The Ubyssey Magazine – March 27, 2007 – Another side of the underworld

Another side of the underworld

March 27, 2007

By Brenna Duperron – The Ubyssey

First-time novelist Ranj Dhaliwal has turned a passion for the written word into a creative masterpiece in his portrayal of the Indo-Canadian gang world, as seen through the eyes and ambitions of a young boy named Ruby.

Not wanting to turn a writing hobby into a job, Dhaliwal found himself overwhelmed by the reception of Daaku, with people from all over telling him how excited they were that someone was finally giving a voice to the tight-lipped Indo-Canadian community that would previously not speak of what was going on with their youth. He writes about such risqué topics as the corruption amongst the religious leaders that people are meant to respect. Since Dhaliwal grew up in gang-ridden neighbourhoods in Surrey, he has seen many of the issues he deals with. Though he has never been personally involved with a gang, he “turned rumours I heard from friends into story.”

Most people in the Lower Mainland have seen the news reports and heard the stories of the gang wars, but no one as yet has told the story from the perspectives of the boys inside the gangs. Yes, they are boys, as most young men enticed into this glamorous underworld do not live past the age of twenty-five. It was a story that has been living inside Dhaliwal’s head for quite some time before he finally put Ruby’s world down onto paper coming up with Daaku.

“I’d sit down and just go with no plan of where Ruby would go,” he said. “I’d just think what could I get him into today and it would play in my head like a movie, like I was walking around being Ruby.”

Daaku follows the career of Ruby as he grows from being a bored kid looking for a way to entertain himself to a teenager in the thick of the “glamorous” underworld. He shows how a young man could easily get caught up in the excitement of making fast cash for little work. Ruby finds himself making thousands of dollars for about 15 minutes of collection work, an experience that makes him question why he should work hard to enter the workforce in a job that will take a lot more time and effort for a lot less cash.

Many would find themselves unable to see the point in following the rat race when they could instead have fancy cars, lots of money, and even more women. The concept of all play and little work attracts high school students on the verge of the real world, yet they forget about the violence and betrayal that comes with it. This is a side that Ruby uses to his advantage as he climbs his way to the top echelon of the underground hierarchy.

It is a must for all of us who have spent the past few years constantly reading about the horrors created by these gangs to finally hear their side of the story. Though all potential readers should be forewarned: this is in no way an apology or a plea for acceptance and understanding. This is just their side of the story, served up plain and simple.