Author: Sarnath Bannerjee
Illustrator: Sarnath Bannerjee
Published: 2004 by Penguin India
No. of Pages: 112
Subthemes: Trappings of everyday life, Indian cosmopolitan culture
Timeline: The story travels through the lives of four characters in contemporary India(the early 2000’s)
Set in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi-Connaught Place-Corridor meanders through the minds of its four characters, and perhaps everyone in the modern-day world who’s waiting to be grappled by a conversation to have some more traction of reality. Leafing through the pages, one can sense the iconic scents of Delhi diffusing through the pages, especially as soon as we are introduced to the central character connecting everyone else, Jehangir Rangoonwalla. The narrow lanes of Old Delhi, damp streets of Kolkata, corridors of Connaught place; the fragrance of freshly brewed tea, old hakims, their potions with magical aphrodisiac powers; of sex obsessed males, second-hand books, old LP’s, and leather-bound volumes of Phantom-the ghost who walks.
The plot is non-linear and is merely conversational, it unfolds when the zealous collector, Brighu Sen bumps into a second-hand book seller, Jehangir Rangoonwalla in Connaught place. In his search for Double Helix by James Watson, Brighu discovers the eccentric Jehangir, who would brew fresh tea and wisdom to cater to the demands of his customers.
The metaphor of corridors picks up from here and talks about how like Connaught place, life is about corridors and pillars, where one day you just bump into someone like Jehangir Rangoonwala who has a treasure of conversations.
In Jehangir’s mind there is a tide of conversations through which we discover the other two characters. There is professor DVD Murthy, a forensic surgeon troubled by the smell of death he has mustered from the autopsies. DVD Murthy is in morbid search for a perfect perfume to get rid of this smell as it scares away his seven-year old daughter. Then there’s newly married Shintu, who’s in need of help to realise his sexual prowess as a man. And then there’s Digital Duttu, who’s an intellectual lost between his desires- of H1-B visa and Karl Marx, of capitalism and communism.
What holds the narration together is how their lives converge into the common themes of an insane, incessant chase of everyday life, and how all of them have so many layers while being so common.
The art is mostly like an amalgamation of many moods, and characters appear in contrast to the dullness of everyday life. There are movie posters used in the satirical form, actresses and actors used for mimetic expressions, and solo scenes printed on an entire- page, and coloured artwork which take you into the vivid imagination of characters. It would be right to conclude about the storyline with a comment it makes on people – people are like onions, they have layers and layers, much like a corridor, which has layers in its seemingly non-linear plot.
The metaphor of corridor unfolds from the very first scene where Brighu is shown walking into connaught place. Jehangir Rangoonwalla is shown to be a metaphorical converging point through which Brighu discovers all the stories he narrates as the story proceeds further. This symbolism of a corridor not only forms the spine of the narration but is continued throughout the book, which not only symbolises everyday life like a corridor, but also highlits the uncertainity such life might bring.