Field Notes from a Waterborne Land: Bengal Beyond the Bhadralok
Author: Parimal Bhattacharya
9789354894374 | PB | pp. 298 | 2022 | HarperCollins Publishers
In Field Notes from a Waterborne Land the author goes on a journey of discovery documenting lives of other communities in Bengal which he encountered.
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In the late 2000s, when the three-decade-long Left Front rule in West Bengal was crumbling, Parimal Bhattacharya began to travel outside the well-trodden urban centres to different parts of the region – from the Sundarbans to tribal Jangalmahal, from the outskirts of Kolkata to villages on the Bangladesh border, from the floodplains of the Hooghly to the forests of Simlipal in neighbouring Odisha.
There, he encountered: a woman who was branded a witch because she was listed in the census as literate; an island that vanished famously, only to resurface; a paralysed communist who dreams about the death of a river; a forest community who believe they are descendants of the Harappans; an old millworker and his wife who fight the ghosts of a dead industrial town with laughter; a fisherman uprooted by a river eleven times in twenty years; and many more. This book documents the missing narratives of these ‘other’ Bengalis, the largely invisible majority beyond the bhadralok that the rest of India knows.
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