07 March 2011


‘chowringhee’ by bengali author sankar was my first indian language novel translated into english. the bengali version came out in 1962; while certain customs and events mark the time, it does not read as a period novel, with the story focusing largely on human emotions and needs and urges--people have the same aspirations today as they did then, and many customs continue dictating their lives. it’s a huge novel in scope and characters. the plot is not as tight or fast paced, but the characters and ambience make up for that.

i am excited to have the chance to read more such translations and more desi authors in general, which I was not privy to in hk. i have my next read lined up, 'burnt shadows' by pakistani author kamila shamsie :)

some quotes from chowringhee:

tagore poem: “in all countries I have an abode, yet I have spent my life searching for it.”

“There will come a day when, like a tape recorder, a past recorder will be available—we’ll be able to sit before an old house and listen to its autobiography.”

“…how to create extraordinary harmony through ordinary means… how to achieve greatness through simplicity.”

“One can’t really serve another in the hotel of the world. We can at best hold out the tray, like good waiters. People will have to pick out their own rewards.”

“…took a long dip in the blue pool of nostalgia.”

“Each of us had been born in a different place, at different times and yet, floating on the tide of time, the three of us had gathered at the same moment on the terrace of Shajahan.”

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