This edition of Urban Shots is the fourth edition of the series published by Westland-Grey Oak. It marks the debut of Sneh Thakur as Editor who has tastefully compiled these stories. The book is filled with colourful short love stories from the by lanes of Kolkata to the metropolis that is Mumbai, from the crowded streets of Bengaluru to the serene gardens of Pune.

The Love Collection features stories by 27 writers, some published and some first-timers. The stories take you on a romantic mélange across India, spanning several cultures, classes and geographical boundaries. There is something in this book for everyone – be it the cynic, the romantic or the romantic cynic. When it comes to love stories in India, there are some elements that are taken for granted – the nagging mother, the shy girl, the extended family, marriage and of course, coffee. However, what I did notice here were several new elements creeping up – tattoos, vengeance, scars, bomb blasts and packets upon packets of cigarettes. Clearly, the stories are reflective of today’s India, giving the book a truly real feel.

As in all short story collections, some tales just didn’t live up to others while some were just bizarre. But that is mostly expected. What I did not expect were several grammatical errors throughout the book. It was rather disturbing to the eye to find spelling mistakes time and again. The errors apart, I enjoyed the choice of stories as each one was unique and ruffles at least one layer of the complex emotion that is love. It took me a few days to finish this book, simply because I decided to savour each story and the emotion in it, instead of hurrying through the entire thing without a thought.

Though I was asked to pick five of my favourite stories from this book, I have decided on nine. I believe all is fair in love (stories)!

  • Rishta, Ahmed Faiyaz, for bringing out the sadness in an ironic situation
  • The Girlfriend, Narendranath Mitra (translated by Arunava Sinha) for its portrayal of an old-fashioned, extra marital affair.
  • Making Out, Hina Siddiqui, for brilliantly capturing the insecurities that each one of us enters a relationship with.
  • High Time, Kailash Srinivasan, for its use of humour and sarcasm.
  • Pause, Rewind, Play, Shoma Narayanan, for seamlessly adding an element of mystery to a love story.
  • Measures Of Life And Love, Anant Tripathi, for its vivid descriptions that played out in my mind like a movie.
  • A Simple Question, Naman Saraiya, for its beautiful narrative and being truly reflective of the word ‘urban’.
  • A Girl Can Dream, Ayeesha Khanna, for bringing out the little girl in me who had forgotten how to dream.
  • Love Is Blind, Vibha Batra, for finding love in the most annoying place. (and for making me want to do a happy dance at the end!).