Sunday, April 9, 2017

BW15: Armchair traveling through India




My armchair travels took me to India this week. I discovered the caves of Meghalaya while exploring and searching for diamonds, and ended up following a variety of rabbit trails through India. I enjoy epic novels delving into the history of India and was quite pleased to discover M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions:





Ashton Pelham-Martyn's parents die young. He is raised primarily by a Hindu hill-woman who dies, too, a few years later while the two are fleeing from one deadly peril while another one, the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion, drenches the land around them in blood. By a stroke of fortune, good or bad, his English identity is at last discovered, and he is whisked away to aristocratic relations in England who see to it that he can never again think of himself as wholly Indian. Nor will he ever be accepted as truly English. On his return to India as a new Army recruit looking forward to "soldiering among the wild hills of the North-West Frontier," 122 pages of the novel have slipped past, but it's only just beginning. Yet to come are a dangerous trek escorting a native bridal party across India, a forbidden love affair, and a harrowing effort to warn the British authorities against meddling in Afghanistan, a land Ash understands better than his "superiors" do. The last few chapters find him in Kabul in 1879 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War and feature a heroic last stand by an undermanned British garrison.

That one may take a while to read.  Somehow that lead to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and her magical realism story - The Mistress of Spices which is quite intriguing.  




A classic work of magical realism, this bestselling novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni tells the story of Tilo, a young woman from another time who has a gift for the mystical art of spices.  Now immortal, and living in the gnarled and arthritic body of an old woman, Tilo has set up shop in Oakland, California, where she administers curatives to her customers.  But when she's surprised by an unexpected romance with a handsome stranger, she must choose between everlasting life and the vicissitudes of modern society.
Divakaruni newest book Before We Visit the Goddess in which she explores the relationship between mothers and daughters is currently available in India and is coming out April 25th in the U.S. 

One particular bunny trail introduced Tarquin Hall and his character Vish Puri, India's most private investigator in the Case of the Missing Servant which is now waiting in my virtual stacks right after I finish reading Mistress of Spices.    





Meet Vish Puri, India’s most private investigator. Portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swath through modern India’s swindlers, cheats, and murderers.   In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri’s main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests. But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri’s resources to investigate. With his team of undercover operatives—Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream—Puri combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago, and reveals modern India in all its seething complexity.


Non fiction wise, there are plenty of trails to follow from ancient dynasties to the partition of India to culture and traditions to Indian cuisine.  Check out Lonely Planet travel guides as well as Goodreads popular non fiction books, Culture Trip's 10 Best Bookbooks for Traditional Indian food, and 10 Must Read books on Indian History.

Have fun following rabbit trails! 

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