Saturday, 28 March 2015

Granta 130 :India ,Another Way of Seeing ,Edited by Ian Jack

It took me over a month to read this collection of fiction and non-fiction, in 288 pages ,published in January ,2015 .(Granta 130:India,Another Way of Seeing ,,edited by Ian Jack.).One reason was that I had to read some of the  stories like Drone,English Summer and The Ghost in the Kimono , more than once ,  to comprehend them fully.Ian Jack has written an excellent introduction to this book,and this book is worth reading for introduction alone .But , that is not the only reason why this book should be read by all Indians.Some of the non fiction pieces as well as some of the fiction pieces are outstanding .
 Love Jihad by Aman Sethi stands out as an excellent piece of journalism.The  meaning  and implications of this term called Love Jihad becomes clear to the reader.Pyre by Amitava Kumar  vividly describes the Hindu  rituals observed on the death of his mother.It reminded me of a similar experience I had on the sad demise of my mother recently.Annawadi by Katherine Boo and her associates describes the condition of people in slums near the Mumbai airport being recently constructed.(Incidentally,,on 25th March,2015, during his video- conference with the Chief secretaries of all the states of India,the Prime Minister of India questioned the concerned  officials  about the slow progress of  the new Mumbai Airport).
                        Shoes by anjali Joseph is an extremely sensitive and well written story.The Wrong Square by Neel  Mukherjee is a dark but impactful story about a father and son when they visit Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Skiri and other monuments at Agra.The Bachelor Father by  Kalpana Narayanan is another bea
utiful story which shows clearly how loving and understanding is different from merely providing for material needs of close ones.Othello Sucks by Upmanyu Chatterjee is  a brilliant  story of two daughters and their educated , upper class parents, living in fast paced city of modern India.English Summer by  Amit Chaudhuri  is the story of an Indian boy , staying in London in mid eighties, and how he finds himself out of place there.
                    Gandhi .the Londoner  shows certain unknown aspects of Gandhi's life when he visited London for the first time, and how Gandhi's own autobiography was inaccurate in factual details.The Ghost in the Kimono by Raghu Karnad is an extremely well researched piece on the treatment of Japanese prisoners kept in India.Breach Candy  by Samanth Subramanian is another well researched piece on a club in Mumbai,showing clearly how the nexus between real estate,middlemen and politicians and bureaucrats  dominates every other thing in Mumbai city, and how judiciary is helpless ,with ever increasing burden of court cases,with extremely slow disposal.
                           A Double-Income Family by Deepti Kapoor describes  how poverty forces people to behave.Sticky fingers  by Arun Kolatkar is an interesting story of how people ascribe to God certain happenings due to their ignorance , while actually these are the results of the actions of other human beings.Ghachar Ghochar  by Vivek Shanbagh is translated from Kannada is a sweet story of a newly wed couple,indicating certain vocabulary  is developed by each family and is known only to the members of that family , a secret language indicating a special bond.This is the only story which has been a translation , and has been included in this book.
                     Granta 130 has been an eye-opener  for me .It has very clearly demonstrated that Indian writers in English are writing both fiction as well as non-fiction in Indian context with creativity,clarity , research and command of language.It has also brought  home  to me the situation of India as seen through the eyes and lenses of Indians ,many  of whom are settled  abroad.Apart from Introduction , these are two more reasons why every Indian should read this book.