Amit Chaudhuri grew up in Bombay. But, strangely the city never grew on to him.
He never felt a sense of belonging until one of his latest visits when he was in the city for a reading session of one of his books. It is this new found nostalgia for Bombay, now Mumbai, that forms the subject of the writer's latest work, "Friend of My Youth". Hardbound in a beautiful jute textured cover with an image of a fleet of ships at sundown, the barely 150-page-book explores Bombay in a novel way, where Chaudhari builds the narrative around the typical elements he has always associated the city with. "On his journey back to the city he feels certain ties which he has been unaware of. It is a story of exploration and a concentrated reminiscence woven around his visits to the city that was really never his home," the author said at the recent launch of the book at Bikaner House here. Ramu, the author's school friend, is one of the first few names that come back to him as soon as he sets foot in the city. While Chaudhuri went on to study at the Oxford University, his not-so-affluent friend turned to drugs, a habit that the latter knew was having a deteriorating effect on his life. Such realisations would often make Ramu join rehab to quit drugs, but inadvertently there would be a relapse. Following one such relapse Ramu was again in rehab in Alibag during Chaudhuri's visit, and his absence weighed heavily on the narrator's mind who reminscences their old meetings throughout the book. "It is a radical kind of regime in the rehab, so is the effect on the narrator of not meeting Ramu which is foreseen," Chaudhuri said. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel that was attacked by the terrorists in 2008 is also an important memory that the narrator likes to revisit when he is in the city. As he travels between the Taj of his childhood and adulthood before and after the attacks respectively, he paints a timeline of the changes the iconic hotel has undergone in all these years. "Although The Taj looks beautiful from the front, the hotel is gutted from inside with the accounts of the incidents that happened in the past," Chaudhuri said. Published by Penguin India, the book is priced at Rs 499.
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