An Excerpt: A Time To Burnish
“What is my area of expertise, Josh?”
Recognizing the question for what it was—an opener—Josh bit back a groan. Tom reminded him of an old modem in a slow network; the connection light had to get steady before the data light started blinking in a measured pace.
He replied, “You know I can answer that question in my sleep! Growing up, it was all that residue hippie stuff, all that ghastly sitar music, thanks to Mom and Dad. Then you had to go pick India as your area of interest.”
There was no answering smile on Tom’s face, just an abrupt headshake of a refusal to rise to the bait.
“What specifically in India?”
“Your brilliant grasp of the specifics never ceases to amaze me,” Tom said with the same maddened note that crept into his voice when dealing with Josh’s indifference toward his profession.
He poured out the warm saké from the flask and took a delicate sip from the cup.
“For the zillionth time, my area of specialization is the Chola Empire, covering roughly the ninth to the thirteenth century.”
“I know,” acknowledged Josh, sensing this was not the time to say “whatever.” He made an effort instead. “The rise and fall of the Cholas, with special focus on that dude who was a great warrior and visionary—Maharajah Chola.”
“You mean Rajaraja Chola.”
“Yes, of course, what was that paper you wrote? ‘The social order under Rajaraja and the later Cholas’,” Josh said with pretentious nonchalance.
Tom produced many such papers and was either a member or a fellow or some such on various societies. Tom laughed for the first time that evening.
“There may be some hope for you after all.”
Tom rubbed his eyes slightly and then, leaning forward, started talking about the Cholas with the passion and intensity that usually marked him.
“At its peak, the Chola Empire covered the bulk of South India, parts of Sri Lanka, touched Maldives, and even Malacca. The medieval Chola kings were great patrons of art and literature, they made major strides in governance and foreign relations, and they were builders of magnificent architecture... Let’s just say, the height of the Chola Empire, especially the time of Rajaraja, can be thought of as a golden age. Think Italy during the Renaissance.”
“Must I?” Josh muttered, fidgeting a little. Tom ignored it.
“You know, as part of my job, I work on acquisitions of relics of rare value?”
Yes,” Josh nodded.
What was it that Tom had acquired the previous summer? Wasn’t it a manuscript of some sort? He wished he could surreptitiously pull his iPad out and do a quick search on his email. He needn’t have troubled himself. Tom continued, almost ignoring his answer, his brows furrowed.
“My limited budget hardly allows for anything major. A piece of an intricately carved wooden door, an old silk sari, a palm leaf book, those are the kind of things I usually go for. A Chola bronze icon is in a whole different league. You could even say it’s the top artifact of the period. These bronzes are typically delicate, sensual icons of the gods and the saints or occasionally royals. They still make bronze icons in south India, but the Chola bronzes are antiques—they could be millions of dollars’ worth.” Tom paused for a moment, his face troubled, full of worry.
Josh raised his brows and whistled lightly.
“Yes, millions. Josh, in my enthusiasm, I have made a grave mistake. You have got to help me. I have no one else to turn to.” Tom’s voice took on a strained, and nervous quality.
Josh raised a hand.
“Hang on! What are you talking about?”
Tom sat back, grimaced, and then enunciated slowly. “I need you to help me track a Chola bronze.”
“What do you mean track?”
“Find all the information there is about a particular Chola bronze. I believe I have in my possession an antique bronze that has come into the UK likely through illicit art trafficking. My gut says there has been a major art theft, and if I don’t act now, I am going to be an accessory.”
~ Book Blitz ~
A Time to Burnish by Radhika Nathan
About the Book:
That pretty much sums up Josh Winslow's feelings about classic artifacts. As a man of science and technology, he couldn't care less about old bronze idols. Unfortunately, his brother Tom has just made one such idol his problem.
Vidya Thyagarajan, a young banker from Chennai, didn't expect to chase the origins of old idols either. But her friend Tom has just entangled her in one such chase.
Along with Vidya, Josh reluctantly embarks on a journey to India to track the origins of a Chola bronze idol. Through the urban maze of Chennai, dusty roads of small towns in deep Chola territory, they discover clues that confounds them every step of the way.
During a short span of a week, the quest quickly becomes personal as the shadow of the past challenges their outlook toward life and love.
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About the Author:
Radhika Nathan is a juggler, a meanderer and a rolling stone. She believes in the miracle of words and the rain. Her favourite pastimes include reading, listening to podcasts and gazing at monsoon clouds. Her taste in books is eclectic ranging from anthropology to old fashioned murder mysteries, and if pushed she would name Jane Austen as her favourite author for her believable, eternal characters. Travel is something she enjoys and has been to more than a dozen countries- for the love of meeting new people and discovering new cultures.
Radhika writes for her fascination of human beings, intrigued by their archetypal & atypical behaviour and the differences & similarities in all of us. Writing is a means that forces her to think and re-examine a point of view or a preconceived notion. ‘I grow as a person as I write’, she says and quotes ‘A well written sentence [a rare occurrence] is like soul chocolate.’
Radhika, believes in a spiritual approach to life that welcomes science. She believes in liberty, equality, personal responsibility and fair play.