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Spring, Heat, Rains

A South Indian Diary

“Rocks. Goats. Dry shrubs. Buffaloes. Thorns. A fallen tamarind tree.” Such were the sights that greeted David Shulman on his arrival in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in the spring of 2006. An expert on South Indian languages and cultures, Shulman knew the region well, but from the moment he arrived for this seven-month sojourn he actively soaked up such simple aspects of his surroundings, determined to attend to the rich texture of daily life—choosing to be at the same time scholar and tourist, wanderer and wonderer.
Lyrical, sensual, and introspective, Spring, Heat, Rains is Shulman’s diary of that experience. Evocative reflections on daily events—from explorations of crumbling temples to battles with ineradicable bugs to joyous dinners with friends—are organically interwoven with considerations of the ancient poetry and myths that remain such an inextricable part of life in contemporary India. With Shulman as our guide, we meet singers and poets, washermen and betel-nut vendors, modern literati and ancient gods and goddesses. We marvel at the “golden electrocution” that is the taste of a mango fresh from the tree. And we plunge into the searing heat of an Indian summer, so oppressive and inescapable that when the monsoon arrives to banish the heat with sheets of rain, we understand why, year after year, it is celebrated as a miracle.
An unabashedly personal account from a scholar whose deep knowledge has never obscured his joy in discovery, Spring, Heat, Rains is a passionate act of sharing, an unforgettable gift for anyone who has ever dreamed of India.

Read an excerpt.

254 pages | 2 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2008

Asian Studies: South Asia

Biography and Letters

Literature and Literary Criticism: Asian Languages

Religion: South and East Asian Religions

Travel and Tourism: Travel Writing and Guides


"Shulman disappears for pages at a time into sensuous latticework dream. . . . He isn’t some hippy-dippy pilgrim on the shaggy-yoga road past Om through the Veil of Maya. He is a married man, and middle-aged, and full of obdurate facts. He has been to Berlin and Ispahan. He has read Mandelstam and listened to Haydn. He wears Western culture like a pair of pajamas. Yet his India is sensational, the Other as monsoon."

John Leonard | Harpers

"Proferring a view into a very different landscape of Indian poetry is David Shulman’s Spring, Heat, Rains, that weaves meditative fragments of his stay among the Telugu poets and intellectuals of Andhra with his research. I didn’t expect to be moved to tears by a scholarly book."

Kiran Desai | Guardian

"Mixing memory and longing with poetic intensity, Spring, Heat, Rains is an exquisitely sensuous love letter to South India. As it describes the encounter between a subtle sensibility of the West and a wise, antique culture, it also becomes spiritual autobiography of the highest order."

Pankaj Mishra

"Reading David Shulman’s South Indian diary magically transports the  reader inside the head of a true genius--poet, scholar, Israeli activist, anthropologist of India, historian of religions, philologist, philosopher, translator of texts, and so much more. The book is an unprecedented mix of fieldwork notes, records of intimate conversations with unknown villagers and famous scholars, meditations on Indian religion and Israeli war. It takes us deep into a life in  which all of these are profoundly integrated, so that the Israeli war  makes us understand the visit to the god in the temple, and the chanting of the priests makes us understand the nature of deep friendships. An unforgettable, beautiful, compelling book. Once you pick it up, you cannot put it down."

Wendy Doniger, author of The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was

Table of Contents

Appendix: Nala and the Naishadhiya-carita
Selected Dramatis Personae

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