Adventures in Malgudi

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An abridged version of the classic Malgudi Schooldays with Swami and his friends is sure to hold your interest to the very end.

Boys will be boys — be it in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi or even pre-independent India's Malgudi. This world-famous quaint fictional town in Karnataka is home to the all-time favourite bunch of boys who go by the name Swami and Friends created by author R.K. Narayan.

Puffin Classics' Malgudi Schooldays brings you a ‘slightly abridged' version of the original novel — Swami and Friends along with two additional chapters borrowed from Malgudi Days and Under the Banyan Tree, but with the essence intact. Swami is just like any other 10-year-old who has his own share of problems to deal with like making friends with the new rich boy in town — Rajam, while not offending his not-so-cerebrally-blessed brawny friend Mani and putting together a functional cricket team — the Malgudi Cricket Club.

Adding to his woes are the fanatical scripture teacher, the ever-evasive arithmetic, an indecipherable letter from Binns asking the MCC to ‘remit 25 per cent with the order and the balance against the VPP of railway receipt' (“Even a BA cannot understand this letter.”) and a freedom demonstration.

At the end of it, all the sub-plots come together to put Swami in a spot right before his big match against the neighbouring Young Men's Union, making him run away from home swearing never to return. What happens is up to you to find out after reading this classic.

Like Shashi Deshpande states in her introduction, this is the kind of book that will make you think ‘Hey, that has happened to me!' or ‘Yes, yes, so true' when you read about Swami's inability to write in straight lines in an unruled sheet of paper or the way he questions his grandmother at the end of his narration about Rajam's acts of bravery — “Let me see. How many tigers came upon how many?”

The chapters are accompanied by illustrations by the author's famous cartoonist brother R.K. Laxman with the illustrations and the language being as simple as the characters themselves. Also coming as a bonus are additional information in the final few pages of the book about the author, his brother, the television serial adaptation of the novel and more. There are also some fun activities that you can indulge in after each info bit like making up names of fictional places and drawing a map of Malgudi based on the information given in the book.

MALGUDI SCHOOLDAYS by R.K. Narayan, Puffin Classics, Rs. 199

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An excerpt:

‘Granny, when Rajam was a small boy, he killed a tiger.'

‘Indeed! The brave little boy!'

‘You are saying it just to please me. You don't believe it.'

Swaminathan started the story enthusiastically: Rajam's father was camping in a forest. He had his son with him. Two tigers came upon them suddenly, one knocking down the father from behind. The other began chasing Rajam, who took shelter behind a bush and shot it dead with his gun. ‘Granny, are you asleep?' Swaminathan asked at the end of the story.

‘No dear. I am listening.'

‘Let me see. How many tigers came upon how many?'

‘About two tigers on Rajam,' said Granny.

Swaminathan became indignant at his grandmother's inaccuracy. ‘Here I am going hoarse telling you important things and you fall asleep and imagine all sorts of nonsense. I am not going to tell you anything more. I know why you are so indifferent. You hate Rajam.'

‘No, no, he is a lovely little boy,' Granny said with conviction, though she had never seen Rajam. Swaminathan was pleased. Next moment a new doubt assailed him. ‘Granny probably you don't believe the tiger incident.'

‘Oh, I believe every word of it,' granny said soothingly.



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