Sunday, November 21, 2010

Neti, Neti - Not This Not Thiis

Author:       Anjum Hasan
Published:   2009
Publisher:    Roli Books Pvt. Ltd.
Paperback: 288 Pages
Readers in India:

I have hardly read any  contemporary Indian Fiction, except for  the novels by Chetan Bhagat and  Upamanyu Chatterjee's English August. So it is time I make amends by reading more  books in this genre. Stories about the characters and the places which I can relate to better as compared to those in English novels I have been reading all these years.
With such an intention I picked borrowed this book from the circulating library Just Books (one of the best things that has happened for book lovers in recent times) - mainly for three reasons - a) the blurb said that story is set in Bangalore, my home town for three decades; b) it had been longlisted for a couple of literary awards (that probably assures a minimum level of quality) c) The title words "Neti Neti" is from Vedantic literature, which is close to my heart.
The story is about Sophie Das a young girl from Shillong who has recently moved into Bangalore and works for a BPO company. While coming to terms with the fast-paced life in Bangalore, she experiences a sense of lacuna and hollowness in her life and decides to go back to Shillong for good. However she does not find the fulfillment even in Shillong where her home is. So she is back in Bangalore and her life moves on. She accepts the reality and tries to make the best out of it.
The story  seems to be a realistic portrayal of Generation Ys in Bangalore (I am not sure about this though,I am GenX !) and the city as such (with all its traffic jams and malls etc.) . A few interesting characters like Baba Sampige ( who I guess is modelled on a few Godmen in and around Bangalore) and Bhatt (the landlord of the flat which Sophie had rented) who lend a touch of humor, have also been thrown in.

A coincidence:
I was reading  this book while commuting to my office and I came across these lines:
".....they came up to Trinity Circle and joined the cars swarming excitedly in every direction...." and that very moment I looked up and realized that my car was too in Trinity Circle !

The punch line:
Swami, Sophie's boy friend who has managed to buy an expensive car on loan, says "The only problem we'll have in life from now on is the problem of where to find parking space."

This punch line in my view sums up the complete underlying philosophy of this novel !

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