By Manju Gupta
Chopped Green Chillies in Vanilla Ice Cream, Sam Mukherjee, Rupa & Co., Pp 287, Rs 195
This book is an easy read which takes you on a tour down the city of Kolkata in the 80s when it was called Calcutta, loiter around and come back to 2011 with lots of delicious fragrances from the past. Through the lives of Tiger and his friends, Sam Mukherjee picks up and presents insightful snapshots of different classes of society and their interactions. The real life story begins with Tanmoy and Chitrani Bose who live in a rented modest flat on Raja Basanta Roy Road in South Kolkata. Their son Chinmoy Bose is a slightly overweight adolescent devoted to family and friends. The father is reading a newspaper and then Chinmoy is surprised to see a strange thrill on his father’s face. The fact is that he has won an unexpected lottery, and the father decides to move to an affluent part of the city. Initially Chinmoy is not at all keen on shifting from his residence but his parents are keen to do so. When Chinmoy asks his mother why they had to move, she explains to him that buying one’s own flat will help him and his brother to live in their own house once she and her husband are gone. So he asks her where they would go away, his mother tells him that they would die one day because every parent dies, “and then their children become parents. That’s how life goes on.” At Vanilla Apartments, Chinmoy meets the best friends of his life and acquires the nickname Tiger. The lives of high-rise house misfits, wannabes and vamps, islands and archipelagos are like chopped green chillies in vanilla ice cream. The author’s charming and free-flowing language paints a beautiful picture of a middle-class society.
(Rupa Publications India Pvt Ltd, 7/16 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi-110002; www.rupapublications.com)