Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dollar Bahu

Rating: 4/5

Title: Dollar Bahu
Author: Sudha Murthy
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 142
Publisher: Penguin India
ISBN-13: 9780143103769

I had always wanted to read Sudha Murthy’s books but whenever I walk into a book store the aura of a glamorous looking mystery/detective novel always gets the better of me (even today!). But a deliberate attempt to grab this copy had me enjoying a pleasant ride from India to America and now I can’t stop raving about it!

Dollar Bahu begins with Chandru, an engineer, leaving Bangalore- his hometown- for Dharwad where he is sent on official duty. He stays as a paying guest and falls in love with Vinuta, the niece of his landlord. When he is sent to America on deputation, he reluctantly leaves Dharwad unsure if Vinuta has the same feelings for him. But going to America was a priority for Chandru as he and his mother, Gowramma, always wanted to visit the “Dollar” country.  Gowramma is thrilled and is rather pompous as his son will now earn in dollars. While he is away in America, Chandru’s younger brother, Girish, meets Vinuta in Bangalore and both end up getting married. Gowramma’s frantic search for her elder ‘bahu’ finally ends when she finds Jamuna who hails from an affluent family. The wedding is a full blown affair. But it is after this wedding that Vinuta is slowly sidelined by her mom-in-law. She is ignored and belittled and even when she is pregnant, is not shown any kindness by Gowramma. A few years and a grandson later, Gowramma is invited to America by Chandru as his wife is now expecting a child. Gowramma’s happiness knows no bound as she sets off alone to her dreamland not realizing that all Jamuna needs is a baby sitter. Initially everything seems rosy and lovely but she slowly realizes the acts of her cunning daughter- in- law and how she was deceived by her false affection.  As she meets different people in the US she is horrified by their tales and also by the huge cultural shock. Having learned the hard way, Gowramma returns back to India realizing the truth behind the glossy dollar and repenting for her unruly behavior with Vinuta.

I loved this book. I guess we can all relate to the typical Indian mentality towards the US in Gowramma and also sympathize with her when the facade of her dear”Dollar Bahu” collapses. The book also illustrates many characters benefiting from the dollars earned but it all seems to come with a price tag. But at the end, it leaves a smile on your face.

Beautifully penned by Sudha Murthy, this book is definitely recommended. Originally written in Kannada, this book is now available in all major Indian languages. It is a nice, breezy read. Looking out for another book -”Mahashweta” by the author. 

That is, if I succeed in getting past the ‘Mystery/Suspense’ racks of the book store!! ;-) 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Love Was Never Mine

Rating: 2/5

Title: Love Was Never Mine
Author: Kunal Bharadwaj
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Pages: 144
Publisher: Cedar Books
ISBN-13: 9788122311846

For a change, I decided to buy this book. The summary at the back looked interesting enough and moreover, Indian writings are always easier to relate to. So I thought to give it a try.

This book is about Rahul and his first (and last) love, Shreya. Rahul joins his dream company where he meets Shreya and instantly falls in love with her. Rahul firmly believes in the phrase”If you want something wholeheartedly, the universe conspires to bring it to you“. Keeping his faith in the Universe, he tries to impress and help Shreya in any way possible just to steer her attention towards him. He gets dejected by even the slightest disinterest from Shreya and pours it out on Riya and Hari, his colleagues. Shreya, unaware of his feelings for her, hurts him unintentionally until Rahul decides to express it all to her. But when he does he is heartbroken as he realizes that she does not love him. Despite this, he goes all lengths to help and be there for her whenever she needs him. Rahul continues to be in love with her even after she gets married. However, the book ends with rather a tragic turn of events.

The book is about the emotional journey of Rahul. Of course, there are a few incidents that did not go down too well with me. For example, Rahul believes that the outer appearance of a person does not matter; all that is important is the inner beauty. But the story goes off balance when he falls in love with Shreya the first time he sets eyes on her after a long, lingering look of her lips! Love at first sight? May be, but to such an extent described in the book… doesn’t seem realistic. Another one. Shreya is depicted as a sweet and nice girl but she continues to ‘use’ Rahul in spite of knowing his feelings for her. Either Rahul is too meek or Shreya is made of stone. Again, no balance here. The very end of the story (straight from a Bollywood movie!) implores for some typical Indian emotions but sadly, did not work. Not for me.

The good part, however, is that the story is short and to the point but not something that would make you sit up and read. As I said, it is all about Rahul’s emotions which were a little far stretched, I believe. The narration is monotonous with a few jerks here and there.

Overall, a fair read if you have a few hours to kill. But certainly not a ‘un-putdownable’ book.

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