Chowringhee–till page 250

200px-Chowringhee_book_coveri sat under the shower, facing the reasonably cold water droplets, on a bean bag. I could clearly see my life that i lived, right in front of my eyes. Seems like someone was projecting it on to my eyes.

But this time, it was a 3-dimensional projection with details and incidents that i always choose to overlook or conveniently forget. They all came back with a vengeance, in a murderous fit, that i could barely stand on my feet.

Was that tears or its the water running down on my cheeks? I do not know. All i know is that Chowringhee, from half a century ago, brought fond & detested memories of my past & present.”

I chanced upon Sankar’s Chowringhee (English translation by Arunava Sinha) in a late night party. The host suggested or rather she forced me to read it. And i thank her for this.

I never liked translations, they are stories without(minus) narration. Narration is one of the key essence of any story as without a good narration, a story told is better unheard. Translations often loose the passion with which the author speak. Here Arunava Sinha has done a beautiful job. Incidentally my first English novel (i read) is Hotel by Arthur Hailey. {Surprisingly Chowringhee was written much before Hotel}

Hotel had made me create a framework of how Chowringhee would sound like. But i was surprised by the way it turned out. In plain simple language, Chowringhee  spoke to me about hardships, affairs & the harshness of a world i am loosely connected. A Hotel Management graduate (who got lured to this industry just like Sata Bose) and starting his introduction to English literature by Hotel, i think readers can trust my opinion on Chowringhee.

Its the language (narration) that attracted me to this novel. I always enjoyed reading simple, plain narrations where reader could exercise his brain on the morale and unwritten lines of the story than deciphering the sentences. Chowringhee is definitely one of them and i believe Arunava Sinha should receive a generous part of this compliment.

Then comes the plot; I wouldn’t typecast it as a novel on the inner lives of hoteliers (people who work in a hotel). Rather it speaks about lives of two strata of this society (the privileged & the people who fight for their privileges). With my brief stint of working in hotels & having many friends who still work in this industry, i have often come across or heard about people like Mr. & Mrs. Pakrashi or Phokla Chatterjee and even likes of Sata Bose or Nityahari & Gomez. The outlook of Gomez towards music & Mozart, the passion which he hides in his every day life, is there in every one of us. So is Nityahari, the linen man, who condemns his way of living at every possible moment when we meet him. A well structured plot, Chowringhee  never tires you, every moment has a new story – after all a hotel never runs out of new characters called guests.

Now comes the most important part for me to love or dislike a book – the purpose. Some spread a moral, some advise us but this book helps us to think, to peek into the past & present. After reading 250 odd pages into the story, my mind was touched by ‘Connie the Woman’ who was the weakness for many a men’s lust, but one man’s love. I still do not know whether Lamberta loves her but from what i have read till now, he cares for her.

Phokla crying over the drunkard that he has become & Karabi Guha’s silent laments on her tragic life – all these incidents provokes thoughts that may not create a pleasant mind for you. But they will definitely bring the humanity in you (for some moments at the least). In my case, i have seen many such life and being the emotional catastrophe that i am, all i could do was take a 30 minutes shower at 3 in the morning.

Some 150 odd pages is waiting for me and i believe i am going to enjoy this read. I categorize this as a good read.

While searching for a cover picture to this post, i found this useful link where Sankar speaks about the inspirations behind this novel – at the launch of the English translation:

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