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Muscular India: Masculinity, Mobility and the New Middle Class India

by Michiel Baas.

Westland.

Pages 306.

Rs 699.

The gyms of urban ‘new India’ are intriguing spaces. While they cater largely to well-off clients, these shiny, modern institutions are also vehicles of upward mobility for the trainers and specialists who work there. The gyms also aspire to be a safe space for women — a break from the toxic masculinity they must deal with outside its walls. Yet, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Class barriers are less permeable than they appear. The use of bodily capital to breach them is more fraught with danger than one might anticipate. And the profession is riddled with pitfalls and contradictions. Michiel Baas has spent a decade studying gyms, trainers and bodybuilders, and finds in them a new way to investigate India. He walks us through the homes and workspaces of these men — yes, they are almost all men — to bodybuilding competitions and also into their most intimate worlds of ambitions, desires and struggles. An unusual study of an unusual subject, Baas unveils a fascinating world, hidden in plain sight.

The Loneliness of Hira Barua

by Arupa Patangia Kalita. Translated by Ranjita Biswas.

Pan Macmillan.

Pages 240.

Rs 450.

Originally published as Mariam Austin othoba Hira Barua, this remarkable collection by one of Assam’s finest living writers won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2014. In this brilliant English translation by Ranjita Biswas, Arupa Patangia Kalita’s powerful voice is brought to fresh and vivid life. Written in a variety of styles, from gritty social realism, folklore to magical realism, The Loneliness of Hira Barua is a modern classic of Indian literature. It tells the story of Hira Barua, an ageing widow living in a conflict-ridden region of Assam with her beloved Tibetan spaniel, who fears she is beginning to resemble a lonely Englishwoman from her past. A vicious sexual assault by the invading military drives a group of women into a shelter home. On a fateful night, a group of prostitutes makes an extraordinary sacrifice for the safety of its companions. In this, and 13 other piercing, intimate portraits, women navigate family, violence, trauma, ambition and domesticity with caution, grace and quiet resilience.

Quintessentially Tata: My Journey Over 55 Years

by Syamal Gupta.

Rupa.

Pages 208.

Price 295

This is an anecdotal biography of an industry leader who ventured out of India on behalf of the Tata Group, blazing a trail for its growth into new geographies, products and services, providing rare insights into the Tatas’ spirit of entrepreneurship. It is a must-read for all those simply curious or actively interested to know about the Tata visionaries and the working of Bombay House, the head office of the Tata group in Mumbai. The author has an experience over 55 years with the group and was among one of its bricklayers. This book vividly chronicles his varied work experiences, ranging from the challenges of setting up Tata Precision Industries in Singapore in the 1970s to the difficulties of widening the group’s trade horizons in Africa and around the globe. Full of personal anecdotes, this account reflects the Tatas’ philosophy of trust, its culture of innovation and the growth of the group into new geographies, products and services, by staying committed, focusing on the big picture and building relationships to surmount difficulties.

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