“Window Seat”, the author’s first work, ranks among my favourites, so I picked this up with much expectation. While it did not really bowl me over, it does have a few things working for it.
The story, or rather stories, is just as the title suggests – journeys. As Kinara’s dad tells her- “it’s about journeys. We’re all on the same one.” At one level, these journeys are physical – the one that Kinara undertakes, aided by a cryptic set of maps and notes from her Dad, who had traced the family’s journey from sixteenth century Goa to twenty first century Mumbai, or the ones that her ancestors Gajanan and Murli made from Khed to Bombay. It is also the journey of Murli, whose story , set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, runs as the parallel narrative to Kinara’s own Goan backpacking trip. And finally, it is also the journey of Bombay – from Bal Gangadhar Tilak’s fierce oratory to the plague to the Quit India movement and the Bombay Docks explosion – as seen through the eyes of Murli, and other characters around him.
I felt that, in some ways, the journeys of Gajanan/Murli and Kinara completed each other’s. Not just from a broad perspective, but also in the way the narrative flows – for example, Gajanan discovering the natak sangeet in Bombay, followed by a chapter in which Kinara stumbling upon a thiatr performance in Goa.
If you’re in the mood for a languorous read, go for it. As Kinara’s dad says, “..it’s only a journey, not a quest. And who knows? Maybe there’s nothing at the end of it.”