Dr. Pravin Kumar Jha aka Vamagandhi has come out with a collection of satirical articles with his eponymous book (translation : Chamanlal’s Diary) that the author classifies as “Khilandar Sahitya“. Vamagandhi being on WordPress (here’s the blog), I got a review copy from the author himself. The book is in chaste Hindi and much as it seems weird to review it in English, let’s dive into it.
Chamanlal is an alias or alter-ego for the author whose travels and travails throughout the country and beyond have provided him experiences that make for good reading that’s equally hilarious and dark at times. The book is divided into 20 chapters, each standalone and drawing from some part of the contemporary Indian landscape. Some of the descriptions or words used are downright casteist or communalist but for a diary, this should be taken as standard fare. One cannot, and should not, expect a man to be politically correct in his diary, right? That said, every single chapter gives you an insight into the myriad ways the human mind, especially the Indian Male human mind, works. Chamanlal’s diary reads more like a memoir on account of the lack of defined dates with the chapters and the way they each describe how he, or some other character he knew, grappled with a situation. Readers will recognise many characters as being adaptations of someone they have seen or met in their own lives, maybe even themselves. That’s credit to the author in the way he has created those everyday characters. Poeple who are not from India might find them to be odd (presuming they can read and understand Hindi!) but we Indians won’t have any such difficulty. From the bylanes of Bihar to the local trains of Mumbai to the streets of Kolkata and on to Bangalore (as he calls Bengaluru here) and US, the author has collated anecdotes that have a healthy dose of humour and satire, mixed with political commentary in generous measure. I liked “Facebook Chaupaal” the most.
Dr. Jha’s book is an interesting read both for that lazy weekend and for those times when life seems absurdly hard and all you need is a good laugh or two. This book has huge stocks of them with the added bonus of potentially being highly re-readable. I hope Mr. Vamagandhi comes out with an English-language version soon.
Genre : Satire, Contemporary, Diary, Political commentary, Khilandar Sahitya.
Rating : 4.5/5
and here from Amazon.in (for Indian readers).
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Thanks for reading.