Excerpt from Himalayan Dhaba by Craig Danner, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Himalayan Dhaba

by Craig Danner

Himalayan Dhaba
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2002, 256 pages
    Jun 2003, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The hospital is tiny, with the buildings scattered randomly, dwarfed from east and west by massive Himalayan mountain peaks. She smells the sweet deodar smoke of someone cooking over fire, reminding her of camping in the pines of western Maryland. She wonders where the patients are, the lines that Richard once described - Vikram wrote that there was never time enough to see them all. It is sometime in the afternoon, perhaps the staff has gone to lunch; she set her watch in Delhi, though she could have turned the dial wrong. But someone should be hanging round, she knows they are expecting her; she sent a message yesterday: arriving soon as possible. The last time Vikram wrote he said there’s always so much work to do - the clinic runs four days a week, with surgery the other two. Sunday is his day of rest, he preaches in the little church; she sees the tiny, empty building: a steeple and a crucifix. She tries to think what day it is, she left the States on Saturday; spent one night in the Delhi Hilton’s musty air conditioning. She’s guessing that it’s Tuesday and it must be close to three o'clock - unlikely Doctor Vikram would take off to play a round of golf. So she leaves her bags beneath the tree with leaves the green of early spring, and wanders through the courtyard, through the echoing dispensary. The only sound she hears is someone’s distant whistle off somewhere. She follows it in through a door, a painted sign to Surgery.

The hall is almost black inside, the walls are stacked with limp supplies: boxes with their lids cut off, the dust has never been disturbed. She’s thinking it’s incredible, the storeroom’s loaded with antiques: surgical contraptions no one’s used in half a century. She takes a cloth mask from a bin and holds it to her mouth and nose, then opens up a door that’s marked the entrance to the surgery. It should be draped with braided rope, an old-time surgical museum: an overwhelming ether stink is sickly sweet and volatile. The table has a dozen cranks, a sheet draped over stainless steel; above it hangs an ancient lamp: a giant metal buttercup. Nobody’s there, but still she hears the funny, tuneless whist ling - and then a ringing echoed laugh, a soft and high-pitched giggle. It comes out from a little room, the next door that she opens up; she finds a tiny woman, someone Richard once had talked about.

"Doctor-ji! Namasté!" At last someone expecting her; she sent a photo of herself and Richard the first time she wrote. Padma can't be four feet tall, her body nearly bent in half: Rich had said he liked her best of all the people working there. Mary is amazed at how she looks just like her photograph: tiny little angel face and eyes benignly mischievous. Her spine has got a nasty twist, perhaps a childhood accident, but Mary’s never seen a face as beautiful and radiant. Padma climbs down off a stool, her wrinkled apron stained with red from washing blood off rubber gloves so that they can be used again. She wangs her hands before her face: palms together, fingers straight; a man stands from a wooden bench: he’s the source of all the whistling. She wonders if this could be Vikram - pleasant smile and slender hips - but he hasn't got the features of a man from Southern India. His face is more Tibetan-shaped, his eyes a little wide apart; in very broken English he says Tamding is his given name. Mary only knows a couple phrases of the dialect, studied from a worthless book, a numbing set of language tapes. She’s not sure what his job is but he does what Padma tells him to: he helps her with her bags and shows her to the rooms that she’s to have. They cross the dusty courtyard past the one-room missionary school; Tamding might be speaking English, but she doesn't know for sure. He’s pointing out the landmarks, making jutting gestures with his chin; Mary only smiles and wonders anxiously where Vikram is.

Reprinted from Himalayan Dhaba by Craig Danner by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © Craig Danner, 2002. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced without permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.