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A charming krimi from Mumbai in India, full of colour and movement like the city itself. Inspector Ashwin Chopra has been forced to retire at fifty because of a heart attack.  The upright Chopra has long tried single-handedly to rid India of crime and corruption. He is a man with a mission who has been side-lined! But for how long?  

Ganesh cover.jpg

Coincidentally, Copra's much loved uncle, a father figure, leaves him....a very young elephant!  Huh?  Chopra lives in a gated community on the fifteenth floor of a modern condominium.  While there is plenty of storage in the basement, there is no room for an elephant, large or small, young or old.  Still Copra must accept the elephant, Ganesha, named for the god, out of respect for his departed uncle.  

Poppy, Chopra's wife, is taken aback, nonplused, and...., but before she can lay down the law, the egregious Mrs Supramanium, a neighbour, barges in and demands removal of 'that creature!'  

That’s it!  Under no circumstances will Poppy concur or agree with 'that woman!' The elephant stays!  He is tethered in the courtyard, minded by the doorman as a temporary measure.

However, the elephant is depressed, head down, wobbly on his feet, saggy tail, trunk deflated, and — worst of all — will not eat. Chopra does not know what do, so he buys books and consults a zoo keeper and later a one-time circus trainer. Strangely, he does not turn to Dr Google. 

Of course, the book-writing scholars disagree with each other since that is how careers are made, leaving him little wiser. These books by scientists are desiccated and abrupt without any practical information for the urban elephant owner. But he also finds a memoir by an Anglo-Indian woman who reared an elephant, more or less as a pet, and it does inform him on some practical points. That is a start. More importantly, it heartens him to make the effort.

Then there is the uncle's letter entrusting the elephant to Chopra, which in part said 'This is no ordinary elephant.'  Uncle was not one for exaggeration or superfluous remarks.  Thus Chopra proceeds with care.

Into the mix comes a crime that Chopra, retired or not, cannot ignore.  An innocent young boy has been murdered and no one cares, least of all the police at his old nick now with a new supervisor. In addition, a one-time nemesis reappears.  The thread unwinds with some of the usual twist and turns, but then there is the elephant in the room. Literally in one instance.

While walking Ganesha to a veterinarian for yet another consultation, Chopra sees a lowlife who used to consort with the nemesis and the old impulses take over; off he goes on the trail with Ganesha in tow!  Into the colossal glass-and-steel Mall of India he goes, brushing past security guards who suppose no elephants are allowed.  Too little, too late are their efforts to impede entry. Then there is the escalator ride!  What a tribute to German engineering. What a show for the shoppers!

A Cadbury chocolate bar gives Ganesha a powerful incentive to lumber along.  When obstructed, Chopra declares Ganesha a police elephant.  Police dog. Police elephant.  Out of the way!

Ganesha lives up to the appellation more than once. In turn when the monsoon hits, Chopra rescues the tethered Ganesha from a torrent.  They have bonded.

Along the way there is much elephant lore.  Meanwhile, Poppy thwarts Mrs Supramanium, while coping with her crotchety mother who is not keen on either the elephant or the husband.

V_Khan.jpg Vaseem Khan

Quite a trip and also a fine arrival, leading to the next title in the series. Loved it.

At least some researchers into African elephants, much larger than Indian ones, have declared them free of Machiavellianism. All will be explained upon request.

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