Aranya is chaotic.
Ishan is a family person.
Aranya questions the idea of family.
Ishan is spiritual.
Aranya a feminist.
Now I know what you are thinking: that this is just going to be some modern run-of-the-mill opposites attract love story.
Because Music in Solitude by Krishna Sobti, translated from Hindi by Vasudha Dalmia, is not a love story, but rather a loving tale of two elderly individuals, Ishan and Aranya, who are in the autumn of their lives and yes you guessed it, are complete opposites. Yet it is their age and the life that that brings along in it’s wake, which helps them come together. Not to mention that they stay in the same building in Delhi!
Originally titled as Samay Sargam, the novel stitches together episodes from the two protagonists’ lives. Especially the time spent together discussing myriad topics over tea, lunches or dinners!
Blurb Appreciation Reviews presents its third review!
The blurb at the back of Neel Kamal Puri’s novel, The Patiala Quartet urged me to buy the novel. Of course, it helped that the book was on sale. But nonetheless, it aided me in understanding what the book is about rather than irrelevant praises that do not allow one to know what the story is about!
So lets see the blurb, shall we?
Who doesn’t love folktales?
They are simple, easy, quick to tell us so much about our worlds and how people used to be versus how we are now, how much we have progressed or deteriorated.
Last year, in the Zubaan Books online sale, I got my hands on First There was Woman: Folk Tales of Dungri Garasiya Bhils compiled by Marija Sres. I have little or no knowledge about the tribal diversity of India and this book therefore caught my eye.
Dungri Garasiya Bhils as the book informed me are part of the larger Bhil tribe. They live in “north Gujarat and southern Rajasthan. In Gujarat, they largely live in Sabarkantha district.”
And it is there that Marija Sres, a Slovenian women, settled after having learnt Gujarati Literature from Ahmedabad University way back in the 1970s’.
She worked for about thirty years with the Dungri Garasiya Bhils and was involved in various projects that were implemented for their welfare. She also took to writing and has been lauded for her achievements to Gujarati Literature.
The book, First There was Woman: Folk Tales of Dungri Garasiya Bhils begins with a long autobiographical essay, The Story Behind My Stories, in which she traces her journey to Gujarat, India. So now, I won’t bore you further with these details. I think you will find those details there and online pretty easily.
First There was Woman: Folk Tales of Dungri Garasiya Bhils presents a good collection of folktales. It begins with a typical creation myth. It is a type of creation myth in which the supreme beings create the world. The story talks of how Kudrat created Earth from darkness and how he created the first woman. From there comes also the title of the book! Title fetishes strikes finally in 2019! 😛
Come take a beautiful hike with Britta up the Kori La pass in Mongar, in the central east district of a tiny country, Bhutan, sandwiched between two giants, India and China!!
When Britta had decided to volunteer in Bhutan way back in 1997, she had no clue what she was signing up for! But her stint as a physiotherapist in a village hospital in Mongar gave her beautiful insights and lovely memories of a place about which not much is written about. Perhaps, that is how Buttertea at Sunrise was born!
What do I know about the country?
Next to nothing!
Which is why I lapped up onto the suggestion when a colleague mentioned about how she has books by a Honduran author.
The Big Banana by Roberto Quesado has a protagonist named Eduardo Lin, who comes to New York City to become an actor along with a parallel story of Mirian, in Honduras, who has a Cold War spy obsession which culminates in her obsession with the character of James Bond.
While in New York, Eduardo lives in a rented house along with other immigrants who each have their own stories and reasons for being there. Back in Honduras, Mirian’s obsession goes out of control and she regularly visits a psychiatrist, who takes Eduardo’s helps to fix this obsession when he had been in Honduras. With this, Mirian and Eduardo, becomes long distant lovers.
And that brings me to the opening scene of The Big Banana where Eduardo is busy cursing the New York Telephone that regularly sends him huge bills to pay.
Intrigued? Read more!
Read Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi?
How about picking up another of her equally insightful and somberly black and white illustrated graphic novel, called, Chicken with Plums?
The musician Nasser Ali Khan’s favourite tar (an Iranian percussion instrument) is broken. He probably had the best one in the world. Now that it is broken, he goes on a search for an equally matched tar. But after failing to find such a one despite his repeated attempts, he consigns himself to a state where he simply only wishes to die.
The protagonist being a renowned musician having deep questions about his art and his life makes this novel part of The Book Cafe’s series called, Musically Yours!