About the Author:
Abhih Singh is a freelance writer and music composer and producer currently based in Bangalore. He has lived in several places including Port Blair and Mumbai, where he spent his early childhood and school years, and then in Pune and Australia, where he worked and studied further. With varied occupations over the years, ranging from disc jockeying to office work, and an educational background in Liberal Arts and International Relations, his experiences and interests are diverse. Roving in the Shine is his first book.
About the Book:
The protagonist travels across India on a vacation, meeting old friends and various other people, seeing the vast diversity of the country, and assessing its fast changing social landscape. What are the human values that last, and what are the attitudes that are simply fleeting, yet threaten to transform India permanently?
An extract from the first chapter follows.
“A mosaic of people dressed in everything from saris to suits stood around, many on loud phone calls, all trying hard to make a stand in the crush. A few enthusiastic transportation agents suggested ways of moving ahead. A cab was fixed, and after a numbing wait to fill up, to maximize revenue, the wheels rolled and out they went. After the long flights it was this final leg of the trip that was most frustrating.
Stuck in kilometre-long lines of traffic, Ved sat glassed away from the fumes, wondering how people managed to survive and still held smiles. The drive to Pune still lay long.
As the city streets made way for the highway, the temperature dropped, and the air cleared. The driver enthusiastically fed tapes into the stereo, giving rise to the glittering sounds of belly-shaking Bollywood music. It had been a while since Ved’s ears had experienced these eccentric tunes, and although the splitting speakers left much to be desired, he didn’t mind the party owing to a feeling of vague camaraderie that folks often experience upon returns to the so called motherlands, even though he shared perhaps nothing with the driver and his co-passengers in terms of life experiences. None spoke, and he watched the slopes along the highway go by, as the tyres rolled on uninterrupted, in the dimming light, daydreaming.
The speedy driver made short of the journey and it wasn’t too long before they found themselves in town. It was cooler here than in Bombay owing to the altitude and distance inland. Ved watched the scenes outside more carefully. A few homeless people sat huddled in the dark before smoke rising from burning piles of garbage, their palms flat out, absorbing heat like human solar panels, the looks on their faces murky, blank and distant. At another point a man and a dog shared space, rummaging through the large piles of waste deposited thoughtfully outside a big yellow garbage container that was far from full. At a traffic light a skinny cow walked beside the car while another nosed through plastic bags lying alongside the street, the animals’ bones prominent; food a scarcity for all in the land of abundant malnourishment.
A few things looked different, like the occasional new traffic light or building, or the road widening that enabled more to ride alongside. Pune was already bloating up a long time ago. By now it was grinding away to a future he imagined good for big business with its mammoth workforce and cheap wages, but potentially dystopian with regard to good living, considering the influx. He cribbed in his mind, but as they approached the house, the roads took on a more personal tone. And as they got closer to home, the familiar little shops, cafés, and buildings left him feeling urges to smile and hug, and he wondered if he wasn’t actually being far too cynical about India’s wild ride towards fortune.”