Water Close Over Us: A Journey along the Narmada

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HarperCollins Publishers India, Oct 19, 2013 - Social Science - 252 pages
A journey to the centre of the Indian identity The Narmada is the only river in India to merit a parikrama. The traditional journey takes more than three years and ends where it begins, having covered more than 2,600 kilometres. Bal follows the parikrama to study the stories of the clash of cultures along the river. It is here that the agriculturist encountered the forest dweller, the Indo-European north faced the Dravidian south, the Afghan battled the Gond and the dam builders confronted the environmentalists. Perhaps, then, it is no coincidence that the Adi Sankara attained the realization of Advaita - non-duality - on these banks. As the author seeks to understand whether such reconciliation is possible in every case, the stories he encounters take on a life of their own - from Osho's relatives who still safeguard his memory in sari shops to the king of a small island who spends moonlit nights firing bullets into the river.

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This book takes one across the author's own parikrama around the grand old river of Narmada across an ancient land with history stretching back thousands of years. Hartosh, a very respected journalist in India, weaves stories of people, culture, religion, nature, politics, philosophy and development along this magnificient river and it is this weaving which is just so enchanting that I have loved racing through the book. Its an eye opener of a book and a must read for anyone interested in the culture of India, of how India is evolving (not a pleasant sight), the environment and the history. A big thumbs up.  

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About the author (2013)

HARTOSH SINGH BAL trained as an engineer at BITS Pilani and a mathematician at NYU before turning to journalism. He is co-author of A Certain Ambiguity: A Mathematical Novel, which won the Association of American Publishers' award for the Best Professional/ Scholarly Book on Mathematics for 2007. He is the political editor of Open, and has worked for The Indian Express, Tehelka and Mail Today.

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