Monday, July 4, 2016

July 2016; From Heaven Lake by Vikram Seth

July meeting

Hello ladies!

The meeting this month is Thursday, July 7 at Tamara's house (address to be emailed).  Come anytime after 7:30 and the discussion starts at 8:00.

Below are the discussion questions and menu 

Discussion Questions:
1) Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why not? 

2) Is there anything that you would change about the book to add to your enjoyment?

3) There was a lot of assumption of knowledge in the book (eg. "Cultural Revolution"; Maoism; authors and books).  Did that make it hard or distracting for you to read the story?

4) What does Vikram Seth come to appreciate most in his travels?

5) What does he find the most frustrating - the geography or the bureaucracy?

6) Seth's journey was thrown together at the last minute.  Would you be able/willing to travel this way?

7) Did you enjoy the poetry that Seth wrote?

8) Which area in his journey sounded the most appealing to you?

8) How did Seth view the differences between China and India?  Were there similarities?

9) pg 84/85 - "It strikes me that although I know a certain amount about the language, literature and history of China, I am appallingly ignorant about the songs, the lullabies, the nursery rhymes, the street games of children, the riddles; all the things that are most important in the childhood of Chinese people...It is like knowing Macbeth without knowing the Three Blind Mice..."  What would you deem an essential part of knowledge to really understand our culture?

10) "As for the Chinese people, there is a general sense of friendliness and a curiosity towards the individual foreigner which is remarkable considering the anti-foreignness of the Chinese past" (9) "This instinctive kindness is something one encounters every day in China" (18) 
Did this aspect of his journey surprise you? Challenge your views of Chinese culture? Would a travelling foreigner in our country experience this kind of helpfulness?

11) Would you recommend this book?  To whom?

I ran into a few problems when trying to come up with the menu for this month.  First, as the majority of the book is "on the road" some of the food in the book sounds...less than appealing. (A "bowl of soup, alive with odious globs of pork fat...lumps of fat, with bits of skin and hair still on them"...sounds delightful, right?)  And, also, my local grocery store seems a bit short on yak butter and yak meat! :-) So, the menu this month will have some creative license, and lots of room for your ideas

Several mentions of capsicum (peppers) and chillies, or with chili powder, so... 
stuffed peppers
mantou (Chinese steamed buns)
any dish from China or India of your choice (room for several people)

toffees (83) at the home of Sui's family 
a variety of fruits...At the beginning, in Turfan they are eating watermelon, grapes, melons (3) oranges (24), they also have apricots and pears (60) 
raisins and peanuts (Vikram often has them)
a dessert of your choice from China or India

Drinks: (Tamara) 
green tea (17), black tea with sugar and milk


  1. I will bring butter chicken and rice.

  2. I also bought some mini naan bread to go with the butter chicken and rice :-)

  3. I will make stuffed peppers (indian)

  4. Found a Chinese version of the stuffed peppers so I might try that instead!

  5. I'm bringing Chinese cheesecake (not in the book but according to Google a favorite Chinese dessert....)


Tell us what you think!