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Paperback Pickings

They fought and brought change

Foreigners who loved and served India (Diamond, Rs 150) by K.C. Brahmachary is exactly that — a book about all the foreigners (Europeans, mostly) who came to India, fell in love with it and decided to dedicate their lives, or at least a lot of their time, towards the uplift of its people. Brahmachary’s work is not like a history textbook, even though the lives and contributions of its subjects are chronicled in an academic manner, with a chapter and a number of sub-headings dedicated to everyone, from Charles Freer Andrews and Sonia Gandhi to Edward James Corbett and Mother Teresa. And while one gets to read about illustrious names like Annie Besant and Sir William Jones, Brahmachary also thoroughly researches the lives of Josephine Macleod, to whom Swami Vivekananda had once expressed his indebtedness, and William Winstanly Pearson, whose book, For India, was proscribed by the British in India for its strong anti-imperialist teachings.

Though grammatical errors abound in this book, it is an enjoyable and informative read.

Invisible Lines (HarperCollins, Rs 299) by Ruby Zaman is yet another novel set against the backdrop of the conflict between West and East Pakistan, and the gradual emergence of Bangladesh as a fledgling, sovereign nation. Zebunnessa Rahim (thankfully called Zeb throughout the book) is a spoilt little rich girl, born in East Pakistan to a Sylheti mother and a Bihari father, and leads a cushy life — before it is turned upside down in 1971. The family watches its home turn into a refugee camp, and struggles to come to terms with its new national identity. While novels about the struggles of young protagonists in the face of their nation’s partition are a dime a dozen, Invisible Lines impresses the reader with the meticulous research that has gone into it. Zaman’s language is the right mix of complex and lucid — rarely does she simplify what is at best a complicated, charged subject.

The tulleeho! book of cocktails: anarkali, Instant karma and other mouthwatering mixes (Westland, Rs 395) edited by Rayna Jhaveri is a treasure trove. Not only is it full of interesting and innovative recipes for cocktails (there is a cocktail called the One-Eyed Pirate) but the recipes are also accompanied by the history of every sort of liquor used in those cocktails. This book has the power to interest alcoholics, social drinkers and teetotallers.


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