Written by Aaliya Sekhsaria, an 11-year-old student
Danger in Darjeeling is the first book of The Adventures of Feluda series, written by Satyajit Ray. A two-volume series, these are delightful short detective stories in which the protagonist is called Feluda – a young Bengali detective whose name is Felu. The “da” is added at the end of his name as addition. It means brother in Bengali.
This story begins with the narrator quietly following an old man to his house. He later finds out that the old man has been receiving threatening letters and has turned to his cousin, Feluda.
Feluda visits the old man and finds out about a bit of the man’s past. He tries to find out why anyone would want to threaten the man.
To me, Danger in Darjeeling is more like an introduction to the Adventures of Feluda series. It’s a very straightforward mystery, compared to the other stories. But I still enjoy reading it because it shows the friendship between Feluda and the narrator. To be honest, I don’t enjoy mysteries as much as I enjoy stories about friendship. While the Adventures of Feluda series is mostly about those who break the law, it definitely has lots of good humour and a strong bond of friendship.
There are 35 Feluda stories and in each one there is a lot of suspense. I am sure you will enjoy reading them. I think you know the saying “never judge a book by its cover”. I would say “never judge a series by its first few books”. I mean, authors have to start their story simple. You can’t jump right into a full-fledged mystery. So, my suggestion is that you should read the Adventures of Feluda series just until the fifth or sixth book, and then see how you like it.
Below, I have taken an excerpt from the book. Here’s the context – before this what happens is that the narrator goes to a mall. Every day he sees an old man coming there. His name was Rajen Majumdar. The narrator thinks that Rajen Majumdar was a man who could never be involved with something sinister. He mentions this to his older cousin Feluda. Feluda immediately tells him not to judge anyone based on looks. . The narrator tells him the reason for his judgment. It’s this explanation I have copied as an excerpt, where the narrator describes exactly what he sees to Feluda.
I was sitting on a bench in the mall today, waiting for the band to start playing. On my left was Tinkori Babu ( “Babu” is a Bengali word which means ‘sir’ in English), reading a newspaper. He had recently arrived from Calcutta to spend the summer in Darjeeling, and had taken a room on rent in Rajen Babu’s house. I was trying to lean over his shoulder and look at the sports page, when Rajen Babu arrived panting and collapsed on the empty portion of our bench, next to Tinkori Babu. He looked visibly shaken.
“What’s the matter?” asked Tinkori Babu, folding his newspaper. “Did you just run up a hill?”
“No, no,” replied Rajen Babu cautiously, wiping his face with one corner of his scarf. “Something incredible has happened.”
I knew what “incredible” meant. Feluda was quite partial to the word.
“What do you mean?” Tinkori Babu asked.
“Look, here it is,” Rajen Babu passed a piece of folded blue paper to Tinkori Babu. I could tell it was a letter, but made no attempt to read it when Tinkori Babu unfolded it. I looked away instead, humming under my breath to indicate a complete lack of interest in what the two old men were discussing. But I heard Tinkori Babu remark, “You’re right, it is incredible! Who could possibly write such a threatening letter to you?
“I don’t know. That’s what’s so puzzling. I don’t remember having deliberately caused anyone any harm. As far as I know, I have no enemies .”
Tinkori Babu leaned towards his neighbour. “We’d better not talk about this in public,” he whispered. “Let’s go home.”
The two gentlemen left.
This story has quite an unexpected ending and a very interesting mystery, despite its simplicity. The original story is written by Satyajit Ray in Bengali. If you cannot read Bengali, I would suggest you read the translation of the story in English written by Gopa Majumdar.