bristled with rollicking laughter and it offered amusement
at all levels — a full throated humour formed the format of
the book. In this book his concerns are quite a bit serious. Rao
selects the Gentoo (Telegu) region of the coast as the locale in
1830s, the crucial period in the history of advent of the
British in India, who invade this country as traders through the
East India Company and eventually become masters in the
hundred-odd years to come i.e. till 1947. The India of those
times is seen through the eyes of Grace Claire, a young English
woman who comes here in search of an eligible young man for
herself. She finds the man, but decides to go back to her
Island, because she can not bring herself to adjust to the very
British way of lift in the midst of squalor; famine and drought
when the river Krishna is always three quarters full. As Grace
tries to come to terms with this strange land and its strange
people, she tries to learn and unlearn a great deal in this
country which is full strange paradoxes. She is somehow unable
to understand the near callous attitude of the British in India
towards the pressing problems of the natives.
of Regrets is a country to visit, but not to live in," says
Grace, while planning to go back to England. In this complex
saga, the novel tries to tell a tale woven around conflict and
conquest, love and disillusionment. Those times are of ‘Suttee’
and also the age-old profession of prostitution. What Grace
tells her mother in England through letters about religion of
those times it is still to be seen in the India today.
is misused everywhere, principally for political purposes, as
much here as much there. And is something else common to all
religions: whatever the religion or the climate one thing is
common: impairment of women."
The novel makes
ample use of the epistolary form of narrative to unravel this
legend-inspired novel banking heavily on chronicles for its
infrastructure. The novel brings together a storehouse of
umpteen number of sayings, proverbs, aphorisms which have a
salutary impact on the narrative at appropriate places. Over a
period of time some of these sayings have found countrywide
acceptance. A few samplers would suffice:
"Debt is a
sugar to him who eats sugar."
are about to die, they get wings."
appearances a saint, but deep inside a devil."
This is the book for those who
are addicted to the Raj nostalgia and also for those Indians who
have South fixations for food habits, celebrations of all events
and non-events under the sun and game of games of those times
‘Hog-hunting’. The novel hints at the lackadaisical approach
to the politics of those times and the very condescending
attitude of those natives in authority, towards even the
small-time officers of the East India Company. There are quite a
few candid observations about the people of India. One such
observation, at random, catches the eye. "But—-there is
always a but in India, it seems to me to be the but-country, the
Land of Yes-No."