HT Picks; New Reads
An Indian in Japan
How is Tokyo, a city of 30 million people, so safe that six-year-old children commute to school on their own? Why are there no trashcans in Japanese cities? Are there really 72 seasons in the country? Why are Ganesha idols in Japanese temples hidden from public view?
Globe-trotting journalist Pallavi Aiyar moves to Japan and takes an in-depth look at the island country including its culinary, sanitary and floral idiosyncrasies. Steering through the many (mis)adventures that come from learning a new language, imbibing new cultural etiquette, and asking difficult questions about race, Aiyar explores why Japan and India find it hard to work together despite sharing a long civilizational history.
Part travelogue, part reportage, Orienting answers questions that have long confounded the rest of the world. Tackling both, the significant and the trivial, the quirky and the quotidian, here is an Indian’s account of Japan that is as thought-provoking as it is charming.*
Sikh secrets on how to be good in the real world
Think of any scene of disaster and you’ll find Sikh volunteers rallying to the site, feeding migrant workers, helping riot victims and cleaning up after earthquakes and floods. Why has this 25-million-strong community become the world’s Good Samaritans? What is it about their values that makes so many of them do so much good? And how is it that they’re also able to channel so much joy and laughter while serving langar to people from all backgrounds?
Through science-based studies, interviews with Sikhs and using Sikhism’s history and fables, Sikh journalist Jasreen Mayal Khanna unlocks eight rules for daily life. Rules so simple and yet so transformative that anyone can use them to become kinder and happier and lead a more meaningful life. Seva is a beautiful, inspiring and moving book that will change you from the inside out.*
Longing, loss and the legacy of war
A young man journeys into Sri Lanka’s war-torn north in this searing novel of longing, loss and the legacy of war, from the author of The Story of A Brief Marriage.
A Passage North begins with a message from out of the blue: a telephone call informing Krishan that his grandmother’s caretaker, Rani, has died under unexpected circumstances – found at the bottom of a well in her village in the north, her neck broken by the fall. The news arrives on the heels of an email from Anjum, an impassioned yet aloof activist Krishnan fell in love with years before while living in Delhi, stirring old memories and desires from a world he left behind.
As Krishan makes the long journey by train from Colombo into the devastated Northern Province for Rani’s funeral, so begins an astonishing passage into the innermost reaches of a country. At once a powerful meditation on absence and longing, as well as an unsparing account of the legacy of Sri Lanka’s thirty year civil war, this procession to a pyre at the end of the earth lays bare the imprints of an island’s past and the unattainable distances between who we are and what we seek.*
*All copy from book flap.