TALES OF HAZARIBAGH: An Intimate Exploration Of Chhotanagpur Plateau | What a marvellous book!
After you’re done reading the book, there is so little to say. I mean, not because the book overwhelms you or anything. Rather, the book is so reflective and aware. The book is an internal exploration of an individual, through an external or historical wandering of the city i.e. Hazaribagh (in this case). There are moments where you’re asking certain questions, and the author answers within a few paragraphs.
For instance, towards the end of the book, I was wondering, if collecting information or finding new places in your city that no one knows about would come with a definite arrogance. Then, the author writes,
‘The pleasure of exploration brings with it the arrogance of discovery. To detach pleasure from arrogance was a challenge.’
And, somehow arrogance spoils the inquisitive, and explorative process of discovery.
During a phase of uncertainty and depression, the author travels back to his home to recentre or recollect himself. I mean, when I say home I don’t necessarily mean one’s birthplace. And, I hope the author doesn’t too. It is more about a place where you have peace, and want to do more. More than what you were yesterday.
The book flows as smooth as poetry and takes you on an explorative journey of Hazaribagh. The structure attempts to give you a holistic understanding of Jharkhand. Exploring Hazaribagh through Forests, Waterfalls, and from North to South, he imagines a vivid picture of a city full of nature. Like it was named, ‘Hazaribagh’ (हज़ारीबाग़): city of a thousand gardens. Although, the author’s fascination for waterfalls comes out prominently, much before he himself acknowledges it in the book. Additionally, I found the book to be a good mix of personal and historical. Rather, I was invested in Hazaribagh because I was invested in the author’s childlike curiosity about new adventures and exploration.
Salman Rushdie once said, ‘home is a concept of geography and time’. Here, Mihir Vatsa’s Hazaribagh is changing as times with changing times, and over imposing virtues of so-called ‘development’. In his case, even geography is changing. And, as everyone has to, he makes peace with it too while documenting his beloved city. Although, he does get defensive about his hometown.
In a world, where everyone is a global citizen or immersed in virtual reality, ‘Tales of Hazaribagh’ comes as a beautiful ode to the Chhotanagapur plateau
Once, I finished this book I wondered if there is a similar book for Gwalior. Someone has to write about my hometown. Obviously I searched for books around Gwalior. There were a few. Expensive. Not so easy to access. As it happens to be, quite like the author I, too had recently quit my job in Delhi. Surely not for a similar intent, but somewhere close. I, too, wanted to find peace or control in life. I am still searching for my home, and in this quest, I am discovering a different Gwalior.
Written By Rajeev. He likes to know about human experiences and the evolution of society. And, if you don’t find him reading a book then, you’d find him watching a film.
- Read more book reviews
- Book Review: The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
- Book Review: Qabar by K.R. Meera, Translated from Malayalam by Nisha Susan
- Estuary by Perumal Murugan, Translated by Nandini Krishnan