Content Cure — Of world wars and women heroes – Gurveen Bedi
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie (fiction)
This book is a masterpiece written by one of my favorite authors. It is a story of the family of Hiroko Tanaka and Elizabeth Burton, starting from the Nagasaki bombing in 1944 to the early 2000s when Osama was being hunted in Afghanistan. In these years, the characters experience loss, love, passion, loyalty, fear and hatred as they traverse across Japan, India, Pakistan, England, America and Afghanistan. A running theme in the book is the horrors of the nuclear bombing in Nagasaki. I felt a bit ashamed that I have read so many books and seen so many movies focused on the Second World War, and yet have not been exposed to any that fully frames the pain of this bombing. History is written by the victors indeed! I shudder to think that humans willfully subjected other humans to such inhumane agony. Not once, but twice.
Another running theme in the book is the futility of war. A line from an Afghan to an American character stayed with me “Countries like yours, they always fight wars, but always somewhere else. It’s why you fight more wars than anyone else; because you understand war least of all. You need to understand it better”. Indeed, we all need to.
I read this book at a feverish pace and would give it a 6/5 stars. If you like reading about the Indian subcontinent, if you are pro or anti-war, if you celebrated when your country became a nuclear power, if you are pro or anti-immigration, if you have ever debated patriotism vs humanity, please do read this.
The widows of Malabar Hill/ The Satarpur Moonstone by Sujata Massey (fiction series)
This period fiction is set in 1920’s Mumbai, with Perveen Mistry as the protagonist. Perveen belongs to an illustrious Parsi family and is trying to become India’s first female lawyer. These books cover her adventures across different cases. And there are ample complications and excitement in her personal life, which also keep her (and the reader) on toes. Perveen doesn’t try to transform the world around her to make it fairer, but works inventively within the constraints to make a place for herself. For example, she builds a niche of working for female clients who would not talk candidly to male lawyers. Given the debate in today’s world on women in the workplace, it was inspiring to read her different experiences from the 1920s.
I fell in love equally with the protagonist’s courage, and the food and saree descriptions. The fact that Bombay and Irani cafés are featured, might also have warmed me further. I gobbled up her multiple books over the span of a week. They reminded me a lot of the Modesty Blaise series.
If you want to read about women heroes, if you want to know more about Bombay in the 1920s, if you are curious about Parsi culture, if you want some light-happy-go-lucky stuff to reinvigorate interest in reading, then pick this book up! Perfect for those lazy weekend mornings — maybe pair it with bun maska and chai😊 And if later you want to dive into more Parsi food history — then pick up Dishoom: From Bombay with Love