A collection of six stories, written originally in Hindi, that reflect a cosmopolitan experience with an Indian spin. Verma's Indians, whether in Europe or in India itself, have thrown off the old traditional ways and, of necessity, embraced the new, but the price paid is high. Now rootless, they are free to go everywhere but in reality belong nowhere. There is the narrator of ``Amalya,'' waiting in a foreign city for his papers, who observes how his friend's devotion to his distant mother is changed by an encounter with a local prostitute. In ``Last Summer,'' an architecture student has met a woman he loves in Vienna, and now back in India on vacation he must somehow discourage his parents' attempts to arrange a marriage to a local girl. An estranged husband in ``The Visitor,'' an academic who travels widely, sees his wife and daughter, who live in England, only occasionally. His wife, Indian-born as well, refuses to go back to India because it reminds her of her husband's infidelity. The title story is wholly Indian in setting but reflects more forthrightly the unbridgeable distance between the old and the new. A journalist in Delhi travels to a mountain town filled with crows (``a sort of transit camp for men and crows—on their way to deliverance'') in search of a long- lost and beloved brother who's become a holy man. Their eventual meeting, however, is a poignant reminder of the irreconcilable differences between them. Written in clear and deceptively simple prose, Verma's stories movingly describe men and women of a certain class caught on the cusp of change and trying uneasily to survive there. A noteworthy collection.
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