Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Barnabas, Bombay’s First Private Detective: Book Review

Barnabas, Bombay’s First Private Detective is cleverly written detective fiction by Sangeeta Nambiar. Being a lover of history, one of my major draws to this book was the fact that it was set in colonial Indian, when Gandhi’s Nationalist movement against the British was at its peak and when Mumbai was still Bombay; a setting that serves more than just a backdrop and lends the story a lot of character.

The book is the story of Barnabas Mehta, the son of a cook who has been raised under the guardianship of his father’s employer, Francis Curtis a British man. The story leads us to Wodehouse Road, where a British woman, Rose Stanton has gone missing and whose husband, not wanting to get the police involved hires Barnabas to solve the case. The book goes on to reveal the fact that Rose has been brutally murdered and Barnabas finds himself in the middle of a challenging mystery. The rest of the book introduces the reader to many interesting and well defined characters and has clues strewn across, waiting to be picked up and deciphered.

The way Barnabas handles the case with his wit and intellect is refreshing and it’s wonderful to come across a crime thriller where the author lets you think for yourself, instead of spoon feeding you. The plot moves on effortlessly and this is a book you can’t put down once you’re in the thick of the action, taking many deft twists and turns to come to an intelligent ending.

I love how skillfully Nambiar has fleshed out the character of Barnabas and I hope she decides to follow up this book with more of Barnabas’s adventures. Recommended!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Breaking up is never easy I know, but I Have to Go

It was almost the end of 2010 in Edmonton (Canada) and as the colour of the leaves on trees changed from a cheerful green to a rich copper and then a deep bronze, I handed in my two weeks notice at my workplace and then packed my bags and put away things I could not put in my suitcase in large plastic bags and gave them away at the local second hand shop and what I could not give away, I put in black garbage bags and threw away. All the while being clawed incessantly by an intimidating feeling of hollowness, followed by a sense of fear so deep and so unrelenting it knotted itself into a little lump in my throat, making my eyes brim over unexpectedly; whether I was on the bus to work, or while I was staring into the distance from my kitchen window as I washed the dishes.

And as the first few flakes of early snow fell carpeting the city in a sheet of white, I was ready to leave, to go home and say good bye to a city that I had just begun to call home.

It wasn’t easy really, to just pack up and go, turn my back on a city that had taken me into her arms, roughed me up a good deal and made a woman out of me. A city that taught me what it was to walk for fifteen minutes in the biting cold, while the falling snow stung my eyes; and my nose red and frozen from the cold kept running. A city that taught me that it was wiser to shop at Costco than at Sobey’s and that all non-biodegradable garbage went in large blue bags, not the black ones. Or the fact that if I didn’t do laundry on my day off, no one else would and the laundry bag in the corner would begin to overflow. I also learned that drinking French Vanilla at Tim Hortons would make my lips sticky and I chose to drink a large Double Double instead. Edmonton also taught me that the unkempt and unshaven homeless man outside the neighbourhood convenience store, who always carried his cat with him in his bag and who always waved at me cheerfully revealing crooked and yellow teeth, was harmless and had quite a witty sense of humour. The city gave me friends who may not have spoken the best English and whose accent I had trouble understanding, but we laughed at each others jokes nonetheless!   

And so I learned that I had to look to my right and not left while I crossed the road, and that innocent looking dark patch on the street in winter was black ice, slipping on which could be really nasty and that snow shovelling in the winter could be back breaking business and more than anything else Edmonton taught me that “home” was only an illusion and home would be anywhere I choose to hang my hat!