Review: The Homing Pigeons by Sid Bahri

May 16, 2013
Author: Sid Bahri
Publisher: Srishti Publishers
Year: 2013
Rating: ★★★☆☆
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The Homing Pigeons by debutant author Sid Bahri narrates the lives of Aditya and Radhika. The protagonists are pretty ordinary people with small twists that lead them into extraordinary lives. 
Bahri starts off their stories in the present. Aditya, based in Chandigarh, is a banker who has lost his job because of the global meltdown and recession of 2008. A year down the line, he is out of job, out of money and out of hope; living off his wife whom he cannot tolerate, existing at the bottom of a bottle. Radhika living in a dilapidated haveli in Lucknow is recently widowed. Her super-rich husband, with whom she had a completely loveless marriage, has just died and left her very well-off – with one last tie in form of her step-daughter. Once her step-daughter is married, both of them will finally be free of each other and be able to actually live their lives.
The story starts with Aditya and context and circumstances are established in the first two paragraphs. Within the first chapter the twist in his life is introduced and established. (Avoiding mentioning the twist so as to not put in a spoiler). Ditto Radhika. Both find themselves moving to Delhi – and the stage is set.
Aditya’s and Radhika’s past and present are nicely woven into the narrative and it moves easily between the time periods – straddling both their lives across almost 29 years. To his credit, Bahri segues the back-and-forth of the account (between characters and time zones) quite well because the reader doesn’t feel like they are jumping all around. He has used all the typical elements of every life – self-esteem issues, religion, emotional blackmail, loneliness, ennui – to justify the couple’s actions and decisions.  
The author alternates chapters between the two. No chapter is longer than 3 to 5 pages which makes it easy to keep turning the pages. The story jogs at an even pace. There is no nail-biting drama or situation that compels you to read the next word or page. On the other hand, there is nothing that will make you want to drop off the book midway either. The book strictly sticks to being only a narrative of the events of Aditya’s and Radhika’s lives without attempting to explore the characters or track the changes and growth in them. There is no commentary on the people, circumstances or events that build the context of the story.
The real jarring note is struck with language and grammar. The editorial team has done an extremely poor job with this book and there are so many language and grammatical issues that they make you frequently stop and keep the book aside. 
This is certainly not an Arundhati Roy – honestly, it is not even a Chetan Bhagat or Amish – but in the spate of all the Indian authors flooding the market, The Homing Pigeons is a slightly better read than many others trying to be Five Point Someone (though they use language peppered with four-letter words).

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