Set in the sleepy sea side town of
Gopalpur-on-Sea on the East Coast of India, this is the story of the
mock-colonial world of the Coromandel Villa Hotel, whose owner, Arjun Roy tried
to escape from the urban life of Calcutta, and his girl Friday Jennifer Da
Costa. The story goes back in time and place to trace the early childhood years
of Arjun and his beautiful older sister Bula, as well as the unhappy past of
Jennifer in Calcutta.
It is also the story of Shanti the
demented beggar girl who scavenges food from the hotel and of Feni, her foster
mother who picks rags for a living and who had been branded a ‘witch’ in her
native village. Gopalpur is a refuge for them too.
On the “accursed day” Appaya the
grizzled old cook of the Coromandel Villa Hotel finds a plastic doll on the
beach, which he brings back as it might make a present for his daughter back
home. This seemingly irrelevant event, sets in motion, in his mind, a chain of events that will eventually change the
Coromandel Villa Hotel for ever…
S.P. Mookerjee trained and worked
as a professional accountant in London for thirteen years. Coming back to
Calcutta, he continued for some years in the accountancy profession, before
deciding to become a small scale industrialist, setting up a factory to
manufacture packaging tapes.
For almost thirty years, he has been visiting
Gopalpur-on-Sea, and staying in the whole gamut of hotels in this sleepy town.
The ambience of the place is deeply imprinted in his mind.
The author lives in Calcutta, devoting his time to travelling
and trying to write his next big novel. He is in the habit of going on long
motoring holidays with his wife, and is fond of cooking.