Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Book Reviews By NITISH S. RELE,
Vision and Wisdom

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere” (96 pages; $14.99) by Pico Iyer; published by Simon & Schuster/ TED (www.ted.com, www.simonandschuster.com)

At the outset, we will admit Pico Iyer is our favorite travel author. His books about crossing cultures such as “Video Night in Kathmandu,” “The Lady and the Monk” and especially “The Global Soul” are treasures we will cherish forever. So is his latest venture, whose title pretty much is a giveaway on its content. Citing examples of singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, French novelist Marcel Proust, poet Emily Dickinson and the great Mahatma Gandhi, Iyer stresses there is richness in stillness. You mean sit quietly in a room for the ultimate adventure? Why not? asks the British-born essayist, pointing out that in this madly accelerating world where lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy, there has never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still. Keeping the book deliberately short, he writes, “In an age of speed, I began to thank, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow. In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention. And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still. You can go on vacation to Paris or Hawaii or New Orleans three months from now, and you’ll have a tremendous time, I’m sure. But if you want to come back feeling new—alive and full of fresh hope and in love with the world—I think the place to visit may be Nowhere.”

All Things Unforgiven” (334 pages; $24.95) by Raj Karamchedu; published by Saaranga Books (www.saarangabooks.com)

Bursting at its seams with streams of people, traffic-clogged roads and a mix of Hindu and Muslim cultures, the California-based author brings Old Hyderabad to life in the pages of his first-time novel. The story focuses on a South Indian family – engineer husband Rushi, homemaker Anasuya and their son Arya – who reside in the city. Things begin to take a turn a few days after Anasuya enters her husband’s home. Her aspirations for a better education are dashed with Rushi’s promotion as well as his affair with another woman. Amid the rapidly building tension between the couple stands their loving son, who from the beginning develops troubling tendencies, which get even worse after a sojourn in America. But it is in the chapters during a riot in Old Hyderabad that the author, who spent his childhood in the historic city, brings out the best in him, describing in minute details its grand tradition and culture. No doubt, this is a disturbing novel about a family that from day one is on a path of self-destruction despite feelings of forgiveness and affection for one another. Karamchedu deserves to be commended for tackling such complex subjects in a forthright manner in his debut.

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