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About the book
Edited by bestselling author, Paritosh Uttam, this is an anthology of 29 urban tales by 13 young writers. Each of these fresh, vivid and deceptively simple stories focuses on an epiphany. The stories are set with the backdrop of our urban metros with their bright lights, sky rises, glitzy malls, tenements, crowds and the chaos that comes with it. A woman tries to come to terms with loss of a lost baby; two strangers, a young man and a young woman, both with a love for Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment board the same aircraft; a woman ponders over giving a second chance to her cheating husband; a young man is in love with his apple pie loving best friend, who is set to marry through an arranged match; a chance meeting between two old lovers after 11 years; the memories of an old woman in love; an illiterate migrant from the village looking for her own kind of liberation; the longing of a married woman for another man; a child and his silent suffering mother and their financially strapped family; a couple once in love, frustrated with each other after getting married; love and relationships in the age of Twitter and fat free gelatos; the morning after for a couple in an adulterous relationship; a man running away from his own life in the city hoping to find salvation; a couple who decide to marry for reasons other than love and many more stories...
About the authors
Edited by Paritosh Uttam, bestselling author of Dreams in Prussian Blue, also the contributing author of 10 stories in this collection, the collection includes diverse voices and writing styles. It includes stories by Bishwanath Ghosh, bestselling author of Chai Chai, Ahmed Faiyaz, bestselling author of Love, Life & All That Jazz…, along with accomplished writers - Abha Iyengar, Hasmita Chander, Malathi Jaikumar and Vrinda Baliga. It includes stories by Rikin Khamar, Debutant Author of The Lotus Queen, Kainaz Motivala, Bollywood Actor of Wake Up Sid fame, popular bloggers - Naman Saraiya, Sahil Khan, Kunal Dhabalia and Prateek Gupta.
Praise for Urban Shots
'A lovely collection of short stories focusing on different aspects of urban relationships...'
Editorial Reviews,
‘Urban Shots captures a beautiful picture of life in Indian cities.’
Kamini Mathai, author of AR Rahman: The Musical Storm
'Deceptively simple and intriguing, Urban Shots paints a delightful picture of life and times in colourful Indian cities.'
'Urban Shots has all the right ingredients for a breezy read.'
'Aptly titled, these are simple stories of love and life...these stories intrude into the reader's thought process, thankfully in a creative way.'
Excerpt from Urban Shots


By Rohini Kejriwal

When well-known author, Ahmed Faiyaz called, asking if I could write the foreword for this book, I was delighted at the idea of introducing urban tales of love, regret, acceptance, and every other supposedly 'urban' feeling that one could write about. What makes such a theme applicable for an entire book full of stories on it to be published, you ask? Go read it for yourself and you will understand the relevance and need for a book with such honest portrayals of the world around us. An unskewed reality.

What this book offers its readers is a collection of wonderful, carefully picked stories that talk about different aspects of urban life varying from relationships, lifestyles, love, depression, domestic violence, longing and friendship. From the sweetness of Apple Pies and a Grey Sweater shared with a lover, to the Liberation felt by a woman torn by the rural-urban conflict, from coming to grip a sense of loss in Effacing Memories to dealing with loss and moving on in Hope Comes in Small Packages, this book explores the realm of life from every possible perspective. You will see society from the eyes of a child, a lover, a wife, a mother, a friend. The emotions expressed envelop you as you read each word, leaving you in awe of the unknown, or fascinated with the familiar. The familiar Cup of Tea that you come home to will bring about a feeling varying greatly from the sense of infidelity that Morning Showers would bring. What truly makes it great is the universal theme of urban life, which is easy to relate to and thereby, draws the reader into these short stories by Indian writers like Paritosh Uttam, Bishwanath Ghosh, Prateek Gupta, Sahil Khan, Kainaz Motivala, Malathi Jaikumar, Ahmed Faiyaz, Abha Iyengar, Vrinda Baliga, and many others.

Imagine yourself standing in a crowded bus, trying hard to look out of the window to catch ephemeral glimpses of the street lights, of busy roads, of traffic jams. You are in the midst of it all, brushing shoulders with strangers who have their own stories to tell. This book is that window in the bus, giving you an insight into the fictional or non-fictional lives of others. In choosing these specific stories, the Editorial Team at Grey Oak have done an excellent job. Though the stories are starkly different from each other, there is a certain flow that makes it easy reading and you would not want to put down the book and say that you have enough for the day even if you're half way through it. The stories vary in the time they are set in, in the age groups of the characters, in their pace, in different voices that narrate their stories, and in the number of words used to convey the struggles and ways to deal with loss, unrequited love, friendship, longing, monotony of urban life, and even the vicious cycle of marriage. Turn the pages and enter the weird and wonderful urban world the way these writers see it, keeping aside all preconceived notions, clichés, and any emotional baggage you may have, since you'll be having enough of theirs to carry on your shoulders.

Rohini Kejriwal is a 19-year-old wanderer exploring life as she knows it. She is an aspiring writer, and loves photography and listening to music. Her writing can be found on


By Paritosh Uttam

Leather-backed Crime and Punishment slips from drowsy fingers, strikes the floor plangently, nudging the sleeper from intermittent slumber into wakefulness. He looks vaguely upwards at the wall and as if in anticipation, the clock answers in twelve metronomic chimes. Surmounting inertia after a brief struggle, he sits up in the four-poster and surveys his surroundings.

Shoes, socks, shirt and underwear embellish the carpet, the last three turned inside out. Dark olive green Budweiser has found its niche amidst the legs of the dining table and the chairs. The uncluttered portion of the table exposes its grimy face shamelessly to the sunbeams the curtains have failed to keep out. Grim resolutions of reprimanding and dismissing the maid-servant gestate within Abhishek.

Self-exhortation succeeds in pushing him into the bathroom where he stands before the mirror coaxing toothpaste out of the tube and finds that his face is in no better condition than the room he has just scrutinised. Dark half-rings support his eyes from below, overgrown moss-like stubble smothers his cheeks and jowl; his hair stand in uprising against the comb, daring it to lay them down again.

Abhishek flinches from the apparition in the mirror, but then boldly accosts him. "You spineless invertebrate," he begins You are twenty-seven, single, have a bank balance of six figures (seven, counting your stock options) and can make yourself look presentable unless you are against deforestation. Surely even you realise that there is something missing in you?"

But the apparition is no pushover; it is ready with its laterally inverted answers. "That bank balance," it responds, "which you throw so disdainfully at my incorporeal face, has come about because I battle deadly traffic from Marathalli to MG Road every morning, and also stay back late nights working to meet impossible deadlines to please my boss. How then, pray tell me, do I find the time to look after myself? Only during weekends can I indulge in pleasures like reading, drinking and watching TV."

It ignores Abhi's cynical chuckles and murmurs of 'excuses' and continues, "Yes, I know what is missing. A girl, woman, female, distaff-that is what is lacking, a feminine presence. There are colleagues in the office, but I don't want to talk Java Beans and Active Server Pages and Object-Oriented Programming concepts, I want to talk about…" he indicates the tome spread-eagled on the carpet, "about Dostoyevsky. I want to wake up in the morning, turn to her supine form beside me, shake her shoulder gently and ask, 'Why do you think Raskolnikov killed the moneylender?'"

"The question why Raskolnikov killed the moneylender," she tells the class, "is to be seen as a specific instance of a larger question-can one kill another for the sake of a principle? But the fundamental question that Dostoyevsky poses here is whether evil means ultimately justify noble ends. What do you think, Ganesh?"

Ganesh has been keeping himself updated with the progress of the India-Australia match with his GPRS-enabled Samsung Corby and would rather have answered a query on Sachin Tendulkar's cricketing statistics. Gently tossing her braid over her shoulder, she glides on however, without expecting an answer. She knows she is not the teacher who galvanizes her students into action, or one who inspires respect, but one who barely passes muster.

She passes muster because she ignores proxy attendance, never flunks students, who in turn do not bother her in the class. It is a give and take of mutual indifference for she knows they are not vying for a B.A. degree in BES College, Jayanagar, out of choice; that most days they spend in computer training classes in the hope of landing a job in one of the thousands of IT companies teeming in the city. Thus, she paces countless steps up and down the aisle until the class ends, in her grey sari that makes her look as uninteresting as the flat tone in which she reads out a passage from Crime and Punishment, which she has chosen as part of the Reading the Novel syllabus.

Predilection for Dostoyevsky and Russian literature wins her the epithet Comrade Protimov in the staff room. It is there she takes her unvarying two chappatis-rice-dal-curd-pickle lunch prepared by maternal hands, because her culinary skills, like the didactical, only pass muster. She prefers not to walk twenty minutes in sun or rain to her house where her mother will pound her continually with well-intentioned homilies on the merits of connubial life.

Piscine odour assails her olfactory senses causing her to wrinkle her nose in disgust, the reaction noticed by her staff room neighbour Mary Verghese, whose lunch box is the source of the offending smell. "Why don't you take non-veg?" she goads Protima.

"Because I think it is a sin to kill animals for one's food," the vehemence in her reply surprises both speaker and listener. But Madam Verghese rallies strongly with what she is convinced is an irrefragable argument. "But don't you kill plants for your food? Are they not living?"

Gamely, Protima attempts to carry on what she knows will end a futile exercise. "The issue here is of conscious and avoidable cruelty, not…" but her opponent's sneer halts her in mid-sentence.

"…not quibbling about what is living and what is non-living," he finishes, pushing his plate away, which fortunately he has emptied, and so doesn't lose his lunch along with his temper. "Fish is nothing but the vegetable of the sea, indeed!"

Nisupta Biswas withers under his fiery gaze. And this is the girl, his colleague, on whom he had decided to bestow affectionate looks, instead of indifferent glances because… because their cubicles are adjacent, they are thrown in together for hours at work, and have lunch at the same table in the cafeteria.

Read the rest of Serendipity and the other stories from your copy of Urban Shots.... Available at bookstores nationwide from 17 November