From Urdu دروان (darvān) and Hindi दरवान (darvān) < Persian دروان (darvān) < دربان (darbān), doorkeeper) < در (dar), door) + بان (bān), keeper, guardian).





durwan (plural durwans)

  1. (in India) A live-in doorkeeper, especially in an apartment building

Retrieved from "http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/durwan"

Interpreter of Maladies

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Interpreter of Maladies  

Cover of paperback edition


Jhumpa Lahiri


United States




Short stories


Houghton Mifflin

Publication date


Media type

Print (Hardback & Paperback)


198 pp



OCLC Number


Interpreter of Maladies is a book collection of nine short stories by Indian American author Jhumpa Lahiri published in 1999. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award in the year 2000 and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. It was also chosen as The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year and is on Oprah Winfrey’s Top Ten Book List.

  • The stories are about the lives of Indians and Indian Americans who are caught between the culture they have inherited and the "New World."

A Real Durwan

Boori Ma is a feeble 64-year-old woman from Calcutta who is the stair-sweeper, or durwan, of an old brick building. In exchange for her services, the residents allow Boori Ma to live on the roof of the building. While she sweeps, she tells stories of her past: her daughter’s extravagant wedding, her servants, her estate and her riches. The residents of the brick building hear continuous contradictions in Boori’s storytelling, but her stories are seductive and compelling, so they let her contradictions rest. One family in particular takes a liking to Boori Ma, the Dalal’s. Mrs. Dalal often gives Boori Ma food and takes care of her ailments. When Mr. Dalal gets promoted at work, he improves the brick building by installing a sink in the stairwell and a sink in his home. The Dalal’s continue to improve their home and even go away on a trip to Simla for ten days and promise to bring back Boori Ma a sheep’s hair blanket. While the Dalal’s are away, the other residents become obsessed with making their own improvements to the building. Boori Ma even spends her life savings on special treats while circling around the neighborhood. However, while Boori Ma is out one afternoon, the sink in the stairwell is stolen. The residents accuse Boori Ma of informing the robbers and in negligence for her job. When Boori Ma protests, the residents continue to accuse her because of all her previous inconsistent stories. The residents’ obsession with materializing the building dimmed their focus on the remaining members of their community, like Boori Ma. The short story concludes as the residents throw out Boori Ma’s belongings and begin a search for a “real durwan.”

source URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpreter_of_Maladies