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The Mists of Simla by Balraj Khanna

Mist of Simla by Balraj KhannaRahul Kapoor is about to take his final exams to enter college in Simla in the foothills of the Himalayas, it is 1962,  it is hot, there is cricket to play, love is in the air and then the Chinese army arrive on the borders of North India.

A book to be read in our Indian summer during September and October – fingers crossed.

The author Balraj Khanna will be responding to any comments posted on Text Tribe.


Posted on September 23, 2013, in Authors, Books and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. This is a coming of age story is not just about the young Rahul Kapoor whose family has been uprooted from the newly created Pakistan but the transformation of a nation after independence. Simla, originally the summer residence of the British Raj ‘Jewel in the Crown’ and playground of the ruling and officer classes, has been taken over by the Indian princes and elite classes. Society is stratified by caste, class and literally geographically by the mountain terraces and upper, lower and middle bazaars. The snobbish values of the Raj, are still linger but are threatened by the new, upwardly mobile Indian Middle Classes.
    Young Rahul is sent to college in Simla without the protection of his family. He has to navigate this new social-political and psychological landscape. He does everything you would expect a naive young man from the country to do: ignores the advice of his elders, is unwise in his choice of friends, is flash with his money, is exploited and gets into many scrapes along the way.
    I am enjoying this story. I initially found the direct language used in the opening passages off-putting but I am glad I persevered. The journey of Rahul is reflected in the language used in the narrative. It starts with very direct, pukkah English and text book phrases, relaxing into the vernacular and pigeon English and Indian phrases as the story gathers pace and the character of Rahul develops.

  2. The Paddington Library Reader’s group felt that the novel is about the personal development of the main character Rahul Kapoor and that Rahul was possibly a fictional version of the author, Balraj Khanna. Perhaps the author wanted to get something off his chest. Other issues apart from Rahul seem peripheral, for example the military confrontation high in the Himalayas. Everything seems to centre on Rahul. The group felt that plot plays a limited role in the narrative.

  3. I really enjoyed the subtely and nuance of the English language used in an Indian dialect, it was a good reflection of the richness of the meaning of language

    • Thank you all for your very perceptive comments. I enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing the book itself. English in India is spoken in many vastly different ways, often as literal translation from the vernacular. Regional varieties add colour to translated local words and phrases which I love to explore. As far as the plot etc are concerned, they just happen as I go along. Things I had never thought of suddenly pop up, making me laugh as I write. Thanks again.

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