“Home is the nicest word there is.” – Laura Ingar Wilder
Most of us would find ourselves in agreement with the author of the above quote. After a hard day at work don’t we all want to return to the comfort of our own homes? And in fact, it gives us a greater sense of satisfaction (and pleasure) if the place we call home is our own.
Chanchal Sanyal’s debut novel deals with this very interesting (if somewhat offbeat), theme. It narrates the story of a middle aged urban couple’s desire to buy their own house in Delhi NCR region and the kind of challenges they face in the process. The complexities are further multiplied by a marriage that’s under pressure due to unfavourable external influences resulting in misapprehensions and squabbles between the couple.
As I mentioned earlier, the topic is a little offbeat and I was piqued as to why the author chose such an unusual theme for his debut novel. I got my answer to some extent by the time I finished reading the story. I found the author’s style of writing quite refreshing and different. The author’s love for the language and vocabulary is evident from the first page. Although, I did feel that some words in the book felt a little too superfluous and unnecessary. Also, at places the story seemed a bit stretched. However, he has made brilliant use of the elements humour, irony and satire which made the mundane shine. Sample this –
“I am the lord and master of my rented two – bedroom second floor flat like the Emperor Alexander, I am surveying what frontiers I can conquer next.”
The character development is again unique to him. For instance, his male protagonist in the novel addressed as Professor M.B (or M.B) has a “strangeness” that appeals to the readers. In fact, he could be classified as an anti – hero and although his primary goal is to buy a house; his landlord seems more concerned than him in the home buying process and in cracking a winning deal. Also, the accurate presentation of our beloved city– which despite being mistreated by its citizens and others still stands tall and confident of her charm—was heartening. The book also unapologetically talks about the foremost challenges facing the city in the form of air pollution and traffic snarls without sounding pedantic or preachy. Here’s an excerpt –
“Seven centuries later and your progress is just as slow and just as dangerous, not because of the forests and the wilder marauding bands of Gujars and Jats – well, those too-but more because you, my friends and fellow twenty –first – century students, are now stuck in some of the world’s worst traffic and are breathing what is without doubt the world’s most dangerous air.”
Fortunately for me I also got to interact with the author during a book – talk event around his very novel. During our conversation Chanchal mentioned that he has lived in Delhi since his childhood and seen the different phases of the city. The trigger for his book was partially his experiences and observation of the real estate market and how they’ve been not only mindlessly expanding but also ruthlessly destroying the green belt around the city in the name of progress.
The book deals with an unconventional topic; and is treated with a liberal dose of wit and satire to expose how house buying process in a metro is a nightmarish phenomenon for the middle class.
About the author:
Chanchal Sanyal is an entrepreneur in the live events and activation space of the advertising industry, currently based in Gurgaon. He has been at various times—sometimes concurrently—college lecturer, itinerant traveller, mainline advertising professional, business owner and now a writer. A resident of Delhi since his childhood, he has seen the city grow, evolve, mutate and spawn a Noida and a Gurgaon in hastily contracted marriages with its neighbouring states. The city and its peoples are a source of endless fascination for him. While this is his first novel, he has as he says—‘been writing fiction for twenty years—after all, I have been in the advertising business for over two decades.’ Chanchal Sanyal is based in Gurgaon.
Author(s): Chanchal Sanyal
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Release: May 2018
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