Sunday, March 22, 2015

Love and Longing in Bombay - Vikram Chandra

Rating: 3.5/5
Read between : February 9th to February 18th.


Edition Details:
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 268
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN:978-0-14-341417-9
First Published : 1997
My Edition : 2010
Awards: Commonwealth writers prize for best book(Eurasia Region) 1997

Ranjeet Sharma is a software developer who's been working in Bombay for some time. He's not from the city and feels lonely. His friend Ramani knows it and so brings him to a bar called Fisherman's Rest. Here Ranjeet comes in contact with Subramniam. Subramaniam was in ministery of defence and is now retired. Through,Subramaniam Ranjeet hears tales of Bombay, tales that encompass various sections of society viz a soldier, a socialite,an inspector, a software developer and a 20 year old graduate. These characters have lived in different time frames and in different sections of society but are tied by a single string called Bombay. Bombay is the city which has witnessed their love and their longing, their success and their failures. The stories are:

1) Dharma 3.5/5

First Sentence:
Considering the length of Subramaniam's service, it was remarkable that he still came to the Fisherman's Rest.



Jago Antia was an exceptional soldier. He was a leader and people loved to follow him. He had lost his leg in a mine explosion and had taken over the tactical field. Now he used to make tactical decisions for his troops. But after sometime the pain in his leg makes him think that he's not fit for the job and Jago Antia takes voluntary retirement. He comes back to his ancestral house in Bombay. He doesn't believes in ghosts but what was that he encountered in his house? Any why the estate agent is refusing to sell the house?
The stories in this book are being narrated in a bar called Fishermen's Rest. The same bunch of people are sitting and telling the stories that'll reflect the soul of Bombay. This was a story with a supernatural twist. I liked the story although the ending of the story has left me a little perplexed.


2)Shakti 2.5/5

First Sentence:
He had been talking about Bombay that evening. 

Shakti is the story of Sheila Bijlani. She came from a lower middle class family but was very glamorous. This story is about how two of the most powerful business houses merged together. The story has conniving women and husbands stroking their ego's by using their resources.

It was an okay story but i think it was not for me. It reminded me a lot of saas bahu serials that are norm now a days.


3)Kama 4/5

First Sentence:
That summer i was heart broken.

The narrator Ranjeet is going through a break-up. He's depressed and is drinking it away. They are talking about a murder case this time. And then Subramaniam tells them a story about a man that was found dead in a ditch.
Sartaj Singh is an inspector in police and is carrying out an investigation in the murder case of Chetanbhai Patel. They had found a known drunk Ghorpode wearing Chetanbhai's watch and have arrested him. The others in his police station think it's an open and shut case but Sartaj doesn't share their opinion. He thinks there is something deeper in the incident than is visible right now. Is he right?
Meanwhile Sartaj's personal life is undergoing a turmoil. His wife has separated from him and is now asking for a divorce. Sartaj's reluctant to sign the papers. Will they reconcile? How will he tackle his marital problems and his professional problems?

It was a very good story. The story is gripping and the tension never looses. I was intrigued by the case and the inclusion of right wing organisation in the story gives it a local flavor. I liked the story and Sartaj Singh. I liked the character of Sartaj Singh so much that i bought The Sacred Games by the author which has Sartaj Singh as the protagonist. Let's hope that book is as good as this story.


4)Artha 3.5/5

First Sentence:
'Now where exactly is it that you go?' said Ayesha one evening in April.

The narrator's friend Ayesha asks him about his whereabouts in the evening. When he tells him about the bar and the stories she thinks he's hiding something. So the narrator takes her to the bar and introduces her to the other members. Here, Subramaniam tells another story depicting another facet of Bombay. Iqbal works for Sandhya. He's a programmer and is the only employee in Sandhya's company. They had written an accounting software for a company. But now the software has started crashing.Also, it's showing discrepancy in the account. Every time it's losing 20 paise from the account. This is causing problems for Sandhya and Iqbal and could be fatal to their starting career. This was there first job and they can't afford to screw it. Meanwhile, their private life isn't going very well. As Sandhya works from her flat so Iqbal is privy to personal affairs of Sandhya. Sandhya is in relationship with a struggling painter who appears to be leeching money from her. He is using her and everyone sees it except her. On the other hand, Iqbal is in relationship with Rajesh Pawar. He thinks he knows Rajesh but he does he?. Will Sandhya and Iqbal be able to salvage their personal and professional lives? If so then at what cost and how much of the life would be saved?

The story joins software and art world in such a way that seems impossible. Like another stories in the book it's about love between the characters and their different shades. The story is gripping and keeps you turning the pages till the end. It has artists,software developers,gangsters and a communal riot and thus reader is taken into the various strata of lives and how they conjoin in a city. The reader is taken to the art parties where favors are extracted using sex, to the world of gangster who make people disappear into thin air and finally is shown riot torn Bombay. But at the end it also gives hope to the characters and so to readers You as well.


5)Shanti 4.5/5

First Sentence:
I hate sunday evenings.

This is the last story of the collection. Like all other stories in the collection it's narrated by Subramaniam but this story is unlike any other. Yes, the story has an element of love in it like others but it is set in 1945. It's 1945 and Shiv is in depression. He has lost his twin brother and has contemplated suicide often. He lives with his sister and brother in law who is a Station Master. Then Mrs Shanti Chauhan comes into his life. Shanti's alone and is travelling to an army hospital near the station. Shiv is attracted to her and soon acquaintance develops between two. What happens next forms the story?
The love between Shiv and Shanti has a kind of innocence which is missing in the rest of the stories in the collection. Shiv had fallen for Shanti, but Shanti was searching for her husband.This story is different from others in the collection as it has stories within a story. The characters of the story narrate stories to each other to pass their time and that's how love blooms between them.


The stories are no doubt beautifully written but all have a dart tint to them. If you like good stories then you'll definitely like them. If you have read the book then don't hesitate to write your views in the comment section.
You can buy it from following links:
Amazon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Vikas' Book Journal is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com or amazon.in.

हफ्ते की लोकप्रिय पोस्टस(Popular Posts)