Reading Inferno by Dan Brown

‘The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.’

This is the opening line of Dan Brown’s Inferno. The experience of reading a hardcover book is awesome. First day is spent marveling at the beautifully designed book cover, wow-ing the paintings (‘Map of Hell’) on the inside of the hardcover, feeling the texture of the pages, admiring the script itself, and hugging it without reading even the first chapter. As once you start reading a Dan Brown book, nothing else can come into picture- just the story and the facts strewn in between overwhelm your mind. And all the leisure is spent thinking and rethinking the plot, the characters, and the mystery and google-ing the facts. Though borrowed from a friend, for me this was the best reading experience of the year.

The best thing about these thrillers is that they are full of interesting facts, and painstakingly researched data. Learning about the great plague in China and London- the Black Death, Dante Alighieri’s ‘Divine Comedy’- Inferno, Purgatario, and Paradiso, Botticelli’s painting of the ‘Map of Hell’, the transhumanist movement, was a wholesome of knowledge. And the occasional quotes from Dante’s works revived my love for poetry. I never knew the plague was of such intensity and so major a havoc in world history. Thousands of books are written on it, both fiction and nonfiction, in diverse languages. It brought the word 'quarantine' into our vocabulary, gave us 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin', and brought about rebirth in form of The Renaissance.

If you view from another perspective, every Dan Brown book is more or less an adventurous travelogue too. Speeding through the old Florentine streets, hiding in the Boboli Gardens, viewing the Piazza del duomo and the Hall of Five hundred, gondola riding in the Grand Canyon of Venice, visiting the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, and running through the famous Spice market, Robert Langdon and Sienna Brooks gave us both thrill and mesmerizing tourist’s views.

The ending to the book was apt. I generally don’t like the endings of Brown’s books, even though I thoroughly enjoy the journey. How Robert and others prepare to face and adapt to the whole new and changed world, was left to the reader to imagine. And the quote in the last chapter was quite fitting to the global situation- ‘Remember today, for it’s the beginning of forever.’


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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