Monday, July 11, 2011

This is NOT a review

At the outset it really feels exciting and exhilarating to be back again. The last few months have been riddled with responsibilities and commitments and also with the onerous task of settling down in a new environment. For sometime now i was beginning to feel like i was drowning in a deluge of some kind from which i would never be able to resurface again but i guess i was just being too pessimistic.
So here i am once again talking about what has pleasantly surprised me, banished my teething blues, and brought back the earstwhile lost enthusiasm. Not that i had imagined anything less but i had no idea when i was holding the new book in my hand that it is going to tingle that nerve which not only will get me rejuvenated but also would ignite that deluge of curiosity into which i would willingly and happily drown. And this time i would care less if i was to resurface.
Thank You Mr Amitav Ghosh.
i have enjoyed your art of story telling and more than that i marvel at the way it educates me. It is not surprising that it got me mulling over the idea that if facts were narrated the way you have done ie through stories, learning would cease to be an onerous task and maybe a new kind of competition would emerge on the horizon wherein each is racing to read more and know more than his/her next best competitor rather than having a rat race for hundred percent score in the various subjects.

One of your books introduced me to Nautilus and so to that famous photographer Edward Weston and i realized how and when ignorance ceases to be blissful and takes a whole new garb and one feels regretful of not knowing enough.

For as a child i remember some colleague of my Dad had gifted him with a pearly shiny Nautilus to be placed as an object'd art and as the adage goes,''Bander kya jaane adrak ka swaad" ( English equivalent should be " Casting pearls before swine") , the Nautilus was ravaged to bits and excepting my Dad, not one person in the house seemed to care. This time we were not yelled at because we tricked him into believing that curiosity got the better of us. Only if Dad had taken some time out of his schedule to educate us about the funny looking thing and why it is valued so much like he used to when he educated us about many other valued aspects and of course objects and only if he had kept it safe and out of reach of his hyperactive kids probably we would still be possessing one of nature's rare and enigmatic beauty.

      Edward Weston’s iconic study of a single Nautilus Shell — Image source – Windows Live

Thanks to you Mr Ghosh i gazed at the beauty as if reliving the romance all the while at the Coral Museum in Andamans. Also came to appreciate and learn something about the sensitive and strenuous art involving creative photography.
And now as i progress further into your latest, 'River Of Smoke' i am on a trail of another kind. It makes me extremely happy to address that shrub/creeper that i chance to see often and otherwise, by their respective names. A 'Fire in the Bush' here and a Incarvillea there!!. And to someone who would be around me i would love to pass on that information that i got from you.Which in this case would be to rattle off with pride that it is named after a Jesuit, Father d' Incarville.

                                                                   Fire in the Bush


An enormous sense of gratitude overwhelms me for all those unknown faces who by dint of their passion, sacrifice and hard labour spread cheer and beauty around the world.
Also it is not too difficult to relate and respect someone for whom nature has been like a kind of religion and the practice of that religion a spiritual discipline as you have signaled through one of your characters.
Thank You for introducing your readers to these great botanists, plant hunters and curators.
Surely now Pamplemousse is one pilgrimage destination for me too. Among other reasons it would be my way of paying tribute to all these erstwhile unknown to me naturalists/ botanists who have lent their names to an entire genus and also to those explorers who battled odds to preserve the species and leave it flourishing for posterity.
As i proceed further into your book i am enjoying what i would call my own nature walk in which i have sufficient time to linger, enjoy every hue, every smell and also feel sufficiently enriched to get acquainted with not only as you have aptly said, "... some of the most illustrious names in Botany- the great Pierre Poivre..." but also of  Pierre Nicolas Le Chéron d'Incarville, a Jesuit who found a clever way to collect plants by conceiving an idea of a botanical exchange in the severely restrictive China. 
New to me the names of Sir Joseph Banks, Alexander von Humboldt, David Douglas, Maria Merian opens up newer pilgrimage destinations and permits me to still admire nature with a well deserved name.
And they say, what's in a name. 
i would  feel so much comfortable when i chance upon an evergreen shrub, with clusters of beautiful white flowers that resemble orange blossoms both in scent and shape as Mexican Orange rather than just calling it a white flowered shrub.
                                                                  Mexican Orange

So for all this please acknowledge my heartfelt respect for your work Mr Amitav Ghosh and let me confess that i am going a bit slow on this book of yours because every time i come across the name of a species or of the person responsible for it's introduction or even for it's discovery i pause and wander the internet to quell my curiosity. Or perhaps i don't want to finish the book too soon.
Needless to say then that it takes a lot of self discipline on my part because the story says egg on and then there is a striving of some sort which wants to comprehend all that your brilliant writing has to offer.
Like i said earlier that this one of the Ibis trilogy has touched some nerve and  has done wonders to lift my flagging spirit.
And just like the many many of  your other avid readers i shall wait patiently for the last of the Ibis trilogy for i know through your books which i have read that you not only want to tell us stories but rather give us a detailed insight into the art, science, history, geography and the economic events which makes then seem like now.
It may not come as anything new to you but although i want to see your stories as films yet i am quite skeptical   
about it doing justice to your art.
Not only am i biased but also somewhat confused because i often wish to see ' Sea Of Poppies', 'The Hungry Tide' and 'The Glass Palace' as films .
i agree that for a writer such as you it could be very boring but for all your are up for grabs!! 
i guess just before i sign off i would like to share yet another piece...a result of my search. In these words i feel the passion of the nameless faces the names of whom i know now and all those whom i don't. i look forward with renewed hope and optimism that they are out there toiling to preserve and propagate.

Flower Gardener
Robert Service

Gas got me in the first World War,
And all my mates at rest are laid.
I felt I might survive them for
I am a gardener by trade.
My life is in the open air,
And kindly is the work I do,
Since flowers are my joy and care,
And comfort too.

My flowers are a fairy sight,
Yes I'm an ugly, warped old man,
For I have lived in Fate's despite
A year beyond one's mortal span;
And owe my health no gentle toil
From dawn to dark, contented hours,
Of loving kinship with the soil,
A friend of flowers.

My dahlias are my pride today,
And many my creations be.
They're worth a fortune, people say,
But what does money mean to me?
Their glory is my rich reward,
And as their radiant heads they raise,
I dedicate them to the Lord,
With love and praise.

I grieve to think that sullen Powers
On bombs and guns their might depend;
If man had heart for growing flowers
Then would we all be friend and friend.
The glory of the world is his
Who seeks salvation in the sod,
And finds that golden sunshine is
The laugh of God.

Image courtesy:


  1. nice to see u keep it up.

  2. @Anonymous...warmed by the thought that you did not run out of patience...thank u :)

  3. Welcome back Shivani. So nice to see you back. Great post after a long break. Keep it up.

  4. @Tandarin thank you dost...yeah a long break...

  5. Glad to have you in the loop again,d ear Shivani. hope you are rested and happy. Ghosh is quite a serious writer and it requires patience and time to pore over his writings. At this point, I don't think I can devote that kind of time to him. i am making do with lighter stuff, which are mostly non-fiction.

    You take good care and don't exert yourself too much.

    Joy always,

    P. S: Shivani, I'm almost two months married now. :)

  6. @Susan...thank u girl for stopping by.First and foremost pls accept my belated good wishes on ur marriage.
    Can't help telling you that u do bring joy to me each time u stop by.
    Wish i could know more as to how u feel these days for when i got married AND i was just 21 i was like walking in the clouds and so madly in love with My Man.Those were the incurably romantic days in my life but not the best. For the best day was when i delivered the most adorable son.
    With all that fresh still in my memory i wish u good tidings for today and always.
    Yeah and to you too.

  7. great comeback.your post reminds me to pick up sea of poppies which i had started .one thing i 'll surely do now and that is not to consume postu ever.thanks to Amitav Ghosh.

  8. @Gauri Thank you Raanee meri.But hey don't condemn the postu...condemn the greed of the exploitative people who use God's creation to perpetrate human suffering/destruction while their own coffers get large to the point of bursting.Strange not once do they realise that ill-begotten is easily lost too.
    Moreover it fills one with rage and anger when you come across such facts where men have decayed while wealth accumulated.i often wonder at the hypocrisy of the race that claims itself to be superior than the rest.Maybe greed is one powerful force which allows one to sleep on a pillow laced with the blood and sweat of the unfortunate lot.