The 73rd session of An Author’s Afternoon with Madhavi Menon transported the audience to a different realm of gods, goddesses, mythology, tantra, sufism and so on – as reflected in her book Infinite Variety: A history of desire in India.
In her book, Menon takes the readers on a journey, spanning centuries and across geographies,to tell her tale of how different societies – from Puranic to Islamic – have interpreted the concept of desire.
The ambit of her study is huge. From the erotic sculptures of Khajuraho to the shrine of the celibate god Ayyappan; from army barracks to public parks; from Empress Nur Jahan’s paan to home-made kohl; from cross-dressing mystics to androgynous gods — the book also reveals how disparate thoughts like grammar and sex, hair and war, abstinence and pleasure, love and death are linked.
Esha Dutta’s pertinent questions spiced up the session.The author moved across time spans and cultures to explain how social mores and customs have shackled our thoughts and shaped our views of desire.