Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The days after Durga Pujo bring with them a peculiar mood of introspection. After the madness and the subversion of night and day, the overeating and the excitement of the lights and the crowds, the sudden peace and absence of festivities make people break out in strange ways.

Friday, October 14, 2011


We just moved to a new home and this week the three of us are travelling. I didn't mean for there to be a break in the Lake Gardens Tales but there has been one since I've hardly had any chance to be at a computer. Episodes will resume as soon as possible. A huge sorry to those who've been clicking in and been disappointed. (I know the feeling!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Mr Mookerjee dimly heard the cellphone alarm go off on the far side of his bed. Within a few seconds his little bedside clock began to sound its own alarm as well. He fumbled around for the clock first. A firm pound on its little button shut the alarm off but the cellphone required the bedside lamp and some sleep-dazed reading of buttons. Not for the first time he wondered why these phone makers had to complicate life.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The letter

Mrs Singha sat down heavily on her bed. The girls were both in school, their father on his way to work and the maid was not due for another hour. This was her time to plan her day, maybe watch a little TV or catch up on her sewing. She was a large-boned woman with heavy hands but her stitching was remarkably fine. When she embroidered each stitch was tiny and perfectly set, lost in what felt like a garden of other, equally tiny and impossibly perfect stitches. Even her hemming was note-worthy, so fine as to be nearly invisible.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Laundry

(There is no episode of the serial this week. As an apology I offer you a recently written poem that will perhaps give you some idea of the whirlwind that is my life.)

The Laundry

The perfect lines for a poem
Around my head do run
I can’t stop to write them down, you see,
The laundry has to be done

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Poetry and prose

Sona stared at the page. The words didn’t change. Nor did they make any more sense to her than they had yesterday.

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The well-deserved smoke

 Note: This episode is nearly 24 hours late. I'm sorry, I confused my dates. That happens a lot with me. Oops. :)

As Mr Rai dreamed on in the glossy warmth of Tapati’s black bathroom, the ‘large’ bathroom in the flat on the third floor witnessed a very different scene. Rajib entered surreptitiously and quietly locked the door behind him. He turned on the little ventilation fan and the geyser too. Nandita was still helping to clean the roof but there was no saying when she would be back. In the meantime, he had to have a cigarette.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The black bathroom

Mr Rai walked fast, hoping to avoid anybody he knew. It was a lot to ask for since he had walked down these streets every day for the last two decades, but he hoped that if he could find a taxi in front of the sweetshop then he could leave the area without having to answer any awkward questions.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Independence Day

The flag hoisting was scheduled for 8 o’ clock. However the ‘pole’ (a long stick, mysteriously found on the roof last June) had warped with the rains this summer and the flag took a good twenty minutes to actually reach the top. Eventually, though, it went up and all the residents of 63/1/B/4, Lake Gardens, dutifully sang ‘Sare Jahan Se Achchha’ as well as ‘Jana Gana Mana’. Nandita and Rajib, that young couple from the third floor, sang a surprisingly moving version of ‘Ay mere pyaare watan’ from Kabuliwala. Mr Rai gave a little speech afterwards, speaking of how important it was to preserve our hard-won independence and sovereignity.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The baby in Canada

The news of the dog spread up and down the building, albeit slowly. Old Mr Mookerji on the ground floor heard it first since it was outside his window that Mrs Rai accosted the maid. Mrs Rai did mention it to Mrs Singha when they were both giving the dhobi the laudry for ironing, but since Mrs Singh turned away at the crucial moment to fish up a school skirt that had fallen to the floor, she missed the dog part and Mrs Rai decided to close her own door with a decisive slam instead of repeating the story. If Mrs Singha were truly interested she could jolly well ask the maid herself!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The overheard phone conversation

The couple on the third floor were rather noisy. The whole building heard them and wondered if the young people knew they could be heard. This morning their maid left the door open as she ran after the garbage collector – on Mondays the regular collector, who collected the garbage from each flat daily, had his day off. The young man was on the phone with his mother, it seemed, and he appeared to be rather annoyed with her. A long and exasperated conversation floated down to the interested recipients downstairs each of who had a unique take on the mother-son exchange.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Serial

Inspired by Alexander McCall Smith's '44 Scotland Street' novels, from this month I am going to try my hand at writing a weekly serial. I don't aspire to be a McCall Smith but I hope to write something that I wouldn't mind reading myself. Let's see how it goes.

In the meantime, I extend an invitation to you and all my other readers to feel free to chip in with a guest post. From September, once the tone and atmosphere are established, I will be happy to host your vision of my story. You are welcome to write it your way but just remember to keep it clean.

See you Tuesdays at 10 am, then.The first episode is up and you can read it here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi

Chanakya is a name familiar to most lovers of history, especially political history. Politician par excellence, his work helped consolidate the kingdom of Chandragupta Maurya, one of India’s greatest emperors ever. Ashwin Sanghi’s new novel is not so much about Chanakya’s life and career (of which our knowledge is admittedly sketchy) as it is about the modern Indian state. Two narratives run in tandem: one the story of a young Brahmin boy who saw his family dishonoured and swore revenge on his corrupt king; the other the story of a wily historian who plays kingmaker in contemporary India. The former is heavily fictionalised while the latter is, of course, entirely so.

The story of Chanakya as a young boy on the run and later a young man intent on revenge by replacing his tormentor with a ruler of his choice provides a fascinating mirror to the present-day saga of Pandit Gangasagar as he spins his complicated and far-reaching web to put the leader of his choice – and making – in the Prime Minister’s chair. How far will Chanakya and Gangasagar go in their single-minded determination? As their plans play out, the lives of the people they involve will never be the same again. One is forced to suspend judgment of morals and ethics however as Sanghi is careful to keep the reader’s vision focused on the larger picture, the greater common good that both Chanakya and Gangasagar claim to work towards.

The narrative tone feels like a tele-serial sometimes, where one point is made several times over, in several ways. Midway through the book it begins to jar as the reader wishes for tighter editing. The language is occasionally disappointing too, as when some men are described as “guarders” of the royal treasure. Despite these niggles, this reasonably priced book provides its fair share of twists and thrills and is an intriguing account of political machinations.

Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi
Westland, Rs 195, 448 pages