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Archive for the ‘Aravind Adiga’ Category

Last Man in TowerLast Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The city of Bombay, on one hand, has many old buildings many of which are dilapidated and on the verge of collapsing. To facilitate the rebuilding of such structures the government has formulated a law called Transfer of Development Rights by which the residents of the Housing Society of the building can transfer rights to a builder who will build a new building for them. To finance this project the builder will buy extra area (equal to the current area of flats that can be built on the land) from the Municipality of Bombay (or other builders who have been allotted extra area for the social service that they have rendered by building houses for the poor) and build new tenements which he will sell at a premium.
This has been a phenomenon that has been going on for more than a decade now. In the process many of the occupants of these dilapidated structures had struck gold mine if their building happens to be in a prime locality.
The whole book is based on the above phenomenon. Vishram is a society which consists of two towers, one old and one new, located in the Vakola suburb of Bombay. The newer tower has yuppies and the older tower has mainly retired people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds who in the evening of their lives living peacefully without much care. Each family is living with its own set of problems and issue which they feel could be solved if they had more money.
A builder, Mr. Shah, sets his eyes on these towers and makes an offer to buy out the flats of all the residents of these towers at two and half to three times the going rate of flats in this area and sets a deadline before which the residents need to sign the contract. This excites all the residents. The residents of the newer tower concede almost instantly to the offer and send in their acceptance. The older tower has an old teacher, an old christian couple, a single woman known as the communist and the secretary of the building. Everybody else is eager to go for the offer.
The teacher’s son has broken away from him and is living in South Bombay. The teacher has been having lunch and dinner in the christian couple’s house after his wife’s death. The christian couple’s children are in the US and the husband of the communist woman has moved out with somebody else.
The master in fact states that he will refuse to take the money from the broker because the christian couple’s wife who is blind states that she will be lost if she has to move from this society at this stage. This becomes an obsession with him and slowly but surely while the others renege or buckle under the pressure of threat or lure of more money the old teacher remains steadfast confounding the builder to no end.
In the end the builder tempts the residents of the society to boycott the master to induce him to concede to the request. But the old teacher remains steadfast. Finally a real estate broker who has been talking with the left hand man of the builder and a few others resolve to do away with the old teacher. The broker is given the main responsibility while the others agree to support him in his act by providing him strong alibi.
On the said day the broker decides to visit a whorehouse in the red-light area of Bombay. Here his conscience starts pricking him and he hold himself back. The other member of group lose their patience and do away with the master with each one playing his or her role in the teacher’s disposal.
They eventually sign the agreement with the builder. The book ends with them waiting for the second installment of the payment.
The book has brought out very well how for the greed of money men and women will go to any extent.

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