Nine Lives-William Dalrymple

This book makes you wonder why you never knew about the Bauls in Bengal , the Theyyam dancers in Kerala , the bhopas in Rajasthan. Certainly you are more Indian than Dalrymple will ever be. Or will you?

To be honest , this book leaves you feeling ashamed of why you never spent time to find out about all that our country has to offer. Then you sit back and give in to the sheer splendour that is India. The book takes you through the lives of some of the most banal people living the most interesting lives. You almost forget how India is the “fastest growing nation” , ” the one to watch out for in the decade to come” . Instead , you see the lives of the real people in India, their real troubles.

There is the Jain nun -Prassanna Mataji, who renounces her contemporary way of life to take on the harsh ways of a Digamabara Jain.  The painful recantation of her journey as a nun, her loss of a friend and finally her decision to slowly induce death all leaves you wondering why does all this seem so detached from your own life?While a monk deals with having killed innocents and the prostitute from Belgaum works on with AIDS only so as to feed her daughter, we worry about what shoes to wear to work.

The India I live in is not the India that it really is. Read the book.