Beautiful Country, a book by Gunjan Veda and Syeda Hameed, beautifully chronicles stories from an India that is not yet on the radar of the 24x7 media. The stories from Andamans, Varanasi, rural Maharashtra, Naxals-affected Chhattisgarh, the Northeast and several other regions of the country depict the struggles and triumph of the common people despite all the odds.
The simplicity of the stories touches the reader and brings out a beautiful picture of the India that lies beyond the glitz and glamour that seems to pervade the urban life. The incidents have been carefully chosen and while each one of them may have taken place in some corner of the country, they are also relevant for the rest of the country.
While the book has stories from almost every nook and corner of the country, it also leaves the readers with conflicting emotions. Some of the stories bring a tear of joy while others leave you in a state of abject despair. The book shows that there is much that needs to be set right before India becomes a true global power.
The only thing that mars the narratives is not clubbing similar stories together and the frequent use of Hindi verses, which do not really add much to the stories. But on the whole the book is a wonderful experience.
Beautiful Country: Stories from Another India; Syeda Hameed and Gunjan Veda, HarperCollins India, Rs. 399