By Kota Nillima
Publisher: Bookwise (India) Pvt Ltd
Farmer suicides as a topic has been assigned relevant newsprint with updates, case studies, statistics and reports on all factors that lead a farmer to suicide - debt, drought, alcoholism and violence; yet, no story really sticks as the images of the people concerned get blurred and camouflaged with numbers and sundry details.
But here is a brave attempt at making a serious and somber reality dramatic through the narration of a fictionalized account. Riverstones uses the medium of story telling, to address the issue of suicides by farmers and how various players of the system respond to an agrarian crisis.
Revolving around Arihant Mohan, who after spending many years as a journalist, is desperately relevance in his profession, tracks his transformation from spectator to involved participant.
The writer, Kota Neelima has been a journalist, writing on politics and governance. She is currently on a sabbatical and is writing on rural issues through contemporary urban stories. She is also an impressionist painter.
Sachin Pilot, Member of Parliament after reading the book said, “Riverstones is a narration of the grit, passion, determination and will of one individual who overcomes complacency of the comforts of sidelines. It very engagingly illustrates his transformation when he sees his friend die at a farmers’ protest rally.”
Healthy Oriya Cuisine
By Bijoylaxmi Hota and Kabita Pattanaik
Publisher: Rupa & Co.
Price: Rs 295
Not much is written on the typical Oriya food which is perhaps why it is conspicuous in its absence from health food counters. Not many know that Oriya cuisine is light, easy to digest and can be cooked much faster than say the typical Punjabi or Kashmiri food. Most of us confuse Bengali and Oriya food to be similar in taste, appearance and choice of ingredients. There are intrinsic differences like while the former uses fried vegetables before cooking them, Oriya food first uses boiled food which is then fried. The logic being that boiled food absorbs less oil.
The book combines a balanced mix of vegetarian and non vegetarian preparations, especially fish and meat delicacies which as the author puts it, “do not sit very heavily on the stomach”.
“HealthyOriya Cuisine” is not your regular cookery book. Its layout and format along with choice of differening fonts make for an easy to navigate exercise. The book’s mainstay ofcourse are the recipes, but these are refreshingly interspersed with photographs and illustrations.
Clearly demarcated sections bifurcate the book into vegetarian, rice, daalma (pulses with veggies, a typical Oriya blend), accompaniments, fish and other non veg dishes. The introductory chapters give you a low down on Oriya cuisine, the rationale behind the things that are an integral part of food in the region. For example green gram is abundantly available in Orissa and it happens to be the only daal that counters stomach acid, so when cooked with vegetables it increases the alkalinity of the dish. Or coconut which finds its way into desserts, curries, daal and sweethmeats, thanks to tonnes of it growing along the coastline.
The author, Bijoylaxmi Hota is a yoga therapist who incorporates diet planning into the yogic regimen for a youthful, disease-free feel and look.
Lux Inspiring Beauty
Edited and compiled by Omar Qureshi
Price: Rs 1000
The Lux Beauty book was launched by Bollywood stars who in their unique way have defined typical Indian beauty and charm.
While Priyanka Chopra, Zeenat Aman, Juhi Chawla and Ameesha Patel standing up as beauty icons, the ‘beauty makers’ or visualizers were none other than Subhash Ghai, Rakesh Roshan, Mahesh Bhatt,Dabbu Ratnani and Karan Johar.
Lux soaps which has traditionally used an advertising route that personalizes the beauty regimen of heroines who are the riding the crest of mass popularity to endorse the soap in an aspirational form chose to bring out a coffee table book, with the intention of paying tribute to the “Lux inspiring beauty spanning generations.”
The book presents a collection of some rare pictures of stars coupled with quotes and write ups by the men and women who discovered these beautiful faces, glamourized them through their art of make up and put them up on celluloid through the medium of movies and photographs.
Crafted and compiled by Omar Quereshi, a film journalist it has some interesting articles by Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Rishi Kapoor.
Leading photographers, make up artists, designers, hair stylists like Gautam Rajadhaksha, Mickey Contractor and Manish Malhotra have also shared some lesser known but fascinating vignettes.
A Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet
By Sarat Chandra Das and edited by W W Rockhill
Publisher: Rupa & Co
Price: Rs 195
An account of an explorer and avid traveller, the travelogue tracks the virginal beauty of the Northeast as the reader is taken on a journey through Sikkim into Tibet, going through the valley of the Yalung where Tibetan civilization is said to have first made its appearance.
Set in the 1879-1891 time period, the personal accounts are simply told but not without capturing the pristine beauty of a region that is a part of India and yet so distant and faraway in the mind’s eye.
Right from the food to the people, cultural customs and descriptions of terrain, the first person diary account by one of the most adventurous travellers of that region, the book has an authentic feel with some archival anecdotes and descriptions that have a stark visual imagery.
Sarat Chandra Das’s travels, on the invitation of the then Prime Minister has translated itself in the form of an incredible amount of literary notes, research papers on the history, religion, ethnology and folklore of Tibet has contributed to this edition which has been edited by W W Rockhill.
Das’s travels were printed in two separate publications by the order of the government of Bengal but were kept as strictly confidential documents till 1890 when selective portions were published in the Contemporary Review and later in other reports.
The fabulous adventures of Rocket Kumar and other Indian Superheroes
Price: Rs 200
Children need role models whom they can emulate and draw inspiration from. They are easily influenced by antics of superheroes who perform mind and body defying stunts in their endeavour to make the world a better place to live. These are accepted paradigms which work even for the older generation. Proof is the success of the Superman series of movie flicks. And yet, books in this genre, especially with Indian characters and situations remain grossly unrepresented.
Scholastic India comes up with a novel recipe. Hand over the reins to some of the zaniest writers who can get under the skin of the target group, in this case children, and get them to spin readable yarns featuring superheroes in the air (literally and metaphorically).
So you have Samit Basu, author of ‘Simoqin Prophecies’ creating Rocket Kumar in the Incredible Human Canonball; Manjula Padmanabhan, author, artist and playwright whose earlier books for children include ‘Unprincess! ‘and ‘Mouse Attacks’ creating Mr Ordinary who is anything but that; Indrajit Hazra, author of ‘Burnt Forehead of Max Saul’ etching the character of Flushman who appears through a toilet bowl to fight evil; Anita Roy,commissioning editor, whipping up her hero, Trixy the Wonderdog; Anshumani Ruddra, author and designer writing the story of Split Infinitive who combats ancient gods and hungry women; Rimi B. Chatterjee, novelist and academic, weaving the story of Radharani who make dreams come true; Sampurna Chattarji,author of ‘Greatest Stories Ever Told’ creating Archrival of Amnesia who uses bad memory to advantage and Venita Coelho, author of ‘Dungeon Tales’ coming up with Bihari who gives Bollywood’s stuntmen a new look.
The books stand apart because of the way the stories have been written and the superheroes used to help connect with a child’s sense of wonder and imagination. The superheroes may or may not become part of children’s daily lexicon but for now they are good summer companions.