On the racks – February 2020

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From Oberoi to Oyo: Behind the scenes with the movers and shakers of India’s hotel industry

Author  : Chitra Narayanan
Publisher : Penguin Portfolio
Pages : 319; ₹399

In this book, the author, a journalist who has covered the business of hospitality over long years, traces the origins of the hotel industry in India and tries to provide a glimpse of the future of stays. How did the Taj, the Oberoi and ITC come to dominate the hotel landscape in India? How did they cope when the international chains — Marriott, Accor, Radisson, etc — arrived, and when young disruptive challengers like Oyo emerged? The book provides a behind-the-scenes look at the industry, the business models, the personalities behind the hotels and the ongoing war for supremacy.

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Poonachi: Or the Story of a Black Goat

Author : Perumal Murugan (Translated from Tamil by N Kalyan Raman)
Publisher : Context, Westland Publication
Pages : 179; ₹359

Through a seeming act of providence, an old couple receives a day-old female goat as a gift from the cosmos. Thus, begins the story of Poonachi, the little orphan goat.

As you follow her story from forest to habitation, independence to motherhood, you recognise in its significant moments the depth and magnitude of your own fears and longings, fuelled by the instinct for survival that animates all life. Masterly and nuanced, Perumal Murugan’s tale forces us to reflect on our own responses to hierarchy and ownership, selflessness and appetite, love and desire, living and dying. Poonachi is the story of a goat who carries the burden of being different all her life, and survives against odds. It is equally an expression of solidarity with the animal world and the female species. The tale is also a commentary on our times, on the choices we make as a society and a nation, and the increasing vulnerability of individuals, particularly writers and artists, who resist when they are pressed to submit.

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A Chequered Brilliance: The Many Lives of V K Krishna Menon

Author : Jairam Ramesh
Publisher : Penguin Viking
Pages : 776; ₹999

In Jairam Ramesh’s gigantic and well-researched biography of V K Krishna Menon, you will find all aspects of Menon’s life — childhood in a rich Malayali family, his early association with the Theosophical Society, his days in London, and above all his relationship with India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Did you know that he helped to found Penguin Books? This is a compelling biography of one of India’s most controversial and consequential public figures. Menon continues to command our attention not just because he was Nehru’s confidante and soulmate but also for many of his own political and literary accomplishments. A relentless crusader for Indian independence in the UK in the 1930s and 1940s, he was a global star at the United Nations in the 1950s before he was forced to resign as India’s Defence Minister after the humiliation India suffered during the Indo-China war of 1962.

Meticulously researched and based entirely on new archival material, this book reveals Krishna Menon in all his capabilities and contradictions. It is also a rich history of the tumultuous times in which he lived and which he did so much to shape.

The beauty of this book is that you can open any page, any chapter, and it will grip you.

 

Compiled by Kiran Zehra

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RI Director Bharat Pandya is Treasurer for Rotary International for 2020-21, when Holgar Knaack will be RI President, JohritaSolari will be the Vice President and Stephanie Urchick, the Executive Committee Chair.