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Showing posts from January, 2010
Six Sentences

Love and Longing

As I grow older, it’s interesting to see how my little-girl fascination for enduring love stories has shown little signs of fading. Some of my favourite movies and books are still about love – unrequited passion, can’t stay away from each other obsessions, illicit love.

Here are some love stories I have come to love over the years – they are the ones I remember at this point in time and are in no particular order.

• Heathcliff and Catherine in Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff’s obsession with his Catherine proves detrimental to all around him. Yet there is something that is primal and raw and fundamental about his ardour. Bad Love.

• Elizabeth and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice: I like all of Jane Austen, but Darcy and Elizabeth are special and enduring. It is a classic rich guy, not-so-rich girl plot… but Elizabeth is so feisty and Darcy so vulnerable, you cannot help falling in love with them.

• Yuri and Lara in Dr. Zhivago: The novel has other merits – telling a personal s…
2010

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Curfewed Night

Basharat Peer

In many ways, this is a disconcerting book. Kashmir is never an easy subject for us Indians. All nations have events in their history they are never proud of. We have a sneaking suspicion Kashmir is one such issue for us. Basharat Peer takes us right to the heart of it and suddenly we feel like we have nowhere to hide.

Peer is a journalist, born and brought up in Kashmir, growing up at the height of the insurgency. He moves out of his native land to study in Aligarh Muslim University and later study and work in Delhi. Yet he can never forget his roots. Kashmir draws him back to tell its story that surprisingly has never been told before.

Peer describes a land of incomparable beauty – lakes and mountains and fields that have drawn invaders and tourists alike for centuries. A land that has been torn apart by two nations fighting over it, both not wanting to give up its magic to each other or to the Kashmiris themselves. He writes of resentment against the Indian…
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Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel

It’s the winner of the 2009 Booker Prize. It is historical fiction. It is British. I went into Wolf Hall with great expectations but it took me a whole month and a lot of pushing myself to get through it. Blame it on the mammoth 650 pages, on my less than deep knowledge of British history, on the disconcerting present tense of the narrative. But finish it I did, coming away more familiar and more than a little fascinated with a quite incredible part of British history.

Wolf Hall is set between 1527 and 1535…or thereabouts. For some kind of perspective, 1530 was the year Babur died leaving Humayun a tentative hold on his Indian territories. The Vijayanagar kingdom is in its last throes in the South. The reformist movement against the Church is in full swing in Europe and Shakespeare’s birth is still a quarter of a century away.

England is under the Tudor king Henry VIII. Whom we all know had innumerable wives and proved to be the reason for England’s break with t…