Chatpata Chowpatty Bhel
On my way home on the Deccan Queen (which has more leg room than Business Class, and portly, uniformed waiters courteously dishing out chai-coffee to accompany their spicy, deep-fried snacks), I was transfixed, agog, gobbling kanda bhajias in a daze. When the train pulled in to Karjat, my resurfacing consciousness flashed back to similar trysts with James Hardley Chase on Local commuter trains in decades past. This book is composed of elements of Mumbai masala, including Bollywood and the construction mafia, and how things fall into place for two smart young small-town lads to achieve fabulous success. Each chapter paints a quick, action-packed scene. Sex and drugs shimmer discreetly in the background. Who am I to complain about the numerous factual inaccuracies in this book, or to wish that the author had spent more time getting the language right instead of scurrying recklessly ahead in an effort to be “heralded as the fastest-published Indian author by the Limca Book of Records” (whatever that means)? After all, the racy story certainly had me hooked.