A good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian

A good Indian Wife by Anne Cherian

A good Indian wife is a novel by Anne Cherian, recommended to me by goodreads.com based on my book shelves, is a good read.

The story revolves around Leila Krishnan (pronounced Laila, I kept feeling it was Leela till the character herself clarifies, it is Laila), a girl from a small steel town, the author has not mentioned the name but it seems to be Salem due to its proximity to Ooty. She is thirty, works as an English Lecturer and lives with her parents, her father used to work in the Steel industry and two sisters, 24 year old Indy and 8 year old Kila. Her mother wants her to get married and buys her a new saree every time a boy comes to ‘see’ her. She gets rejected because of her height, because her family cannot pay dowry and because she is past her age of marriage.

Suneel Sarath is an anesthesiologist working in San Fransisco, has a condo, drives a Porsche, is unfortunately born in India (a UBI), because he lives, feels like an American and has a Gori girlfriend, Caroline. He has shortened his name to Neel. His family lives in the same unnamed town where Leila’s family lives. His mother calls him to India to meet his ailing grandfather and plans with his aunt and gets him married to Leila against his wishes. He plans to leave her in India and go back, but his family has other plans for him.

They reach San Fransisco, Neel spends more time in the hospital and at Caroline’s house than Leila. He wants her to start working, become independent so that he can divorce her without guilt. Leila tries to make her marriage work. She becomes self-confident, makes friends and learns driving.

I hated Neel more than I liked him because even though he was cheating on his wife, he felt he was not technically doing so. I liked him because he was responsible enough to feel that he should let Leila be self reliant before he divorced her.

Read it if you like romance. It is actually a Mills and Boon with Indian spices.

Book Source: ought
Publisher: W.W.Norton & Company, Inc

The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran

aaI was listening to Radio One, Delhi in the morning, when I heard Chris talking to Lavanya Sankaran about her new novel, The Hope Factory and how she wrote it. She mentioned that she would set her playlist to suit the character she was writing about. I ordered both her books together and finished reading The Red Carpet before I started on this book.

This story is set in Bangalore and is about Anand, who owns Cauvery Auto, a factory which makes parts for the automotive factory and about Kamala, his family’s maid.

Anand is the son of middle class parents, whose father does not have anything to do with his money but he still sends some money to his mother for her to lead a comfortable life. He is married to Vidya, the daughter of Ruby and Harry Chinappa, who belong to the richer section of the society. They have two children, a 14 year old daughter, Valmika and a 7 year old son, Vyas. The relationship he shares with his children is very special; they consider him more of a friend.

Anand and his employees are waiting for a foreign delegation to strike a deal with them so that his financial problems lessen. He also requires ten acres of land to expand the business for which he consults his friend Vinayak, who sends a property dealer to him. His father-in-law also tries to help him in procuring the land. He then gets entangled in His marriage gets into trouble because of his father-in-law.

Kamala, a maid in Anand’s house, lives in a rented one room house with her son Narayan. She wants her son to be a successful and rich man. She tries to keep him away from bad company and also inculcate good habits in him. Anand helps her with her son’s education. Her landlord wants her to vacate the room and she tries to raise money so that she can stay there for her son’s studies.

This book shows the societal differences between the haves and have nots.

The author has introduced characters like Harry Chinappa suddenly, and then later we realize that he is Anand’s father-in-law. The foul language used in the book is unnecessary and looks as if it was added just to spice up the book.

When I started the book, it took me around twenty pages to connect with it, but after that it was like, wherever I got the chance, I would sit down and start reading it. I feel a sequel could follow this book.

I enjoyed this book very much, and would recommend it.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Tinder Press/ Hachette India

The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran

The Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran

I have just finished reading The Red Carpet, a collection of eight short stories by Lavanya Sankaran. All of them are set in Bangalore.

In the first story, Bombay this, Ramu, the hero, has a set of friends, thinks of getting married and settling down. Closed Curtains is about helpful Mr D’Costa, who keeps an eye on his neighbor, Mrs Kapur and helps her in the time of need. Two four six eight is about a young girl, whose maid makes her feel guilty in front of her mother for things that she had not done till she stands up to it one day. The Red Carpet is about the different lives of a young man, Raju, who works as a driver and the rich Mrs Choudhary, his may-dum. Alphabet Soup is about Priyamvada, a girl brought up in America, by her Indian parents, who decides to come to India and find more about India because she wants to be a brown in a brown country. Mysore Coffee is about a young hard working accountant, Sita, who lives with her mother and makes an American friend, Christie, in the course of her work, with whom she shares her life’s secrets. Birdie Num-Num is about 27 year old Tara, who comes back from US to finish her PhD thesis and her mother, wants her to get married. Apple Pie, One by Two is about two friends, Swamy and Murthy, who go to America and come back start their own company.

Overall a good book but every story ends abruptly leaving the reader waiting for more.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Tinder Press

One and a half wife by Meghna Pant

one-and-a-half-wife-by-meghna-pant1“One and a Half Wife” by Meghna Pant is the story of Amara Malhotra, a fourteen year old girl who lives in Shimla with her conservative parents, Biji and Baba. Amara is intelligent, independent and obedient and does not argue with her parents. She is very close to Baba, who is very understanding and supports his wife for Amara’s sake. This book can be divided into three parts: pre America; America and post America.

Biji dreams of going to America and settling down so that Amara could marry a rich Indian boy in Amreeka. She speaks english to show she is educated. She goes to palmists, temples and even card picking parrots. When Amara was a few months old, Biji’s brother, Dua mama said that he had eased the path by applying for Malhotra family’s Green Cards to America. Since then, for fourteen years Biji is waiting for the day to come when they would board a flight to America.

Once in America, her cousins do not treat her well, her mother forbids her to make ‘white friends’. She makes friends with Stacy while doing accountancy and gets a job in Dua mama’s firm as an accountant. Mrs Roy sees her at a party and gets her married to her son, the Harvard-educated millionaire Prashant Roy. She tries to make a success of her marriage but five years later Prashant tells her he married her for his mother’s sake and that he cannot love her and asks her for a divorce. After her separation, her parents also disown her and she finds a renewed friendship with her cousin who had not treated her well initially.

They decide to move back to Shimla and in the car from Delhi to Shimla, Amara realizes that India has also changed in the seventeen years that she was away. There are all buildings, flyovers, billboards, people wearing western outfits and McDonalds. In Shimla, her mother first tries to cover up Amara’s divorce, then is open about it and then asks her to consider proposals from suitable men.

Amara makes a new set of friends, starts her own business, tries to rebuild her life but then the local goons start troubling her. Her parents begin to support her and then Lalit comes along, understands her and she falls in love with him.

It is a very well written book, emotional at times and practical at times. The close relationship of the Malhotra family shows the Indian values. I am waiting to read Meghna’s next book.

34 Bubblegums and Candies by Preeti Shenoy

34 Bubblegums and Candies by Preeti ShenoyPreeti Shenoy at her best. “34 bubblegums and candies” is a book from the heart to the heart. I have already bought and gifted so many that now I have lost count. I connected with the book, I laughed, I cried, I enjoyed every page of the book; I read it many times.

She has compiled her experiences in a very nice and simple way, in a language which is very easily understood. The preface is perfect.

Her relationship with her dad is a typical father-daughter relationship- very touching, very understanding. The innocence of the children has been beautifully mentioned in John Cena, divorce and other things, feeling needed and siblings without rivalry.

When I read radiators and drains, I started to classify acquaintances.

One positive from the book: “Believe and you shall achieve”.

Another idea: To clean up the room: “Lets-see-who-collects-the-maximum-thing-in-one-minute-contest”

In “when life tricks you”, I learnt that everyone reacts in a different way to adversity.

It is one book which motivates you, peps you up when you are low and you can read it in bits and pieces. The rest, I feel you should read yourself and experience the book.

Happy reading………..

book Source: Bought
Publisher: Srishti Publishers and Distributors

the King in Exile by Sudha Shah

the King in Exile by Sudha ShahWhen I was in school, the one subject I used to dread was history. So I thought, the books that were anywhere close to history, would never be my cup of tea (or coffee). But when I started to read “The King in Exile,” by Sudha Shah on 12th of January 2103, I finished 89 pages of the book in one sitting. I give credit to the author for that. Though the names are difficult especially of the daughters and the grandchildren of the King but still I felt a lot of effort has gone into the book. I read the book after that in bits and pieces because I was reading The Glass Palace along with this book and this book provided me with a lot of extra knowledge which made the story in The Glass Palace more interesting. She has supplemented the book with photographs. The timeline mentioned at the end is actually a very good ready reference.

This book is about the life of King Thibaw, the last king of Burma, and his family. The book starts with the childhood of Thibaw and Supalayat, his reign as the King, his exile in Ratnagiri, India and later years of the family.

He became the King in 1879 and ruled for seven years from Mandalay. In 1885, after losing their kingdom is a war against Britain, the King and his family were exiled to Ratnagiri in India where they lived for 31 years. The British seized his riches and property and gave the family a meager allowance. They were closely guarded and had to get approval for everything: how much money they could spend, who they could meet, who they could hire, even for holding rituals like the ear boring ceremony. The four princesses grew up with the staff of their house. Though the queen taught them all the housework including, sewing, cooking, making paper flowers, the princesses were little or not educated.

The King died in 1916 in Ratnagiri and the queen and the three princesses went back to Rangoon in 1919. She has even described the lives of the four princesses and their children and grand children in details. Queen Supalayat died in 1825. The first princess returned to Ratnagiri and stayed there till she died in 1947 after living a life of poverty. The second princess lived in Kalimpong with her family and died in 1956. The third and the fourth princesses lived in Burma, the third princess died in 1962 while the fourth princess died in 1936.

What I found most interesting about the family was that even though they were going through a final crisis, they were still generous even the grandchildren.

The book is very unique in concept and very well presented.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: harper Collins

Tea for two and a piece of cake by Preeti Shenoy

Tea for two and a piece of cake by Preeti Shenoy

“Tea for two and a piece of cake” is the third book by Preeti Shenoy. It is the story of Nisha who lives with he father and works in travel agency. She is twenty six, single, plump and plain looking. She meets Samir Sharma at an important official function and falls in love with him. They get married.

Eight years and two children later, he decides to leave her for Maya but says he would pay for the upkeep of the children. She moves out of his house to her father’s house. Her old friend Akash tries to help her out by helping her start her own catering business and her new neighbour, Mrs Billimoria also helps her with the kids.

A very emotional and gripping story which made me laugh and cry at the same time. I just could not keep the book down till I finished it. When I say I read it again today, I am not kidding.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Ebury Press/ Random Hose India

Life is what you make it by Preeti Shenoy

Life is what youmake it by Preeti Shenoy

“Life is What You Make it” is the second book by Preeti Shenoy and the first contemporary fiction. The first book, 34 Bubblegums and Candies is a collection of her blogs. The story revolves around Ankita Sharma, a seventeen year old, who lives with her parents in Delhi and has just passed her Class XII exams. Her best friend is Vaibhav and he has just got admitted to IIT Delhi.

Her parents have been transferred to Cochin and though she wants to continue her studies in Delhi, she moves with her parents and enrolls in St.Agnes Girl College in Cochin. Her only connection with her best friend is through letters. Then there are those planned long distance phone calls so that her parents don’t catch them. Her friends fill up her nomination forms and she becomes the General Secretary of Arts in her college. She meets Abhishek at the Annual Culture Festival and they become friends. Then Abhi falls in love with her.

She then relocates to Mumbai for MBA along with her family as her father is transferred there. She studies hard, starts jogging, and then sprinting and then one of her friends calls her a maniac. One day, she dances on the parapet of the terrace on the tenth floor of a building; writes notes, photocopies them and distributes them to the whole class after highlighting them and putting stickers on them; she starts painting; writes a 42 page letter to her friend and starts writing poetry. Then, one day she panics and is scared. She gets depressed and her parents take her to a psychiatrist who gives her medicines for the same but they don’t help.

She is diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and is admitted to a hospital for treatment. The doctor is very understanding and empathetic. Then starts her road to recovery and occupational therapy.

I found the Epilogue to be very positive and that actually is a real happy ending to the story.

The author has describes the late 80s very nicely, no internet hence only letters and no cable television, only the national channel of Doordarshan and also the video cassette recorders and OHP sheets and markers. This book reminded of me of my school and college days.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Srishti

The Collector’s Wife by Mitra Phukan

The Collector's Wife by Mitra Phukan

The Collector’s Wife by Mitra Phukan is a story set in the backdrop of Parbatpuri in Assam. The story revolves around Rukmini Bezboruah, the wife of the District Collector, Siddhartha Bezboruah who lives in a bungalow on a hill and overlooks the cremation ground of Parbatpuri. They seem to have a very understanding relationship.

She is a lecturer in English at one of the local colleges and has her own circle of colleagues and Priyam Deka is one of her friends. She is busy with her routine life and is a very balanced person. She is unhappy that she does not have children. She meets Manoj Mahanta who works in a tyre company and they become friends.

Her parents-in laws live in Guwahati, in the same house in where her husband had been born. His father is a retired college professor and his mother, a school teacher. They dote on her and she likes them very much.

Her husband is busy with the incidents in the district which include abductions, shoot outs and killings. There are certain incidents in the book which really made my spine shudder.

Overall, a very captivating book , but the end could have been better.

Book Source: Borrowed
Publisher: Zubaan/ Penguin

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

Thank God for Bookmarks. I started Amitav Ghosh’s novel, The Glass Palace in the month of January 2013 simultaneously with The King in Exile by Sudha Shah, thinking that this would be a good way to go into the details of the King Thebaw’s life. So when the King’s family reached Ratnagiri, I kept the other book thinking that I would go back to it once the story progresses beyond Ratnagiri in this book. Then came some books with short stories, and some books which were a part of the trilogy, and I kept the bookmark on page 166 of The Glass Palace thinking that I would take up the book once I can finish off a few of those books, flick through the previous pages and take up where I left off, but I was mistaken.

As soon as I picked the book up from the book shelf the story came back as if it was only the previous night that I had kept the book and was picking it up again to resume reading. I think that is what Amitav Ghosh’s characters do to you, they become a part of your existence and you can relate to them.

Rajkumar is an Indian orphan boy who sees a young girl, Dolly, who works for the Queen of Burma when the entire family is exiled to Ratnagiri in India. Rajkumar is hard working and manages to build a business in the teak trade with the help of Saya John. He then goes to India and proposes marriage to Dolly through Uma Dey, the wife of the District Collector of Ratnagiri.

Initially, I felt that this book would revolve around the Burmese King, but then I felt no, the hero is Rajkumar, the book has been written through his eyes. But then I realized no, it is Dolly and their family. Then the story becomes a family saga revolving around Rajkumar, Saya John’s son, Uma and their families. There is adventure and travel (he takes you around the globe to Burma, India, Malaysia, Singapore).

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Harper Collins