#BrunchBookChallenge: A book of essays on Indian wildlife and some ‘Mom Lit’

  • Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 11, 2015 21:04 IST

Nature Chronicles of India: Essays On Wildlife

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/1204brpg10a.jpgPublisher: Rupa; Pages: 171

Price: Rs 221

Wildlife is a subject that, unless you’re an enthusiast, can slide into dry academic details. This collection of essays on Indian wildlife though, is a sheer delight to read. Crucial insights and scientific jargon are wrapped with a refreshing brand of easy candour.

Seven contemporary essays look into modern research by Indian conservationists and seven more are timeless tales by colonial British wildlife writers. And almost all them are sprinkled with personal anecdotes that made it an awesome read for me.

In the first essay, about endangered Olive Ridley turtles in Velas, a village on the Konkan coast, Jay Mazoomdaar writes about the business of stealing (and selling) turtle eggs. And then there’s a young tourist who impatiently waits for the eggs to hatch: “You keep saying they’re overdue. Just perform a Caesarean, guys!”

There’s an essay by Rauf Ali, a wildlife researcher with a slightly shocking backstory (he contracted malaria 37 times while on the field). He writes about his stay in Tamil Nadu’s Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, where he was researching bonnet monkeys and describes how the park authorities, who hated him, once accused him of stealing chappals!

Then there are the old(er) writings on Indian wildlife, beautiful in their description. My favourite is Hugh Allen’s excerpt from his 1960 book,

The Lonely Tiger

: a poignant story about a small pack of lions and how their lives are affected by indiscriminate poaching.

– Asad Ali

Simi’s Mum’s Diary

by Rupa Gulab
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/4/1204brpg10b.jpg Publisher: Amaryllis; Pages: 201
Price: Rs175

You know what they say, all girls eventually turn into their mothers. But, in the meantime, spend every minute listing out their faults. This, of course, makes for great chick lit – or ‘mommy lit’ as it is called.

Simi’s Mum’s Diary

is based on the premise that 20-somethings are essentially monsters. A notion my mother is convinced of. (I can’t wait for her to read the book so she can thank all 24 Jain gods for not having a Simi, at least.)

Consider this: Simi temporarily turns Buddhist, vegetarian, bald, crusader against corruption and poet, all in a year. In her free time, she blogs about how horrible her mum is, scoffs at her for not having a job and slams doors. All in all, you’ll want to shake her till her teeth chatter.

Simi’s mum doesn’t. Instead, she, her unnaturally patient husband Rohit and their droll cook Philo all try to keep up (or rather, put up) with the 20-year-old till she eventually sorts herself out.

They’re supportive of a possible sex-change surgery (needless, they were jumping to conclusions), pretend to be vegetarian, sign a legal document to allow Simi to become a nun after college if she likes, help her find a job, help her at her job and pay the bills without complaining too much.

It’s very, very funny. (And kind of real too).

– Saudamini Jain

From HT Brunch, April 12
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