A fascinating title for an equally fascinating book.
"A Cobra's Bite Doesn't Hurt" is a fascinating title for an equally fascinating book. I love the device of the narrator speaking directly to the Indian PM as it allows for humour and a more in-depth insight into the opinions, beliefs and hopes of Kalu. Kalu is an uneducated orphan kidnapped from the orphanage at the age of fourteen in order to be trained as a pick-pocket, which becomes his career as he gets older. Kalu is utterly engaging and although he is not the most honest of people, we forgive him, even when his crime is heinous, because he fundamentally has a good heart. He cares for the destitute, the hungry, the crippled, the unwanted - because he is one of them. The India Kalu describes is not on the tourist trail but is the India lived in by the majority of its population. The descriptions are both delicious and repellent; you can smell the wonderful spices and the obnoxious effluent in the same sniff. It is an honest book but by no means depressing. Yes, we mix with people who are crippled, poverty-stricken, disadvantaged and starving - but we also experience their small successes, their bursts of joy and their daily inspirations. Yes, Kalu tells of deprivation, corruption, cruelty and despair, but he also tells of hope, friendship, selflessness and love and it is these that shine through and are remembered. The ending is abrupt but I very much hope this is because Anil Nijhawan is writing a sequel; I really want to know what happens to Kalu and his friends. This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.