If books could be translated into wealth, I am a very rich man. I don’t know whether I add to my bank balance each week but this I do know – books keep coming in. Some are gifts, others are mementoes, a few come for review, and (when Sarada is not looking), I buy them, chiefly from second hand bookshops and sales. So here is a new series, on the book that comes home in the previous week.
This week I feature Remembering India by Sir David Goodall, British High Commissioner to India, 1987-1991- bought at the Madras Club sale, this is a small, hardcover book that was published by Scorpion Cavendish and sponsored by Prudential Corporation. Published to coincide with 50 years of Indian independence, the irony is rich – a British ambassador writing on Indian monuments dating to empires that his countrymen finished off for good. The foreword is by LM Singhvi, then Indian High Commissioner to the UK.
The book is a joy to read, each page devoted to one monument/building of India that took Sir David’s fancy while he was here. Being a trained artist, he has done paintings of them all and they feature in the book, one on each page along with his notes. Three sketches concern Chennai – the shore temple at Mamallapuram, St Andrews Kirk and a temple that Sir David tentatively assigns to Tambaram but which I think is Thiruvallur. But then he says he sketched it while he was travelling from Mamallapuram to Madras, and so could it be Thiruvidanthai? It does not look like it. What for instance are those Bengali and Burmese temple like structures on the left and front respectively?
The book was originally priced at Rs 495 and proceeds went to the Cheshire Homes. My copy,bought for Rs 20 (sorry Cheshire Homes) has had an impressive history by itself, judging by the scribbles on the first page. It was gifted in 1998 by Maj Gen Virendra Singh, one of the trustees of Cheshire Homes), to Smt Indira Kothari (another trustee). She in turn donated it to the Madras Club, where after roosting in the splendid library there for quite a while, the book was put up on sale.
Welcome home, Remembering India!