Dahl in the Western Ghats
Vikram Karve is a well-known Pune-based blogger. His descriptions of food, in particular, are evocative and popular. But this wasn't why I bought this book. I bought it because we share an old school tie and I assumed – correctly, as it turned out – that it would be worth reading.
The stories are great fun and flow smoothly. Each one is based on a man-woman relationship, and they are widely varied and inventive. Many have a wicked little twist at the end, and that’s what gave me the Dahl feeling. If I do have a complaint about this book, it’s the editing slips which make the quality of language less than perfect. Also, the stories towards the end are more intense and better constructed and I would have placed them earlier in the book to get the reader impressed earlier on. Instead, the early stories are rather lightweight and in fact two of them have plot inadequacies that should have been repaired or the stories dropped from the collection.
I loved reading about people and situations in familiar places around Pune and Bombay and the next time I visit Vaishali, will certainly take a closer look at the dosa-eaters there and spend a little time wondering which of them Vikram Karve was writing about!
I think this book would make a good gift to people who enjoy light reading, and in particular who would enjoy fiction in these familiar settings, as I did.