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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Book Review: The Recession Groom by Vani

Title: The Recession Groom
Author: Vani
Publisher: Leadstart Publishing
Genre: Fiction
Date:  2015
Price: Rs.299
Pages: 299

Recently a lot of stories in books and movies have been focused on delivering a message subtly with the ingredient of comedy, flavored such that you savor it with pleasure and it touches the heart leaving a lasting impression and is imbibed by the senses for a long time. One such work of writing in this direction addressing the issues of “arranged marriage” - a norm in India is this book The Recession Groom by Vani.

This is the story of Parshuraman an IT professional settled in Toronto, Canada. He is tall, dark, handsome and most importantly an NRI; the perfect dream Indian groom as per Indian parents. Having lost parents early in childhood he is brought up by his grandmother and elder sister, and later on sent to the states and educated with the support of his aunt. He therefore falls into the mould of the traditional Indian guy with values, respect for family and is indebted to their support. His dreams are shaped by years of engraving of thoughts and wishes of his family members, carved on his innocent mind, approved by their morals transforming into a marrying a “perfect Indian bride” of their choice. He lovingly accepts the idea as his own without much thought.  The writer draws the lead character sketch clear and crisp by opening the book with a circumstance where Parshuraman is seduced by his colleague – Jennifer, a white girl, half naked in his house. He however refuses to accept the advancement making it clear that he would marry the Indian girl his family chooses.

As Parshuraman then sets off on a journey to find his soul-mate in an arranged setting, which is predominantly the Indian norm even today; we are set off on a journey that only lightly but surely undresses the hidden reality of the process. It being a trade where the lead character is sized up not so much on his abilities except for one, ‘the earning potential’, the only parameter on the score card that matters, for that is the sole measurement of the bride to be’s security and happiness. His looks, abilities, struggle and hardwork are shadowed by the digits entering his bank balance each month. He manages to score “a good catch” on the Indian score card and is noticed by everyone with daughters of a marriageable age. The neighborhood girls clinging to their windows, each time he moves out, having made a time-table of his movements, approved by their otherwise posing to be cultured parents is one of the few examples of the hilarious, light tone this book adapts to underline a greater darker truth of our society. The confusions of everyday life, the two different teams on mission bride hunt, his sister Ragini and grandmother in India on one and his high on adrenaline aunt Parvati in the U.S on the other; each trying to tie him up with the woman of their dreams keep the tone of the book cheerful.

While in India he faces specimens of women from the lingering on his moves neighborhood girls to the totally stranger girls ready to marry him just because their parents scored him well. On the other side as he begins to find his dream girl in the rich business class of Indians in the U.S, sought by his aunt, he is labeled less ambitious for settling down in Canada by the wealthy prospective father-in-law. He thus measured each time, feels like a commodity and gets tired of the process. On the other hand Jennifer after trying to make him realize her love for him, standing by him in his low times, etc. fails to move him and ultimately begins dating their common friend Bill, who is madly in love with her.

In the middle of all confusion, some settlements and a lot of judging hits recession and the inevitable strikes, people are removed from their jobs for no reason and a dark man in a foreign land is a second priority compared to their own citizens. Parshuraman therefore loses his job. The scorecard now bears the ugly red sign and the digits in the bank balance do not get added to at the end of the month. Aunt Parvati’s never say die attitude, visiting all sorts of witchcraft people and doing what traditional Indian aunts do best – worry and talk, keep the tone cheerful.

The man, an ideal desirable groom girls lined up for garlanding in their dreams as an ideal life partner is alone and has no company. He like a lot of people are ready to take up any job that comes their way only to be earning again, keeping aside the merits of the degrees they earned with such hard work. The aspiring groom now dejected and alone begins to find himself and see things in better perspective. He begins making strong and clear decisions guided by his own will above all. He faces and accepts many realizations, happy as well as unhappy only to be able to fight his circumstances and be able to find himself and his career aspirations for which he has worked. His experiences and tragedies make him more mature, so his decisions more sure than ever before. 
In summation the author has beautifully put forth the chaos, love, family values, tradition and process that comprise the traditional Indian wedding. The writing is lucid and draws the reader within instantly, to be hooked to the book that constantly keeps him/her laughing despite the book addressing a very serious topic is the greatest merit of the writer. The book does have certain flaws wherein the voices of certain important characters such as Jennifer or Tara do not come out well. There is also a lacuna in communication between some of them which often interrupts the flow making it a solved puzzle albeit with visible breaks between sections. On the other hand she has formulated amazing secondary characters like the delightful and supportive grandmother and the over energetic Punjabi aunt who is the winner riding the story through her unending dialogues and actions that every Indian can relate to. The author also ensures explanation of the nitty-gritty of Indian norms and therefore the book is suitable for non-Indian readers, giving them an amazing glimpse of the chaos around the “arranged marriage” setting in our nation. The twist at the end of the story is highly unexpected and takes the reader by surprise.

The book falls in line with the likes of much loved movie “Vicky Donor” or the recent blockbuster “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” that leaves the audience thinking due to the subtle art of inoculating the thought of a critical problem with a flavor of comedy. This book is an experience of a similar kind and magnitude. Recently as Indian writing matures from being dominated by “100 rupee novels” by young writers in the fiction genre, to some good quality writing, not just stories but the very art by people of the same generation, writing such as this, aid the cause.

This being her debut writing, the author Vani has set the bar for herself and emerging Indian writers very high. A read worth your time and money. 

Rating: 3.5 stars on 5

About the Author

I was born in Garian, Libya, in a traditional Hindu Punjabi family. My parents prized good education above all else and when I was still small, they decided to move base to Chandigarh, a modern city in the North of India, famed for its educational institutions. As a child, I loved reading, but writing stories of my own never occurred to me, much like everything else. Becoming a doctor wasnt an option, for the very sight of blood made me retch. Mathematics and Excel sheets bored me no end, leaving Humanities as a last resort. I could easily compete for the civil services, my parents reasoned, although, sitting for an exam with a million potential candidates vying for one job didn't make much sense to me. Fortunately, life took a better turn and it was a Masters degree in Economics alongside a programme in Mass Communications that set my foundation for a career in business journalism. Luckily, I got to work in some of the best organizations in India, like The Times of India and The Financial Express. In 2004, I was hit with the desire to write a novel. However, a few drafts and several ideas later, I gave it all up to pursue an MBA degree from Kingston University in London. Of course, I dreamt about MNC firms coveting me, the Deloittes and the McKinseys of the world chasing me with multiple job offers, the likes of Accenture begging me to work for them. The reality was quite different. The completion of my course coincided with the start of global recession and my dreams could never be realized. My situation, nevertheless, prompted me to write my first novel. So, it was all okay in the end.

Grab a copy now!!!

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