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Tuesday , March 12 , 2013
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Amish & his fans
Amish at The Tollygunge Club

Breezing through the city on March 7-8 for the Calcutta launch of The Oath of the Vayuputras, author Amish Tripathi spent Thursday evening interacting with a select audience at The Tollygunge Club. A book reading and interactive session, presented by Starmark and The Tollygunge Club Library Committee, saw the book lovers’ society come together to soak in the discussion filled with mythology, philosophy and fact.

A packed Wills Lounge in the main clubhouse greeted the IIM Calcutta alumnus as he answered a volley of questions thrown at him about his third and final book in the Shiva Trilogy and more.

A sample: How is the theory of the different ways of life — Suryavanshi and Chandravanshi — mentioned in his books applicable to the present world? India, for Amish, symbolises the Chandravanshi or the feminine way of life that propagates liberalism, freedom and is quite devoid of any orderliness. “Even US would be an example of the feminine way of life while Japan would be the ideal Suryavanshi or masculine way of life that requires abiding by the rules. You see, the real character of the state is best understood when a state breaks down,” said Amish, taking up the examples of the mayhem in the US following the Hurricane Katrina, when all that people understood was their own selfish interests, while even though the tsunami in Japan was deadly, the citizens patiently waited for rescue operations and followed the rules of allowing the women and children to reach safety first and then the men.

In conversation with Chandrima Roy of the club’s library committee, it was the question about the rhinoceros scene that left Amish speechless for a moment. “The scene where Kartik takes on the Rhinoceros, was it quite necessary?” “Kartik is a warrior, so it fitted well into the book. I didn’t think along the lines of brutality towards animals, but again, I don’t think any normal guy can kill a rhino single-handedly,” said Amish.

The two-year-old library has hosted the likes of Ashwin Sanghi, Amitabha Bagchi, Sathya Saran and even Thomas Keneally who came to the city for Kolkata Literary Meet 2013. “The library currently is home to about 1,000 books. But with the numbers increasing slowly and steadily, both in terms of books and members, it would soon need a bigger place,” said Ayesha Mallik, chairperson of the Tolly’s library committee.

Mythology is making a major comeback in India today as the young ones are particular not to miss their daily dosages of the animated Chhota Bheem or Little Krishna, while the Amar Chitra Katha is back to being a pop pick. And standing out amongst all that is undoubtedly the phenomenon called Amish who has simply made gods ‘Oh so cool’!

Amish at the book launch of The Oath of the Vayuputras at Crossword, Elgin Road, with panelists (left to right) Taniya Bhardwaj, M.K. Singh, Q and Anjum Katyal. Pictures: Pabitra Das

Crossword on Friday evening played host to the Shiva Trilogy author who not only launched the third and final part of his trilogy but also discussed ‘The Relevance of Mythology and the Revival of Ancient Heroes in a tech-driven India’. The Elgin Road bookstore came alive to a heady discussion involving writer and editor Anjum Katyal, film director Qaushiq Mukherjee (better known as Q), senior IPS officer M.K. Singh and political science graduate Taniya Bhardwaj. While the discussion moved from the definition of mythology to the present generation’s mythological roots, Q drew the loudest applause for: “In my times we had Doordarshan telecasts of Ramayana and Mahabharata. I am very sorry to say but the stories then were told in a very f****d-up manner!”

Mary Renault to Friedrich Nietzsche, your truth, my truth to the universal truth, the hour-long discussion and debate moved into the audience and had Amish delving deep into the philosophical and social aspects underlined throughout his books.

“We wanted to do something different from just a book launch. In Bengal two things are respected a lot — one is ainjibi and the other buddhijibi. The thing about Amish’s books is that they are an honest representation of what he feels and he leaves them open for the people to judge,” said Sidharth Pansari, the director of Crossword bookstores.

“I have read the earlier books and I am yet to start on the third book. I was at Amish’s book launch (The Oath of the Vayuputras) at Shashi Tharoor’s residence in New Delhi too. I seem to run into him at each of his book launches,” smiled Ritu Kumar, dropping in at Crossword. “I am coming to Crossword for the first time and it is such a nicely-done-up bookstore. There is so much happening in Calcutta right now,” added the design queen. A for Amish was Raj Mahtani’s take. “Amish’s books transport you to a completely different world and he has a very unconventional take. One would never have thought that mythology would have caught up with everyone in this way,” said the couture jeweller.

Sreyoshi Dey
Pictures: Bhubaneswarananda Halder