Free Press Journal

A quest for knowledge


Reading room

This book has a beautiful story behind its creation and that is what prompted me to get my own copy.

When Achal Prabhala kept procrastinating about donating his parentsalt39 entire collection of an old magazine

( Quest), little did he know what it would lead to. He got interested in the writings and decided to get the best of the magazine to the new generations.

Thus, The Best of Quest was born. As the title already reveals, it is a collection of some of the best written and published pieces in Quest magazine during the 20 years it was in print and circulation.

Edited by Laeeq Futehally, Achal Prabhala and Arshia Sattar this book covers a varied range of topics between its covers. There are many underlying themes that come through – the foremost being the importance of political and social commentary when the country was coming of age; and the relevance that some of the writings hold even today, almost half a decade later. For instance, Rajni Kotharis alt39 Direct Action: A Pattern of Political Behaviouralt39 is pure food for thought.

Although it was written way back in 1966, it has current relevance, especially in the socio- political context of corruption in the country.

Another piece that fits todays scenario, is alt39 Sri Aurobindo: Superman or Supertalkalt39 by Claude Alvares. It talks about Aurobindos philosophy, and covers topics like the setting up Auroville. In this description, comes out the fact that the way the land was acquired, the locals were displaced and stripped of their livelihoods. This indeed, is still a matter of concern is many parts of the country.

In fact, when you go through the book, many names seem familiar as those who have made it big in their respective fields. It is interesting to note, however, that when the stuff was published, they were just starting out, and were just alt39 regularalt39 people.

Some of the most illustrious writers include names like Kiran Nagarkar, Nirad C Chaudhuri, Subhash Chandra Mehta, Dilip Chitre, Ashis Nandy, Robert Niell, C R Irani, and Khushwant Singh among many others.

The Best of Quest is classified into seven segments interspersed with ads from back in the day, which transports the imaginative reader to the days during which the actual magazine was published. So we have ads for Rallifan, Air India, Rajdoot Motorcycle, Lambretta Scooter, Ambassador Car, Favre Leuba Watches and Modella Suitings. Apart from evoking a sense another time, these make for a delightful break between the thought- provoking, and often heavy, essays.

Segment 1 is alt39 The Forewordalt39 by Achal Prabhala and Arshia Sattar, about the starting of the process, the thoughts and idea behind it, and those who served as pure inspiration.

Segment 2 is alt39 In Memoriamalt39 which brings to light moments from the life of Quests early editor, Nissim Ezekiel, as fondly remembered and cherished by those who personally knew and interacted with him.

Laeeq Futehally says ” He wanted people to write not for money but because they had something to say that was worth saying.” This section sort of provides jigsaw like pieces to a mans persona, the man being Ezekiel. These pieces offered by the likes of Githa Hariharan, Raj Rao, Jane Bhandari, Menka Shivdasani flood the readers heart with a sense of deep found respect for the man. His words to Menka Shivadasani ” no matter what level you are at, you must always go a little higher” ring so true that they have the power to haunt one forever.

Segment 3 consists of Essays And Opinions, some of the finest that have appeared in the magazine.

They range from impact of religion on indias external affair to marriage morals to cinematography comparisons to pulp literature. The segment offers personal and social views of the writers on a variety of topics, makes one ponder on the mental debate they evoke in the reader. Though coming from a different era altogether, one is still compelled to relate it to current times as we all are aware that so