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Archive for the ‘Raj Stories’ Category

The Splendor of SilenceThe Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The author has tried to recreate a small part of the Raj. The era is pre-independence days in India. The time is just before the quit India movement was launched. The books traces the life of a Tamil Brahmin and his family in a fictionalized princely state called Rudrakot and how their life gets entangled for a brief while with an American soldier who has come to Burma to fight the Japanese incursion with an ulterior motive of finding the whereabouts of his brother who has been reported as AWOL by the British administration. He was last in Rudrakot.
The Tamil Brahmin is the political agent for the princely state of Rudrakot and he is bringing up his sons and daughter not steeped in orthodoxy and not steeped in English etiquette. He tries to bring a balance between the two in upbringing his children.
He is the de facto caretaker of the crown prince of Rudrakot. The crown prince is in love with his daughter and his daughter is also OK with the match and it is expected that they will marry sooner than later.
Under these circumstances the American soldier comes to Rudrakot with a reference who has directed him to the house of the political agent of the Rudrakot. The American soldier and his daugther fall in love in the four days that he stays with them and their lives change in those four days. The whole book mainly four days and how those four days changes their lives upside down.
The book is an OK read. There are places where the author has been unable to hide her ignorance or her distance from the Indian stories. At one place she has described Gathotgach as the brother of Ravanan who sleeps for six months. And at another place she mentions that the sacred thread worn by the Brahmins of India is worn across the body over the right shoulder and under the left arm. Gathotgach is the son of Bheema and is a character in Mahabharatha and not in Ramayan. It was Kumbhakarna who is the brother of Ravanan who sleeps for six months and remains awake for only one day after these six months. The brahmins of India wear the sacred thread across the body but over the left shoulder and under the right arm.

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