I am a true blue Delhi-ite. If you have had any remote association with Delhi, you either would be in love with it or simply loath it but you cannot stay indifferent towards it. And if you have any remote association with Delhi, you would know what exactly I mean!
I am not going to go on to why I love Delhi. I am not going to explain what makes my heart skip a beat when I see a DL registered car in Bangalore.. or why I would want to gloat everytime someone mentions Delhi flyovers and wide roads as if I built it personally!..
Here, I am about to talk of the book I am reading- The Peacock Throne. It is quite an interesting, heart rendering read. The plot and the characters can be imaginative and yet are so real. It is primarily set in Old Delhi- the yester-year hub of today's capital dating back to the Mughals. Sujit Saraf, the author has beautifully caught the dynamics that play out in the streets of Chandni Chowk of Delhi. Chronologically starting from Indira Gandhi's assassination, the plot reels through different changes that happened to Delhi, its people, the surroundings and activities as a result of each significant milestone in history of Delhi.
What is striking about the book, is that the characters are so alive and real. I will not be surprised to actually find Gopal Pandey, the chaiwala- the typical poor, naive, complacent, unfortunate old guy in a tattered shirt with missing buttons and wearing translucent scratched spectacles ... to Gauhar, the once upon a time 'street child' who spent a few years in the care of an NGO and later misled, lives a life of a vagabond... SohanLal, your typical fat sethji running a saree shop in Chandni Chowk, sitting on his gaddi while indulging occasionally in local politics.. or even Chitra the convent educated feminist, who fresh out of college, starts out with high principles and ideals and passionately starts an NGO, but gradually slips away into being a sensation monging press reporter and gradually works her way up to be a chief editor. The characters are entwined together perfectly and come in a subtle yet strong association with each other to form this beautiful, REAL and believable backdrop.
We all know about important events in history like Indira Gandhi's assassination, Mandal commission, Babri masjid, Green Delhi drive, demolition of road encroachment etc. But we miss/ overlook the smaller details, the people, the feelings, the sufferings, the turn of events that emerged out of these bigger events that makes into recorded history.
I think, that is that essence - that of the human angle that the book has managed to capture. I will go the Rajeev Masand way and rate The Peacock Throne 6 1/2 out of 10!