The Rivered Earth

the-rivered-earthThe Rivered Earth

by Vikram Seth | 120 Pages | Genre: Poetry | Publisher: Hamish Hamilton | Year: 2011 | My Rating: 9/10

Recital of the poem ‘Fire’ by Vikram Seth HERE

Vikram Seth has written 4 libretti for 4 musical performances conducted over 4 years (2006 – 2009). A mix of original work and translation, they draw from three cultures – Indian, Chinese, and European – and are set to music by the composer Alec Roth and violinist Philippe Honoré. Titled ‘Songs in time of war’, ‘Shared Ground’, ‘The Traveller’, and ‘Seven Elements’, each of these four librettos in this book is presented with a foreword that provides a backdrop for the particular work. Exquisite pieces of calligraphy by Seth, in Chinese, English, Hindi and Arabic, prefaces each text.

In the first libretto, Songs in time of war, most of the poems are set during a terrible rebellion in the Tang dynasty, which caused vast devastation and famine. In the second libretto, Shared Ground, Seth moves from the Tang Dynasty to the Stuarts, to Salisbury, England, to the very house where the idea of the book of libretti was first born. In a delightful poem titled Host he recounts his admiration for his favorite Anglican poet, George Herbert,

“He’ll change my style.”
“Well, but you could do worse
Than rent his rooms of verse.”
Joy came, and grief; love came, and loss; three years –
Tiles down; moles up; drought; flood.
Though far in time and faith, I share his tears,
His hearth, his ground, his mud;
Yet my host stands just out of mind and sight,
That I may sit and write.”
 
 
The third libretto, The Traveller, which is about the stages of human life – unborn, childhood, youth, adulthood, old age, and death, is influenced by Rig Veda. Suitable texts for the stages were taken from various Indian languages – Tamil, Hindi, Brajbhasha, Urdu, and Bengali. And therefore the tone of the poems are playful, philosophical, contemplative, passionate, reminiscent, and yielding. The final libretto,Seven Elements, is inspired from all the three cultures, and thus its seven poems are based on seven element in nature, air, water, earth, fire, space, metal, and wood.

This deeply sensitive, appealing and seductive book about friendship, love, loss, drama, history, geography, literature and music is my Read of the Week.

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The White Tiger

whiteThe White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga | 318 Pages | Genre: Fiction| Publisher: HarperCollins India| Year: 2008 | My Rating: 9/10

“You Chinese are far ahead of us in every respect, except that you don’t have entrepreneurs. And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality, does have entrepreneurs. Thousands and thousands of them. Especially in the field of technology. And these entrepreneurs – we entrepreneurs – have set up all these outsourcing companies that virtually run America now.”

– Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger

In his debut novel, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2008, Aravind Adiga has brilliantly portrayed the modern India with its newfound economic prowess through its narrator, Balram Halwai aka Munna with an obsession for China, Chandeliers, and Corruption, rising from being a ‘country mouse’ from a nondescript village of Bihar to a business entrepreneur in technology driven Bangalore. Balram’s narrative is framed as a letter to the visiting Chinese Premier, written over seven nights while sitting at his office in Bangalore. In his letter he talks about the initial years of his life spent in Laxmangarh attending school for few years before moving to work with a tea stall, and later moving to Dhanbad with his brother Kishan, where he learnt how to drive and became a driver for a weak-willed son of a feudal landlord from his village. For him ‘the darkness’ represents the areas around river Ganges deep in the heartland marked by medieval hardship, where brutal landlords hold sway, children are pulled out of school into indentured servitude and elections are routinely bought and sold. Later he moved to Delhi with his employers, which he has described as moving from ‘darkness’ to ‘light’, and one rainy day he slit the throat of his employer with a broken bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, which he justifies as an act of class warfare, took seven hundred thousand rupees in cash and fled to Bangalore. His life in Delhi has taught him the corruption of government and politics, inequality between rich and poor, which he uses to set up his business of transportation for call centers with a motto of ‘driving technology forward’.

This novel as a penetrating piece of social commentary, attuned to the inequalities that persist despite India’s new prosperity is my Read of the Week.

River of Smoke

150px-River_of_smoke“Opium is like the wind or the tides: it is outside my power to affect its course. A man is neither good nor evil because he sails his ship upon the wind. It is his conduct towards those around him – his friends, his family, his servants – by which he must be judged”

– Amitav Ghosh, River of Smoke

‘River of Smoke’, a brilliant historical fiction set in late 19th century China is my “Read of the week”.

The World Bamboo Market

The world bamboo market is currently worth USD 7 Billion/year, of which China has USD 5.5 Billion. The largest markets are handicraft (USD 3 Billion), bamboo shoots (USD 1.5 Billion) and traditional furniture (USD 1.1 Billion). Traditional markets cover handicrafts, blinds, bamboo shoots, chopsticks and traditional bamboo furniture, which count for 95% of the market. Emerging bamboo markets are wood substitutes such as flooring, panels and non-traditional furniture. The growth of the global market is expected to grow to USD 15-20 Billion/year in 2017. Non-traditional markets are expected to claim 45% of the total bamboo market. 

Read the full article at: http://www.greenflip.in/blog/the-world-bamboo-market/

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