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Burmese days : A review

September 12, 2016

On 8 June 2016

A review of Burmese days by George Orwell
The most unflattering account of India and its people is there in ‘Burmese days’. The authenticity of the book is stunning. George Orwell saw things far more clearly than even Forster, who totally ignored Hindus for they appeared mysterious to him, besides noting passingly Dr. Godse.
On the reverse side, the Gorge Orwell’s book presents the colonials in even poorer light. The true nature of colonialism and its soul-sapping decadence and corrupting influence on both the parties is pity-provoking.
You simply can not detest the British underclass, representing the face of colonials in India. They are capable of inflicting the severest violence on the natives to prove their loyalty to the Raj and win promotions, while they are distressed by their financial worries, childrens’ education or their future, once they complete their tenure in India.
For the ones not married yet, finding a suitable English match is almost out of question. At best they will find a woman who is considered too low in Britain and fit to be a servant only, or fit to marry a British man serving in India.
Then you have orphaned and destitute English young woman coming to India looking for a husband.
(Such was the tyranny at home–Towards which he was drawn ‘Like a moth to a flame” in the words of BBC–and Orwell went out looking for it all over the places to begin his revolution.)
The prospects of joining the retirees’ ghetto of British-Indian servicemen in England is the another loathsome inevitability at the end of a such a career.
That is, if an uprising of natives does not annihilate them before that.
They drink and indulge excessively to keep their minds off the dirty work they are doing here in most cases. Then there is the fear of tropical diseases.
From the first sentence it holds you by your neck and hits you with brilliance almost relentlessly.
He was disillusioned of his job and despaired as a writer to almost kill himself by smoking while writing 1984. He had weak lungs and a TB and lived a life of exile mostly. For his writing rendered him an alien in Britain.
To this day few writers have the courage to follow his legacy and Britain reads and produces occult-fiction or mommy porn mostly, if it not regales in foreign cultures.
The concept of home guard he suggested and the government adopted during the WWII gave him a hope that a revolt will take place in Britain itself, with millions of armed civilians. But he failed to see that British people were incapable of it, being very tribal by nature.
Before that he joined the Spanish civil war to fight the tyranny and got nearly killed. His personal life says that he was a born revolutionary with no true comrade. So writing was the last resort to him though it earned him very little to ever get settled in life. Today his works earn millions of pound in royalties.
What is the most appealing about Burmese days is the intimate scenes between Flory and his Burmese mistress in the earlier part of the book. The hostility and mutual distrust among them is total. Flory needs her to relieve his carnal desires and she needs Flory to extort money. They hate each other as much as possible otherwise. Once this relationship fails the woman turns vindictive, prompted by the villain and finally destroys Flory. The villain is a Burmese in British civil service who is against Flory because Flory supports a South Indian doctor for the membership of the club, where only one Indian will be entered to make it look more egalitarian, as per orders from higher commands.
It divides the members of the hitherto all white club, who sulk at the prospects of having an Indian now in a all white club. Now they want the one closer to them. It makes Flory an enemy of the rest of the whites and the other wannabe for the membership: the Burmese villain, for he clearly supports his friend the South Indian doctor for the membership.

It is the most forthcoming narrative of the writer where he doesn’t hide behind many symbols or allusions. Which is the case with his later work which was more celebrated than his first.
Though it is about Burma rather than India, it is almost about every country ever colonised.
The ending disappointed a bit. For neither Flory is that sensitive a soul to commit suicide after killing his pet dog when he was rejected by Elizabeth for the second time after his disposed Burmese mistress creates a scene in a church gathering. He was never that proud of his Englishness that the rejection of an English woman, who is an orphan and a destitute and is desperate to find a husband in India after finding none at home.
On the part of Elizabeth too, the second rejection of Flory is too much over done with. More so since she already rejected Flory for the same reason earlier and then accepted back after she herself was rejected by the military officer Varrell, who she and her aunt were prospecting for her husband. Flory was rejected first time as soon Varell arrives in the town and is accepted back as soon Varrell leaves without saying a goodbye to anyone after his month long stay in the town, during which he took out Elizabeth almost every evening but never proposed the marriage Elizabeth wanted from him so badly.
In the meanwhile the uncle who gives her shelter in Burma has repeatedly tried to rape her.
All British characters are too practical in the book for they are from the underclass at home and are out there to make a career in British Raj in India. When they appeared inordinately principled in the end of the book, it looked disingenuous to say the least.
If it was created to make the end dramatic it has failed completely. If it was done to uphold the uprightness and pride of British colonials it again fails miserably. For the book gave away a great deal earlier on that count.

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‘The shame of it all is: there is a plot here’.

December 12, 2014

http://www.thebookbag.co.uk/reviews/index.php?title=The_Royal_Enigma_by_Krishna_Bhatt

White alphabets and numbers

August 16, 2014

Slates and chalks were rare during those days. Notebooks and ink pots were allowed only in the second year of the primary school or later, when one had already become familiar with the alphabets and numbers.

The mornings were busy. A small writing board of wood with a handle was needed to be rubbed with black colour. The filling of a worn out dry battery was mixed with water to make the paste to put on the board. It was black enough. Or one used the dying colour instead. Eveready or Jeep were the brands of batteries available, small or medium sized. The board with a handle was than left in the air or sun to dry. Then with the bottom of a drinking glass or a bottle it was rigourously rubbed to shine. One used both the hands to do so if father was not available on some days to help.

In a small metal container, may be an emptied can of condensed milk called milkmaid, was dissolved in water the white soil or chalk called ‘Khari’. It was frequently available local product, just like the red clay soil. There were made two holes on each side of this white ink pot, into which two ends of a thread were tied.

A student had a cotton bag on his shoulder. The Blackened and shined board was there in it, along with a neatly cut small stick of bamboo. One end of the bamboo stick was turned into a pen. In one hand of the student hung the white ink pot. This ink had to be stirred often while writing, else the chalk settled at the bottom.

The Bell held in one hand was being rang through a hammer, held in another, by the monitor of the school, calling open the school day. The student ran up the climb, which was paved with stones; at the top of which was the monitor, in front of the school, was ringing the bell. The student was careful not to spill the white ink from the pot hanging from his hand, else it will soil his dress or the bag.

Once he lost his balance while running on prompting of the bell, managing the bag on his shoulder and the white ink pot in his hand. His head hit a stone and blood oozed from the wound, while his ink got spilled on the stones paving the way, and its pot lost in the fields down somewhere. He was taken to the hospital which was very near, and the doctor applied dressing on his wound. That smell of medicine lingered in his mind for a long time.

Classes ran in open during winter. It was why his father was happy, that he will remain warm in the sun for the whole day. ‘Ka’ Kha’ ‘Ga’ Gha’…. the alphabets came alive shining white on a shining black board. They dried in sun soon. Now on the other side of the board number had to be noted, which the teacher was shouting.

‘Ek… Do….Teen…Char…’

Oh what a shit! One had lost the thread needed to dip in the white ink and than use it to draw lines by holding the thread soaked in white ink with his both hands and then touch it on the other side of the black board at regular intervals. Then from the two other ends of the Black board or ‘Pati’ the thread put lines on it, to make almost even squares. After drying those squares were filled with the Numbers ‘Ek..do…teen…char.’

Watching a documentary of Tony Hagen on Nepal’s Bajang district brought those memories alive.

The British revolution

March 1, 2014

The British ambassador says Nepal is receiving $100m dollars from Britain every year as donation. It goes mostly to employ mainly the British people here. The Nepalese coffer is full of money extorted through taxes. Which did not disappear in the vortex of corruption because the stake holders called politicians keep on bickering on how to share it.
In Britain hunger deaths are being reported now. By the logic of Amartya Sen, there is no democracy in England. It is time to shake it up all. Britain today is mainly the destination of laundered money, unlike Germany, which is a genuine industrial power. If Scotland breaks up, it will give a new twist to situation. So used to making and unmaking nations elsewhere, Britain seems ready for a revolution finally, which will make it a modern nation.

The Royal enigma

October 10, 2013

http://tubodeensayo-annie.blogspot.com/2013/06/el-enigma-real-krishna-bhatt.html

My writer.

June 7, 2013

I claimed my writer. Then dropped him.

What a review!

June 27, 2012

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13054033-the-royal-enigma?auto_login_attempted=true

Delhi-Return

June 4, 2011

Delhi-return

I am fascinated by the power of fiction. It is among the most enduring of the various art forms. It is history and the future, as you see it. Finding a writer that you tend to agree with is rare but a remarkable discovery. Once it happens the life begins to change.

Your most memorable moments of life may include the time you spent reading the work of your favourite author. Which could remain with you when you are lonely, apart from a few other memories.

It is about thoughts, ideas, emotions and a vision. Remembering, relating and so much else. All these need very little instruments that are visible. The mystery begins to deepen.

Krishna Bhatt

The new release at Amazon Kindle

http://www.amazon.com/Delhi-return-ebook/dp/B004EYUD00/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1307460553&sr=8-2