The very first thing you will notice about this book will be its cover. An excellent design, which is a trademark of Penguin publication. The book is written by none other but Manohar Shyam Joshi, the famous creator of some landmark Hindi serials like "HUM LOG", "BUNIYAAD" and "MUNGERI LAL KE HASEEN SAPNE". The actual book is in Hindi but brilliantly translated by Ira Pande, daughter of famous Hindi writer Shivani.
Going through pages of the book and you will get to know that this is an excerpt from author own life. It's a tale of the time when author was a teacher in a village called Sunaulidhar. The story revolves around a thin, short man with illusions of grandeur, Khashtivallabh Pant, DUBBAL MA (Double MA), a school teacher in Sunaulidhar village, where he is mockingly referred to as T’ta Professor. A great admirer of the Englishman’s attire, T’ta is also deeply in awe of the white man’s language. He always carries a notebook to jot down English words that he hears for the first time, acknowledging a word as acceptable only after he has consulted his Oxford Dictionary. His vanity makes him a terrific target for lampooning but the author who is second protagonist and narrator of the story was never able to cash this opportunity. The first half of the book is totally comic and you might burst into laughter at some places. The way people made pranks on T'ta and the author took advantage of rivalry between T'ta and school principal makes the book more comic. T'ta was the main source of all the fun for villagers, narrator and other colleagues at school and for everyone else. Also the author portrayed himself as the smartest man in the community as he always took advantage of the situation crafted cleverly or created accidentally.
But as you will move forward and come to another half you will feel that you are reading not a great work but an erotic and tragicomic prose. Mainly the stories narrated by T'ta make the first claim stronger. But overall that develop sympathy as well as agony for T'ta and T’ta turns from a ridiculous comic character into a pathetic pervert. When T'ta narrated his life history to the author and the occasions when he got the MAIN POINT, it gave me a feel of worst Hindi erotic prose. Our author wove several short stories in his mind inspired from T'ta stories but those never turned down on paper and thus never got life.
Finally, this is not a bad read. Beware; your muscles need to work a lot while reading the book: smiling muscles in first half and frowning muscles in another half. I also want to pay thanks to Ira because without her excellent translation this book couldn't turn into the one what it has become. If you want to translate a good Hindi book in English and expect the same response then translation matters a lot. This book is an example of excellent translation and that's why Ira deserves the same Kudos and Joshi.