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March 12 , 2010

Delhi Is Not Far


One of the best storytellers of contemporary India' "Tribune 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 salon 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. Few authors write with greater sensitivity and skill about little India than Ruskin Bond. Delhi Is Not Far is a memorable story about small lives, with all the hallmarks of classic Ruskin Bond prose: nostalgia, charm, underplayed humour and quiet wisdom.
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