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Snakes and Ladders

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  309 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
India is a land of contrasts. It is the world's most populous democracy, but still upholds the caste system. It is a burgeoning economic superpower but one of the poorest nations on earth. It is the home of the world's biggest movie industry after Hollywood as well as to still-practiced religions that are millennia old. As India celebrates fifty years of independence in 19 ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 13th 1998 by Anchor Books (first published April 1st 1997)
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Sep 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read and really liked Mehta's River Sutra. So far, this book is a quick but thoughtful read.

10-19-08: Having finished the book, I have to say that what I liked best, or perhaps remember best, is her defense of the rich heterogeneity of India and the passionate interest that she sees Indians taking in their own political process. Westerners often look for themselves in India and in what they read about the country. Mehta does a good job of criticizing the things that are wrong as she sees it,
Apr 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
I found it boring, slow moving, and somewhat irrelevant. It is set up as a series of essays on modern India, and its time since independance, presenting India as a land of vast contrasts- which it surely is. However, I felt like the book only scratched the surface, revealing very little.
Sally Edsall
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Some time ago I read a really outstanding piece of fiction about India - "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry. I am very pleased to have subsequently read this.

It's a collection of very easy to read short essays on Indian politics and society since Indendence (including the author watching Gandhi's funeral pass as a 5 year old).

It covers many of the events forming the basis of A Fine Balance, especially The Emergency period. It also brings things more up to date.

I really like reading it after A F
Feb 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was born in India at a time when the 1984 Sikh riots had only just begun; this meant I had missed out on all the drama of the political administration led by Indira Gandhi during that time.

I had first picked up this book in the spring of 2011 because I had felt I had not given a lot of attention to Indian writers. I guess I thought Indian writers probably wouldn’t be able to entice me due to their style of writing being so familiar to me already or so I thought.

Gita Mehta’s writing style was p
Aseem Juneja
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Author paints a true picture of India but in the process also makes fun of a great nation. I could not help but remembered all throughout the book how her family (father - Biju Patnaik; brother - Naveen Patnaik) who have ruled Orissa/Odisha (one of the poorest states in India) for last 15+ years and are responsible for the extreme poverty, naxalism and backwardness in Orissa.

Born with a silver spoon in a house that had a convertible car even before India gained independence it's easy to point fi
Aug 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: india
A quick read, somewhat old now as it was published in 1998, but some interesting insights into things Indian. Interesting perspective from a Westernerised Indian of the time as to India's then problems, economic, social and political. She describes the 1950s as when Nehru dreamt of a self sufficient economy through rapid industrialisation but neglected the needs of rural India. The 60s as seeing gains from the Green Revolution, which were subsequently lost in the 70s due to obsessive centralisat ...more
Dec 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library-books
India is a country that fascinates me and I was looking forward to Mehta's book to help me understand more about the country. It does do that but her writing also assumes that you already know a lot about the history of the country, which, I admit, I don't. At times, this makes it frustrating to read. Also, as I know realize the book is 11 years old, I wonder how much of what she writes still holds true today. In any case, part four of the book, which told more about the culture and general life ...more
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I guess I prefer the passionate narrative style of Arundathi Roy when it comes to India and its issues. Possibly because this book is a collection of essays that were published in different magazines at different times, I didn't find a pattern or connecting piece between them. It is possible that I am growing less fond of essays and moving on towards full-length fiction with strong characters and a gripping plot.
Feb 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
The book pretty well sums up India. There are a lot of personal anecdotes. You get a good sense of the overwhelming pride Indians feel for the country she describes as flawed. You get a real feeling of the chaos that is India between newspaper ads for arranged marriages, tree marriages, history lessons, and more.
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a great book about modern India written by an Indian citizen who has traveled not only throughout India but also the world. She describes the incredible struggles and triumphs India as a nation has gone through since gaining independence from England, and a little bit about customs, traditions, and culture. Probably my biggest realization from this book is how diverse this nation is.
Oct 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: political
A quick study of contemporary India, a land of massive contradictions. The author has a way of making India's many challenges into personal and intimately relevant vignettes. Recommended for anyone planning to travel there.
Jun 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A must read if you are at all interested in India. Entertaining and highly informative.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Sassy and thought-provoking perspective on Indian culture and history since independence. Good historical prep reading for a trip to the country, if taken with a grain of salt.
Gita Mehta offers the reader, through a series of commentaries condensed into chapters, a view into India's idiosyncracies, history, and practices.
Jun 16, 2011 added it
Shelves: painting-ideas
front cover with black background.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps a bit outdated having been published in 1997, but it still offers a fascinating glimpse into the complex religious, cultural, and political influences of India through essay chapters.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great insights about life in, and history of, India post British Raj. Enlightening from page 1 all the way through!
Feb 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
Got bored with this one. She didn't have anything to say that I haven't heard from my friends.
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
There was hardly anything in this book that I didn't read in the newspapers or school history books.Very text bookish.
Feb 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very informative factual book about life in India today - easy and interesting read
Jan 04, 2009 is currently reading it
Mehta's journalistic style captures the 50 years after Partition in 35 snippets that smack politics and culture together.
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It gives engaging anecdotal vignettes of "recent" Indian history.
Aravindh Sundaragopalan
Great book and provides a very pragmatic picture of India. I am in agreement with the author on lot of her viewpoints. Nice Read if you are interested in Indian history,economics and politics.
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
great if travelling to india, otherwise, i'm not sure i'd read it.
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
It is not a large book. It started out very interesting but then got too political for my tastes.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
She is a great writer, easy to read. I enjoyed the mix of history of India, her own memoirs, and a native's viewpoint but from the outside looking in, as she doesn't live in India full-time.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was ok

Interesting but nothing that will keep you captivated.
rated it liked it
Apr 11, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Oct 23, 2007
Matthew Wilson
rated it liked it
May 28, 2009
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Gita Mehta (born in 1943) is an Indian writer and was born in Delhi in a well-known Odia family. She is the daughter of Biju Patnaik, an Indian independence activist and a Chief Minister in post-independence Odisha, then known as Orissa. Her younger brother Naveen Patnaik has been the Chief Minister of Odisha since 2000. She completed her education in India and at the University of Cambridge, Unit ...more
More about Gita Mehta