HT Picks: The most interesting books of the week
This week’s recommended reads includes a new translation of the Bhagavad Gita, a study of what makes restaurants successful in India, and a biography of one of India’s mighty riversUpdated: Nov 08, 2019 20:18 IST
THE BHAGAVAD GITA TRANSLATED BY BIBEK DEBROY
As a spiritual guide, the Bhagavadgita is a mesmerizing account of the debate between right and wrong, and the bond between action and consequence. One of the core Hindu scriptures is part of the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and unfolds in the form of a dialogue between Krishna and the Pandava prince, Arjuna.
This beautifully produced bilingual edition is a masterful verse-for-verse translation, providing the original Sanskrit verses alongside the English rendition. Bibek Debroy’s deep familiarity with the text yields a treasure trove of insights that will delight the scholar and the lay reader alike, making this essential reading for anyone with an abiding interest in Indian scriptures.*
THE UNQUIET RIVER BY ARUPJYOTI SAIKIA
The unruly Brahmaputra has always been an agent in shaping both the landscape of its valley and the livelihoods of its inhabitants. But how much do we know of this river’s rich past?
Historian Arupjyoti Saikia’s biography of the Brahmaputra reimagines the layered history of Assam with the unquiet river at the centre. The book combines a range of disciplinary scholarship to unravel the geological forces as well as human endeavour which have shaped the river into what it is today. Wonderfully illuminated with archival detail and interwoven with narratives and striking connections, the book allows the reader to imagine the Brahmaputra’s course in history.
This evocative and compelling book will be interesting reading for anyone trying to understand the past and the present of a river confronted by the twenty-first century’s ambitious infrastructural designs to further reengineer the river and its landscape. *
BUSINESS ON A PLATTER BY ANOOTHI VISHAL
In India’s cut-throat restaurant industry, fame and fortune rest on a knife’s edge. Over the past two decades, the sector has seen an unprecedented boom – with the introduction of experiential restaurants, global cuisines and modern Indian food, and chefs seeking to establish credible ventures to serve consumers more open to culinary diversity than ever before.
Watch: This week’s Bookstack
But behind all the glamour, there lies a cautionary tale: restaurants are tough business in a market characterized by high costs, an unclear regulatory framework and fickle consumers who often prize discounts over quality. And while the last few years have seen private equity investment enter the space, there have been few notable exits, and returns on investment remain nebulous even as restaurants struggle with slim profit margins and high mortality rates.
In Business on a Platter, Anoothi Vishal dives deep into the complex business of restaurants and takes a hard look at where it’s all headed. Building on her observations of the sector over two decades, she analyses stories of survival, failure and turnarounds, while also tracing the history of food retail from Mughal India to the newest brands pushing the envelope. Incisive and percipient, this book is the ultimate guide to the business of food in India. *
*All copy from book flap