'Bastar remained outside the country I knew and with which I was familiar: the scent of sal hinting at something more refreshing than the goals to which India aspired.' Madhu Ramnath spent thirty years with the Durwa peoples in Bastar. What began as impulsive travel to a swathe of land that had no roads criss-crossing it soon turned into a homecoming: each stint in the forest compelled him to return and, finally, to stay. Over the years he became a student of Durwa life, living in the forest, tending cattle, working a hill-slope in the village. He immersed himself in the Durwa world while indulging his passion for devising a botanical classification that would be accessible to a layperson. Woodsmoke and Leafcups is a first-hand account of life in Bastar: the routines of communal life and the interactions of the Durwas with the State machinery. He writes of a culture where energy and laughter are currency, although of no value to anyone else. He draws a portrait of friends and teachers, threats and ways of eliding them, and the lure of politics for those long indifferent to it. At a time when 'there are few places in which to lose oneself', Ramnath writes of a people and a place that exist outside, sometimes counter to, known narratives.