Reading Life Part 1

Winter evenings…..time for reading….. and that Reading Challenge on Goodreads!  One year I reached a goal of 24 books, but last year, well, I did not even get close. To remedy this underachievement I set this year’s goal at a measly 15 books. Yes, I admit I did that. However I am on a roll this year.

A little over one month into the year I’m delighted to have read 5 books. Each one has taken me on a journey to another time and place.

The Naturalist by Alisssa York

The Naturalist by Alissa York, took me back first to Philadelphia 150 years ago, and then to Para, Brazil, and into the Amazon Jungle. It made me long to visit this green and living forest during a time when fewer people inhabited this space or traveled its winding rivers. Of the three main characters, Rachel is the true naturalist passionaltely observing the rivers, the forest, and the creatures that inhabit the land. Iris the artist, records the beauty and striking features of the creeping, crawling, hopping, flying and slithering life they discover. However it is Paul whose journey reveals and opens to him his early childhood in jungle before he was brought to America. Vivid pictures filled my mind as read this novel.

“Orange – a bed of it, a pool, hot as flame against the bone-white sand. It’s not until they are in the monetaria, yards from the shore, that its meaning becomes clear.  …….. Butterflies. Hundreds, thousands of them, packed tight, holding their bright wings erect. ……. The flock stays long enough for Iris to complete a handful of studies and one watercolor sketch. Lift off begins with a flicker. A ripple along the margins and the whole mass rises, peeling away from the beach.  Iris and Rachel stand to watch it float out over the river, where it unravels in a trailing cloud.”   Page 179 Chapter 24 

Raj by Gita Mehta

 

Raj, by Gita Mehta, was fittingly purchased in a cluttered bookstore in Jaipur, India. India had captured my imagination in every way. Who lived in the ornate rooms of the forts and palaces we explored? Who were the women hidden behind the purdah screens? My brain was abuzz with the mystery and mystique of ancient kingdoms in this exotic land. Raj, written from the perspective of Jaya Singh, born to the Maharajah of Balmer a fictional kingdom, gave me the insight I longed for.  Through Jaya’s life I learned about the wealth of royal India, the impact of colonialism, Indian soldiers fighting bravely as part of the British Empire, and the bitter struggle for independence.

So there you have it, the beginning of my 2017 Reading Challenge.

 

 

December 2014, Travels to India.

The bridge was a parade of life in Haridwar, Hindu pilgrims, who came to wash in the holy water of the Ganges, priests, holy men, families, and school children. School boys flew kites from the bridge in the cool breezes. They skillfully competed to send the other’s kites into the fast flowing Ganges. Their laughter and enthusiasm filled the air. Younger kids, likely five years old, made their way across the bridge wearing tidy school uniforms, red sweaters, navy pants or skirts with enormous backpacks hanging low on their backs.

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We were not the only observers on the bridge that December afternoon.  We were carefully scrutinized by this little person.

Child on bridge

We wandered the streets for awhile, surprised that the stalls which had been open and busy the night before were closed now. We were pleased at our ability to find our hotel once again, a 100 year old home once owned by a wealthy Indian. His portraits line the walls. The central courtyard has a temple and each morning and afternoon a Hindu priest comes to conduct payers to Vishnu. This hotel also has a Private Ghat or bathing area where anyone can go to bathe in the river Ganges. Haridwar means the footprint of God, or heavens gate. And this will explain the sacred ceremonies performed each day at dusk.  There is more to tell….

View from Haridwar bridge.

View from the Haridwar bridge. December 2014