“Durbar” by Tavleen Singh

I have always liked books by Tavleen Singh and this one was no exception.  The aptly named, “Durbar” is a breezy read about Lutyens Delhi as it now is popularly called, where the high and mighty of India meet in exclusive social circles of which at one time she was a prominent member. The book is about the period from 1975 when she first became a journalist to around 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India was assassinated.

In those days, far more than now, the school you went to, the university you attended and the way you spoke English mattered more and often determined whether you could become part of exclusive social circles. Tavleen happened to be one of those who was a part of, what we would now term a social network, which included prominent politicians like Naveen Patnaik ( who later became, and indeed still is, the Chief Minister of Orissa), and Dr Farooq Abdullah, (later Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir). They were amongst her close friends. She thus came to be part of a social circle which included the then Prime Minster Indira Gandhi’s son Rajiv, and his Italian wife, Sonia. This book, in some measure, is a story of the Gandhis of Delhi. Continue reading ““Durbar” by Tavleen Singh”

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“Tiffin” by Rukmini Srinivas

Writing a story of a large family that starts in 1892 till the present day is in itself a huge challenge. To write about the wonderful food which you have cooked, eaten, and enjoyed over the decades is again an incredibly challenging task. Added to this, you need to choose the most memorable from amongst a long list and carefully write their recipes while catering to an international audience. Mrs. Rukmini Srinivas surprises us by doing all this and doing it with finesse and style in her semi-autobiographical book, “Tiffin” described as “Memories and Recipes of Indian Vegetarian Food.” I loved  this book and would commend it to anyone fond of family stories and who look for a bunch of amazing recipes mainly from the South of India.

Continue reading ““Tiffin” by Rukmini Srinivas”

On Writing Competitions & More

One of the most effective ways to hone your writing skills is simply to keep writing! There are many opportunities for a writer these days to take part in writing competitions the world over, thanks largely to the power of the internet. A budding writer keen on improving his skills and image as a writer will seize the most appropriate opportunities as often as he can. This does not mean, of course, that one participates indiscriminately in every writing competition one comes across. That would be a stupid thing to do and extremely counter-productive. Continue reading “On Writing Competitions & More”

“The Red Sari” by Javier Moro.

I was astonished to hear that “The Red Sari” (originally titled, “El Sari Rojo”)  by Javier Moro was for sometime banned by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) when it was the ruling Government in India. If anything I thought their opponents, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) who are the current ruling dispensation may ban the book for being altogether too flattering about the central figure of the book, Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi nee Maino.!! The book was released in English in India in 2015 when it was eagerly awaited as a book known to have been banned makes people want to read it all the more. Whispers about its contents when it was not available in India made the book more mysterious and enticing than it eventually turned out to be. What kind of scandals were in the book that it had to be banned, one wondered? Frankly, there turned out to be none.  Continue reading ““The Red Sari” by Javier Moro.”