My Father’s Garden

November 30, 2018

Spanning half a life, My Father’s Garden tells the story of a young doctor—the unnamed narrator—as he negotiates love and sexuality, his need for companionship, and the burdens of memory and familial expectation.

The opening section, ‘Lover’, finds him studying medicine in Jamshedpur. At college, he discovers an all-consuming passion for Samir, a junior, who possesses his body, mind and heart. Yet, on their last morning together, when he asks Samir to kiss him goodbye, his lover tells him, ‘A kiss is only for someone special.’

In ‘Friend’, the young doctor, escaping heartbreak, finds relief in Pakur where he strikes up an unusual friendship with Bada Babu, the head clerk of the hospital where he is posted. In Bada Babu’s house, they indulge a shared love for drink, delicious food and convivial company. But when government bulldozers arrive to tear down the neighbourhood, and Bada Babu’s house, the young doctor uncovers a sordid tale of apathy and exploitation—and a side to his new friend that leaves him disillusioned.

And in ‘Father’, unable, ultimately, to flee the pain, the young doctor takes refuge in his parents’ home in Ghatsila. As he heals, he reflects on his father—once a vital man who had phenomenal success at work and in Adivasi politics, then an equally precipitous downfall—and wonders if his obsessive gardening has anything to do with the choices his son has made.

Written with deep empathy and searing emotional intensity, and in the clear, unaffected prose that is the hallmark of Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s style, My Father’s Garden marks a major talent of Indian fiction writing at the top of his form.

Where Some Things Are Remembered

November 30, 2018

Dom Moraes was not only one of India’s greatest poets, he was also an extraordinary journalist and essayist. He could capture effortlessly the essence of the people he met, and in every single profile in this sparkling collection he shows how it is done.

The Dalai Lama laughs with him and Mother Teresa teaches him a lesson in empathy. Moraes could make himself at home with Laloo Prasad Yadav, the man who invented the self-fulfilling controversy, and exchange writerly notes with Sunil Gangopadhyaya. He was Indira Gandhi’s biographer—painting her in defeat, post Emergency, and in triumph, when she returned to power. He tried to fathom the mind of a mysterious ‘super cop’—K.P.S. Gill—and also of Naxalites, dacoits and ganglords.

This collection is literary journalism at its finest—from an observer who saw people and places with the eye of a poet and wrote about them with the precision of a surgeon.

British Odd – Desi

November 29, 2018

Please Note:
The price of this book inclusive of shipping and packaging charges is Rs.3300 in India
The price of this book inclusive of shipping and packaging charges is Rs.5100 outside India

This book is an outcome of the efforts of all the contributors who have been past employees of The British Council in India. I am very appreciative of their indulgence and patience. The book is a limited edition print, which aims to highlight the learning and training that all of us have been through in the corridors of Jor Bagh, Rafi Marg and Kasturba Gandhi Marg not forgetting short stints in the UK. The articles are the sort of experience sharing that I aimed to manifest through the book.

The contributors have been on an Indo-British journey that has been very adventurous for some, exciting for others, unpleasant for a few but definitely educative for all. The British colleagues have also benefitted from living in India, albeit for short durations and working with Local Staff (the Odd Desi) and the two have mingled well. The proof of their integration is the Memories that remain etched in the minds of each of the contributors.

This book has been published in a no profit no loss basis by Speaking Tiger under its imprint Tiger Print.

Conceptualised, Co-ordinated, Compiled and Co-Financed by: Frank Joseph Victor (popularly known as Joe Victor).

Jiya Jale

November 1, 2018

A legend of Hindi cinema, Gulzar is among the Subcontinent’s finest poets and lyricists, whose songs have touched millions. He remains as popular today, and as sensitive a chronicler of our emotions, as he was half a century ago. And throughout, his work has been gloriously distinctive—especially for the unforgettable images and the intimacy he brings to his songs.
In this book of conversations with the acclaimed author and documentary filmmaker Nasreen Munni Kabir, Gulzar speaks about the making of his most enduring songs—from ‘Mora gora ang lai le’ (Bandini; 1963) and ‘Dil dhoondta hai’ (Mausam; 1975) to ‘Jiya jale’ (Dil Se; 1998) and ‘Dil toh bachcha hai ji’ (Ishqiya; 2010). He also discusses the songs of other greats, like Shailendra and Sahir Ludhianvi; his favourite music directors, like SD and RD Burman, Hemant Kumar and AR Rahman; and several playback singers, among them, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Vani Jairam, Jagjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh.
Full of insight, anecdote and analysis—and containing over 40 songs, in roman script and English translation—this book is a treasure for students and lovers of Hindi cinema, music and poetry.

Connaught Place and the Making of New Delhi

November 1, 2018

The origin of New Delhi can be traced to the Coronation Durbar in December 1911, where Emperor George V announced the transfer of the capital of the British Empire in India from Calcutta to Delhi.
Swapna Liddle traces in fascinating detail the events that led up to that historic day: the deliberations over the choice of location; the roles played by the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, and the two principal architects, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker; and, finally, the naming of the capital as ‘New Delhi’—to distinguish it from the old city of Shahjahanabad.
Even as the new capital took shape, it was Connaught Place that gave life to the city. Designed as a shopping and commercial centre for the elite—both British and Indian—it boasted of the most exclusive shops, cinemas and restaurants.
While many of the old familiar haunts like Gaylord, Volga and Regal Cinema have shut their doors, Connaught Place continues to reinvent itself with shiny new multiplexes, branded stores and restaurants taking their place. A guidebook of the early 1940s described Connaught Place as ‘indeed the most fashionable shopping centre…and, undoubtedly the most progressive part of the most progressive town in the country.’ The crowds that continue to throng its corridors, both young and old, visitors to the city and residents alike, bear testimony to the statement.
Rare photographs and illustrations add to its value as a classic amongst city biographies, in keeping with Liddle’s earlier book, Chandni Chowk: The Mughal City of Old Delhi.

Big Bhishma in Madras

November 1, 2018

This title will be available by 5 December 2018

A chance comment in 1974 fired Peter Brook and Jean-Claude Carrière with the idea of producing a play based on the epic. Together they travelled across India, searching for all possible theatrical forms of the great poem. The result was an epic play—9 hours with two intermissions—later made into a film and a TV series, which has become a landmark in theatre. Another result was this delightful book made from the notes that Carriere jotted down during his travels, whose charm is enhanced by his piquant illustrations that run through the pages.

The ‘sacred frenzy’ of Theyyam in a Kerala village and the intricacies of Kathakali are interwoven with their encounters with the aged Shankaracharya of Kanchipuram, a ‘one-in-three saint’, and the legendary Satyajit Ray in Kolkata. Here they also meet Professor P. Lal, who has been working for twenty years on translating the Mahabharata into English. It is vignettes like these that make their search for the epic into a journey that shows India, through Carrière’s words and sketches, in a way it has never been seen before.

The 70th Milestone

October 12, 2018

Does it matter
where I come from
or where you belong
as we pass along
from one moment
to the next?
Come, be with me…

These lines, informed by simplicity, lyricism and compassion, reflect the spirit and purpose of this remarkable collection of poems: drawing upon a lifetime of experience and emotion, Robin Gupta invites us on a journey of togetherness. There is no pretence here, no denial, no holding back; there is the generosity that comes from the courage to show one’s vulnerabilities and to leave the doors to one’s home and heart open.

Robin writes about longing and heartbreak, despair and hope, isolation and friendship. He speaks in the voices of star-crossed lovers and exiled kings; he draws our attention to trees ablaze with summer flowers, birds returning to their groves at sunset and grass scattered by monsoon rain. He speaks of intense desire, and also of the need to accept the inevitable with equanimity.

Nostalgic, sensitive and poignant, these are poems for everyone who understands that literature should touch the heart and move us.

What Gandhi Didn’t See

August 29, 2018

From 1684 till the present, the Indian diaspora in South Africa has had a long history. But in the country of their origin, they remain synonymous with three points of identity: indenture, apartheid and Mahatma Gandhi.
In this series of essays, Zainab Priya Dala deftly lifts the veil on some of the many other facets of South African Indians, starting with the question: How relevant is Gandhi to them today?
It is a question Dala answers with searing honesty, just as she tackles the questions of the ‘new racism’—between Black Africans and Indians—and the ‘new apartheid’—money; the tussle between the ‘canefields’ where she grew up, and the ‘Casbah’, or the glittering town of Durban; and what the changing patterns in the names the Indian community chooses to adopt reflect.
In writing that is fluid, incisive and sensitive, she explores the new democratic South Africa that took birth long after Gandhi returned to the subcontinent, and the fight against apartheid was fought and won.
In this new ‘Rainbow Nation’, the people of Indian origin are striving to keep their ties to Indian culture whilst building a stronger South African identity. Zainab Priya Dala describes some of the scenarios that result from this dichotomy.

These Were My Homes

August 29, 2018

‘In Vijay’s intelligent, self-aware meditations on mortality and human folly in this final and complete volume of his poems, readers will come to as close an apprehension of the nature of epiphany as is possible—to those sudden illuminations of the spirit that can, without warning, light up flares in our dull, corporeal bodies. [The] 111 poems in this slender volume written over his brief lifetime…display…a keen understanding of science and its uncompromising rationality (“radium decays a little bit at a time”), of the temporary bonds of love and desire, of waddling ducks and arching cats, of the particular genealogies of speech that Vijay came to inherit through his father, his grandparents, his mother and aunts, and of the questing history of our bipedal species… In the title poem of this volume, “These Were My Homes”, Vijay tracks a path from the safe womb to the single “bed in which to breathe my last of air”. I can think of few poets who have better traversed that eternal arc.’ —From the Introduction by Rukmini Bhaya Nair

The Rise and Fall of the Emerald Tigers

July 27, 2018

In this seminal book about the Indian tiger, Raghu Chundawat, a renowned conservation biologist, shares his findings from the only long-term ecological research project on tigers undertaken in India till date.
Chundawat closely studied the Panna tigers and their prey, from 1996 to 2006—meticulously recording their space use, movements, feeding and reproductive behaviours—in the dry tropical forests of Madhya Pradesh. With support from the national park management, he oversaw a spectacular revival of Panna’s tiger population.
However, by 2002-03, the fortunes of Panna’s tigers, and Chundawat’s research, nosedived when the park management changed. Monitoring privileges and access to the park were curtailed, and subsequently, poaching and poisoning of tigers spiked. When Chundawat blew the whistle on the alarming decline, he faced immense backlash from the state wildlife authorities. Despite the systemic opposition, Chundawat continued the fight to save Panna’s tigers, collecting data and petitioning the government to intervene.
In this immensely informative work, Chundawat presents not just his research, but also an insider’s account of the politics and administrative apathy plaguing Indian wildlife conservation. He discusses the larger threats to Indian wildlife—and the possible solutions. Filled with stunning photographs, The Rise and Fall of the Emerald Tigers is a must-read for all wildlife enthusiasts and researchers across the world.

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