14 March 2012

The land of the wilted rose

Are you an Indian? Did your granny ever narrate the story of firangis who ruled us for over two centuries and made us live like outsiders in our own country? My granny did. She was around ten during the time India got its independence and she still remembers how much she feared the British men who had camped outside her village. Her father never let her go anywhere unattended as he feared that those men would do something to her, such was the fear that these firangis had for them in Indians’ hearts. Everytime I recall this story, my blood boils. It is quite normal to get angry, isn’t it?

We still hear about how British treat Indians, don’t we? They call us thieves while they have our Kohinoor diamond in their museum. They don’t like doing business with us when it was them who captured our country after we let them do business here. Why such double standards? I wonder.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to discuss British raj but to talk about Indian Raj, British colonies, ban cho cauks and the book named, ‘The land of the wilted rose’ written by Anand Ranganathan.

It is the golden age of the Indian empire in the year…well, the year is not important. The brown man’s burden stretches from the temple of Angkor to the chapel of King’s. The fate of all mankind is in the hands of a seventeen-year-old Maharaja whose ships rule the waves and armies occupy the four corners of the earth. But all is not well. In the small colony of England, an unassuming little white man decides to fight back. This is his story, the story of a man who, armed with only an umbrella and a newspaper-wrapped meal of fish and chips, led millions on the historic Dundee March, towards freedom, and himself into the pages of history as a Great Soul, the White Mahatma. 

The Land of the Wilted Rose, the first book in The White Mahatma Quartet, is an allegorical work, a black comedy, but it is also a book that seeks to understand the psychological scars empires inflict on the vanquished, scars that fester, that remain unhealed.

Anand has written well (though I found the language to be too abusive at times and the pace of the story too slow for my liking) about how it would have been if British were ruled by Indians. I do not fancy British much but that didn’t make me like the way Indians treat them in the book. Come to think of it, British might have treated us worse than that and they still think very highly of themselves. If it was me, I would have died of guilt by now. How can you face the world so boldly after doing all those things? Might be they are too thick skinned.

In the book, the seventeen year old perverted Maharaja, who is king of kings, respected by everyone at home and abroad, thinks he has aged just because he ruled his homeland and all the British colonies for about four years. He likes playing around white men who do everything that a brown man does just to prove that they are not cauks (that’s what British men are called in the book). He is a bastard who killed his father after learning about his birth, only to take his father’s throne. He doesn’t step into the bathtub without many (either brown or white) sundaris to bathe him.

We also get to see glimpse of present India in the book - corrupt and lazy people at important positions, wasting time by drooling at their subordinates’ wives while they could be doing something productive instead. Well, I won’t talk anymore about the story itself as I don’t want to give away the story. I suggest you read the book to know what Anand Ranganathan’s ‘The land of the wilted rose’ is all about.

I hope British people and everyone who badmouths us read the book and learns that we could give back too but we choose not to.

I rate the book 2.5 out of 5.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!


  1. Lovely review Nethra :D The part about the present Indian political scenario is very correct.

  2. The VASHIKARAN MANTRA that might be recited or the solutions provided by the astrologer for your problems are always towards the positive side. If you intend to do something negative, these VASHIKARAN mantras won't work. Similarly, you need to have faith in the term 'astrology'; else you can never experience positive results.