Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quit Listening To: "A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry

Quit Listening To: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, downloaded from

Set in 1970s India during a Constitutional crisis between Parliament and the P.M. I got about three sections into a 20 section audio but the story was really dragging along. There were multiple flashbacks telling the lives of several characters and those shot story length sections were quite interesting. Not enough to keep me involved though.

Some of the more interesting parts involved the caste system. One character is a tailor whose family were untouchables in a small village. The untouchables lived at the whim of the rich and powerful. One was hanged and another stoned until bleeding for trivial "offenses" like looking at a Brahman or passing too close. One has hot lead poured into his ears after being too close to the temple to hear prayers. The mom has to steal fruit in the orchards during the middle of the night so the children will not starve. As a boy the tailor and his brother are vivicously beaten by a teacher after they sneak into the local school and marvel at the chalkboards and books.

After the boys receive the beating their father could receive no relief from the law or a locally respected upper caste man and takes an 0ffer by a muslim friend for the friend to take the boys - both about 10 years old - to apprentice in the city several hours away. A miserable way to get ahead - sending your children away with brief visits every three months or so.

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