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Thrills, frills, colours and fun on bookshelf

Posted on Oct 06, 10:34AM | IANS

The bookcart this week is overpowering - by its sheer strength of drama. Browse with IANS...

1.Book: "The Masala Murder"; Written by Madhumita Bhattacharya; Published by Pan Macmillan; Price: Rs.250

I am a food writer. I didn't think it was who I was meant to be. But seeing as how I didn't believe in destiny, I took what came my way, when it came my way. I didn't and couldn't give up on being a detective. My agency was still stumbling along and I was part of what you could call a league of volunteer investigators.

A little group I had come to think of as CCC, Calcutta Crime-fighters Club, although we had solved no real crimes together. We talk a good game, though. You might understand why a girl could get a bit desperate. And when I found myself in a seemingly irredeemable slump in my life, I baked.

It all started with the murder of this sleazy gourmet provisions importer who I had the misfortune of interviewing and whose murder I seem to have got entangled in. If that wasn't enough I suddenly had that cheating ex-boyfriend of mine landing up unannounced at my doorstep with a sob story of how two masked men had kidnapped his wife and how he could only turn to me to save her.

And to complicate matters further what was I supposed to do if in the middle of all this, in a city teeming with 14 million people, I ended up bumping into a tall, dark and absolutely delicious stranger everywhere I went.

2.Book: "A Village in Bengal: Photographs and An Essay"; Written by Chirodeep Chaudhuri; Published by Picador India; Price: Rs.2,499

Photographer Chirodeep Chaudhuri photographed his ancestral village in Bengal for 12 years, visiting annually during the festival of Durga Puja. Threading a subtle narrative, this collection invites us to behold the story of rural India as it unspooled in a village in Bengal.

These exhilarating, pristine photographs are animated by the rhythms of rural life - the splendid feeling of being in the countryside, the rush of festivities, the joyful gathering of family, the small inconveniences, and the contrast implicit therein with urban sufficiency and insularity.

The photographs look as if arranged in a private family album but stun as only a photographer working at the peak of his intellectual power and finesse might.

3.Book: "Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi"; Written by William Dalrymple; Published by Penguin-Books India; Price: Rs.2,499

Between 1707 and 1857, Delhi was a hotbed of political intrigue and power struggles - the Mughal Empire was on the decline and the British East India Company was emerging as a formidable power. In 1857, these tensions would culminate in the mutiny that led to the end of Mughal dominion and the beginning of the British Raj.

But this turbulent epoch also witnessed a burst of artistic innovation and experimentation. Delhi's artists were increasingly employed by company officials as well as the Mughal and regional courts and thus became adept at improvising with a variety of techniques, creating traditional miniatures while continually experimenting with new European styles.

Art historians are only now coming to recognize the richness and ingenuity of the work created in this period. With insightful essays by distinguished scholars, "Princes and Painters" is a visual document of 18th and 19th century Delhi.

4.Book: "The Indus Intercept"; Written by Aruna Gill; Published by Harper Collins-India; Price: Rs.299

Balochistan, 2003: a drama of insurgency and international intrigue unfolds in Pakistan's dust bowl province. At the centre of it is the Mir, a militant Baloch separatist driven as much by the need to seek revenge as he is by his ardour for a free homeland. He leads a life in the shadows, eluding the ISI as he flirts with the CIA and RAW.

In the midst of this intrigue, American soldiers on the Af-Pak border discover a mysterious note written in the ancient Indus Valley script. The CIA tasks Alejo Covas, a deep cover agent living in Quetta, with deciphering its significance.

His investigation leads him to the ancient archaeological site of Mehrgarh where he meets Adiva, an American-born Pakistani woman researching Baloch folklore. They are soon caught up in a chain of events that are unleashed by the Mir, who is planning his boldest strike yet - one that could set South Asia ablaze. As Alejo races to avert a catastrophic war, political expediency intrudes on morality, deception lurks at every step, and love and betrayal go hand-in-hand.

5.Book: "Planting Seeds: Practising Mindfulness with Children"; Written by Thich Naht Hanh; Published by Full Circle Books; Price: Rs.350

The book is full of hands-on activities to help children and adult beat stress, increase confidence, concentration, deal with emotional challenges and improve communication.

It is based on decades of experience of Thich Naht Hanh's work at an international Buddhist Sangha to nurture a foundation that teaches mindfulness in children and those who care for them. The book has 30 illustrations and easy-to-follow practises.