The Hungry Tide

The Hungry TideOff The Easternmost Corner Of India, In The Bay Of Bengal, Lies The Immense Labyrinth Of Tiny Islands Known As The Sundarbans, Where Settlers Live In Fear Of Drowning Tides And Man Eating Tigers Piya Roy, A Young American Marine Biologist Of Indian Descent, Arrives In This Lush, Treacherous Landscape In Search Of A Rare Species Of River Dolphin And Enlists The Aid Of A Local Fisherman And A Translator Together The Three Of Them Launch Into The Elaborate Backwaters, Drawn Unawares Into The Powerful Political Undercurrents Of This Isolated Corner Of The World That Exact A Personal Toll As Fierce As The Tides I have mixed feelings about The Hungry Tide Amitav Ghosh tells a large story firmly set in a particular place the Mangrove covered islands in the estuary of the Ganges River The story has everything love, class difference, political conflict, natural and man made catastrophes, and, of course, dolphins, tigers, and crocodiles dangerous encounters with the latter two, friendly encounters with the first And that s the problem The story is contrived and contains dialogue that frequently doesn t ring true Moreover, Ghosh is maybe too eager to teach us what he knows of the natural history of his native landabout the Irrawaddy Dolphin, for example, than I ever wanted to know Overarching all of this is a kind authorial sensitivity, working manfully towards a suitably acceptable happy ending Still, one reads forward, swept along by Ghosh s big story He is trying, I think, to write a best seller with enough literary art to stop just short of being embarrassing He succeeds for the most part, but it all seems a little too calculated and nice to this cynical reader Yes, I liked it, sort of, but is that enough The hungry tide, 2005, Amitav Ghosh, 2013 590 9786005941845 21 If Shadow Lines enthralled you, Amitav Ghosh s latest masterpiece, the Hungry Tide, will sweep you off your feet, and into the precarious waters of the Sundarbans.In the typical Ghosh style, the narrative moves fluidly between past and present You will be transported into the mindset of the superstitious yet brave folk, who have adapted themselves to the constant ebb and flow of the tide and are living in continuous fear of the Bengal tigers The tide begins to turn with the advent of two seekers from the outside world Piyali Roy, an Indian American marine biologist in search of the Irrawaddy dolphins and Kanai Dutt, an urbane translator from New Delhi who s there to retrieve his deceased uncle Nirmal s journal Their lives become intertwined particularly with Fokir, an illiterate but proud fisherman, who has the rivers in his heart As the narrative progresses, they are forced to respect nature in order to survive, and to communicate with people who differ not only in language but also in equations of existence It is a story of love, revolution, brutal history and the place of man within the treacheries of nature It seems to underscore Nirmal s observation that nothing escapes the maw of the tides. One of Amitav Ghosh s best books, I would say The setting of the book is in the Sundarbans in Eastern India a vast forest in the coastal region of the Bay of Bengal and considered one of the natural wonders of the world There is not much of a story as such in the novel, but there are excellent characters and visual depictions of the Sundarbans The landscape plays a prominent role in the book One could almost breathe Sundarbans However, unlike forests in Himalayan ranges in the North, Sunderbans display a certain kind of calm and beauty, but also leave a trail of heavy suffocation especially during the monsoon they are dark, humid, uninviting and there is always a sense of danger lurking in the air.On thebrighter note, I loved reading about the landscape shown in the book, it is like I am knowing deeply a character, with its varied shades, in the novel The fact that such a region exists with its flora and fauna is delightful The immense density of these forests, the presence of white tigers the Bengal tiger make this place, among other things, precious.The other thing I liked about the book is the character portrayal of Fokir, a fisherman, a native of the place he acts like a guide to Piya Roy, an Indo American biologist who comes to Sundarbans to study the rare varieties of river dolphins in the region Fokir s character is wonderfully written he has the same qualities and a certain uniqueness about him which are similar to the landscape that sustains and nurtures him Fokir knows the region the way a lover knows the body of his beloved deeply, intimately and with an acute sense of love, concern, and ownership He has rivers in him, the swish of a running stream, the virility of fertile landscape, and the agility of a wildcat His body is as smooth and supple as that for a fish, the sheer force of these sensual descriptions of Fokir can easily be assigned to the landscape, at least to certain aspects of it.Ghosh s background in history probably persuaded him to write about Sundarbans these primordial virgin regions carrying within them treasures, but the current infatuations with thoughtless development is playing havoc in the area So the human presence, apart from Fokir s, is largely intrusive and destructive It unfolds in regional politics and, in complicated ways, is shaped by the global capital.The hungry tide the Sundarbans is hungry because it is one of its kind it is ferocious because it is just nature at its best wholly unmediated by any external presence On the other hand, the hungry tide is hungry in the sense of deficient due to the aggressive and ever increasing human interventions in the region It is probably this that makes Ghosh write this book.And he wrote it brilliantly. Amitav Ghosh, I must say is an amazing story teller and in this book he proved beyond doubt that literary skill of the Bengali is redoubtable Absolutely engrossing, this book is one such where you come across a great story which is amazingly written and make you an instant fan of the author.This book is well researched and the story is set in the 70 s, and it revolves around the Sundarbans and have this lovely descriptions of the land, the people and the animals I would actually call it informative Why 4 stars to this book, even though it is such an amazing book Yes, because at times the writer seems to me a bit too cynical and calculative.And I m bit ashamed of myself that I read just one book by this finest Indian writer However, I m planning to read his other books soon and I grant his books a permanent position in my reading list until they disappoint me. Home is where Orcaella are says PiaHome is where I can brew a perfect cup,of tea says NilimaHome is where books as fine as this reside says MeThis was a very educational journey into the tide country the Sunderbans.So far, Sunderban has just been a printed name in my geography text books of yore After years I encountered it in all its glory, ruthlessness and ethereal beauty, along with the magical folklore, which seems almost real to me, and the majestic man eating tiger.I will never forget the beauty of a rainbow hanging low over moonlight, or the ruthless storm uprooting giant trees as if those were small twigs placed in the ground,,or the madly rushing tidal waters of the river, or the groups of river dolphins.I learnt a lot from Pia, Nirmal, Horen and Fokir.I learnt to love animals and nature I became an environmentalist, a zoologist, a thinker philosophy still eludes me The ending was majestic I will not forget Fokir for a long time to come I will be less judgemental of people whom I encounter in my day to day life.Every person has something which I don t have, every person has a higher education than their counterpart in one way or other.thank you, Amitav Ghosh This book was written well before Sea of Poppies It was a fairly interesting story set in an area of Eastern India in a labyrinth of tiny islands known as the Sundarbans, where settlers live in fear of drowning tides and man eating tigers It was almostof a documentary giving interesting facts about the history of the settlers, how the government fought them using this ground, how they eked out a living there and were sometimes eaten by Tigers Dang tigers The story of the American Marine biologist from Seattle there to study two rare species of Dolphins, and her relationship with two local fellows, a fisherman and a translator was a bit too tame for me No real meat in the story But it was interesting and I could see Ghosh starting to develop some of the skills that lead him to write the amazing Sea of Poppies trilogy. I know Amitav Ghosh isn t for everyone, but I just adore his writing I can t think of another author who can transport me to another place the way he does whether it s India, somewhere else in Asia, the US or the UK I haven t yet visited the Sundarbans, but after reading The Hungry Tide I feel like I ve squelched my toes in the mud and scratched my skin on the mangrove roots of that region.Piya Roy and Kanai rhymes with Hawaii Dutt meet on a train when both are traveling to the Sundarbans Piya to study the Irrawaddy dolphin population and Kanai to visit his aunt and review a manuscript left to him by his long departed uncle Through a series of events, Piya unexpectedly finds herself on Lusibari island, taking up Kanai s casual invitation to look him up while she s in the area Both get caught up in the region s past, in different ways, and by the end they have both mapped out a future for themselves that is tied to the Sundarbans The story includes themes about conservation, ecology, displacement, human trafficking, caste, literacy and economic disparity.One thing I didn t really find convincing was the idea that either of the main characters would have seriously contemplated any kind of romantic involvement with each other There didn t seem to be any spark But that was such an inconsequential element of the story that it didn t lessen my overall enjoyment at all. The Hungry Tide, Amitav GhoshAs always with Amitav Ghosh, his narrative technique refuses to follow a linear pattern, instead it criss crosses across events of varying decades to foreground the concept of home and homelessness in The Hungry Tide Probing into the politically charged massacre of Bangladeshi refugees in Marichjhapi, Ghosh investigates homelessness as a naturalized event that gripped South Asia during the years of 1940s and 1970s He problematizes homeless all theas he strikingly brings to notice the caste question that was intrinsically laced with the killings of Marichjhapi and forced eviction of the settlers On the backdrop of Marichjhapi, Ghosh presents to us the intriguing characters of Nirmal and Nilima both settled in Lusibari, an island bordering Marichjhapi Once residents of Kolkata, Nirmal and Nilima settle at Lusibari which they call home Nilima s last words in the novel are a direct reference to her definition of home home is where she can brew a pot of good tea Once understands Nilima can make herself a home wherever she decides to stay Her project of the hospital along with the charity work at Lusibari enforces this observation She nurtures rebuilding Lusibari as a mother cares for her child She stands in opposition to Nirmal, a gentleman revolutionary and a poet, who homelessness acts as a sort of enlightenment As a revolutionary should, Nirmal is one with the world and his definition of home is attached to the causes with which he identifies himself Marichjhapi is not Nirmal s home the struggle of the residents of Marichjhapi and their resistance in the face of Statist oppression is Nirmal s idea of home Home is where he can reconcile with his thoughts The next set of characters Kanai and Piya point to the discourse of home and homelessness as well Kanai lives in a translated world, away from the cosy, amicable ambience of home His journey back to Lusibari or, if we call it his home, forces him to occupy a problematic space He problem is highlighted as he verbally abuses Fakir in one of the journeys that he undertakes with him Though Kanai is a man of the world, his failure to grasp the changing trajectory of his home renders him homeless which disturbs his sense and sensibility Piya, who had no knowledge of the local language, interestingly calls Lusibari her home at the end of the novel A cetologist who comes to Sunderbans to gather knowledge about Oracella dolphins, Piya feels at home despite her predicaments The nuanced definition of home and homelessness overlaps each other to create, as it were, a space which is explicated by Fakir s characterization Fakir belongs to the waters and not to the land He is aware of the waters of Sunderbans like no one else His wife, Moyna, believes the river islands to be her boundaries that she needs to shatter to help her dreams of a decent livelihood take wings Water makes her as uncomfortable as land unmakes Fakir But both are in married to each other Perhaps, only at the end of the novel, when Fakir dies we understand that their relationship was not really devoid of love Fakir articulates her name as he meets his destined end Moyna loses her composure, that is one of her most powerful traits, breaking down to irrepressible sobs as she understands her loss In a way, home and homelessness have very nuanced and problemtic definitions One can be at home but not be at ease If one is not at ease, one cannot possibly call it home At the same time, one can be far away from one s home, but stays comfortable Ghosh identifies his novel with these changing notions of home and homelessness to create a narrative that stands dazzling.

Amitav Ghosh is one of India s best known writers His books include The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines, In An Antique Land, Dancing in Cambodia, The Calcutta Chromosome, The Glass Palace, Incendiary Circumstances, The Hungry Tide His most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, is the first volume of the Ibis Trilogy.Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta in 1956 He studied in Dehra Dun, New Delhi, Alexan

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  • Paperback
  • 333 pages
  • The Hungry Tide
  • Amitav Ghosh
  • English
  • 15 June 2018
  • 9780618711666

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