27 May 2012

Blog Tour : Trade Winds To Meluhha by Vasant Davé (Guest Post)


Today's Kindle and Me's stop for the Trade Winds To Meluha Blog Tour. I'm really happy to host Vasant Davé, author of Trade Winds To Meluha, here today.

Trade Winds To Meluhha by Vasant Davé.
Audience/Genre : Anyone/Historical Fiction.
Publication : January 14th 2012.
'Trade winds to Meluhha' is set in the Bronze Age. It narrates a young man SAMASIN's adventure in Mesopotamia and Indus Valley Civilization. He is charged with murder and escapes death through a rare astronomical event which is actually recorded in clay tablets excavated in ancient Babylon. He lands in Meluhha (Indus Valley) where besides the query he also finds wealth and love.


Can Pre-Historic fiction generate interest like other genres?


Pre-Historic fiction holds the potential to generate as much interest as other genres because the basic human behaviour has not changed over time – the Judas and the Brutus are there amongst us even today – and that is what creates an interesting story. Secondly, as the cliché goes, 'Truth is stranger than Fiction'. Archaeological evidence often throws up ironical situations which makes one wonder "Has Man's thinking evolved in pace with all the technological progress? Or has it regressed in some instances?" In this article I discuss my novel Trade winds to Meluhha in that light.

The narrative is set in ancient Mesopotamia and Indus Valley Civilization. Mesopotamia was spread over almost the entire part of the present day Iraq and portions of its neighbouring countries. Indus Valley, which the Mesopotamians knew as 'Meluhha', extended from Eastern Iran through Pakistan to Western India and from Southern Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea.

Considering the condition of most women in all these countries, it is unimaginable that their great greatn grandmothers were more emancipated. Many women knew reading and writing; they could possess property and seek divorce in the Mesopotamia of four millenniums ago. Thus a Mesopotamian lady named Elati is educated. She has obtained divorce from a wily man and is raising two children as a self-confident single woman.

Perceiving urban India as depicted in Danny Boyle's Academy Award-winning film Slumdog Millionaire, would you ever believe that the Bronze Age ancestors of Indians and Pakistanis followed rigorous town-planning and had perfected underground drainage? Any small excavated site of the Indus Valley Civilization bears that out. The protagonist Samasin lives in and visits several well-planned Indus Valley towns. At the outset he also serves as a drainage supervisor in one of them.

Publishers Weekly reviewed my manuscript among the top 5% entries selected in Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, 2012. One point it raised was that "Themes are introduced with capricious ease, leading characters to make stilted statements such as: 'Circumstances appeared to be fooling around with his fate.'" The 'statement' referred to Samasin's emotions after destiny rescued him second time from a gory death. Both instances came about with two rare astronomical events which actually happened in May, 2038 BC. They have been recorded on baked clay tablets excavated at a Mesopotamian site. But since I had overlooked putting that information in the manuscript, the reviewer at Publishers Weekly dismissed the events as a figment of imagination. (Incidentally, the publication of this article today celebrates the 4,150th anniversary of the second event mentioned above)

The legendary explorer Thor Heyerdahl, in his inimitable style of taking bull by its horns, sailed from the Tigris to River Indus in a reed ship. Starting from Iraq, it crossed the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea and covered about 3,000 Km. to reach Pakistan. Thus it proved beyond doubt that marine travel between the two ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Indus Valley was possible during the Bronze Age when iron was not yet discovered and the magnetic compass did not even exist. In Trade winds to Meluhha, the protagonist flees to the Indus Valley in a reed ship.

In Asia, leopards and pythons often stray into remote settlements and attack humans. My father used to recall an incident in which a leopard had attacked a Rabari woman grazing cattle in the woods of Wankaner. The Rabaris are nomads who wander with their cattle throughout Western and Northern India – the territory where hundreds of Indus Valley settlements have been discovered. Their women used to put on thick ivory wristlets till recently. The victim shoved one hand into the leopard’s open mouth which the brute was unable to shut due to her ivory wristlet. She pounded its skull with the wristlet on her other hand. Although seriously wounded, she killed the animal with bare hands and dragged it by its tail to the nearest village. Risks inherent in the environment dictate human behaviour, and I based one episode in the narrative upon that unbelievable incident.

Thus by researching the ancient period, an author can uncover many interesting aspects about the life during those times. And those unique characteristics could be used to produce an absorbing Historical Fiction.



Vasant Davé is an electrical engineer from the University of Bombay. He holds a post-graduate certificate in marketing and has received training at National Institute of Industrial Engineering, Tata Management Training Center and XLRI School of Business. He served engineering industry for 24 years. For another 8 years, he travelled widely in India conducting Industrial Market Research for corporate clients in the U.K., Germany, Israel, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

During one of his frequent tours he happened to visit Lothal and was awed to learn that it was a sea-port that conducted maritime business with Mesopotamia. Subsequently he visited other Indus Valley archaeological sites and had had discussions with authorities on the subject. He completed writing his first novel 'Trade winds to Meluhha' in 2011.

Earlier, Vasant's articles were published in Readers' Digest, Economic Times, Business India, Telematics India and Studio Systems. His technical background helped him to understand and apply historical, geographical, environmental and cultural nuances bearing upon the life during the Bronze Age, the period in which 'Trade winds to Meluhha' is set.





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