Line on a map, a truly intriguing title, is an account of a true life incident that occurred in the life of an eminent pediatrician working at one of the premier institutions in the country. I wondered how a line on the map featured in the life of busy, hard-working doctor. Figured it for some experience on an airport while travelling, because what else could it be. Well, it turned out to be something that, for some reason, never crossed my mind.
The author had always heard stories of the life of his ancestors in Bangladesh before moving into what later became India, for jobs and such. When he was given an opportunity to visit the country for a medical conference, he decided to take that chance to try and trace out his roots. The preparation for the trip was almost as interesting as the trip turned out to be. The author's hilarious observations on the differences in the Bengali language spoken by Bengali's in different parts of the word were spot on. A simple journey of discovery turned into something much more when he came across the tales of changing world scenarios drastically affecting the lives of people caught in the cross-hairs of such events. A coincidence that seemed almost karmic in its occurrence, brought certain facts to light that the author may never have known about in the course of his life. Unfortunately, they were disturbing enough to shake him to his core and result in this story as a way of unburdening himself.
There is no doubt that the book has been written from the heart. As and when the reader moves ahead with the story, the question that keeps vibrating in one’s head is, ‘how can an event that took place decades ago and which had absolutely no impact on the author’s life be so devastating as to give him recurring nightmares for months together?’ I think the answer for that lies with the kind of person who is telling the story. He comes across as someone with a very strong sense of empathy as well as a heart that is full of kindness. Both extremely desirable qualities in a man who deals with little children on a daily basis. But I would think it probably leaves him open to much hurt and heartache as well.
When you see him consulting the works of great philosophers in the quest of an answer that most people would simply brush off as too complex to delve into or simply too time-consuming to ponder, it tends to make you pause and take some time to look around you and ask a few questions yourself that may not have easily available answers.
Once you understand where the author is coming from, everything else begins to fall into place. It seems an incredible journey to be able to trace your ancestry to a part of the world you have never been to before. The author’s experiences with the people he meets, from different strata of life, is an enriching read in itself. A little more editing would certainly help to make the book more taunter and more appealing to the reader, but the story certainly merits standing alone. It is a fast, easy read which is always a plus in today's busy lives. Also, for a first effort it certainly has a lot of flair. It is story that will make everyone who reads it strive to be a better person and do something good in this world.
Hopefully this experience of writing about all that he went through, proved to be as cathartic as he wished it to be.
The simplicity of the writing, keeps it real and the reader engrossed. I loved the trip to Bangladesh with the author (by means of reading). The lucid relaxed narrative lets you savour every scene. The story flows like a river bubbly, clear, light and gushing that hits the planes finding the ancestral homes laden with the silt of emotion and then creates many streams of conflicting coloured sentiments before finally blurring lines limiting the riverlets from one another. Reminds me of Ruskin Bond. A perspective of a generation that has grown up hearing happy pre-partition memoirs and some sordid tales of migration during partitions but who can’t fully feel the pain for not having experienced it. Let’s tell stories that etch beautiful memories and kindle love, so the Lines will blur as gruesome memories fade. Cheers to a world without lines. An Artist, A Doctor and now A Writer, and great at it all......hats off to you. A big fan. Geeta
Excellent book by a first timer. As you read through you live through his eyes/mind/heart and enjoy the sensitivities of the author. The book is a must read for any person from Indian subcontinent or I would say anyone in Asia and Europe as each one of us or our elders have gone through similar pain of uprooted from our land some time in our life. Interestingly I read the book on my way to a business trip to Berlin and in the evening I saw that One Brick Line symbolising the Berlin wall and just remember this author once again, and hoped that one day he and all of us would have a united world, with no bloodied national boundaries and just pure flow of humanity and love as experienced by Dr Sourabh and his friends from Bangladesh. Waiting for your next one, hope your family is already pestering you to right next one...
I had lived in Chandigarh several years ago, though this was long before the author, Dr Dutta and his wife came to Chandigarh. His novella is really a pleasant surprise - this wonderful account of Opar Bangla (The Other Bengal). My family too belonged to Noakhali district in Bangladesh. When I was born in 1943, India was still not partitioned. I wish Dr Sourabh Dutta can give some time to writing and give us more real-life stories from his medical professional life. May God bless him!
A beautifully written first book by a busy academic doctor taking time out from his demanding schedule of teaching and training doctors while taking care of seriously ill tiny children. A lucid, very simple, compelling, fresh and direct style of writing that grips the reader from the first page and make one finish the book in one go. In fact reading this book makes one feel part of the narrative.The author has an eye for details, an uncanny sense of humor and a great knowledge of history. The result is a fantastic interweaving of real life daily mundane events with the history and great personalities of the past. Many insightful and humor filled nuanced instances of perceived differences of Bengali language, cuisine and culture. For me it was a first time reading of a very touching account of the story of "partition" of the Indian subcontinent on the Eastern side, and it's lasting impact on people's lives and subsequent history of the region. Most of the popular writings, movies, documentaries etc on these horrifying events that occurred around the Independence of India are from what happened during the biggest migration of people, the mankind has ever seen on the Western side of India. This sensitively written personal story will definitely touch many hearts as it did for me. There are still millions of people on either sides of the lines on the map with similar stories running through their families. The book will encourage readers to search for their own roots which in itself may help in understanding, accepting, and confronting the past with the hope that it may throw up some unexpected solutions for everlasting peaceful existence. The book gives a very visual description of the beautiful abundant lush greenery of Bangladesh's countryside, and the warmth, hospitable and enterprising nature of her people. The sudden twist of events toward the final chapters delving into the idea of nation, nationality and nationhood raises acute awareness of these highly relevant matters today. There are many such "lines on the world map" drawn arbitrarily by the powers that be across the globe with lingering consequences. An eye opening, extremely good read, highly recommended for everyone.
i always knew that fictions are not possible , they take birth in the minds of the writers on basis of some significant experience. And it is through fictions that we are able to communicate serious concepts best. Sourabh Dutta has been characteristically honest in admitting that this novella is based on his experience of visiting his ancestral land. But what he has achieved through his graphic details of his experience is a powerful and persuasive commentary on the futility of defining nation states- of us and them . poignantly, he said nations are based on shared grief and suffering more than shared successes. In such times as presently we see in our country, reading Dutta's wonderful novella reminds us about the futility of indulging in this binary of us and them. The honesty in the detailing of the experience is indeed touching, it seems that the author did not want to embellish his narrative by any exaggeration or by removing any unnecessary or jarring components of the experience. I think that has added to the power of the narrative. i have always been convinced that physicians make some of the best narrators. Dutta has proved me correct once again. Skills of good observation, listening well and finding patterns out of a mass of sensory input and honesty of converting observations into documentation all come out through this novel and tells me how good a physician Dr Dutta must be besides a star novelist in the making,
Effortlessly managed to finish reading the novella on a single sitting. Dr Sourabh Dutta definitely deserves to be applauded for his maiden effort in writing. The novella is immaculately written for a first timer, it is engrossing and riveting . The best writing is almost always about deeply personal experiences which very few of us have the courage, conviction and aptitude to pen down for others and posterity. Dr Dutta has just hit the bull's eye by giving in to this overpowering urge to share about about his personally life-changing experience. I am glad that the most intellectually engrossing part of the work was saved for the end were he talks about nationality. I do agree that nations cannot be based on a language or religion but a common suffering and forebearance.
The novella is indeed timely, topical and moving. I certainly was enthralled on reading the author's maiden work and would recommend it for fellow readers.
Kudos to Dr Dutta and Good luck for future endeavours
What starts off as the author's search for his roots eventually ends with bigger questions on what does it mean to belong to a nation, community or religion. The question is even more pertinent at this point of time. With emphasis on patriotism and violence in the name of nationalism becoming the new normal in many countries across the world, the author shows us through his personal story how most of us are 'connected'.
The book based on personal anecdotes and experience is well researched. It manages to maintain a fast face and almost has the feeling of a 'whodunit'. A great first novel and hopefully first of many books by the author!
It revives my wish to visit my mother land once again. Excellent writing of the emotional feeling you get on visiting ancestors home and the feeling of local people who are bonded by same language and help to one who is on a.mission . It also appeal to those who had to leave their roots due to partition or other reason any where in the world. It also shows the bonding of common people speaking the same language whether Bengali or Urdu irrespective of the political position.
A long essay if you will. The novel describes the journey of a descendant from what is now Bangladesh. It shows how incidents far away at a unrelated area have the capacity to affect lives in the world. Whether we like it or not religion has always played a role in subverting every nation it has entered. Be it the Roman Empire, the America of the Red Indians or the Hindustan across the Sindhu river.