02 March, 2021

When Babuji Went Too Fast

The book’s milieu is that murky labyrinth of lost files, ministry corridors reeking of urinals, bribes, and back-stabbing.

When Babuji Went Too Fast
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Were someone from outer space to visit a city bookshop, he could be forgiven for concluding that most contemporary English fiction writers in India write for each other—or for readers who, like them, are urban, middle class and educated. Rural India hardly exists as a subject. Of the lower middle or working class, there are hazy glimpses and set pieces rather than compelling plots or characters. Petty bureaucracy—that vast domain of government babudom that rules, or rampantly misrules, the life of millions—is often treated with the kind of scorn or satire reserved for walk-on parts.

Amitabha Bagchi’s The Householder takes us deep into that murky labyrinth of lost files, ministry corridors reeking of urinals, backstabbing intrigues in dusty canteens and bribes of currency notes packed in mithai boxes. This is a world where unbendable official hierarchy is exemplified by Class I officers set against Class III stenographers, as well as their contrasting accommodations—large garden flats in Rabindra...

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