I met Ranjo when I moved to Bombay at the age of nine and we hit it off immediately. While the others played Hide and Seek, we discussed the world’s problems and our philosophy on life. Our family’s were close friends and growing up with her and her baby sister Mona, was so much fun. She was an “intellectual” even at the age of ten and I knew she would take up writing as a profession. With an incisive and critical eye she took a stand for what she believed in. This is how I remember her.
What I didnt envision was my writing a book and her reviewing it. All the characters Rajam and Muumy, she knew well growing up, yet her review is balanced and very complimentary. Our soul connection will never go and I hope I can return the favor to her some day.
Here is a sample of her review.
The skill that has been displayed in dipping into all these issues without losing the human stories of both Rajam and Dharmu is remarkable. The author does not fail to make the point that women were forced to live subservient lives in a patriarchal society, no matter how strong or powerful they may be. Even Nagamma, who controls her family with an iron fist and no perceptible velvet glove, is limited to being a domineering householder. There is no outside role for a woman of her capabilities.
To read the full review go to my blog. Ranjona Banerji currently resides in Mumbai and works as a freelance journalist. This was our last meeting in Bombay.
I enjoyed this post which Ranjo wrote featured in the Mid Day on the Guwahati molestation.
Being a Self Published author using Print on Demand, I had grown accustomed to the idea that I would not sell to Bookstores. It was too much work and book keeping is certainly not my forte.
But my dear friend Teva kept telling me about her friend who was manager for Books & Books one of the leading bookstores in the Miami area often referred to as the Mecca of Miami. It wasn’t until April that we managed to arrange a meeting.
Books and Books on Lincoln Road is a charming store with an ambiance of its own; part bohemian and part erudite. Vivienne, the Store Manager, was such a joy to meet. I had prepared my speech to sell the book to her and was quite taken aback when she just took the books from me and gave me an invoice for it. My book was in.
Imagine my surprise when the following week I see a picture of the book kept with all the bestsellers. The store hosts over 50 events monthly and it very hard to get included for a book reading but like everything about my life I don’t give up hope. I keep trying and I know it will work out.
Check out the website and the next time you are in the store pick up your copy of “When the Lotus Blooms.”
Colonial Rule has been controversial in many ways. Trying to make ends meet in the Pre-Independence Era resulted in being forced to make several tough choices. What I refer to as the “Babu Syndrome,”–the Brown Sahib complex or whatever…. had its downside. For many of the cerebral elite the choice was a tough one, which invoked walking the fine line between enslavement and revolution. Mahadevan is Dharmu’s husband, and through the book you see his mental anguish as he deliberates over his chosen path. Here is one instance….
The second shocker came when the Indian contingent went up to the top deck for dinner. Although they did not have to eat with the servants, who thankfully ate in a separate mess, they were all put together in two tables in one corner of the room. Mahadevan felt demeaned. All of this — sitting for the ICS, going to England — was in ardent pursuit for acceptance by the ruling class, to become part of the British elite. In reality, to the British he was nothing but another Indian, inferior to the British Brahmins. It was like climbing a steep slope and moving one step forward and three steps back. By dehumanizing the natives, the British rulers alienated large sections of the local population who fervently sought their expulsion from their land. Right now, Mahadevan was experiencing the very indignation and deep humiliation that gripped the land. But he recognized he was no Gandhi; he did not have the moral courage to languish in jail for a cause. Instead, he chose the path of least resistance, one that entailed mental enslavement to British colonialism, just like many Indian intellectuals all over the nation. He would become as British as the British. He would get into their minds and find what made them tick; he would show them that he was as good as any of them by becoming part of the cerebral elite.