Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh– the name rang a bell in my head, the moment I saw it written in bold letters on the cover page of The Hungry Tide. Perhaps  Amitabh Bachhan – Indian Cinema’s legendary actor and one of my favourites courtesy Baghban had something to do with it. Anyhow, I picked up the book, that looked a bit bulky to start with. But once I started reading it, I just could not stop.

Amitav has an amazing ability to merge characters from diverse backgrounds. At the beginning, the novel has two clear cut plots, each plot being so different from the other that you start wondering why the author is telling these two stories alternately. At times, even one story demands your attention at the cost of other.

But, as you progress, a connecting thread starts emerging,  holding the two plots tightly. Once this connection is established, the fascinating turn of events exhibit the similarities hidden behind the differences.You realize that the connection was always there, only it was not visible to the untrained eye of the reader, till the writer decided to lift the veil. The stories become mirror images. The practical modernity merges with the superstitious traditions like milk in water. Flimsy beliefs of simple villagers appear to be based on solid scientific data.

And, then comes the strange reality of life, often age old traditions and rituals have some sound logic, which we- as new found kids of Scientific World, often chose to ignore. This contradiction is clearly visible in the novel – Hungry Tide. The Heroine – an NRI Sea-life Researcher finds a strange complimenting partner in the rustic boatman. Together, they unfold mysteries, make new discoveries, cementing beliefs in tradition and science alike.

I was fascinated by the freshness of the story and the uncanny ability of author to sketch real life characters which appear so normal despite their strange oddities. In fact, their idiosyncrasies provide the necessary eccentricity to this high voltage drama.

But, I was most amazed by Ghosh’s unlimited knowledge about the background of the story, especially about the dolphins, geography of Sunderbans  and the folklore of  Bengal.

This was my first book by Amitav Ghosh , which made me hooked onto him for the next six months, goading me to read all his creations, devouring each with more enthusiasm, providing food for a never ending hunger and he certainly did not disappoint with his historic Glass Palace, queer Calcutta Chromosome and engaging Shadow Lines.

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