Monday, March 21, 2005

The hungry tide

I have been searching the internet since morning to find out whether there's a condition called "Sunday Insomnia" or is it just me who suffers from it! Any other night, I could just slump in my bed and get my free ticket to andromeda in a couple of seconds. Come sunday, I twist and turn and till late in the night play back the entire 23 years of my life! It's like I can't switch off my mind. I start counting numbers, chanting names but nothing works. You are just caught in a whirlpool of your own thoughts out of which, deep down, you don't want to come out. Have you ever felt it?

Anyways, yesterday I had the company of someone who's grown wise out of seeing a lot of the world from bangladesh, to sri lanka to egypt to the US. A well learnt man, a passionate human being and a fantastic story teller! Off late, I have become a great fan of bong writers. They surely have a way with words - be it wit or humor, or matters of heart,or the little details of middle class families that I can totally relate to. There was this certain lady ~V.De - the first bong I knew - in my batch in BITS, who really was a prolific writer. Travel forward in time to now, most of the blogs I love to read are by bengalis. I am not sure how much of a bengali Jhumpa Lahiri is. But I love the way she writes. All this went in favor of Amitav ghosh, when I picked up his latest book - The Hungry tide yesterday evening.

And till 4:30 in the morning, I have been engrossed in the tale and detail he had to offer, walking with his "Piya", "Kanai" and "Fokir" through the wilderness of Sunderbans. I have never been to that part of India before - but the verbal imagery came to life before my eyes as I read the book. Everything about the place - it's beauty, mysticism and the omnipresent danger woven with the very fabric of its existence is so real you could touch them and shudder at the thought. And the characters were so beautifully fleshed out - an urban translator who can never relate to villages and villagers, a communist dreamer, his pragmatic wife, a scientist and her unlikely lover, a rustic illiterate villager, each of them viewed through a lens that's neither flattering nor flawed and a plot that weaves these characters so beautifully together. They are not just characters interspersed through the axes of the rural-urban divide. They inhabit a whole three dimensional world measured by faith, superstition, empathy, self-love and pragmatism. Throughout the book, I wished the author passes the role of the narrator from one character to the other so that I could peep into what's running in each of their minds, for I was sure, each and every character had an entirely different way of looking at what was happening and to find them, inert, quiet and just observant was disappointing!

Of course, the writer on his part has done extensive research on the Sunderbans, and the dolphins that are found there (Did you know that calcutta actually housed a lot of dolphins (within the salt lake that is!) at some point of history). But these were just "Oh really"-s, commercial breaks between an otherwise interesting narration because I have as much interest in sunderbans Oracella (that's the name of the fish) as I have in mm.... say ... something I am not very interested in.

I am still dazed - but it's very satisfying because you know, you have not wasted it on a code that doesn't work but on a tale well told!


Blogger Kumari said...

Do you hear the roar of a hungry deluge, pounding on your doors, asking you to write more?

10:41 AM  
Blogger Rathish said...

the comment falls in the hazy territory between "pulling my leg" and "asking for more" :) I am not quite sure where to place it. So, no comments ;)

with reference to the previous comment - '?'?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Kumari said...

Ob, it is of the 'yeh Dil Maange more' genre. I was trying my skill at using your post title for the comment. Guess it backfired.

*Sheepish Grin*
i wrote a comment and on re-reading it liked it too much & selfishly decided to use it in my post :) So replaced that essay with a single punctuation mark to ask 'where art thee?' :D

11:04 AM  
Blogger Rajasree said...

Read about your review of "The Hungry tide" just now and felt that as you seem to have gained interest about the Sunderbans then you must read up Amitav Ghosh's new article on "Folly in the Sundarbans?" in his website - I believe you will definitely find much interest reading it up.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Rathish said...

thanks Rajasree - lovely article! some of the facts described there have also been quoted in the novel - about the cyclones, about the british raj's effort to build a port etc. thanks again!

3:28 PM  
Blogger thelearner said...

" I have been searching the internet since morning to find out whether there's a condition called "Sunday Insomnia" or is it just me who suffers from it!"

Oh, I suffer from it too..

5:24 PM  
Blogger Anand said...

Interesting read. I read 'The Hungry Tide' a couple of weeks back, and liked it a lot. Posted a few paras on that in my blog. It may be of some interest to you. Here's the link.

By the way, nice blog. Got here via Nedstat.

1:47 PM  

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