Volume 2 Issue 7www.justbooksclc.comblog.justbooksclc.com CONNECT September 2011 For limited circulation A JustBooks Publication When In Doubt Pg 10 Quiz Pg 14 Just Kids Pg 15 AuthorAnindita Sengupta with this brand of clear, refreshing free- Profile dom. Neither are Dalits. The difficulty of this is not that some-A recent interview of Amitav Ghosh body, just anybody, has made the state-contains what many consider gaffes ment but that the person is one of ouron the writers part. Perhaps the finest writers and intellectuals. His words person who wrote The Shadow Lines, afault lies in interview overdose says, carry weight. People who dont know bet- deeply affecting saga which examinedAnindita Sengupta. ter may, on reading this, think cheerily among other things, the identity issues of that India is indeed a place of amazing Bangladeshi refugees. Why is he spoutingI ndia offers untrammeled freedom. Im liberty or liberation. clichés that sit better in the mouths of not certain about this but writer As blunders go, this one gains prickli- India-shining political campaigners? Amitav Ghosh seems to be. "Thats one ness because its also a reminder of the More importantly, this makes me thinkof the wonderfully liberating things about accusation that Indians writing in English of the writer as celebrity, and the perils ofIndia; it lets you be exactly who you want to often face. Elitism. this. Writers have always been expectedbe," he said in a recent interview with Lila Ensconced in privilege, out of touch to be articulate and thoughtful, intellectu-Azam Zanganeh for Guernica magazine. with reality and unable to write about al (and moral) beacons.Predictably, this roused some rants, espe- universes outside their own—these are Whether this expectation is fair or not iscially on Facebook where it was hotly dis- the charges. Some of Ghoshs statements another debate. Many of us look to writ-cussed in some circles. in this interview help the perception. ers for that rare and strange quality, wis- Being exactly who you want to be can be (Elsewhere, he talks about how "almost dom. Frequently, they provide this notthorny in India unless you are upper everyone" he knows "constantly" travels just in the books they write but also viaclass, upper caste and male. Women between continents and nation-states.) articles, essays and interviews. Withacross most classes are not acquainted Im pained in a personal way. This is the contd on pg 2...
2 JustBooks Connect - September 2011 contd from pg 1... From the Editor’s Internet magazines mushrooming Desk like a bad case of acne, opportunities have multiplied. Celebrity writers are barraged by H requests from small and big journals ow many times you have and what was once driven by an wanted to write and you urgent need to say something has did write but felt the devolved into a weekly task to be thoughts that were so clear in your ticked off the to-do list. mind, you have not been able to We can agree solemnly over chai capture them in words. that writers should know better than Then you chided yourself that to air their views when tired, drunk, everyone cannot be a writer. How sleepy, brain-dead, zoned, distracted does one become a writer? Should or numb. But publicity is tempting. one be born with the writing talent Email interviews make things even or can one acquire it? easier. Shout into the void and some- Similar questions come up when one will reply. If the shouts not one talks about reading as a habit. always lucid, it will hopefully be What makes one a reader? How buried under twenty other inter- can we encourage reading and views. help people acquire this habit? Its impossible for anyone to be wise In our quest to find answers to on tap, all the time. The answer, it such questions, we at JustBooks Royal Geographical Society. And I dont would seem, is to say no more often. came to a conclusion that perhaps mean horse. Women writers, he said, had When in doubt, shut up. if we can bring out the various a "narrow view of the world" and were too Reclusiveness may be considered a psy- facets of our literary, publishing "sentimental". This is because a woman chological negative, a symptom of anxi- and printing industry and people was "not a complete master of a house, so that ety, fear or paranoia, but in this case its in involved in them, in form of inter- comes over in her writing too". order. esting stories, feature articles, Journalist and critic Nilanjana Roy J.M. Coetzee didnt show to collect his interviews, etc. and put them points out that this should not shock any- Nobel prize and sent a recorded accept- together in a magazine format, it one because "a list of Sir Vidias targets ance speech instead. might inspire people to take up a over the decades includes Africans, Muslim More recently at the Jaipur Literary book. invaders in India, infies (inferior people) of all Festival, he refused to talk before read- We have been working on such a colours and races, Indian women writers, his ing, letting the words in his book suffice. literary magazine and will share wives, his lovers, his friends, his editors, This may be an extreme-and lets face it, more details with you soon. So including the nonagenarian Diana Athill, the we readers love our celebrities just as watch out for this space! issuers of worthless degrees (Oxbridge), fool- much as Hollywood junkies love theirs- Now coming to this edition, our ish people, people who do not serve him his but restraint can be sexy. lead article focuses on why famous vegetables in separate dishes…". We have the opposite of that in Sir and well-established writers, His arrogance is certainly apparent. On Vidia who unfailingly entertains us year whom we believe to represent our any women writer being equal to him, Sir after year. Lately, he made an equine ani- intelligentsia, make statements Vidia said: "I read a piece of writing and mal of himself while speaking at the that not just create controversy but within a paragraph or two I know changes our opinion about them. whether it is by a woman or not. I Sometimes the statements are think [it is] unequal to me." misconstrued or said in haste but From all hearsay and based sometimes they are meant to be on the couple of times Ive met what they are! him in person, Ghosh is not We also have an interview with anything like Sir Vidia. three promising multi faceted per- Perhaps, he didnt quite mean sonalities, who share their journey what he said. Or didnt mean it as a writer with us. Some of the like that. Or something. Maybe questions raised at the beginning Im off the mark by miles. of this column will have an answer Maybe he meant every word. in their reply. Lets hope not. We hope that reading about these writers will prompt our Source Credits: members to start writing and sending in their contributions to http://www.guernicamag.com /interviews/2674/ghosh_5_15_11/ us. As usual, do tell us what you http://akhondofswat.blogspot. think of this edition and send us com/2011/06/speaking-volumes- your feedback to editor@just- some-notes-on-sir.html booksclc.com. http://www.thehindu.com/arts /books/article2071298 .ece
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 3Freedom DeliveranceJonathan Franzen Gauri Deshpande, Translated by Shashi Deshpande4th Series Press Women UnlimitedAnindita Sengupta Dr. Rajeshwari Ghose F T irst, the Berglunds. Patty and Walter are his novella was originally written in ideal neighbours, loving parents and 1987 in Marathi and recently translated upstanding members of American subur- into English by Shashi Deshpande. bia. The fact that it was written in a regional Patty is humble to the point to self deprecation, Indian language and that too well over two remembers peoples birthdays and knows where decades ago has a special significance. Certain to recycle batteries. subjects were not openly discussed then and Walter is well-meaning and gentle. But there we, in India, had a number of sacred cows are several chinks in this middle class bliss: Patty that we did not address in an open forum. Theloves their younger child Joey too much, at least one neighbour Indian notion of motherhood was one suchfinds her condescending and men find her too charming. More sacrosanct image. Gauri Deshpande clinically examines asurprising is the fact that Joey is having sex at 12 with his 13- mother-daughter relationship, a family dynamic that is volatileyear-old neighbour and soon decides to move in next door. and full of its own unresolved issues. Evening is the Whole Day Burnt ShadowsPreeta Samarasan Kamila ShamsieHarperCollins PicadorAnindita Sengupta Anindita Sengupta S B et in post-independence Malaysia, Preeta urnt Shadows treads ambitiously across Samarasans impressive debut novel a lot of terrain-cities and language, tur- explores how the coils of family can bind moil, loss, survival, and love-and in and strangle. The British have left and Malaysia doing so, manages to move, bruise and heal. is a tumultuous land heaving with the strug- The story begins with a prologue: a man in a gles and competitions of its three primary prison cell wonders "How did it come to this". races. In the midst of political turmoil, a In four separate, intricately drawn sections Tamilian family manages their equally tumul- about Nagasaki, Delhi, Karachi and New York,tuous (though less obviously bloody) relationships, and tries to Shamsie unravels the answer to that question. Knowing the trajec-remain sane. For the most part, Samarasan exercises consider- tory, one might imagine that the rest is predictable but its notable control over her prose, unleashing torrential description really. There is enough unexpectedness and nuance to carry thewhen required and switching to a sparer register at moments of story beyond the severity of war polemic. And yet, the larger his-keen tension or menace. There is quite a bit of humour here as tories that inform and affect these individual lives are alwayswell. Samarasan has crafted a novel that is dark and honest, and there, barely hidden away like the bird-shaped burns on Hirokosone that holds much meaning to ponder. back. Crucial Confrontations: Tools for resolving bro- The Big Questionsken promises, violated expectations and bad behav- Steven E. Landsburg Pocket BooksiorKerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al SwitzlerTata McGraw-Hill Dr. RajagopalanManjula Sundharam C T rucial Confrontations talks about how he big philosophical questions are we can express our disappointments and grouped into four categories by expectations. Landsburg: What is reality? What is the The authors teach us with relevant examples, nature of our beliefs? How do we gain knowl- what we need to do before, during and after edge? What is right and wrong? Ideas and holding a crucial confrontation. methods of mathematics, physics and eco- The book provides useful strategies for corpo- nomics are used to understand these big ques- rate executives to hold people accountable for tions more rigorously. their non performance. Landsburg, who earlier gave us The Armchair Economist Though there are no guarantees that confrontation would and More Sex is Safer Sex, has done it again: provoking usmagically transform people around us, the authors offer many with big questions, novel explanations and leaving us to wres-easy to understand strategies for leaders to act as facilitators, tle with more questions. Over all this is a fantastic travel-read:enablers and supporters. short, witty and important. For detailed reviews check out justbooksclc.com
4 JustBooks Connect - September 2011In the hills A Paean to Love of hill dwellers. There is Charu, MayasThe Folded Earth student who is still unable to read or “Though I cannot know precisely write despite Mayas best efforts. She when it happened, a time hadAnuradha Roy falls in love with a half Nepali waiter come when I had become a hill- and Maya is a sort of intermediary andMacLehose Press spectator of their blossoming love story. person who was only at peace Finally there is Veer, Diwan Sahibs where the earth rose and fell in nephew. Maya is guiltily drawn to him waves like the sea."Geetanjali Singh Chanda but he is a mysterious character who has his own secrets to hide and discover. young Charu, for example, compelled by Each character has their particular the necessity of a distant love learns final- story and yet together they form the rich ly to read and write. And more astonish-A tapestry of Mayas world. nuradha Roys second novel The ingly she, who has never even ventured Ranikhet, Diwan Sahib and his crum- Folded Earth is a deeply evoca- to the next village, recklessly heads off to bling old house referred to as the Light tive and compassionate love Delhi by bus on her own to find her love House provide Maya a refuge and a lov-story. Love is an overused word that has Kundan Singh. The thought of what ing space for healing. And together theybeen reduced to banality and yet there is could and almost did happen to her is succeed in seducing a plains-dwellingno other word that so aptly conveys the chilling. Sheer innocence and guts though Maya into becoming a hill-essence of this book. have a chance of being rewarded - at least person. This multi layered and complex story in fiction.explores love in the very real Roys prose is sheer poetry. It is ele-and deep sense of the word. gant, lyrical, chiseled and polished toIt is not only about the love perfection. The images are imaginativebetween people but every and unforgettable. Charuscharacter, the flora and fauna Grandmother, known to all as Amaand the place itself are for instance is described thus, "Her eyesimbued with love. had a quiverful of lines at their corners." Ranikhet particularly is gen- But aside from this particularly strik-tly drawn more as character ing image we also know her by herthan a place where the story loud voice "that could carry across sev-unfolds. At one level the novel eral valleys." though not all the char-could be read as an elegy for acters are hill people. There are alsoboth Ranikhet (and other such cameo appearances by well knownhill stations) and for Diwan urban scholars such asSahib. Diwan Sahib, the gently Ramachandra Guha - "a tall dis-ageing, ex-finance minister of the tracted-looking man in glasses" whoNawab of Surajgarh is a central comes to visit Diwan Sahib to cullfigure and the grand old man of out information about the Nehru-Ranikhet. Edwina letters that he is sup- The story unfolds in Ranikhet posed to possess. The singlewhere a young widow Maya has damning fact about Guha inbeen living and working at Saint Diwan Sahibs book is that "heHildas school. Mayas marriage to a didnt have a single drink." It isyoung Christian Michael Secuira so these insightful and preciseoutraged her father that he disowns details that form vivid wordand refuses to see her again. A few portraits that bring alive bothshort years after their marriage though major and minor characters. She notes theMichael is tragically killed at 1500-feet The Folded Earth is not just a pastoral moment of her transformation,during a trekking expedition. or hill romance. Roys concern for the "Though I cannot know precisely when it hap- Maya flees Hyderabad for Ranikhet to environment, the destruction of the hill- pened, a time had come when I had become abe closer, at least in spirit, to Michael. She side by a rampaging and heedless urban- hill-person who was only at peace where thejoins St. Hildas school as a teacher and ization, consumerism, the manipulation earth rose and fell in waves like the sea."creates an alternate family. of people by cynical politicians and the The novel also follows the standard and There is Diwan Sahib —her landlord — inroads made by strident fundamen- more usual love stories, although each isan irascible old man who loves his drink, talisms simmer just below the surface. unique. The elusive love letters betweenis fabled to have the secret letters of Although this is a quiet novel it is the last Vicerine Edwina MountbattenEdwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal deeply centered and grounded in a core and Indias first Prime MinisterNehru and has been working on a biogra- philosophic conception of the meaning of Jawaharlal Nehru frame and permeatephy of Jim Corbett for the past many an ethical life that is in harmony with the other stories with a mix of desperateyears. nature and people. longing and a melancholic nostalgia. The He initiates Maya into the life and ways
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 5Building blocks Last Man Standing and Masterji, who starts by refusing in surprise for a construction workers fam-Last Man in Tower solidarity with his friends and then on ily on a site visit.Aravind AdigaFourth Estate principle. If the premise of the book is a tad pre- dictable — a simple man challenging a M asterji is morally upright and true to his belief to the end but also comes across as a tight-fisted man unable more powerful one — what saves it from to empathise with anyone elses plight. being so is Adigas approach towards Adigas brilliant writing ensures that each character. we shift our sympathies from character toReshmi Chakraborty He spares no effort in meticulously character as we read along. drawing out each one of them and We empathise with Masterji, the old plumbing hidden depths. The disgrun- man who has lost his daughter to a freakA ravind Adigas Last Man in tled yet hopeful Mrs. Puri dreams of a accident, wife to old age and ailment and Tower is a quick paced, entertain- better life with her son Ramu, who suf- is somewhat estranged from his only son. ing read about the battle for real fers from Downs Syndrome; the battle- But we also understand Mrs. Puri and herestate in Mumbai, told from the perspec- ship Mrs. Rego constantly tries to trump desire to have a better house and a bittives of various protagonists, the more money so that she doesnt have tomain being Yogesh Murthy or spend her life washing her sons bot-Masterji. tom. The residents of Vishram Adiga is excellent in creating thisSociety, Tower A, know they live dilemma. For most part, our sympa-on the wrong side of the tracks, in thies lie with Masterji, especially as hisVakola. It is in fact a neighbour- once kindly neighbours take turns inhood so questionable that many making him feel like an outsider andof them, like Communist Aunty his own son turns his back on him.Mrs. Rego, whose sister lives in You appreciate him for staying true toBandra (West), are not quite sure his cause but also wonder what is thehow to pronounce it -- Va-KHO- true reason behind his refusal to sign onla or VAA-k-la? the dotted line when the building, as In the Mumbai of shiny high- the author doesnt fail to remind us, isrises with foreign names and almost crumbling anyway? Is it simplyincreasing slums, Vishram is a to save the place where he has the max-rundown, could-crumble-any- imum memories or a stubborn ego mas-time mansion that was estab- sage?lished in 1959 as an example of Adiga remains ambiguous, giving usgood housing for good Indians. something to be frustrated about and You need to climb up the dingy mull on.stairwell, though an Otis lift His Masterji is a wonderful character-exists, but unreliably so. The build- isation, peppered with comic and seri-ing itself, once pink in colour, is ous notes, from his idealistic beliefs tonow a rainwater-stained, fungus- his refusal to ever step on a scrap of thelicked grey, says Adiga, describ- Times of India because an ex-student ofing Mumbais scores of decrepit his writes for the paper. An ex-studenthousing societies in one very visual sen- her sister who has so far trumped her in who doesnt bother to answer his letterstence. Last Man in Tower is full of marriage and area of residence; the inef- later in the book. Adiga extends thedescriptions like these, of Vishram and its fectual secretary Kothari longs to see the comic tone to most of the characters, giv-residents, of Vakola and its slums and of pink flamingos of his African youth and ing the sinister turn of events in the bookMumbai, the ultimate mix of muck, the blind Mrs. Pinto who finds her way a lighter touch.money and middle class ambition. by instinct through the dingy stairwells Ultimately, this is a Bombay book that Into this mire steps real estate develop- of Vishram and cannot think of moving anyone who has ever battled the localer Dharmen Shah, who makes the resi- anywhere else. train crowds or waded through kneedents an offer of redevelopment they can-not refuse. Most of them dont, as the W hile retired schoolteacher Yogesh Murthy or Masterji remains the central character, he isnt exactly the hero deep dirty water during the incessant monsoon or set their times by the tap would be able to identify with. It is also aoffer spells the chance to move to a betterapartment in a better location. either. His rival Dharmen Shah has all the reflection of the city itself, indeed of most In other words, an overall better life. characteristics of the unscrupulous cities across the country, where rampantFew people refuse. The social worker builder (bribery, coercion, mistress half construction is pushing lesser privilegedMrs. Rego, who has a deep distrust of his age) but is also a self-made man who citizens to a corner of no choice andbuilders and an abiding attachment to never quite forgets his struggles and where it seems corruption can conquerany cause, the elderly Mr. and Mrs. Pinto leaves behind a twenty rupee note as a anything.
6 JustBooks Connect - September 2011In conversation A tete-e-tete on writingPushpa Achanta respected journal from Aligarh fea- tured my essay on sustainable ener- gy that one of my teachers sent to them, unknown to me. My firstHow many times have you won- novel (or novella, published indered- I wish I could write. The ones 2000), outrageously titled Ofwho can write are wondering who Seminal Fluids rebelled againstwill publish my work and those you myself, my friends and the publish-get published are worried about who ing worlds norms. After my shortwill read their writing! stories appeared in Webzines, I took them seriously. Pushpa Achanta tried to findanswers to these questions from CW: Year 2000 heralded my firstsome established and some emerging poetry collection Squattingwriters. Quietly from Firstfruits She talked to Zafar Anjum (ZA), Publications - an earnest book fruc-who is a journalist, poet, novelist, tified through my desire to writefilm maker; Cyril Wong (CW) a poet, differently into a literary scene thatauthor, journal editor, arts centre felt monotonous and repressed.manager and to M. C. Raj (MCR), The self is highly neutered in our local literature; and my poetrywho is a rights campaigner, commu- highlights the nudity of a self livingnity leader, and an author. through intense feelings (god for- Here they share their stories on bid deep feelings or individualismwhat got them to start writing, how in Singapore).they published their first work andthe disappointments and accolades MCR: My first published book Zafar Anjumthey received in their writing jour- was in 1997 about Foucaults analysis of Hearteningly, some Bangalore collegesney. the dominant society. I disagreed with his organized seminars on my first work. conclusion that problematizing isHow and when did you start writing? enough. A writer must also express what My next book Dalitology, released he or she thinks as strategies to address before 6,000 people (from across India) in ZA: I began penning Urdu essays, early problems. Critical acclaim for my book Bangalore sold 2,000 copies quickly.on. Prizes in school and college competi- From Periphery to Centre - An Analysis Being recognized as Dalitologys authortions encouraged me. Essays distilled my of the Paradigms of Globalization, thrills me. Disappointingly, some friendsthoughts on specific topics; cogent pres- Casteism and Dalitism encouraged me to disassociated with me after Dalitology. Ientation was an art. I dabbled in poetry write more. like Rajiv Malhotras critical analysis oftoo-I never attempted short stories origi- Dalitology. I want to know if readersnally. Im not into poetry nowadays. What was the response to your initial shatter my views with their understand- writing? Did any specific recognition, ing. CW: With authenticity and artistic com- appreciation, criticism affect you?mitment, I started writing during univer-sity. Many suppressed emotions and ZA: My initial fiction works criticism What makes you write now? Which areideas about growing up, school and taught me much. I won a short story con- your favourite themes?national service experiences figured in test to represent India at a SAARCmy poems. Writers Conference in Colombo in 2002. ZA: Underdogs, injustice and systemic Little Magazine publishing and choosing coercion move me. Perhaps, I seek world- MCR: I began writing in 1984. When my my short story as a finalist for a new ly moral balance through my writings.wife Jyothi and I initiated work among writer award in 2006 was honourable and Apparently, my stories explore theTumkurs rural poor, I authored an unexpected. pathology of modernity.unpublished book called Tumkur At aGlance. After two years, I collated our CW: Terrible. Media and some readers Ive no favourite themes but unjust actsexperiences and successes into another loved the book. But many older folks in always provoke me. And love and humanunpublished work named The the "establishment" disapproved my non- relationships. Nowadays, I am interestedBeginnings. social, too-personal poetry. That only in chronicling lives of people touched by made me to continue writing. the global financial meltdown.Which was your first published work MCR: Launching a series on Dalit liter- CW: Favourite themes-love; our con-and when? How did that occur? ature, Sage Books said that my book flicted relationships to the hole at the cen- would be the first. But despite appreciat- tre of all our lives. ZA: My first publication: in class VI, a ing it, they could not publish it. Shocked, I started publishing my books myself.
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 7 past lovers often inspire my poems. The CW: Read more than pain and the heartache. you write. MCR: Frequently, I discuss my writings MCR: I avoid advis- with my family for their reflection. ing. I want to be a but- I validate my fiction with my children terfly attaining absolute as they know the taste of modern youth. I freedom when mature. value my familys support. Harming none, butter- flies drinks natures nec- Do you enjoy or dislike reading any par- tar and die unnoticed. ticular authors, poets and genres? People can be butterflies maturing in their own ZA: I wont read someone because he or space and time. she is a bestseller. Writers can barely cap- tivate me for 300 pages. Have your family mem- I enjoy my favourite Urdu poets verses bers or friends con- and different genres except horror. I love tributed to your writ- biographies, letters and diaries of great ing? writers and thinkers. ZA: My family and CW: I hate any poem that does not friends support me, reflect the soul (or anything defined as though I dont show "soul"). Many male poets are painful to them my work. My read (or women trying to imitate men) wifes backing keeps me because they probably prioritize accom- going. plishments over great emotional urgency. I find novels tedious. I love everything M. C. Raj CW: My family and else. MCR: I love deep philosophy. MCR: Writing is my habit. I write at Habermas, Foucault, Chomsky andnight. Recently, I began penning fiction. Radhakrishnan were my favourites.This year I have two published novels I like Faranz Fannon. I dislike light(Raachi and Yokiana) and some non-fic- topics and rhetoric.tion works. My third novel is ready - Imintensively authoring another. Would you like to add anything? My favourite theme is philosophy. ButI also write on Psychology and ZA: I dont take my writing seri-Spirituality. Lately, Ive entered love, ously. I wonder if my writing issexuality and relationship through fic- worth anything. The talent and pre-tion. cocity of the masters is awe inspir- ing. Ive a long way to go.Any advice for new and emerging writ-ers? CW: Nah. ZA: Fundamentally, understand your MCR: Having extremely poor,reason for writing. You are probably unlettered parents, Im content at ris-wasting your time if you write for ing from burning ashes. Im rebel-money or fame. Read and write much lious, enjoy oratory and solitude.without hope and despair. My books are apparently tough to Be very critical about your work. understand. I load my words withInteract and learn from other writers. meaning. Ive tried writing lucidly.And when sure of writing, continue; Perhaps, after my death many willalthough realizing your dream might read my writing. Cyril wongtake decades. Zafar Anjum Cyril Wong M. C. Raj Zafar is a cineaste, an avid blogger Wong is called Singapores first confes- Based in Tumkur, Karnataka, Raj is a (dreamink.blogspot.com) and editor sional poet. He is an author of nine vol- community leader, novelist, non-fiction of Kitaab.org and Writersconnect.org, umes of poetry. He is also the poetry jour- writer and campaigner for electoral websites dedicated to Asian writing nal editor (www.softblow.org) and an reforms in India. He has more than 15 in English. operations manager at The Substation, published books to his name. He writes He is an award-winning journalist Singapore’s first independent arts centre. on philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and fiction writer. An Indian who A featured poet of several Literary and politics etc. He generally writes on Dalit now lives in Singapore, Zafar consid- Writers Festival, Wong recently completed issues and is an international opinion ers himself a film maker too. his doctoral degree in English literature. leader. He leads a powerful Dalit Movement in Karnataka.
8 JustBooks Connect - September 2011 Reader’s Reader’s contribution Healthy milk from the farm Voice Kushii H So delicious and nice. Fruits so delicious Khushii has a farm house on Yummy apples, bananas and man-I have been a member of JustBooks for Kanakapura Road, which she often goes too the past 10 months. At first, I had visits. Till my tummy is full of fruits. thought it was a shop for books. I There they have animals likeasked my friend if he knew anything cows, dog, sheep and lot of hens. And there are animalsabout it. He said that he was a memberand that it was a library which had all Coconut, Guava and Chikoo trees Cats, cows and horses toothe books that had been released in and some vegetables too. A care- Which keep you on your toes.India and also some other foreign books. taker family stays there (farmer).I kept pestering my parents until they Khushii wrote this poem in her Farmer Penny and the whole ganggot me a membership there. schools creative writing book and Pond you see looks so nice When I got my membership, there the topic was given by her teacher. And you can make paper boatswere so many books to choose from. She wants to share this with other andThere were many books that I borrowed JustBooks members. Leave it on the water.from JustBooks, mostly from the AlexRider series by Anthony Horowitz andthe Eragon series by Christopher THE FARM Do you want to go to a farm?Paolini. To jump, yell and shriek Reading is a lot of fun. I think many Do you want to go to a farm? The whole day longmore people should take JustBooks With loads of fun for all!membership. So green, so beautiful and nice Syamanthak Srikrishnan, 13 years JP Nagar - Dollars Colony Bangalore Khushii is a very talkative and energetic 7-year old girl, who was born on 6th May, which happens to be the birthday of poet Rabindranath Tagore too! She loves drawing and colouring, colouring rangoli, reading comics like Amar Chitra Katha, Chandmama and Tinkle. Khushii also loves elderly people a lot. Presently she is studying at National Hill View Public School at RR Nagar.
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 9Readers’s contribution When in Rome..The First Man in Rome Julia, a girl of powerful political lineage, fight to push back the Germanic hordes. whose illustrious family, though aristo- Ms. McCulloughs maps are of great helpColleen McCullough cratic, has fallen on relatively hard times. in bringing out the dimensions of theAvon It suits Gaius Julius Caesar, the father, to events. marry his daughter to a rich ambitious I particularly liked the maps showing man as he has high hopes for his sons Romes idea of the world and map of the futures that can only be fulfilled if he town of Rome. Also included are some acquires financial clout. Marius gains interesting illustrations from the busts ofGita Subramanian the family connection required to set him prominent people of the period. off on his path to achieve his dream. Scenes of domestic life, conversations Caesars younger daughter is married to that bring out the mores of the time, Sulla. their election processes and so on are allT his book was first pub- seamlessly woven into the lished in 1990 and though story without turning them historical fiction is close to into history lessons.my heart, I could never pick up Did you know, for exam-this dauntingly long (nearly 900 ple, that there were largepages) book and start reading it. several-storied apartmentRecently I did. And I am glad I blocks in Rome at thatdid it, for Colleen McCulloughs time? Also that womenpainstaking scholarship and eye rarely drank and had to sitfor details have really brought to in straight chairs to dinelife the characters and the histori- while the men lounged incal events of the period. couches. The year is 110 B.C. The story Colleen McCulloughsis set around two men, Gaius scholarship is evident butMarius, a rich ambitious man, does not intrude. She haswho does not have the rights of appended about a hundredbirth to political position in the pages of glossary explain-Republic and Lucius Cornelius ing the Latin terms, theSulla, a poor aristocrat with social context and someambition who has till the start of explanation as to herthe novel led an indolent, hedo- sources.nistic amoral existence. As she herself says in her Gaius Marius is seen at the note at the end of thestart as an Italian hayseed with no novel, it would have beenGreek. impossible to include a full Not being Roman-born was a bibliography given thebig deficiency in the class-con- extensive nature of herscious Rome of that time and research.Greek was the language that I would fault the bookevery aristocrat was supposed to only for its intimidatingspeak fluently. Fortune seeks length; perhaps she couldthem out and a series of circum- have published this in twostances propel Marius to the volumes instead of one.position of First Man in Rome and Sulla Though this is not based on historic This one is very difficult to lift and readis also well on his way to the political evidence, in her Authors Note in bed!prominence which he achieves in the McCullough cites her reasons quite con-second book of the series. vincingly for presuming this. This Gita Subramanian worked for many Around them is a whole plethora of brings the two men together and they years in International schools incharacters from various walks of life that become close allies.draws the reader into a world as real as The absorbing story of the rise of these Hong Kong, where she also ran athe one we live in. There are political two protagonists is set against a back- book club. She is an avid reader andintrigues, there is massive corruption ground of magnificent scenes of epic a published writer as well. She hasincluding vote-buying, tall election magnitude - the Jugurthine War, the translated three Tamil novels andpromises and so on. Does that not invasion of the Germanic tribes and a won an award in 2010 for one ofsound like todays India rather than grain crisis leading to a revolt that is them for best translation from TamilRome at the end of the second century crushed just in time. The battle scenes to English. She is a member ofB.C.? are vividly graphic and there are JustBooks, JP Nagar. Mariuss rise begins when he marries detailed accounts of Mariuss plans in his
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 10 1. “An idiot child screaming in a 4. Who said, "Everything’s wrong on Wikipedia." hospital.” V.S. Naipaul H. G. Wells on George Bernard Gore Vidal Shaw Taslima Nasrin Lord Byron on John Keats Martin Amis on Miguel 5. “He has never been known to use a Cervantes word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” William Faulkner on Ernest 2. “There are two ways of disliking poetry; one way is to Hemingway dislike it, the other is to read Pope.” Vladimir Nabokov on Ernest Hemingway John Keats on Alexander Pope Dylan Thomas on Rudyard Lord Byron on on Alexander Pope Kipling Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope 3."The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages." Salman Rushdie Virginia Woolf Rohinton Mistry Hemingway H. G. Wells on George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde on Alexander Pope, Virginia Woolf, Gore Vidal, William Faulkner on Ernest JUSTBOOKS Hindustan ke Shaan TOP 5 O ur new JustBooks Powai branch continues to be featured in the news media. The Hindustan Times, Mumbai Edition, carries an article titled N EW A RRIVALS Community based libraries open in City 1. Leela’s Book by Alice "Book aficionados now have another reason to cheer. In yet another Albinia attempt to boost and encourage the reading habit among Mumbaikars, a 2. One Summer by David Bangalore-based venture is opening community-based reading libraries Baldacci titled JustBooks CLC across the city." 3. The Secret Of The Our plans for Mumbai continue unabated. In this context, they say, Nagas by Amish Tripathi "The venture also plans to open more outlets along the citys Western 4. Does He Know A Railway route by the year-end. Mother’s Heart? by Arun Shourie "We have a community-centric model with a physical shop that offers 5. 24 Akbar Road by Rasheed members access to books that they can rent, read and return," says D Ravi Kidwai Kumar, Senior Manager - Franchise Development, JustBooks CLC. He, however, adds that they want to focus on offline activities that R ECOMMENDED encourage people to visit the library rather than simply choosing the books 1. The Shadow Of The from the e-catalogue.” Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon 2. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger 3. Tamarind Mem by Anita Rau Badami 4. The Lost River by Michel Danino 5. The Master Switch by Timothy Wu R ENTALS 1. Only Time Will Tell by Jeffery Archer 2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 2) by Jeff Kinney 3. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Book 4, 5 and 1) by Jeff Kinney 4. 2 States: The Story Of My Marriage by Chetan Bhagat 5. The Secret Of The Nagas by Amish Tripathi From JustBooks blog - http://blog.justbooksclc.com
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 11Food on the road Not a lot on their plateHighway On My Plate - The Rajasthan, or the unique Egg Factory and drink-serving, artyIndian Guide To Roadside crowd at Koshys in Bangalore.Eating While you simply cannot dis- miss a 300 page food guide, theRocky Singh & Mayur Sharma book seems to lack something. The strapline on the cover callsRandom House India the book: The Indian Guide To Roadside Eating; but what it covers mostly are the restaurants andAradhana Janga hotels in the cities. An extended Lonely Planet at best is what theO book turns out to be. The duo of n a road trip? Wondering what Rocky and Mayur miss to discov- to eat and where? Like to try dif- ferent authentic cuisines fets with the choicest of dishes! Udupibut not really sure where to find food boasts of unique dishes made fromthem? On a stringent budget or jackfruit, as well as the local buns andfeel like splurging on good food? Neer dosas.Highway on My Plate by Rocky And talking about street food, surelySingh and Mayur Sharma might the food stalls around Sajjan Rao circlejust be the answer to all your gas- in Bangalore deserve a mention for theirtronomic questions. Rocky and steaming hot idlis, dosas and BadamMayur are well known for their (almond) milk served every evening tofood show on NDTV Good Times, its big fan-following that enjoys andwhere they take viewers on food comes back for more.journeys across the length and Food is more than a basic need; it is abreadth of India. way of life, it is part of tradition, culture, The book covers 25 states and economics and natural environment.on an average about 3-5 places in There is a reason why South Indianeach state. With about 3-5 food states are mostly rice-eating ones whilejoints in each of these places, the North Indian ones are wheat-eating, justbook is a good collection for your like there is there is a very good reasontravel library! Every eatery comes why coastal regions use a lot of coconutwith a detailed description of the in their food preparation than the rest ofsetting, food specialty, contact the country.information, price range and a A brief history of food of a state mightrating on taste, ambience, service, have made Highway on My Plate moreand value for money. interesting. For a traveler, it is of interest to And though it might be interesting toknow the Punjabi dhaba and the find different cuisines in the mostidli-dosa joint in the middle of unlikely of places, for a real foodie, authentic food is probably of more inter- er the biryani haven in Tamil Nadu - est than a pasta and pizza joint in the Ambur which is literally on the middle of South India! Gatte ki Sabji in Bangalore-Chennai highway and sup- Rajasthan and Ragi dishes in Karnataka plies thousands of biryani packets daily are as local as one can get, but Rocky to Chennai. and Mayur miss out on these delights. Or the North Karnataka cuisine (corn While Chinese food might be popular in rotis with brinjal and lentil curries made Kolkata, wouldnt a tourist be interested with their unusual blend of spices), in typical Bengali food at 6 Ballygunge which is so unique that one cannot find Place or Bhojohori Manna or the biryani any similarities between that and the at Arsalan? And its disappointing to Bangalore or the coastal (better known note that Saravana Bhavan, a local as Udupi) cuisine. favourite does not feature at all in the They also skipped the Kamat Chennai listing. Lokaruchi on the busy Bangalore- For someone who is clueless about Mysore highway that causes quite a traf- Indian food, this book will be helpful, fic snarl with its multitude of customers. but if you are out sleuthing for authen- Some drive all the way just to eat the tic, traditional food, you are better off special South and North Karnataka doing your bit of detective work and thalis and all-you-can-eat breakfast buf- asking the locals.
12 JustBooks Connect - September 2011Musings Reading in an Age of DistractionRam Mohan Susarla always read the eBooks on your PC (during breaks at work). Mind you, I do not have anything againstW e are living in times where eBooks (I like my Kindle digital ubiquity is the order of very much!). The point that I the day and most of us are am trying to convey is that Iconstantly switching between checking have personally experiencedemail, surfing the web for the latest the "shortened" attentionheadlines and sports updates, answer- spans when I read stuff oning the telephone and attending to the electronic devices. There ismobile calls (and SMSes). nothing to beat the joy of In fact, there are some among us who reading a printed book.have the omnipotent Blackberrys andIPhones to keep us busy. With all thiselectronic "chatter" drowning out the R eading in this electronic age is not only about reading the "right" booksvoice of reflection, we hardly have time (personally, I dont thinkto take a book and read it from cover to there are any "right" books.cover. Indeed, the "Age of Distraction" All books are books, period.),where the attention spans are in minutes but also about reading justand seconds means that we hardly have for the "heck" of it. The objec-time to breathe, let alone read. tive should be to embark on There are many authors like Nicholas a journey with the book asCarr who have pointed to the "shallows" the companion and discoverthat inhabit our minds in this electronic the sights and sounds ofage. There are others who have drawn delight in the process. Manyattention to the "fragmentation" of our of us take books along withselves because of so much digital "noise" us on journeys.that assaults us from all directions. Why not read a book sit-Studies done in recent years have shown ting at home and transportthat the average time spent on a task has ourselves into the world ofcome down to 11 minutes and the need the characters of the bookfor constant switching back and forth and experience their storiesbetween tasks means that our "e-person- in the same way we reflectalities" might take over our "offline" on our other experiences.selves and there can be a morphing of Reading a book is the per-both. Increasingly, many behavioural fect antidote to the lack ofexperts are calling upon people to medi- focus and concentration fortate or sit still in contemplation if we do extended durations thatnot want this to happen. seems to be the malaise So, what better way to "logout" from afflicting many of us.the e-world than to pick a book and read The pleasures of readingit at leisure? are such that once you start Of course, there are many who would reading; the rest followswillingly give up the TV remote or put quiet beauty that reading offers as a much like a musician finds the righttheir mobiles on discreet to sit down and reward. And those moments of quietude notes after the initial prelude.read. But for those who find it hard to and reflection are well worth the time Finally, reading as a habit for childrentear themselves away from their gadg- and effort spent in reading the book. should be taken seriously by parents ifets, there is some advice coming yourway. Reading a book is like sipping I f you are wondering, "Why not read an eBook on a Kindle or a Nook?" The answer is that while reading eBooks is they want their kids to discover a world other than TV and Video games andwine and it grows on you. Hence, the there are titles galore on all subjects thatbest thing to do when you get the time is certainly catching on, nothing can beat interest kids. There cannot be a betterto sit down and reach for that book that the pleasure of plonking oneself on the way to ensure that your kid does notyou have always wanted and get going. favourite armchair and reading a print- grow up on gadgets alone if you initiate Never mind the incessant buzz of the ed book. There are many reasons for them to the wonders of reading.messages or the temptation to check the doing so. For starters, an eBook is againmovements of shares and the urge to a book that is read on a gadget, when Writers Note: There are many books onscroll through the updates on the inter- the objective clearly is to "disconnect" the topic that I have written about and innet. A book is worth reading not only from the virtual world. Next, not many fact, the topic was inspired by the recentfor the pleasure that the joy of reading books are available in the electronic for- publication of a book, from which I have bor-gives us but also for the moments of mat (as of now) even though their popu- rowed the title. larity is increasing. Finally, you can
JustBooks Connect - September 2011 13Venturing out Friends with a franchiseSapana RawatMeet Mr. Vinod Shankar, one of thepartners of Trupti Ventures that runsJustBooks Malleshwaram franchise.Vinod also leads Strata RetailsMarketing department.Tell us a little bit about yourself andyour partners. I am a typical Bengaluru boy, whorecently married a typical Bengaluru girl.I was born here and have lived all my lifehere. Travel and food interests me a lot,and if the place is breathtaking and foodis great I dabble with my camera to cap-ture the best of both. Trupti Ventures has four partners:Rahul (a software engineer), Shajin Serine(a financial analyst), Sabari (a chemicalengineer) and myself. We all have beenfriends for years, right from our school There were a lot of other ideas that we ends, some days I spend my eveningsand college days. had considered — express car wash, trav- interacting with our members. el & holidays or a millet-only restaurant. Every member has a unique taste inWhat were you doing before joining I had become a member of JustBooks, books, and the satisfaction of helpingJustBooks as an employee? Whitefield and around the same time them find a particular book is immense. In my previous avatar I worked for Sabari and I were attending start-up The members come from varied back-four years as a Digital Signal Processing event at IIMB, where we came across grounds, there are dancers, techies andengineer in a large communication com- JustBooks as a possible opportunity to homemakers and not to forget ever bub-pany. I still find technology interesting start our entrepreneurial journey. bling energetic kids! Interacting withfor it simplifies tasks in everyday life like kids, knowing that they are reading hasissue and return of books at JustBooks. How has been the customer response to been insightful. JustBooks as a concept & your library, inHow has your experience been on work- particular? What kind of books do you read person-ing full time and taking care of the fran- The customers are delighted to have a ally? Who are your favourite authors?chise? library like JustBooks at Malleshwaram, I love autobiography and biographies Working at JustBooks has been fun and which is one of the oldest areas of along with books related to Indiana learning experience. The best part is Bengaluru. medieval history though I used to readyou get to meet varied and interesting The use of technology for issue and Sidney Sheldon, Dan Brown, Paulo Coelopeople every day. return, the vast collection of books and and likes in my college days. Being a part of organization thats mov- universal access across branches has I like Indian writers like Ramachandraing from start-up to its growth phase is enabled kids and seniors citizens alike to Guha and Subroto Bagchi.valuable. I always wanted to learn and appreciate JustBooks as a noble concept.experience how organization are built What is your advice to book lovers whoand scaled up. What do you think will be a great addi- would like to turn entrepreneurs through JustBooks has provided this wonderful tion in terms of value to your existing JustBooks?opportunity to me, and I get paid to do members? If you are a book lover looking for awhat I love to do. After joining JustBooks Through JustBooks we provide a serv- simple business, with decent returns onthe time spent at the outlet has reduced to ice that means a lot to our members. To your investment, then JustBooks is thesome extent, though I hope to make up enrich it further, we are looking into pro- place for you.for that soon. viding literary consultants once a week to Along with the profits, the satisfaction help our members choose books and that you get by setting up a JustBooksWhy and how did this franchise option organize creative events for children. franchise in your community adds intan-happen? gible value to your own life. I always wanted to start something on How much of your time do you spend at With presence across five cities, its onlymy own as the entrepreneurial bug had the JustBooks outlet personally? How a matter of time before JustBooks makesbit me. It was only matter of time before rewarding is the experience of interacting its presence across India and becomes awe four friends started something. with your members? synonym for Library. Im there at the outlet over the week-