HT Picks; New Reads
On the reading list this week is a volume that tries to understand India through its food culture, another that tells the story of a common man who fought the system and pulled off a great victory, and a book that shows you how to appreciate the origins of yoga
Adventures with the tummy
Digesting India is a wildly entertaining and informative adventure through the landscapes of Indian culinary art, as explored by Zac O’Yeah, a Scandinavian origin Indian novelist with a readiness to stomach anything and everything that grows or walks on earth. Well, almost. This book combines the three things that O’Yeah loves most about life — eating, drinking and travelling — in a delightful romp based on 30 years of trying to understand India through its food culture.
This fast-paced story of a traveller’s untiring quest for new cultural and culinary experiences is as intriguing as it is profound, and you might say it captures India in a nutshell — a very big, coconut-sized one. Here we learn about dishes that we may never have heard of, and food habits we never knew existed, such as when we accompany O’Yeah on a ‘spareparts’ tour that begins in Shivajinagar, the slaughterhouse area of Bengaluru. As we follow him on a winding journey through India, he takes us through the pleasures of drinking beer in Bengaluru (slang for ‘beer galore’), toddy in Kerala, and eating boiled vegetables and masala-less curries in Sevagram, the Mahatma’s ashram in Maharashtra, to prepare him for the rich red lal maas in royal Rajasthan. He discovers Goa’s literati culture sipping cashew fenny with Nobel laureate Orhan Pahmuk and Amitav Ghosh, finds two of his favourite foods —mushrooms and cheese — in Bhutan’s ‘shamudatsi’, and, in a delightful digression, finds out — while still on earth — what astronauts eat, and more importantly, drink, in outer space.
Digesting India is a rollicking read — a multi-course meal full of happy discoveries. Read it as vicarious fun in your armchair, carry it as an inspiring travel companion, or use it to impress your friends with thousands of interesting, surprising facts about local foods and the many places they come from.*
A small crime in a small town
When VK Thajudheen, a middle-aged man working in Doha, returned to his hometown, Kannur, after a few years, little did he know that instead of celebrating his daughter’s summer wedding he would be put behind bars for stealing a gold necklace.
The local police, smug at apprehending a criminal in record time, wanted a confession to lock it in. Horrified and bewildered, Thajudheen showed proof that he had been busy with the wedding at the time of the crime. But all proof he provided crumbled in the face of the CCTV footage from that day, for it showed clearly that it was Thajudheen on the scooter, riding away from the crime scene. But how could he be in two places at the same time?
And so started a cat-and-mouse game between Thajudheen and the police — the former trying to prove his innocence and the latter hell-bent on pinning the crime on Thajudheen. The media caught whiff of this case and the whole of Kannur was talking about it.
The Stolen Necklace might seem to about a small crime in a small town, but with its incredible twists and turns, it is ultimately the story of a common man who fought the system and pulled off a miraculous victory.*
The Indian mythology that inspired 50 yoga postures
Discover the traditional stories and wisdom behind your favourite yoga poses in this stunningly illustrated book of Indian mythology for yogis of all levels. The author Raj Balkaran explores the unforgettable tales behind 50 key yoga poses, such as the Vīrabhadrāsana II, the original warrior pose, the Tāḍāsana, mountain pose, the Bhujaṅgāsana or cobra pose, the Garuḍāsana or eagle pose the Padmāsana or lotus pose, the Vīrāsana or the, hero pose and the Śavāsana, or corpse pose
Readers learn, through the mythology of the poses, more about the roots of this ancient practice and how you can use their teachings to better appreciate and respect yoga’s true origins.
Enhance your practice by reading one story before or at the end of class, and incorporating the poses and their teaching into your life, as well as your yoga practice, and transform the way you view and practice this timeless art.
*All copy from book flap.