HT Picks: New Reads
THE LINKS THAT BIND INDIA TO EAST ASIA
On the Trail of Buddha — A Journey to the East is a unique sojourn in search of the spiritual, philosophical, and cultural linkages that bind India to the East Asian civilisations. From the wandering monks of Asia to the temples and monasteries they visited; from the statues and frescoes in grottoes to those in the museums; from the diverse ethnicities of the people to their common gods and goddesses — this book explores ancient India beautifully preserved in the traditions, art, and architecture of China, from where it spread to Mongolia, Korea, and Japan. Deepankar Aron, an alumnus of IIT Delhi and an Indian Revenue Service officer, is also a passionate traveller and a consummate photographer and writer. World Heritage Sites of Uttarakhand, his first pictorial book was published in 2010.*
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN OSHO’S COMMUNE
This tell-all account of Ma Anand Sheela’s life explores the many dimensions of the enigmatic figure of whom the world got a glimpse courtesy the documentary series, Wild Wild Country.
From heading an ashram at Rajneeshpuram, Oregon, USA, in the 1980s to allegedly spearheading what is known as the largest bioterror attack in American history and spending 39 months in prison, Ma Anand Sheela’s life is one that fascinates and intrigues.
But who is the woman beyond the persona of the commune leader? What is Sheela like behind the sensational ‘tough titties’ avatar? Manbeena Sandhu followed the Osho movement for two decades before her journey finally led her to Sheela. Nothing to Lose is a no-holds-barred account of Sheela’s life, her intense relationship with Bhagwan, and the riveting story of what actually happened behind the closed doors of the cult’s ashram.*
A LOOK AT LIFE IN A NORTH INDIAN VILLAGE
Anil Singh, a banker working in London, finds out that his uncle has died in Palanpur a village in north India, and that he is the sole heir. Egged on by his India-loving girlfriend, Pat, Anil decides to go and take charge of his property (a small house and some farmland) and learn more about the country his parents came from. An ardent photographer, he takes his cameras along to avoid boredom and with the hope of later publishing photos of the village in a coffee-table book. He even thinks he might try his hand at being a gentleman farmer. On the way to the village, Anil discovers his uncle was murdered and the police has arrested his uncle’s domestic help, a Dalit woman named Neetu, but no one believes that she could be the killer.
While the murder mystery is one thread of the story, we follow Anil as he bumbles along through Palanpur, making friends and mistakes. He is determined to help the villagers by bringing modern amenities and development to the village. This leads him to a sometimes confusing, yet eye-opening journey through the myriad complexities of northern India – the politics of different caste groups (The thakurs, the muraos, the dalits) jealousies, disruption, bureaucratic nightmares, poverty, gender disparity, power struggles and the turmoil of a village divided.
Rumble in a Village starts out as a murder mystery but the narrative soon broadens into an entertaining and insightful fictional look at life in a village. The novel based on Jean Dreze’s observations as a researcher in real life village paints a compelling portrait of the darkness and light that invests the lives of villagers in northern India.
*All copy from press releases.