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Posts Tagged ‘Tibet’


If Truth Be Told: A Monk Memoir
Om Swami | Harper Element | Rs 499

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.54 PMAmit Sharma grew up in Patiala and flew to Australia to study and eventually work in the IT software industry. Then one day, he decided to renounce his family, wealth (including a Porsche) and friends in Sydney to embark on a spiritual journey because he says, he “wanted to devote his life to the search of Truth”. He returned to India, sought out Kashi, gurus, tantric yoga and wisdom. He says he attained “enlightenment” in a forest and that ‘tantra’ is not about tantric sex but realizing the self. Today, he runs an ashram in Uttaranchal and seeks followers.

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Item Girl
Richa Lakhera | Rupa| Rs 195

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.39 PMThe story hidden between the pages of this thriller – set in the underbelly of Bollywood studios – zeros on rape, blackmail and ‘ma-behen’ invectives to paint what the blurb at the back of the book announces as “the dark side of showbiz”. It’s a tedious read – the ramble, the hectoring, the sloth of thought and the language of tired clichés (the plants were rotting alive; feet sounding brittle and hard on scratchy shabby grass; her first film turned out to be a stellar hit). Rupa needs to tighten its editing skills and Lakhera her story telling abilities.

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For Tibet, With Love
Isabel Losada | Bloomsbury | Rs 299

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.56.25 PMIsabel Losada, a journalist from Battersea, England, travels to China, India and London to decipher how Tibet can win autonomy from Chinese rule. Along the way, she learns that world can’t be changed by staging world concerts or by calling the Chinese evil. Aptly subtitled as a “beginners guide for changing the world”, Losada in this book finally reaches out to Dalai Lama asking him what she and others who felt like her could do? He tells her to continue writing, learn from Gandhi’s ‘constructive determination’ and accept the ‘humanism’ of the Tibetan culture. Wise.

(The above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 15 February 2015)

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Sky Train
Canyon Sam | Tranquebar | Rs 350

When Canyon Sam first paid a visit to Tibet in 1986 it had just opened its doors to foreign visitors. That was when she started to record women’s oral histories. Twenty-five years later she returned to meet some of the women again. The book at hand is the result of these encounters. In it, through the eyes of the women, Sam recounts the gory days of the Cultural Revolution, its aftermath and the changes wrought by the Chinese in Tibet thereafter. The book won the Pen American Centre Open Book Award in 2010.

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The Clockwork Man
William Jablonsky | Westland | Rs 225

The Clockwork Man is a journal of a robot, Ernst, who’s not human but a machine created by a master clockmaker just before the break out of WWII. It is divided into two parts: the first corresponds to his ‘youth’ in Germany and the latter with his resuscitation 100 years later in present day Milwaukee, US. While in his first avtaar the Clockwork Man is a family man, in the second he emerges as a superhero that grinds criminals and saves the innocent. Through all this the writer looks at crime as inevitable and always present aspect of human existence.

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The Woman Who Flew
Nasreen Jahan | Penguin | Rs 399

To many, Taslima Nasreen is the best-known writer from Bangladesh. Yet few know of her peers, among whom Nasreen Jahan stands out as one of the most important writers of our time. Nasreen Jahan writes in Bangla and reads very little in English. She’s a prolific writer with more than 50 titles to her name. In this book, she paints a candid albeit grim portrait of contemporary Bangladesh, through a story of a young woman who moves from a small town to the megacity and finds herself divorced and thrown into conflict with traditional patriarchy. The book won her the Philips Literary Prize in 1994.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 8 July 2012)

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Re-Imaging the Indus
Samir Saran & Hans Rasmussen Theting| KW Publishers| Rs 495

This monograph, prepared by a Delhi-based research foundation in collaboration with the Lahore University of Management Sciences, looks at how Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is viewed by India and Pakistan, in each other’s media. To understand the discourse the researchers zeroed on media coverage of the issue during 2010. The study is based on news reports and features published in major English dailies on both sides of the border. The finding?  For Pakistan, the Indus river is synonymous with rural needs. For India, water is an urban infrastructure issue. Both countries are guilty of looking for engineering solution to water management, ignoring the organic nature and its symbiotic relationship with the people.

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In The Shadow of The Buddha
Matteo Pistono| Hay House| Rs 299

Tibet has enchanted western scholars for a long time now. Pistono follows a familiar terrain. His journey into Tibet and India is more about his own self realisation than reconstruction of the life and times of the 19th century mystic, Tertin Sogyal – whose story he ostensibly sets out to tell. Sogyal was the spiritual and political mentor to the previous Dalai Lama. Along the way, we are privy to the author’s self-congratulatory escapades – where he claims to have photo-documented the infamous demolition of Larung camp that hit the international headlines in 2001. We only have his word on this. The book offers us no facsimile documents or pictures to collaborate his claim.

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Opening Night
Diksha Basu| Harper Collins| Rs 250

“India is no longer what it was,” exclaims the writer of this debut novel set in modern-day Mumbai. The middle class Maharashtrians, Punjabis, Tamilians, Gujaratis and Biharis living around Dadar are nice but “they aren’t particularly interesting”. The place to be is Bandra, where there is a “high concentration of good looking people” and where instead of silk saris “middle aged Indian ladies in short skirts and tank tops mingle with hipsters”. There is more: odd plus handsome equals charming, she says, while odd and ugly is creepy. It’s heartening that the writer is pursuing a course in creative writing – who knows, her next offering may be more worth our while.

(An edited version of the above reviews was published in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 5 February 2012)

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No Rest for the Dead
Ed by Andrew F Gulli & Lamia Gulli |Simon & Schuster| Rs 499

This multi-author mystery featuring capital punishment, revenge and alcoholism was put together by the managing editor of The Strand, the legendary British mystery magazine. Inspired in part by past experiments such as The Floating Admiral published by the Detective Club in 1930s, this book took brother-sister duo six years to complete. Gulli, who is friends with many crime authors, initially roped in 12 writers but the result was ‘frustrating’, so he expanded it to 26. He wrote the prologue for it and handed it over to the writers, to pen a chapter each. The list of contributors includes celebrity thriller writer Jeffery Deaver, who has written the latest James Bond sequel, Carte Blanche. Available as e-book and audio book on Amazon.

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How to Love Your Body
Yaana Gupta| Penguin| Rs 199

Though dubbed as ‘the next generation diet book’ this slim book shuns all diets. Instead, it advises you to eat wisely and listen to what your body needs. The learning for Yaana came from her modeling career in which she starved and binged in turn. In the book, the pretty Czech reveals that she came from a broken home, started modeling at 15 and aspired to be Christy Turlington. But her modeling career never took off in Europe because of her short height. She made it in Japan and India though. In India she observes, the models were skinny “all bones, no ass, no boobs” and “height did not matter”.
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Himalayan Art
Swati Chopra| Roli Books| Rs 695

This coffee book provides a simple introduction to the art and crafts of the Himalayan region. Stretching from Afghanistan to North East India it is nearly impossible to codify the influences that shaped it. Yet, Chopra attempts to give it a voice by setting aside specifics of art objects and emphasising the dominant religious philosophy and rituals. The vast swathes of Himalayas from Tibet, Ladakh, Sikkim, Lahoul and Spiti, parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Bhutan are thus capped as Vajrayana Buddhist; Himachal and Uttranchal as Brahminical Hinduism; Nepal, a melting pot of Hinduism and Buddhism; Afghanistan of Hellenic art; and Kashmir, of Bhakti-Sufi and Shaiva-Tantric practices. Beautiful colour plates make for an interesting flip through.

(An edited version of the above reviews appeared in the Sunday edition of the Mail Today, New Delhi, dated 1 January 2012)

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