Facebook. Even a decade ago this word would have elicited raised eyebrows as response. But thanks to the digital revolution, it has now become a household name. It is here that we keep in touch with friends and family, binge on funny videos, connect with strangers, and vent out our feelings.
Imagine, if you were sent to jail for a post on Facebook? Sounds dystopian? Well, that’s the theme of this pacy thriller penned by debutante author Megha Majumdar.
Hailed by the media in America as the next Jhumpa Lahiri, Megha Majumdar paints a world we are too familiar with. Nothing is out of the ordinary here. We come across a girl living in a slum, who works at a fashion retail shop to support her family. We become acquainted with a transgender, who aspires to become an actress. Then there is the PT teacher at a school, who wants to break free from the mundane existence.
And then, there is the society we all live in. Here, destitute citizens are pushed to the brink for ‘development’, women are forced to buy groceries in the dead of the night to save money, doctors do not feel the urgency to attend to a patient because he is from the lowest rungs of the society, a boy belonging to the lower echelons has to pay entry fee at a posh mall.
This is a society where a religious minority is killed on the suspicion of eating a particular meat, where the onus of proving innocence is on the accused, not the prosecutor, where judgments are passed to satisfy the collective conscience of the people, the media is only looking for headlines and politicians eye just the votes.
We are all familiar with this society. Then why does Megha Majumdar’s book feel dystopian? Because truth is always stranger than fiction, and we choose to believe we live in a fantasy world of ‘good days’ than face the reality. Megha hits the nail on the coffin of ‘reality’ hard, with the sharp satire and ruthless portrayal of plain happenstance.
As one reads through the pages, the sorrow-state of affairs in our la-la land becomes more and more acute. Images from the past haunt you, make you feel guilty – of being the silent majority. ‘A Burning’ is an indictment of not the government or the ‘system’. It is a document of rebuke – because we have allowed the country to descent into madness, systematically.
Jivan – the protagonist – could be any of us. It could be Sudha Bhardwaj, it could be Safoora Zargar. It could also be Afzal Guru. Or Dhananjay Chatterjee. Faces change. Contexts change. The story remains the same. We begin by empathising with Jivan, but choose to emulate PT Sir in our lives. Megha’s brilliance lies in capturing this convenience. ‘A Burning’ reminds us that we all are the ‘ghosts of the future’.
My rating: 4/5 stars
Happy World Tourism Day to all my readers. Although I am not a travel blogger in true sense of the term, I have occasionally shared my experiences of exploring some places, which have wow-ed me. Travelling always brings with it a welcome relief from the tedious monotony of life. Occasional breaks always energise you with a fresh spirit to take on the world.
Having grown up in north Bengal, my childhood had been one of great joy – with multitudes of places to explore: from the hills to the forests. And with the tourism infrastructure improving by the day in the State, destinations in the bucket list keep increasing forever.
Whenever it comes to travelling, I always choose Bengal over any other place, not for any parochial reasons, but for the simple reason that it is meaningless to explore the world when you have not even discovered the hidden gems of your own motherland. As Rabindranath had so beautifully said it:
দেখা হয় নাই চক্ষু মেলিয়া. ঘর হতে শুধু দুই পা ফেলিয়া. একটি ধানের শিষের উপরে. একটি শিশিরবিন্দু।
(I have not seen yet, just two steps outside my home, a drop of dew on the shaft of paddy)
India, we know, is a land of great diversities, ranging from the Himalayas in the north to the seas to her south. Bengal, too, is guarded by the Himalayas in the north and is bordered by the seas on the south. She is blessed with natural resources – forests, tea gardens, beaches, hillocks, canyons, mangroves, land of red soil, tribal hamlets, heritage sites, places of worship… you name it and you’d find it in Bengal. And with the recent thrust on eco-tourism, and home stay tourism, these destinations have become more tourist-friendly.
For simplicity, Bengal can be divided into 4 zones:
Zone I – North Bengal (Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, North & South Dinajpur)
Home to the Himalayas and Dooars forests.
Zone II – Gour Banga (Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia)
The seat of power during medieval period. Home to historical and religious sites.
Zone III – South Bengal (Hooghly, Howrah, Kolkata, North & South 24 Parganas, Purba Medinipur)
The remnants of colonial rule can be best experienced here. Also, home to beaches and mangroves.
Zone IV – Paschimanchal (Bardhaman, Birbhum, Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram, Paschim Medinipur)
The land of red soil, tribal belt of Bengal, folk culture and art.
I initially wanted to make a listicle of places to visit in Bengal, then, changed my mind, as the list would be forever-expanding. Instead, I am sharing pictures of some of my favourite destinations. Hope you like it.
All images are from the official website of West Bengal Tourism Department. You can visit the website for more information, booking and photos.
P.S. I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter. This is my last post.
On 1st September, my Alexa rank was 6,143,301 (global) and I did not have a country rank. As of today, my global Alexa rank is 1,223,202 and my India rank is 42,525.
DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights