Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Urban Shots:Crossroads - Book Review
A collection of 30 urban stories by 26 authors, this, like the Mumbai DNA says, has the right ingredients for a breezy read. The stories, though written by different people, have a common thread - they are all set against an urban backdrop, and they are about common folks - people that you and I might run into while walking across the road, boarding a bus, waiting for a train or while in the grocery store. In fact, the book is all about stories in which the common man plays the hero. The title of the first story in the collection - 'Everyone Has a Story' says it all.
The characters, ranging from the ordinary and mundane to the fantastic, are all described in great detail, making it very easy to visualize them. Minu Bai who always ties her hair in a neat bun to ensure that no loose strand escape the discipline she enforces on it with bob-pins, Hako- the quiet boy who had the funniest laugh you would have ever heard, the mob in the Virar fast, Maharajji who loved to eat, the mother who is struggling with her single mom status, Chanda - a sex worker in Kamatipura, the red light area of Mumbai, a star couple who are adored and hailed as national heroes, the temptations that a man living away from his wife and kids struggles to keep at bay, a manager who has the unenviable task of handing out pink slips, and a father who is divorced from his wife, but yearns to build a stronger bond with his son are some of the characters and themes that grace the pages of this book in endearing and sometimes heart rending tales.
The language used throughout the book is very simple. The characters are people that can be related to and easily visualized, and this makes the book that much more enjoyable.
The stories that I liked the best are :
The Gap which talks about the relationship between a single mom and her daughter, and a series of crank calls that makes their bond stronger.
Wrong Strokes - a story that shows the difference in the amount of adulation that a cricketer gets in our country and that which a defense personnel gets. The ugly truth is that we don't admire or respect our jawans enough. We hardly see people queuing around jawans, waiting for their autographs. This story, to me, is one of the most touching in the entire collection.
Baba Premanand's Yoga Class - a light hearted story that still carries a powerful message. It tells us how we must think not once or twice, but many times, before we accuse someone of doing something. It also takes a dig at TV channels that will telecast anything if it will increase their viewership. They are not concerned with how it might affect the lives of the people concerned.
I also liked Rajasthan Summer for the twist at the end, which though predictable, proved to be enjoyable.
Overall, this book is a good read. Time will fly once you start reading this book, and it will be hard not to read it all at one go.
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