A legend of Hindi cinema, Gulzar is among the Subcontinent’s finest poets and lyricists, whose songs have touched millions. He remains as popular today, and as sensitive a chronicler of our emotions, as he was half a century ago. And throughout, his work has been gloriously distinctive—especially for the unforgettable images and the intimacy he brings to his songs.
In this book of conversations with the acclaimed author and documentary filmmaker Nasreen Munni Kabir, Gulzar speaks about the making of his most enduring songs—from ‘Mora gora ang lai le’ (Bandini; 1963) and ‘Dil dhoondta hai’ (Mausam; 1975) to ‘Jiya jale’ (Dil Se; 1998) and ‘Dil toh bachcha hai ji’ (Ishqiya; 2010). He also discusses the songs of other greats, like Shailendra and Sahir Ludhianvi; his favourite music directors, like SD and RD Burman, Hemant Kumar and AR Rahman; and several playback singers, among them, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Asha Bhosle, Vani Jairam, Jagjit Singh and Bhupinder Singh.
Full of insight, anecdote and analysis—and containing over 40 songs, in roman script and English translation—this book is a treasure for students and lovers of Hindi cinema, music and poetry.
How far would you travel for love?
Alison Singh Gee was a glamorous magazine writer with a serious Jimmy Choo habit, a weakness for five-star Balinese resorts, and a reputation for dating high-born British men. Then she met Ajay, a charming and unassuming Indian journalist, and her world turned upside down.
Traveling from her shiny, fast-paced life in Hong Kong to Ajay’s village, Mokimpur, not very far from Delhi, Alison learned that not all was as it seemed. It turned out that Ajay was a landed prince (of sorts), but his family palace was falling to pieces. Replete with plumbing issues, strange noises, and intimidating relatives, her new love’s ramshackle palace was a broken-down relic in desperate need of a makeover. And Alison could not help but wonder if she would be able to soldier on for the sake of the man who just might be her soulmate.
Hailed as ‘Eat, Pray, Love’s down-to-earth cousin’, Where the Peacocks Sing takes readers on a cross-cultural journey from the manicured gardens of Beverly Hills to the bustling streets of Hong Kong, and finally, to the rural Indian countryside as Alison falls in love, comes to terms with her complicated new family, leaves the modern world behind, and learns the true meaning of home.
Janice Campbell Paul was just an ordinary American woman, not particularly religious or spiritual, when she was stricken with fibromyalgia, an illness so inexplicable that even the doctors were left puzzled. Slowly, as the sickness took over, she lost the life she had known. As friends and family eased their way out of her life, she was left alone, completely dependent on a wheelchair as she struggled to adjust to her new world.
It was then that she discovered love. First, the love of God, which, she believes, created a series of miraculous events that set her life on a different course completely, and enabled her to walk again. The other love, no less powerful, was for a young man, many years her junior, in faraway West Bengal. Their long-distance relationship gave her the courage to dream again. It also gave her the courage to follow her calling and, equipped with a Bible and a heart full of faith, she travelled to the remote village of Bhat Bandh in Bengal. Together, she and the young man built a church, worked with an orphanage and struggled in a culture that would never accept their love or secret marriage.
The couple moved to Kathmandu, where Janice lived for many years, though the struggles and challenges they faced eventually destroyed their marriage and their faith in their purpose together. Now 64, Janice is still walking…a bit slower but still determined to go out and tell the world about her healing, about a God that lives in a most imperfect woman and to show others that there is hope in a very dark world.
When Hindi-speakers from North India were massacred in Assam before the elections in 2000, two out-of-work journalists, Anil Yadav and Anhes Shashwat, decided to go there, braving violence and uncertainty, with the hope that their despatches would make them famous. They set out with very little knowledge about Northeast India and no strategy for their trip; they had few contacts and very little money.
On 29 November 2000, the pair embarked on what became an epic journey in which they crisscrossed Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and Manipur, staying in rundown hotels and guesthouses, and in the homes of friends and strangers. They travelled by local buses through ambushes, were forced to walk halfway down the highway from Shillong to Guwahati and, on one memorable ocassion, Anil shared a tractor with a herd of goats on the road to Sibsagar.
They encountered, among others, a boatman on the Brahmaputra who clearly explained to them the politics behind the massacres of Hindi-speakers; former members of the ULFA who told them why they had surrendered; a former general of Zapu Phizo’s separatist army in Kohima who described to them his gruelling march through virgin forest to China; a murderous raid in Shillong which gave them a glimpse of the insider-versus-outsider equation in Meghalaya; a Manipuri sculptor with whom Anil travelled to Tripura, and who had to be rescued from the Army; and a barber who told them why an elephant was butchered by a mob in Dimapur.
Written with rare power and candour, Is That Even a Country, Sir! weaves history, politics, myth and gritty ground-zero reportage into an unprecedented and unforgettable portrait of Northeast India.
Raised by her widowed mother in a Tamil village in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, Sandy, born Pooranam Elayathamby, grew up in poverty with her five sisters. Married at sixteen, she had three children before twenty-two and was widowed by age thirty. In the middle of a twenty-year-long civil war that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people and left her family destitute, Sandy had no choice but to accept a housemaid’s job in the Middle East. She worked in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for nearly fifteen years to send money home. She was one of the thousands of Sri Lankan women who joined the workforce serving Middle Eastern households and risked—and continue to risk—being bullied, humiliated, and often starved and beaten.
Perhaps Tomorrow is Sandy’s candid and poignant memoir as told to Richard Anderson, whom she met in Kuwait and later married. It recounts her struggle over several decades to save her family, her home and herself from poverty, discrimination, violence and the horrors of a long civil war. It is a story of courage, personal risk, faith and a mother’s unwavering commitment towards ensuring a better life for her children.
Where we go is usually decided spontaneously; one of us might say, ‘Let’s do a wine trip in France;’ or ‘We should go to Angkor before it’s overrun by tourists’… The main thing is—we all love travelling, we all love food, and all of us enjoy each other’s company.
Ritu Menon, publisher by profession and traveller by vocation, says she never travels alone when she travels for pleasure. So it is in the company of friends and family that she takes us on journeys across the world: wine-tasting in France; discovering the serenity of the Buddha in Bagan in Myanmar; roaming the leafy green streets of Zamalek in Egypt; tasting cream teas and cakes in Betty’s Tearoom in York, and many other delightful experiences.
Along the way she manages to catch a glimpse of the people and politics that animate each of her travels: Egypt after the January 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak; Syria before the IS; the continuing heartbreak of Palestine; Turkey in transition; and Myanmar on the cusp of change.
Accompanied by sketches that bring alive the magic of those moments, this is a book that armchair travellers will savour, and one that will enthuse the more energetic to pack their bags and live the experience themselves.
A remarkable cultural and medical memoir, The Temple Road inspires and absorbs in equal measure.
A veteran cancer physician, Dr Fazlur Rahman’s story is astonishing. He was born and raised in a Mullah family, an old-line Muslim clan, in a remote village in what is now Bangladesh, with its hardships and heartaches, its myths and superstitions. The people, places and cultures that he was a part of have almost entirely disappeared. The temples, mosques and palaces, though gone, come alive again in this beautifully written memoir. And the tales of love, suffering and fate of the village occupants are intertwined with Rahman’s unlikely story of finding medicine and success in America. As a young boy, Rahman lost his mother, the heart of his family, and soon after, barely survived kala-azar, a parasitic illness. The Temple Road: A Doctor’s Journey is an inspiring story of love, joy, suffering, medicine and achievement that takes readers from the jungles of Bangladesh to Dr Rahman’s training in leading medical centres in New York and Houston, and the overwhelming emotions that come with his work as one of the most talented oncologists in the US.
Born in rural Punjab just months before Indian independence, Ujjal Dosanjh emigrated to the UK, alone, when he was eighteen, and spent four years making crayons and shunting trains while he attended night school. Four years later, he moved to Canada, where he worked in a sawmill, eventually earning a law degree, and committed himself to justice for vulnerable communities, including immigrant women, farm workers, and religious, racial and sexual minorities. In 2000, he became the first person of Indian origin to lead a government in the western world when he was elected Premier of British Columbia. Later, he was elected to the Canadian parliament.
Journey After Midnight is the compelling story of a life of rich and varied experience, and also of rare achievement and conviction. With fascinating insight, Ujjal Dosanjh writes about life in rural Punjab in the 1950s and early ’60s; the Indian immigrant experience—from the late nineteenth century to the present day—in the UK and Canada; post-Independence politics in Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora; and the inner workings of the democratic process in Canada, one of the world’s more cosmopolitan and egalitarian nations.
He also writes, with unusual candour, about his dual identity as a first-generation immigrant, and the feeling of being a fugitive from the many battles of the land of his birth. And he describes how he has felt compelled to campaign against discriminatory policies of his adopted country, even as he has opposed regressive and extremist tendencies within the Punjabi community.
Ujjal Dosanjh’s outspoken views and courageous work against the militant Khalistan movement in the 1980s led to death threats and a vicious physical assault, and he narrowly escaped becoming a victim of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985. Yet he has remained steadfast in his defence of democracy, human rights and good governance in the two countries that he calls home—Canada and India. His autobiography is an inspiring book for our times.
Sharad Pawar is one of India’s key public figures. Through his five- decade-long career, during which he has never lost an election, he has served as chief minister of Maharashtra four times and as India’s defence minister and minister for agriculture. On two occasions he came close to becoming the country’s prime minister. He has often bucked the trend, preferring policy and pragmatism over populism, and won admiration for his administrative acumen and consensual politics.
Eyewitness—at the highest levels—to India’s and Maharashtra’s history since the 1960s, he shares in this memoir his reflections on coalition politics, the loss of democracy in the Congress Party (with which he began his political life), the state of agriculture and industry in the country, and the absolute necessity of social harmony and a liberal, inclusive ethos for India’s future.
As he does this, he also gives us rare information about many crises and turning points: Emergency and its impact on national and regional politics; the fall of the Chandrashekhar government in 1991; the signing of the Punjab Accord between Rajiv Gandhi and H.S. Longowal; the Babri Masjid demolition; the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993; the devastating earthquake in Latur; the controversy over the Enron power project; and Sonia Gandhi’s dramatic decision to give up the chance to occupy the country’s highest office.
Throughout, the narrative also contains candid and fascinating assessments of some of the biggest names in Indian politics, among them, Indira, Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, Y.B. Chavan, Morarji Desai, Biju Patnaik, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chandrashekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao, George Fernandes and Bal Thackeray.
On My Terms is a rich, insightful and remarkably frank memoir by one of India’s most experienced and influential political leaders, and a valuable document of the country’s recent political history.
An inspiring teenage memoir from globally renowned young scientist Jack Andraka.
When Jack Andraka was thirteen, he had a whole pile of problems. An outsider at school, he knew he didn’t fit in and a close family friend was dying of cancer. But instead of giving in to the bullying and the despair, he decided to try to create a better method of cancer detection. After conducting two years of research and asking hundreds of universities and companies for help, to no avail, Jack was finally able to secure the lab space necessary to test out his ingenious idea. In the end, he did it. Jack’s early-detection test for pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers has the potential to be over four hundred times more effective than the medical standard—at a fraction of the cost. Jack was just fifteen at the time he came up with his solution.
Jack Andraka’s story is not just one of inspiring teenage success; it is a story of overcoming depression and homophobic bullying, and of finding the resilience to persevere. Whatever your age and interests, his book will motivate you to pursue your own dreams in the face of resistance, and to never stop learning. Full of fun, simple experiments you can try at home, Breakthrough is an amazing personal story and a reminder of why young people’s ideas deserve to be heard.