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 baby looks a hundred years, with sagging skin across the face: sunken eyes and fontanel, breathing at too slow a rate. She hasn't got a clue what’s wrong: a birth defect or rare disease; she takes the baby from the mom as if she holds a hand grenade. With the baby on the table, she unwraps the musty woolen shawl; the skin hangs down like melted wax: a dying little baby girl. Her eyes are dry and glazed as if she hasn't blinked since she was born; doesn't cry or make a fuss, just stares and slowly gasps for air. In Baltimore there'd be a dozen nurses working frantically: X-ray techs and lab reports and respiratory therapists. All she'd have to do is give the orders to the nursing staff: stand and watch and make sure that the blood gets sent off fast enough. Mary hasn't slept in days, her thinking isn't very clear: this baby is dehydrated, should get some fluids into her. She’s thinking meningitis, maybe H. flu septicemia: spinal tap and blood cultures; X-ray and a white cell count. She needs an IV right away, she'd like to put her on a vent; she puts an ear against her chest to listen to what noise she makes. She wants to know how long it’s been, how old this ancient baby is; she needs to get the baby’s weight to calculate the fluid drip. At last she hears the whistling of Tamding coming back this way; he steps in through the door and rattles something off in Kullui. She asks him for an IV drip; he only shrugs and wags his head. It’s obvious he doesn't understand a word that Doctor Mary says. At last she hears another set of footsteps from across the yard - she sees a floating nurse’s cap come sailing past the window frame.

The nurse who comes in through the door is not a day past seventeen: long black hair done in a braid, a ribbon tied-up in a bow. She says her name is Chidda and she'll try to help the best she can; the other nurses are at home, they weren't expecting her so soon. She says she’s only worked a month, just graduated nursing school - that Doctor Vikram said he thinks that one day she'll be pretty good. But Mary doesn't have the time, this baby is about to die; already diagnosed the nurse’s tendency to rattle on.

"I'm Doctor Mary Davis," she says, cutting off the chattering; starts listing off the things she'll need: an IV and a catheter. She’s calculating in her head the dosages that she should give; she needs antibiotics that will cross the blood/brain barrier. This infant’s running out of time, each breath could be her final gasp, and Mary isn't sure about the doses she’s remembering. The nurse just stands in horror when she sees the withered infant girl, so Mary gets the feeling that this nurse won't do her any good. She starts into the list again, anxious that the work begin - mimes the way she'd try to stick a needle in the baby’s vein. "If you can't help, I understand. Just find somebody else who can!"

The nurse then turns around and leaves, comes back in with an IV tray; puts it down then backs away, not volunteering for the job. Mary hasn't started IVs since she finished Internship; she’s used to having IV techs and nurses with experience. She quickly asks for sterile gloves, a swab or two of Betadine; she'll need a couple culture jars, plus red and purple vacuum tubes. Mary’s nervous she won't find a vein before the baby dies; asks then for a tourniquet to strap around the baby’s thigh. She’s slapping at the leg to see if she can raise a purple vein - baby so lethargic that the slapping doesn't make her cry. She looks up at the nurse to see if she has brought the things she needs; nurse is still just standing staring at the walnut tree outside.

"I'm sorry," Chidda says this time, "but everybody else is gone."

The nurse sounds like she’s going to cry - she says that she is all alone; when Doctor Vikram left he said that they should close the hospital. They can't get any X-rays since the tech has gone to Chandigarh, off to search for parts to fix the broken autoclave machine. They can't do any cultures since they haven't got a micro lab; she thinks the spinal needles are still waiting to be sterilized.

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: 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 Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
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

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

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

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

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

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    News of the World
    by Paulette Jiles

    Exquisitely rendered and morally complex--a brilliant work of historical fiction.

    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.