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Updated: September 3, 2013 12:44 IST
BOOK WORM

Walk through History

NIMI KURIAN
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There is so much more to history than just memorising dates and names of kings.

History is all about dates and battles and kings and kingdoms, right? Well, that’s the general idea but then here’s a book that makes you look at history with new eyes. Let’s Go Time Travelling takes you through – right back to The Harappan Civilization. You can read up interesting facts about the people who lived at that time. So it’s not really about who ruled and when – though there is a bit of that, but it’s more about what the people of that time ate, what they did, the games they played and so on.

Every chapter begins with an anecdote of a child. So you immediately get into the mood of the period and understand the people of that time. You meet Urpi from the Harappan Civilization and understand that they never used money to buy things. They used the barter system. Did you know that at that time the Indus Valley was thickly forested and inhabited by deer, lions, tigers, leopards, rabbits, peacocks, monkeys and even rhinos? Today it is but a barren desert and you see only camels.

The next chapter is about the Indo Aryans. Did you know that the Aryans gave us our oldest book, the Rig Veda and after that the other three Sama Veda, Atharva Veda and Yajur Veda. The information that has been collated into all the chapters makes it interesting and once you have read it you are eager to know more. There is also a recipe for a dish named Apupa and when you have gone through it you will find it is rather familiar.

Women and children

The Mauryas and Guptas, The Pallavas and Cholas we have read and studied and written umpteen exams on. However, there is information here that would surprise you. For example, did you know that King Ashoka had appointed a minister for their welfare – stri-adhyaksha-mahamatra! This minister’s portfolio was to help poor women get work and to look after widows and old women

Medieval India takes you to the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughals. However, there is a mention that “Indians came into contact with a new religion, Islam, and as it was the first religion that did not start in India, it was very different.” This is not true as in the first Century, St. Thomas brought with him Christianity – a new religion, that did not begin in India either. And then you come to British India. An interesting bit of information titled Hinglish gives us a list of words that have been absorbed into English. Some of the more common words are Sahib, Bazaar and Shawl. But there are some surprises in that list, to be sure.

The memories of British children who grew up in India are an eye opener to us who take all that is around us for granted. One of them recalls “burst of fresh dampness as the first monsoon raindrops hit the parched earth”.

All in all, a fascinating book with bits of almost impossible information that you will never ever find anywhere else. This book will change your opinion about history.

Let's Go Time Travelling, Life in India Through the Ages by Subhadra Sen Gupta, Puffin, Rs. 199

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