Showing posts from 2015

City of the blue god

Benaras, Varanasi, Kashi… names of an ancient city, one of the oldest living ones, evoking images of the Ganga, sadhus, Shiva, temples, tourists, widows, cremations. That’s a lot to take in. And the city throws all of it at you and more. There is no holding back here.

The crowds hit you like a sledgehammer. Especially if you are in a hand-drawn rickshaw - very commonplace here. People, cows, bikes, autos, rickshaws...all throng the busy streets into the old city. You are from Mumbai and you think you have crowds covered. Mumbai has nothing on Varanasi. You wonder how your rickshaw man is going to maneuver his way through it all. But maneuver he does, weaving himself and his load through, leaving you with that feeling of distaste - you have indeed treated a human being like a pack mule. You leave that feeling behind, soon. Now you maneuver through the throng on foot. Cows are maneuvering too...and it’s best you get out of their way if you don’t want to be headbutted by the holiest of the…

Re-telling a classic - Bhima Lone Warrior

By M.T. Vasudevan Nair To keep my resolution to read more Indian regional language fiction, (obviously in translation, since tragically my knowledge of the Indian languages I know – Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi – is so superficial, it would take enormous patience to read in the original), I picked up this one by MT. I had heard of it from my mother and I knew this was a book I would enjoy. I mean, how could you not enjoy a re-telling of the Mahabharata? And if it was a re-telling by one of the all-time greats, it had to be good, right? I loved it. It is the Mahabharata from Bhima’s perspective. The Bhima we know is huge, with a large appetite, very strong, very short-tempered and utterly devoted to his family. We don’t give him much thought except as the muscle man of the Pandavas. MT’s Bhima is all of this; but he is also introspective and intelligent, a brooding, sensitive giant, somewhat of an outsider, with an ability to see his mother and brothers and wife with all of their flaws, ye…