The book being reviewed today is titled, “Bifocals And A Walking Stick”. Perhaps because I know the author of the book, Mr M Gopalkrishna Bhat, is an elderly gentleman, I thought the title was most appropriate. It radiates a mental image of the essential props for the elderly!
This book is a collection of delightful essays which make for an entertaining read. However, you need to appreciate the context in which they were written. If you are familiar with the old Bombay ( now of course called “Mumbai”) and the coastal parts of Karnataka in and around Mangalore (now called “Mangaluru”) you will enjoy the book all the more, because that is where Mr Bhat has lived for most of his life. Of course, the book also has a few essays on life in Singapore, but these naturally come much after the earlier essays in terms of time.
Mr Bhat served for decades in the insurance business. He therefore had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people both in India and abroad. His writings bear testimony to the fact that he is a keen observer of life around him. This, I believe, is an essential trait for any writer.
In what is perhaps an extremely condensed slice of his reminiscences , Mr Bhat writes on a broad range of topics covering journeys, food, people, cities and villages which he has experienced. The language used is simple and the essays are not too long. Another advantage is that you can dip into the book whenever you feel like it and read the essays in any random order. They don’t have to be read in a sequence from the first to the last.
The author’s sense of humour comes through in his writing. He is earnest, honest, and matter of fact in what he says, peppering his words with a dry wit. I would strongly recommend this book to all who wish to read stories set in India. I feel they will be of particular interest to elders who will be in a better position to relate to Mr Bhat’s tales.
If you are looking to gift your old parents or grandparents with a book to read, look no further. Mr Bhat’s book, I am sure, will be welcomed by them.