Sunday, September 24, 2023

Love, Loss and Renewal

 The Covenant of Water 
Abraham Verghese

An engrossing inter-generational story set in lush Kerala, it is easy to see why this made it to the Oprah Book Club. Why she called it 'one of the best books I have read in my entire life' is harder to understand.

Mariamma comes to Parambil as a 12 year old bride to a 40 year old man. Over the next seven decades, she weathers the highs and lows of birthing and nurturing a family, managing a 500 acre property and the changing political climate around her.
There are adjoining stories as well that blend into those of Parambil - of a Scottish doctor in Madras, come to learn to be a surgeon in the Indian Medical Service and of a Swedish one who sets up a leprosarium near Parambil. Valiya Ammachi, as Mariamma comes to be known, is in many ways the backbone of the novel. The best parts of the book are hers, and we stay riveted as she grows into her role as the matriarch of the family, learning of the hereditary 'condition' that afflicts her loved ones, dealing with death and medical emergencies, joyously accepting her differently-abled daughter and talented daughter-in-law, acknowledging her privilege and working to bring some sort of justice and equality to the world around her, always keeping her faith as the cornerstone of her life.
There are several strong strands to the stories and characters - Elsie's passion for her art that is the abiding motif of her life, Philippose's passion for Elsie and grief for his son that destabilizes him, the saint-like Rune Orqvist's crusade for leprosy patients, Mariamma junior's quest for the diagnosis of the 'condition' leading her to medical college. Verghese loves the characters he creates and the love is so very visible to the reader.
It's a great big book but Verghese's story telling is so on point and fast paced, the language so evocative of time and place, it's an easy read. I finished it in less than a week.
All the wonderful storytelling notwithstanding, there are obvious weaknesses. The plot has too many co-incidences for one (the characters fortuitously run into each other when needed). Most of the characters are 'good', and terrible things keep happening to them - and it gets to a point where you can almost sense the next tragedy unfolding. There is very little social commentary, and what there is, is pretty superficial - whether it be the caste system or the ills of feudalism that led to the rise of the communists and Naxalites in Kerala. There is absolutely no mention of the sexism inherent in the Mar Thoma communities that led to the landmark Mary Roy case in the 1980s.
Overall, it's a story very well told. But I cannot help but compare this to another great story set in almost the same milieu, again with evocative writing and unforgettable characters - Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things. That one though, was an angry book, railing against the casteism, sexism and the political expediency that impacts the individual. It was also a book that made us look at the world differently, from the perspective of the 'small things'.
The Covenant of Water is a wonderful, entertaining read. It is best that we leave it at that, and not expect more of it than it offers.

Friday, July 21, 2023

The World As A Miracle

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek
By Annie Dillard

Annie Dillard does a Walden, only this time set in ‘70s Virginia. She describes a year in her life, living in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains next to Tinker Creek. She spends the year, observing the natural world around her -and there is much to observe in the creek and in the mountains – observing minutely, paying attention to the changing seasons, the light, the wind, the insects and the bugs, the muskrats and the birds, the fish and the snakes. She is a devotee of paying attention – to experiencing the present, ‘catching grace’ as she calls it, unselfconsciously, losing oneself in the tree, the bird, the cloud. It’s the only way to catch the ‘now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t’ quality of the natural world. ‘’A fish flashes, then dissolves in the water before my eyes like so much salt. Deer apparently ascend bodily into heaven; the brightest oriole fades into leaves. These disappearances stun me into stillness and concentration; they say of nature that it conceals a grand nonchalance, and they say of a vision that it is a deliberate gift, the revelation of a dancer who for my eyes only flings away her seven veils.”

Dillard writes beautifully – her descriptions of nature are transcendent. In one passage she describes starlings going to roost, how they flew over her head, for over half an hour, how they ‘seemed to unravel as they flew, lengthening in curves, like a loosened skein…Into the woods they sifted without shifting a twig, right through the crowns of trees, intricate and rushing, like wind’, how it left her transfixed, ‘bashed by the unexpectedness of this beauty’. In another, she describes a stunning sugar maple tree in autumn –‘it was as if a man on fire were to continue calmly sipping tea.’ And in yet another, she describes the migration of the monarch butterflies – “The monarchs clattered in the air, burnished like throngs of pennies, here’s one, and here’s one, and more, and more. …It looked as though the leaves of the autumn forest had taken flight, and were pouring down the valley, like a waterfall, like a tidal wave, all the leaves of hardwoods from here to Hudson Bay. It’s as if the season’s colour were draining away like lifeblood, as if the year were molting and shedding.” Gorgeous, gorgeous prose.

Dillard is not just an observer of nature. She also reads extensively about the living world around her. It allows her to display a naturalist’s knowledge that deepens her engagement – she observes the praying mantis and gives us an insight into its mating habits; she tells us a newt can scent its way home from as far as eight miles; that the average size of all living animals, including man, is that of a housefly; that there are two hundred and twenty eight separate muscles in the head of a caterpillar. She has the ability to find the dramatic – the egg laying of the praying mantis, the abdomens of South African honey ants, a dragon fly’s enormous lower lip, a water bug draining the flesh of a frog…Dillard is amazed at the intricacy of creation and the variety of form, the utility of each of the forms – and we stand amazed with her.

And it’s not just the beauty. Dillard is as aware of the horror that goes hand in hand, and the ubiquitousness of death. “The world has signed a pact with the devil; it had to. It is a covenant to which everything, even every hydrogen atom, is bound. The terms are clear: if you want to live, you have to die…The world came into being with the signing of the contract. A scientist calls it the Second Law of Thermodynamics. A poet says, ‘The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age’. This is what we know. The rest is gravy.”

Annie Dillard was 28 years old when she wrote this (and when she won a Pulitzer for it). She writes with all the passion and intensity of that age, but it is never empty rhetoric. There is an underlying self-confidence, and a wisdom and gravitas that recalls the writings of Walt Whitman and Mary Oliver and of course, Thoreau.  As with the best of nature writing there is a deeply spiritual vein that runs through the work - Dillard quotes the Bible and the Koran and sees the world as a wondrously inventive creation.

It's a beautiful piece of work that Dillard has created, one to savour slowly and mindfully. There was a sense of loss when I finished it, but with so much of note taking and underlining, I am sure it will be a source of joy for years to come.  

Sunday, January 01, 2023

My Good Reads of 2022

A reading slump in the latter half of the year saw me average just less than a book a week in 2022. There was a good mix of fiction and non-fiction, new authors and old favourites, happy-making and thought-provoking. But there was less poetry, less Indian writing, less classics, than I would have liked. My favourites in no particular order were:
1. Devotions. The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.
A self-curated anthology of Oliver's poems, it is a lesson in paying attention to the miracle of our world. Her poems are prayer, consolation, magic, redemption.
2. The Living Mountan, by Nan Shephard
Probably the best book I read all year. It is nature writing at its best, as Shephard pens a peaen to the Scottish Cairngorms where she lived all her life. She is precise and exact and scientific; but also lyrical and meditative, bringing a poet's sensibilities to her descriptions of the mountains. Gorgeous, magical writing.
3. Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, by Mario Vargas Llosa.
Stories within stories, fantastical, funny, tragic, this one is an example of how fiction can be truly spellbinding. Left me wanting to read more of this Peruvian Nobel Prize winner.
4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. By Susan Cain
As an introvert, this book spoke to me. It might exaggerate the power of introversion, but it does a good job of arguing for balance, where quiet certitude can be a counter to a world of networking and Dale Carnegie.
5. Midnight's Borders: A People's History of Modern India. By Suchitra Vijayan
Vijayan travels along the borders of our nation, documenting stories that describe the human toll of borders and the nation state. A powerful, hard-hitting book that asks questions most of us do not want to hear - what makes a nation, does culture trump nationhood, do borders make good neighbours or unequal people.
6. The Places In Between. By Rory Stewart
A superb travelogue describing Stewart's walk from Herat to Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2002. It is an observant, non-judgemental look at a wild, harsh country with multiple ethnicities and loyalties, whose concept of nationhood is fragile and of democracy non-existent.
7. The Lincoln Highway. By Amor Towles
Towles' storytelling abilities were on full display as I finished a 550 page book in 3 days flat. It's an ode to road trips and friendship, myths and fables, as we are taken on a roller coaster ride across America.
8. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return. By Marjane Satrapi
Combining political history and personal memoir, this graphic novel is warm and funny and poignant.
9. These Precious Days: Essays. By Ann Patchett
Patchett is masterful at the personal essay - warm and witty, frank and vulnerable. She writes on a wide variety of subjects, bringing in perspectives of a wife, daughter, writer, friend, bookshop owner. All the while re-iterating the preciousness of the lives we live.
10. Underland: A Deep Time Journey. By Robert Macfarlane
Macfarlane takes us deep into subterranian spaces, where we still find the reach of human activity and where we encounter mystery and awe, fear and fascination. His erudition is on full display, bringing into play knowledge of biology and geology, history and epic poetry. A masterful tome.

There were others that kept me engaged too - a Maggie O'Farrel, a couple of Le Carres, Keene's fascinating narrative of 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland in 'Say Nothing', Srinath Perur's funny look at us Indians on our conducted tours in his 'If It's Monday, it must be Madurai', Mischa Berlinski's superb debut novel 'Fieldwork' - a mystery set amongst the tribes of northern Thailand, May Sarton and her brilliant Journal of a Solitude, Shrayana Bhattacharya's study of a generation of Indian women that has seen possibilities open up for them without corresponding support of the men in their lives in her Desperately Seeking Shahrukh.

That's my list for 2022. Tell me about yours.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Shah Rukh as metaphor

Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh 

By Shrayana Bhattacharya

This is an important book, one that documents the lives of a certain generation of Indian women, born in the early 80s, straddling a time period when society changed irrevocably with liberalization, “women who were on the cusp of adulthood when the world entered a new century.” A generation of women that has seen possibilities opening up for them personally, yet having to deal with families less enthusiastic about their enjoyment of them.

Bhattacharya tells the stories of these women, across social classes - a housewife in high society Delhi, a young cabin attendant from Jaisalmer, a single independent working woman in Delhi, an accountant in a government job, a young Muslim woman in UP doing piece work embroidery in Rampur. She peppers these stories with statistics. The labour force participation in our country is heavily skewed (77% of India’s workers are male). Nearly 71% of urban Indian women between the ages of 30 and 34 are engaged solely in unpaid housework. Among the wealthiest twenty percent of urban Indians aged 20-55, only 6% of married women are employed. 84% of marriages are arranged, nine out of ten are within the same caste.  In 2018, only 43% of women in India owned a mobile phone, compared to almost 80% of Indian men, the largest such gap in the world. The suicide rate of Indian women is twice the global rate. All of these to show that “there is no meaningful dimension of well-being on which men and women are equal in India. None…All the data on gender in India, despite progress since Independence, confirms that our country is profoundly unequal and that the gap between male and female achievement and access to resources continues to grow.” 

It is within this context that we read the stories of these women. Bhattacharya frames them through the fandom of Shah Rukh. The conceit is wonderfully worked. Through this shared fanhood, Bhattacharya draws out the desires and fantasies of these women, as they tell her why Shah Rukh is so important to them. They tell her he is self-made, that he is intelligent, that he understands women, that the love he portrays is the stuff of their dreams, that they have never seen a man peel carrots in the kitchen as he did in DDLJ. But, as one woman says, “No wonder our generation of women is so fucked when it comes to love. We saw this beautiful man dance on top of a train, romance women in the most beautiful settings and do it all with such conviction that we all bought the dream of love that he sold us.” But the men in their lives are far from the idea of Shah Rukh - “Every fan-woman I had met - from Lutyen’s Delhi to rural UP - would offer stories of how a man had compromised her selfhood, how her family would treat her like a ticking time bomb, how the marriage market made her feel worthless, how they were underpaid and how public spaces remain unfriendly.” 

But the women Bhattacharya writes about, all defy some convention, negotiate some form of space for themselves even while never openly breaking away from the patriarchy that holds them back. It could be taking a short break from a stifling marriage, or staying single and committing to a career, or seeking new guideposts to negotiate love. Bhattacharya distinguishes these ‘deeply private rebellions’ from the vociferous sloganeering on the internet about smashing the patriarchy. This is real, lived feminism, that ‘chips away at the social structures everyday’ - ‘feminism that won’t catch the eye but that can trigger change.’.Critics of DDLJ might see Raj’s refusal to run away with Simran and his attempt to stay and work to gain the support of her family as a concession to patriarchy. Yet, one of the women, Manju, the home-based textile worker in Rampur, sees it as a measure of Raj’s strength and maturity. Because in her lived world, she knows the dangers of being cut off from her family, the only source of support if, in fact, something does go wrong. And so we realize that “freedom is won through incremental negotiation, that dialogue amongst loved ones can be a path towards social change.”

Bhattacharya, through her research and reading, has come to believe that access to independent income is one of the most powerful tools of resistance women can have. And that as long as our institutions tax us for ‘seeking a self beyond beauty and duty’ and as long as the state does not recognize the unpaid labours women perform, it is difficult to keep women in the workforce. Which is why a mass female exodus from employment (women’s participation in the workforce has declined quite dramatically) can be so dangerous.  

It is a thought-provoking book, and a very interesting one, putting faces to the data points we read about. It uses Shah Rukh as a topic of mutual interest for women across social classes, in a country as diverse as India, women for whom it would otherwise be difficult to find common ground. As Bhattacharya says, she is “obliged that all talk of Shah Rukh liberated me from a researcher’s extractive gaze of ‘data collection’, that his films and songs freed me from having to look at the lives of women through the prism of deprivation and poverty alone.” It’s a Shah Rukh fan-girl’s take on a generation’s collective ideal of masculinity.

It’s a tough world out there, the change women seek is always too slow in coming, and the next generations still continue to have to negotiate their way through social change to try and achieve the autonomy they crave. As the author says, “Change involves regular people imposing censure and costs on friends and family members, on making personal acts of discrimination dishonourable and shameful. For the brave, change requires bearing the isolation and costs of resistance…Mindset isn’t enough, morality is embodied in how we demonstrate our liberal views in our daily encounters with people, places and our self. Without these intimate revolutions, the best laws and the strongest movements will fail.”

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Imagining Nations

 Midnight's Borders by Suchitra Vijayan

This is a hard-hitting book, one which raises more questions than it answers - what makes a country, does culture trump nationhood, how does one define empire, or freedom, and ultimately, do good fences make good neighbours, or do they just make unequal people?

Suchitra Vijayan, a journalist and a lawyer, travels 9000 miles along India's borders - through Afghanistan, Rajasthan, Punjab, Kashmir, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Assam.. documenting people and their stories at 'the frayed edges of the republic', counting the human toll of borders and the nation state. "Where you are born, what passport you hold, can shrink your world, cripple you and sometimes kill you," she says. Of course, most of the people in her stories have no conception of a thing called a passport. All they know is that Messrs. Durand, Radcliffe and McMahon drew lines on a map that changed their lives forever, dividing families, uprooting homes lived in for generations, disrupting ways of life unimaginably. 

The stories are hearbreaking, the ones from the eastern borders especially so, since these are stories being enacted now - in Assam and West Bengal, people who have lived in their homes for decades, whose families live across a line that exists only in maps, forced to prove their citizenship with documents they do not have, their futures dependent on arbitrary rulings by courts and lawyers they cannot afford. "They all look the same, speak the same," says a BSF guard in the Bangladesh-India border, "..that is why we need to keep a close watch." Vijayan calls this "the perfect distillation of Indian nationalism, a foundational myth about the nation's beginning and who belongs within its boundaries and who doesn't."

The partition vignettes from Punjab are less startling, mostly because the tragedy happened more than seven decades ago. Yet even here, Vijayan makes us realize that while we might know the history, and we have all read Train to Pakistan and watched Tamas, there still remain thousands of stories to be told - harrowing, soul-destroying, tragic.

Kashmir and Nagaland are different. For the first time in the book, we encounter people who do not want in, who believe they are not part of our country. Vijayan writes of a memorial outside Kohima dedicated to Khrisanisa Seyie, the first president of the Federal Government of Nagaland (!), with a plaque that says, "Nagas are not Indians; their territory is not part of the Indian union. We shall uphold and defend this unique truth at all costs and always.". The counter-insurgency operations impacted thousands of Naga families, and have left graves across the state, some of which have stark messages for us - a gravestone in a remote border with Burma reads "India killed my son." The Nagaland chapter is terribly disconcerting - it is a chapter in Indian history we have never learnt, and this, along with the Kashmir one are the ones that make us wonder the most about the Indian state - what makes us less of an empire than China or Russia?

Vijayan writes with passion and deep empathy. She is transparent about where her sympathies lie and is scathing about Modi and the Hindutva agenda that seeks to discriminate against a particular religion with state instruments like the NRC and CAA. But this book is not a political rant. It serves as witness to the large human cost of manmade borders and the narrative of the nation state. It is an important book, a complex one, one that as Indians, we need to read, if we want our nation state to mean anything more than lines on a map guarded by an armed force.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

2021: My year in reading


There were so many good reads this year, it’s tough to pick favourites. Let me start by pointing out the missing parts. Not much of poetry in a year that deserved poetry, more than any other form, I think. Vijay Nambisan’s darkly humorous collection First Infinities was the only one I read. Not much of Indian writing in translation either - something I had sworn I would do more of. Qurattulain Hyder’s excellent Fireflies in the Mist was again the only one.

On the other hand, I discovered two delightful English writers I had never heard of before. Barbara Pym in her Excellent Women was wry and enchanting, and so was Elizabeth Taylor (no, not the actress) in Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. I also managed to finish a big, big Russian book (on my journey to read big, big Russian books) - And Quiet Flows the Don. As usual, anything Russia intrigues me. 

And so onto picking my favourites for the year, out of the 54 I read, in no particular order.


  1. Languages of Truth: Essays (2003-2020). By Salman Rushdie

Very erudite, very opinionated, Rushdie is as usual, fabulous, making even the novels of Samuel Beckett sound interesting.

  1. Priestdaddy. By Patricia Lockwood

I love memoirs, and this one is truly a great one about growing up Catholic with a priest for a father!! Lockwood’s brilliant writing was a revelation, and she can make even the most horrific scenes laugh-out-loud funny. 

  1. A Short History of Nearly Everything. By Bill Bryson

Bryson condenses centuries of scientific knowledge about our cosmos into a 600 pager, imbuing it with his characteristic sense of curiosity and awe, all embellished with that humour we all know him for.  

  1. Vesper Flights. By Helen McDonald

A wide ranging selection of essays showcasing the wonder of all things wild. The writing is absolutely exquisite - this is nature writing at its best

  1. Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future. By Elizabeth Kolbert

Kolbert follows up her The Sixth Extinction with this one, about people trying to heal the earth that is being destroyed by people. It’s not a pretty picture, there are no silver bullets and it is a scary read. But Kolbert is spellbinding, as usual.

  1. At Large and at Small: Familiar Essays. By Anne Fadiman

A superbly eclectic collection of intimate, clever essays written with that incredibly difficult-to-achieve lightness of touch. Informs and delights in equal measure.


  1. Writers and Lovers. By Lily King.

A coming-of-age tale of a late bloomer. There is sorrow and longing and passion and staying true to one’s self when all around you are taking the easy way out. A simple tale, lightly told.

  1. The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. By Maggie O’Farrell

O’Farrell has become one of my favourite novelists of all time. This one has her trademark Gothic intensity and is about deep family secrets and tragic early twentieth century asylum horror. A bittersweet read.

  1. Whereabouts. By Jhumpa Lahiri

A splendid little book about nothing and everything, Lahiri describes the rich inner monologue of a single, unmarried woman as she goes about her life in an Italian city. 

  1. Jorasanko. By Aruna Chakravarti

About the Tagore family and its women as they evolve from a generation of child brides in purdah to becoming social reformers, novelists, freedom fighters. A fascinating look at a way of life in an upper class Brahmin household during the Bengal Renaissance.

  1. Asoca: A Sutra. By Irwin Allan Sealy

A first person fictional narrative of one of India’s greatest kings. Sealy creates some finely etched characters as he sticks to the broad narrative arc we all know. It is an intimate portrait he paints, of a man and the times he lived in.

There were many more books and writers I could go on about - Francis Cha’s If I Had Your Face, Girish Karnad’s memoir This Life at Play, Brian Dillon’s fabulous Suppose a Sentence, Colin Thubron’s travelogue To A Mountain in Tibet, Maggie O’Farrel’s The Hand That First Held Mine… but then this would no longer be a listicle.

And so we move onto 2022. What do I hope for? More poetry, more classics, more books in translation. Today is the first day of the rest of the year. Let’s start.

Monday, July 05, 2021

The Wonder Of It All

 A Short History of Nearly Everything

By Bill Bryson

Centuries of scientific knowledge and discovery about our cosmos, condensed into a wonderful 600 page book that a complete layman can find interesting. That is Bryson's achievement. Some delightful factoids from the book:

  • For all we know, the North Star may have burned out at any time since the early fourteenth century - and news of it hasn't reached us as yet.
  • Every atom you possess has almost certainly passed through several stars and been part of millions of organisms on its way to becoming you. And so we will have atoms in our body that once belonged to Shakespeare, and the Buddha and Genghis Khan! A little bit of genius in each of us.
  • Rutherford, the 'father of nuclear physics' as we know him, was terrible at mathematics!! There is still hope for that kid who hates it.
  • Since atoms are mostly empty space, the solidity we experience around us is an illusion. So when you are sitting on a chair, you are not actually sitting, but levitating above it (albeit at a height of a hundred millionth of a centimeter).
  • There are two bodies of laws in physics - both leading quite separate lives. One for the world of the very small (quantum theory) and one for the universe at large (relativity).
  • We, us brilliant humans, really know very little! We live in a universe whose age we cannot calculate, surrounded by stars whose distance from us or each other we do not know, filled with 'dark' matter we can't identify, operating in conformance with physical laws we don't understand.
  • The study of plate tectonics tells us Kazhakstan was once attached to Norway and New England. Pick up a pebble in a Massachusetts beach and it is most closely related to ones in Africa. And sometime in the future, California will float off and become a Madagascar in the Pacific.
  • There are about a hundred million asteroids larger than 10 meters, at any point in time, in trajectories that cross earth's orbit. Earth is of course, trundling along at a brisk 100,000 kilometers an hour. These speeding bullets are impossible to track. Near misses happen two or three times a week and go unnoticed. Talk about living on borrowed time.
  • The distance from the surface of the earth to its middle is 6370 km. We have penetrated 3 kilometers at the most (searching for gold). So as Bryson says, if the planet were an apple, we wouldn't have even come close to breaking the skin!
  • All the glass on earth is flowing downwards under the relentless drag of gravity. So a pane of old glass from the window of a European cathedral is noticeably thicker at the bottom than the top.
  • The earth's magnetic field reverses itself every once in a while - the last reversal happened 750,000 years ago. And we have no idea why it happens!
  • The last supervolcano explosion happened in Sumatra 74000 years ago. That whopper was followed by 6 years of volcanic winter. It reduced global human population to no more than a few thousand (all of us are descended from those thousands - and so all that fighting over race and caste is quite insane, given the lack of our genetic diversity).
  • And Yellowstone National Park is an active supervolcano. It's cycle of eruptions is a massive one every 600,000 years. The last one was 630,000 years ago. Still want to visit?
  • The world belongs to the very small! If you totaled up all the biomass in the planet, microbes would account for at least 80% of all there is!
  • When you see lichen the size of a dinner plate, know that it is likely to be hundreds of years old! That is slow-growing!
  • The dust on your table or shelf is most likely old skin. You slough off several billion fragments of your dead skin every day.
  • When man arrived, North and South America lost about three quarters of their big animals. Australia lost 95%.
  • The second Baron Rothschild was a scientific collector of species - and a very deadly one. When he became interested in Hawaii, it lost 9 species of birds in a decade of his collecting!

The sense of curiosity and awe that Bryson imbues through everything he explains, the very things that are missing in all the science textbooks I have read, is what makes this book such a treasure. Add in his trademark humour and you have one of the most engaging pop science books ever!

And it has a lesson - that we, humans, are truly lucky to be here, at this time, in this planet, a tiny speck, both in terms of size and time, in this infinitely vast and unknowable universe. So as a poet once said, "Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it."

Love, Loss and Renewal

  The Covenant of Water  Abraham Verghese An engrossing inter-generational story set in lush Kerala, it is easy to see why this made it to t...