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Archive for the ‘Khuswant Singh’ Category

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A typical Khuswant Singh book more on Sex than on Love.

The last story “Buggered” for a change is a very nice read. The story “A mixed marriage” involving Khwaja Gharib Nawaz is another eminently readable chapter. The rest is as trashy as one can expect from the author.

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Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories.Khushwant Singh Selects Best Indian Short Stories. by Khushwant Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An eclectic collection of short stories from various parts of India. Some of them very good and some not so great.

The ones that appealed to me were as follows:

In “Confessions of a Dustbin” by Karunanidhi the author describes the life from the perspective of a dustbin into which people keep discarding unwanted stuff and it being cleared by the municipality truck. The author shows his atheism and his scoff for religion by speaking about the sexual escapades that the dustbin learns about the Indian Gods from an old book about puranas that somebody has thrown into its belly.

“The Accident” by R. K. Laxman. In this story the author illustrates how a person running away from crime almost crashes into a tree because the papers that he had carelessly thrown in the back seat are stirred up by the air circulating through the car and covers his face preventing him from seeing where he is headed. He uses this trick later to get rid of the goon who has come after him for the spoils.

In “The Palace Orders” by Manohar Malgaonkar speaks about how two people exploit the similarity of a country bumpkin being similar to that of a royalty with a great influence in the country. They use the person to extort money from various people. In the end the country bumpkin tries to double cross them and tries to run away with the extorted money to satisfy his grandfather’s dream of flying from his hometown to Delhi by airplane.

In “A Slice of the Melon” by Manohar Malgaonkar describes how unscrupulous persons skim the money that pours into the political party’s coffers during the election time. A small time help who sees this happen sets up a front to try and skim some of this money and he almost succeeds.

“Temple Mouse” by Manohar Malgaonkar speaks about how hollow the people are. He describes how a person close to a “spiritual” guru milks his position to make money for himself while another person who is the right hand man of a famous actor does the same.

Both the stories of Sadat Hasan Manto, selected by Khuswant Singh have the element of sexuality in them and this is not surprising given the proclivity of Khushwant Singh for writing stories with at least a tinge sex in them. Did not enjoy either of them, not because of the sex content, but because of the lack of depth.

The author has three stories of his own all obviously reflecting his beliefs and topics close to his heart, that of Agnosticism, bottom pinching and Kama Sutra. The Bottom Pincher and The Agnostic are an OK read, the third is not at all good.

All in all OK read.

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Best Indian Short Stories - Volume-1Best Indian Short Stories – Volume-1 by Khushwant Singh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some of the stories are good while some, in my opinion, are rank bad. The authour seems to like the story teller Qurratulain Hyder very much. There four stories of this writer and for some reason I did not like any of them.

The best story in my opinion was the story A Tale of the hijras by Abdul Jabbar, where a hijra rejected by her parents comes back to her village on the occasion of the birth of a grand child to her mother. How she aspires to go back to live with her parents and how she turns back considering the reaction of the society.

The short story The Leopard by Ruskin Bond is another highlight. He describes how he used to pass through a forest where a leopard lived and how he could here is growling and how on occasions he had, had a glimpse of it. This tranquility is broken when shikaris come to the jungle as the leopard skin sells for 1000 rupees in Delhi. They lay a trap for it and soon hunt it down and triumphantly take it away. As he walks away from the rejoicing shikaris he feels that the whole forest has fallen silent, almost as though the birds and animals knew that their trust had been betrayed. He goes on to say in a very sarcastic way “And God gave Man dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth”. A very sad story which repeats even today, only the scope has increased be it whales hunted by Japan, or seals hunted in Canada, or rhinos and elephants in Africa and India and Tigers in India. Man has no scruples and no heart.

Ramblings on the Beach by Kiran Bedi, yes the very same Kiran Bedi surprisingly made for delightful reading. He speaks about how the society corrupts the children. He says how he tried to bring up his daugther to be brave, not be afraid of the darkness and of the sea. But all this changes when they start going to school where the other children, thanks to the elders in their family, scare his daughter’s wits so much that she starts clinging to him telling him about a Buddi Mai who is out to catch the children. He observes how the schools uses fear to make the children behave, fear of ridicule, fear of punishment, fear of humiliation. He observes that the elders do not want children to behave, but only to conform. He observes that bit by bit the elders kill what makes each child distinct from others. He observes that the children are told “all good children go to heaven. And good children are children who think like other good children. The best children, of course, win races and comes first in class. Try to be like them. He also says that he feels sad for his daugther as he can do nothing much for her as he cannot isolate her from the society in which she has to live. He also observes how introverts suffer more in this society. He quotes a Zen poem
Children are Masters of Zen,
Curious about everything.
Adults are serious and boring,
What happened?

Flight 303 by Suresh Chopra is about how a man comes to riches, thanks to his ability to pick locks. It is a fine story with a good twist.

Others are just OK or rank bad.

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