Role models for different times
PADMAVATI (Katha, Rs 250) by A. Madhaviah is one of the earliest novels in Tamil, to which the genre happened later than to Marathi or Bengali. Sensitively translated by Meenakshi Tyagrajan, it tells the story of a young girl born into an orthodox Brahmin family. The more these early vernacular novels are published in translation, the more one spots similarities among them. For instance, the dynamics of the domestic realm within which some extremely complex relationships are played out in Padmavati would appear familiar to those acquainted with Bankimchandra Chatterjee’s novels. Another interesting thread is provided by the influence of English education. Padmavati’s husband, Narayanan, wants her to appreciate Shakespeare, Tennyson and all that is beautiful in English literature (recall Tagore’s novels). Did these pioneers of the Indian novel endorse Macaulay’s theory and still manage to voice the concerns of the colonial subject'
A THEORY OF EVERYTHING (Gateway, Rs 150) by Ken Wilber, “an integral vision for business, politics, science and spirituality” (to quote the subtitle), is something Deepak Chopra reads every day for his daily dose of inspiration. Integration is the keyword in the book, which has sections on integral politics, integral governance, integral medicine, integral business, integral education — virtually everything short of integral calculus. And still, the book is surprisingly free of the body-and-mind theories that have become the trademark of bestselling self-help books.
THE BEAUTY GAME (Penguin, Rs 250) by Anita Anand is a Naomi Wolf-type analysis of the beauty boom in India, covering the cult of thinness, women’s lib, traditional Indian bias against female children, cosmetic surgeries and of course, the pageant culture. Anand weaves into her analysis social, political, economic and even religious elements which have had an impact on the phenomenon. Beauty, it appears, is a lot of hard work.
TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE WITH REIKI (Penguin, Rs 250) by Anil Bhatnagar could be dispensed with altogether, and no one will be any unhappier for not having read it. This Japanese hands-on healing system is known to have produced great results for people suffering from joint pains and post-surgery discomfort. But there was no need to promote it as some sort of a spiritual exercise designed to “transform your personality, your relationships, your emotional life, your professional life, your creativity and enhance your your sense of being unconditionally secure, cheerful and happy.”