Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture & Heritage by Anita Bose

Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture & Heritage

Anita Bose

Book Review

During her stay in Thailand Anita Bose was surprised to see that the Indian epic of Ramayana was an integral part of the Thai culture. A country with 95% Buddhist population studying of Ramayana is a compulsory part of school education in Thailand. The Buddhist King of Thailand still takes the title of Rama.


Book Cover (Source: Bee Books)

During her five years stay in Bangkok, Thailand Anita volunteered as a guide at the National Museum of Bangkok, which housed a Ramayana gallery.

During her stint as a volunteer guide in the museum a month long Ramayana Festival in Bangkok changed Anita’s concept of Ramayana. The international festival had participants from eight countries, including India.

This was an eye opener for Anita and motivated her to travel to several other south Asian countries to retrace the Ramayana legacy.

Her travels and research resulted in the book titled Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture and Heritage. The book covers extensive info on Ramayana practice in south east Asian countries of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Loas, Cambodia and Myanmar.

In Thailand Ramayana is known as Ramakein and is performed in the form of Khon Dance (Also see: Khon Dance Mask) or shadow puppetry. The inner walls of the Grand Palace in Bangkok depicts the entire Ramayana in 178 panels stretching over a mile. In Indonesia Ramayana is known as Kakawin and is performed by Muslim dancers, on full-moon nights, with the backdrop of the massive Prambanan Temple.

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Red Fort by Debasish Das

April 15, 2020 2 comments

Red Fort, remembering the magnificent Mughals

Debasish Das

Book Review

A fort is all about massive bastions and giant gateways coupled with massive military edifice and strategic defensive mechanism. But apart from being a defensive structure, forts have always served as independent cities complete with bazars, gardens crisscrossed with walkways and water channels.


Book Cover (including back cover). Photo source: Debasish Das’ personal blog

Forts complete with royal courts have always been centre of royal decision making. Behind the court, but within the walls of the fort, royal family politics had a significant role. This internal politics not only shaped the history of the empire but also had a significant role in the history of the entire mankind.

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Indian Paper Money, Illustrated Guide Book by Sk Imtiaj

January 8, 2020 Leave a comment

Indian Paper Money, Illustrated Guide Book

by Sk Imtiaj

Book Review

Sk Imtiaz 2

Book Cover (Source: Amazon)

There are several books and catalogues on Indian stamps and coins but for Indian paper currency there have been only a couple of books and catalogues. Information provided in this couple of books have been far from exhaustive.

Its true that the number of stamp and coin collectors far exceed the number of note collectors but the serious note collectors were always in need for a extensive catalogue or a detailed book on Indian Paper Currency.

Sk. Imtiaj‘s newly published book titled Indian Paper Money, Illustrated Guide Book provides an extensive insight into the paper currency of India.

It is an extensive cataloging of Indian paper currency from the Presidency Notes of British India right to the present day.

The self published, almost 500 page, books comes in with a jacket and high quality colour prints of notes. The photos contains extensive coverage on water marks, finer details and the serial numbers.

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Patachitra of Odisha and Jagannath Culture by Anita Bose, Book Review

March 2, 2019 3 comments

Patachitra of Odisha and Jagannath Culture by Anita Bose

Book Review

In every corner of India there exists numerous indigenous art forms hidden under sands of time. Search for them as desperately as a mother would be looking for her lost child. Don’t stop until you find them and showcase them for the world to see.

Swami Vivekananda to Sister Nivedita


Patachitra of Odisha and Jagannath Culture by Anita Bose

The heritage village of Raghurajpur, located near the pilgrimage of Puri, is one such numerous art centres of the country. Raghurajpur is famous for the ancient art of Patachitra.

The book Patachitra of Odisha and Jagannath Culture by Anita Bose explores the story behind the patachitras of Raghurajpur. The book is the culmination of Anita’s two decades of nurturing her creative pursuits.

Anita’s book not only deals with the details of patachitra but also provides the details of its connection with the Jagannath Culture.

The book starts with the origin of the name of heritage village of Raghurajpur and then moves on to the representation of Jagannath Culture through different forms of patachitras.

The book elaborates the chitrakar (artist) community of Raghurajpur providing the details of the artist hierarchy, which is solely based on the skill of the artist. The author goes into further details providing a correlation between the surname and the type of art work done by them. The details of the patachitra painting, which replaces the deities of the Puri Jaganath Temple for the 15 day sabbatical break every year, have been expressed in every possible details.

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Book Review ~ The Lost Generation by Nidhi Dugar Kundalia

June 29, 2016 3 comments

The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions

Nidhi Dugar Kundalia

Lost Generation

The Lost Generation (Photo Courtesy: Amazon)

It was about four years ago, I received a phone call from an unknown lady. She introduced herself as Nidhi Dugar Kundalia, the assistant editor of Kindle Magazine and wanted some information about the traditional water carriers of Kolkata, the Bhistis. I provide her with what ever information I had.

I met Nidhi, a few months later, during the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Fest (AKLF) at the Lascar Memorial, after that we were completely out of touch apart from a few isolated messages in FB.

Early in 2016 I received a message from Nidhi, inviting me for her book launch in Quest Mall. The book titled The Lost Generation, is a chronicle of India’s dying profession and the bhistis also featured in the list of the vanishing professions of the country.

Apart from the bhistis the books covered ten other vanishing professions covering the length and breadth of the country. Apart from doing extensive field work the author also went through series of books, journals and papers on related topics. The long list of bibliography and notes are first hand proof of Nidhi’s extensive paper works.

Also my name appears in the acknowledgement section of the book, along with a host of other men and women, who have helped Nidhi in the compilation of the stories of the vanishing professions of India.

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Book Review ~ The Mouse Charmers by Anuradha Goyal

July 2, 2014 10 comments

The Mouse Charmers: Digital Pioneers of India

Anuradha Goyal

Before I started reading Anuradha Goyal’s “The Mouse Charmer: Digital Pioneers of India”, I went through some of the reviews that were already up on the internet. One reviewer suggested to  keep a pencil in hand as the books contains lot of information. I followed the advise, but by the time I finished reading the book, I had landed up underlining almost the entire book!!!!

The Mouse Charmers (Google Image)

The Mouse Charmers (Google Image)

Anuradha’s Mouse Charmer is not just a bag full of information on the digital pioneers, but the story of India’s successful digital entrepreneurs put together in the most systematic and innovative way.

Anuradha, herself a pioneering blogger from India and successfully running three blogs for over a decade, covering diversified areas like travel, innovation and book reviews. In her book she shares the behind the scenes stories of successful digital enterprises like Flipkart, Zomato, Make My Trip, Indibloggers, etc.

Today, the urban Indian is well aware of the digital business and ordering things via the Flipkart or glancing through the menu in Zomato has been a daily routine for the netizens of India.

Only a few bother to think about the secret behind these successful online brands, this is where Anuradha’s, The Mouse Charmers, comes in. The story of successful people harnessing the power of the mouse and turning the ancient land of snake charmers to the modern land of mouse charmers.

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Book Review ~ Missing Varrun by Amar Agarwala

November 28, 2012 1 comment

Missing Varrun by Amar Agarwala

~ Book Review ~

“….. a love story that connects the picturesque town of Ceuta in the south if Spain , to the dusty by – lanes of Kolkata in India.”

Back cover of Amar Agarwal’s novel Missing Varun

Missing Varrun

Missing Varrun

Amar Agarwala’s debut novel Missing Varrun is a full life story of a Calcutta based charted accountant Vedant (1966 – 2049) spanning well into the future. It is also a love story that crosses all barriers of time and culture. Vedant, a brilliant chartered accountant of Calcutta falls in love with Amaya, a Spanish girl of Sindhi origin, fifteen years younger than he. She comes to India to complete her basic education, and as a neighbour he gives her private tuition in English and mathematics, and it’s how love begins to sprout between them.

They eventually marry and were soon blessed with two children Varrun and Vaideeka. It so happens that while the father stays back in India, mom and children heads back to Spain, leaving Vedant to miss his children and hiswife. So it would be curious how they have their reunions, and how often, how they manage to nourish and cherish mutual love and affection.

Life goes on as Amaya continues with her school assignment and spending her time looking after her kid and watching her kids grow in Ceuta, Spain. Ceuta, a small Spanish town nestling on the northern tip of Africa, boasted an area of 22 square kilometer and a population of less than 100 000. It bordered Morocco and separated from main land Spain by the Straits of Gibraltar, with the Mediterranean and Atlantic on either side of the straits. While Vedant spent his time working on ledgers, trial balance and balance sheets in Kolkata.

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Book Review ~ Nothing is Blue

August 17, 2011 1 comment

History and astronomy are always considered poles apart, but physist Biman Nath considers them as opposite sides of a coin. In his debut novel “Nothing is Blue” he has blended the two in a unique mixture, with the Nalanda University in its backdrop. Set in the ancient seat of learning, the novel deals with the travels of the famous Chinese traveler Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in Nalanda and its surrounding area.

Book Cover

Book Cover

Set in the background of Nalanda the novel has the mysteries of Harry Potter. Vivid description of Nalanda with its long flights of stairs and dark corridors can well remind a Harry Potter reader of Hogarths. The tantric rituals practiced secretly by Kushala and his friends in Nalanda have something in common with the dark arts practiced in the hidden corners of Hogarths.

Nath’s novel also has the thrill of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code”. The tantric Buddhist cults have remarkable similarity with that of Opus Dei described by Brown in his best selling novel.

Although a work of fiction Nath has uniquely blended his fictional characters of Ananda, Kushala, Ratnakar along with historic characters of Xuanzang, Shilabhadra and also with the legendary mythical characters of Khona and Mihir. It reminds one of Rushdie’s “Enchantress of Florence” where the author has uniquely blended the fictional character from far of land into the court of Akbar along with the real life character of the emperor and his nine jewels.

The story deals with Ananda, a young boy from a typical Bengali peasant family. A brilliant student Ananda joined Nalanda – the biggest seat of learning in ancient world. Although initially reluctant to send their son to a far off monastery, Ananda’s parents finally gave away under the pressure of Ananda’s local teacher.

Even it was not easy for Ananda to adjust to the monastic life of Nalanda. He soon found his room – mate Kushala, was part of a secret tantric cult and he himself got attracted to a widow in the nearby village, who came from his native land. But soon things started to change and under the guidance of Xuanzang Ananda flourished in academics.

Ananda also accompanied the Chinese scholar in far of travels in India, which took him to Tamralipti (Tamluk), Kamrup (Assam), Kanyakubja (Kanauj), Ujjayini (Ujjain) and many other far of places. Nath has taken great care in describe the travel itineraries in utmost details transporting the reader not only in space but also in time.

It is also a book on astronomy Ananda’s favourite subject. It deals with the mythical female astronomer Khona and her theory of moving stars and zodiac and the shifting of calendars, leading to festivals being celebrated on wrong days. Nath, himself an associate professor of astro – physics in Raman Research Institute, Bangalore has explained these complex astronomical problems with great simplicity.

A book of this nature has the capability of transporting the reader far beyond the limits of the book, this is where “Nothing is Blue” lacks. The references and bibliography are not at all up to the mark. The map describing Xuanzang travel is very small and lacks the details. The bibliography, which comes under acknowledgement, should have been listed numerically.

Left: Author Right: An author's sketch of Nalanda

Left: Author Right: An author's sketch of Nalanda

The glossary of places is very short and lack the details. The book describes the travels of Xuanzang and Ananda to Tamralipti and Raktamartika Vihar in Karnasubarna. According to Xuanzang travel accounts both these places are located close to each other. But recent archeological excavations have confirmed the existence of Raktamartika Vihar of Karnasubarna far from Tampralipti. The remains of Karnasubarna are located in the present day Murshidabad District, while Tamralipti lies in the costal regions of East Mednipur. Sadly Nath has missed out on this note.

Although the book mentions the travels of another Chinese traveler Faxian, who traveled in India a hundred years earlier than Xuanzang but sadly he has been left out from the glossary of persons.

In spite of all odds Nath’s novel has the capability of taking the reader in a virtual journey both in time and space. We sincerely hope that the second edition will come up with a detailed enlarged map, a better glossary of people and places and finally a bibliography in numerical order.

About the Author:  Biman B. Nath is an Associate Professor of Astro Physics of the Raman Research Institute, Bangalore. A man of diverse interest Nath has several publications on popular science both in English & Bengali. He is a regular contributor to the prestigious Bengali magazine Desh. He has also contributed articles for The Hindu and The Telegraph. A talented artist and his sketches accompany many of his publications.

Book Details:

Title: Nothing is Blue

Author: Biman B. Nath

Publication: Harper Collins

Pages: 242

Price: Rs295

Photo Courtesy:

Book Cover: Biman B. Nath’s Facebook Profile

Author’s Photo & Sketch by Author: