Since the BYOB Party theme this time was on the lines of all things historical (since we were hosting the event at INTACH), Abhaya spoke about John Keay’s books, particularly The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named.
“When we studied history, we covered a fair amount of things but we were never taught the historiographical aspect. Keay is a good storyteller with his eye on the sources. I enjoyed reading about the decipherment of the Brahmi script, a language that completely changed over time. The book also touches upon how the Archaeological Survey of India was born,” Abhaya said.
This was followed by an interesting discussion on the use and misuse of the word ‘decipherment’, the difference between The Asiatic Society and The Archaeological Survey of India, followed by an introduction to Romila Thapar’s works that can provide a broader picture of the Indian past- Shakuntala and Somnatha.
Akanksha spoke about how a book on feminism from the 1970s changed her own views and challenged her beliefs. “I liked how the book prodded me to look at feminism singularly and connect it with older cultures. I especially liked that the book made me question my own understanding.” Akanksha also mentioned how beneficial the walks conducted by INTACH around the city were. “I like to know about where I live and walks like these give a context to my interaction.”
A reader who was tired of Netflix viewing told us how he delves into travel books and books about cities. Since he lived in the Old Cantonment Area in Bangalore, he was pleasantly surprised when he found a book called Bangalore: A Century of Tales from City and Cantonment by Peter Colaco. “I always talk to people to find out more about where the old theaters and food stalls and buildings have disappeared to. People are surprised when I ask them but they tell me that multistorey buildings have altered the landscape I remember. This is why I enjoyed reading Peter Colaco’s book. He is humorous and delves into facts. Take the detailed way in which he writes about monkey tops- ‘a monkey top is a pointed hood over the upper part of a window. The front of the hood contains a screen of closely spaced narrow vertical slabs. The bottom half of the screen is in the shape of a curve marked by a row of small knobs’…..you get my drift. The illustrations are lovely too.”
More books in Part 7.