Baumgartner's Bombay - The Review

10:28 PM

There was this moment that I remember ever so vividly. It took place after I finished the God of Small Things. As I put the novel down, I witnessed a literature that struck the right cords of my emotional scale. I have had no such feeling for any other man made novel. As I read the last words of the novel, Naalai, I felt heavy and wanted to sit down and shed tears for each of the characters in the book. Being the sensitive animal deep down, there was a lump in my throat. The book not only being heart wrenchingly pitiful, it made you connect and savor the turbulence the people in the novel go through. The drama was domestic pulsating a stronger sting. A stronger sorrow for Pappachi and Velutha’s life.
And then I read Baumgartner’s Bombay by Anita Desai. On a scale of 0 – 10, 10 being God of Small Things Level, it scores a straight seven. This story, having way less tragedy than GOST, takes you through several journeys. Journeys of Time, continent and culture.The story walks the life of a self proclaimed reject, Baumgartner born in Germany and traces the entire thread of his life till Bombay. Set in a period where the world was maturing and wars were fought with more vengeance and machinery, Baumgartner identifies himself with the common reluctant Indian. Yearning for a chance to meet his mother, Baumgartner soulfully searches company yet keeps them at bay. Solitude was his forte.  Anita Desai, carefully captures the pre-war and the post war India. The India that shined and the India that warred within. Events wash Baumgartner in its waves as he walks aimless and lost. Replete with domestic imagery of India and her forlorn street dwellers, she shows us the gap between the well off and the poor. Her imagery is so splendid and rich that you get lost in her million ways of offering scenery to you. Garnished and prettied like the offering to an Idol. She wrestles with words twisting them and makes several genuine adjective marriages seconded by Arundhati in the Indian stage. Though the ending was written to exact empathy from the reader, it could have had a stronger note. 
If you love literature, of the sort that sucks your soul like candy leaving you empty, hopeless and lost yet fully conscious of the truth that hovers like mosquitoes on the evening of a rainy day, you would love this book. The book spews with the delicacies of life and how India never turns her head away to anyone who knocks her door.   

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