Many many years ago, I remember sitting in our cold Scottish manse and reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth . It transported me to a country that I had not yet visited; I have since visited India even though it was a very brief trip. I am not sure I enjoyed the book as I don’t remember the story very much. The book wasn’t an easy read; I think it had 19 parts to it! The small print on the paperback copy added to the difficulty.
Since we don’t own a television, we did not get to watch the BBC mini series of the same name when it aired in 2020. However, in the middle of September, I got an email from Britbox informing me that the mini series is now available to us Britbox subscribers!
We have since watched the whole series and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Surprisingly, I found it very relaxing. I also understand the story a little better now.
It is worth watching if you have not already watched it!
The first book by my bedside is the Jewel in the Crown which is the first book in Paul Scott’s the Raj Quartet. According to the Mhinisteir, it was to be a Valentine’s Day present which arrived 2 weeks before the actual day. Strangely, on the day itself there was not even a peep from the Mhinisteir. He claims to have forgotten!!!! Mmmm…..
The second book is my Sunday book entitled Rowan Rules by Rupert Shortt. It is a biography of Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury.
I am very pleased to announce that I have finished reading these.
My fascination with India started in the year 2003. We knew of a missionary family who were living in India. I had never visited India but I was fascinated by the stories that I used to hear from the wife of this missionary family. There appeared to be a vibrancy in that country. I developed a secret desire. To go and live in India! How is that possible if I have never even visited the country? For a start, I won’t be able to cope with the spicy food. I started reading blogs of British expats in India. Life in India sounded magical.
One day, the Mhinisteir told me that he had been asked to visit India on official business and would I go with him??? Did he even have to ask? It was a five day trip. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy my time there very much. Nothing to do with the country but I was cooped up in the hotel room for the five days as I wasn’t feeling very well. Food became a problem too. I remember ordering room service of just chips to satisfy my hunger. When the chips arrived, they were covered in black pepper! According to the young Indian server, the chips were far too bland to be eaten on its own!!!!!! I was so angry that I could have cried. Cultural Clash!
We moved to England. My fascination with India faded and then it disappeared or so I thought until a few weeks ago when the Mhinisteir decided that we were going to watch Jewel in the Crown. The fascination is back and I don’t know what to do!!!!
Lesslie Newbigin’s A South India Diary caught my eye when I was browsing through the Mhinisteir’s library. The reason why it caught my eye was pedantic. I just had to take the book out to be sure that Newbigin did indeed have two Ss on his first name!
As you can see from the photo, This is a very old book published in 1951. The title was too attractive for someone fascinated by India. Furthermore I realised that Newbigin was first ordained in the Church of Scotland.
Lesslie Newbigin was a British Clergyman who became the first Bishop of South India. The book is really a diary of Newbigin’s time in India as the first Bishop of South India. It is a very interesting read even though at times it can feel repetitive as his days were very long and usually taken up by the same things (meeting people, attending meetings, conducting worship, solving disputes etc). It was an eye opener to read about another culture but also to learn of the challenges faced by converts to Christianity in that culture.
As Newbigin had a good way with words, this book gets a 3/5.