Peculiar Children and the Wasteland @ BYOB Party in February 2015 (Part 2)



You can read the Part 1 of this article here.

There was an interlude after the first round of stories and we deviated from books a little to focus on more pressing things like red velvet cupcakes. It was a party with no music—though with books around, a book lover does not seem to miss it.

Karthik Shankar who works with Pratham Books spoke at length about The Uncommon Ground by Rohini Nilekani. The book is a compilation of dialogues from Nilekani’s 2008 show on NDTV. “The need for NGOs and businesses to flourish together is essential–technology is important but NGOs have a deeper understanding of ground realities that must be mined. There is a lot of work to be done and it must be done together.”

Monami Bhattacharya, a freelance illustrator, talked about her experience as inner cover illustrator of The Case of the Secretive Sister by Nilanjan P.Chaudhury, a book she enjoyed reading as well as illustrating. “Inner cover illustration is something of a rarity in India, and working on the same book that renowned Paul Fernandes illustrated the cover for was exciting,” she said.

Ransom Rigg’s sci-fi horror graphic book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is perfect graphic illustrator fare with vintage photographs and creepy monster theme. One of Bhattacharya’s favorites.

Aravind Krishnaswamy, entrepreneur and tech executive, compared reading In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust to the experience of watching the disconnected narrative of the movie Mulholland Drive. “It’s so unique that someone can write 1500 pages without any plot and keep it so meaningful at the same time.”

A book closer to reality that caught this entrepreneur’s imagination was The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries. The book focuses on improving the capital efficiency of companies and creative capital as well.

Abhinav Kaushik, a product developer and hiker, found A short walk in the Hindu Kush very engaging and enjoyable. “Considering that I have a soft spot for British humor and the travelogue genre, this book is a favorite.”

Jaya Jha, ever the Nagarkar fan girl, talked about Nagarkar’s books God’s Little Soldier, a spiritual quest where the lines between good and bad are blurred. “It’s a controversial book, no doubt about it,” Jaya said. “Each book that Nagarkar writes is different- Cuckold is a historical fiction set in Rajasthan and yes I’ve talked about it way too much. Ravan and Eddie is dark humor—a story that is super realistic. Set in the slums, you get the smell of Mumbai Chawls and it takes some time to go away.”

Abhaya Aggarwal is not much of a ghost story fan, but he makes an exception for Venita Coelho’s book The Washer of the Dead, and it’s not too hard to become a fan of contemporary feminist ghost stories! The ghosts Coelho writes about belong to this world and not away from it. “I never did believe in ghosts,” said Abhaya,” but I guarantee that you will start believing once you’ve finished reading this one!”

The conversation veered around to a ceremony in a village in Indonesia that involved bringing out the dead from their coffins—no I’m not providing a link to that one!

Another one of Abhaya’s favorites is a slender Hindi book that all students of the language will be familiar with—Ghumakkar Shastra by Rahul Sankrityayan. This book is a step by step account of how to be a wanderer. Sankrityayan is an amazing writer— a polyglot, with knowledge of sixteen languages and a hundred works to his credit. This how-to for backpackers may be the first of its kind. Travel is a religion and in a singular flourish of his pen, he gloriously mocks at the fear that religion instilled in crossing the sea and how that changed India’s geographical reach forever.

I used the opportunity to read a bit of the poem The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot; I’m a fan for various reasons. I also spoke about a book called Reading Lolita in Teheran by Azar Nafisi. The story focuses on a secret book club in Teheran. Books can be so many things- escape and sometimes even the only road to reality.

Bring your books to the comments section and tell us what you are reading right now!



  1. Pingback: Invitation to Bring Your Own Book (BYOB) Party | Worth a Read

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