Friday, 30 December 2016

Tempora

Gayatri tried to tame her long hair, greying at the ends, she stood at the edge of a small hallway leading to the deck of the ship. The deck had been the setting of several farewell parties in the past 7 years but she had never imagined that she or Vidya would ever be the recipients. And yet, the next resident of Tempora to leave was Vidya.

Voices containing cheerful conversations carried through the air towards her. Exhaling silently, she stepped with a smile. Vidya was near the punch table, cornered by a three girls who were talking animatedly.

“I’ll catch up with her sometime later,” she thought to herself. In the meantime, she turned to a nearby huddle of her friends, maintaining a glance in Vidya’s direction out of the corner of her eye. 

“Hey Gayatri,” Isha said, as the circle adjusted to include her. “We were talking about the time Vidya jumped out the side of the ship because of it was “like satan’s sauna in here”.”

Gayatri laughed as she recalled the memory. “That was quite unlike her,” she said, picking a cheese roll as a tray floated past her.

“I remember she gave you quite a scare,” chimed in Jay.

“She didn’t know how to swim. I don’t think she still does.”

“I wish I had been there,” said Rita, one of the recent passengers of the Tempora. 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

13 Little Blue Envelopes - Maureen Johnson | Spoiler Free

*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*

“Go see old virgins! Now ask a strange boy out, you shy, Retarded thing!” - Maureen Johnson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes. 

A year back, Maureen Johnson was a guest on the podcast ‘Dear Hank and John’. She was funny, intuitive, clear headed and offered excellent advice on teenage love and relationships in response to the questions asked during the podcast. And that is why I approached 13 Little Blue Envelopes with higher expectations that I usually hold for this genre. 

13 Little Blue Envelopes is a coming of age story of Ginny, who receives 12 envelopes from her dead Aunt. Each letter comes with a set of instructions, to be followed to the dot; and only after completing each task is Ginny allowed to open the next envelope. What follows is a scatterbrained road trip across Europe from London to Paris to Rome. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Easy Friendship

Nikhil was slumped on the college bathroom floor, next to the urinal, with a cut lip and his heart in his throat when he decided that fear smelled like copper, urine and Viraj Singh. His legs were trembling such that he didn’t dare stand up, like he was still choking in Viraj’s hands, dangling two feet off the ground. He looked at the obscenity-filled walls in front of him but in his mind’s eye, they were interrupted by the vision of Viraj and his friends, catching him off guard. 

His brain was playing reruns of their parting words. “Stay away from Patil.” 

Stay away from Patil. 

It’s best to keep away from Shivam. 

Stay away from me. I’m not good for you.

He’s bad news. 

Different words bled into each other in Nikhil’s mind as he stayed frozen on the ground, their meaning sinking in. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth | Spoiler Free

*All Book Reviews on this blog are spoiler free.*

"They talk a great deal about family honour, but they have no sense of honour except to gratify the promises of pleasure they have made to themselves." - Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy.

When my English literature professor mentioned Vikram Seth earlier in the semester, it was like remembering a childhood TV show. I recalled him in bits and pieces, from 9th standard when I was first introduced to him via ‘The Frog and the Nightingale’. But while he had established himself as a poet in my heart long back, my love for the novelist in him came later, with the final pages of A Suitable Boy.

A Suitable Boy is like a wedding cake – layered, rich and overfilling. Set in the 1950s, it gives us a glimpse of the infant India, learning to walk under Nehru’s watch and it shows the life of Lata, our protagonist, who goes from baby steps to tall strides.

Lata, a teenager from a middle-class family with a mother who can give Austen’s Mrs Bennet a run for her money, takes her first steps on the path to love and marriage through these pages. Tensions and emotions run high when Lata, a Hindu girl falls in love with Kabir, a Muslim boy. In order to put an end to this affair, her mother sets her up to be married. At its heart, A Suitable Boy is her coming of age story. With an extended family spanning the spectrum of the Indian society, from the elitist Chatterjis to the grounded Kapoors, it swallows nearly four families in its narration. It has plenty of characters, but even more facets to it. It has stitches of history, socio - culture, politics, ideology and fiction weaved into its fabric.