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Author: Ruskin Bond
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0670049549
Few authors write with greater sensitivity and skill about little India than Ruskin Bond. Delhi Is Not Far, published here for the first time as a stand-alone novel, is a memorable story about small lives, with all the hallmarks of classic Ruskin Bond prose: nostalgia, charm, underplayed humour and quiet wisdom.
And then we will break away from Pipalnagar, fly away like eagles.
Momentous things happen elsewhere, in the big cities of Nehru’s India. In dull and dusty Pipalnagar, each day is like another, and there is not exactly despair, but resignation. Even the dreams here are small: if he ever makes it to Delhi, Deep Chand, the barber, will open a more up-to-date saloon where he might, perhaps, give the Prime Minister a haircut; Pitamber will trade his cycle-rickshaw for the less demanding scooter-rickshaw; Aziz will be happy with a junk-shop in Chandni Chowk. None, of course, will make that journey to Delhi.
Adrift among them, the narrator, Arun, a struggling writer of detective novels in Urdu, waits for inspiration to write a blockbuster. One day he will pack his meagre belongings and take the express train out of Pipalnagar. Meanwhile, he seeks reassurance in love, and finds it in unusual places: with the young prostitute Kamla, wise beyond her years; and the orphan Suraj, homeless and an epileptic, yet surprisingly optimistic about the future.
There are days and there are nights, and then there are other days, and other nights, and all the days and nights in Pipalnagar are the same.
A few things reassure me… The desire to love and be loved. The beauty and ugliness of the human body… sometimes I make love as a sort of exploration of all that is physical; and sometimes falling in love becomes and exploration of the mind. Love takes me to distant, happier places.