Thursday, January 26, 2012

Khushwant Singh - Sunset Club

About a week ago, I was loitering in Sector 17, whiling my time away, window shopping, waiting for a friend to arrive.  I usually stop by at the bookseller that spreads his 'wares' on the pavement just outside the Mochi showroom.  One time I was lucky to get a one volume, second hand, prime condition set of Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien for just Rs.125/-.  This time round my eye fell on Sunset Club, a book by Khushwant Singh.  I leafed through the book and liked what I saw, so I picked it up.

Khushwant Singh wrote this book about the events that took place in the year 2009, seen through the eyes of three old friends who make it a point to meet every evening in Lodhi Garden.  There is Pandit Preetam Sharma, an Oxford Graduate, retired from Civil Services, a bachelor who lives in Khan Market with his sister.  There is Nawab Barkatullah Baig Dehlavi an affluent businessman who lives in Nizamuddin with his devoted wife.  Last but not the least there is Sardar Boota Singh, a widower and a retired newspaperman (ahem!) who lives close to Sharma.  These three men like taking a walk in Lodhi Garden every evening and have taken to congregating on a bench right opposite the Bara Gumbad.  In their honor the bench has been renamed as 'Boodha Binch'.

There is one chapter for each month which recounts the political happenings, weather, and whatever going on in the lives of the three men.  The men talk, argue and reminiscence about their lives.  They talk about politics, love, women, nature and of course, their ailments.  The book starts on 26th January 2009 and ends, a bit sadly, on 26th January 2010.  (For this reason, it is fortuitous that I am writing this on 26th January as well.) There is not really much happening here, but the events are an interesting mishmash of the political scene and weather during the year 2009.  Khushwant Singh throws in a bit of religion, some lovely poetry and nice descriptions of trees and flowers.  In fact, the book is quite like his column.

I enjoyed his book Delhi very much which I reviewed on  I have pasted the writing onto my blog here.  This book is not a patch on Delhi, but yet, if you compare it with the kind of stuff being printed these days, it is miles ahead.  KS's language is pretty non-decorative, but has the advantage of being direct and functional.  The poetry he has picked to describe seasons is lovely.

The autumn comes, a maiden fair
In slenderness and grace,
With nodding rice stems in her hair,
And lilies in her face...

Saturday, January 07, 2012

More Reviews More Books

I have been lax in reading, lax-er in reviewing books.  I had picked up Dan Brown's Deception Point on my last foray into Browser, Sector 8. Chandigarh, a private library I am a member of.  Along with it, I took 'Yes Prime Minister' of the famous TV series and Sikhs a book by Khushwant Singh. I had enjoyed his book Delhi very much.  It was nice mish-mash of history with fiction thrown in about the unparalleled and grand city (previously, now it is a state) of Delhi.

The latter two books are still being read by me.  I raced through Deception Point.  It had a good start.  It is election time in US of A.  The contending candidate for presidency, Senator Sedgewick Sexton is a jerk, we realise as we get to know how his daughter views him.  Rachel Sexton is an intelligence analyst for NRO, who soon finds herself embroiled in a series of events that find her nearly freezing to death in the Arctic, and back to Washington DC, to find out who did it.

Nothing wrong with the pace of the thriller.  Its Dan Brown, he knows how to pump the adrenaline into inert bodies lying on the couch and flipping pages of his book.  Its just the premise, finding alien rock with evidence of life stamped all over it is surely a biggie.  But then, the claim fizzles out faster than fizz fizzles out of a coke bottle left open.  The mystery is, who is behind the killings and why.  The suspense ends in a supposed twist, but the twist is not too well qualified with good reasons.  That was the deception point for me.  I must say Dan Brown does better with his ecclesiastical mysteries and his symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon, even if he seems to skedaddle around the world a little to much.

My old old friend, (she is not old, its just that we go way back) Smita of Bookslifeandmore has picked up several formidable challenges for the year 2012.  I wish her all the best, and choose for myself, admittedly the wimpiest of the challenges that seems do-able to me.  Here goes - Amen.

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