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Sunday Long Reads: Indian fans of Elon Musk, book on Visva Bharati University, personality of ducks, and more

Check out this week's interesting reads!

The most dedicated “Musketeer” community in India is on LinkedIn, with a member base of 23,579 followers (illustration: Suvajit Dey)

How Elon Musk dominates everyday conversations and social-media feeds of his Indian fans

IT MAY be a long shot but Gopi Gautham, a second-year engineering student at Chandigarh University, wants to invite billionaire Elon Musk as a speaker to his university’s Ted X event scheduled for this November. So far, he has made several attempts: first tweeting, asking Musk to “come to India where he has the largest number of fans”, then reaching out to his massive online followers in the hope that someone would put in a word to the world’s richest man.

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Swati Ganguly’s Tagore’s University: A History of Visva-Bharati (1921-1961) looks back at the institute’s century-old legacy

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Visva Bharati University (File)

By Angshuman Kar

Tagore’s University: A History of Visva-Bharati, the result of painstaking research by Swati Ganguly, has just come out as the institute completes its centenary celebration. The book maps the history of Visva-Bharati from its inception to Tagore’s birth centenary year to document how the University, over the years, built up a cultural community of learning, teaching and scholarship. Ganguly has scripted this history using archives, memoirs, official documents and oral narratives.

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Despite the engaging vignettes of Parsi life it offers, Berjis Desai’s novel ‘Towers of Silence’ suffers from a convoluted storyline

Towers Of Silence; Berjis Desai; Zero Degree Publishing; 408 pages; Rs 400 (Photo: Amazon.in)

Berjis Desai has earned a reputation for writing wry, short stories about the Parsis, often based on saucy gossip from days gone by. He has now moved on to the next level and penned a novel, recounting the whimsical and weird tale of the Bhamgara clan over 140 years, starting from the sleepy town of Navsari in Gujarat and ending in the hustle and bustle of Mumbai’s Colaba. The recurring theme is of the spirit world — of babas, Sufi mystics, clairvoyants, cosmic forces, black magic and a long-standing curse.

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Why nearly everything about ducks makes you smile

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Gadwall stretching its wings (Credit: Ranjit Lal)

Ducks are wacky. And, quacky of course. Personally, I think that one of their greatest talents is their ability to make even the most dour, sour and deadly serious watcher (not necessarily a bird-watcher) break into an involuntary smile, which is such a godsend first thing in the morning. (We are usually scowling ferociously at this time).The other day, I went down to the Yamuna Biodiversity Park and stood by the large water body. Blue and pristine, it was empty except for a family of spotbilled ducks. The little family swam serenely away, their faces made up like Kathakali dancers, with the same wide, amusing smiles stretched ear to ear. They imparted an air of tranquillity to the place, leaving neat V-shaped wakes as they swam.

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Review: With its message of hope, Where the Cobbled Path Leads establishes Avinuo Kire as a unique voice from the Northeast

Where the Cobbled Path Leads’ by Avinuo Kire (Source: Amazon.in)

“In these sleepy little hill towns, there is a secret path every child knows, a trail every nostalgic adult remembers,” so begins Avinuo Kire’s riveting novel, Where the Cobbled Path Leads. This path is trodden by Vime, a young Naga girl beset with grief and melancholy over her mother’s recent passing and her father’s remarriage.

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Review: Selby Wynn Schwartz’s Booker longlisted After Sappho is the lyrical story of Sapphists at the turn of the century

Book cover of ‘After Sappho’ By Selby Wynn Schwartz (Source: Amazon.in)

The women who inhabit Selby Wynn Schwartz’s After Sappho are never at ease. Or never in one place for too long. The concluding years of the nineteenth century are disconcerting in a variety of ways, and they navigate its vexations only to arrive at a new century fraught with fresh trouble. They change their names or leave a marriage or a child or a country to become, indelibly, who they really are – sapphists, trousered and booted poets, vehement artists, lovers of travel guides and foreign grammar. This novel is, quite literally, about the women who realise themselves fully after Sappho, the skeins of their lives gloriously knotted as their geographies, and destinies alter.

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What our ancestors have taught us

Shared experiences, hobbies, interests and values connect us as human beings. (Credit: Suvir Saran)

As we observe the 16-day period of remembrance of our ancestors in the Hindu calendar, I find myself remembering my own, with great pride and glee. Both sets of grandparents, my parents and their siblings, and the extended family from all four branches has made for a familial fraternity that has taught me through their example, through spoken words and deeds done, what it takes to live a life of respectful and respectable mindfulness.

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First published on: 25-09-2022 at 09:50:32 am
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