Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Reading Tagore & Review for Mashi and Other Stories + Kabuliwala.


I am a Bengali girl. 
Which means a lot of things and one of them is I have grown-up surrounded by Tagore. 
His songs.
His poetry. 
His stories. 
And his life-story. 
I remember shelf after shelf full of his books. 
Sadly, not being able to read Bengali meant these books were of no use to me. 
Apart from being aesthetically wonderful. The books were gorgeous indeed. Cloth bound and simple and lovely. 

The biggest influence of Tagore in my household was his music. Rabindrasangeet is something I've always been acquainted with. My mother is a trained singer in Rabindrasangeet and my grandma was a huge fan of his music as well. We had cassettes and cassettes full of soulful music. 
Truth be told I wasn't the biggest fan. I didn't quite understand the lyrics and appreciate the sentiment behind it. 

 I am a probashi Bengali, meaning a Bengali who had lived outside of Bengal. 
Every summer when I spent close to 3 months in Calcutta, I was often asked if I knew Rabindrasangeet. Like seriously, everyone and their second cousin asked me this question. The idea of a Bengali girl not knowing and loving Rabindrasangeet was quite a scandal. :)
After a point it begin to really bug me. Why must I learn the style of music I wasn't even a fan of?
Why must Tagore be such an intrinsic part of my life?
Was I a lesser being for not being crazy about Tagore??! 

So in a way I kept my distance from all things Tagore and not being able to read his stories made it easier. 

I loved other Bengali writers, Saratchandra, Bankim Chandra but I resolutely kept my distance from Tagore. 

I was stubborn if nothing else. 

Then things began to change. 

I grew up. 

And I saw a bunch of movies based in Tagore' stories and I simply fell in love. 
With the nuanced stories themselves.
With immortal characters.
And finally I knew what all the fuss was about. 

Then I started reading his work. In translation but still. And I loved it. 
I read Chokher Bali. 
Ghaare Bhaire. 
And several of this short stories. 

And I begin to appreciate and enjoy this lyrical style of story telling. 

2016 began with Tagore for me. 
The first film I watched this year was Kadambari. A film that tells the story of Tagore's home life and especially the bond young Rabindranath shared with his sister-in-law Kadambari. 
I really enjoyed this movie and I highly recommend it. It tells a compelling story and it is a visual treat as well. 
Really, really good. :) 

I've also been watching Tagore Stories adapted for TV on Colors Bangla. It airs every week Thursday to Saturday at 9:00 PM and I am really loving this show as well. 

With all of  this  Tagore-ness in my life, I wanted this year to be a year of more Tagore. More his writing and more of his stories. 
It's time to stop being so stubborn and finally giving into my Bengali side...and be the good Bengali girl and fawn over Rabi Thakur :) 

Keeping this in mind I read Mashi and Other Stories and Kabuliwala in the first week of the year and I loved both of these collections. 
I hope 2016 brings more Tagore in my life. 

Book: Mashi and Other Stories

Author: Rabindanath Tagore

Pages: 200

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 1 day

Plot Summary:Tagore is an artist of rare lyrical powers, who understands the human soul. Tagore's poems and stories are devotions, mystical, sublimated ecstasy. They are the thoughts of a seer, the perfect union of beauty and truth. Contents: Mashi; Skeleton; Auspicious Vision; Supreme Night; Raja and Rani; Trust Property; Riddle Solved; Elder Sister; Subha; Postmaster; River Stairs; Castaway; Saved; My Fair Neighbor 

Review: This was a wonderful collection of short-stories dealing with love, loss and fleeting affections. Beautifully written and eternal, these stories are truly timeless and engaging and very simply a joy to read.

I loved all of these stories. Some of them, like The Postmaster, I've read and loved before. Yet I didn't mind re-reading it one bit.

There are some common themes in these books. Loss and loneliness is one of them.

Another theme is fleeting affections. People meet and develop very strong feelings for one another. Sometimes there are very intense and all-consuming. Most time one person feels more strongly than the other. And once the intensity dies down..how heart-breaking it is for the person left alone.

There were also stories that had a touch of supernatural elements. I always enjoy ghost stories.

There was also a story from the perspective of a river....so wonderful and interesting.

Rating: 4/5

I highly, highly recommend this book and best of all this is available for free on your iPad and Kindle.

Book: Kabuliwala

Author: Rabindranath Tagore

Pages: 18

Read On: Kindle

How Long it Took Me To Read: 20 minutes.

Plot Summary: Mini is a little girl who befriends a kabuliwala and they gradually grow fond of each other. The kabuliwala brings dried fruits for her and the two spend their time joking and laughing about silly things such as their 'shoshur-bari' (in-laws' house). When the kabuliwala is jailed for committing a criminal offence, Mini slowly forgets all about him. And when he returns, Mini is a grown-up girl.

Review: Kabuliwala is story that will touch your heart and make you melt in a puddle of love and kindness. A story I've heard since I was child and I've also seen movie adaptations of it but reading this was still wonderful and lovely. 

I loved how realistic this story was and not just dripping with sentimentality. 

Short and sweet and just so good. I highly, highly recommend this book. It is a timeless story of love and friendship. Of displacement and moving so far from home to find a livelihood. 

Rating: 5/5 

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