10 great books to sink into as the monsoon begins. Preview them here
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How to Fall Out of Love Madly
Let me tell you something about my stomach. It’s big and I hate it. I think about it all the time. I think about the way it looks in shirts and dresses, the way it sits over my jeans and hangs over the edge. When I’m sitting, it juts out in the most hideous way with big folds. There’s no flattering way for me to sit with it so I think about ways to not sit, and I think about sucking it in whenever it is that I am sitting.
In 1842, Sayyid Sa‘īd (1791–1856), the Sultan of Oman and Zanzibar, checked with the British Consul at Muscat if it would be disrespectful to recycle to the Nizam of Hyderabad, in India, a carriage and harness that was gifted to him by Queen Victoria. He said he had not made any use of it, as there were no roads of any description in Zanzibar where he could use it. As a result, the carriage remained in its packing case. He once got it taken out to have a look at it and then got it repacked.
It was a Monday when I met restaurant entrepreneur Rohit Khattar for lunch at Indian Accent, the pre-eminent eatery in his Delhi portfolio, esteemed for its menu of contemporary interpretations of classic Indian dishes and regional specialities served in chic surroundings. The elegant dining room was respectably patronized on what is the quietest day of the week for the hospitality industry, and with the socially fabulous (usually prominent here) at home recovering from the weekend, this left Khattar free to give our conversation his undivided attention.
WELCOME MY FRIEND, WHAT CHANCE HAS BROUGHT YOU HERE?
Dust swirled around the sandstone pillars of the Jama Masjid, as the sun made its white domes glow. It was 1975 in Old Delhi, and an excitable crowd stood huddled around a transistor radio, waiting to hear whether India had successfully launched its first satellite, Aryabhata, named after the Indian astronomer, into space. Amid the traffic and flag-waving throngs, a young girl, who couldn’t have been older than ten, with the complexion of dried sugarcane and the rounded, hopeful features of a cherub, held a ragged bouquet of orange paper flowers in her hands.
Dear reader, welcome to this book. Where I will take you to a sleepy little town, tucked away in the majestic hills of Himachal. The town is called Aaraampur. And no, that’s not a spelling mistake. It’s not Rampur.
6th September 2011, Nainital, Uttarakhand