Sea of Poppies: A Novel (The Ibis Trilogy)
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The first in an epic trilogy, Sea of Poppies is "a remarkably rich saga . . . which has plenty of action and adventure à la Dumas, but moments also of Tolstoyan penetration--and a drop or two of Dickensian sentiment" (The Observer [London]).
At the heart of this vibrant saga is a vast ship, the Ibis. Her destiny is a tumultuous voyage across the Indian Ocean shortly before the outbreak of the Opium Wars in China. In a time of colonial upheaval, fate has thrown together a diverse cast of Indians and Westerners on board, from a bankrupt raja to a widowed tribeswoman, from a mulatto American freedman to a free-spirited French orphan. As their old family ties are washed away, they, like their historical counterparts, come to view themselves as jahaj-bhais, or ship-brothers. The vast sweep of this historical adventure spans the lush poppy fields of the Ganges, the rolling high seas, and the exotic backstreets of Canton. With a panorama of characters whose diaspora encapsulates the vexed colonial history of the East itself, Sea of Poppies is "a storm-tossed adventure worthy of Sir Walter Scott" (Vogue).
this was someone she had seen before, perhaps in a dream. Seized by curiosity, she pulled her own ghungta back from her head, laying bare her face. We’re all women here, she said; ham sabhan merharu. We don’t need to be covered up. Now the stranger too pulled back her sari, revealing a face that was long and finely shaped, with an expression in which innocence was combined with intelligence, sweetness with resolution. Her complexion had a soft, golden glow, like that of the cosseted daughter of
easy enough to jin if you put your head to it. Just a little peppering of nigger-talk mixed with a few girleys. But mind your Oordoo and Hindee doesn’t sound too good: don’t want the world to think you’ve gone native. And don’t mince your words either. Mustn’t be taken for a chee-chee.’ Zachary shook his head again, helplessly. ‘Chee-Chee? And what d’you mean by that, Mr Doughty?’ Mr Doughty raised an admonitory eyebrow. ‘Chee-chee? Liplap? Mustee? Sinjo? Touch o’tar . . . you take my meaning?
derivation of it from the gypsy word for water. See also bilayuti. +parcheesi/parcheezi: Neel was outraged to find that the familiar pastime of his childhood, pachcheesi, was being packaged and sold as Ludo, Parcheesi etc. ‘Would that we could copyright and patent all things of value in our patrimony, before they are claimed and stolen by these greed-mongers, who think nothing of making our children pay for the innocent diversions that have been handed, even to the poorest of them, as a free
tell you, it wasn’t easy to get him to take to opium. No sir – to give credit where it’s due, you would have to say that the yen for opium would still be limited to their twice-born if not for the perseverance of English and American merchants. It’s happened almost within living memory – for which we owe a sincere vote of thanks to the likes of Mr Burnham.’ He raised his glass to the shipowner. ‘To you, sir.’ Neel was about to join in the toast when the next course appeared: it consisted of
riverbank to buttress the bamboos, and plenty of rushes from which to fashion lengths of rope; after spending a day on repairing and reinforcing the flimsy craft, they set off again, floating eastwards on the river. Two days later they were within sight of the dwelling where Kabutri was now living with the family of Deeti’s absent brother. Once having spotted the house, it was impossible for Deeti to proceed any further without making an attempt to meet her daughter. She knew that a meeting with