Read Around the World: First Stop- India

Okay, so I’m not travelling to India.  The only trip I’m going on this summer is to Minnesota, which doesn’t quite compare!  However, in honour of that well-known Winnipeg multicultural extravaganza known as Folklorama, let’s ‘visit’ India!  Why not celebrate a country you love, or learn about a country you know little about by seeing what materials the library has to offer.  Let’s start our trip to India and join me as we discover great food, movies, novels and music.  

What would a visit to a new country be without the food? India is known for exotic spices, curries and delectable desserts.  Want to be able to cook your own scrumptious Indian feast?  (Just be sure to invite me over for dinner!).  The library has a great selection of materials on international cooking, and you won’t be disappointed with what the library has to offer on Indian cooking.  Check out How to Cook Indian: More than 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Kitchen  by Chef Kapoor to learn how to cook traditional Indian dishes such as butter chicken, palak paneer and samosas.  The Big Book of Curries: 365 Mouthwatering Recipes from Around the World contains curry recipes for every taste.  If you’re concerned with healthy eating, Bal Arneson’s Quick and Healthy Indian is the book for you.  And if you want to come home at the end of the day to a mouthwatering meal (like dal or gobi aloo) made with little fuss, check out Anupy Singla’s The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes

Some of my favorite foreign movies are Indian movies and the following titles won’t disappoint.  The Apu trilogy is a coming of age story about a Bengali boy named Apu and includes Song of the Road, The Unvanquished and The World of Apu.  These films continually make it onto ‘best film’ lists and have influenced many directors worldwide.  Monsoon Wedding is another great Indian movie, directed by Mira Nair, about a family getting ready for the arranged marriage of the daughter.   This movie has drama, dancing, laughter, tears and is one I have watched over and over.  Slumdog Millionaire was made by a British director but was shot in India with Indian cast and crew and is an abolute must-see movie that won several Academy awards including best picture.  Based on the novel Q & A, this is the tale of a young Mumbai boy who is accused of cheating when he knows all the answers on an Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.  It’s a thoroughly engaging movie and well worth seeing! 

Some of my favorite Indian movies are bollywood films, which is the term used to describe the Hindi film industry in Mumbai.  The word bollywood merges Bombay (Mumbai’s former name) with Hollywood.  Bride and Prejudice is a fun bollywood remake of Jane Austen’s Pride and Predjudice in which a mother wants to marry off her 4 daughters.    Deepa Mehta is an Indian born Canadian director who has directed many films, including Bollywood Hollywood which is about a Hindi man living in Ontario whose Caucasian girlfriend dies in a freak accident, urging his mother to ask him to find a Hindi wife.  

If you find you really enjoy bollywood movies then you might be interested in learning how to dance bollywood style by checking out the DVD Bollywood Dancing: For Beginners and Advanced.   For bollywood music, check out the sound recordings Bollywood: An Anthology of Songs from Popular Indian Cinema and the Rough Guide to Bollywood.  If you’re more into traditional Indian music, then Traditional Songs and Dances of India or Ravi Shankar’s Spirit of India would be well worth checking out.   

There are many great Indian authors as well.  Vikram Seth’s novels have won him numerous awards and recognition.  An Equal Music is the story of the love affair between a violinist and a pianist, a love affair that resumes even when one of them is married with a child.  Rohinston Mistry’s A Fine Balance is set in Mumbai during a period of unrest and explores the bond between characters of different backgrounds.  This book won the Giller prize and was also an Oprah book pick.  The God of Small Things is the debut novel by Arundhati Roy and took 4 years to write.  It deals with the devastating experiences of fraternal twins and won the Booker prize. 

If you ever decide to travel to India, the library has many great travel books to choose from to help make your trip a success!  There’s a 2011 Eyewitness travel book on India, a Frommer’s India  travel book and Fodor’s Essential India, among others. 

 If you want to learn more about India or ‘travel’ to another country, remember to explore all the materials the library has to offer.  And remember that library staff are always happy to help you in your search!


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