This was the first time I actually read a Khushwant Singh book. It was the blurb that got me. The idea of three octogenarians in Delhi discussing everything from the weather to sex to politics was intriguing. Not because of the topics themselves, but because I have wondered about the lives of old people, the daily rituals they hold dear, and their perspectives of a changing world. Khushwant Singh was 95 when he wrote this (!) and therefore this would be very close to the real thing. I wasn’t mistaken because I would be very surprised if the character of Boota Singh wasn’t at least semi autobiographical.
Pandit Preetam Sharma and Nawab Barkatullah Baig make up the remainder of the trio, called The Sunset Club, who meet at Lodhi gardens on the Boorha Binch. The book captures a year in the life of these gentlemen, with occasional rear view looks into their past. Through their discussions, the reader gets a sense of the pluralism and the contradictions that make up India. It finds a parallel in their own lives, which are themselves a showcase of many contradictions.
In addition to the daily lives and colourful conversations, the author also provides an excellent commentary on how the weather and the flora changes through the year. Everything from his own lucid prose to Urdu poetry is used to give the reader a splendid view, and feel, of Delhi.
The book is not going to give you answers to the meaning of life, or have your heart racing because of the suspense/drama, but it is a pleasant, breezy read nevertheless. Or maybe I am wrong on the first count, it did introduce me to these –
I asked for a long life, Only four days were granted:
Two went in hoping, Two lost in waiting.