India: Books to add to the read them list

Today npr.org had an article written for me, at least this is how I felt about it. It highlights three books about the caste system in India.

http://www.npr.org/2011/10/03/137789270/three-books-that-convey-the-complexity-of-caste

Three Books That Convey The Complexity of Caste

by Miranda Kennedy

As India has embraced its economic successes, it still grapples with social change.

istockphoto.com

October 3, 2011

There’s been a glut of India books in recent years, most of them excitable
narratives with titles like Billions of Entrepreneurs that look at how
the country’s fast-changing economy is revolutionizing global business and the
Indian lifestyle.

Fewer and further between are those that acknowledge that the country’s
progress toward social change has been stuttering and uneven. And it’s even more
unusual to find authors willing to admit that the ancient Hindu caste hierarchy
still defines much about modern country. But these three don’t shy
away.

Untouchables

Untouchables

My Family’s Triumphant Escape from India’s Caste System

by Narendra
Jadhav

  •  — the group of Indians
    who were literally outcaste from society for centuries. In some ways, little has
    changed: Dalits are still disproportionately impoverished, malnourished and
    illiterate. Jadhav’s father, Damu, makes his living guarding the bodies of the
    dead, hauling away animal carcasses and cleaning the village toilets. But Damu’s
    political awakening takes him out of his backwater village to the teeming
    metropolis of Mumbai. There, his son, Narendra, not only attends college but
    becomes chief economist at the Reserve Bank of India. In this, Narendra’s
    telling of his family tale, we see just how much mettle it takes to transcend
    the lines of caste in today’s India.

The White Tiger

The
White Tiger

A Novel

The rustic hero of Adiga’s Booker Prize-winning novel, Balram, shares
something with Jadhav’s father, Damu. He is an uneducated, low-caste villager
determined to find his way out of “the Darkness,” as he calls rural India. In
Delhi, he sheds the restrictions of his caste and lands a well-paying job as a
chauffeur for a rich man. Here’s where the similarity to Damu ends, however: In
the name of what Balram calls “social entrepreneurship,” he murders his boss and
takes off for Bangalore, the tech capital of India, hoping to start his own
business and get rich. But joining the new economy doesn’t mean he overcomes his
grudge against rural India — ruled by a corrupt elite. “In the old days,” he
says, “there were one thousand castes and destinies in India. These days, there
are just two castes — Men with Big Bellies, and Men with Small Bellies. And only
two destinies: eat — or get eaten up.”

Nine Lives

Nine
Lives

In Search of the Sacred in Modern India

by William
Dalrymple

  • travel writer and historian, sets out here to show us the deeply religious rural
    population. One of Dalrymple’s strengths is his refusal to render judgment, but
    when it comes to the question of caste, he throws in the towel. In a section
    about a sacred dance form called theyyam, he tells us that the
    performers who take on the aspect of the gods are “the shunned and insulted
    Dalits.” When the performers remove their costumes, he tells us, they’re no
    longer treated like gods but, once again, like untouchables: “In the presence of
    persons of the upper castes,” he writes, “Dalits are still expected to bow their
    heads and stand at a respectful distance.”

Although Adiga’s gutsy portrayal of the ugly inner lobes of modern-day Indian
life won him great acclaim, for the most part the image of a caste-ridden
society still goes against the popular narrative of a booming India. But these
three books show us an India still committed to its religious traditions, even
as it surges ahead to join the globalized world.

This sounds like a great list to choose from!

 

Morocco: Dreams of Trespass:Tales of a Harem Childhood by Fatima Mernissi

This book is a fascinating read about the author’s childhood and life in Morocco. For someone as ignorant of Morocco history, traditions, and people as I am,this work offered a lot to think and learn about.

The tale spins like a fairy-tale,bewitching and at times frustrating the reader. The frustrations of the women who can’t leave the gated courtyard and have to ask their husband for permission to go anywhere is tangible. At the same way, it is clear that there are ways to disobey and slip out of the house, without being openly confrontational.

The description of domestic harem explains the reasoning behind this institution, and clearly shows that harem was created to offer shelter for divorcees, orphans, and unmarried female relatives.

The story introduces a multi-generational household, divided into “traditional” and “modern” camps, and multiple ways to demonstrate their beliefs and ways to express their opinion through cooking or embroidery patterns.

Delicious food, beauty treatments, home produced entertainments add to making this story a touching and fascinating read.

It is a praise song to the feminism in its best form in which women can be strong without losing their femininity.

http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Trespass-Tales-Harem-Girlhood/dp/0201489376/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1

Take a look for yourself:

http://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Trespass-Tales-Harem-Girlhood/dp/0201489376/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1#reader_0201489376

Countries of the World

Greeting!

In order to put in life my plan – to read a book from each and every country of the world, I need to know the countries of the world. Seems very straightforward, but it really is not.

According to the U.S.Department of State, there are 195 Independent States in the World.

http://www.state.gov/s/inr/rls/4250.htm

The United Nations member States list includes 193 countries.

http://www.un.org/en/members/growth.shtml

http://www.un.org/en/members/index.shtml

What happened to whole two countries?

Kosovo,and Holy See (the long-form name of the Vatican City) are not members of the United Nations, and are not included in the list.

What a relief! They are not lost!

Alas,my problem does not end there.

Scotland, England, Northern Ireland are not counted as separate countries, but I would not ever dream about reading only one book for the United Kingdom of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Books from dependencies and areas of special sovereignty will have to wait a bit…

http://www.state.gov/s/inr/rls/10543.htm

I am sure I will want to read a book from a country that does not exist on the map- the USSR.

The number of books is not as important as what I will learn about the world while reading them.