Mind travel through books

Poor me. I have never been outside Indonesia even for journalistic purposes. I myself is not a travel lover. When I was still a teenager, only few places I would love to visit: Mecca as the ultimate holy site for Muslims; Torino as the home base of my favorite football club Juventus; and recently is Salinas where my beloved author John Steinbeck was born.

I have read some books, mostly novels, ever since I rarely went to the fields back in 2010. Working all day long in an air-conditioned room bores me but it provides me with a lot of time of reading. I actually read to absorb authors’ ideas and their perspectives as well as enjoy what fantasy are on offers. Not many books I have read so far. At first, I start reading American literature, then classic books, before I end up digesting books on Indian literature. Tell you what? India has very talented writers with excellent English proficiency. and currently, Amitav Ghosh’s novels top my reading list. One thing I like from his books is they bring my mind into a virtual trip to remote, strange places across the world.

When you read his books, you know that you take yourself in a visionary journey across oceans, countries, even continents. His vivid descriptions allow readers to experience as if they accompany him in his trips. I enjoy this kind of sensation while I read “The Glass Palace”, a perfect start-up choice to later explore his novels.

I truly must confess that I want to visit Ratnagiri, Mandalay, Calcutta, and even Rangoon. Basically, all places that serve as the novel’s settings. It will be like a literature journey. No offense but I firstly think India is not a country really worth a visit. I mean, I already catch enough pictures of this second most densely-populated nation through movies as I love Bollywood. Through the pens of Ghosh, however, the nation turns out to be more interesting than I once thought.

One of the places that drive me into wonder is Ratnagiri. Had I not read “The Glass Palace”, I would probably not know the site. The place, as the novel says, is the place where Burma’s last king-in-exile Thebaw and Queen Supayalat resides. My recent search reveals that the place is a beautiful port city on the Arabian Sea coast in Ratnagiri district in the southwestern part of Maharashtra, India. The district is a part of Konkan.

thank you to travel.yahoo.com for the pict of Ratnagiri

And it’s embarrassing to discover that I just know that Mandalay is Burma’s former capital through this book. LOL.

“The Hungry Tide” introduces me to the so-called nautical literature coupled with beautiful places laying around the Bengal Bay on the border of Bangladesh and India. Here, I encounter a place called the Sundarbans which falls under UNESCO’s protected mangrove site. I also learn about massacre in Marichjhapi, an island set in the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans. Many are died due to police brutality, disease, and starvation during an incident in 1978-1979 as the newly-elected Communist Party of India (Marxist) of West Bengal forcibly evict thousands of Bengali refugees who previously settle on the island.

thank you to empireslastcasualty.blogspot.com for the site of Marichjhapi

“The Circle of Reason” give me a unique mind trip to Africa. Till now, I keep on wondering how could such hot, deserted places such as Egypt and Algeria inspire the prolific author to write. Unfortunately, major sites in Ghosh’s first novel are fictitious thus I can hardly locate which part of Egypt Al-Ghaziri is. But anyway, this book opens up for me to explore the African literature someday. I am also eager to read books on Latin America.

Algeria as in hellotravel.com

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Too much too ask

The Circle of Reason is Amitav Ghosh’s fourth book that I have read. Given its unique title, it once topped my to-be-read list by the author. It took me just about two weeks to finish reading it thanks to simple language and wonderful, incredible ideas of the book. Instead of being satisfied after reading the book, all I have right now in my mind is a bunch of questions, which only Mr. Ghosh, who will be able to answer it. Compared to the first three of his novels that I have read — The Glass Palace, Sea of Poppies, and The Hungry TideThe Circle of Reason leaves me clueless on few things. If you happen to have read the book, or at least waste your time by reading my synopsis, you’ll get my points.

1. About The Life of Pasteur, germs, intellectual debates on Reason

Louis Pasteur, a French microbiologist, sheds some lights to the core issue of the book. Balaram and Gopal, then later Alu adopts him as their father of Reason. They implement what they have read in the book to real life. Specially for Balaram, the book turns him out to be a kind of freak-admirer-weird fan of science thus prompts him to lead a campaign on clean underwear when he is still at the college then carbolic acid campaign in Lalpukur. Clean society starts from clean people, free from germs. This, too, drives Alu to wage war on capitalism and dirty things in the Ras, al-Ghazira. So many highly-thought debates in conversations between Balaram and Gopal that I think I don’t really comprehend them well even they are written in simple words. I wonder why Mr. Ghosh selects this topic, anyway, for this seems loosely attached with the finale of the book. I still sense a kind of small holes needed to be filled in.

2. Strange personality of the main character

Not only because Alu is physically strange, Mr. Ghosh also presents his not-so-ordinary character. First, Alu speaks so little. I have enjoyed reading many leading characters, and Alu is the first kind of very introvert character. He is so absorbed in his silence. He studies in his hearts. It feels like he lives the life in his mind only. But his modesty, honesty, and kindness earns respects from many people. I think Mr. Ghosh lacks of “completing Alu’s character development”. It’s a bit too late when Mr. Ghosh gives glimpse on Alu’s changing personality shown by his decision to return  The Life of Pasteur to Verma and admits he dislikes it. He is about to distance himself from his uncle’s shadows. The death of Kulfi makes him as a reborn person.  But as the novel stops, I don’t see many changes in Alu’s personality. I’d love to read how he becomes extrovert or speaks more about himself rather than takes on what other people say. As he grows older, he should have spoken more. If Mr. Ghosh continues this story, which seems far from realization, I’d love to see him changing.

3. Friendship among the outcasts

I think close ties among strangers is one of the powerful elements in this book, which later colors Sea of Poppies, Mr. Ghosh’s best-selling novel. The fact that the author creates al-Ghazira as a melting plot is unique in a way that friendship is easily binding regardless one’s past stories. As long as they have common goals, backgrounds are forgotten. Just look at how Alu wins the hearts of so many people without they ask for his reasons on why policemen raid the Star. A blend of cultures, languages, origins, marital status, is what makes the book is so colorful.

4. Never underestimate ridiculous ideas

Through Balaram’s weird personality, Mr. Ghosh shows me how intelligence sometimes comes in ridiculous ways of saying. As I stated before, look at how Balaram starts a campaign on wearing clean underwear and set up a school in a very modest plan. If you read the book, you’ll see how his friends mock and laugh at his ideas then shut their own mouths once they are fruitful. Even his initiatives to get Alu a weaving lesson proves to fruition as he is able to help him financing the school.

  1. Jokes and many jokes

The first one third part of the novel gives me so much pleasure. That’s why I read this book so quickly as I look forward to enjoy jokes it provides. I am so happy reading this book, and hope you will, too. One of the most memorable scenes that burst me into laughter is when Bhudeb Roy makes use the insurance money from his damaged school to buy, among others, some white T-shirts to his five sons. Bhudeb’s unemployed peers, who are gossiping under a banyan tree, can only murmur their envy when they look at the shiny shirts. I can imagine how miserable their faces are.

The Circle of Reason by Amitav Ghosh

thanks to waterstones.com

The day finally came. A big-headed, quiet boy arrived at Balaram and Toro-debi’s house, far away from the center of the city. Years before Alu embarked from Calcutta to Lalpukur village of Bengali, rumors have spread on how weird he would look. And things became much more shocking for the childless couple that Toro-debi had to hide away from Alu when he just stepped into their house. Balaram, a huge fan of phrenology, was way more afraid than his wife. His great love toward the old science put himself at such an alarmed level that he saw nothing but bleak future ahead of Alu’s life, merely because of his potato head.

Indeed, Balaram had more worries to think of. First, Alu did not behave like his peers did. He spoke so little. For the couple, this confused them so much. What does he like? What kind of food does he want? Toru-debi, who spent too much time working on her sewing machine, was at first clueless on how should she prepare for Alu.

As years went by, things got little clear yet still confusing. He doesn’t like to be at school. Must have been something to do with his head. He is so weird, Balaram once confesses to his close friend Gopal. You’re non sense. He’s just a boy. Watch him grow up, Gopal replies.

Ill-fated eight year old Alu had to face bitter fact when his parents died in an accident. He was transferred to Balaram, whom, as a matter of fact, was expelled from the family as he was accused of ruining the family’s business. Balaram himself was a teacher at a school in a small, traditional village of Lalpukur. Gopal and Balaram was good friends, who remained in a good touch, despite their differences, arguments, debates on science, logic, and microbiology.

Alu did not like being at school. This embarassed Balaram for he was a respected teacher in the school. But don’t get it wrong. Alu was not a stupid boy. Not at all. In fact, he was very smart. He loved reading. He used to stand hours watching his uncle sitting in a chair while his eyes wandering all around Balaram’s room, with eyes fixed on his old bookshelf. Alu was a master of language, too. He could digest new, alien words, in quick ways. People were always watchful when they talked bad about him in a local dialect language for Alu could understand what they were talking about.

But still, well-educated Balaram was disturbed by Alu’s indiscipline when it came to attend lessons at the school. Then when he was at the school, Alu was not interested with the lessons and did not get along well with his classmates. It happened one day when Balaram had to rush to the classroom and discovered Alu’s classmates mocked and bullied till blood was coming out of Alu’s face. Yet, neither Alu cry nor scream for help. He kept silent, motionless.

Alu felt so much joyful when he spent time at Maya’s hut, daughter of weaver Shombu Debnath and servant of Toru-debi. This close linkage gave an idea for Balaram. I’m going to make Alu as Shombhu’s pupil. He loves weaving, so let him be, Balaram tells Gopal. What? You are an educated man Balaram. Why can’t you find better alternatives for him? Gopal protests.

Though at first sounded ridiculous, Alu jumped in happiness. It took a bit of time for Balaram to convince Shombhu about his future plan for his sole niece since Shombhu never thought of himself as a good teacher, and due to his strange behaviors.

Well, that sounded reasonable for Shombhu was a very unique character. He occasionally disappeared with unclear reasons. Then he would return home. And he loved singing in the middle of the night at Bhudeb Roy’s plantation, the school’s principal with whom Balaram shared a hate-and-like friendship.

At the beginning, Alu learnt nothing for Shombhu, as feared by Maya and her brother Rakhal, did not teach him anything. It was Maya who shared a bit of her experiences with Alu. You don’t deserve the money from Balaram, Maya once says to her father, as you never teach him. So at last, Shombhu starts giving lessons to Alu. From simple models to complicated ones, Alu could master them all in short moments. Rakhal, who was initially pathetic with Alu’s plan to work as a weaver, offered to market Alu’s clothes in the city. But you have to give some parts of the money to me, okay? To pay my kung fu lesson, Rakhal says. Bit by bit, Rakhal was able to sell many of Alu’s clothes.

courtesy of http://www.art.com

Meanwhile, Balaram’s fate was not good. Bhudeb decided to close the school, leaving Balaram with no job. Bhudeb argued he wanted to make some turns in his career. In the meantime, war was nearby the village. People were busy with their affairs yet thankfully Lalpukur was safe until the school was bombed away. But Budheb was not sad at all since he took an insurance for the school 15 days before the incident. He made use the money to enrich himself, buying fashionable shirts for his sons, and everything. His wealth caused envy to his peers, who were mostly unemployed and spent days behind a banyan tree while gossiping.

Balaram did not care about all of this. Instead, he thought a lot how to make his village free of germs. So he took initiatives to buy carbolic acid, some of which was by using Alu’s money. And he was able to convince the whole village to agree on his plan… making the place free of bacterias in times of warship. Everything should have started from the freedom against germs, he says, quoting his most beloved book ever The Life of Pasteur.

Soon, his plans turned out fruitful. His neighbors and friends joined in his actions to fight against germs by spreading carbolic acid, setting an alarm for Bhudeb Roy. But Balaram’s money was running out. One night he sat down with Shombhu and shared his brilliant idea. You know what Shombhu? I am thinking of setting up a school, here. Everybody can join us with affordable fees. And you will be a teacher in this school.

The school will be divided into two parts. I will teach theories then students, who graduate from it will continue into the advanced class where you can teach them how to weave. Plus, my wife will show them how to sew. Then we still have Alu and Maya. Rakhal will sell products made by the pupils so as we have money to keep the school running. They furnished Balaram’s house into a modest classrooms. Though initially it failed to draw people, new pupils came at last thanks to Rakhal’s ideas of persuading his peers to attend them. More and more students were present, young and old, till Balaram had to cease registration. Balaram put the school at hold when he wanted to resume his plans on carbolic acid. Some of his students agreed to volunteer themselves. But just when they wanted to kick it off, Bhudeb Roy screw it all.

He gathered Balaram’s students in place where he was about to give a speech. Balaram, Alu, and Rakhal sensed this then they went straight to the hall where Balaram was going to stand up. Carbolic acid was then spread out. Bhudeb Roy fell from his podium, fainted. Attendees ran away, while Bhudeb Roy’s servants helped him to go to the hospital. That was when real war between Balaram and Bhudeb Roy began.

That’s not worth the inspection, young policeman Jyoti Das says to Bhudeb Roy. Either feeling threatened or jealous, Bhudeb Roy reported to the police in the city on Balaram’s terrorism plot. Jyoti was forced to investigate the incident as his police office asked for him to do so after Bhudeb persuaded his bosses.

Please stop doing this, Balaram. Bhudeb Roy is not looking for you. It’s me whom is he searching for. That’s why I am leaving, Shombhu says to Balaram, who was watching toward Bhudeb’s house. Balaram has been on alert and kept his watchful eyes to the house after the scene in the hall where he threw carbolic acid. What Shombhu said was true for he was taking Bhudeb’s wife and his newly-born daughter to him. But Balaram did not get this point. I’m leaving Balaram. Promise me you will stop doing this, Shombhu begs him.

Shombhu’s departure brought a disastrous fate for Balaram. Just when Rakhal and Alu was preparing for carbolic acid and hand-made explosives, a group of armed men were approaching the house. So fast that Balaram did not have much time on what he should do next. Take this sewing machine with you, Alu, Toru-debi says. Hide this to the forest, she adds.

Without further ado, Alu left the house. But when he was only few distance of it, he heard chaos and wanted to save whomever he could. Just when he was about to head to the house, Bolai-da stopped him. Where are you going? You should leave the house, he says. Alu disobeyed his warning and forced to pass through him. Bolai-da hit Alu then brought him away from the house where which the mob turned out to become unbearable.

Bolai-da took Alu to Gopal’s house. But of course, his whereabouts were easily tracked down by the police. Here, take it with you. Your uncle saves this money and bring Life of Pasteur with you, Gopal tells Alu when he is about to leave again.

Away in the Arabian sea, he was tucked in Mariamma with strangers when the boat was suffering from technical failures. In the boat, Alu met with Professor Samuel, whom, despite his inadequate educational background to use the title, was a good fellow. He was actually just a teacher but people in his village called him Professor for his intellectuals. Also, there was Zindi, a fat woman who took care a lot of small businesses. She often traveled to India to search for poor locals in desperate need of jobs. That was where she met Kulfi, an unpretty divorced woman, and Rakesh. In the boat, there was a pregnant woman called Karthamma, who was fighting between death and life to born a son, later being named as Boss.

the pict is from pbase.com

Together, these strangers, who barely knew about each others, took days of shipping to head toward al-Ghazira. Each hoped a bright chapter of life did really exist. Why don’t you work for me? Zindi says to Alu. You can work in a tea house or everything. I have lots of jobs. Many people in India begs me to take them to al-Ghazira.

Six months after their arrival in the city, Zindi was shocked to find out her house was in a ruin. Worse, Alu was trapped in the collapsed materials of new building called The Star with two sewing machines. There are three of us in the building. Only Alu who can’t escape from the collapse, Abu Fahl says.

Everybody believed Alu was dead because of the collapse. It has been four days and no one believed someone could survive in the ruins of the big materials without eating and drinking.

I hear people say Alu is still alive, Kulfi once broke into a silence when Zindi and others were gathering in the house. But Abu Fahl disbelieved this. To prove which one was correct, they asked for help from locals to search for Alu’s whereabouts in the ruins. Miraculously, Alu was still alive. Healthy and safe, with two sewing machines protected him from the further possible collapses.

Strangely, Abu Fahl says, Alu did want anything, not even food or drink. He said he was fine and was thinking a lot. Pasteur did invent cure for some disease and helped a lot of people. “But he had died a defeated man. He, and others before him, he said, had thought over the matter for a long, long time, and at last, in the Star, it had fallen to him to discover the answer. There, in the ruins, he had discovered what it was that Pasteur had really wanted all his life – an intangible thing, something he had understood himself, yet a thing the whole world had conspired to deny him. Purity was he had wanted, purity and cleanliness. … For all his genius Pasteur had never asked himself the real question: where is the germ’s battlegrounds? …Money. The answer is money,” Alu tells a crowd after he had been lifted from the ruins. We will wage a war against money, are you coming with me? Yes, yes, yes, the crowd replies.

So, the Ras breathed its a new life. From now on, what they earned had to be submitted to Professor Samuel, who knew a lot as an accountant. Each resident had their own name and their noted accounts. Professor Samuel would count each of the resident’s earnings and expenses. They did not have cash anymore in their pockets. They also declared a war against dirt and germs. They were even wearing tshirts to show their membership of this kind of new life for the people living in the Ras. Almost everybody, including most respected Hajj Fahmy, Abu Fahl, Rakesh, and Kulfi, joined the movement. In the meantime, Alu as the initiator, kept on weaving and weaving. They centered their activities at the Hajj Fahmy’s residence.

But Zindi did not follow their path for she considered that as illogical and was not really beneficial for her life. And also Jeevenbhai, an owner of a tailoring house, whom with he shared a unique relationship with Zindi. Jeevenbhai did not want to give any damn on what was happening in Ras. But he needed to meet his new fellow Jyoti Das with Alu, his Suspect, so as he could get leeway to return to India.

So, Jeevenbhai asked for Zindi to bring the officer to the Hajj Fahmy’s house in exchange of his tailoring house. Zindi agreed to carry Jyoti Das to come to the house but just when they were about to depart for the place, Jyoti Das, or the Birdman, came to a halt when he saw a car turning upside down. So it was told that the owners of the car were taken into the house and were asked for “taking a bath in buckets full of carbolic acid” as a form of self-cleaning.

All of Alu’s plans were actually running very well until one day when they were gathering in the house to do some shopping and take the two sewing machines to Alu. That was when the battle began for armed people were storming into the Star when they were all present. The police took them all away, only few could escape, including Alu, Kulfi, Boss, and Zindi. Hajj Fahmy died while Professor Samuel and others were deported to their homeland.

Alu, Kulfi, Zindi, and Boss headed West. West and West until they were lucky to meet Mrs. Verma, a microbiologist whom was looking for an Indian maid. It was a bit hard to find a good Indian maid in the deserts of Algeria. Soon as she found Kulfi, whom she called herself as Mrs. Bose with Alu as Mr. Bose, her fake husband, Mrs Verma invited them to her house. She even helped to cure Boss, who was catching a bad fever due to long and difficult journey after the raid.

I am thinking of performing Chitrangada, Verma says to her husband Dr. Mishra, to tell people of Algeria about our culture. And I think Mrs. Bose will be perfect to play Chitrangada and we already have Jyoti Das to play as Arjuna. But how about the scriptplay and everything, her husband asks. Don’t worry. My father already writes it. All we have to do is playing the record and Mrs. Bose only have to mimic the words.

Kulfi! What are you doing? You will be easily recognized, Zindi protested as she saw Kulfi in a drama costume full with makeup. I will be Chitrangada, Zindi. And there will be Arjuna. Who plays Arjuna? Tell me! Zindi asks. He is here, isn’t he? The Birdman? He does not know me, Zindi. After all, you dont have to be worry, Kulfi replies.

Alu did not care much about the play even after he sensed the Birdman was sharing the same roof as he was. Instead, his eyes gazed at an old bookshelf and quickly set toward a copy of the book he really admired: The Life of Pasteur. Do you want to take it? Verma says to Alu. Yes, I will keep it. Good. Because I don’t like the book. As he turned the book, he suddenly hugged the book as he found the name of Balaram Bose as the giver of the book to Verma’s father.

It was the time for a rehearsal. Kulfi and the Birdman was facing each other and practising the lines of the drama. Are you Kulfi-doti? Jyoti says. Please be honest with me. You will be fine, he says. Kulfi, on the other hand, attempted to ignore his words and kept on murming the words. But as when the practice was moving smoothly, suddenly Kulfi fell unconsciously.

Slowly, Verma closed Kulfi’s eyes. She died of heart attacks. Neither Zindi nor Alu know about this fact, unfortunately. They then cremate Kulfi in an Indian proper way of funeral. I don’t want this book, Alu said referring to The Life of Pasteur. Well, I don’t want it either. What if we burned this, too? Verma says.

Where are you going? Jyoti asks for Alu and Zindi. I received a call for my uncle. I would go to Germany. The case was dropped and Jyoti was dismissed from his position as his search for Alu bore no significant results in months.

They separated in Tangier, where Zindi, Alu, and Boss headed to Spain. Alu! Jyoti shouts when they were about to go their own ways. What? Alu replies. “Don’t worry about the sewing machine;they make them better at home now.” Alu laughed. While Jyoti was heading to Dusseldorf, Zindi, Alu, and Boss “settled down to wait for Virat Singh and the ship that was to carry them home. Hope is the beginning”.

thank you to my-world-travelguides.com for the picture

Falling In Love With Amitav Ghosh

I intended to stop reading Amitav Ghosh’s novels once I finished digesting the first of his Ibis trilogy, “Sea of Poppies”. But after I completed reading “The Hungry Tide” now I refresh my willingness to read all of his books. Quite surprising, I don’t really like “Sea of Poppies” although I honestly say the book is so rich and comprehensive. You can find abundant unique vocabulary from the characters in the book. You can understand language of lascars. The book can widen your imagination on what life really like inside a huge ship like Ibis. And definitely, you can learn how old opium trade brings life to so many people in India.

To a certain point, what I love most from “Sea of Poppies” is that Ghosh uses firm language to put forward strength instead of weakness of major characters in the book. I’d love to read how such a fragile character like Dheeti is powerful enough to bounce back after so much sufferings in her life. This is very different with the language used in “The Glass Palace” where almost all characters seem weak, mellow, and too serious.

I prefer to read “The Glass Palace” somehow. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed imagining old life in Burma, India, and countries in Southeast Asia better than early opium trade. Both books contain wonderful history lessons and detailed places. That is one of the reasons why I love Ghosh’s novels. He admits travelling and researching are key points in his fictions. He can spend years to travel, meet a lot of people, and do library and archives research before writing a book. No wonder, I feel like learning history in a more fantastic way every time I read his books.

For me, “Sea of Poppies” is quite hard. The language, the description, even the theme itself is heavy on its own. To all of this, I give credit to Ghosh. Brutal descriptions are quite vivid, too. So reading the book leaves me a bit of mixed feeling.

“The Glass Palace”, on the other hand, brings a lighter issue. Perhaps I choose the book as my most favorite of all due to its easy language. Common themes, such as family relationship, identured people, faith, and love relationship, are easy to digest as well.

“The Hungry Tide” is so abundant in settings. I can imagine the beauty of islands alongside the Sundabans through this book. What I like more from the book is that Ghosh brings up local wisdom from uneducated people on their struggle to tame wild nature and animals. He even includes a folklore that may be ridiculous from modern men but still widely-believed by local residents. Such a smart scientist like Piyali Roy must admit she is nothing compared to illiterate Fokir when it comes to natural observation.

By far, “The Glass Palace” tops my choice. But this may change since I still have yet to read earlier Ghosh’s books such as “The Circle of Reason,” The Shadow Lines,” and “Calcutta Chromosome”. His newest book, “River of Smoke” should be into my to-be-read list books.

For information, Ghosh divides his time in India and New York. Husband of famous editor Deborah Baker, the couple is blessed with two children. Ghosh seriously began writing in his 20s. His books have been awarded some awards and captured worldwide readers. He also teaches at the Columbia University.

He has yet to win Man Booker Prize like Arundhati Roy and Aravind Adiga. “Sea of Poppies” are shortlisted for the prestigious prize in 2008. Unlike Jhumpa Lahiri, he hasn’t won the Pulitzer Prize. But Ghosh produces more books compared to his counterparts. His ideas are more various. Jhumpa stresses more on self-identity in her books and short stories collection. Aravind speaks more on social issues whereas Arundhati loves examining Indian culture. Ghosh’s stories tell more than that.

 

 

Men Versus Nature In “The Hungry Tide”

From kiwiboomers.com

Kanai Dutt can’t take his eyes off from slim, shapely body of Piyali Roy when he steps out of a commuter train in southern Kolkata. Dressed in an oversized white shirt and jeans, Piyali confidently passes through a packed crowd in the station amid her inability to understand local language. A destiny brings the two together into the same train bringing them to Canning.

Piyali Roy, known as Piya, is an Indian-born American scientist deeply in love with Sundarbans dolphins. She travels a lot to study then rescue the animals from extinction. While Kanai is a middle-aged businessman who runs a small yet profitable translation house in New Delhi.

Through a short conversation in the train, Kanai learns that Piya is heading to Sundarbans to observe the dolphins habitat. Sundarbans is a group of islands in the Bengal Bay. Kanai, meanwhile, is having a journey to Lusibari where which he will meet his aunt Nilima, an old reputable widow who owns a non-profit organization called the Badabon Trust in the island.

Lusibari is among many islands in Sundarbans that is surrounded by thick mangroves. It is also called as the Tide Country given tide and strong wave often strikes the place. Like many islands, the remote place is a home of wild animals, especially tigers, that kill and eat humans. Visitors barely see the tigers but they always watch out. They are aware of human presence even if people are cluess on their whereabouts.

Kanai has a short childhood memory with this place. He is sent away by his parents to the island after he humiliates his teacher in front of the class. He becomes a darling for both Nilima and her husband Nirmal.

 

The childless couple treats Kanai well. Even he acts as a communicator between Nirmal and Nilima who inevitably enter a “cold” relationship before Nirmal dies. It is a collection of letter that brings Kanai returns to the place. Nilima demands him to visit her as she does not dare to open the letters from her husband. It takes a quite long time before Nilima is able to persuade Kanai to leave his busy life in the capital for a short revisit.

Kanai is surprised to see the condition of the river connecting Canning and Lusibari once he and Nilima sits in a boat. The river is so full of mud and the wave is strong. But his suffering is worthwhile as he steps in the island. A simple yet modern hospital is present around a guest house where which he will stay. A long array of tress surround the island. The electricity is on only until 9 p.m. He begins to read what his uncle leaves to him. And one by one, secrets are unveiled.

Piya knows she will encounter problems should she hire people from the government as her assistants while doing the observation. And thats proven to be true. She has to pay a quite amount of money to the officers and is not free to do what she really wants in the waters.  She is rescued by Fokir, an illiterate fisherman, when she is drowned. She later hires Fokir who brings along his son, Tutul, to trace and observe the dolphins. A language barrier between she and Fokir does not make their trips a troublesome. Through the journey, both communicates through gestures and pictures. Despite his lack of education background, Fokir has wide knowledge on the Sundarbans. Once Piya shows him the pictures of the dolphins, he immediately takes her to come to a place where they are abundant. “Garjontola,” he says.

Nirmal and Nilima Bose first meet at the Ashutosh College in Calcutta (now Kolkata). Nilima happens to be Nirmal’s student in one of his classes. They arrive in Lusibari in a search of a safe haven following a turmoil resulted from Nirmal’s small indirect involvment in one of the political parties in India. They move to Lusibari in 1950 where which Nirmal works as a teacher in the Lusibari School.  Nilima herself sets up the Trust to help women in the island for a better health and household economy. Slowly but surely, the foundation grows larger until she can establish a hospital equips with a shelter from strong tide thanks to Nirmal’s advice.

The letters are less important than Kanai expects. Not long before he dies, Nirmal suffers from an inner conflict that makes him as an empty, useless soul who even has no money to buy a decent book. He declines his wife suggestion to be involved in the foundation. Feeling so lonely, he happens to meet Horen when he is in a boat to visit Morichjhapi. Nirmal is astonished once he sees how well organized inhabitants of the island are. What surprises him more is the presence of Kusum and her son, Fokir.

The tomboy and outspoken Kusum is Kanai’s sole friend during his brief stay in Lusibari. From Kusum, Kanai learns about folklore Bon Bibi believed by many residents in the Sundarbans as spiritual power that can save them from tigers or evil creatures.Bon Bibi will always help those who are good at hearts.  Kanai last see Kusum after both watch a stage performance about the legend.

Long not knowing on Kusum’s whereabouts, Kanai is surprised to find out that Moyna, the woman who provides him with meals during the stay, is the daughter-in-law of Kusum. Nilima tells him that his long-lost friend dies during a massacre. Moyna marries Fokir then gives birth to Tutul.

By the time Kanai meets Moyna, he is eager to understand on why she is willing to marry Fokir given the latter uneducated trait. Moyna is a smart woman who loves studying as a nurse. While Fokir spends most of his time with Tutul catching for crabs in the sea. According to Nilima, Fokir sometimes puts his wife at alarm each time he brings Tutul away in the sea like the time when Kanai is staying in the island.

Amid tough trips, Piya continues to observe the dolphins from one island to another. She is amazed yet cautious to know how dangerously beautiful the islands are. She gets what she needs tough not much at the beginning. Fokir helps her so much with all of her tasks. He warns her every time they enter muddy island with watchful wild animals around their presence. Once she considers this initial trip as quite adequate, she asks for Fokir to bring her to Lusibari, a place she hardly knows but believes on a true invitation from Kanai.

 

Nirmal becomes alive after his first visit to Morichjhapi. For a long time, he always dreams of being an initiator of a new life, new hope in a new place with spirited people. He always wants to see himself being the part of an emerging nation within nation along with its fresh and fair policy. He can figure this out once he arrives in the island. But one question hits his head,” how am I gonna help these people?”. He receives only a chuckle when he tells one of the leaders in the barrack that he wants to teach kids for free. The people in Morichjhapi need political recognition for their presence in the island, not education at the time being. But Nirmal keeps coming back to the place despite Nilima’s warning. The inhabitants of Morichjhapi are refugees who seek shelters in illegal land belonging to the government. It only a matter of time they will eventually be expelled. Nirmal ignores this fact. For him, his ability to help the inhabitants paves his way of self-reborn, being a useful person in his old days. Kusum’s presence brings a motivation for drawing him and Horen to regularly come there. Kusum once comes to the Trust and ask for helps from Nilima but to no avail. Nilima does not want to help people who illegally occupy government’s land.

Not long after that, officers come to the place. They kill, send away the inhabitants. They even drown women who refuse to leave the island. Kusum is one of the victims. After her death, Fokir is taken care by Horen.

Piya’s visit to Lusibari brings a surprise to Kanai given their short acquitance in the train. Piya is then led to the Guest House where she meets Fokir’s wife Moyna. Piya spends several days only in the place as she needs Fokir’s help to explore Garjontola again. For this journey, Kanai insists he wants to join with them as he can act as a translator, an excuse for his real reason for always being at her side.

Horen, a local fisherman, Fokir, Kanai, and Piya set to go to Garjontola few days after her arrival in Lusibari. One night before his departure, Nilima warns Kanai on consequences he may face as he decides to explore rough waters. She recalls how dangerous the tigers are. Various efforts from the government are fruitless to banish them.

Real fight between humans and tigers are seen shortly after they are stranded in one of the nearby islands. Piya is shocked to view how the inhibitants of the island blind, imprison, before kill a tiger that is entrapped. Fokir takes her away from the place when she is about to stop the cruelty.

In the middle of the journey, Kanai makes up his mind to pull out from the search. That happens after he and Fokir shares the same boat to observe the dolphins while Piya is away with another boat. The boat bringing Kanai and Fokir is carried away by a strong river current that they are stranded in a muddy place. Kanai ignores Fokir’s help to get back to the boat. He instead manages to walk and pass through the muddy area. During his hard walking, he catches glimpes of tigers all around him. He is finally rescued by Piya and others but the sense of afraidness lingers on his mind.

Before his departure from Garjontola, he leaves “a gift” in forms of letters to Piya. He explains on the meanings of songs Fokir loves to hum when he is in the boat. “It contains a tale of Bon Bibi, an unknown creature believed by many residents as their saviors,”. Kanai, Horen, and the other fisherman leaves Garjontola early in the morning for Lusibari. Horen and the fisherman will return to Garjontola after they bring Kanai safely. Piya and Fokir continue their trip.

But just when they depart from Garjontola, a thick cloud hits the sky of Sundarbans. Horen quickly remembers on how he becomes a few of people who can survive during a catastrophe in 1970s when a powerful wave strikes the group of the islands. They manage to arrive in Lusibari at the right moment when strom is about to come. Inhabitants of Lusibari already gather in a shelter within the hospital compound while Nilima and Moyna are prepared to do so. One question remains unanswered for Moyna,” where is his husband?”.

Piya and Fokir are still in the waters while following the dolphins’ ways when the sky is darkened. Unusual behaviors from the dolphins put Piya’s mind at an alarming level that a big storm in coming. Being such a born nature explorer, Fokir already knows what they need to do. He gets Piya’s hands and tight them both in a tree standing in unknown site wherever their boat can land. Slowly but surely, what the are afraid of is coming true. About three meters of water submerge their bodies. Piya struggles to cope with all of this. She fights to come out from the tide but Fokir prevents her to do so. When the first storm ends, both have only few time to get ready for the following storm that is as big as the first one. Fokir does all he can to protect Piya for the second time.

Moyna can’t help crying once she sees that Piya becomes the sole person coming out from Horen’s boat. Fokir can’t make his way to survive after the second storm.

One month passes. Kanai returns to New Delhi while Piya visits her relatives in Kolkatta. She eventually returns to Lusibari then shares her ideas to set up a foundation on the dolphins preservation in the site. She will name the foundation after Fokir’s name. Moyna will be involved as well. She will receive financial support for Tutul’s education. Kanai will be joining both in a day or two.

The Glass Palace

From the brilliant mind of Amitav Ghosh, here comes The Glass Palace, a novel of family relationship, love, loyalty, war, and nationalism.

Rajkumar, an eleven year old Indian, is stranded in Irrawady river of Mandalay, Burma. He is found along with sampan at which he works as a helper and errand boy all along the way back in Bengal Bay. At his age, Rajkumar is a well-traveller. The boat brings him to visit a number of towns and villages lay in between Burma and Bengal. Rajkumar joins the boat after he loses his family because of deadly fever that claims so many lives in villages and cities of the coast.

Once arriving in Mandalay, Rajkumar is told to seek for Ma Cho, a middle age woman who owns a small food stall. On a daily basis, Rajkumar carries bowls of soup and noodles to her customers. On his spare time, he washes utentils. Nearby the stall, Rajkumar sees a fort, a forbidden crossing place for a layman like him. One day Ma Cho tells him that behind the fort lies a city of itself. Gardens, long roads, and canals. That is the place where noblemen, high ranking officials, and Royal Family stay. Hundreds of servants, most of whom are orphan girls, devote their lives for King Thebaw, the last king of Burma kingdom and his cruel wife Queen Supayalat. Hundreds of hundreds rooms with gilded pillars and polished floors are inside the compound with a vast central hall that is like a great shaft of light, with shining crystal walls and mirrored ceilings. People call it The Glass Palace. Rajkumar promises to himself that he must find some ways to go in.

Ma Cho has a secret lover called Saya John, a Chinese look man who loses his wife. His only son, Matthew, lives with his wife’s family in Singapore. Occasionally, Saya John drops by at the stall. Rajkumar and Saya John become good friends. The quiet mode in the Mandalay turns out to be very chaotic when the British soldiers are about to attack the Palace over a dispute on timber. The heart of the matter is that the Kingdom imposes a fine to a British timber company after the latter breaches regulation so as can avoid paying duties. The company reports the case to the British Governor in Rangoon. One of the senior ministers of the Kingdom advises the Queen not to prolong the case hence they could occupy the Palace. To this, the Queen strongly opposes. The war is thus inevitable.

The Royal family is forced to leave the magnificent kingdom along with precious belongings they have. Their servants come along with them, too. On the day when they are leaving the Palace, people eventually can catch glimpses on their rulers, who have inhabited the site. That is also the moment when Rajkumar has a chance to go inside the compound. There, his eyes set upon a beautiful girl who is as young as his age namely Dolly.

For twenty years, the Royal Family lives in Ratnagiri, India, under tight supervision from the British Government. Dozens of servants leave the Royal Family as it runs out of valuable things to pay them. Dolly becomes the only servant who is faithful to the family during the long time of exile. As one by one goes away, Dolly takes care of everything, from nursuring to cleaning up the place where they stay. There she is. That is her life, her world. She has no desire to change her fate until she befriends with Uma, the wife of the Collector, a person whose duty is to take care affairs in relation with the Royal Family.

After Ma Cho is gone, Rajkumar has no one to turn to except Saya John. With him, he travels a lot again, from mountain to mountain, river to river, jungle to jungle, to deliver and arrange timber lodging. After he has enough saving plus help from Saya John, Rajkumar opens his own timber business with an Indian acquitance and his good friend Doh Say. As his business is growing, Rajkumar is brave enough to join a timber stock bid. He is now a rich person.

Uma finds a spark in her life once she is close to Dolly. Uma undergoes a boring life despite the fact she is the wife of a noble man. She learns her activity is in a close connection with regulations, dinners with other officials. Her husband is such an intelligent man, who can make his way through the Cambridge University, in the beginning of 19o0s. He is such a rare man at that time. He chooses Uma over so many girls because he thinks she is smart enough to quickly adjust his intellegent mind. When she is not in meetings or accompanies her husband, Uma sits under a tree and reads a book. That is the place which later turns to be the site where she and Dolly share a lot of things.

A thought comes across Uma’s mind about her newly best friend. She feels Dolly must not stay in Ratnagiri forever. Her best fellow must get married or live somewhere else. Hearing upon this, Dolly is displeased. She regards she has no other places to live other than the Royal complex in Ratnagiri.

Uma’s uncle send her a letter one day. He asks for her help to arrange a meeting with the Royal Family to a sucessful man called Rajkumar Raha. She runs to her husband and demands for his assistance. At first, the Collector denies because of strict procedures from the British Governance to visit the Kingdom in exile. But as Uma explains that she does this for Dolly, the Collector grants her wishes. He will create a dinner at which Dolly can come. Rajkumar will be his personal guest.

Everything seems so awkward once Rajkumar sees his long love Dolly that night. Neither joyful nor smiling, he cant get his eyes off from Dolly, who surprisingly does not recoqnize the man who gives her sweets and help her with the Royal belongings on the day of their exile. When they talk in private, Rajkumar boldly express his feelings on how he comes all the way just to find her. But Dolly refuses the long memory. She convinces Rajkumar that he must be mistaken since it happens long time ago. Rajkumar has his heart broken at the beginning. For some days, he stays in Ratnagiri and asks for help from Uma but to no avail. Dolly insists she does not want to leave the Royal family, especially in time when the First Princess is going to give birth to her first child. Fortunately, things are not too late. Dolly stops Rajkumar on the day when he is in a ship, ready to leave the woman of his dream. They later get married and occupy a house not far from Saya John’s in Burma.

After her successful personal marriage arrangement between Rajkumar and Dolly, Uma leaves her husband. She confesses she does not undergo their marriage as it should be. Soon after she goes back at her parents’ home in Calcutta, the Collector dies as his boat is drowned. Uma is now a rich widow who inherits his late husband’s wealth.

Uma travels a lot since then. She sails to European countries and meets so many good friends. Although she is a widow, Uma never bothers herself on old stigma that Indian widows are imprisoned in an endless chain of mournings over the loss of their husbands. She ends up living in New York and works as a copy editor. She is involved in meetings with other Indians. Even more, she is keen on politic. Throughout the years, Uma and Dolly share their stories via letters. Dolly now a mother of two boys : Neel and Dinu. Uma helps Saya John to find Matthew’s wherebouts. Matthew is in New York as well and has an American girlfriend. He later goes back to Saya John and lives in Malaya.

A significant turnaround occurs in Dolly’s life when she and Rajkumar brings their family to visit Doh Say. Dinu is having fever during their stay. One night, Dolly dreams about King Thebaw. She screams loud, waking her husband afterwards. Dolly learns she has to bring her son to the hospital. Thanks to her quick response, Dinu is saved. The doctor says Dinu is suffering from polio. Later, she discovers that the King dies the night when she dreams of him.

For months, Dolly stands beside her second son. She stays at the hospital while Rajkumar and Neel visit them periodically. Dinu grows to be timid, soft-spoken, introvert boy. During such hard time, Dolly thinks mostly about her and her son and a quiet peaceful life for them. Dolly herself become quiet, too. Rajkumar feels her wife pulls herself out from their world and creates her own. To her, Dinu is the only one worth her attention. Feeling pity of Dinu, Dolly buys him a camera, a device that later turns to become his sole world.

Rubber becomes the most darling natural resources when Matthew comes in Malaya. He and his father clears a forest that later houses a great array of rubber trees in Gunung Jerai. They clear up the land, employ so many people, and construct an office plus a residential site called Morningside.

After so many years living abroad, Uma decides to see Dolly. Together, they and Dinu visit the Matthew’s family. Upon their arrival at the Morningside, Dolly is astonished with the house that is full of polished wood. She is also amazed with scenery surrounding the place. Matthew and his workers are busy in clearing the forest. Timothy, Matthew’s first son, is interested to study in the U.S while his daughter Alison stays with them. Neel, Dinu, and Alison become good friends as if they are indeed relatives.

Burma is not peaceful when Uma comes to the Rajkumar house. Dolly of course shares the same opinion. Dolly says she thinks this is all because of widenin gap between Indian minority with Burmese majority. Dolly confesses she is sometimes afraid when she has to leave her house because she finds herself insecure. People are hoarse, she says. At first, Uma sets aside Dolly’s opinion until she has her own experience on how and Dolly meet strangers in the street and are almost caught in the chaos if Uma loses her temper. Thankfully, Dolly is calm in answering their questions. She askes for Uma to hide inside their car.

Uma and Rajkumar are involved in a battle of opinions on their way out of the airstrip at Mingaladon. Initially, Uma is tearful for witnessing how Indian soldiers are used by the British Empire to kill people who are actually their brothers. Rajkumar interupts her opinion by saying that those soldeirs protect people like him, an Indian citizen, after all. Their war of words go on then stops after Uma blames him for being part of the racial gap driven chaos as he transports many Indian men to work in his timberyard. Rajkumar is angry even more. He accuses Uma for speaking and giving critics things she doesnt actually know. He defends himself that he contributes to his worker’s lives and improves their well beings. To this, Uma really loses her temper when she says Rajkumar is no worse than a slaver and a rapist. Rajkumar stops saying and asks for his driver to send her off. The moment marks their years of silence.

When Uma reaches his brother’s house, she knows she has three wonderful nieces, two of them are twin : Arjun and Manju. While the youngest is Bela. The twin celebrate their good lookings. Arjun chooses to become a soldier, a professional one he claims. While Manju falls in love once she meets Neel on the day she is supposed to take chance on a film audition. They run into each other when Manju is about to leave the film studio. Neel is said to be a film businessman thanks to his father’s advice. He is actually interested to continue his father business in timber but is not allowed to do so. He is told to invest money in movie industry instead. Not long after they meet, both of them decide to get married in Calcutta.

Timber business does not run well at the moment when they wedd. Rajkumar is forced to sell some of his assets to keep his timberyard afloat. Amidst his financial matters, Rajkumar still wants the wedding of his closest son to be memorable. Manju departs for Rangoon after the wedding.

Arjun, on the other hand, moves on with his life in the camp. He is happy with what he does simply because he thinks nothing on nationalism. He puts forward his bright career. During the military training, he has a batman called Kishan Singh and a close pal Hardy. Unlike Arjun, Hardy, who comes from a military family, often questions on patriotisim. He thinks on why he should fight for the British Empire while in fact the European country colonizes India.

Being in the military academy, Arjun once says to Dinu, is like living in a cultural school. That is the place where he and other Indian troops are completely free. They can eat and drink what they like – pork, beef, beer, wine. They can mingle with British counterparts in the training camp. They, later, learn about Western culture.

Rajkumar catches pnenumonia and stays at the hospital, where Dinu once is treated for polio. Lying for months in his bed, Rajkumar recalls so many things that have occured in his life. He soon learns on what his wife urges that they should leave for India because of uncertain circumstances in Rangoon. He usually rejects her idea but now he can understand all of her thoughts. Radio is the only device by which he get to know what is happening around the world when British Empire declares war on Germany. As he is recovering from his illness, Rajkumar finds out a golden opportunity to awaken his business into profit again. He then askes for Neel to take the wheel of the timberyard. Doh Say becomes another figure to stand ready, too. Rajkumar sends Dinu to Morningside to negotiate the selling of his shares for cash so as will inject money for the awakening of his business. Dinu and Rajkumar see their relationship is tying closer when they join a movement to defend the country amidst the war.

Alison finds herself so lonely with his aging grandfather Saya John. Alison’s parents are drowned during a ship journey. She manages Morningside almost all alone. Ilango, Dinu’s stepbrother, helps her along the way. Instead of informing Alison on his father’s willingness to sell his stake, Dinu spends days at Morningside by taking pictures and accompanying Alison. Alison and Dinu are two people with different characteristic. Alison is more outspoken, energetic, extrovert person. She loves to be surrounded with people. As time goes by, however, the two become lover and decide to get married when both of them can survive from war and arrive in Rangoon.

The time has come. Arjun and Hardy eventually know where they will head for: Malaya. They will fight against Japanese troops. The war is spreading so fast that it is approaching Sungei Pattani, a place nearby Morningside. During their calm period in Malaya, Arjun learns Dinu is staying not far from his homebase. He decides to go to Morningside to help Dolly finding for his son’ whereabouts. Dinu never replies her letters for a long time hence she is worried. Its not difficult to search for Dinu. Just tell people about Morningside and everyone knows about the site and Alison.

On the night when Arjun comes in Morningside, Dinu feels a jealousy when Arjun and Alison interact. Dinu says to himself that they are perfect couple as both have similar characteristics. And it is true that Arjun is trying to seduce Alison. She almost falls for him but quickly realizes Dinu is worth more than Arjun.

The war turns out worse than Arjun imagines. He is once shooted at his hamstrings by the Japanese troops. Feeling so much pain in his body, Arjun begins to wonder on why he should fight for the British Empire.

Dinu, Alison, and Saya John manage to flee from Morningside as the situation is getting so chaotic. With the help of Ilango, they intend to take a ship especially to carry evacuees to Singapore. But they are all so upset when knowing the ship is for Westerners only. Dinu even loses his temper that he is beaten when he coarsely says to one of the officers, who is in fact Indian. He curses for the officer who merely does his job without involving his heart when knowing his brothers are in need of help.

After the futile efforts to escape, Dinu, Alison, and Saya John come back at the Morningside. Sleeping is no longer comfortable when the sounds of shootings and explosions can be heard. One night, Alison and Saya John determine to leave the house. Dinu does not come because he wants to take care of Morningside. All is dark when Alison is at her full speed with her grand father sits beside her. The car then stops. She later knows it is having some troubles, which she has no knowledge of. She decides to wait until morning to seek for aid. Amidst her short sleeping, Saya John wanders. Alison is so shocked to know his grandfather is missing. She searches for him along and gasps when she knows some Japanese troops are approaching Saya John. Alison emerges from her hiding when his Baba is trying to fight back them. But Saya John is too old to defend himself. Alison pulls her revolver and shoots the soldiers one by one. Some of them are shot but more are coming to kill her and Saya John. When one of the troops swing at his body, Saya John topples. Alison has no time to mourn the death of her grandfather. As more Japanese are about to attack her, Alison closes her eyes and raises the gun to her temple.

Arjun disovers Hardy and his other fellows in a small village serves as a perfect hideout from the Japanese troops. The inhabitants are very welcoming. Hardy and others make up their minds to betray the British Empire and fight for Japan instead. Arjun, who is initially puzzled with the move, joins them as well at the end.

The war is reaching Rangoon much quicker than Rajkumar expects. When he lines up to draw cash from bank, people are in hurry to leave the city as more and more explosions heard. At this point, Rajkumar no longer thinks about the timber business. He cares much on Neels’ condition as he is now in charge of the yard. But as he arrives at the yard, he finds Doh Say crying in front of an unrecoqnized body. Doh Say already urges Neel to leave the yard as elephants are running wildly in response to the bombings. But Neel insists to stay upon the place. As the animals’ movements are becoming so unbearable, Neel is trampled upon their giant feet.

Rajkumar is completely sad upon the death of his favorite son. Manju, on the other hand, feels much more depressed. She has no passion to live any longer and almost cuts herself. Jaya is still a baby who cries a lot. The time is getting so urgent for Rajkumar’s family. Doh Say advises them to leave for India. So the four of them, including Jaya, head for the country. But the travel is not as smooth as they hope. They have to cross jungle, muddy river. All along the way, Jaya cries. Dolly has to demand Manju to feed her daughter. Dolly and Rajkumar are still strong to pass through the hard times although they are now in their sixties. After days of struggle, they eventually come at the river full of rafts that will carry them to India. During the stay with her in laws, Manju learns Jaya is more like their daughter than her own. She believes Jaya is going to be okay as long as she is with their grandparents. She is gazing at the river and knows the time has arrived. She slips over from the raft to the river. The water is numbingly cold.

Bela is 18 years old when Rajkumar, Dolly, and Jaya reaches her house. She is a spinster and helps her aunt, Uma, with all of her political and social affairs. Uma herself is the supporter of Mahatma Gandi. After a while living in the house, Dolly decides to seek for Dinu. She does not ask for Rajkumar’s companion due to his health. She also feels he can not stay away from his grand daughter. She departs for Morningside all alone after writing a letter for his husband. He never sees her again since then.

Rajkumar spends his old days with Jaya, who gets married when she is just 17 years old to a doctor. She gives birth to a son. Her husband dies in an accident. Jaya determines to continue her study and becomes a professor. When she has chances to have a conference in Goa, she steals few days to recall the legacy of her family. She goes to Ratnagiri. She is amazed with how the Ratnagiri people still remember King Thebaw despite the fact he is not their king. It is revealed Queen Supayalat dies in her hometown in Burma while the princesses get married with laymen.

After returning to Calcutta, Jaya traces back the past by sorting old files from her aunt. One thing lingers on her mind is the whereabouts of Dinu. Bela suggests Jaya to find Ilango, who is now a prominent figure in Malaya after he succesfully brings Morningside out of hard times. He hands over her a picture of photo studio called The Glass Palace.

It takes no hard efforts for Jaya to find the studio. She climbs up the ladder connecting the studio to a residential place. There, she sees a crowd of enthusiastic people on photography. They are listening to Dinu, who is now an old man sitting in a chair with a cane nearby him. Once he completes his course, Jaya introduces herself that she is his brother’s daughter.

Dinu leaves Malaya after Alison’s death. He reaches home only to find her family is heading for India. Dolly meets him on her way to Rangoon. She always wants to live in Sagiang, a place full of pagodas. Dinu regularly visits her mother. A month before his last visit, Dolly dies peacefully. The caretakers of the pagoda sends him a letter but hard circumstances cause it fails to reach him quickly. In Rangoon, Dinu meets Doh Say and his son, Raymond. From them, Dinu knows about Neel and Manju’s death. Dinu joins Raymond and happen to meet Arjun and Kishan Singh before their deaths during the war.

Dinu sets up The Glass Palace through hard efforts in times when the Myanmar, the modern name of Burma, is very watchful with every movement from civil society. He gathers magazine, photos, all artistic items. Gradually, his studio attracts people attention. Old and young gather at his place to talk about art, photography, and other themes under tight supervision from the government. Dinu once marries with Doh Say’s relative Daw Thin Thin Aye, a bright writer and college lecturer. Despite their childnesses, they live happily. They try hard to pull themselves away from politic but this does not last for long. Daw Thin Thin Aye joins a series of meetings after being persuaded by her students. She and Dinu are imprisoned partly because of that. The government, on the other hand, suspects Dinu is in connection with Raymond, who is a traitor and is now at large. Daw Thin Thin Aye passes away after the arrest. Dinu is released from jail and lives by his own.

The year is 1996. Dinu takes Jaya to attend Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech out of her house gate in the capital. After the gathering, Dinu asks for Jaya the last days of his father. Quoting her son’s story, Jaya tells him that Rajkumar and Uma, who used to be long rivals, spend their last days as good friends. Both of them die in their 90s.