My Novel: Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard

Freshly armed with an M.B.A. from Harvard, Mr. Bandookwala (meaning man of guns) returns to India to see that his management theories consistently fail to work. He is the head of the marketing of a construction company, one of the biggest in India, whose owner Himanshubhai (his wife's uncle) is the thirty-third richest man in the country. He had the brilliance to conceive the social network Facespook, he worked in Google, yet, in the city of his birth – Bombai, the urbs prima Indiae he loves and hates by turns – he is rejected, ostracized, discriminated, frustrated and broken by powerful people, maybe, because he is the colour of monsoon clouds.

Everywhere he goes he is reminded that he is a Kaalia, a black man, and thus unacceptable in the strictly racist-colourist country. From his position as the son-in-law of a powerful man he gets a clear view of the magnitude of corruption in the country which he tries to fight. He struggles to give slum-living people of the city better and spacious homes at the risk of losing his job. He is given the responsibility of launching two big projects: an automated car park and mall and the re-development of India's - indeed Asia's - biggest slum, Charavi.
And, as if to add to Mr. Bandookwala’s problems, though he has never held a gun in his life, guns are pointed at him wherever he goes: in the slums of Charavi by Bombai’s underworld don, Chota Chakli; in the verdant Azad Maidan by a private detective, Killol Commissariat; and in a five-star hotel by an extremist from Pakistan who has come to kill indiscriminately. He escapes from all these encounters by his wits and, providentially, from the extremist because he is a Parisi. In an apocalyptic moment he loses his job, gives up on his marriage, and fights to get his marriage annulled, in the process trying to take custody of his daughter Priyanka, whom he loves dearly.

Rejected by his wife Parul after his daughter was born, Bandookwala finds love in his long-lost childhood sweetheart, Evita Fonseca. Parul asks him to leave his rented flat and he goes and lives in Hotel Sea Blue and continues to fight for possession of his daughter. Evita Fonseca, steps into his life on a somnolent afternoon in his office and thereafter their love grows into an obsession with him.

Mr. Bandookwala's Bombay is ruled by the Politicians, the underworld don Chota Chakli, and the Emperor of Hearts, who speaks in ironies. If the Emperor says to love somebody, it means to hate him. There is the God-woman Miracle Mata who is the goddess of lovelessness, malaria and mosquitoes, who weaves a witch-like spell on Mr. Bandookwala's mother and the ladies of Colaba Causeway. The novel weaves a complex plot through all these to arrive at a resolution of Mr. Bandookwala's angst.

Through his debut novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard the author gives us glimpses of a modern Indian city, warts, profanities, and violence, as it is, unapologetic about the city’s stinking slums, encroached streets, musty bordellos of Colaba Causeway, conceited rich who live on hills, and awesomely corrupt politicians.  

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