At times, at times, comments such as the one reproduced below are such a delight to read. In just a few paragraphs, this man (or woman?) has held my hand and taken me on a guided tour of Ruskin Bond's Mussourie and Naipaul's Trinidad. I imagine the person to be living somewhere by the sea, where the sun is setting now and he, or she, has just shut the laptop and is reaching for the white bottle of Malibu. Cheers!
Very well written. You have a wonderful way with words Ghosh-babu, please don't waste it by writing odes to Kishore Kumar all the time.
While you were writing about the books you love, Ruskin Bond would have probably written about the bamboo rack you so casually mentioned. He would throw in a description of the dingy corner store in Mussoorie, he bought it from, and a paragraph about the unkempt store owner, who must have quarreled with his wife in the morning. If you want to feel how powerful words can be, you should read a short story he wrote describing his last day with his father. I remember tearing up the first time I read it.
Naipaul is another man. I remember reading An area of darkness in the eighties, shortly before making a trip to the Caribbean. I almost wanted to see the Banyan tree in the botanical gardens, where the Hindus would perform their ceremonies after taking permission from the authorities. The man is brutal, and spares no one. His description of the boring north Indian style of architecture in Trinidad, brought over by the indentured workers makes you feel like there is no future for us Indians. I remember a little section where he makes a trip to his ancestral village in India, only to be followed around by a distant relative carrying a sack full of rice, who wanted Naipaul to have his fair share of the family's inheritance.
He probably treats Kashmir with a little bit of respect. While Ruskin Bond would have gone around smelling the Deodars and the Chinars, Naipaul simply restrains himself.
I think you picked an awesome book as your first one, but if you like to enjoy your small-town hopping trips of India, taking mental photographs of the quaint bungalows and airbrushing the weeds out, Naipal will shatter your dreams. He definitely broke my heart when as a Desi in Pardes, I could no longer resist the tugs of home.
Will look forward to more such posts from you. Time for my Sundowner, it's amazing how good life is when Malibu tangos with pineapple juice...