Teaching is perhaps the noblest profession. Without teachers, other professions wouldn’t be. My aunt is a teacher, and I know how much she loves her job. It really makes a difference, and I see that. I’ve wanted to read a book by a teacher, so I didn’t think too much when this book, written by a Principal, came to me for review.
All of us have a story inside us. Some write it as fiction; some write their own story as memoirs, because, I guess, we want the story to be heard, to inspire other stories too. There is a sense of fulfillment after we write the story, for in the words we pen, we leave a legacy, a piece of ourselves, and that piece of us can make a mark on people we want it to, as well as people in corners of the world we know nothing of.
I have thought over and over again, on how exactly do I review a book which is one of the toughest that I’ve found to read. I’ve debated with myself if what I write, what I want to write would be a review, and even wondered if such a book can be “reviewed”. To review a fiction is something that is somewhat easy when compared to reviewing a non-fiction. Through an autobiographical non-fiction book, one goes to the story of the author, their experience as they felt it, saw it, tasted it, heard it, smelled it… experienced it. When the book in question is a diary, a personal effect that holds the most dearest of thoughts, sometimes even those that cannot be shared with even the dearest of people, then my thoughts on those thoughts cannot really be a review. Continue reading “Book Review: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank”
About the author:
Namita Devidayal was born in 1968 and graduated from Princeton University. She currently works as a journalist with The Times of India and lives in Mumbai. She has a keen interest in music and there was a time when she aspired to evolve as a professional singer and be the inheritor of the Jaipur Gharana.
Cover and blurb:
The cover is what attracted me to the book in the first place. A woman with a tanpura… it was very relevant to Hindustani music, and very classical and simple as well. That, and the thoughts of Pandit Ravi Shankar on the cover made me want to read it. The blurb only increased my curiosity.
I am a lover of music. But for books and music, I feel life would have been a bore. However, I have read very few books about music, and listened to fewer audio books! When I took up this book for reading, I honestly had thought it was a fiction, not a memoir. But this turned out to be one beautiful read.
This memoir takes us back to the author’s childhood days, to when she was ten and was forced into learning music at an age when perhaps, she was more inclined to be playing with her friends or having fun. She puts it to being part of a family of business people, where girls were groomed for finding good husbands, and knowledge of music or dance played a big part in that. The book then goes on to narrate Namita’s journey in music, her lessons under the guidance of Dhondutai Kulkarni, and that experience. However, the book is not just about Namita’s journey, but also the life of Dhondutai, and her teacher Kesarbai Kerkar and other musical geniuses of Hindustani classical music.
Namita’s narration is direct, and it is easily imaginable, which is a plus point for the book. The conversations between Namita and her teacher are detailed, so you feel like you are going into the class, sitting beside her and learning along. But just to clarify, it isn’t a guide to classical music. I liked the book because of the memories. It took me back with it to when my sister went for music classes. I like music, so I could understand a little as well.
Unless you are a big fan of classical music, you might not like the book as much, because it is like a concert in words, one to enjoy slowly and not at a stretch.
Title: The Music Room
Author: Namita Devidayal
Genre: Non-Fiction / Memoir
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 395
(Aug 7th, 2013)
About the author:
Rahul Pandita is the author of the bestselling book “Hello Bastar: The Untold Story of India’s Maoist Movement”, and co-author of the critically acclaimed book, “The Absent State”. He has reported extensively from war zones including Iraq and Sri Lanka, and Kashmir and Bastar in India. In 2010, he received the International Red Cross Award for conflict reporting.
My thoughts on the book:
It’s difficult to recollect painful memories. But that’s exactly what Rahul Pandita, the author, does through his book, “Our Moon Has Blood Clots”. Just into his teens, at 14, Rahul and his family, who are Kashmiri Pandits, were forced to leave their home in Srinagar because they were the minority within the Muslim-majority state. Being forced to abandon the place they are from, to find themselves without a proper home or foraging for food, or even see others fighting for food isn’t easy or enjoyable. Such events leave a mark on any heart, and it stays longer when the heart is young.
The book however is not just a sob story or a narration of just hardships. Rahul mixes his memories and blends it in the narration. The effect touches our hearts, and we lose ourselves in the reading. Many of us would have scars, but not of such an incident in childhood. So what we read brings us some notion of understanding, and we feel sad that at one time, our country did experience such, and perhaps it is still experiencing it now as well.
I’ll quote a line that to me tells of his understanding of home, his “shahar”: “Shahar was also about friendships, bonding, compassion and what elders called the lihaaz, which, in simple terms, means consideration.” That line means much more when you see its placement, which is right after a paragraph that says there was an irreversible bitterness in those days between Kashmir and India that felt evident by the time children learned the alphabet, and that the minority Pandits felt the wrath of that bitterness. The lines after that quote showed the importance of that lihaaz as he remembers how they bonded, as they went to neighbors’ homes during Eid and wished them and their neighbors did the same during Shivratri, still trying to maintain religious considerations.
For me, this was a difficult read, firstly because I’ve only recently taken to reading non-fiction and I still imagine certain parts of the narration, so it becomes vivid in my head; and secondly because it is recollections of reality that occurred. It’s not a book that can be read over and over again I feel, but it leaves a mark on us with its first read. To me, this has been the best non-fiction of the year so far.
Title: Our Moon Has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits
Author: Rahul Pandita
Publishers: Random House India
Price: INR. 499
(March 18th, 2013)