Book Review : Tamarind City — By Bishwanath Ghosh

Throughout this book, the author wears a reporter’s cap and explores Chennai, the city he has made his home, delving into its past, roaming its historic sites and neighbourhoods, and meeting a wide variety of people too.
For a person like me, born and brought up in Chennai, it’s always a proud moment when people from other parts of the country, take interest in this city’s history and even write a book about it.
The author starts the book with the history of Madras, which came into existence even before Bombayand Calcuttawere formed. And then he goes on to describe the different veins of people who run through the city giving it its colour and character.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the history of the city which was the starting point of British’s trading.That part on Mylapore brought in fresh memories of my childhood, the place where I grew up.
Even though I absolutely enjoyed the banter in which every interview was written, I felt that they were quite long which made me wonder if the book is about Chennai or about that person. Also, the part on Gemini Ganesan and Saroja Devi – the yester year movie artists, were quite lengthy and I certainly don’t think that it’s the tamarind part of the city.
Many people told me that this book is quite similar to the Chennai Chronicler S. Muthaiah’s Madras Miscellany. But the Chronicler’s chronicles kept me hooked to the pages.That Patricia’s story sounded so familiar that I later realized it was an article by the author in the newspaper.And thanks to the author I went ahead to visit the Kalikambal temple in North Chennaiand the famous St. Thomas Church in Santhome.
Staying in the same city for a long time, we just take things for granted. Especially the people of Chennai are quite unassuming about the rich heritage and past they have. It takes a Bengali to come and understand the history and write about it.
I wonder if the author has covered all that makes this Chennai city!!! But then I tell myself, it’s certainly not possible to contain the city in just 315 pages. There’s more to Chennai than that meets the text in a book.
A good read and am happy that a conservative Chennai did intrigue the author, to write about it. And Chennai has more to it to go for a Part 2.

— Reviewed by 
Uma Srinivasan


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