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Tamarind City – An Outsider’s guide to an Insider’s City

Did you know that the port city of Chennai was originally a small
trading post on a strip of beach in a nondescript fishing village called
Madraspatnam?
Did you know that this trading post and the city of Shahjahanabad
(Old Delhi) were more or less started at the same time?

Buy Tamarind City: Where Modern India Began: BookDid you know that  the prestigious Ivy League 
University of Yale in far  away Connecticut, was built with money raised
by selling off the 9 bales of cotton sent by none other than Elihu Yale a
former Governor of Fort St. George, as a response to a donation appeal?

Did you know that St. Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ,
was killed at the place now called St. Thomas’ Mount?

Did you know that Chattrapati Shivaji visited the Kalikambal
Temple in George Town and actually worshipped there?

Did you ever think that the city of Chennai which is normally
associated with Silk sarees, Tennis and block buster movies is actually the
cornerstone of Modern India?

These are just some of the interesting and unknowns facets of
Chennai that have been brought to light in a delightful book by Bishwanath
Ghosh. Written in a light hearted manner, with almost each page uncovering a
gem, “Tamarind City” proves once again the maxim that a book should never be
judged by its cover. Indeed with a name like Tamarind City spelled out punch-
hole style and an intriguing cover photo of a flower seller, I wondered what
kind of a book this would be. But I didn’t  have to worry too long, because from the
moment Ghosh boards the Tamil Nadu Express in Kanpur  and watches “the
train roll on furiously from the land of parathas and puris to the land of
idlis and dosas, from the land of Kavitas and Savitas to the land of Kavithas
and Savithas,” I was truly hooked and knew that I was onto something good.

In a delightful narrative tinged with humour and affection while
sharing his encounters with Indian army officers stationed at Fort St. George,
his interaction with inmates of an old age home, the fortune teller at Marina
Beach, his visits to the temples of Mylapore and Triplicane, and many other
such interesting anecdotes, Ghosh traces the history of this once sleepy
village into a modern metropolis and captures the nuances of the various
peoples that make up the urban fabric of Chennai; literally weaving a spell
that is as intoxicating as the smell of freshly brewed coffee  leaving the
reader with a desire to catch the first flight out to Chennai and  check out the seductive flavor of  Ratna
Café’s iconic sambhar.

To me,Chennai was always a hot and muggy place where the air was
thicker than my Kanjeevaram sari but Bishwanath Ghosh has truly removed the
blinkers from my eyes. “Tamarind City” is indeed a voyage of discovery effortlessly
covering centuries and cultures, an outsider’s view of the inside.  Historians, nostalgia buffs, sociologists,armchair travelers and those just interested in having a good old fashioned read, settle down with a copy of “Tamarind City” , a hot cup of coffee and get ready to have the
most enchanting city tour ever!  Simply marvelous!

This review is a part of the <a href=”http://blog.blogadda.

com/2011/05/04/indian-

bloggers-book-reviews” target=”_blank”>Book Reviews Program</a> at  <a href=”http://www.blogadda.com
>BlogAdda.com</a>. Participate now to get free books!

Author: Unishta

A granny who always sees the humour in life and tries to do things differently. When others make cupcakes, this granny makes banana fritters. When she’s not busy chasing her grandchildren who love making her run around, she indulges in her passions of reading, writing, meeting friends and watching movies. And somewhere between all this she enjoys travelling and cooking!

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