Monday, November 28, 2011

New stories in the Asia Literary Review and Pratilipi

I have two new stories out: one called "Captain", set in a restaurant in Bombay, in the new issue of the Asia Literary Review (a food special), and another called "Madhaba's Bottle of Oil", set in Bhubaneswar, in the new issue of Pratilipi (a fiction special).

Here is a paragraph from "Captain":
     “Europe!” Despite my contempt for Barun, I was impressed. I have never been to Europe myself. It has always been my dream to go to London some day. I want to see up close the people who once ruled us. “How did you get so far?”
     “I got work here, sir.”
     “Well, good for you. What country are you in?”
     “I don’t know, sir. But it’s very cold here.”
      I checked the country code on my phone and ran a Google search on my computer.
      “You’re in Poland,” I told him.
      “Yes…that’s right! I am in Poland.”
      Barun’s voice seemed so close, as if he were leaning right over me here in Prabhadevi, trying to peer into the tip box to see if he could quickly run a raid on it. I could clearly see his shifty eyes, his dark, cunning face, like a marsh always flooded by the waters of secret thoughts. If he had been merely quarrelsome or dishonest with the staff, they might still have tolerated him, because most of them were no saints themselves. But it was food that erected a wall between him and them. After he’s spent all day labouring far from home and family, you can’t deny a working man the needs of his stomach, of food the way he knows it and loves it. Almost to a man, the waiters despised Barun because, between him and Uttam, they made sure the staff lunch and dinner were always Bengali food, made to their own taste, cooked in mustard oil and spiced with panchporan. Phulkopi, aloo potol curry, dimer jhol, aloo chorchori, mung dal, fried eggplant, enough rice to feed seven generations of their ancestors – that was what they made every day. No matter what I or the waiters said to them, the staff food always tasted the same. When they made Chinese food it tasted like Chinese all right, but when they cooked Indian, even their rajma tasted like it was made by a housewife in Sealdah or Medinipur. What a pair.
And an old story, "Dnyaneshwar Kulkarni Changes His Name", is here.

1 comment:

Nivedita Barve said...

Very interesting excerpt! I am heading over to Asia Literary Review to read the story.