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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Pages : 256
Price : Rs 275
Publisher : Penguin
Year : 2007

On Page 167:
The sun was starting to dip. The golden light had already begun drawing elongated shadows on the floor of the house. Dusk. The dried neem trees without their leaves slit the yellow light into larger portions than they had before. Light was bounced off the Formica dining table, reflected on to the glass cabinets and coated everything from mother's snow-white hair to the dull-black wooden chairs with a golden glow......

She was sitting at the table and sipping hot tea as golden as the sunlight. Mother told me later that she felt as if all outlines around her were slowly smudging into one large, golden ball that day. The beer mug with the golden tea was melting into her hand, her golden skin melting into the Formica of the table which was......

Even as day and night played its own song and dance of shadows, everything around them was being re-defined.

An earthquake, a bloody riot - in two years their lives, like that of so many others living in Ahmedabad and in Gujarat would be changed.

They'd made several efforts to move in the past but never before had their Guptanagar home in Ahmedabad been seen as the reason to flee.

It was just that we needed to flee. And because we were in Guptanagar, we had to flee from Guptanagar.

The riot changes that for Robin and his mother Esther who had the capacity to conjure up distress on demand. I disagreed but Robin redeemed himself with his evocative explanation of the phrase together with Esther's six o'clock syndrome.

Some of these fears take you through the Teen Darwaza area, children growing up, others like Esther's fear of heights come to the fore after the riots.

Riot survivors tell you of the images that haunt, the reality that confronts, the relationships that change and often the home that you lose.

Robin takes you through that journey. It is extremely painful in parts, vivid in others. When courage comes under fire, friends turn into foes and when Robin gets clipped by his barber Rameshbhai, several things fall into place, the identity of a car parked in front of their home is questioned, a bloody photograph emerges, Robin knows what he has known for sometime - it is time to move on.

Robin and Esther's search for a new house to call their home, the call of Guptanagar, the riots, the people they left behind and the people they meet, losing their family heirlooms and their lovely dog Ora. City of Fear is an unforgettable journey of what happens when it all comes undone.

The book is not available here yet, though you can order it here.

Robin also joins the growing number of writers who blog. More on the book and some of his thoughts are on his City of Fear blog.

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