In this slender volume, Chaudhuri makes forays into many spaces: Manto, a Birla temple, a Greyhound bus, 1993 violence-devastated Mumbai, and issues of (diverse) identities. His style is easy, observant, never declamatory. The prose has insights which fiction-writers don’t always share.
The booklet should make some of the so-called educated minds think, stir up what’s left of their liberal conscience. It might have been more effective had Chaudhuri revisited certain familiar social-science debates and developed themes outside a strong Bengal-dominated context (he reduces the complex foundations of Indian secularism to the "liberal humanism of the Bengal Renaissance"!). But beyond a point, one can’t quarrel. Chaudhuri has grasped Hindutva’s pathology, seen the iron in India’s pseudo-spiritual soul. And he’s saddened and disturbed.