Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sea of Poppies (Samandar of Poppies)

I’ve been reading this book called ‘Sea of Poppies’ by Amitav Ghosh. The book has an excellent theme, is set back in time of the nascent British rule. More on the story after I finish reading it. His earlier work ‘The Glass Palace’ had me hooked and prodded me to read more of his works.

Well, I will not say I am disappointed with the ‘Sea of Poppies’. It’s just that I couldn’t appreciate the parlance used; I understand that the story is based in Bihar and West Bengal, and that he is trying to bring about the rustic appeal by usage of Bhojpuri, Bengali and Hindi. I m not a purist or anything but only a smattering of it is understandable. When one is faced with it in every other sentence, it gets mildly irritating. Perhaps Amitav Ghosh is merely trying to make a style statement, or is furthering the cause of hindification of English language.
Consider a layperson and especially one, who is unfamiliar about the Indian languages coming across with statements like

“..She should be sent off beech-o-beech where I don’t have to listen to him. I'll let you have the windy old poggle.”

“the kubber is that there’s more than one young missy-mem whos got a mind to bundo the fellow”

“I'll put you beside him. There. Chull”

“she bundled them all out, the farrashes, bichawnadars and harry maids.”

Besides these, there are also several completely illegible statements such as
“ ‘Malum hab cuttee he head?’ he said.’What for wanchee this-piece boy? He blongi boat –bugger-no can learn ship pijjin. Better he wailo chop chop’. ”

I wish Amitav Ghosh who otherwise spins beautiful tales, sticks to simple story telling without resorting to using garbled languages. I hope in the second and third parts of the trilogy that he plans to write, are easier on the mind.

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