Urban shots is a compilation of short stories from various Indian authors , centered around the theme of Urban India and the lives of the people living in it . It has been published by Grey Oak publishers and edited by Paritosh Uttam ,who has himself contributed quite a few stories in the book .Following it’s popularity after release ,several newer editions have now been launched into the market by Grey Oak –Urban Shots Crossroads , Love collection etc .
The 28 stories presented in the book canvass a whole variety of interesting yet relatable characters , situations and emotions .The stories have been broken down from the broader theme of life in Urban cities to subthemes such as relationships ,love ,friendship ,angst and longing – emotions that most of us would have experienced during some part of our lives .Owing to the fact that the book has been coauthored by several writers ,almost every story has it’s unique style of narration and presentation .While some of the stories are crisp and fast paced with their twists and turns ,others meander relatively slower into the hearts and minds of the reader . This prevents one from getting a sense of predictability and déjà vu while browsing through the pages ,and it thus makes the book more than just a breezy read .
Some of my personal favorite stories in this book (in no particular order ) are :
- Serendipity by Paritosh Uttam
The story for me was an absolute delight , with its beautiful narration of the two central characters and how their story unfolds . Both the characters have been etched out with remarkable intricacy yet ease by the author .The crossing of their lives’ paths and the moments in which they notice each others’ existence ,though brief ,are extremely well written . At the end of the story one cannot help but sigh at the irony of fate and the aptness in the title of the story .
- Liberation by Malathi Jaikumar
This is the story of a middle aged housewife and mother , who struggles against the weekly torture and physical abuse meted out by her drunkard husband till it becomes too much . She finally manages to “liberate “ herself from it in a way that is unique and highly creative .The story beautifully brings out the common problem faced by economically backward migrants when they come to the “big” cities in search of work and a better life ,but end up with frustration and a sense of loss and isolation .As we go through the story ,the feelings for the protagonist change from pity at her domestic situation ,to wonder at her childlike excitement when she visits the Fair with her children (minus the husband ) ,to finally awe at her courage and craftiness .
- Slow rain
- A cup of tea
Most of the stories on the theme of Friendship ,though well expressed and written ,were kind of “rom com”ish and predictable .I felt the theme could have been explored in much more depth rather than the regular best friend -in –college and office romance sequences . All the stories in this section however, were a breezy read and you could sandwich reading one of them in between the relatively heavier emotions of love and angst .
A few of the stories mirrored the changing dynamics and equations of relationships in the Urban world (“The right thing to do “ ,”trial and error” ,” a mood for love” etc ) . “Women in love “ is a humorous ,slightly sardonic (and perhaps exaggerated ) take on how “modern” Indian women behave in love .
“Hope comes in small packages” is sweet and beautiful in its simplicity , while “Stick Figures “ and “ just average” do manage to tug your heartstrings .
So all in all ,the book is an interesting read ,almost like a heady cocktail ,with few flavors of brilliance scattered around .Something that I did not regret reading!!