Word of the Guru


Guruvakya as it is called in Sanskrit, the word of a Guru or a spiritual teacher holds utmost value in Indian traditions. It is said that a Guru, one who dispels the darkness called ignorance and guides the seeker to an understanding of brightness or pure knowledge is rare to find and when one find a Guru, it is said to be a seeker’s path to self-realization. Owing to great fortune one finds a Guru in this life. The understanding of the self is possible solely by the grace of a Guru. The techniques and practices to reach spiritual goals are taught to a sincere disciple who has passion to ascend on the path of self-realization by the Guru. No great person ever denied the existence of a Guru in one’s life.

Sampradaya is a term often used when speaking about a Guru- it is used to describe a tradition that has been passed on in an excellent manner to the next generation of sincere seekers. Sampradayas benefit seekers to connect with different teaching styles and paths towards the same end goal in mind. In some Sampradayas, the divine universal mother is shown as a Guru or the silent Dakshinamurthy is shown as a Guru. In some other Sampradayas, the avadhoota Dattatreya, who appeared as the son of divine couple Sage Atri and Anasuya is shown as the Guru. Several Gurus have taken birth as a blessing in this divine Universe and have, out of their boundless love for the welfare of all beings, given several teachings to uplift mankind from ignorance that arises due to an identification with the body. The teachings of a Guru or Gurubodha are in an accessible, approachable form to the beginner-seeker whose state of maturity in spiritual sciences is not as strong as the Guru’s. For the more advanced seekers, Gurubodha occurs at a advanced stage. The seeker must always plan to advance one’s spiritual progress by means of continuous improvement and inquiry. Sadhana is used to describe the practice of techniques a Guru gives to the sincere seeker.

Another word we hear often in relation to a Guru is Gurukripa or the grace of a Guru. It is said, to obtain Gurukripa is very difficult and only a humble, sincere seeker who meditates upon the lotus feet of a Guru and treats the Guru with utmost respect is able to experience it. In the modern times, we have seen instances where a person who has immense wealth is not able to enjoy its benefits owing to poor health or poor state of mind. One of the reasons for such an occurrence is the disbelief in the Guruvakya or even shunning a Guru or Guruvakya. It is said that a Guru can save a person from the wrath of God, but someone who has the wrath of a Guru, God too cannot protect. Such is the importance given to a Guru in a seeker’s life. The meditation upon the Guru must be inculcated by every sincere seeker and a Guru must always be treated with utmost reverence. On the occasion of Vyasa Purnima we bow to Guru Vedavyasa who is responsible for the abundant spiritual literature, due to which the world survives. Guru is the creative force, preserving force and the force of dissolution who guides sincere seekers towards the goal, whether present in a bodily form or not. Always remember to be grateful for the Gurus you have in life.

Sri-Adi-Shankara

As Adi Sankara rightly says in his Guru ashtakam, the eight stanza hymn describing the importance of centering one’s mind upon the lotus feet of a Guru,

“I am honoured in other lands and I am prosperous in my homeland; in the paths of righteous conduct there is none who surpasses me”, thus one may think; yet if one’s mind be not centred upon the lotus feet of the Guru, what then, what then, what then?”

The complete translation of the 8 stanzas in the Guru ashtakam is found here: http://www.rkmdelhi.org/videos/guru-ashtakam-of-adi-shankaracharya/

Listen to the Sanskrit recitation in the link which always bring solace to the mind.

May you all have Gurukripa.

What we can learn from Gandhiji’s experiments with truth


Gandhiji was an Indian who had principles. He conducted himself in an inspiring way and influenced masses of Indians through his noble thoughts. His life quest has always been the search for Truth. It’s worth learning about his thoughts and lessons he learnt so we may not repeat the same old mistakes and conduct our lives with attention and care and strive for highest standards of human living. People may like or dislike a person, but a person with moral fiber irrespective of what religion he belongs to, must be appreciated. Gandhiji set an example for several Indians and the world with his moral fiber and his message needs repetition so long as man doesn’t reach his best potential. As a follower of his thoughts, I wish to share some statements I gathered by reading his autobiography with hope that you find some points worthy of implementation in your lives. Some of them need contemplation on our part, so let’s not read them when we are in a hurry.

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I never could learn the art of ‘copying’.

 

I had learnt to carry out the orders of elders, not to scan their actions.

 

Today, I know that physical training should have as much place in the curriculum as mental training.

 

I saw that a man of truth must also be a man of care.

 

I saw that bad handwriting should be regarded as a sign of an imperfect education.

 

A clean confession, combined with a promise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type of repentance.

 

Today Ramanama is an infallible remedy for me.

 

Today I regard the Ramayana of Tulasidas as the greatest book in all devotional literature.

 

One thing took deep root in me- the conviction that morality is the basis of things, and that truth is the substance of all morality. Truth became my sole objective.

 

‘Return good for evil’ became my guiding principle.

 

Let every youth take a leaf out of my book and make it a point to account for everything that comes into and goes out of his pocket, and like me he is sure to be a gainer in the end.

 

My hesitancy in speech, which was once an annoyance, is now a pleasure. Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of words.

 

Experience has taught me that silence is part of the spiritual discipline of a votary of truth. A man of few words will rarely be thoughtless in his speech; he will measure every word.

 

Supplication, worship, prayer are no superstition; they are acts more real than the acts of eating, drinking, sitting or walking. It is no exaggeration to say that they alone are real, all else is unreal.

 

I believe in the Hindu theory of Guru and his importance in spiritual realization.

 

I think there is a great deal of truth in the doctrine that true knowledge is impossible without a Guru.

 

I very much liked the company of children, and the habit of joking and playing with them has stayed with me till today.

 

I have seen by experience that there is much truth in the Indian proverb that as a man eats, so shall he become.

 

Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the door of the deed, whether good or wicked always deserves respect or pity as the case may be.

 

Ahimsa is the basis of the search for truth. I am realizing every day that the search is vain unless it is founded on ahimsa as the basis.

 

Nothing once begun should be abandoned unless it is proved to be morally wrong.

 

I hold that believers who have to see the same God in others that they see in themselves, must be able to live amongst all with sufficient detachment. And the ability to live thus can be cultivated by hailing them in a spirit of service and withal keeping oneself unaffected by them.

 

I realized that the sole aim of journalism should be service. An uncontrolled pen serves but to destroy. If the control is from without, it proves more poisonous than want of control. It can be profitable only when exercised from within.

 

It is my faith, based on experience, that if one’s heart is pure, calamity brings in its train men and measures to fight it.

 

Above all, a votary of truth must exercise the greatest caution. To allow a man to believe a thing which one has not fully verified is to compromise truth.

 

A poet is one who can call forth the good latent in the human breast. Poets do not influence all alike, for everyone is not evolved in a equal measure.

 

I think it is wrong to expect certainties in this world, whereas all else but God that is Truth is an uncertainty. All that appears and happens about and around us is uncertain transient.

 

It is my firm conviction that all good action is bound to bear fruit in the end.

 

To me the Gita became an infallible guide of conduct. It became my dictionary of daily reference. I turned to this dictionary of conduct for a ready solution of all my troubles and trials.

 

I understood the Gita teaching of non-possession to mean that those who desired salvation should act like the trustee who, though having control over great possessions, regards not an iota of them as his own. It became clear to me as daylight that non-possession and equability presupposed a change of heart, a change of attitude.

 

To incur debt- a thing I have never done in my life and always abhorred. I realized that even a man’s reforming zeal ought not to make him exceed his limits.

 

A writer almost always presents one aspect of a case, whereas every case can be seen from no less than seven points of view, all of which are probably correct by themselves, but not correctat the same time and in the same circumstances.

 

Truth is like a vast tree, which yields more and more fruit, the more you nurture it. The deeper the search in the mine of truth, the richer the discovery of the gems buried there, in the shape of openings for an ever greater variety of service.

 

The voice of the people is the voice of God.

 

I am definitely of opinion that a public worker should accept no costly gifts.

 

Service is no mushroom growth. It presupposes the will first, and then experience.

 

How heavy is the toll of sins and wrongs that wealth, power and prestige exact from man!

 

I had cultivated the habit of self-help, I needed very little personal attendance. I had the habit of fending for myself, personal cleanliness, perseverance and regularity.

 

No matter what amount of work one has, one should always find some time for physical exercise, just as one does for one’s meals. It is my humble opinion that, far from taking away from one’s capacity for work, it adds to it.

 

To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.

 

I advised youth that it was far better to remain unlettered and break stones for the sake of liberty than to go in for a literary education in the chains of slaves.

 

I am convinced that for the proper upbringing of children, the parents ought to have a general knowledge of the care and nursing of babies.

 

It became my conviction that procreation and the consequent care of children were inconsistent with public service.

 

I realized that a vow, far from closing the door to real freedom, opened it.

 

Those who desire to observe brahmacharya with a view to realizing God need not despair, provided their faith in God is equal to their confidence in their own effort.

 

Human nature shows itself at its best in moments of trial.

 

Without infinite patience it is impossible to get people to do any work. It is the reformer who is anxious for the reform, and not society, from which he should expect nothing better than opposition, abhorrence and even moral persecution.

 

I had long learnt the principle of never having more money at one’s disposal than necessary.

 

Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for any organization. Without them, it falls into disrepute. Without proper accounts it is impossible to maintain truth in its pristine purity.

 

I want to reserve my strength for fighting bigger battles. It was worthy of a better cause.

 

The very insistence on truth has taught me the beauty of compromise. This spirit has often meant endangering my life and incurring the displeasure of friends. But truth is hard as adamant and tender as a blossom.

 

The heart’s earnest and pure desire is always fulfilled. In my own experience, I have often seen this rule verified.

 

It has always been a mystery to me how men can feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings.

 

Truth triumphed in the end. Yet, it would not have triumphed if not for unflinching faith, great patience and incessant effort.

 

If I found myself entirely absorbed in the service of the community, the reason behind it was my desire for self-realization.

 

Howsoever you man repair it, a rift is a rift.

 

Like loyalty, an aptitude for nursing was also deep-rooted in my nature. I was fond of nursing people, strangers or friends. My aptitude for nursing gradually developed into a passion.

 

Service which is rendered without joy neither helps the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy.

 

My experience has shown me that we win justice quickest by rendering justice to the other party.

 

It is idle to adjudicate upon the right and wrong of incidents that have already happened. It is useful to understand them and, if possible, to learn a lesson from them in the future.

 

Judging a man from his outward act is no more than a doubtful inference, inasmuch as it is not based on sufficient data.

 

The education that children naturally imbibe in a well-ordered household in impossible to obtain in hostels.

 

‘Hate the sin and not the sinner’ is a precept which, though easy to understand, is rarely practiced, and that is why the poison of hatred spreads in the world.

 

One should eat not in order to please the palate, but just to keep the body going. When each organ of sense subserves the body and through the body the soul, its special relish disappears, and then alone does it begin to function in the way nature intended it to do.

 

Inhibitions imposed from without rarely succeed, but when they are self-imposed, they have a decidedly salutary effect.

 

I have always felt that the true text-book for the pupil is his teacher.

 

Children take in much more and with less labour through their ears than through their eyes.

 

In the march towards Truth, anger, selfishness, hatred etc. naturally give way, for otherwise Truth would be impossible to attain. A man who is swayed by passions may have good enough intentions, may be truthful in word, but he will never find the Truth. A successful search for Truth means complete deliverance from the dual throng such as of love and hate, happiness and misery.

 

A votary of ahimsa remains true to his faith if the spring of all his actions is compassion, if he shuns to the best of his ability the destruction of the tiniest creature, tries to save it, and thus incessantly strives to be free from the deadly coil of himsa. He will be constantly growing in self-restraint and compassion, but he can never become entirely free from outward himsa.

 

A devotee of Truth may not do anything in deference to convention. He must always hold himself open to correction, and whenever he discovers himself to be wrong he must confess it at all costs and atone for it.

 

One who has faith reds in the trials and disappointments, the merciful providence of God, who thus sweetens sorrow itself.

 

Humility would cease to be humility the moment it became a matter of vow. The true connotation of humility is self-effacement.

 

Service without humility is selfishness and egotism.

 

Disinterested service of the people in any sphere ultimately helps the country politically.

 

Experience has taught me that civility is the most difficult part of Satyagraha. Civility does not here mean outward gentleness and desire to do the opponent good. These should show themselves in every act of a Satyagrahi.

 

The salvation of the people depends upon themselves, upon their capacity for suffering and sacrifice.

 

I have never liked to live for the sake of living. It was such a agony to live on in that helpless state, doing nothing, receiving the service of friends and co-workers, and watching the body slowly wearing away.

 

The ideal of truth requires that vows taken should be fulfilled in the spirit as well as in the letter.

 

Doubt is invariably the result of want or weakness of faith. ‘Lord, give me faith’ is, therefore, my prayer day and night.

 

I have noticed this characteristic difference in the popular attitude- partiality for exciting work, dislike for quiet constructive work.

 

I have always held that it is only when one sees one’s own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two. I further believe that a scrupulous and conscientious observance of this rule is necessary for one who wants to be a good Satyagrahi.

 

To safeguard democracy, the people must have a keen sense of interdependence, self-respect and their oneness, and should insist upon choosing as their representatives only such persons as are good and true.

 

My uniform experience has convinced me that there is no other God than Truth.

 

This much I can say with assurance, as a result of all my experiments, that a perfect vision of Truth can only follow a complete realization of Ahimsa.

 

So long as a man does not of his own free will put himself last among his fellow creatures, there is no salvation for him. Ahimsa is the farthest limit of humility.

 

Cycling Day n – Some thoughts


Cycling nThis is where man meets nature. The first meeting is always filled with electricity so we had the opportunity to experience the buzz electric of fireflies. Stumbling upon treasures is not easy. But, when man’s made aware of their existence, he experiences the feeling of ‘most alive’ in his encounters with such natural utopia.

Man can only go so far as his tools take him? No, they have never been his limitation. He has conquered and controlled nature but he sure knows there’s not enough he can do in his lifetime to hollow the deepest secrets in the box. When he realizes the box is inside him, he will stop wandering!

How the oPhone can cure hunger?


Yes, it’s true, it could happen. Smelling a delicious piece of food is as good as having it! If you don’t agree, ask Jimmy Johns which is all for “Free Smells”! There’s a power in our sense of smell, in fact, when I was in schoolschool (grade 10), a few scientists even won the Nobel Prize for discovering the mechanism or process by which olfactory sensors in our nose work. 

oPhone according to me is a great innovation and it’s not surprising as it comes from the world famous Wyss Institute scientists. Now you can send ‘smelly’ messages to your near and dear. Sounds gross, but believe me, you will be able to, if you read this article- http://www.wired.com/design/2014/01/send-scents-texts-new-phone/?cid=17205604.

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On the other hand, I wonder if like everything is insecure today, even these machines will be prone to hacking and tampering. Wonder how that would be like! Atleast it’s safe to say only the rich can get a hold of such gadgets. Even if they aren’t expensive as of now, these devices must be made so expensive that only the wealthy can afford them. Don’t try making everything cheap, some devices should be reserved to be affordable only by the rich. 😉

Humans give technology to humankind and they expect humans to behave civilized, but you can never trust humans. They don’t know how they behave when they see something new. So, a sincere request to Mr David Edwards and his group to sell them only to those who are going to make positive use of them; maybe to spas for aroma therapies and to meditation centers etc, I don’t know  but please don’t make it publicly available for all because that would be one literal smelly mess the world can get into although there’s no doubt it’s already in one right now. I know it’s going to be commercial but I hope you take this suggestion seriously.

Fall and Deepavali


It’s not just in the Spring that we see colors and blossoms; Fall is a good time to see the beauty of nature as well. For me, nature sits right outside my apartment. I have conversation with it every day while going to the University! With the temperatures dropping, as they should, this time of the year, Fall has given many beautiful sights to nature lovers. With recently acquainted knowledge about the Science behind changing leaf colors (less chlorophyll, so more anthocyanin and carotenoids), Fall is getting very pleasant (the path from ignorance to darkness is a tough one but everyone must get there eventually). With Deepavali just around the corner, it is time for more celebration by lighting Diyas in Sesame oil. ‘Fall’ing time is also in ‘Q’ (November 3rd is the scheduled Fall back, which means we will have sunrise at 7ish instead of 8ish). Seeing people in their winter-wear already is a ‘cool’ sight as well! Just yesterday, I had a pleasant opportunity of being a spectator to some undergraduate students in Halloween costumes. Glad to see them following this tradition!  

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Talking of tradition (usually takes me back to Bharat Desh), I remember Life in Hyderabad, India is a different story this time of the year. It reminds me of my school days when we were finishing the syllabus for the Half-yearly exams that usually happen in December and so many talent search exams in November. At home, with Deepavali approaching, I used to go shopping with my parents to buy crackers (which, after a while, we stopped doing) and sometimes run into classmates at the HACA Bhavan ‘firecracker market’. Later in the evening after Puja, we used to spend time watching the special programs on TV. It’s always good to meet the neighbors who are never visible downstairs bursting all sorts of crackers. That’s a lot of information about Deepavali and Fall. A random mini-blogpost again, if you can handle it!            

Wish I had some samosas and chai with me right now! 

If you feel my English is not the usual type you are used to, then it’s because it’s Indianized 🙂 Look at the link for what’s Indianism!!! Funny but true!   

http://travel.cnn.com/mumbai/life/10-indianisms-652344

 

Springing with fun


Spring blossoms are a feast to the eyes. As a newcomer to US I am exhilarated seeing the colors on Purdue campus and in Lafayette, Indiana. Spring came late this year and is going to end soon with Summer just around the corner. But there’s always enough to do when you see almost everyone outside. The other day, I say students with their hammocks studying for their finals on campus. Then there is this apple tree close to my place in Lafayette that blossomed. The smell of apple’s blossoms is  naturally sweet.  I had the fortune of eating ripe apples of this tree too (ones that ripened and fell- not ones I plucked) in the Fall. This tree holds a very special place in my life in Indiana. I was able to capture a bee mesmerized by the smell from the apple flowers this morning.

I am going to participate in the Arbor day tree planting event this Saturday- a great opportunity to cherish our beautiful nature and learn to respect it. Thank you Purdue BoilerOUT for organizing this event – we must always remember the Sanskrit saying “Vruksho rakshathi rakshitaha” or “Save the tree and it saves you”. We are lucky to be alive because of the trees that supply us with clean air. Try planting a tree this Spring and don’t forget to take care of it.

Hammocking around Purdue Mall
Hammocking around Purdue Mall

 

Purdue Rowing club practicing in the Wabash
Purdue Rowing club practicing in the Wabash

 

Bee attracted to apple blossom
Bee attracted to apple blossom
Tulips in Lafayette, Indiana
Tulips in Lafayette, Indiana

 

 

Ekkadi Manusha Janmamu- Pedda Tirumalacharya Keertana 1


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Ragam: Bouli
Language: Telugu (spoken majorly in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India)
Composer: Pedda Tirumalacharya (s/o Sri Tallapaka Annamacharya called ‘Pada kavitha Pitamah’)
Link of the rendition on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV6EewU9OOM

Composition:

Pallavi:
Ekkadi Maanusha Janmambetthina Phalamemunnadi;
Nikkamu ninne nammithi; nee chitthambikanu
(What is the fruit of this human life you have presented to me among the 84 lakh lifeforms? I am Your devotee alone and what You do with me is totally up to Your wish)

Charanam1:
Maruvanu Aahaarambunu; Maruvanu Samsaara sukhamu;
Maruvanu Indriya Bhogamu; Madhava nee Maya
(Oh Lord Vishnu! You designed me in such a way that I don’t forget to eat, I don’t forget the worldy pleasures and I don’t forget sense gratification, all this is due to the illusion you created)
Maracheda sugyanambunu; maracheda tattva rahasyamu;
Maracheda guruvunu daivamu; Madhava nee Maya
(On the other hand, I forget the knowledge mentioned in our Vedas and Puranas i.e. knowledge about You, Lord Madhava, I forget that the secrets that help me discover You and I also forget my teachers and the deities, all this is due to the illusion you created)

Charanam2:
Viduvanu paapamu punyamu; viduvanu naa durgunamulu;
Viduvanu mikkiliyaasalu; Vishnuda nee Maya
(I do not stop committing sins or conducting virtuous acts (the cycle of virtues and sins is building up on me) without realizing the reason for my existence- to reach You; I do not give up my bad qualities/habits; I do not let go of my excessive needs; all this is due to the illusion you created oh Lord Vishnu)
Vidicheda Shatkarmambulu; vidicheda vairagyambunu;
Vidicheda naachaarambunu; Vishnuda nee Maya
(I do not perform the 6 necessary activities of 1.performing and 2.moderating Yagna, 3.learning and 4.creating opportunity to learn the Veda near the Guru, 5.donating and 6.accepting donation as required; I do not exhibit dispassion/detachment to this worldly pleasures; I let go of the good practices laid in the sacred Vedic scriptures; all this is due to the illusion you created oh Lord Vishnu)

Charanam3:
Tagileda bahu lampatamula; tagileda bahu bandhambula 
Tagulanu Mokshapu maargamu; Talapuna yenthainaa
(I get involved in so many activities cause me to be in relationships with many people i.e. my activities make me depend on so many people; I attach myself to several worldly relationships; I do not understand why, despite doing so many worldly activities I do not try to get onto the path to Salvation)
Agapadi Sri Venkateswara Antaryamivai 
Nagi nagi nanu neevelithi Naakaa ee Maya 
(I can see you before my eyes Lord Venkateswara, also you exist within me [as you are all-pervading]; And looking at my helplessness with (dealing of) the world of Maya you created, you laugh at me- I am your devotee, is this Maya necessary for me? I plea for your mercy to let me free from this Maya so I can realize the true meaning of this human life, to chant your name and reach you on the path of Salvation)

Thank you for reading this 1st attempt of my translation from Telugu to English. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray


This book is truly representative of dystopia, not just of the protagonist Dorian Gray, a young man from London whose life is marred by his actions- or what art has made him do. His portrait painted by Basil Hallward the painter has caused Gray to be obsessed with self-love and made him a slave of his senses. He tries his best to be good but the novel is written to give no room for virtuous behavior. Lord Henry is my favorite character, especially because of his epigrams. They moved me and made me fall for his tricks. There is verity in some and falsity in some others. I do not completely agree with what Lord Henry proposes every time but I will say this- he is a master schmoozer. He just knows how to captivate his listeners- be it an official event or an informal party. He is the one who considers Dorian’s youth as his greatest asset and thinks that he should always remain as such and never change. The plot of the novel turns out to be morbid in the middle and the actions of Gray haunt him and his picture, even more.

Wilde describes beauty beautifully; he is a master writer and knows just the way to write to keep the pages turning for his readers. I took a long time reading this book than usual because I loved it so much that I wanted to absorb every piece of information in those pages. It was simple something that you don’t read every day- this is a special one so save it for some occasion. The book makes the men and the men make the book; at least this is true for the most part. It seriously makes me think that in the age the book was written, it was a bold attempt by Oscar Wilde to let out such strong feelings between friends who are men.

The description of the painting by Basil Hallward is such a wonder in itself- I read the melody in Wilde’s writing. It makes us miss life in 1890 when the characters lived. It is truly an age you want to be in at least to enjoy the enchanting parties and charming people described by Wilde. The climax of the novel is morbid again but a justification was beautifully provided so there’s no need to worry if you are a stern moralist.  I am surprised that this is the only novel Mr Wilde had authored; I seriously wish he were alive.  I won’t say more about the novel, read it yourself and get carried away to another age.

The Inheritance of Loss


Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss” is an interesting work clearly showing the author’s flair for writing. She describes Indian and American stereotypes perfectly and with great detail too. She concerns the characters in her novel with troubling events that take place in the lush green nature-blessed Kalimpong along the Teesta River in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal. As the plot progresses, Kalimpong transforms from being a beautiful nature-lover’s haven to a ghost town that is destroyed due to riots instigated by the extremist GNLF fighting for Gorkhaland. She contrasts the life in the Himalayan town of Kalimpong and bustling New York city, which may have had an influence on Desai.

Desai is a good storyteller who mesmerizes the reader with verses that show her clerisy and mastery of English but the plot is not compelling enough to keep the reader turn pages- and I expect this to be a characteristic of the Booker Prize winning works. There are some funny situations and others that are too hard to imagine- Desai turns the plot using its eccentric characters as weapons, into a moody concoction that doesn’t end on a happy note as you may want it to. It nevertheless shows the reality of curfew situations in India and trauma that citizens face due to unpleasant violence.

What’s most funny about the novel is the way in which the characters are stubborn about their feelings despite the level of education that they have been blessed to have at Oxford or Cambridge- this makes me wonder if people become narrow-minded after going to reputed International schools.

Nothing can be called atypical of behavior of people in the country that Desai writes about. Some of the situations that one can connect to are the US visa process, book-loving nature of the characters (which I am sure, Desai also is) and being a gourmet of good food. Arundhati Roy’s “The God of Small Things” has a scene in which a character is involved in a communist march. Desai’s novel also has a similar scene with the character Gyan- should we think of this as Roy’s influence on Desai or plagiarism of ideas or that Indian political situations in any state are so banal that authors are forced to think the same way when it comes to politics affecting the general public?

Read the book to learn about the beautiful Himalayan region of Darjeeling, its residents and life of illegal immigrants in New York City.