No Presents Please
is a vivid evocation of city life, exploring the sub-locales and spatial identities of Mumbai and the struggles of small-town migrants. Jayant Kaikini’s gaze takes in the people living on the margins – a bus driver who, when denied annual leave, steals the bus to travel home; a slum dweller who catches cats and sells them for pharmaceutical testing; a father at his wit’s end who takes his mischievous son to a reform institution. From Irani cafes to chawls, old cinema halls to local trains, the author seeks out and illuminates moments and feelings of existential anxiety, pathos and tenderness. In these sixteen prize-winning stories, cracks in the curtains of the ordinary open up to possibilities that might not have existed, but for this city, which surprises with its epiphanies, fantasies and ambitions.