Book review – The lost generation 

This is a must read and kudos to Nidhi Dugar Kundalia for preserving the dying professions in India in ink. I assume that there will be a sequel to it because there are many more professions that are going out of fashion. 

I completed reading this book a couple of days back. It’s a quick read and it talks of eleven professions that are dying. The Godna artists (traditional tattoo artists), Rudaalis (professional mourners), genealogists, kabootarbaaz (pigeon trainers), storytellers, street dentists, Urdu scribes, wooden boat makers, Ittar wallahs (perfumers), Bhisti wallahs (water carriers), and the letter writers – these are the eleven professions that the author has chronicled. Fascinating to me were the kabootarbaaz, Street dentists and Bhisti wallahs. The pigeons are a menace, especially in the high rise condominiums in the new age cities and to think that there are people who train them and race them is just fascinating. 

Only when I read about the street dentists I realised that there weren’t too many dentists around as my generation was growing up. I have not had any trouble with my teeth thanks to dad’s regimen and no chocolates while growing up but I didn’t hear of many people who had an appointment with a dentist. Guess my grandparents would have gone to one of these street dentists.. Ah, the painful extractions ! 

Water carriers in this day and age is strange and fascinating. Can imagine them during the non-motorised era, especially during wars. And animal skin to carry water doesn’t work for me …

I can actually think of a few other professions that are slowly dying out – the ear cleaners, roadside salons that offer haircuts and a shave, the door to door saree salesmen, the roadside shoe repair guys, coolies and the genuine journalist :). 

Enjoyed the book and it’s recommended. 

7 thoughts on “Book review – The lost generation ”

  1. As a Mumbaikar, I mourn the:

    Raddi-walla (he would collect the used books, newspapers, empty milk packets etc. )

    Bhangar-walla who bought the metal and wooden items

    Bhandi-walli who exchanged old clothes for steel vessels

    And most important, Dhar-walla, the guy with the grinding stone to sharpen knives.

    This list is before my first coffee. I am sure I can come up with more. 🙂


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