About the Author:
Latha Anantharaman is a writer, editor, translator and perpetual student of literature. Her articles, essays and book reviews have appeared in The Hindu (where for four years she wrote a fortnightly column on books and reading), The Sunday Herald, The Indian Review of Books, Business Standard (which brought out her series on crime fiction) and many other publications. Her articles on travel have appeared in Outlook Traveller magazine. She is the author of Tamil Nadu, published by Roli Books. Her writing on rural life began with a column called “The Village Diary”, which was carried in Live Mint and then continued in Business Line.
About the Book:
In her prologue to the book, Latha Anantharaman writes:
“Nearly nine years ago, my husband and I built a house on a parcel of land in Akathethara Panchayat, which is on the other side of the tracks from Palakkad town. Palakkad itself, though a district capital, is a small town that shuts down at 7.30 p.m.
Friends and relatives have often asked why Saar and I, both born and raised in cities and suburbs, left our familiar territories to settle here. We answer vaguely about peace and quiet and being able to write. For several years, as we planned the shift, I imagined myself writing, reading, editing, quilting and sometimes puttering around in the garden. I suppose we were as naive as young couples who expect to fit a baby, or even a fish tank, smoothly into their professional routines, and as laughable as those who expect it to get easier as they go.
We were partly prepared by years of reading about water conservation, rain-fed cultivation, integrated pest management, fragile slopes, microclimates, and the eternal mysteries of soil. But the difference between reading all that and living it is the difference between reading the parts for every instrument in an orchestra and hearing the symphony.
The land took over our lives. We can’t always explain that to our visitors and friends, and sometimes I have trouble explaining to myself what I’m doing here. I probably would not have made time to write about it if an old friend and editor hadn’t demanded a column from me a few years ago. The only subject I could focus on, I told her, was rural living. “The Village Diary” column ran for twenty-five instalments, in two different newspapers. By the time I wound it up, I realized how rapidly my environment was changing, and I wanted to continue to document this way of life.
Here is a patchy record of a year in a small panchayat in Kerala. In this region we mark three seasons in a year: the windy, the hot and the rainy. I wrote this record for myself and for any reader who may wonder what would happen if she were to move from the city to the hinterlands. Would she luxuriate in the glories of nature while mourning its fragility? Would she find she had made a mistake that cast a long shadow over her future? Or would she, like an amphibian, live matter-of-factly in another medium for the second half of her life and forget the one in which she began?
The following account is not fiction. However, I have changed some names to preserve the privacy of our neighbours and to protect scoundrels.”