Outside of Digital Marketing, traveling and bird-watching, my interests include reading and learning more about the history (and geography) of key cultural movements. It has always fascinated me as to why the Renaissance took place in Italy, the Industrial Revolution kicked off in Britain and so on. Moving forward, the counter-culture of the 1960’s was one of the first ‘key cultural movement’ that I became aware of, largely due to my choice of music leading me to bands such as Jefferson Airplane, Yardbirds and more. So it just felt right that the first place I visited outside of India was San Francisco where I went to the famous ‘Haight-Ashbury’ district.
However, as I write the above, I realise that it’s strictly not true. The first international cultural movement I was aware of was the hippie movement. This was because I had close family living in Goa in the 1990s. We used to visit them regularly and could still come across stragglers of the movement on the beaches of North Goa.
I recently read a book about Ernest Hemmingway’s time in Paris, and that piqued my curiosity about that era. It was while reading more about this era that I learned more about the Roaring 20’s. It was the age of significant and unprecedented change in culture, music, fashion and more. Paris seemed to have been the place where all the action took place.
Other movements of the past century include the Beat Generation of the 1950s and 60s. Interestingly, one of the places where key figures of this movement lived in was Tangier in Morocco.
It will be fascinating to read more about these movements, understand why, where and how they evolved and why did they peter out. That’s my reading list for the next few weeks and months!
Photo Credit:Vasilios Muselimis
It’s not often that I write about a book before I have completed it and absorbed it. But in the case of ‘Discovering Bengalure‘ by Meera Iyer, I am making an exception.
The book, as it’s sub-title point out is about Bengaluru’s History. However, forget any preconceived notions of what a history book might read like. This is a history book with a difference. By focusing on specific neighbourhoods of Bengaluru, the book immediately makes history accessible and personal. No longer is it an abstract concept of people and events long gone by, but it makes us aware of and appreciate the history all around the city. This is done primarily by grounding the narrative around important heritage structures around Bengaluru.
The book also describes interesting walks in each of these neighbourhoods by which anyone can get out, explore and become more familiar with the history of that area. This technique immediately gets the book out of a library or home and into the streets, in the hands of ‘explorers’. Indeed, a logical extension of the book could be a mobile site or app that can serve as a reliable and handy guide for people interested in the history and heritage of a place.
Meera Iyer is Convenor of the Bengaluru chapter of INTACH and her familiarity and passion for the heritage of the city comes through in this book. Do get your hand on a copy and go out and explore Bengaluru!
It’s not often that one comes across a non-fictional book that defies easy categorisation. Harini Nagendra’s ‘Nature in the City: Bengaluru in the Past, Present and Future‘ is one such book.
Yes, as the title suggests, the book is about Nature. But, unlike most books about Nature that look at Nature in a natural, untouched by human activities setting, this book is about how Nature is adopted within a highly urban area. Yes, there are quite a few books about trees in cities, but this is possibly one of the first attempts to analyse Nature as a whole within an urban setting.
As you start reading it, you realise that the book goes much beyond Nature. It looks at such varied topics as history, geography, religion, culture and entertainment within an urban setting, all keeping the context of Nature in mind.
The book draws primarily on the author’s extensive research in this space. Professor Nagendra is Professor of Sustainability at Azim Premji University, Bangalore and has authored multiple papers and books on this topic.
There is always the worry with books on such topics that it could drift into a drab, scientific exercise. It is to the author’s credit that this book avoids that trap and manages to retain a very human, familiar feel. The way the extensive material has been broken down into chapters also makes for an easy reading.
I would love to see similar books for other Indian cities as well.