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A dazzling ‘wall of stories’ in Calcutta

29th Jun 2013

Hotel Calcutta

Rajat Chaudhuri

Niyogi Books

Pages: 224 Rs. 350

Rajat Chaudhuri's Hotel Calcutta is a canvas of vivid tales, not just from the stifling streets of Calcutta, but abstracts from the lives of a motley bunch of hotel guests from Delhi, New York, Mangalore, Amsterdam, and of course, Calcutta. A monk comes to the crumbling hotel and says, 'build a wall of stories around Hotel Calcutta and no one will dare touch it.' Stories are told in the bar, lawns and lounges of the hotel, by characters that range from painters and librarians to thieves and scientists who smoke Charminars and Camels as they recount murky situations and dodgy romances from their lives. The story of the hotel unfolds at its own pace, while beautiful descriptions of Mondrian's works, eerie chess games, winding lanes and digs at social behaviour are thrown together in unpretentious prose, with each short story. Each bar tale comes with a twist improved by lines like this just make the read more pleasurable: "A moth-eaten moon had risen and in that light the white roses looked like severed heads from which the last drop of blood had dripped away."

— Mahima Dayal

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