Dnyaneshwar Kulkarni had endured a wretched morning. It was the month of October; the sun came out early, hot and fierce, and Dnyaneshwar was rather frail of constitution. Five minutes at the bus stop was enough to make him feel faint. Inside the crowded bus it was, if anything, more uncomfortable. The journey from the suburbs to the city sapped his energies even before his work for the day had properly begun; by the time he got off at Girgaum he felt he was running a temperature. Then, as he was crossing the road, the strap of his sandal abruptly gave way. How strange that, when he had been wearing it for a good eight months without complaint, it should give way on just this day! Dnyaneshwar broiled in the heat for another five minutes while an indolent cobbler ran some stitches through it. Next, as he was taking the railway bridge over Charni Road to get to Marine Drive, who should appear all of a sudden but a ticket checker. Dnyaneshwar protested that he had no intention of taking a train, and that all he wanted to do was to get to the other side, but the TC said he’d heard that story a million times before, and fined him a hundred rupees for travelling without a proper ticket. Furthermore, the TC was one of those people who insists on making out a receipt for every wallet they lighten; not satisfied with plain ‘D. Kulkarni’, he elicited Dnyaneshwar’s full name and wrote it out in bold letters—DNYANESHWAR KULKARNI—as Dnyaneshwar watched horrified, grasping the extent to which unseen malevolent powers surround man on all sides, subtly directing the workings of the visible world towards their own ends. By the time he entered the Directorate of Records, Dnyaneshwar’s head was throbbing like a cement mixer. Who would have thought it would be such an ordeal just to get to his destination?Dnyaneshwar only goes this far here, but he goes much further in the book: into the Directorate of Records, back to the railway station, to a Gomantak restaurant, and finally to watch one of the greatest Hindi films of all time.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Dnyaneshwar Kulkarni Changes His Name
My story "Dnyaneshwar Kulkarni Changes His Name" appears this month in First Proof 2, Penguin's yearly anthology of new Indian writing. Here is the first paragraph: