Here is a book that takes one deep into uncharted waters. Within the pages of Beautiful Country: Stories from another India , you encounter people and places that are the milestones of a road less travelled.
Written by Syeda Hamid and Gunjan Veda, Beautiful Country is a collection of stories that chronicles the despair and hope, the misery and triumphs, the failures and successes of ‘another India', one that does not live in the rarefied world of malls and flyovers but the crowded bylanes of Varanasi. It explores the scattered habitation of Ladakh and the flooded villages of Barmer.
Syeda Hamid, a leading figure in Indian planning, joins young journalist Gunjan Veda to write about people and events that never make it to the front pages of newspapers. Together, the authors make this invisible India visible. They document the everyday Indian across the country, minutely observing and relating the problems and concerns with sympathy, empathy and most importantly, solidarity.
On the way, they meet ‘Maimunisa, the ancillary weaver from Banaras who has only been able to feed her three-year-old son sabudane ka paani ; young doctors from AIIMS who have left behind hefty pay packages and the comfort of city life to provide health care to tribal people in the hinterlands of Chhattisgarh; village women who have been able to significantly reduce the number of infant deaths in the tribal peripheries of Maharashtra.'
From the swamps of the Sundarbans to the serene backwaters of Kerala, the duo chance upon not only people along the way, but also natural, cultural and historical treasures that dot the Indian landscape.
Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India;Syeda Hameed and Gunjan Veda, HarperCollins India, Rs. 399
Bottomline:A chronicle of an India that does not live in the rarefied world of malls and flyovers.