With such an opening sentence, how could I possibly not pick up Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Midnight Palace, run home and read it?
The story is set in Calcutta and spans a period 1916-32. The plot is interesting enough - adventure, love, betryal, magic etc but the setting is what thrilled me - Brabourne Road, Hooghly, Chowringhee Road etc and as these still exist in its current avatar ofcourse. As I was reading the lines between make believe and real life sort of blurred as I visualized these very places as they were back the, wider, emptier. "An old textile ware house, the walls of which were covered in official notices announcing its imminent demolition..." had me wondering how somethings never change in Calcutta - even today there are so many such places, just like back in 1916?
If I have my facts right, a Spaniard, living in the US has written this book. I ofcourse have no idea if he has visited India /Kolkata. Maybe he did. Maybe he took some one's help. Maybe he has a calcutta connection...I muse a bit awestruck. And then I run into the most ridiculous name of a pivotal character in the book - not an instance of getting regions mixed up (like till very recently an Indian would mean a man in a turban, no matter which part of the country he was from) . It is a horrible horrible mockery of a bengali name.
Am so very glad that it (this name) was somewhere pages down in the book and not in the opening sentence. I would have not progressed beyond the first line, never picked up the book and found out about the night "it snowed over Calcutta"!