We might have lost one of India's oldest monuments forever
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I see the tranquil waters hold the travelling clouds in their depths; I smell the Indian rose petals that blur the blessed as they shower upon them; I hear the reverent chants of the Hare Krishna devotees that ring the globe with echoes; I taste India’s prasadam; I touch the earth and flowers with innocence and delight—but the sixth sense of the rasika remains unmoved. The concept for this book is marvellous but the execution stalls.
Yes, India is a succession of surprises, aggressions, revelation, but when the connoisseurs tell the tale of its five senses, one expects some more thought, some quietude before the effervescence. A delectable five course meal without a pause, one taste after another without a sorbet, leaves the palette burdened and contrived. India is also about a sixth sense, what Shyam Benegal—himself a man of more than just five senses—quotes from Nehru, about those ‘strong but invisible threads’.
In India: Five Senses, I saw those threads pulled in somewhat random and contrived manner. Barring the bread and butter imperatives of all publishers, a quickie could well have been a classic. The captions vary in quality—sometimes detailed, and at other times sketchy. One does not get the who, what, where and when from most of the captions.
It’s a nice little gift, better than a bouquet of flowers which wilts all too soon. But someday again perhaps Roli will attempt grasping that Indian essence the way the pictures of Raghubir Singh first visually showed the world.
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