Anon

Blurb: Welcome to Calcutta of the sixties and the seventies. Meet Debottam, the genius vagabond son of a wealthy zamindar.  Meet Urbish, the ambitious dreamer whose father is a fisherman. Walk with them through the red earth of Shantiniketan. Visit the jazz clubs of Park Street. Experience friendship redefined by two people who have only one thing in common writing. But one is willing to kill to write and the other is willing to die. Anon. Short for Anonymous. After all what’s in a name?

About the Author: Bhavani Iyer is a screenwriter who has written several Hindi films and television shows. She lives in Mumbai with her boyfriend, three dogs and a cat. Anon. is her first novel.

Review: Bhavani Iyer is a well known screenplay writer and this is her first novel and I am read her for the first time too. The story narration is touching and poignant moments and wonderful insights into the Bengal read as the 60s and 70s Calcutta, which is made up of art and literature. It is highly recommended to all those looking for rare gems. A literary journey that takes the reader into a charmed world, where the story drips with awesome writing of the author. The best thing in this book here is a fine eye for detail and a great skill in weaving it through the story of the protagonists Deb and Urbish whose lives come together with their friendly competition. Their characters are relatable to us, as they are honestly sketched. She grabs your attention from the word go and weaves details skillfully into her narration. No assessment of her novel can be complete without complimenting the writer on her evocative style. Anon is a novel punctuated with essence of human relationships, talking beauty and ugliness of it without giving a final judgement from her side. It deserves to be read more than once, because one is likely to miss some nuances of narration and description on reading the book for the first time. She speaks through the voices of her forcefully etched characters. The author’s narrative is grouted deep in sensitivity. Anon is undeniably a love story between the author and her characters. For only the deepest and truest of emotions could have created such finely etched images of kinship, camaraderie, and enduring friendship, the author has allowed us to watch them set slowly, gradually in amber.

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Different Shades by R K Sanyal

 

 
A MORSEL OF DIFFERENT SHADES
by
S.K. Sanyal
 
 
 
Blurb
 
Sumitra Ghosal came all the way from Bankura in West Bengal to join the education service in the recently formed Bundeli State. During the period from 1956 to 1990, spanning more than three decades, she got shunted around small towns and semi-rural areas. The book is woven around her experiences on women teachers lives. She found for some teachers, cruel circumstances charting out the unknown trajectory, while for the others, the evil streak already present manifested itself rather blatantly during their teaching careers.
 
Ranging from the weird to the quirky, scheming to whimsical, there were all kinds of women for Sumitra to experience and continuously learn from. Bearing a religious bent of mind, Sumitra, a spinster by choice, didn’t fail to take cognizance of the bizarre instances of marital co-existences in the couples she met throught the story.

Read an excerpt
 
Sumitra Ghosal had stepped into the thirties. Young and hopeful, bubbling over with the excitement of yet another transfer, she arrived at Domod, a district town. The three successive postings at Putlinagar, Bajera and Sagar in the sprawling Uttar Madhya Desh (UMD) had done little to exhaust her. UMD had its capital at Lakshminagar. As distinct from other States, it had predominantly Government schools, private schools not many in number. This State was created according to the prevailing trend of creating smaller states out of larger ones. Rashtriya Daridrya Mochan Party (RDMP) was in power, their manifesto focusing on widespread measures for promoting education for women in remote corners. Sumitra, though, found the efforts not coming entirely from the depths of a sincerely dedicated state. It seemed to be RDMP’s propagandist move to gain more votes.
Sumitra found travelling in ramshackle buses and waiting at railway platforms for the few trains available at odd hours, quite an ordeal. Hers was the fate to move around insignificant remote corners in the heartland of India, where commuting was not easy; semi-rural people formed the stock of commuters. Sumitra, however, didn’t rue her fate; she enjoyed, for she was an optimist drawn by the hidden charm of the unknown places. And what a taste of independence in not marrying – she wasn’t anybody’s property. Her decisions were squarely her own. She had her own conduct or the way to what people say, religiosity; none could teach her the way to realise God. If, as a woman, she worshipped the deity of Hanumanji, let people laugh at her fasting or bratas on Tuesdays and Saturdays. That she got the strength of character by observing the rituals of her making was what mattered. That she wrote with her fingers, without making any impression, the names of Gods and Goddesses on her pillow before sleeping was her unique way to ward off any trouble.
She had a personality built up over long years of getting over the inferiority complex she had developed in her formative years. Neglected and over-ruled, she wasn’t permitted to go for higher education, as her parents wanted their nubile daughter to be tied in a nuptial knot. But Sumitra went on rejecting proposals one after the other until her parents got tired. She was finally allowed to go for higher education. She had a late start, but this belated take-off made her even more determined to be independent, even to take a curious, brave and adventurous decision to take up lectureship in the newly created state of UMD when her native place was in Santhal Parganas in the east.
The fourth and the youngest daughter of a businessman, she had had occasions to go to shikar and witness ruthless killings of sambars, tigers and other small animals or birds. In those times, there was no ban on shikaris engaged in indiscriminate decimating of wild animals. One day, she was seated in the jeep with her legs on the warm and still throbbing body of a fallen sambar. Touched, she took a vow not to have meat ever again. Thus, she was the only vegetarian amongst her non-vegetarian sisters. Alas, she had no brother, and that is why she equated the male visitors of her generation to her parental house as brothers and bestowed them with sisterly affection.

***

It was the month of April when nature attired herself in a new garb with little smooth green leaves sprouting on some trees, while the others had not yet shed completely their brownish yellow leaves. A mixture of dusty yellow fallen lifeless leaves under the massive trees and the seasonal flowers past their full bloom presented a spectacle of life and death. One had to step over the crispy fragile remains of what once was a prized greenery to get near the rows of pansies, zinnias, lilies and other flowers to see the minute tapestry of the multicoloured spectacle amidst the crackling dead leaves. The winter’s ruthlessness had made way for the pleasant breeze, dusty at times, that replaced the cold winds of February. It was a pleasant, beautiful, sombre and placid morning in a strange land when Sumitra joined the school at Domod as a lecturer. It could have been the month of July with blackish-grey clouds suppressing the bright onset of the dawn or the torrential rains drenching her on her first day of school; it could have been the month of December with its biting cold necessitating the full stock of woollen clothes. Nevertheless, out of all the random eccentricities of the transferring authority, she was slated to join the school during the best period of the year, and it sure augured well. A placid look came over her face when she saw the red cap over a green body, the gulmohar, topping the fresh green leaves of the massive tree at the end of the road leading to the school. The April bliss.
She got the first shock when she found the distance cut short abruptly. The school happened to be in full view, even as she was jostling through the crowd, manoeuvring the sharp cuts and turns of the street; an expectation of an ideal location of the school belied. Why this proximity? A school in a bazaar? How nauseating and depressing?

Grab your copy @
 
 
About the author

 

A member of the Indian Statistical Service, S.K. Sanyal retired as Director, Central Statistical Organisation, Delhi, after having served as a statistician at Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, and as a Professor of Statistics at All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata.
 
After retirement,he served from time to time as a consultant with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Delhi. As a UNDP consultant, he had short-term assignments at UN Statistical Office at New York, Malawi University, Malawi, and Central Statistics Office, Sierra Leone. Prior to those, as a sampling expert, he delivered lectures on Sampling at Fiji and Nepal on behalf of Statistical Institute for Asia and Pacific, Tokyo, and ESCAP, Bangkok. At NIPFP, he was deputed for poverty studies at Sikkim on behalf of the Asian Development Bank.
 
Besides numerous technical papers and articles, he has also published a novel, ‘Shifting Silhouettes’, and a real-life story, ‘Memories Unlimited’. He resides in New Delhi.
 
You can stalk him @
         

 

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Coffee For Two – Featuring Sona Grover

As you may know from Twitter I have started my own “COFFEE FOR TWO” series where I showcase some of my favorite people and friends. In this post, I’ll tell you all about it!

There have been many interview series exclusively for bloggers but I have more friends who are not bloggers but some are writers and readers and some just readers, some are no one. That’s how I came up with the Coffee For Two series where I can showcase anyone who knows me and vice versa.

I’m hoping that this will become a regular feature on my blog. Every week there will be a new post featuring a new person from different background who will answer a set of questions. This is so that their existing readers can get to know them and hopefully they will get some new readers.

In today’s edition of Coffee For Two, I will be featuring Sona Grover . I ask everyone who wants to be featured in this series to answer a few questions so that we can get to know them. I’m excited for you all to get to know Sona a little better!

Tell us about yourself and your blog/social media feed or your writing space.

I am a book junkie, first and foremost. I read a lot and in order to process all the emotions, I write. I started my blog, Read Write Live because I wanted to create. Something. Anything. Blogging is a way of chronicling my life. It is also a reflection of who I am at particular phases of my life. And the way lives change, my writing keeps changing to reflect the new me. Writing is sacred to me; to squander away this passion is to strip myself of the universe’s blessings.

What do you do when you’re not blogging/writing or reading?

Long walks rejuvenate me. I don’t need motivation to go on a walk; I just need an opportunity.

Do you prefer to hand write or to type?

I could not think clearly if I did not write by hand. However now, I am an out and out typing person. I can’t even decipher my handwriting these days.

If you could pick three words, to sum up your life journey, what would they be?

Unlearn, accept and find joy.

Who are the creators or people in your life that inspire you?

Every person, thing or situation can inspire; my challenge is to stay open to these learning opportunities.

What do you find most challenging?

Making the transition. It could be anything. But once done, I am in the flow beautifully.

What is your favorite topic to write or talk about?

I love to write about the writing process and the journey. I love to talk and analyse books.

Are you a tea and biscuits or coffee and cake person?

Coffee and Bread, anyday!

What is your perfect night in?

Reading. Complete silence. And oh, the pitter-patter of rain, please.

Some words for me please – a note/message or a testimonial.

Some people come along to remind you that love, friendship and community are still the most wonderful things in life. Thanks for your openness, enthusiasm and joy- I feel so inspired!

What I…

Know –  books and their characters better than the people around me.
Love – nature- trees, water, mountains, flowers and plants. 
Read – anything that is well written.
Want – art on my walls, rugs on my floor and really deep wardrobes.
Wear – Sneakers. All.the.time.
Need –plain water

If you’d like to be featured in this section please do check out the questions and email your answers to me with a nice selfie or a clear color picture – [email protected] with the subject : Coffee For Two.

Thanks for reading.

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Lucknow: Fire of Grace- The Story Of Its Renaissance, Revolution And The Aftermath by Amaresh Misra

About the author: Amaresh Misra is a freelance writer, historian and poet, with a doctorate in modern history from Allahabad University. He is a political columnist for the Economic and Political Weekly of India and a regular contributor to the Times of India. He is also a script-writer and director of a television serial on 1857. The contemporary photographs are by Ravi Kapoor, a prominent photo-artist who is deeply interested in architecture and heritage.

Review: Lucknow: Fire of Grace is the first full-length, historical and contemporary narrative, spanning a period of 250 years, of the Indian subcontinent’s most fascinating city-culture. In 1722, as the Mughal empire embarked on the descent to its collapse, a wazirdari arose in Awadh. Led by Mughal officers and Persian adventurers, it marked a break in world culture. Combining power, aristocracy, freedom, science and subterfuge, Awadh became India’s first modern and secular kingdom. It was the last kingdom to be annexed in 1856 and the city of Lucknow fought valiantly against the British the following year, a keystone in the Revolt of 1857. The city never recovered from its defeat, nor would it be revived after India’s independence in 1947. December 6, 1992, seemed to many the final nail in the coffin of a once magnificent culture. Very little of Awadh’s past splendor remains today, but Lucknow has struggled on, not yet entirely bereft of the things that made it one of the greatest cities in Indian history. 1857 is a bugbear and an obsession. Many Indian and European writers have lost their focus and minds while studying the event. It is a very Asiatic, indigenous event. Its true study requires the explosion of Eurocentic and hitherto established Anglo-Indian perspectives. It also requires an insight into the Urdu-Persian-Awadhi-Islam-Sanatan Dharma-Mughal-Maratha-Sikh peasant world. The task, simply, is too overwhelming. It is beyond the grasp of most of our city bred and English-speaking historians. The book gives a mnemonic shock as it redefines the Indo-Persia, Lucknowi way of beauty, politics, cuisine, fashion, architecture, money making, sensation, ‘ada’, ‘zaban’, honour and culture as authentic Indian-ness – in opposition to Hindutva, Jinnah’s two nation theory, and Nehruvian ‘pseudo’-anglicised secularism. Amaresh Misra has a passionate, overarching style. His book is about Lucknow. But he starts with comments on the coastal metros. The author Misra gets better when he plays on home ground: the Urdu, Hindi, Indo-Gangetic belt. He sees Uttar Pradesh as a zone of culture and power. So he is able to link the Babri Masjid’s demolition with Kathak and see the influence of folk culture on Hindi cinema. For Misra, Lucknow “burns with a hard gemlike flame”. This is evident from the titles of his chapters, one is called “Evenings, Gomti, Henna and the Bagghi”. The style grows too intense: “Like a dazzling gem, this catechism has served to incorporate all aspects of Lucknow life.” This kind of hyperbole is a feature of the book. Misra does well when he sets out the history of the city, the post-1857 resurgence of Urdu for example. The thrust of the book is to show the inter-relation of what may crudely be called Hindu and Muslim cultures. Is there anything which can be termed “Lucknawiyat” today? Misra refers to a subtle cultural Hindutvaisation. My view is the old Lucknow culture is dying a slow death in the fin de millennium. Misra’s book is a good tribute to a lost cause and a lost culture.

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The new economic measures and Indian Economy -#BlogToPM

There are myriad problems that are persisting in the economy and are became has stumbling blocks for the development of the country. Though few are inherited from the previous government and new are added to this manifold by the incumbent government to put the economy on the right track but it crippled the economy so much. The major problem which attained the limelight is the NPA i.e Non-performing assets which are overhanging on bank’s balance sheets. This had crippled the growth of capital to GDP ratio so much that it reached the lowest ebb in the decade. The other policy measures by the incumbent government had made the situation miserable for the common men, small and medium scale sectors by implementing the Demonetization and GST in the economy. Both the measures have created immense ruckus in the economy and lead to terrible havoc.

The Government after completing 4 years of service in the office took the stock of the situation that was persisted in the economy where GDP pegged at low rate in the decade, sluggish in exports ,low generation of employment etc are rampant.

The Government came ahead to redress the situation that was lingering the economy and appointed Prime Minister, Economic Advisory Council under the able stewardship of Bibek Debroy to examine the situation and to recommend a slew of measures to invigorate the economy with rapid growth rate. The Government heeded to the recommendations of this body and pronounced a series of measures to boost the wheel of growth in the economy by announcing highest percentage of GDP to the infrastructure sector. This naturally leads to the generation of the employment and also improves the infrastructure sector meteorically. The Government on the other side is mulling seriously to ramp up the private investment in the economy by inducing the Recapitalization bonds to the Public sector banks which are overhanging with NPA’s .

The other feather in the cap of Government is by implementing the GST on 1ST July 2017, which is eulogized has biggest indirect ever tax reform in the independent India. This reform smoothens the multiplicity of the tax structure in the India by implementing 4 different tax slabs for the convenience of the people and keeping in view of the reform, the Government is intended to bring another reform in Direct Taxes and for this a committee was appointed under Narendra Modi, to bring transparency in Direct tax reforms.

The Government also simplified the FDI rules to attract more foreign investment into the country and this will immensely help to generate more employment in the economy. The international rating agencies such has Moody’s , S&P’s recognized the facts and measures taken by the Government of India to refresh the economy and redress their perception. Another feather in the cap of India is it was positioned at 100th place in Ease of doing business reported by the Bretton Wood institution. The other research credited about the India is that it will overtake UK and France in 2018 and establish itself has the largest economy in the world and place in top 5 countries. The positive euphoria in the economy is the steering the India in this world of Globalization.

India has to improve its infrastructure so that it can attract more foreign bigger companies in India is presently known as one of the most important players in the global economic landscape. Its trade policies, government reforms and inherent strengths in the economy have attributed to its standing as one of the most sought after destinations for foreign investments in the world.  Also, the ‘Make in India’ initiative undertaken by the Government of India is likely to bring about positive economic reforms into the country as well as encourage more domestic investments in the next few years. We must remember if India’s economy is strong then the Indian Government has more space to man-oeuvre its economic diplomacy to its advantage.

India will grow as the second largest economy by 2050. At present, the country is categorized as an Emerging Market Economy (EME) along with China, Brazil, and Russia etc. Even in the current phase of the global economy, India’s macroeconomic performance is comparatively better.

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The Technical Pianist (Part 3) by Sayan Bhattacharya

(Continued from Part 2…)

His pianist ‘guru’ from the theatre house came to his help one day. Though he could not offer Ratan-babu any place within his group, he offered him day-jobs to visit the houses of people who had pianos and get to tune and service them. I am sure, this pianist would have had some contacts like these to help for some extra earnings and that is what he offered Ratan-babu, to start with. And you have already seen how much a piano need tuning and servicing to be maintained well. Ratan-babu’s life started anew and gradually his ship began to steady!” My father smiled at me, as we paused to listen to the soft tinkling notes of the piano which wafted in from our drawing room: Ratan-babu at work! I sat thinking in wonder over the story of this quiet lean and thin man whom I had been watching for years, striking away at the piano keys!

“Ever since, Ratan-babu has been busy going from one end of the city to the other, visiting many houses by appointment and ‘tuning’ innumerable pianos to play to the correct tune!” My father continued, but as if to now wind up this marvellous story.

“How and where did you find him?” I asked.

“I first saw him at my own piano teacher’s house. Ratan-babu used to come there to tune the piano and later when I got my own, I had no second thoughts in engaging him. And that is the way that his clientele grew…remember, it’s only word of mouth and references! And once you have seen the quality of his work, you wouldn’t hesitate to engage him again!” It clearly showed that my father was truly happy with Ratan-babu’s services.

“So, why doesn’t he play songs and ‘western classical pieces’ as you do?” I asked my father once again.

He smiled at me and answered, “We all have had formal music training for years and at playing the piano too, but Ratan-babu has learnt it out of his instincts and never had had the exposure to the sophisticated means that we had been privileged with. Moreover, if you listen to his music when he plays to ‘check’ the piano, you will see he does play wonderful ‘pieces’!”

My father looked into my inquisitive eyes and as if read the question behind them. He continued to unravel:

“Do you know what ‘pieces’ they are? They are the various short musicals and background scores that were composed in those theatrical performances, which I am sure he had learnt from the ‘pianist’ of the theatre house! And surprisingly, he still plays them out of memory and practice, perfectly without any notations to rely upon! So, you see, he is a ‘musician’ after all, and without him so many pianos in our city would fall silent!”

I nodded silently and came away from my father’s room. When I entered the drawing room, Ratan-babu was almost done with his day’s work on our piano. I stood rooted beside the curtain, my eyes fixed on this dark and lean man seated on the stool at the piano: his eyes closed, back straight and head tilted slightly; his face bore an expression of trance as his deft fingers danced along softly striking the black and white keys on the long keyboard panel!

The story of his life, his struggle and his determination to fight back, and his passion and love for music, which I just heard from my father was all fresh in my mind and I found it greatly inspiring. My ears caught the lovely melody that he played: the lyrical wafting of some old theatrical background score perhaps, which today seemed to celebrate Ratan-babu’s dream of being a musician…

About the Author/StoryTeller: Born in 1974 in Calcutta and a Post-graduate in English Literature, my career spans twenty years, initially in banking and financial services and presently in the FinTech industry. Having interacted extensively with people from various walks of life, I love to meet and know people; fascinated by life’s experiences and I draw inspiration from them.  An avid traveller and reader, my passion for writing is a hobby and a medium to showcase my own kaleidoscope of life’s stories. In November 2013 I self-published my first novel, “Friendship Calling”, a story based on his own real-life experiences with his friends, a mysterious disappearance of one friend and a search ending in an exceptional outcome. In August 2016, I published my second novel “A Case of Connections”, a story of a family discovery based on true life characters and their experiences.   Both novels are currently available on popular ‘online bookstores’ and have received encouraging reviews from readers, enjoying acclaimed global readership.  In May 2018, after the successful debut in the Blogchatter A2Z challenge, my eBook “Ancient Cities of India” was published by Blogchatter on their website. The eBook has received appreciative reviews from readers and is available for download here. 

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