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A reading River of Smoke engages one with several aspects of the 19th C.

world, much of it has not yet been properly explored in the world of fiction: 1. Botany as an imperial science: No discipline of knowledge is innocent and botany is no exception. It was largely seen as a tool to increase the revenue of an ever increasing empire. 2. Mauritius and its Indian diaspora. How did they preserve a sense of self and a sense of identity in trying conitions. 3. Enterprising Parsi community and their role in the opium trade. 4. Various types of ships floating across the Indian ocean during the 19th C.. Anahita is a marvel of 'Indian' craftsmanship. 5. Canton and far east in the 19th C. Opium trade has turned this port into a city of sin. But Canton is not merely a vantage point of illegal opium trade. It is much more than what appears in its smokey surface.No one can deny its cosmopolitan nature; its ability to accommodate various strands of knowledge and culture. No where the dialogue between cultures has got a such an inviting space. 6. Robin Chinnery's journey into this city proves both educative and inspirational. It shows how a possible correspodence can take place between two completely different schools of paintings. 7. Perhaps the most difficult part of reading involves us with the problems of form. No writer of our age is so painfully aware of the inadequacies of history writing than Amitav Ghosh. In his Ibis trilogy Ghosh tries to locate an alternative form to reconstruct a past that had shaped and continues to shape our modernity.

Of River, Smoke and History No writer in our age has exposedso dra