Living in a sunny Barsati in South Delhi, Saurav Jha and Devapriya Roy are your average DINK (Dual Income No Kids) couple, about to acquire a few EMIs and come of age in the modern consumerist world. Only, they don’t. They junk the swivel chairs, gain a couple of backpacks and set out on a transformational journey across India. On a very, very tight budget: Rs 500 a day for bed and board.
And ‘The Heat and Dust Project’ begins. Narrated in two voices (Devapriya Roy and Saurav Jha) – he is trained in economics, she in literature, he is most methodical, she deliciously vague – the couple tell a unique story that soon morphs from being a portrait of their own travels in their own times into the story of a generation in shifting times. The book evokes the scent of an India that is located strongly in the specificity of its immediate co-ordinates, and yet, looms outside it all and casts upon every mood and moment that distinctive shadow: a dusky silken confusing many-layered light that, for the lack of a better word, can only be called Indian-ness.
Their first book, part of a trilogy, was rated No.1 on the Hindustan Times-Nielsen Non-Fiction Bestseller List. A chat in the café with Devapriya Roy and Saurav Jha on their journey from being a ‘regular working couple’ to now leading ‘not so regular’ lives.