BOMBAY was chock-full of hidden surprises that never failed to delight me when I stumbled upon them. From postage- stamp public gardens to funky restaurants tucked away down back alleys, it was a city of a thousand faces. Even if I were to live there several lifetimes, I wouldn’t know them all. That acres of natural bush land existed in this urban cauldron didn’t make sense, except that this particular area was a stone’s throw from one of the most fashionable suburbs. No doubt a lot of money had changed hands to make sure this precious buffer zone remained. This evening I was very glad of its existence. Finding a private space in which to act out my fantasies would soon become an all-consuming priority in my life. In this, I shared much in common with many Indians. But they had one other skill I was yet to acquire—finding ways of being sexually active in public places.
Launch of The Boatman at Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, India, 3rd February 2014. Hosted by writer and activist Gautam Bhan and assisted by playwright and director, Mashesh Dattani. Photographs: Bruce Robertson.
This is not like any other place. This is India. Everyone who comes here falls in love—most of us fall in love many times over. And the Indians, they love most of all.
Didier Levy in Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
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The Boatman: A memoir of same-sex love
Trade PB 244 pp
RRP: Rs. 350, £9.95
Publication date: 3 February 2014