Books,  Reviews

The 7 am Chronicles: An insight into life in India

For several of us, mornings begin with drinking a cup of chai and reading a slice of life from Indraneel Majumdar’s Facebook page. He writes a piece daily. And we are so addicted to his writing that the absence of a post until 8 a.m. makes us send urgent missives, asking if he forgot to post! And so when I learnt that Writer’s Collective is coming out with a compilation of his daily posts, I wanted to be the first to buy a copy. And it finally arrived. With an enticing cover, which makes you want to read from cover to cover instantly.

However, this isn’t a book which you can possibly read at a stretch, from cover to cover, without a break. Although it is less than 200 pages long. The reason is that — Indraneel makes you think. As you skim through the word sketches describing a day in the lives of ordinary Indians, he suddenly punches you with a revelation. As if to say, “I know you are entangled with your life. But how can you not be concerned about whatever’s happening in the world around you?” You are forced to put down the book and breathe. Sometimes uncomfortably.

This collection of short essays and musings has been labelled as ‘a collection of breezy satires’. But it is much more. Indraneel Majumdar has the gift of observation. And the greater gift of memory. So he digs into his past, and he absorbs the present, to create word-pictures of the lives of ordinary Indians from small towns and big. From Chandrapur, Kolkata, the Nilgiris, Bangalore, rural Bengal and Hyderabad. And captured by his pen (or rather, strokes of the keyboard) are the traits we all possess: the inclination to jump queues, the tendency to resort to jugaad, the hurry to disregard the yellow line, the penchant for playing music or talking on mobiles loudly in public, the excuses to be slightly corrupt, or the unnecessary need to honk. He grabs your attention by referring to things we cannot ignore: films, food and family. And then delivers his punch. So whether it is the chatter of housewives in a housing society, the absence of a light bulb in a stairwell, a stray remnant of murukku on a moustache, a child in a Durga Puja pandal, or a random conversation on a highway, they all find their way into his writing.

It is difficult to choose a favourite, but a piece on Leander Paes and his perseverance struck a chord with me. In a world which seems to be losing all sense of right or wrong, Indraneel’s writings serve as an eye opener by directing attention to the things that matter. And highlight how we cannot remain silent bystanders in a changing world order. The scenarios might be breezy and humorous, but they linger on in memory for a long time. A few years down the line, these essays might be the perfect chronicle of the phase of transition that we are enduring.

Grab a copy soon. Available on Amazon.

(The 7 am chronicles, by Indraneel Majumdar, Writer’s Collective, 199 pages, Rs 151)

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