Spotlight: A MORSEL OF DIFFERENT SHADES by S.K. Sanyal

 

 
A MORSEL OF DIFFERENT SHADES
by
S.K. Sanyal
 
 
 
Blurb
 
Sumitra Ghosal came all the way from Bankura in West Bengal to join the education service in the recently formed Bundeli State. During the period from 1956 to 1990, spanning more than three decades, she got shunted around small towns and semi-rural areas. The book is woven around her experiences on women teachers lives. She found for some teachers, cruel circumstances charting out the unknown trajectory, while for the others, the evil streak already present manifested itself rather blatantly during their teaching careers.
 
Ranging from the weird to the quirky, scheming to whimsical, there were all kinds of women for Sumitra to experience and continuously learn from. Bearing a religious bent of mind, Sumitra, a spinster by choice, didn’t fail to take cognizance of the bizarre instances of marital co-existences in the couples she met throught the story.

Read an excerpt
 
Sumitra Ghosal had stepped into the thirties. Young and hopeful, bubbling over with the excitement of yet another transfer, she arrived at Domod, a district town. The three successive postings at Putlinagar, Bajera and Sagar in the sprawling Uttar Madhya Desh (UMD) had done little to exhaust her. UMD had its capital at Lakshminagar. As distinct from other States, it had predominantly Government schools, private schools not many in number. This State was created according to the prevailing trend of creating smaller states out of larger ones. Rashtriya Daridrya Mochan Party (RDMP) was in power, their manifesto focusing on widespread measures for promoting education for women in remote corners. Sumitra, though, found the efforts not coming entirely from the depths of a sincerely dedicated state. It seemed to be RDMP’s propagandist move to gain more votes.

Sumitra found travelling in ramshackle buses and waiting at railway platforms for the few trains available at odd hours, quite an ordeal. Hers was the fate to move around insignificant remote corners in the heartland of India, where commuting was not easy; semi-rural people formed the stock of commuters. Sumitra, however, didn’t rue her fate; she enjoyed, for she was an optimist drawn by the hidden charm of the unknown places. And what a taste of independence in not marrying – she wasn’t anybody’s property. Her decisions were squarely her own. She had her own conduct or the way to what people say, religiosity; none could teach her the way to realise God. If, as a woman, she worshipped the deity of Hanumanji, let people laugh at her fasting or bratas on Tuesdays and Saturdays. That she got the strength of character by observing the rituals of her making was what mattered. That she wrote with her fingers, without making any impression, the names of Gods and Goddesses on her pillow before sleeping was her unique way to ward off any trouble.

She had a personality built up over long years of getting over the inferiority complex she had developed in her formative years. Neglected and over-ruled, she wasn’t permitted to go for higher education, as her parents wanted their nubile daughter to be tied in a nuptial knot. But Sumitra went on rejecting proposals one after the other until her parents got tired. She was finally allowed to go for higher education. She had a late start, but this belated take-off made her even more determined to be independent, even to take a curious, brave and adventurous decision to take up lectureship in the newly created state of UMD when her native place was in Santhal Parganas in the east.

The fourth and the youngest daughter of a businessman, she had had occasions to go to shikar and witness ruthless killings of sambars, tigers and other small animals or birds. In those times, there was no ban on shikaris engaged in indiscriminate decimating of wild animals. One day, she was seated in the jeep with her legs on the warm and still throbbing body of a fallen sambar. Touched, she took a vow not to have meat ever again. Thus, she was the only vegetarian amongst her non-vegetarian sisters. Alas, she had no brother, and that is why she equated the male visitors of her generation to her parental house as brothers and bestowed them with sisterly affection.

***

It was the month of April when nature attired herself in a new garb with little smooth green leaves sprouting on some trees, while the others had not yet shed completely their brownish yellow leaves. A mixture of dusty yellow fallen lifeless leaves under the massive trees and the seasonal flowers past their full bloom presented a spectacle of life and death. One had to step over the crispy fragile remains of what once was a prized greenery to get near the rows of pansies, zinnias, lilies and other flowers to see the minute tapestry of the multicoloured spectacle amidst the crackling dead leaves. The winter’s ruthlessness had made way for the pleasant breeze, dusty at times, that replaced the cold winds of February. It was a pleasant, beautiful, sombre and placid morning in a strange land when Sumitra joined the school at Domod as a lecturer. It could have been the month of July with blackish-grey clouds suppressing the bright onset of the dawn or the torrential rains drenching her on her first day of school; it could have been the month of December with its biting cold necessitating the full stock of woollen clothes. Nevertheless, out of all the random eccentricities of the transferring authority, she was slated to join the school during the best period of the year, and it sure augured well. A placid look came over her face when she saw the red cap over a green body, the gulmohar, topping the fresh green leaves of the massive tree at the end of the road leading to the school. The April bliss.

She got the first shock when she found the distance cut short abruptly. The school happened to be in full view, even as she was jostling through the crowd, manoeuvring the sharp cuts and turns of the street; an expectation of an ideal location of the school belied. Why this proximity? A school in a bazaar? How nauseating and depressing?

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About the author

 

A member of the Indian Statistical Service, S.K. Sanyal retired as Director, Central Statistical Organisation, Delhi, after having served as a statistician at Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, and as a Professor of Statistics at All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata.
 
After retirement,he served from time to time as a consultant with the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, Delhi. As a UNDP consultant, he had short-term assignments at UN Statistical Office at New York, Malawi University, Malawi, and Central Statistics Office, Sierra Leone. Prior to those, as a sampling expert, he delivered lectures on Sampling at Fiji and Nepal on behalf of Statistical Institute for Asia and Pacific, Tokyo, and ESCAP, Bangkok. At NIPFP, he was deputed for poverty studies at Sikkim on behalf of the Asian Development Bank.
 
Besides numerous technical papers and articles, he has also published a novel, ‘Shifting Silhouettes’, and a real-life story, ‘Memories Unlimited’. He resides in New Delhi.
 
You can stalk him @
         

 

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His Search for the Perfect Bride by Sudesna Ghosh

51mdA90LKvL._SY346_.jpgHis Search for the Perfect Bride by Sudesna Ghosh is a short and hilarious book which I borrowed from Kindle Unlimited.

The blurb:

Momma’s boy, Debojit, is on the search for the perfect bride. Join him and his parents as they visit potential life partners. Expect some surprises for poor Debojit and his mother.

The story:

Debojit Sen, a lawyer in Kolkata and a Mama’s boy, is looking for the perfect bride. So he along with his parents goes bride-seeing. And where does he end up, read on….

My take:

The cover is an instant pick-me-up.

A funny story about a boy who wants to get married to a girl who can keep him and his mother happy. We see three such instances of bride seeing which are humorous.

Loved the characters and the story. Debojits mother is funny and so are the various situations in the book, a short and sweet read

 

Temptation: Women From Mars by Ruchi Singh

51NmbEdVKVL.jpgTemptation: Women From Mars is a short story by Ruchi Singh available as an ebook on Kindle. This is the first book in the series: Women Are From Mars.

The blurb:

The universe is full of aberrations, be it weather, animal, man or woman. The focus here is not on exceptional nature or talent, but simply on exceptions or deviations—the outliers in the spectrum of human nature.

What is the motivation behind these exceptions? Is it genes, old habits, familial bonds, or social conditioning? Or are they just wired differently?

‘Women From Mars’ series brings the spotlight on such exceptions in women.

WFM Series Shorts 1:

‘Temptation’ is the first story in the series. The story of Juhi and Satya who fall for each other. It is love at first sight. But are things really what they seem? Will they be united with each other or do their motivations differ? Read on to find out…

The story:

Juhi and Satya, both from India meet in Sydney, where she is attending a meeting and he, a training. And they are attracted to each other instantly. One thing leads to another and Satya falls in love with Juhi.

And then Juhi tells him that she has to leave for Melbourne and would be back in two days. And she does not come back and Satya hunts high and low for her.

Does he find her?

My take:

I loved the story and the characters. The story is fast paced and kept me guessing as to what happens next.

And all credit to the author for wrapping up the story as a short story.

Enjoyed the twist at the end.

 

 

Groomnapped by Sundari Venkatraman

51SLvAjpPzL.jpgI received Groomnapped by Sundari Venkatraman as a review copy from the author. And I would like to thank the author for the book. The story is set in a small town in Bihar, India.

The blurb:

The lovely and feisty Surekha is the eldest of three daughters of a carpenter from the wrong side of the tracks. She teaches science and maths in the Bihar Public School.

Ameya is the only son of a millionaire farmer-cum-builder and over and above that, he’s educated too.

They meet and fall in love quite easily, the drawback being the dowry system prevalent in Bihar. With Ameya’s parents expecting a huge dowry and Surekha’s parents having a tough time eking a living out of their humble income, it seems like the match between the two lovers is one made in hell.

Ameya isn’t one to take things lying on his back. But when the parents who adore him otherwise are so set against the marriage, will he be able to make Surekha his?

My take:

Surekha Yadav, 21, the eldest daughter of Liladhar, a carpenter and Lachi, a house help, teaches science and maths to class seven students at a co-ed school in Paliganj. She excels in dancing and can make some extra income with this skill. They need the money as they need to support the education of Radhika and Vaishali, her two younger sisters.

Ameya Verma, 24, the only son of Jagjivan, a rich and powerful landowner, and Daksha, returns home to Paliganj in Bihar, after completing his degree in farming. While his father deals with the development of the city by constructing buildings, Ameya prefers to manage the farms.

Ameya meets Surekha during the preparations to his friend Ratan’s wedding, as she is their choreographer.

For him it is love at first sight. And he plans to woo her and then make her his wife.

Surekha realises that Ameya is too rich and she is from the wrong side of the tracks. So she accepts the fact that this relationship would never end in marriage.

My take:

A sweet love story with well developed characters. The title as well as the prologue made me curious how this groom would be kidnapped. The language is simple and the scenes have been described in detail that I could actually picturise them and felt that they were playing before my eyes.

The writing is simple and fast paced, but I felt that the end could have been elaborated a bit more, it left me wanting, and actually, I can see a sequel coming.

Disclaimer: I received a free e-copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

 

The globetrotters by Arifa Tehsin

51MhXAxBsvL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgI received the book the globetrotters by Arifa Tehsin as a reveiew copy from the publisher. Penguin and am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

The call of the wild

Hudhud is horrible to everyone. He polishes off his classmates’ lunches, plays cruel pranks on his teachers and troubles innocent creatures. Until his strange new history teacher decides to set him straight.

The lesson? A curse! Now Hudhud must roam the vast earth . . . with-and as-the greatest migratory animals. His goal? To find the answer to all wrongs. And so begins Hudhud’s remarkable journey: as a blue whale calf separated from his mother in the deep; as a trusting caterpillar who befriends a hunting spider; as a competitive caribou on a perilous trek; as an Arctic tern too scared to fly . . . But fly across the world he must, if he hopes to ever return home.

Follow Hudhud on this surreal trip, through the Arctic Ocean and the Sahara Desert, among fragrant flowers and tall grass, and find out all about the inner lives of some majestic animals and the wonders of the wild.

The story:

Hudhud, a Grade Seven student of The Study, a school on the outskirts of Mount Abu is a bully. He plays pranks on the teachers, eats his classmates’ tiffin and terrifies his juniors. And one kid goes missing.

And then the history teacher comes home and tells him that he would be travelling the world with thru dumb migratory animals till he finds the answer. To top it all, he would not remember that he was a human or for that which animal he was before his present form.

And then we see Hudhud, the blue whale calf; Hudhud, the caterpillar; Hudhud, the leatherback turtle; Hudhud, the porcupine caribou and Hudhud, the Arctic turtle. And travel with him.

My take:

The author has used simple language to present the story and by means of the story, she tells us in detail about the migratory animals and their travels. She tells about the blue whale; the transformation of the caterpillar; the Arctic tern; the turtle and the caribou. The twist at the end was the best point in the book.

The sketches are beautiful and the book is thoroughly enjoyable and unputdownable.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

It’s a Mom Thing: Kickass Parenting by Sathya Ramaganapathy

Its-a-Mom_30.jpgI received the book It’s a Mom Thing: Kickass Parenting by Sathya Ramaganapathy as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications, and am thankful to them for the book.

This book is a beautiful first person account of a mother and her motherhood set in Bangalore. At the outset, the author has mentioned that this book is a tribute, dedicated to all those harassed moms and dads out there fighting the daily battles of parenthood.

The blurb:

It’s a war out there, and the kids are winning. They can download apps on your smartphone with deceptive ease, tell you who the Greek goddess of wisdom is and how to do a back-heel nutmeg (don’t ask). How is one ever to catch up, let alone get the upper hand?

It’s a Mom Thing: Adventures in Parenting presents anecdotes from a mother and offers a light-hearted look at her parenting journey. The main protagonists are the mother, her two cheeky daughters, aged nine and eleven, and her long-suffering husband. Parenting is a veritable minefield in this household. Backchat, bad jokes and mischievous gleams in the eyes, pre-teen hormones and emotional meltdowns (of the parental variety) pop up frequently. Every day is fraught with danger. Revealing the affectionate, yet tumultuous relationship between the mother and her daughters who are growing up fast, the book falls in the parenting humour genre.

My take:

The author has beautifully narrated her experiences with her two daughters aged 9 and 11. There were many instances in the book where I felt that: “Is she talking about me?” or “Are these my kids that she is talking about?”

The book has been divided into four parts: Summer Vacations; First Term; Second Term; Third Term and followed by an email from the school Principal mentioning something about the term. There are twenty three chapters and at the beginning of each chapter, the author has quoted an extract from the conversation in the chapter itself. The names of the chapters give an idea of what the chapter talks about.

She has talked about how her family devours books, how she managed to be a work from home mom, cute anecdotes from the conversations between her kids, their squabbles and also those between the parents and the kids. She compared her childhood to theirs, like we all do. I will not go into further details as I want you to read the book and savour it.

The descriptions are detailed and vivid. The piggy bank from her childhood and her train journeys reminded me of mine. She has an amazing sense of humour which is very visible as to how she manages even stressful situations with kids.

I will not call it a parenting book as she has not advised how to go about the stuff but I would say that this book that must be read by all parents, to see that everything that we go through with our kids, is what all parents go through, have gone through and will go through and to enjoy parenthood till we can because once the kids grow up, we will crave for their company. Believe me, I know of parents who do.

I have even marked the pages which I would give to my kids to read.

A must read book for parents and kids and even grandparents for that matter.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

 

Madeinheaven.com (Romantic Shorts Book 3) by Sundari Venkatraman

516g+DITL0L.jpgMadeinheaven.com (Romantic Shorts Book 3) by Sundari Venkatraman is a short and sweet story set in Mumbai.

The blurb:

Menka is all of twenty-four when her parents have been desperately searching for a suitable groom for her, that too, since the last three years. At her mother’s instigation, she uploads her info across multiple matchmaking websites.

Jeetu is tall, dark and handsome and the youngest of four siblings. Based in Singapore, he not only runs his own website but has roped in his aged parents as his partners.

While her mother is keen to get her daughter married ASAP, Menka wants to get to know the man she is to wed.

The family astrologer tells Menka’s parents that Jeetu will make a perfect groom for Menka. Does that mean that Menka and Jeetu are meant for each other?

What about the two youngsters who may sign up for a life of togetherness over the next fifty years or more? Do they have a say in the matter?

The story:

Menka, 24, lives with her parents in Mumbai and works for a private firm. Her mother is desperate to get her married and she wants to take her own time. Her father has recently retired and has to listen to her mother all the time. Menka decides to play along with her and registers her profile on many matrimonial websites.

28 year old Jeetu is based in Singapore and runs a website that had taken off on the day of the launch. Youngest among the four siblings, his family is based in Mumbai. His website is about finding the right partner and caters to Indians. His mother wants him to get married and suggests that he look for a prospective bride on his website.

And so he does….

My take:

The story is simple and has been written in a language that is easy to follow. The characters are well developed and realistic. The scenes have been well described and can be easily visualised.

I loved the book. it is a short and quick read that can be read in between the longer ones.