David Shulman, professor of humanistic studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an expert on South Indian languages and cultures has written Spring, Heat, Rains: A South Indian Journey (University of Chicago Press, $25/Special Indian price, Rs 1,004) which is not just a travelogue but a long meditation on Telegu literature with reflections on Andhra history. As a journey across space and time, it is rather like a genre without rules, free from precept or precedent: part travel writing, part literary appreciation but above all, a philosophy expressed in images. Shulman is also a scholar in Sanskrit and classical Hindustani music, plus much else besides, and brings to bear his formidable learning to this book, which he admits to “a restlessness that rules me, so the landscapes shift like the languages and the texts”. All of which makes it difficult to write about it in this limited space!
As you might expect, the diary is lyrical, sensual but more than anything else, it is introspective. Just about everything becomes a part of the huge canvas Shulman builds his story on. There are reflections on daily happenings and the life around: “Rocks. Goats. Dry shrubs, Buffaloes. Thorns. A fallen tamarind tree.” Simple observations of the daily lives of ordinary people of Rajahmundry, on the banks of the river Godavari which like all rivers in India are sacred and determine the life styles of millions around. Shulman has been bitten by the metaphysical bug:
“How did I happen to find myself in Rajamundhry in the early spring of 2006? The answer would be the river called me. She — the Godavari — is imperious, also infinitely seductive. Rajamundhry is her town. When I saw her, she extracted a promise that I would return:….”
Full report here Business Standard