Life after sun set is quite different in small-towns from the metros and big towns. And for a diverse nation of India, each small-town has unique identity of its own. Those who lived in these towns but migrated to larger towns in later part of their lives tell their experiences those small towns offered them. This book is an anthology of ten essays by different authors. The small towns featured here are Patna, Gaya, Aligarh, Shillong, Mc Leod Ganj, Bikaner, Ahmedabad, Siliguri, Puducherry and Mananthavady. They cover the entire geography of India and each essay observes the vivid culture and social practices these small towns are made of. Some of them are light read and funny and few are dark and terrorizing.
I enjoyed the essay “Monsieur, Keen on Rajnikanth?” which is set in Pondicherry. It is written by a Bengali author who relocates to this small town and observes the cultural differences between Ashramiites and rest of the residents spending their nights in the bars and the growing differences between the economically high profile residents of Auroville and rest of the society. Another essay “Bihari Nights” set in Patna and the villages of Bihar was entertaining read too where-in author interviews childhood friends of Bollywood actor, Manoj Bajpai. In the essay “The bigness of small towns” author wonders about the prospects for a person choosing to be a full time writer. “Crossing Lines” is about the divide between two religions in the town of Ahmedabad. “Seeking the spirit of night” explores how the town of Shillong came into existence.
Authors of all these essays had lived some part of their life in the towns they wrote about but also elsewhere so they could clearly bring out the distinct qualities these small towns possess. Since these authors have literary inclinations too, these essays become long lasting as well. If you want to experience the night tours across the small towns of India sitting at the comfort of your home, get this book on your table.