Ruchir Gupta reveals to his readers how intelligent, calm, and caring Jahanara, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal's daughter was throughout her life. She waRuchir Gupta reveals to his readers how intelligent, calm, and caring Jahanara, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal's daughter was throughout her life. She was fair, and tried to convince her father, the Mughal King, to treat his sons equally after the love of his life died. Unfortunately, Shah Jahan favored his eldest son, loving Dara, even when he lost an important war that would give Kandahar back to the Mughals. The names he called one of his sons built into a resentment that could not be quelled.
Mughals "had adopted a turbulent spirit of rebellion and sedition, where anything and everything was considered fair game to gain the throne." The familial relationships that Mumtaz Mahal wanted for all of her children were dashed when she died. Brother turned against brother, sister against sister. Each wanted the throne, and the girls wanted to become a "named" Empress, like Shah Jahan had named Jahanara.
Lies were told about Jahanara to discredit her role as Empress. A mughal princess was never allowed to have a relationship or marry. When Jahanara was severely burned, an Englishman saved her life. She and the Englishman fell in love. Jahanara dressed as a young boy to meet secretly with her lover. Unbeknownst to her, another "peasant" woman was dressing as a young boy to meet in a clandestine affair with Shah Jahan for years. Thus the rumor began that Shah Jahan was having an affair with her own father.
Ruchir Gupta portrays the tolerant views of Shah Jahan towards the Muslims and Hindus. He also portrays a sex-starved ruler, who could not be satiated by thousands of concubines after his beloved wife died. The glory of the Taj Mahal and the Red Fort will live on forever in India as the beautiful architecture Shah Jahan's vision became a reality under his rule.
Shah Jahan died with his head on his daughter, Jahanara's lap when he was imprisoned by his son who took over his father's role as King of the Mughal empire. Shah Jahan's last loving look was at the Taj Mahal where his wife lay for years, his monument to Mumtaz Mahal. His son was not the loving ruler his father had been. The Mughal empire was nearing its end. Kudos to Ruchir Gupta for shedding light on the newest story of the Mughal empire, lauding the empress Jahanara, a true Mughal leader, responsible for much of the greatness of Shah Jahan's empire. ...more
I felt like I was in the Land Rover with Cynthia Moss as she described in great detail the behaviors of elephants. In her thirteen years observing eleI felt like I was in the Land Rover with Cynthia Moss as she described in great detail the behaviors of elephants. In her thirteen years observing elephant behavior, Cynthia watched the younger and older elephants sparring, rolling and bathing in mud. She learned that elephants are quite tactile, touching and leaning against each other. Their greeting ceremonies are elaborate. The grumble, lift and spread and flap their ears, trumpet, scream, spin, urinate and defecate. Greetings among elephants last as long as ten minutes! These greeting ceremonies prove the bonds among the many family members have for one another. When one animal is dying, others in the family try to hold the elephant up, finally burying the dead elephant with branches and earth, leaving her behind only when necessary.
During the drought periods, Cynthia Moss carefully recorded elephant behavior in their relentless pursuit of water and food, watching how the once playful elephants became wary and thin, many losing their ability to feed their young. Half of the baby calves died during Cynthia's watch in 1974.
During better times, when water and grass was plentiful, Cynthia observed the estrous behavior of elephants. The larger bulls are what the female elephants tend to wait for, tending to run away from the younger males. When an older bull has set his smell and eyes on his female, and she has smelled his powerful smell with his secretions from afar, the male mates with her after she runs, and he chases and catches and mounts her, protecting her for 2-3 days until he tires of her and goes back to his "male" family to hang out. The other males know their place until the bull leaves.
The more aggressive females in the family lead the others to food. Their experience show the others how to survive. When a female has been "had" by her male, the others in the family surround the female and grunt and trumpet in celebration of "new life."
The elephants are pretty well protected in the Amboseli park. The Maasai only spear the elephants to show their strength, but otherwise leave them alone, showing animals respect. There are still hunters and poachers who shoot the elephants for their ivory.
Humans are identified by their teeth; Elephants can be identified by their ears, for their ears are distinct with tears and veins.
Cynthia describes watching the elephants as a "soap opera," for every day there are new discoveries in elephant behavior. This was an easy book to read, and VERY informative! I look forward to more reading before my daughter and I go on safari the summer of 2015!...more
This is not a book you will forget. Harold Fry had retired from the brewery. The book begins with his wife giving him orders early in the morning at bThis is not a book you will forget. Harold Fry had retired from the brewery. The book begins with his wife giving him orders early in the morning at breakfast. Harold appears meek and sedentary. He receives a letter from one of his former colleagues from the brewery saying that she is in hospice, dying of cancer and just wants to say goodbye. Harold quickly writes a letter to her and leaves the house to mail it.
Harold could have posted the letter close to home, but he kept walking to the next post, then the next, then the next...Harold decides that he is going to walk across England to Berwick-upon-Tweed to say goodbye to Queenie Hennessy. He opens the envelope and rewrites that he is coming and she should wait for him. Thus Harold begins his walking journey.
"As time passed and he found his rhythm, he began to feel more certain. England opened beneath his feet, and the feeling of freedom, of pushing into the unknown, was so exhilarating he had to smile. He was in a world by himself and nothing could get in the way or ask him to mow the lawn."
Harold had only driven from one city to another. He began to see the monotony of his life as he walked, stopped, and saw the beauty of the landscape. "There were so many shades of green Harold was humbled. Some were almost a velvety black, others so light they verged on yellow...How was it he had never noticed all this before? Pale flowers, the name of which he didn't know, pooled the foot of the hedgerows, along with primroses and violets."
Rachel Joyce's writing is exquisite. Harold has hours, days, and weeks to reflect upon his life. He had an abusive father whose wartime experiences left his hands trembling and his mouth mean. His mom walked out on the family.
Most of the time, Harold focused on his early married life with his wife, Maureen. He thought about how they laughed, how she wore her hair, what her dress looked like... His relationship with his wife grew farther and farther apart when their son had rejected both of them. Before that rejection, Maureen and his son, David, bonded in their disrespect of Harold.
Harold's journey was his "new beginning." He took the time to accept the strangeness of others that he met along the way. Strangers took care of him when Harold appeared he could walk no longer... Harold was accepted and loved on this journey. Meanwhile, as the journey continued, Harold's story of his own life unraveled...
Maureen, being left alone, had her own journey to reflect upon when Harold walked out the door that morning, and did not come back...
This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. We all have a past, and as we get older, we take the time to reflect upon the good and the bad...Life for all of us is a journey. ...more
This is a continuation of Red Azalea. "The Cooked Seed," meaning Anchee, who had to leave China because she was known as Madame Mao's "trash" for haviThis is a continuation of Red Azalea. "The Cooked Seed," meaning Anchee, who had to leave China because she was known as Madame Mao's "trash" for having been a lead in one of Madame Mao's operas. When the Cultural Revolution came to a grinding halt, and Madame Mao was imprisoned, Anchee found herself on a plane to America to start her life over again in freedom.
As many immigrants have discovered, America is the land of the free, but it is not paved with gold. Anchee had to work long and hard to learn English and go to "art" school in order to keep a green card to stay in America. She lived in the poor side of town in order to survive. Anchee was even raped by a roommate from China. She lived with another Chinese man who, being an artist, and one of a free spirit, did not pull his weight financially. Anchee and this man bought a run down apartment, and every free moment, Anchee was fixing leaks, putting up new ceilings, walls, etc. The tenants trashed the appliances and the apartments. The inspectors were critical, often citing fines that Anchee had to pay. Between the fines, the fixes, and the mortgage, life was beyond difficult. When Anchee's first book was published, she was able to pay off the mortgage.
Anchee's time for having a baby was "ticking," and she became pregnant with the artist. They finally got married, but Anchee grew tired of being the breadwinner and the motivator in their marriage. She packed up her luggage and her young daughter and moved to California. She continued to write, to publish, and to find a new man who she would marry and be devoted to her and to her daughter.
Anchee faced one problem after another in her life, both in China and in America. She was scammed and taken advantage of so many times. Only in her later life has she found peace and recognition. She and her husband worked hard to ensure that their now grown daughter would attend Stanford University. Anchee faced all odds in two countries...An interesting and "heavy" read.
The Mountain of Light is the Kohinoor diamond, acquired, along with other unusual, splendid jewels and gems by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the PunjabThe Mountain of Light is the Kohinoor diamond, acquired, along with other unusual, splendid jewels and gems by the Maharaja Ranjit Singh of the Punjab. The Maharajah, an honored ruler, housed a dethroned ruler of Afghanistan, Shah Shuja, in great style, with the hopes of acquiring the Kohinoor diamond from him, a 186 carat, flawless diamond. When the ruler's wife, Wafa, continued to delay the transfer, the Maharajah stopped all food and water from coming to them until the Kohinoor diamond was brought forth and given to the Maharajah.
The Maharaja ruled for many years. The British took took their place in India, and started to annex the lands of the Punjab empire, along with the treasury that once belonged to the Maharaja. The Maharaja's son, Maharajah Dalip Singh, was only a young child when his father died. The child was brought up by Indians and the English in his own land. The Kohinoor diamond was sent, by almost total secrecy, to England to become the property of the Queen of England. The Maharajah Dalip Singh, a sixteen year old, was brought by his English caretakers to England. England had taken all of his inheritance. In place was a yearly salary that would take care of the Maharahah Dalip Singh for life. Was this an equal exchange? Only the reader can judge for himself what was lost, and what was gained by England's takeover of India in this era.
This was a totally captivating third book by the author, Indu Sundaresan!...more