the wonderful world of veena.

11 February 2012

book update: the lost flamingoes of bombay.

Well, I finished The Lost Flamingoes of Bombay [Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi]. I still haven't decided yet how much I liked it, though. The beginning was really interesting, a nice homage to the complexity and randomness of Bombay, but somewhere in the middle it lost its thread a bit. The plot went in an odd direction, and I just wasn't quite sure how to feel about it. It picked back up again about two-thirds of the way through, and the end turned out more interesting than I was expecting, based on how the middle was going.

I thought the characters were interesting, although I couldn't quite get a grasp on the character of Rhea. The main character, Karan, went through a lot of transformations over the years the book covers, and although I could sympathize with a few of them, there were a few character turns that were a bit baffling.

The bit in the middle that dealt with the court system in India was the part I found to be a bit plodding, mostly because most people know how the corrupt the court system is in India, and the result of the trial that takes place was completely predictable. If you don't know much about India's court system, that part could be interesting, but for someone who knows it fairly well, those 75-or-so pages felt like a bit of a drag. That was where I lost the thread a bit and is possibly why it took me about a week longer to finish than it should have.

By far my favourite parts of the book were the passages on Bombay the city...

"So this is Bombay, monster muse, part witch, part clown, always absurd, often charming - my rogue ballad; this is Bombay, meri jaan."

"Without the distraction of beauty, without the consolation of art, people find respite in each other. Yet the sparks between two people do not qualify as companionship. In Bombay people don't offer each other too much talk or touch; rather, they look each other in the eye like soldiers, wounded and brave and crazy. And lucky to be alive, if not happy. The power of this city is the mad desire it arouses in you to live an unlonely life."

"Love. It was this city, its ghastly buildings and the sea. Dark petals of red roses dancing in the wind and the roofs of crumbling cottages. A shell on the beach and the hum of a blind beggar. The amber cast of the street light and a dog howling at the moon. Everything was made out of it. Everything had come forth from it, as it would on day return into it. Love."

There just aren't enough ways to describe how beautiful and complex Bombay is. I can't wait to go back for a visit one day.

No comments:

Post a Comment