If you are fans of Gregory Roberts’ Shantaram, you are most likely to like this book.

Fingerprint Publishers’ The Buddha Of The Brothel by Kris Adavaya is a story set in the most dingy, dark, and neglected and sometimes frequented by some, alleys of a cosmopolitan where humanity doesn’t exist.

The novel is said to be a true story of the author who had landed in India to gain spiritual respite from his past. This is not his first visit to India. He has been our guest multiple times before. However, this time is different. It brings him closer to the sex workers in a cosmopolitan and pimps and crime lords ruling these streets when he falls in love with a yet disregarded prostitute of the brothel.

The novel is a mix of grime facts, sarcasm, pun, Indian English and the version of Indian English as seen by this Slovenian tourist. Every sentence was laden with the experience of the author. And it became difficult for me to even think of binge reading the book. It is peppered with wit, humor and sarcasm so much that at times your untrained eyes might miss it but your mind will alert you and make you go back to re-read the sentence.

“Even though I was not a barren woman myself, I was a man barren of insight, and I more than ever wanted to be pregnant with confidence.”

I simply loved the writing style. It is easy and evolving, and involving as well. It is a literary memoir and one will find many words that are Indian English and used deftly by the author to create a humourous situation. For instance, “marijuana’s pronunciation as marry-joo-ana,” “pisserman for fisherman,” you will find ample such phrases or words throughout the novel.

The perception with which India, especially, Indian cities of Pune and Mumbai, are seen by foreigners, is insightful and as much insightful is Advaya’s spiritual journey and experiences with different Babas and Gurus the land has to offer. Advaya while treading the path to retelling the scenarios from the brothel is sensible and quite attentive to the details. He never maligns their lives nor does he try evoking sympathy for these less fortunate. He just tells their tale as is but with much care. That he falls for a prostitute goes on to show the pious soul that lies within Kris who is looking for spiritual awakening and has come to understand the worth of a soul rather than a body. He reiterates a simple incidence of a poor girl offering water to a stray dog which in a way sums up the spiritual quest for me. There are many such incidences retold in this novel that will stay with me. For instance, the desperation of these sex workers to win a penny for themselves is shown through author’s encounter with eunuchs.

This work is deep as much as dark.

The contrast of white and black is found prominently in Indian philosophy. The varna or complexion as they say, plays a vital role in Indian myth, Krishna, Shiv were dark as opposed to Radha and Parvati respectively. Kali too is a dark looking goddess worshipped in India. The colours though relate to wildness and domestication mostly, to me, though, it is more about balance) yet there’s more to this philosophy. One can read more about it here.

However, when one comes across this fact one can be inclined to think that author tried emulating this philosophy in his memoir and create a world of fiction which has spiritual undertones.

But I digress….

Overall, the novel turned out to be an intelligent and refreshing read with newness in its content and story.

Rating: 🙏🙏🙏.5 (3.5 out of 5)
Publishers: Fingerprint Publishers
Available on: Amazon, Flipkart, in-store