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Days and Nights in Calcutta (A Ruminator Find) Paperback – October 1, 1995


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Product Details

  • Series: A Ruminator Find
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ruminator Books (October 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886913013
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886913011
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,020,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Doug Anderson VINE VOICE on March 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most unique travel books I've ever read. The first 165 pages are written by Canadian novelist & short story writer Clark Blaise and are followed by a 115 page section by his wife, Bharati Mukherjee, also a novelist & short story writer & Berkeley professor. The book originally appeared in 1975 and documents in two distinct voices a year spent in the company of Mukherjee's family in India, first in Bombay then in Calcutta.
Blaise and Mukherjee met at a writers workshop in Iowa, married, and lived in Canada with their two children until their house burned down which left them homeless and prompted their journey east. Mukherjee spent her formative years in Calcutta and is returning to a largely familiar world but to Blaise everything is new. The first sixty pages of his narrative take place in Bombay and Blaise is never altogether at home there as they are staying with Mukherjees parents and her father is the uncontested head of the household. Blaise's trips into the city are flights from the congestion of stifling family life, his insights into the nature of Indian family life are in equal parts humorous and informative(the family does not even know the first name of a servant who has lived with them for years, nor do they show any interest in knowing). This view of India from an outsider given an insiders access is just one of many aspects of this book that distinguishes it from mere travel narrative. His initiation into the rituals and customs and (to him)peculiarites of Indian family life make for great reading. But the best section is the sustained amazement and energy of the 10-15 page description of Calcutta(where they have chosen to spend the better part of the year in a mission which caters to scholars) as he rides a rickshaw through its cluttered streets.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kim Burdick on September 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
In this early book Bharati Mukherjee and her writer husband, Clark Blaise, recount their individual stories of the aftermath of a personal tragedy that leads them to the safe harbor of Mukherjee's family home in Calcutta.

The complexities of adjustment and readjustment to life in Calcutta where one is never alone, and their individual adaptations to the social and cultural norms of an extended Bengali family, are neatly laid out side by side by this husband and wife team.

Clark's story is like looking through binoculars trying to identify something far away. He shares his initial wonder and confusion at what he sees, hears, smells and experiences with the reader and as with the clarity that comes from twisting the knobs on binoculars, India comes slowly and clearly into focus.

Bharati's tale is more like looking through a microscope at Indian culture. As she steps back into her Indian past after fourteen years in the United States and Canada, she compares and contrasts her shifting cultural expectations in a fascinating, almost analytical way.

Although their stories rarely converge in this book, we see how their year in India changes them and eventually draws them closer together.

The book is a fine memoir that will strike responsive notes in readers of Mukherjee's novels.

Kim Burdick
Stanton, Delaware
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are interested in Why Bengal is the Intellectual Center of India... And Why Calcutta is not quite what you think it is...This book is for you...

I couldn't put it down once I started reading...

Book takes you inside the extended family of a well to do Bengali businessman and contrasts their world in Bengal with that of the West...

A Literate informed style...makes it like having coffee with friends in Calcutta...

While the book is a bit old being written in the 70's...Everything in it seems like India today ... Its a keeper if Calcutta & Bengal is on your radar screen... Great for the Traveler or Cultural Historian... More than another Travel Book on India...
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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
In the first half of this documentary of a family's trip to India, Blaise paints an anti-feminist and harsh perpective of his wife's Indian heritage. At first compassionate, Blaise soon loses his readers with his inattention to plot and chronology. His story jumps from his time with his family in Bombay to Calcutta and the present with almost no transitioning explanation while his use of Indian words unknown to his reader are not clarified.
If Mukherjee had written this book entirely, readers' interest may not have wandered as far. Bharati's interpretation of their journey is nostalgic and whimsical at the same time, telling of her return to India after a fourteen-year absence. She often visites the idea of what if; for example, what if she'd stayed behind in India and married an Indian? What if she'd led the traditional Indian life?
I feel a bit sorry for her story being the secondary plot in this otherwise difficult book.
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