Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Indian Dreaming

For those who are not Australian or from other parts of the Commonwealth, you may not be aware that the Commonwealth Games are under way in Delhi at the moment.  I was so excited for India when they won the chance to host the Games.  Unfortunately scandals, delays and some controversy marred the build up to the Games.   At time of writing, Australia has won 143 medals, more than 30 more than the next country (England).  Which makes the Games either pointless or brilliant, depending on your point of view. I tend to favour the former.  

I have never been to India but I believe it is a place, like Italy perhaps, which changes you forever.  

To kick off, two beautiful modern Indian interiors:

Something soft and restful:

Then, the hotel to die for. Have you ever stayed at an Aman resort?  We have toyed with the idea of the one in Java, and also Ubud in Bali but the furthest we have ever got is lunch at the Amandari and Amankila (both on Bali).  I think they are a bit outside my budget.  This is the Amanbagh near Jaipur.

And of course, some Indian reading.   These are my five must read Indian novels.   They capture all the magic, mystery and spirituality of India.   Each of these books I have brooded on for some time after finishing and to me, that is the key to a great book.

This book demonstrates the power of luck and opportunity better than any other I have read.

This book is set in in Mumbai, in India, in the middle of last century when a bad decision or an instance of bad luck can change your life forever.  

I won't describe it further other than to say you must read this book. It will make you a more humane person. 

This book is about old India and the British Raj, and its clash with the new.  Set in Chandrapore, the book follows an excursion to some caves led by doctor Aziz and the life changing consequences of that day. 

If not the book,then you should watch the excellent Merchant Ivory film of the same name. 

I read this book for school when I was 15.  Set in India in the 1920's It is about a little girl who lives on a river which feeds into the Bay of Bengal. Harriet is in that time between between childhood and adulthood and the rhythms of her life are disrupted and changed in this deceptively simple and subtle book. 

At more than 1300 pages this is one of the longest novels ever published in a single volume in the English language (I actually read it when it was published in a three book series).

This amazing evocative epic book is set in post independent and post partition India, and follows Mrs Rupa Mehra's attempts to arrange the marriage of her daughter to a suitable boy.  

It sounds simple, but it is not. There is a wonderful array of eccentric, personality filled characters, and Vikram Seth manages to cover a range of political and societal events like Muslim education,  the caste system and the land reforms. 

I have to be honest. I am a bit scared of Gregory David Roberts. He was an armed robber who broke out of jail in Melbourne in 1980, skipped the country, fled to India and lived an adventurous life including gun running in Afghanistan and working as a slum doctor in Delhi.  This book is lengthy but worth it.  Whilst it is true that he escaped from prison, Roberts has since clarified that parts of it are fictional. 

This book is a fascinating glimpse into modern India.  

(Images: (1) via Indian Summer Blog (2) from Contemporary Indian by Henry Wilson (3) Elle Decor India (4) (5) Tobias Harvey via Sarah Kaye (6) Amanresorts)


P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

such tempting recommendations- I have read 3, I might add a Rushdie Midnight's Children. A beautiful post with all the things we love.

Ann said...

I tend not to take a stand about sport but I have decided the Games are utterly pointless (and only good for countries who are not that sporting - our medal tall on the track is evidence enough). But I do love your Indian sojourn... have read Forster of course but not the others. You are a key plank (sorry journo phrase) in my draft 2011 reading list. Ann x

brismod said...

We haven't watched any of the Games, although one can't avoid seeing Geoff Heugill's six pack in the media. Some pointless things can be good! I'll have to read "A Fine Balance" after your recommendation. Thanks.xx

Amanda (Small Acorns) said...

Have read 2 on your great list Jane, but will definitely look out now for 'A Fine Balance'. And one you might like - The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. Amazing!

Julie@beingRUBY said...

HI Jane
Fabulous post.. I truly long to visit India one day [hopefully the belly will handle it.. haha]... The colours, customs and spiritual practices entice me... maybe one day...

Love all these images you've posted.. ...I've often dreamed of staying at an Aman Resort too...again maybe one day... after I win powerball on thursday that is..

I'll be back to this post again, not just for the images but your reading references... I agree with Amanda.. Read The God of Small Things.. heartbreaking yet mesmerizing..

Have a lovely week xxx Julie

Artful Kitchens said...

Wow,India, a subject near and dear to me. I can attest to the fact that, as Bill Clinton once said, "there are two kinds of people, those who have been to India and those who have not." Always loved that quote, never forgot it. I agree with you about A Fine Balance, simply the best. Passage to India, not so much IMO. I keep looking at A Suitable Boy and Shantaram but I haven't tackled them yet. Someday. May I add Mandala by Pearl S. Buck to the list? She was known for writing about China but this gem shows she really knew the nuances of India as well. Thanks for the post.

Raina Cox said...

I've just added 5 books to my Amazon cart.

And thank you for posting the super-gorgeous photos - INSPIRING.

Devon said...

I'm somewhat obsessed with Aman Resorts. Never stayed at one...my husband would faint dead away at the prices. But, my oh my, aren't they beautiful?

Maxabella said...

I love the whole concept of India - it is very like Italy in many ways. The way they suck every bit of juice out of life. Family is pretty much everything, personal expression the rest.

That said, I'm not the biggest fan of Indian art and interiors. I'm not that great with Eastern design in general, to be honest. I prefer their spirtuality! x

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