book review

White as milk and rice – A review

Book title – WHITE AS MILK AND RICE

Author – Nidhi Dugar Kundalia
Publisher – Penguin Random House India

No. Of pages – 241

Frankly, when I went for this book, my expectations were different. I don’t know why but I had thought that the book will have stories from mythology of the various tribes of India.

But once I had read through the introduction by the author, I grasped that it was going to be something totally different from my initial expectations.

There are six stories but each story takes you to a different territory in the vast expanse of India, ranging from the hills of South India, the chambal ravines in the west, the forests of Central India and finally culminating in the North East.

You peek into the ordinary lives of some extraordinary tribals and the back stories of the protagonists and their tribes enrich your knowledge of many aspects of their history. Their daily struggle to keep their unique culture alive amidst the all encompassing march of modern life is what enriches the stories to the next level.

By the time you reach the end of the book, you know something more about the Halakkis, the Kanjars, the Kurumbas, the Marias, the Khasis and the Konyaks. And wonder whether they have lost their heritage or are we, the so-called modern denizens of this world, the real losers.

The author injects charm and pathos into each story.

A Common thread which runs through all stories is how the tribals take only that much from the forest, as is required for survival and don’t exploit it for greed.

I must thank the author, Nidhi Dugar Kundalia, for staying in their midst for a long time and documenting a vanishing way of life, weaving charming stories and enriching us, the lay readers.

Yatindra Tawde

 

humour

Swatchchata Abhiyan

It was early morning. So early, even the birds were fast asleep.

A time when Raghu liked to get the job done and over with. It was his me time. That way, he was a shy person.

He liked to defecate alone in the fields in the darkness. Not for him, the community defecation festivals conducted every morning by his fellow villagers.

The anti open defecation mohim, which was a rage in the rest of the country, had not yet touched his village. Perhaps, due to his village falling in an opposition ruled state?

And so he was doing his job peacefully, sitting (‘h’ silent)below a tree, humming a tune. Suddenly he was lifted up in the air, still in same position, his legs wrapped tightly by something.

As he was being carried off with his pants down, he realised that it was an elephant from the neighbouring forest, which was swinging him wildly.

With his heart in his mouth, he saw death. He saw his long departed grandmother, his uncle and an assortment of departed fellow villagers, all having a good laugh at his expense.

As tears steamed down his eyes and with his bottom literally yellowed, he prayed… prayed hard.

And miraculously, perhaps overcome by the pungent odour of the load it was carrying, the running elephant finally dropped him like a load of potatoes and ran off into the neighbouring forest.

Today the man has become an ambassador of the swatchchata abhiyan of the village and his mascot is…who else, Appu Raja.

Yatindra Tawde