Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Brilliant narration. The harsh realities of the people living in slums are shown candidly. The plot was exciting and engaging, but it felt dragging after 45% of the book. Some conversations and descriptions seemed unnecessary.

The three main characters, Jai, Faiz and Pari, seemed greatly inspired by the Harry Potter lead trio. Pari, the intelligent Hermione. Jai, the naïve Ron. Faiz, the serious Harry, also has a similar scar. The story sounds hopeful as it progresses, but the ending is dark. Nothing you expect if you read from the child’s point of view. I have a lump in my throat even as I write this. My heart goes to every parent and sibling who has suffered this pain.

A few things I didn’t enjoy in this book are the constant use of Hindi. By the end of the book, I was getting irked at the mention of ekdum and hi-fi. Secondly, the communal aspect seemed forced at times. It seemed ok between and went with the plot but just forcibly pushing it every now and then felt like a forced bias. Lastly, the title has no relevance to the story, and the first chapter has no relation to the rest of the book. The mentions of Mental, Junction Rani and the smog had no significance. I was expecting some prominent link between the Purple train line and the missing children. The ending was abruptly brought in.

Give it a read if you wish to read something on Slumdog’s lines. Don’t expect anything of djinns or ghosts. There are none.

Some noteworthy lines from the book.

  • It’s not much, but Mental wasn’t a rich man, so he didn’t become a rich ghost.
  • They decided that only a man who was Mental could be half-good in this crooked world.
  • Our gods are too busy to hear our prayers, but ghosts – ghosts have nothing to do but wait and wander, wander and wait, and they are always listening to our words because they are bored and that’s one way to pass the time.
  • It’s no different from what gods ask people to do for them, except most ghosts don’t want us to fast or light lamps or write their names over and over again in a notebook.
  • We need ghosts more than anyone else maybe, because we are railway-station boys without parents and homes. If we are still here, it’s only because we know how to summon ghosts at will.
  • Papa likes to say that this room has everything we need for our happiness to grow. He means me and Didi and Ma, and not the TV, which is the best thing we own.
  • Then I run out as fast as I can because inside that house sadness sticks to me like a shirt damp with sweat on a hot summer’s day.
  • Always a melancholic man, his father, knee-deep in debt, waited for certain ruin with the patience of a heron standing still in murky water.
  • If you die when you’re still a child, is your life whole or half or zero?
  • The lucky ones are those who can grow old pretending they have some control over their lives, but even they will realise at some point that everything is uncertain, bound to disappear forever. We are just specks of dust in this world, glimmering for a moment in the sunlight, and then disappearing into nothing. You have to learn to make your peace with that.’

Available on Amazon Kindle Edition, Audiobook, Hardcover, and Paperback.

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