Book Blurb – Where Elephants Danced And Dragons Flew
In nine memorable essays, Rajesh Talwar brings alive the life and culture of seven countries he visited in Asia. In Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, he discovers a stunning, unearthly landscape, while in Hanoi, he encounters the nation’s inefficient bureaucracy, even as he befriends bright, young students. Deeply moved by a visit to the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the author is also awestruck by the ancient temples at Angkor Wat. In Singapore he learns about the five C’s every woman looks for in a man; and in Hong Kong he uncovers an erosion of tradition and culture. In Tokyo he visits a capsule hotel, discovers the world of manga comics, and finds out how the English and the Japanese share much in common. In modern-day Bali, in the midst of rampant tourism, he catches a glimpse of ancient India. Finally, in China, he visits its Great Wall and the Ming tombs, and meets young people who have a great hunger for religion and spiritual knowledge.
This travelogue features many fascinating conversations with people from all walks of life, from cabdrivers to students to industrialists, and shares special insights not commonly found in other books.
Know the Author- Rajesh Talwar
Rajesh Talwar has written thirty-seven books, which include novels, children’s books, plays, self-help books and non-fiction books covering issues in social justice, culture and law
His novels include Simran, on aesthetics, and Inglistan, on cultural contrasts. An Afghan Winter and The Sentimental Terrorist explore the theme of terrorism. How to Kill a Billionaire reveals the workings of the Indian justice system. From the Lips of the Goddess – Mata Vaishno Devi is on the sacred feminine.
Rajesh’s plays cover diverse contemporary themes and historical retellings. They include Inside Gayland, The Bride Who Would Not Burn, Conquest at Noon, The Killings in November, Kaash Kashmir, Aurangzeb: The Darkness in His Heart, Gandhi, Ambedkar and the Four-Legged Scorpion, High Fidelity Transmission and A Nuclear Matricide.
His non-fiction works include The Judiciary on Trial, Courting Injustice: The Nirbhaya Case and Its Aftermath, The Third Sex and Human Rights, The Vanishing of Subhash Bose, The Killing of Aarushi and the Murder of Justice. Self-help books include How to Choose Your Lawyer and Win Your Case, Making Your Own Will, The Divorce Handbook and Indian Laws of E-business.
His books for children include The Three Greens, The Bearded Prince, The Sleepless Beauty, Fabulous Four Battle Zoozoo, the Wizard, Playwrights- A One-Act Play for Children on Human Rights, The Boy Who Wrote a Constitution and most recently The Boy Who Became a Mahatma.
He has contributed to The Economic Times, The Guardian (UK), The Daily Guardian, The Pioneer, The Times of India, Manushi, The Sunday Mail and the New Indian Express. He is a sought-after speaker at Literary Festivals.
He has a Wikipedia page and can be followed on Insta and Facebook where he has nearly fifty thousand followers
Rajesh works as Deputy Legal Adviser to the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan.
Extract from the book –Where Elephants Danced And Dragons Flew
Where Elephants Danced And Dragons Flew by Rajesh Talwar (Bridging Boarders)
THE QUIET JAPANESE
A BRITAIN OF THE EAST
Similarities between Japan and the UK are not readily apparent, but on my visit to Tokyo I was reminded, time and again, of my yearlong stay in Nottingham, where I studied for a master’s degree. There are historical as well as geographical commonalities, and I also observed other similarities between the two countries.
In a geographical sense, both are islands. In historical terms, both nations have a record of colonising other territories. In terms of cultural attributes, I noticed how both societies have a strong sense of privacy. In Nottingham, on days when I caught the train from Beeston to London, I found evidence of the stereotypical Englishman’s reserve and formality. There were passengers who had been taking the train for years but who barely acknowledged their co-passengers. They came into the train station with their lips buttoned up and their newspaper firmly clasped to serve as a silent, if over-intellectual, companion for most of the journey. A nod of the head was all they permitted themselves, even with those who had ridden with them for decades.
Such, too, was the case in Tokyo. They are possibly a little in advance of the Brits in terms of their privacy needs, for while the English often forbid the use of mobiles in restaurants and inside theatres, the Japanese are a step ahead: using mobile phones to make calls is prohibited on all modes of public transport. This included the airport limousine I took from Narita airport to the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku, Tokyo. A recording that periodically announced approaching stopovers advised us insensitive foreigners not to use any mobile phones out of consideration for our co-passengers.
India is so different. I couldn’t help being reminded of my visits to the multiplex cinema in NOIDA, India, a few weeks earlier. Even after the movie had started, there were uncouth characters seated who didn’t hesitate to use their mobile phones despite the clear annoyance and frustration this would cause to those watching the film. To make matters worse and seeing only their own convenience, these mobile phone users spoke loudly in order to make themselves heard – often a few decibels above the voices of the film actors!
Expectedly, the Japanese are a step ahead of the Brits and most of the rest of the world in terms of mobile phone technology. Whenever I travel to a new country, one of the first things that I do is get a SIM card for my phone, and I have rarely found this to be a problem. In Tokyo, certainly,
I anticipated no difficulties on this account. In London I have found SIM card vending machines, where you punch in the SIM card of the company of your choice, throw in the money and presto! Within a matter of seconds, you are in touch with the rest of the world. I rather expected similar service in Tokyo. However, I couldn’t find anyone, human or machine, selling SIM cards, and after due enquires was directed to a section in the airport’s basement, where I found three mobile phone shops renting out SIM cards. I had rented a phone during my trip to the United States, but it was a first for me to see that SIM cards could also be rented.
The assistants at the first two shops inserted a SIM into my phone, and when it didn’t work said they couldn’t help.The assistant at the third shop made matters clear.
‘Is your phone 5G?’ she asked.
I gave her my instrument to examine. After a few seconds she pronounced that it was not 5G.
‘No Japanese SIM card will work on your phone,’ she announced with a great deal of conviction.
I was half relieved at her assertion. At least I now knew that I’d have to manage without a mobile.
Their hi-tech phones conceivably gave the Japanese more entertainment possibilities. At any given time on the tube, train or monorail, I found the majority of my silent co-passengers connected to their mobiles. I asked Katsui Kaneko, a Japanese friend with whom I reconnected soon after reaching Tokyo, what they were doing.
‘All sorts of things,’ she said. ‘Some are reading SMSs, a few are surfing the internet and checking emails, and others are listening to music.’ Katsui, who is in her mid-thirties and is tall, with long black flowing hair, teaches English at a polytechnic in Yokohama. We had first met at the YMCA in Shimla, where she had come visiting as a Japanese tourist, and had become friends. She had promised to take me out some time to show me around.
‘I don’t see anyone reading the newspaper.’
‘You do see that sometimes,’ she said, ‘but it’s simpler to switch on the television on your phone and hear the news.’
That made sense, even though I belong to the more traditional group that prefers to feel paper and read it rather than watch small lettering run across a small screen.