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:

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.


Salil said...

Congrats! Will definitely keep an eye out for the book and this story when I'm in Bombay later this week. Look forward to reading the full thing after this snippet.

Swar Thounaojam said...

fantastic, Chandrahas.

Anonymous said...

congratulations hash.

would you happen to know where i can buy the book...publishers etc?


The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Congratulations. Can't wait to read the rest.

Phanindra K said...

My dad bought the book a few months back, but I got around to reading it only this week. You know what happens when people borrow books from you, they seldom come back. Fortunately, this one did! I had to pick it up from my friend's house, though. He now lives in the US, but I went and disturbed his parents anyway.

I started reading this story on the bus, on my way back from work. I could relate to the main character so much, and got so engrossed that I realized only after I had finished reading that it was almost completely dark! Thanks for the wonderful story!