Review: Known Turf

by Anisha Suvarna

The author, Annie Zaidi, in her book has given a report on the real India. She has written about dacoits in India, casteism, deaths due to hunger, sexual harassment, the culture of Sufi and so on. The various colours of India, mostly the dark are highlighted in the book. The choice of words is very simple and is easily understood.

The blogger turned author manages to grip your attention with what she has to say from her exploration which has been explained with a personal touch in great detail. The idea that a group of dacoits, the Gadariya gang, touch women’s feet when they meet them and give them money came as a surprise to me. It opens one’s mind to the fact that some dacoits have principles too as opposed to what we are shown in movies and read in the papers. It makes you wonder that maybe these people have a goal or a mission and make you wonder the reason of why they exist in the first place rather than considering them as only anti-social elements that are required to be eliminated immediately.

I feel that the author is not a very opinionated person and lets you form your own opinion while one is in the process of reading the book. Not once does she impose an opinion on you. For example, when she talked to the dacoit Makhan Singh who had retired and was leading a normal life among his grandchildren like everyone else, she says she does not say if it’s right or wrong. The reader thinks, decides for herself, no opinion is imposed on the reader to believe whether they should stay in jail or given a second chance.

The book has many facts and figures which gives the book a more report like appearance. The number of children dying every year due to mal nutrition, sex ratio, number of rape cases etcetera. Also, the fact that she has done the research herself and received the information first hand makes the book more real. It is hard not to believe what she has written. In fact, it makes you want to go and help out in any way possible the children who die of hunger, the dalits who are oppressed by the Jats, especially women.

Addiction to chai (tea) among other things is something is not something people talk about but do not realise that it comes very naturally is also mentioned in this book.

Known Turf, for a non-fiction is a simple read but the story told is hard-hitting and quite an eye opener to an unknown world within our own country. It is a book that is recommended to all. It’s got truths that people ought to know.

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