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THE STORY OF MUNNAR
( Hardcover )
Total Votes: 26
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THE STORY OF MUNNAR

THE STORY OF MUNNAR

Munnar's beauty, development and helplessness have never been chronicled this passionately by any author. ‘The Story of Munnar', a coffee table book by Sulochana Nalapat is as much autobiographical as it is history, a recording of this tea territory's social history and an ode to good times, where the author spent 27 years as plantation doctor with her husband Unnikrishnan, managing the tea estate first in the James Finlay and Tata Tea days and later in the R&D section.

“It was a totally different world,” says Sulochana, just before the release of her book at the DC Book Fair. She does get Munnar-sick, she confesses and together with the rich experiences of life in a plantation environment with her husband, with data collected over a lifetime, Sulochana put her language to work in this book.

In a coffee table book, the photos outclass the text, but here, the beautiful text is ‘unputdownable' (to hell with grammar!) and falls into any or several genres. The gene factor cannot be hidden and so the prose in most pages rises to sheer poetry. What else can one expect from Balamani Amma's daughter and Kamala Das' sister? Sample these: The foreword by her begins:

‘This is a love story. This is the story of a land that has systematically encroached into my heart over a lifetime spent within its embrace. A story that now demands a telling because it is the hour of evensong and I need to divest myself of the baggage collected over a lifetime…'

And the book's penultimate para: ‘I sit here waiting for the curtains to fall and the show to get over. The lamps lighting up the stage seem to have been lit with petrol instead of oil, and the curtain strings are lying impossibly tangled somewhere in the rafters of my mind.'

In 13 chapters, beginning from Munnar's early history, geographical location and the Kanan Devan Hills, to the people, Sulochana's own experiences as a young bride, interaction with the simple plantation workers who are often loyal to a fault, the Tata welfare measures, the schools, the book speaks of Munnar before it became a touristy place. It just touches on the JCB episodes in an emotional manner: “JCBs, like battery operated toys, bearing ironically, Tata Hitachi label…” Elsewhere, she lets you into a secret, also an irony, that the Taj group toyed with the idea of a resort many years ago, but dropped the idea because they thought it would not suit the ethos of the place!

Writing

Sulochana's descriptive writing, the mark of a storyteller, is evident in every page, so that even history, geography and nature get their share of charm: ‘If Munnar meant three rivers, the fourth river that flows on, the river of plantation culture….orchids, vain and strange, colourfully clad butterflies”.

Interesting nuggets of info about estate culture, like the various festivals of every religion that everyone celebrates, the Allah kovil, dargah of the Sufi saint where all faiths go to pray. Workers do pooja before every stage of tea planting and its growth. Tea can grow to 30 ft if left unpruned, its roots prevent soil erosion; 140 year old tea bushes anchor the soil of the hills. The tea plant is held sacred by workers because either their father, grandfather or other relative planted it. And did you know that tea plants ensure returns every ten days?

The old era is brought out in the latter chapters with common things that people used then, like an iron cooking range which used wood as fuel and the author says she remembers seeing solar panels made of aluminium and black painted pipes that always ensured hot water! Sulochana marvels at the opportunities given to children of workers and the excellent schools in the hills for them. The famous Dr. Thangavelu and Walter I. Devaram, DIG of Police talk about their early days in the schools there.

The health factor is close to Sulochana's heart for she contributed much to that, working in the Munnar General Hospital for many years. The efforts taken by several devoted doctors towards better health for plantation workers are recorded. The ‘doctaramma', as she is referred to by workers, still helps as the Welfare auditor there. “I am 72 but I still climb up the mountains to do the checks and talk to people for the auditing purposes,” she says.

The production values of the book are above average. The sepia tinted pages are a great idea as also the green jacket. Printing is good and the text is almost mistake-free. In the publisher's note, the word ‘muduvans', supposed to be in the plural, has been printed ‘muduvan's' with an apostrophe. In a caption, ‘palanquin' has been printed as ‘palenquin'.

It is a pleasure reading Sulochana's poetic prose.

THE STORY OF MUNNAR

Book : THE STORY OF MUNNAR

Author : SULOCHANA NALAPPATT

Category : COFFEE TABLE BOOKS,COFFEE TABLE BOOKS,COFFEE TABLE BOOKS,COFFEE TABLE BOOKS,COFFEE TABLE BOOKS

ISBN : 9788126426904

Binding : Hardcover

Publishing Date : 2015-07-15

Publisher : DC BOOKS

Edititon : 1

Number of pages : 600

Language: : ENGLISH

THE STORY OF MUNNAR

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