Archive for the ‘Punjab’ Category

Dear Friends,

PANJAB is a gift that keeps giving. Thank you Aneet Randhawa for this lovely review in The Tribune. Thank you Roopinder Singh.

‘Punjab emerges as a land of paradoxes.’

Please read here …

Dear Friends,

my friend Hema Gopinathan has assessed my book Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines in the context of my earlier works Sepia Leaves and Roll of Honour.

It is interesting to me, as a friend of the author, that Amandeep Sandhu’s latest book is a non-fictional account of the whys of Panjab. His earlier works were autobiographical fiction of his childhood through the lens of mental health and his formative years as a student in a boarding school during the violent insurgency days.

This one, Panjab – Journeys Through Fault Lines, though seemingly a travelogue/ reportage of the ground reality of Panjab, feels like the third part of a trilogy of self-examination as the canvas broadens and the author goes deeper within himself. While the earlier two dug deep into the private, personal surface, it is only logical that the author would not find the encompassing truth in the inner landscape of memories and would have to make the journey to the outer, the land of his foremothers and forefathers.

The book begins with the haunting line, ‘If you want to understand Punjab, be ready to count it’s corpses’. A few millenia ago another man, Vikramaditya went looking to retrieve a corpse, but that was only possible once he answered the corpse’s twenty-four questions. Our wholeness is dependent on the acceptance and integration of all our parts, not just the good but also the dead, decaying bits.

Panjab… examines 16, Satt, Berukhi, Rosh, Rog, Astha, Mardangi, Dawa, Paani, Zameen, Karza, Jaat, Patit, Bardr, Sikhya, Lashaan, Janamdin. The solah anna that make up the kadwa sach of Panjab today.

It’s a searing often disturbing narrative, the author keen on neither sparing himself nor us the readers as he dissects the complex 16 layered wound, each exposing the next.

There is something to be said about the clear dispassionate eye of the critic, standing tall, giving us a sweeping view of all that they think is wrong with the system and how to fix it. The way the British ran a sharp knife right across body of Punjab with the cool eye of a surgeon, in what they thought was the least painful way to bisect a nation, a people.

But this is not that book, for Amandeep is not that writer. While he writes with the clarity of the outsider, he also writes with the longing of a long-lost son returning home to embrace his slightly dented, damaged mother. It is in many ways more a pilgrimage than a travelogue.

The rips and tears across fabric of Punjab match the ones that were etched on his soul by the inter-generational trauma of his ancestors and you watch as he carefully examines and matches the two seams hoping to find answers that would if not heal, provide a voice for himself and a people whose suffering has been ignored from time immemorial.


Dear friends,

I am mighty pleased that the main newspaper of my adopted city Deccan Herald has reviewed Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. A few weeks ago, when the book released, the owner of my favourite bookshop, Mr Venkatesh of Nagasri told me, ‘We will be able to sell the once a review appears in the Deccan Herald.’

I am so glad the review has appeared today, the first Sunday of the year. ‘The outcome (book) is a unique account of contemporary Punjab with a historical backdrop… It adds to our knowledge of Punjab with a wealth of well-researched data peppered with anecdotes.’

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

last week a review of Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines by Yadwinder Singh appeared in the Punjabi Tribune (29.12.2019). I loved Yadwinder’s language and his content. It isn’t very often that one reads very fine Panjabi outside of books, in columns, in reviews.

What I also loved was how Yadwinder guides the readers to read the book by providing clues from within the book. That, to me, is an important aspect of reviews. Finally what I loved is, how Yadwinder highlights the photograph by Satpal Danish on the endsheets of the book and compares it with the legendary Ship of Theseus. I found it a brilliant allegory that lifts the review to a philosophical question applied to Panjab.

I felt, here is a review that truly adds to the book. I spoke to Kanwar Manjit Singh and very kindly he showcases the Panjabi review in English translation on Punjab Today.

Thank you! Please read here …

Dear Friends,

I love it when friends and readers respond to Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. As a gift in the new year, Sheila Kumar responds to the book. Sheila is an old Panjab hand. She was in Panjab in the early 80s. In fact, in Kapurthala, when I was in school there. Thank you! Means a lot!

I open my New Year account of book reviews with a book I read slowly, attentively, absorbing everything it had to give.

Amandeep Sandhu`s PANJAB is many things to many readers.

There are those like me, who was once familiar with the pinds and the jind of what Sandhu calls the outlier state (and you must read the book to know why he does so). For us, the book is an updated ready reckoner, albeit in prose, of how things were and how things are.

Then there are people for whom the state stands for paranthas and lassi, juttis and parandis, bhangra and Lohri bonfires. This is based partly on perception, partly on stereotyped images. The book is an eye-opener for them, debunking several public perceptions and exposing the grim reality. On how bad the drugs situation is, on the ground. On the Land of the Five Waters being severely strapped for clean water. On its various deras (socio-religious organisations), the people who flock to them and the powers that control them. On the Khalistan movement, on Operation Bluestar, the last a sorrowful refrain which the author keeps returning to. On the Dalits of Punjab. And much more.

The past, historical and political, impacts this frontier state like few other states. Sandhu, who is a Sikh, yet stands at one remove from Punjab, trains an impartial but deeply compassionate gaze on all issues concerning the faith and the faithful.

Such an informative read. At the end of it, one wishes to unknow what one has just learned, to go back to dreaming of mustard fields, a boisterous people and a land of plenty. But reality is alas, reality.

A special hat-tip to Orijit Sen’s stark and compelling cover design.

Note: Below the review, look for Sheila’s review and Q&A with me on Sepia Leaves. This is a triple treat. 

Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

in the last weekend of this year, Panjab gave me a gift. It is the review of Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines by Yadwinder Singh in the Punjabi Tribune.

I am translating the review into English and will share it soon. I find it great that a book in English is reviewed in the language of the society, community, region it depicts.

Thank you!


The Panjab Matrix

   Posted by: aman Tags:

Dear Friends,

before I begin work on a new book, I clean up my room and re-arrange my bookshelves and books in them. I was doing this recently as during writing Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines I was much tied up with the draft.

While cleaning, look at what I found!

I had developed a matrix of the content for the book. Love it!


Medical Professionals on PANJAB

   Posted by: aman Tags: ,

Dear Friends,

here are two short reviews by medical professionals on my book Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. I love positive reviews, I learn from critical ones, but medical professionals have a special place in my heart.


The book Panjab – Journeys Through Fault lines by Amandeep Sandhu begins with a preface which shows how Bhindranwale’s face, attire, flowing beard, blue turban transformed into iconography for all time. The book then makes a passage through the leftist Satnam’s house to the BKU movement against the incumbent government before heading to the travails the state has meandered through since partition.

The division on the lines of language, the moment Indian army entered the Harmandir Sahib instead of looking at other options and thereby searing a deep festering scar on Sikh minds, the Bargari treason and its mis-handling, the fall from grace of the SGPC, Akalis etc and the fascinating tale of how Nehru first used Article 356 to impose President’s Rule on PEPSU state when Gian Singh Rarewala led the first non-Congress party to power. Later Tara Singh said Nehru should not be allowed to speak at the Jor Mela and Tarlochan SIngh (later chairman National Minorities Commission) along with other students of Mahindra College prevented Nehru from speaking and were arrested for 36 days before Tara Singh intervened and got them off!

It (the book) talks of the syncretism of Punjab still visible in the worship of Peer babas, temples and also our inherent contradictions i.e. the divisions – the caste system still a mammoth elephant in the room, the gender skew, the drug epidemic, the political ineptitude over the agrarian crisis etc.

Poignantly written, one can feel the building up anxiety of the farmers as the whitefly cotton crop disaster and later the yellow stripe rust destroying the wheat crop causes the loan crisis which Punjab and other states are reeling under with no end in sight.

It (the book) even dwells on rising and untalked about impotence and Buprenorphine. Unfortunately, the book mentions and as some believe, the cure for addiction to “chitta” is not an addiction in itself. A person once addicted to opium usually (but not always) keeps relapsing and so Buprenorphine helps to keep them off and in many cases reduces harm. Of course, there are some, (benefit outweighs this though) who end up using high doses of buprenorphine but mostly it has a ceiling effect and is not misused as you do not get a high with it like Heroin etc. However, the book does talk of how the NDPS needs revamping, banning opium and bhukhi is not the solution but part of the problem.

Coming to one of the biggest current and future problems i.e. water and how again villages like Khassan which have won awards for water conservation are not being replicated in other villages. The book covers Zameen, Jaat, Borders, the Missing of Punjab (for that Ram Narayan Kumar’s work needs a read).

Go through two chapters in a week. Take time to read the book to really understand it.

An important piece of work, Amandeep, thanks for it.

Simmi Waraich, Psychiatrist, Chandigarh


Took a while to read Amandeep Sandhu’s Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines. It is a book one has to take time to read & absorb. It made me pensive at many junctures. I took breaks & came back to it after a while.

A real labour of love by the author. His writing is refreshingly honest & unbiased, as he presents the origins of the expanse of current problems faced by Punjab very logically, & highlights solutions to them. (Is the government listening?). He takes us along with him on the journey across the state, our home, and with him we experience the angst & the real heart of Punjab.

I wish him all the luck for this book and am waiting for his next one, hopefully more on Punjab :) I shall be there in the queue for my copy! This is one of the books I will keep with me & also buy copies for others (another book I did that with was Atul Gawande’s ‘Being Mortal’… one of my all time favourites).

More power to you Amandeep Sandhu & best wishes! Jeendey raho…khush raho!

- Aneeta Minhas, Singapore

Dear friends,

Jona Ray and I met up one evening at Khan Market and talked books and the writing life. At that time she was reading ‘Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines’. That someone is reading your book is such a pleasure for a writer.

Here is Jona’s write up on both me and the book in today’s The Hindu Business line.

‘When my editor suggested I begin with the photo [that is on the book’s front cover end leaf], I cried. I knew that I had found the beginning of my book.’

Thank you Jona and Rihan Najib. Please read more here …

Dear Friends,

last Sunday morning, Arundhati Ghosh engaged my editor Karthik Venkatesh and me in a discussion on Panjab: Journeys Through Fault Lines at the Bangalore International Centre.

If I were to say it myself, it was a very good session. That is what all who attended also told me. Dear Karthik Natarajan tried to live stream the event, I saw his hands go numb holding up the camera, but sadly we could not save the footage. Thank you Ravichandar Venkataraman and Raghu Tenkayala for your very kind hospitality.

Here is the BIC’s recording, please click here …