Tilted. Off Balance.At an angle. Not in a straight level or position.
These are some of the definitions of the word Askew – the title of this short book by writer and biographer T.J.S. George. The obvious use of the word Askew is to convey that Bengaluru is a city gone wrong.
TJS George is a regular contributor to The New Indian Express – mainly on politics and author of many biographies, notably of MS Subbalakshmi.
Though the book is labeled as ‘A Short biography of Bangalore’ (he refuses to use Bengaluru as noted in the Author’s Note), it is more a collection of five topics or episodes from the recent years. After a brief reference to the founder Kempegowda, the book focuses on the city during the 1980s and later years.
The five topics are Impact of IT explosion on the city and its (non) residents, Politicians and underworld wars in the 1980s, Food and restaurants, Scions of the Mallya and Murthy family and lastly a brief write-up on arts, music and theater in the city. As these are quite disparate in nature, it will be best appreciated by people who know the context and have followed them over the years.
For someone not conversant with the city, it would feel more like five independent short stories.
The moment you crossed the HAL airport on what is now called Old Airport Road, it was open country. Farms on both sides of the rustic road were interspersed with thatched-roof houses serving light food and tender coconuts.
There were open spaces and fields of flowers dancing in the breeze.
Excerpt from the book Askew by T.J.S. George
What makes it interesting is the conversational easy writing style and quotes from many people from various walks of life. Keeping the book and topics short also makes it a quick but enjoyable read. It is a book that one can complete in one sitting over an hour or two.
While many topics in the book are important enough to merit its place, the choice of devoting almost a fifth of the small book (22 pages) to Siddharth Mallya and Rohan Murthy is surprising. Surely there are people who are more interesting and worthy of being profiled. After all, how many of us even know about Mallya Jr. who was born abroad and spent most of his time there? Even though Rohan Murthy is a high-achiever having studied in premier institutions, he has remained out of the limelight when it comes to our city.
There is nothing new in the book that anyone born or brought up in the city would not know. Knowledge is priceless, but if you are willing to spare over ₹ 2 per page for this book, it will entertain you for a short time.
Askew – A Short Biography of Bangalore
Author: T.J.S. George
Price: Rs 299
Published by Aleph Book Company