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It takes a village

By December 28, 2018No Comments

Source : The Hindu

Adithi Rao’sLeft From The Nameless Shopbrings alive the simple charms of Karnatakain the 1970s

There is a certain thrill in rooting for the underdog. An excitement in watching them slowly, steadily make their way to the top. Adithi Rao’s collection of short stories tilted Left From The Nameless Shop — provides this thrill at the unlikeliest of moments. For instance, when small-town Rudrapura’s favourite entrepreneur, a single working mother stumbles upon a recipe for ice cream and unleashes her entire arsenal of Karnataka’s summer fruits on it. But a critical step, when making ice cream, is ensuring that no children hover in the kitchen. There’s only one good way to get it done — take away their books and send them out to play with friends.

There are other lessons in Narayanamma’s little success story, lessons that delve into teamwork, community living and cross-cultural camaraderie. The entire mood of her book — set in a fictional town along the Bengaluru highway in the 1970s — is based on enjoying the simple joys and helping thy neighbour. These are threads that underline most of Adithi’s short stories, which are dipped in aMalgudi Days -esque charm, but with an added flavour that is entirely Adithi’s own. Cases in point are the broken English of a Kannada-speaking population and an endearingly defective Anglo-Indian dialect, that insists on lending the present continuous tense to past memories as well as future plans.

True to her content, the author keeps her writing simple, almost to a fault, but knows how to create a moment. Her forte lies in the description of emotions and connecting individual anecdotes to form a bigger picture at the end of the book. Religion weaves its way into these tales, as do love stories, the ambitions of youth and environmental issues. All with a simple straightforward approach, like a schoolboy picking up his water bottle, and wondering, “What would it be like, to be thirsty and not have water to drink?”

Relatable characters

There is a reason why Adithi’s characters are relatable: most of them are based on her childhood memories. “Rudrapura itself is fictional, but the characters who live there are based on people who I have known and loved — and disliked, as you will understand when you read the book,” says the author. Which explains the presence of characters and attitudes that are only possible in a community that existed on the edge of urban India four decades ago. Such as the kindly grandfather who strikes a chord with a homeless beggar, listening to his vague ramblings and evoking moments of hopeful lucidity. There are others more familiar, such as the illogical, brooding patriarch who, in the words of his nephew, does nothing but “take love and respect and give out orders in return”. It is a world that is difficult to let go of, with characters difficult to forget.

Religion weaves its way into these tales, as do love stories, the ambitions of youth and environmental issues

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