Saturday, December 6, 2014

#101 : From the streets of Kathmandu by Basu Rai : A Review


BOOK TITLE: From The Street of Kathmandu
ISBN: 9789382711407
AUTHOR: Basu Rai
GENRE: Non Fiction
FORMAT:Paper back
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK:  Review Copy from Vitasta Publishing.  Thank you guys!
SUMMARY : A little boy climbs down the stairs and runs out of his house. Most little ones do that. But this little boy has no one to stop him. He does not have a name. He only has the memory of a story his father has told him over and over again, from the time he was just six months old until his dying day, when the child was about four years old. It is the story of his father's love affair with his mother and betrayal.

From the streets of Kathmandu, this is the story of a child who names himself Basu Rai, and who travels the corridors of the world, takes part in the Global March against child labour and arrive finally in the country he identifies as his own—India.

Though Basu has found his country, his quest for family is not over. His search for identity begins with his book which maps the step by step progress of a reticent toddler from a well-to-do family through being a violent street child and a child labourer returning from the jaws of death several times, to his fights to go to school, being school captain and finally at 26, with the telling of his story in a book.

This is an inspirational story which tells about nurturing by a father. It is also a story that tells us here was a case for nurturing by the state, which was completely missing. It, instead, points to the loopholes in the systems in place, the social welfare systems, the education systems and the family systems that the subcontinent so boasts about but in reality, does not exist. It directs us to the vacuum children are often forced to grow up in. To get an enlightened and educated young citizen from nothing is nothing short of a miracle
Having worked with children with a horrible history in terms of upbringing, I can associate with Basu's story.Not all street kids who are placed into a rehabilitation center are as successful as Basu is. This is just not yet another story of an abandoned child. This is a rather inspiring tale of an innocence lost to the devils of the this world which certainly needs a bit more of compassion. 

Abandoned by his mother and left homeless after the death of his father, not even knowing his name, 4 year old innocent and sweet looking kid who names himself Basu Rai (after his parents' surname) survives the streets of Kathmandu, travels all over the world to represent kids bonded by labor and finally lands in Delhi. This story is the detailed account of this innocent child whose innocence is lost, thanks to the society. 

For someone who didn't have a formal education like a normal kid, the writer has come a long way. To put up a novel and narrate a story, be it a tale from imagination or be it an account of life experience, is not an easy task. I would be an oxymoron to point out the flaws of this books - which weren't exactly the unforgivable sort.

The narration was captivating to an extent, the slippages can be overlooked owing to a fact that it was conveying a very important message - A first-hand account of a street smart kid who survived the bad bad world. The language as expected was simple and filled with references of Hindi dialect. 

We do know of the cruelties that a street child is subjected to. Haven't we seen the poor little chai wala boy being bullied by the tea master or haven't we seen the little girl selling coloring books in traffic signals being harassed by commuters. What have we ever done about it? The story asked me that question. I am sure the writer didn't intend for that to happen, but his account of brutality endured by a small kid was so vividly narrated that I felt small in comparison. This book reinforced my sense of gratitude to god that I have a roof over my head, parents who adore me and 3 meals a day.
One thing that thoroughly surprised me is a fact that the writer, in  spite of being closely associated with the Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr.Kalish Sathyarthi, hasn’t taken one bit advantage of him for the publicity of his book. I guess even the publishers should also be given enough credit for not pushing that angle of publicity!

My only disappointment with this book would be the way that the writer ended it. Yes, I do understand the reason why the write might want to provide a luxurious life to children like him, but I feel providing them with education and skills that can make them a successful person is a higher act of morality.
VERDICT: Tear Jerker. Must Read. DOT.

RATING: 4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Er……that would point to the summary.

EDITIONS AVAILABLE: Paperback , Kindle

PRICE: Rs.130 (Paperback)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse


  1. Seems to be very interesting. Just loved reading the reviews...

  2. Thanks Shreya! Glad you liked the reviews. Yes, the book was truly amazing and inspiring.

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