Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book Review : Monkeys on a Fast

Crossposted on : Saffron Tree

Author : Kaushik Vishwanathan
Illustrator : Shilpa Ranade
Publisher : Amar Chitra Katha Pvt. Ltd.
Karadi Tales (Will you read with me?)

In the current times of craze for getting a size zero figure and 6/8/10 packs, how can the ancestors of human race be behind? A story on - what happens when a tribe of monkeys think of fasting for a day and then regularly thereafter to lose some excess fat?

A worried monkey chief - Chakrapani (Chakku) is in deep thought trying to find some ways to keep his tribe from eating anything and everything all the time. While pondering over this problem he finds a solution when he hears a temple priest telling the devotees about the “Ekadasi” (eleventh day of the waxing moon) and the benefits of observing a fast that day. Chakku finds it a wonderful idea for the monkeys too. But now he has a difficult task in hand - how to convince the monkeys to abstain from food and worse still from their favourite bananas for a whole day!!! Puzzled monkeys ask questions like - does Ekadasi mean - eka dosa? Eka dasi? Eating one dosa the whole day?

After a long counseling session (loved the tactic the chief uses to convince them - if humans can do it, can't we???), the monkeys finally go on a fast and try to meditate with their minds focused on bananas all the time.

Two little naughty monkeys Bonnet and Macaque keep giving great ideas to the chief Chakku and the whole meditating tribe - how to make it a little easier for all to continue with the fast. But do their ideas help the monkeys to carry on with their fast or do they all give up? You have to read the book to find it. But they come up with really great ideas, this much I can tell.

The zany illustrations by Shilpa Ranade are perfect to accentuate the effect of the whole story.

This book comes with a CD and Sanjay Dutt is narrating the story and has done full justice to the story. The title music is by - Shankar Ehsaan Loy, the songs are really good and I find myself humming them often, not just Raghav and Medha.
On a personal note, I remember when I was very small, our whole family used to observe(we all still do it) a fast every year - last day of the Navratri. During that day we could eat some specific things only - chapati made out of kuttu flour, special kind of rice, potatoes in any form, fruits, nuts etc. but not regular rice, wheat flour and vegetables. But this much I still remember that the whole day we used to just think about food and nothing else and we were always asking our mother - Can we eat this? Can't we eat this? I guess on those "Fasting days" we ate way more than what we ate on regular days.

Similarly in this story we see how monkeys face the challenge of imposing self-restraint.
{Image source : Amar Chitra Katha}

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