Avay Shukla worked over three and a half decades in the IAS and much of that career time span was spent happily in his allotted state – Himachal Pradesh. It is India’s happiest state, and Shukla has his own rib-tickling take on the reasons for this, ranging from angoori to Kangana Ranaut. He also writes absorbingly of Himachal’s natural beauty, of life as an IAS probationer, of his marriage, of moving on in age and wisdom, and often feels constrained as a conscientious citizen to comment on politics, governance, social issues et al.
There is no didacticism in these pieces, just warmth and concern, laced with rich description, entertaining tales, urban and folk lore, and hilarious metaphors. Shukla’s self-confessed efforts “to make sense of a world gradually going bonkers” leave the reader, facing the same world, vastly soothed and hooting with laughter.