Shehzadi Mircha: Folktales from the Punjab (Ruskin Bond Selection)
by Flora Annie Steel and John Lockwood Kipling | 10 October 2017
King Karna is fried every morning to provide a fakir?s breakfast, but finds that there is a more generous ruler than he; Raja Rasalu becomes a jogi just for a glimpse of the fair Queen Sundaran; a rat thinks he drives a good bargain, but is astonished when his bargaining brings him a bride and a bulbul pines for green chilies from the garden of a Jinn. These folktales and many others from all over North India were collected by Flora Annie Steel in the nineteenth century. Today, they are an invaluable snapshot of a bygone era; they evoke the timeless India of myth and legend, peopled with talking animals, powerful fakirs and heroic kings, where anything can happen and usually does. Charmingly illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling, father of Rudyard Kipling and complete with original verses in Hindi and Punjabi, Shehzadi Mircha: Folktales from the Punjab is a delightful book for adults and young readers alike.
A Night with a Black Spider
by Ambai and Aniruddhan Vasudevan
Since she was valorous, she said she was a man and since Mahishan was speaking of love, he was feminine.. If she was a combination of feminine and masculine qualities, why could he too not be a combination of the masculine and feminine? ?
Setting the stage with the Asura Mahishan?s doomed love for the beautiful Devi, Ambai deftly combines myth and tradition with contemporary situations. In the title story, the woman who is mother, daughter, solver of all problems for her family, finds that it is only a black spider on a wall in a deserted guesthouse with whom she can share her own pain and suffering; in Burdensome Days, Bhramara enters a world of politics that turns her music into a commodity; while in A Moon to Devour, it is through her lover?s mother that Sagu learns that marriage is not a necessity for motherhood.
Like the strains of the veena that play again and again in this masterful concert of stories, journeys too weave in and out. By train or bus or autorickshaws, each journey takes one into a different facet of human nature: the power of caste over the most basic of bodily needs like thirst; the simple generosity of a mentally afflicted child who loves the colour blue; the loneliness of dying amongst strangers and the final journey of a veena whose owner herself had gone before it into another world. As in most of her writing, women are central to Ambai?s stories, but so too is her deep understanding of, as she puts it, ?the pulls and tensions? between the many different things that make up life and ultimately, create a story.
Lessons for Mrs. Hauksbee: Tales of Passion, Intrigue and Romance (Ruskin Bond Selection)
by Rudyard Kipling
Much of what we know about the everyday life of the British Raj comes from Rudyard Kipling, one of the keenest observers of nineteenth century India. He is at his best when writing about the men and women who worked, lived, loved and died together; their indiscretions and foibles; flirtations and passions. In this collection, we meet some of his most scandalous characters: Pluffles, a young subaltern who is rescued by beautiful Mrs Hauksbee, the toast of Simla, from following abjectly at wicked Mrs Reiver?s ?rickshaw wheels; Major and Mrs Vansuythen, whose arrival in a sleepy little town throws all the other couples, clandestine and legitimate, into disarray; Janki Meah, the blind old miner, whose pretty young wife is more interested in his burly crewmate and Suket Singh, Sepoy of the Punjab Native Infantry and Athira, burning in their passion for each other, forever. In these sparkling, mischievous and touching stories, British India?s bureaucrats, soldiers, grass widows and native wives dance, drink and indulge through the hills of Simla, across small towns scattered from Burma to Coimbatore and in the opium dens of Lahore. Here, the most entertaining writer of the Raj era is at the top of his form.
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