'Booked' for the weekend

Spending the weekend relaxing at home and don’t really have anything to read? Here are excerpts from three new books—all of which take you on journeys not just to different lands but also to different eras.

     Print Edition: December 16, 2007

A Tale of Friendship

Excerpted with permission from Penguin Books India from The City of Love by Rimi B. Chatterjee
Pp: 321
Price: Rs 295

Her face came round and she looked straight into his eyes. Hiding behind the strong curve of Bajja’s hip, he felt as if his spine had suddenly turned to water. The woman smiled. He tried to catch Bajja’s hand, but she strode forward and left him exposed. ‘Who are you?’ Bajja’s voice was calm, but a vibrant note in it suggested larger questions on the tip of her tongue. ‘Dhruvmati. And you are Bajja.’ ‘How do you know my name?’. ‘It’s not your name, child. Your real name is Vajra.’ ‘My real name? Why are you here? Were you waiting for us?’ ‘Yes and no, child. I’ve watched for you, I admit it, but it’s the merest chance I’m here today. I am glad of it. Who is the little one? ’ ‘Kalu. The priest’s son from the village. He follows me around.’ ‘But his name isn’t Kalu, is it, Vajra? His father calls him Sadashiva, his mother calls him Chandu. You gave him a secret name of your own. Why?’

The White Wide Open

Excerpted with permission from Roli Books from Himalayan Desert by Nina Rao
Pp: 128
Price: Rs 595

To an outsider, the Himalayan desert is a wild, desolate and little known region; it is a land of great peaks and deep valleys; of precipitous gorges cut by persistent rivers that rise in the high plateau of snow and ice; a barren and beautiful land of intense sunlight, clear sparkling air and wonderful colours. Here, both man and mountain seem to have been fashioned from the same earth and seem to share something in common. In a world that is mapped in the minds of the wandering nomads, it is only the hardy races which can cope with the wearisome life that demands hardship and struggle to survive.

Political whirlwinds have often accompanied the sandstorms at these heights. Religion, art and culture have flourished despite the antagonism between the nomadic herdsmen, hunters and agriculturists. Water—the wealth of the desert—has determined the way of life of these people and overshadowed their relationships right up to the recent past. Popularly known as the crossroads of the world, it is here in the high reaches of the Himalayan desert that the settled people tamed their wild conquerors.

Truth has many hues

Excerpted with permission from Penguin Books India from The Small House by Timeri N. Murari
Pp: 314
Price: Rs 325

‘Tommy!’ She spoke the name with bewilderment, uncertainty—and hope—as she moved towards him. ‘You bet,’ he laughed, and she noticed the Americanism and the accent. His arms were wide open to receive her, and he was smiling as wetly as he used to when they were children. His face had thickened somewhat, his hair was still full, glossy black, except for the touches of grey in his sideburns.

They were a foot apart, and all she had to do was walk into his embrace. Instead, she slapped him as hard as she could, snapping his head around. It seemed the most natural reaction at seeing Tommy, as if her hand had been waiting all these years.

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