Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Mansuri, Macabre

Recently read and enjoyed Sudhir Thapliyal’s Mansuri Macabre. It is a book that will keep the reader captivated with its story and the characters. 

There are two parallel stories; one is that of two Sikh girls living in a conservative, simple household in Mansuri assisting their father in running their garment shop.  The second is that of three unknown men who happen to meet in Calcutta trying to escape their past. They come together and decide to disappear into the convenient world of godmen. Soon enough one of them turns into a sadhu after reaching Allahabad, while the other two end up becoming his lieutenants. This so called godman ends up gaining a lot of support and his clout increases. Of course the godman also ends up attracting the scums of the earth who are desperate to attain nirvana and others who want to join as disciples in order to make money.

But their journey doesn’t just stop at Allahabad. After a whirlwind tour of the country dispensing their pearls of wisdom to the richest in the land, and opening a grand money laundering ashram, it is Mansuri that attracts their attention.

The two stories merge when the godman and his team set up an ashram camp in Mansuri and the godman’s illegitimate homosexual son is married off to one of the Sikh daughters living there. How the girl is exploited and tortured right to her escape and her fight back forms the crux of the story.  It becomes murkier when the two sisters end up getting killed and the story moves on to become a whodunit.

The story is a satire on the religious duplicity prevalent in India. How unknown men with a dubious past end up becoming well known god men shows the kind of blind faith and beliefs that thousands in India follow.  The author manages to brilliantly capture the sleepy and laidback environment of a hill station.

A very fascinating and wonderful read. 

About the Author

Sudhir Thapliyal was born and schooled in Mussoorie to where he has returned. A graduate of the University of Allahabad, he did his MBA from IIM (Calcutta).

He was a senior journalist with The Statesmen and today is a freelance journalist, writer and documentary filmmaker. He was nominated for the Rhodes scholarship in 1967 and is a 1972 Fellow of the World Press Institute, St. Paul, Minn. (USA)

His published books include Hello!Mister Tee, renamed The Loves and Life of Mike Tarrance, War at Lambidhar and Crossing the Road.

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