Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Marrying Anita

It only took me a month and a half to finish this book, not because it was any lengthier than regular novels, but at 15 mins/day, you can't really get far.

First off, it wasn't a novel. It's a memoir by an Indian girl of 1st gen. immigrant parents, born and brought up in US. Anita comes across as fun, spunky and seems to be the sort of person who can charm just about anyone with her word craft. She went to Harvard to study journalism and has traveled internationally as a journalist. While dating extensively in NYC, she got bored of her delightful albeit trivial escapades that promised no future when she hit 30. So she tries reverse immigration that seems to be quite rampant lately and decides to move to Delhi to find a suitor.

There are quite a few things I liked about it: the Diaspora theme in the initial chapters, the depiction of modern India, Harvard acquired vocabulary which is superb and the Slumdog Millionaire kinda theme where people/ places/ incidents have a significant bearing on a certain aspect of the country. It is certainly far from run-of-the-mill summer reads. The contrast she's drawn between her father's journey from India to US and her journey from US to India is fantastic and got me immediately interested. Her descriptions and insights into the new India are quite notable. Her intelligence flows through her effortless prose and I absolutely loved her witty and amusing writing style.

A few things were slightly hard to digest. Anita meets a 100 different characters when she moves to Delhi. Each character has a unique story to tell. Since the backdrop is India's transition to modernity despite critical issues like domestic violence, women's oppression, rising rates of failed marriages, foreigners moving to India in search of employment, brain drain, bar-nightclub culture, homosexuality, disparity between rich and poor, etc, each person conveniently seems to portray one of these issues. I wonder why my social circle isn't even remotely as diverse. It can almost pass off as non-fiction in certain sections where such issues are highlighted except every victim has a name and has met Anita at a bar. Which also means that these 100 different characters are not related to each other and have no bearing on the 'story' leading the book to get disjointed in parts. The third very clear thing that explains my first two points above is that Anita seems to be in no frame of mind to find a groom. It seems very obvious that she's moved to Delhi only to write about her wild encounters under the pretext that she's looking for a groom. And every self-destructive wild sequence has been initiated by her, only to write about it later. Some even seem fictional. How else can every guy she meets be a wrong guy (i.e. drastically younger or older, hash smoking, unconventional and strictly interested in a fling) given that she’s a smart, intelligent woman who knows what she wants. It should have been marketed as fiction perhaps.

No surprises that the book ends with her still being single.

Overall, a very well-written, interesting and entertaining read. My rating – 4 / 5

1 comment:

Kusha said...

Was waiting for it. Totally agree with the last para. Any simple behaviour of individual needs to be extrapolated in order to be interesting! It sells..but full points on her language..very well written!