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...


Vee said...

KS is one author I have not explored much for no apparent reasons.. Just 2 or 3 of his books. There is one lying with me for ages.. Nightingale something. I guess I should give me a go.

Vee said...

I mean I should give him a read :):)

Bhargavi said...

Never read KS before.. I've read only good things about this book though.. bookmarking it

Ava Suri said...

Haan Haan, padho. and let me know how it was. Atleast itna to pata hai ki I can pick up a KS book and not be totally bored.

Bhargavi: This one is not the best example of his work, but it is good.

Poonam Sharma said...

i hated this book. See what I posted when I read it in June last year:

I gave it a rare 1 star from my rating.

Ava Suri said...

Poonam, the book is not much but yet, the old man manages to do something with it. Like I said, its quite like his columns. A little of this, a little of that and thats it.

His recounting of his ailments is quite natural, the older you get, the more these things trouble you and occupy your mind.

KS will be KS.

Vishal Kale said...

Never read Khushwant Singh... but this is one book that sounds very interesting!

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