Monday, May 7, 2012

Guest Review: Civil Lines 6

Now famous for its intermittent existence,Civil Lines was the brain child of Delhi based  Dharma Kumar.After that,from 1994 till 2001,four issues were published by Ravi Dayal .The publication was dedicated to new age writing from India and the publishers were not at all in a hurry to come out with regular issues.After  the death of both Ravi Dayal and Dharma Kumar,this latest collection has seen the light of the day after ten long years.The editors offer an explanation to the readers and attribute this  elephantine gestation to them being unsure of their editorial judgement. What we see in Civil Lines 6 is a collection of stories from various authors like Anand Balakrishnan,Rimli Sengupta,Benjamin Seigel,Manu Herbstein and others.

Great Eastern Hotel is an extract from Ruchir Joshi's novel in progress.Set in crowded maze of Calcutta lanes the story has the backdrop of  Tagore's death. 

The ocean of peace lies in front,
Launch the boat O helmsman...  the song written by Tagore for his own funeral and being sung by a strong voice at the funeral creates an imagery of sorts.
Itu Chaudhuri's flight is a short composition about the secret of being able to lift off and take a flight ,literally.The thrill of the flight,never quite being sure where you will land,the delicious suspense of it all...
Erazex by Achal Prabhala takes you through the corridors of a boarding school in Dehradun where a typewriter correction fluid provided a hallucinogenic escape to the boys.A tragic incident turns the life on campus upside down both for the boys and the teachers.

Mumbai readers will connect with Naresh Fernandes and his story set in bandra.'Skeletons' opens with a newspaper account of a pair of skeletons found in the quiet neighbourhood of Bandra,those of a doctor and his faithful dog. Lonely in life and in  death in the metro city.

Manu Herbstein talks about building bridges in his account of the same name .Bombay appears prominently here too, when he describes the cartoons of Mario Miranda depicting Bombay in myriad hues.I loved this piece but then, I am partial to anything that is connected to  Mumbai any which way.
Fashil -Arabic for failure is the nidus around which Anand Balakrishnan weaves his words while Nilanjana Roy makes you travel with a few ghosts and her Shamla Mashi in  a carefully crafted, Sugarcane.
The book ends with a photologue by Gauri Gill .Nizamuddin in the dark, the sufi saints,the railway station,the durgah,the night times of old Delhi captured through the lens, makes an interesting end to this collection called Civil Lines 6.

Just one point that crosses my mind after reading this volume..How long before  Civil Lines 7 goes in print? How about a web edition,will it be able to bridge the gap and present few more new age authors from India?

(Dr Sharmila Kulkarni is a Mumbai based Prosthodontist,who is as passionate about reading as she is about bringing smiles to people's faces.This is her first of hopefully many more reviews for the blog! )

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