Robyn Andrews at the launch of her book at Oxford Bookstore. Picture by Arnab Mondal
Christmas brings to mind the lights on Park Street, the fruit cakes at Flurys and a holiday from work. Dr Robyn Andrews, a senior lecturer in the Social Anthropology Programme at Massey University, New Zealand, has woven 10 life stories and four essays into Christmas in Calcutta [Sage Publishers, Rs 695].
The book, which was launched at Oxford Bookstore last week, is the result of the writer’s PhD research on Calcutta’s Anglo-Indian community. Andrews explores the nuanced ways of being an Anglo-Indian, especially during the festive season in the city, and portrays them from a fresh perspective.
Hers was a challenge to show that Anglo-Indians are more than some rum-quenched, pony-tailed guitarist or stoned poet or every other stereotyped character from the Bow Barracks that frequents films.
“In this book I have tried to disregard stereotypes that are synonymous with this community. I have brought together the diversity. There is the story of Barry O’Brien, also the experience of a young chap working in a BPO,” said Andrews, who captures the humanity and excellence of Anglo-Indians.
“Robyn contests the hegemony of theories. This book transcends the mere parameters of 10 lives. There is an eleventh life here and that is Robyn’s. She stops being an outsider writing their stories and becomes an insider sharing their experiences,” said Shekhar Bandyopadhyay, the director, New Zealand India Research Institute, and the dean of history, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, at the launch.
Shane Calvert, the MLA representing the Anglo-Indian community, said the book lives up to the Christmas spirit of giving. “The spirit of Christmas is in the spirit of giving. And Robyn does just that through her book. She has given to the Anglo-Indian community an existence that is otherwise ignored.”
The book is split into four sections — Identity, Faith, Education and Community. Identity focuses on the origins, characteristics and the constitutional definition of the community; faith deals with the practice of Christianity; education points out some failings in the education system for the community; and the final section talks about community care.
Not everyday do visitors at the Oxford Bookstore get tips on how to be a millionaire. On Tuesday, a select group was told just that at the launch of Gautam Prasad Baroowah’s Be A Millionaire Yes! You Sure Can, a compendium of personal finance.
The author — who is a business economist and a human resource management expert — said he had written the book to help the middle-class multiply its money the honest way. “They often don’t know how to save smart. I want to guide,” he said at the launch.
This is Baroowah’s second book brought out by Patridge Publishers. It is also available as an e-book. The royalty for all versions of the book will go to underprivileged children.
Joining the author in a post-launch discussion were sports commentator Kishore Bhimani and artist Shuvaprasanna. “Anything that earns you more than 12 per cent interest is either risky or immoral. This is what my father would say,” shared Bhimani, who said a career in sports only partially described him and that he was in fact “a finance person who often advises people on money matters”.
Shuvaprasanna, while admitting that money was indeed important, said: “I really don’t know much about investment”. He went on to describe the opulence of a wedding he had attended that left him both spellbound and slightly uncomfortable at the same time. “Everyone should have some lack in life. When you have nothing to crave for, life becomes boring,” the artist said.
The author, however, wanted to lead the middle-class to empowerment through their millions. “Assamese and Bengalis are always looked upon as lazy people who are more interested in art and culture. I want to prove them all wrong. The book is written in a simple language so that more people can get rich honestly,” he promised.
Trina Chaudhuri and Chandreyee Ghose