• Ananya Ak

Daura Is A Unique, Refreshing Tale


The book, Daura, kept on a white surface. At the top is a large, colourful, shining metal tree. To the side of the tree is a much smaller yellow house, labelled "dak bangla".

Daura was the first book I read in this particular format – that of interviews (I can’t describe it, exactly – I’m sure there’s a name for it, though). I’m told that the renowned Anxious People by Frederick Backman is also written in this same style. Another book I read recently, Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous is also written in this style. I find that I like it very much. It’s quirky, fun to read, and quite interesting the way the author weaves the story through so many different voices.


In this case, one voice, of an important character who’s quite central to the plot, is conspicuously absent. So I decided to narrate a sort of prologue to the story in his voice. (After all, a unique style of book demands a unique review, doesn’t it?)


~ The Sarangiya’s Story ~


They interviewed everyone involved. I made myself scarce.


What was the point in giving them answers? They wouldn’t understand anyway.


Then why am I talking to you?


You look like a nice enough lass, not like those hoity-toity government employees. Now do you want me to tell you the story or not?


Good.


The collector came to the dak bangla a while back. He was a young enough fellow with all sorts of new ideas that these government types wouldn’t like.


He didn’t just want reports – he wanted to actually talk to the Nats and the tribals. They all loved him. When the Nat girls called me to that bangla to play the sarangi, I didn’t want to at first. I don’t play for people, you see. I play for myself and for nature.


But as soon as I saw him, I knew – he was a kindred spirit. He listened to my music with his heart and played his flute with me, too. Soon, we became friends.


So of course I told him the story behind the tree.


What tree? How do you not know, child? This story is as much about the tree as it is about the collector. So I told him about the tree and the Princess and he was as entranced as I was. It is only sad that no one understood. The guard told them the real story, but they dismissed him as a cryptic old fool.


I am cryptic too? You youth are very impatient. You need to listen to the story without interrupting, otherwise how will you enjoy it?

___


Daura is a story told in a unique way – so I tried to put my own spin on what I think the Sarangiya would say in an interview (his POV was conspicuously missing).


It’s a beautifully written book, effortlessly weaving folklore with a modern mystery, serving us a sumptuous desert read. The author has managed to bring out the voices of so many people through her narrative – the pompous secretary, the proud tribal girls, the old guard who believes in local myths, the arrogant tehsildar…


Daura is a refreshing read filled with just a tinge of magic, perfect as a distraction from heavy manifestos.


Blurb


A young district collector with new and revolutionary ideas arrives at a remote village in rural Rajasthan. As he talks to the locals and becomes involved in their lives, he goes deeper into their world, of folklore, fable, and little reality. When he meets the mysterious musician of the desert, the Sarangiya, his life changes forever. He witnesses beauty in its purest form and promptly begins a dangerous descent away from reality. Pages from his journal, combined with the narratives of those he meets, slowly take us through his story.


About the Author

Anukrti Upadhyay

Anukrti Upadhyay is a writer who writes fiction and poetry in both English and Hindi. She grew up in an academic household in Jaipur, the daughter of Professor Surendra Upadhyay, a literature professor at the University of Rajasthan, and Puja Upadhyay, an avid reader and a beautiful storyteller, from whom she got her love of books and writing.


She has post-graduate degrees in Management and Hindi Literature and a graduate degree in Law. Other than her writing, she worked for Goldman Sachs and UBS for twenty years. Even now, she works on her writing projects side-by-side with her job with the Wildlife Conservation Trust, a conservation think-tank. Currently, she’s married and a mother and splits her time between Singapore and Mumbai.

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