Not only the taxi, auto, rickshaw or bus rides.But other encounters. Every kind, really. A look at life. This side, the other side. Dark, soulful, comic, tragic but always happening-throwing up experiences and dialogue. I was captain of House Encounter in school,some things do carry on...
Abha Iyengar’ novel, Many Fish to Fry is a joyful reading experience.
It talks about Delhi, its people in a kaleidoscopic adventure of
contemporary times. Delhi has grown and so has its population, bazaars, malls
and colonies invariably known in India as places. Hilarious to the core, Abha
explores the cosmopolitan environs of Delhites, their eagerness in living and
loving in a crowded thought within numerous such moments.
As a Delhi seeker, I have been reaching out to this city since my teen
years. I have seen it changing to a mega metropolis but always a home to people
irrespective of class, caste, origins and even nationality. Abha’s search
towards a novel within such a milieu, short sections almost like a prose poem,
detailing streets, galis and daily ruminations of families living in block of
To my greatest love, she even takes us on a tour of Old Delhi, its
garish jewelry shops and craftsmen who live in meager conditions. Abha’s novel
revolves around Delhi women, their expectations, desires and ambitions to grow
and prove themselves in a vastly mobile economic climate.
The Hilsa, Bongs separated from Bangla and living
in Delhi, a South Indian lady, her immediate neighbor narrating the story of
their lives brings me the picture of easy style of writing of a possible memoir
about a Japanese girlfriend and her love for her cat and boyfriends living in
an equally huge metropolis of United States. Vikram Seth brought them alive
very much like Abha Iyengar’s book, ‘Many Fish to Fry’. Wish she could have
brought a gay relationship too within, that would made the book far more
flirtatious, gay being such a taboo in India.
I remember the endless cups of Dhaba
Chai , I had near Arpana Caur’s home at Siri Fort and engaging back home on
endless discussions whether the Hilsa I was having is the genuine one from
Padma or its a duplicate from Mynamar. You can never get a Hilsa out from a Bong but
you can get a Bong and Hilsa in an amicable relationship out of
Nandita Bose mentions rightly about many slices of life but to me they
seem all connected in a rapid life scan where jugad is as infamous and acceptable as Delhi is.
Here is to Delhi, the whiskey and fried hilsa, dimmed lights, the faint
aroma of my girl friend, she still lives close to somewhere there.
~Dr. Amitabh Mitra, poet and artist, author of ‘Stranger Than A Sun’ Click to purchase: