, too excitable as a child,

Of Existential Questions and Mortal Pursuits

Marriage market. That farce of meeting prospective future brides and grooms. And their families and relatives and friends and foes. That pretentious role-playing of being the demure lass, or the successful lad. The expected hospitality. The search, the extensive never ending ego-shattering search. The despair when time passes and no one clicks and a plus one gets added to one’s age year after year. The nagging words from relatives, the society at large, the cultural pressure. The peer pressure from friends getting engaged. Pangs of guilt ridden envy seeing friends plan their wedding trousseau. And career growth underappreciated by near and dear folks. It’s a lonesome time, solitary existence.   Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any of the above. But I have lived through most, through my friends’ experiences - sad frustrated narratives shared intimately. Looking back, I consider myself lucky and privileged that my parents didn’t focus on marriage until I had a postgraduate degree and a

Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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