Tag Archives: Development studies

Stories from Tagore


My To Read all Nobel Prize in Literature Project brought me to India at the beginning of the 20th Century.

Rabindranath Tagore (May 7, 1861-August 7, 1941) was a Bengali poet from India. Tagore won the 1913 Nobel Prize, based on a small amount of his translated works, and his 1912 work of poems named Gitanjali: Song Offerings.

Tagore was an humanist, a teacher and this is the reason I chose to read ” Stories from Tagore”.download
The stories resonate with my country’s colonial past, when studying in a foreign language was imposed in schools. Tagore published these stories to help children get accustomed to a language foreign to their ears and eyes. At the end of each story, he makes space to explains “words to be studied” in plain language. He takes time to explain it in his Preface, addressing teachers’ difficulties in instructing Indian children out of books that are intended for use in English schools.

These are sad stories. If you a looking for a more light reading, these might not  be it. They are stories meant to bring to light human struggles.

If your heart is justice centered you’ll find yourself dealing with silent or more vocal revolt. I must say that development realities do not appear to have changed much in India over the last century or so,  at least from my recent development studies perspective. Inequalities, caste system, poverty, servitude, forced marriages, injustices, women and girls discrimination, lack of opportunities and affected livelihoods….. You’ ll also find the values of friendship, family, devotion and resilience emerge under most opposing circumstances.

The value of family is central in many of these stories. It overturns even the collective pressure in a patriarchal society, as in “The Castaway” : “Sharat and his mother turned a deaf ear to them, thinking that the little life of their darling was of greater importance than the united wisdom of a village”.

“Beauty is a truth’s smile when she beholds her own face in a perfect mirror” is my favourite quote from Tagore’s wisdom.

African Laughter by Doris May Lessing


My “To read all Nobel Prize in Literature” project brought me to Africa, Zimbabwe. Doris Lessing got the Nobel Prize in 2003.51EMG2HNSAL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

This book was published in 1993. You get to see Zimbabwe through the eyes of one of the finest writers of this century. Doris Lessing was raised there after her family moved to Africa from Iran. Being banned for twenty-five years from her homeland, for her opposition to the government of what was then white Southern Rhodesia, she returns to a country she both knows and wants to get to know.

A combined diary, reportage and memoirs writing style keeps the reader entertained. Which is a must, given its 442 page richness.

If you are interested in development studies and history of the region this is a highly enlightening book. Everything from war, regional dimensions, politics, inter-racial relations, class relations, poverty, economics, agriculture, environment, infrastructure to colonialism, aid, education, local traditions, family and inter-personal relations, love, class and personal attitudes, roles of verandas are illustrated in their entire splendor and decadence.

Back to its title, my favorite part in the book is “And he shook with laughter, the marvelous African laughter born somewhere in the gut, seizing the whole body with good-humoured philosophy”. Made me want to share more good laughs with friends and family. Enjoy reading and laughing!