I grew up in a housing society in Mumbai (then Bombay) that overlooked a slum colony, beyond which lay a notorious area which I refer to as the ‘other’ side in this book. The ‘other’ side held a deep fascination for me with its colorful, busy alleys bustling with activity, people and mystery.
Most of the domestic help at our building complex lived in the adjacent slums. During my growing up years, I played cricket and other sports with their kids in our society compound. On a few evenings, I wandered to the ‘other’ side with them and discovered a whole new world of notoriety, warmth and color.
There was one particular young man in that area that had become a figure of childhood folklore of sorts and we knew him only by his nickname. He had achieved a high level of recognition, given the issues he stood up for and the scraps he got embroiled in. I saw him just once and identified him instantly from his notorious group as he stood with an air of confidence outside that modest eatery, where he hung out with his peeps every evening. My only recollection of him was that he had a chiseled face, which bore a disturbed expression, and that he looked angry. Even though he didn’t live in the area and was educated, his fierce expression and restless body language somehow made him fit right into the unsettling character of the ‘other’ side.
I visited the area years later, and was surprised to learn about how life had completely turned around for him and his current vocation. His unique journey revealed him to be an unreasonable and fearless man, and I admired his resilience and goodness of heart despite the cards that life had dealt him. I felt compelled to tell the surreal story of this angry young man.
The names and professions of the characters of the book have been changed to protect the identities of the real people who have been referenced for this story, as have the locations and timelines. Parts of the book are inspired by true events, the rest is fiction.
Diary of an Angry Young Man attempts to showcase the spirit of India’s youth and the humanity of society that we may or may not be oblivious to. It is a mirror of the times we live in, of the city that has brought me up.