This is a delightful collection of twenty-five crisp and intriguing short stories that will enliven and charm your leisure hours. The writer employs the ‘Today-technology’ of story telling: An economy of words; a simplicity of style; and a tempo and cadence that match the brisk life-style of today. All the stories have an Indian aroma and diaspora.
Excerpt from Harry Bilinsky. A tale from a hill station in the Himalayas, India.
I sipped tea and gazed through the plate glass window of ‘Cakepoint’ and saw glimpses of the Upper Hill Road through the swirling mist outside. I was anxious and awaited the Inspector of Police to join me and give me the latest up- date.
Harry’s Curious Shop, further up the incline, was sited to the left of the upper Mal. To get there, one maneuvered a steepish climb; past a delicatessen and drycleaners that displayed neatly hung coats in glass fronted windows; and proceeded further up, panting and exhaling clouds of misty air, until one reached a large level area, the Mal…across which Harry’s shop stood surrounded by mountain pine and deodar.
Wooden benches fixed permanently along the edge of the esplanade provided seats to take in the breathtaking scenery; Harry’s store enticed and beckoned from across the boulevard with twinkling lights and the promise of a cozy atmosphere.
When I entered Harry’s shop one late afternoon, a little tinkle from a bell, nudged by the opening door, alerted him to a customer coming in. A lingering smell of pipe tobacco and coffee, a warm atmosphere, and little lights over the displays created an ambience that invited one to linger, to browse ,and to take ones time. It was a comfortable place and I hoped it would always remain a hide-out for me.
Harry strode forth with a smile; he wore a brocade waist coat over white long sleeved shirt, dark worsted trousers, and black shiny shoes completed his elegant outfit. An unlit rosewood pipe dangled from the side of his welcoming smiling mouth. Amply built and of average height he supported short wavy hair parted on the side.
“Hi, Roxana – what have you been up to?” he asked with a smile.
“Busy doing my usual stuff….”
“You are looking good. Like some coffee?”
“Yeah, would love some…it’s cold outside.”
I held the hot cup in the palm of both hands, relishing its warmth, and looked around.
Harry usually sat behind the counter at the far end of the shop. If you enquired about an item he would glide to your side exuding a faint and pleasing aroma of pipe tobacco and eau-de- cologne. If you got chatting with him and happened to ask him the way to Edmond’s Mountain Climbing School, or the Zoological gardens or the many tourist places, he would escort you to the end of the counter and give you hot coffee in a styrene cup whilst he told you, in complete detail, how to get there. Harry loved helping people. He loved people asking him how-to-get-there questions. And should you ask him about his beloved hill station…you could well be rewarded with coffee and a slice of fruit cake that he kept ensconced somewhere behind the counter.
He met Svetlana when she came in one blustery afternoon. Sweet, waif-like, delicate, blue-grey eyes, pink lips and cheeks; she was a happy person and smiled a lot showing lovely teeth. I saw Harry looking at her – he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He saw her delicate fingers as she bent over and
handled the trinkets on the shelf; he noticed her almost translucent skin and light brown hair beaded with droplets from the mist outside. He glided up to her, “May I help you?” She turned, hair falling half across her face, and smiled at him. Harry stood stunned …that smile hit him plumb between the eyes. Harry was a goner!