This week’s reading list includes a book on original research by India’s scientists, another on how Everest was found, and a third on Calcutta’s food and culture. (HT Team)
This week’s reading list includes a book on original research by India’s scientists, another on how Everest was found, and a third on Calcutta’s food and culture. (HT Team)

HT Picks; New Reads

The path-breaking advances made by India’s scientists in original research and what they mean to the nation’s progress, the breathtaking story of how Everest was found, and an insightful journey through the ever-changing landscape of Calcutta’s food and cultural milieu -- all that on this week’s list of great reads
By HT Team
PUBLISHED ON JUN 25, 2021 09:54 PM IST

The Coming of Age of Indian Science

314pp, ₹699; Hachette
314pp, ₹699; Hachette

How do you build a scientifically and technologically strong modern nation with limited means and resources? Indian scientists faced this challenge seven decades ago when the country became independent and confronted a world rapidly advancing in science and technology. In the years that followed, they battled poor funding and archaic regulations to build India’s science infrastructure from scratch. This fascinating narrative captures the story of the struggles and triumphs of these leaders of science and the world–class institutions they founded.

From the cosmic-ray experiments at the Kolar Gold Fields to ISRO’s stunning space observatory built under severe constraints, from the construction of one of the world’s largest radio telescopes in Ooty to the development of structural biology at IISc and most recently, the significant contributions of the country’s scientific institutions towards tackling a global pandemic – Space Life Matter brings to readers the path-breaking advances made by India’s scientists in original research and what they mean to the nation’s progress.

Deeply informed, enlightening and inspiring, this singular comprehensive account of the pride of place that Indian science occupies in the world is essential reading for all.*

How the mountain was found

301pp, ₹699; Hachette
301pp, ₹699; Hachette

In the centenary year of the first Everest expedition, the breathtaking story of how the mountain was found.

The height of Everest was first measure in 1850, but the closest any westerner got to the mountain during the next 71 years, was 40 miles. This quest to identify, measure and – at last – set foot on it was itself a remarkable feat.

It is story that traverses the Alps, the Himalayas, Nepal and Tibet, the British Raj, the Anglo-Russian ‘Great Game’, the disastrous First Afghan War and the phenomenal Survey of India. A tale of high drama, its prize attracted larger-than-life characters – George Everest, Francis Younghusband, George Mallory, Lord Curzon, Edward Whymper – and a few quiet heroes; Alexander Kellas, the 13th Dalai Lama and Charles Bell. It drew spies, adventurers, renegades, hundreds of mules, camels, bullocks, yaks and two zebrules.

A breathtaking adventure, this book tells the fascinating and overlooked saga of the exploits of engineering, adventure, diplomacy, daring persistence and even conflict that made the mountain’s conquest possible.*

A food History of Calcutta

488pp, ₹899; Speaking Tiger
488pp, ₹899; Speaking Tiger

Calcutta, once the nucleus of the Raj, was at the heart of a thriving economy and unparalleled administration. Over the centuries, this teeming, cosmopolitan metropolis has become home to people from various communities who have lent its food and culture their distinctive tastes and culinary rituals. The heady romance of palates and flavours in the Royal Capital ‘has fostered diversity in food and culture all the while adhering to the city’s Bengali roots’.

A Taste of Time is an insightful journey through the ever-changing landscape of Calcutta’s food and cultural milieu, from its decades-old cutlet, jhal muri and puchka stalls to its iconic continental restaurants like Firpo’s and Flurys; from its oldest tea shop, Favourite Cabin, set up in 1924, to the 21st century fine dining restaurant threesixtythree, Mohona Kanjilal, through her immaculate research, deftly captures the stories behind the city’s endearing culture of bikel chaar –ter cha’ (tea at 4pm); its renowned bakeries like Nahoum’s ‘and experimentation with rasogullas and samosas (or shingare). Diving into Calcuta’s dazzling history, she explores how the food habits of early European settlers as well as Jewish, Armenian, Chinese, Parsi and other expats, and the city’s next door neighbours like Darjeeling and Odisha, have made the culinary fabric of Calcutta immensely rich and layered.

This delightful and comprehensive history of food in Calcutta, peppered with mouth watering nuggets, recipes and intriguing accounts of some revolutionary personalities of Bengal will appeal to the mind and taste buds alike.*

*All matter from book flap.

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