These books were used as research for our 2017 Expedition to Northern India. NWNL does not consider this a comprehensive list. We welcome any further recommendations.
Bumiller, Elisabeth. May You Be the Mother of a Hundred Sons: A Journey Among the Women of India. New York, Ballantine Books, 1990. A Washington Post reporter documents women in India, representative of India’s 400 million women and its social life – women of resilience and strength facing issues of medical care, water from wells and hand pumps that was brackish, and lack of education and paid work.
Ghose, Aruna, editor. Delhi, Agra & Jaipur. New York: Eyewitness Travel, 2015. A heavily-illustrated, easy-to-use guide with maps, 890 photos and illustrations. This book offers quick references explaining common sites with background that encourages exploration of the great sites and culture of India.
Joshi, Hridayesh. Rage of the River: The Untold Story of the Kedarnath Disaster. London: Penguin Books, 2016, In 2013 the Upper Ganges River Basin faced a flood disaster that crashed down on houses, bridges, dams and the town of Kedarnath. Thousands of people died as the government continued to deny environmental issues and the capacities of fragile ecosystems in the face of increasing and unsustainable population pressures.
Kadodwaka, Dilip. Holi. London: Evans Brothers, Ltd., 1997. Holi is a Hindu festival honoring spring, its colors and fragrances. It was an agricultural holiday – and now is one of general mayhem and merrymaking when colored water and powders are thrown on friends and family, in honor of Krishs’s splashing maidens with water. To understand India – and the Ganges as a Holy River – one must accept this book’s tenet that “At least two-thirds of India must be taken on faith.”
Macdonald, Sarah. Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure. New York: Bantam Books, 2002. A young journalist posted in India details her experiences with clarity and humor in a land of chaos and contradiction, which include water-y details of “slimy oozing black mud of the empty Yamuna River,” a square concrete public well with three levels, women bringing in the washing, lighting fires, stacking cow patties for fuel, and cooking meal, but forbidden to wash in public.
Patel, Sanjay. The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow. London: Penguin Group, 2006. While created as a child’s book, this is a quick way to span the panoply of deities in the Hindu religion, and their qualities. For instance, it states Brahma keeps a carafe of water with him at all times because it contains the source of life.
Ray, Satyajit. Henri Cartier-Bresson in India. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1987. This famous French photographer spent months in India in the mid-20th century as Magnum contributor, including the time of Ghandi’s death. His lyrical black-and-white photographs capture the Hindu way of life and echo the Hindi art of living.
Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. New York: Random House, 2008. This novel of magic, mystery and sadness, and winner of the Booker Prize, talks of the sanitation details of homes with “one corner for cooking, one for clothes, one for bedding rolls, one for dying in.” It also tells of saltwater barrages that block the inflow of salt water from the Arabian sea in order to produce “more rice, for the price of a river.”
Slesin, Suzanne and Stafford Cliff, and David Britte, photographer. Indian Style. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc. 1990. Albeit a book about design in an ancient culture, this book also touches on water-related details, such as the weather and the effects of mildew in the monsoons.
Subramanian, Meera. A River Runs Again: India’s Natural World in Crisis from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2015. India is little understood by many Westerners; but India is a critical player in solving our global environmental issues exacerbated by rising populations, climate change and pollution of its air and its rivers. Six of ten Indian residents lack access to clean water. Less than 50% have access to a toilet. Solutions are needed and possible, as described in stories of this book authored by an award-winning Indian-born journalist now living in the US.