Conversational and narrative poems of life, nature and exile, investigation of sexual and social anomalies in India and a mythological classic about Lord Shiva's seduction by the enchanting Mohini; the IANS book stack this weekend is invigoratinglyappealing. Take a look. IANS | 8 months ago

1. Book: The Kamasutra Diaries: Intimate Journeys Through Modern India; Author: Sally Howard; Publisher: Tranquebar; Pages: 236; Price: Rs. 395

The author sets out on a "sexploration" through modern India by train, plane and auto-rickshaw. From the heat of anti-rape protest on the streets of New Delhi to the cool hills of Shimla, playground of the Raj; from a Gujarati retirement home for gay men and eunuchs to a busy sex clinic in Chennai; from patriarchs to matriarchs; good
Indian girls, bad Indian girls and the fleshpots of Bombay, she lifts the bedsheets on India's sexual revolution.

And it's a revolution that is full of fascinating surprises and cintrasts; for India - the land that gave us the exuberant guide to sexual pleasure, the Kama Sutra - is also a land where women remain cloistered in purdah, while teenage girls check out
porn online, and couples fear to hold hands in public, and where the loveless arranged marriage is still the norm.

The book reveals what India has to tell us about modern-day love, sex and sexuality.

2. Book: Central Time: Author: Ranjit Hoskote; Publisher: Penguin Viking; Pages: 132; Price: 399

In this work of poetry, the author becomes the storyteller of a turbulent epoch. We meet Ovid and Ghalib, poets in exile or eclipse, which are by turns elliptical, conversational and narrative. We meet painters who betray their act, and sculptors
who are betrayed by theirs. Fascinated by the enigmas of time, memory and evanescence that art invokes.

The author addresses a range of artists including Bihzad, Magritte, Masaki Fujihata and Ranbir Kaleka, the book pivots on moments of encounter: a defiant squirrel in Anuradhapura, an intriguing collection of objects in a Berlin museum, a man discovering a mass grave near Kabul.

3. Book: The Seduction of Shiva: Tales of Life and Love; Author: Translated by A.N.D.Haksar; Publisher: Penguin Classics; Pages: 234; Price: Rs. 399

Lord Shiva is utterly seduced by Mohini, the enchanting female form assumed by Vishnu during the churning of the ocean for nectar. A barber employs wit and wile and rumours of witchcraft to win his wife back from the lustful attentions of their king. The celestial nymph Urvashi curses the Pandava prince Arjuna when he rejects her sexual advances. A woman caught in adultery befools her elders with a religious ritual. A man with a disagreeable missing wife insists nevertheless that she be recovered by his ruler who has a similar problem.

Refined, colloquial, romantic, cynical and satirical by turns, these stories of erotic love, elegantly translated from the Sanskrit classics, make a sustained argument for the secular argument for the secular ends of life - of desire tempered with discrimination and pleasure with restraint.

4.Book: Homecoming; Author: Hamsa Moily; Publisher: Rupa; Pages: 102; Price: Rs. 250

A combination of classical and contemporary poems, this book is a poetic journey about the dichotomies of life; this war that we see in our daily lives and the futility of it.

The poems speak about the mysteries of life and death; about love that is seamless and unconditional, about a yearning to turn a new leaf - a new life.

(Posted on 28-03-2014)

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