Posted in Romance, Uncategorized

Romance Reader’s take on Valentine’s Day

“I think the single gals, anti-Valentine’s Day thing is a little played out. The romantic Valentine’s thing is a little played out too.”

It was these wise words of the actress, comedienne and all around boss ass bish Anna Kendrick that made me realise what my opinion of the “day of love” truly was. I am not what you would call a hater, nor am I like my mother who has made adorable heart  shaped edible goodies in honour of 14th of February.

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That being said, I am also absolutely addicted to all forms of Romantic fiction and no, Fifty Shades of Grey is not even in my top 500 books in terms of romance or good sex scenes. Let me give you a little background, my journey with romance novels started in the summer of 2010, during the long vacation post Class 10 board exams when I discovered my mother’s old Penny Jordan Mills and Boons. Mind you these books my mother read only after she got married, now that we have the hawwww factor out of the way, let’s get back on topic.

Starting with Penny Jordans, moving onto the online Harlequin reads and then graduating onto the wide world of the internet which has scores of eBooks of the romantic nature to be devoured,where I read all kinds of sci-fi and supernatural beings in love. Outside the paranormal genre I discovered the numerous contemporary and historical romance, but the best of all are the Young Adult and New Adult romances, because nothing can beat the hopefulness of 15-25 year olds who think love can conquer all. Mind you a lot of these books sought to describe how love can’t exactly conquer all and life gets in the way, so do jobs, and geographical distance.

By now you get the idea of just how many such books I have read, according to my laptop memory I have read double digit GBs of eBooks since I joined Law School so go figure. My take away from all these books is not unrealistic standards of romance and dramatic trysts or explosive lovemaking, sorry but that’s not it. What I have imbibed from these books is the fact that love brings happiness, you don’t have to be in love to appreciate the concept of love and sheer joy that it can bring. Some say it is the tragic nature of love that is beautiful or that no love is devoid of pain. I agree to an extent, life cannot be devoid of harsh truths and negativity and hence we can’t expect love to be all about puppy kisses and kitten purrs. It will be difficult, but ultimately it will be worth the smile your loved one puts on your face. It is the fluttery feeling inside your tummy and the crazy anticipation to see them which makes people go searching for love, the comfortable companionship and (pardon me for the cliche) the feeling of being home.

Now how does my opinion of Valentine’s Day figure into this? Well as I sat struggling to work on a paper about Financial Fraud I had an epiphany. Why is that when I read novels about other people in love, it just makes me so happy while immediately uplifting my mood; but the whole hullabaloo around Valentine’s Day leaves me feeling vaguely embarrassed, lonely and grumpy? If we can appreciate RomComs and novels, why can’t we just accept that people need a particular day to represent one of the nicest things about being human: The emotion of Love.

All the arguments about it being a commercial gimmick for capitalists to sell more cards, roses, teddy bears and chocolates are valid of course, but that doesn’t mean we need to boycott the whole event, let’s just take their idea and own it. Ideas can’t be copyrighted, so why not re-purpose this day and make it about the feeling of all kinds of love rather than being all about Hetero-normative Couples. Without supporting the whole mandatory on giving your special someone a gift angle, why can’t we just celebrate the fact that there are people in our lives who love us? Romantic love, filial love, love for your animal and human friends, the key is to celebrate this wonderful and probably chemical phenomenon to the fullest. In the rat race of life we often forget to make people feel special, and here is this day reminding us to do so by waving red heart balloons in our faces and saying, “Hey! If not before, you can express your love and appreciation today!”

Just because you aren’t currently in love or can’t have the person you want doesn’t mean you have to be glum about the V-day, let it give you hope that there is so much love going into the universe, sometime, somewhere it will get back to you. And no, it will not get back through those impulsive text messages to your crush or your ex; that my friend will only leave you sad because you’re likely be ignored, pitied, patronised or rebuffed. Just hold on to your horses, the reasons that made you decide to be unattached and single will continue to exist on 15th of February, or maybe sometime soon that status quo will change.

But you know what won’t change? The fact that you are a good person who has an immense capacity to love and care. The other 364/5 days of the year you will learn a little more about life and living, use that wisdom to bring happiness in the lives of the people around you, and in the bargain you might find the person who wants to do the same for you…

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Solitary Socialising

img_20170211_112117515This blog started as a way to voice the continuous stream of thoughts that crowd my mind and share some interesting ones with the world; well I hope they are interesting. I have always consciously or unconsciously tried to stay away from emotional topics that make me vulnerable in order to distance myself from the “emo writer” archetype that I have observed. But as we grow so does our writing, and my recent experiences tell me that not only do I shy away from letting others see my vulnerability, I am actually very bad at voicing thoughts that do the same. I have had better luck discussing such things over text messages with friends so I thought, why not finally try writing about my vulnerabilities? Maybe this post will make someone feel that hey, I am not the only one who feels like this, I know at least one such person. I also know another person who will think, why does she think so much unnecessarily?

My parents made a decision even before my birth that they would have only one child, and I have never really missed the presence of a sibling, being an only child merely led me to live inside my head a little more than others and made me comfortable entertaining myself. I have known people who extremely uncomfortable if they have to spend time by themselves, they require the presence of another person to truly enjoy themselves, but nope that’s not me.

But there are certain times where being unaccompanied leaves me feeling slightly unsettled, these are tendencies I thought I had grown out of but it seems that I haven’t, let’s take an example from a time when I did not even realise that this was a problem. Back in the last three to four years of school, whenever I was by myself around but not included in a group of people, friends who seemed to be having a good time amongst themselves, I always felt like that ragamuffin child with their nose pressed up against the window of a candy shop, looking in and looking forlorn. The reason for this feeling was that I had a select few friends (still do) in a school where most people knew each other from kindergarten while I was the new girl who joined halfway. It was not by design that they excluded me, because I know I am not the center of the universe, but it was just how the social dynamics were at that moment. Over the years I realised that these seemingly “cool kids” were fraught with nasty gossip of the betraying nature and a host of other teenage unpleasantness. I thought I was done with the vague sense of loneliness that struck me sometimes around such people.

Clearly these insecurities are harder to get rid of, this I learnt recently as I sat by myself in the college, people watching as I usually do when I am not in the mood to read. I noticed a group of acquaintances sitting at an adjacent table and suddenly I was struck with the same feeling being excluded and unwelcome. It was bizarre because intellectually I knew that if I did try making conversation it wouldn’t be rebuffed, but the niggling sensation of feeling unwelcome wouldn’t leave me. If I were to be rational I would say that you can’t please everyone and there is always someone waiting to pass judgement over you in trivial matters, but that doesn’t stop me from needing to be liked and crowned Miss Congeniality (I am certainly too moody to be named that).

As I write this I again wonder if it is a mistake making myself so vulnerable to people over the internet, it’s not the strangers I worry about, but the friends and acquaintances who might be reading this. But this is one of those risky decisions that I take rarely, which are designed to give me life experiences and practice in what pop culture refers to as “adulting”, meaning growing into a mature, functioning and contributing member of society. I am under no illusions that this post will be life changing for a fellow member of society trying to traverse the submerged and algae covered rocks of social interaction. But there is always the chance that someone stumbles upon this and it helps them understand what they are feeling, something which took me the better part of my adolescent years.

The funny thing is that after a day of wanting to be a part of group interaction,  all I wanted to do was sit all by myself on the porch while reading, looking up only to watch leaves fall from the trees and butterflies flit from bloom to bloom. I guess I do love my own company after all.

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Olfactory Obsessions

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This is the first time, nay the only time I didn’t have to agonise over what to title my piece, which is indeed an achievement for a person who spends a considerable amount of time over titles for even academic papers. But this time the title emerged from my mind fully formed, just like Athena from Zeus’s head.

So what is that about the olfactory sense that I obsess over? Is it the fact that I have a sensitive nose that triggers nausea at any sweet strong smells? Men and women who walk in a cloud of perfume and deodorant are the bane of my life thanks to this. But no, I am not chronicling the lists of fragrances that nauseate me. This is more about those scents that hit the chord of nostalgia in my mind.

I had been mulling over this post for a while when I came across the Awkward Yeti cartoon that I have featured here, it perfectly captured the essence of what I wanted to convey, the special relation between our sense of smell and our memories. Material sentimentality is something frowned upon in my household because there is no space for sentimental knick knacks when you have to move houses and locations every two years; as a result I have collected an incorporeal box of keepsakes in my head.

These keepsakes include songs that trigger memories of people, places and times in my life and more importantly smells and fragrances that lead me straight to particular memories. The easiest smells for me to remember are the fragrances that people around me wear, certain perfumes that my mother wore only to parties that take me back to my those days when I watched my mother get ready for parties, perfecting her make-up and coiffure. My association of smells to people is so strong that I get seriously disconcerted when I smell the same perfumes that I or my loved ones wear on other people, of course it is irrational to expect that these scents are exclusive to me and mine, but what can I say it is what is it.

My close friend is a connoisseur of cologne’s, she always notices if a person within sniffing distance is wearing a good cologne and often associates them with certain men in her life. Most of you will agree with me on the fact that how a man you’re attracted to smells is something that doesn’t fade from your memory easily. There was one such moment in the recent past where one such man wore a fragrance disturbingly similar to what my father wore, a scent that I loved because thanks to my nauseous tendencies my father always takes my sniffed approval for body spray or perfume for himself. But associating a similar smell to a guy I found interesting? Stuff of nightmares, but to my utter relief I did find differences between the two scents that convinced me to stop feeling uncomfortable about it.

Turn back the time machine to a few years ago, to my first and last official college crush that lasted well, half my college life and maybe more, that sounds more pathetic once it’s written down. This boy-man wore a particular scent that reminded me of a subtle spicy version of the desi gulab i.e. the Indian rose. But the plot twist is that none of my friends who have been around him have ever smelled the same, not even my cologne connoisseur friend! It was even suggested that I was having olfactory hallucinations; do they even have an official name for this? Must Google it, also I love how Google has become a verb since the noun has become so popular, but I digress.

Coming back to this phenomenon known as Phantosmia, meaning phantom smells which I generally experience with respect to food. I know I am really craving something when I start smelling the aroma in the air without this food item being anywhere around, like the smell of cheese omelets in the middle of an exhaust smoke full road, or the smell of pav bhaji when I was fed up of hostel food. So when I crave for certain foods strongly enough, my brain pulls these memories out and starts playing them for me, sweet isn’t it.

It is not just mine, but all our brains are a repository of all the smells that we ever experienced and that made a mark on us, remember all those Facebook posters about petrichor, the smell of rain on dry soil? That never really did anything for me, rain is not something I like so things reminding me of impending monsoons are memories I want to revisit.

On the other hand the smell of wood smoke, accompanies by a slight nip in the air that marks the beginning of winter holds a special place in my memories. For this smell reminds of the festive season that replaces Autumn in India, Dussehra, Diwali and all the colour, beauty and simple happiness that accompanies it. Fast forward a few months to late February- early March, the Indian spring is pretty much done and so is Maha Shivratri, the mark of winter ending, this time the smell is of dusty gardens and roads along with the prickle of sweat the beads my neck as even the evening sun makes the environs considerably warm. You will ask what is so memorable about the hellish heat that Indian Summers bring; it’s not the season of summer that is so appealing, but all the interesting times of my childhood that it reminds me of.

Summer season meant a new school session, new school books to read with fascination, the possibility of new friends being posted in and of course Summer vacations. Roughly two months of uninterrupted naps, reading and occasional games of teacher-teacher and other immersions into the world of make believe. If we were to play the word association game in smells, summer would also remind me of my brief visits to the swimming pool and the accompanying smell of chlorine, you all remember it don’t you? Did it make you smile? Swimming pool memories must make most of us smile, unless there were some traumas like near drownings or bullying attached to them. Negative memories attached to smell aren’t as rare as we would like, who can forget the smell of spirit from hospitals, or the smell of your teeth being ground down by the drill at the dentist’s, not something I would like to remember but these associations are also retained by the brain, such is life.

But the point is that smell is one of the all-important five (or six if you ask some) senses of the human body that tell us more about the world around us. Inferior beings that we are, our sense of smell is not of practical use as that of our canine friends (unless you are a perfumer or a winemaker) but it’s not completely without it’s uses, it does give us the gift of relieving some memories that could possibly bring a smile to our face and elevate our spirits. Candle makers have started making scented candles with all sorts of interesting scents like those associated with the Harry Potter fandom, which in itself values scents greatly due to the existence of the notorious love potion “Amortentia” which smells different to each person depending on what attracts them. If it were up to me, I would make capture all my memories in vials but instead of silvery memories directly visible in a Pensieve, they would be swirling scents that would take me back to moments from the years passed.

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Of Wants and Wishes

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Why is that I feel like writing only when I have lengthy papers pending or the sword of exams hanging over my head? Or maybe it’s just the after effects of reading a favourite book.
So this book is something I have written about previously, and no I shall not go into a litany of praises for it, all I shall say is that it has sent me into a dreamy state where I randomly grin and chuckle while putting my cynicism and worries aside.
And no this post is not even about my tendency to be what my friend termed as a hapless romantic.
Anyone who knows me enough to know my eccentricities knows that I dream of writing a full length novel, most probably a fantasy or a romance, probably a combination of both. I am just biding my time till that one brilliant idea strikes my cluttered brain.
I often brainstorm ideas regarding the above (I apologise, legal drafting has permanently damaged my writing and I know not what to do about it) and these ideas range from stories that took birth in my subconscious mind during dreams to notable moments from my friends lives. But what will that incredible inspiration be that will make my lazy self churn out pages rather than ideas that can’t be copyrighted?
As I read one of my favourite Indian authors today, I came to the realisation that while I don’t know what I will write about, but what I do know is that how I want it to make my readers feel.
I want my readers to experience the fascination that Enid Blyton’s fairy tales filled me with, the complete absorption into the a world like the one woven by J.K. Rowling and the feeling of being gloomy in rainy Yorkshire before discovering a secret garden.
I don’t want to write an epic romance, au contraire I want it to be an everyday one. What I will strive to do is fill pages with the feeling of familiarity which makes the reader feel, “Hey, I know THAT!”, something that makes the heroine seem a little like you and me, the hero like that boy who was the star of our lovelorn dreams. The romantic interludes need not be in expensive restaurants, elaborate gardens or fancy mansions but in everyday places like doorways, elevators and stairwells.
No matter what I write, I hope to make it bring a smile to my readers face, a chuckle on their lips and tearful trembly chins when the time calls for it.
I realise that there is a reiteration of a lot of “wants”, “hopes” and “dreams” in this post, it seems my parents were clairvoyant and foresaw my cynical yet dreamy and wishful disposition.
Kyonki iss lekhika ki akanksha  bas itni hai ki she can transport her readers into a shared dreamscape that fascinates them like it did her.

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The Cynical Dreamer

Image Last night I sat watching the romance drama film “Mohabbatein”, I agree that it is embarrassingly illogical and dramatic, but well, a case analysis of case law in special contracts sucks the life out of you and extreme measures like viewing non-intellectual films is the only recourse. I had mainly three observations which I would like to proceed to enumerate. Alas, the language of my case analysis assignment is leaking into my leisurely late night writing too. But my first two observations on the movie are from the point of view of the somewhat mature, logical law student. If you are bored by now, wait for three seconds and read the next line, if you have absolutely zilch interest in a young girl’s comparison of her view of the world as a child and as a young woman, then please do close the tab, I shall not be wounded by your rejection I assure you.

The biggest flaw that leapt out of the movie, that had caught my attention once before was the character of Preeti Jhangiani, Mrs Kiran Khanna, who is the 19 year old widow of a retired Major General’s Pilot son , who was pronounced missing in action 2 years ago. I used to wonder that at what age did she get married in the movie and today when I patiently watched the entire film, my question was answered; she was brought into her marital home at the age of 17. I can’t fathom how the script writer thought that it was acceptable and okay to portray an underage, minor bride in the year 2000, the millennium, that tpo in the family of highly educated people as shown in the movie? The law student in me itches to point out the illegality of it all, my sociology major roommate might even point out that how it re-enforces the message that underage marriages are okay and there is nothing wrong with them. But I guess the audience was not expected to give such deep thought to details of this nature.

Another fact that irks me a little is one that is central to the plot of the film, i.e. Aishwarya Rai’s character Megha committing suicide because the man she loves has been kicked out of college and sent away to a place she knows not where. While I do not dis-respect people who have the misfortune of taking their lives and highly scorn people who call them weak, I really don’t think the movie should be glorifying her “death for love” and using it as a tool to teach her father, the strict Headmaster of the college the importance of love, art etc. etc. I mean let me get this straight, suicide is not a nice thing; it should be avoided at all costs right? A greater part of the population frowns upon the “Twilight” series and its second book, where the heroine Bella becomes first catatonic and later an adrenalin junkie because her boyfriend broke off their relationship, everyone agreed that a man’s love or for the matter of fact even a women’s love or the lack thereof should not make the other person lose interest in life. There are myriad of things and emotions that add quality to life, romantic love is not the only validating factor, after all who knows if one love is lost another might come your way. My questioning of the movie is on the exact same lines that the message that if romantic love is lost then life is irreparably damaged and listless is not one we want to send to people. Of course Shahrukh Khan’s character Raj Aryan is more gutsy and admirable, as after his girlfriend kills himself and his professional prospects are bleak, he still manages to make something of his life and even spread love, music and joy among his students. The feminist in me wonders if the portrayal of the female as the one who could not bear the separation was deliberate and purposeful, but then I am probably micro-analysing it and the sole purpose of the girl to kill herself was to give the hard-hearted headmaster some heart-ache.

These two observations are my opinion and everyone is free to differ, I might even agree and concede to them if they can be convincing enough. But these thoughts were what came to me at the last, my first and foremost thought was on a more whimsical note.

This movie released when I was barely 5 years old, in Upper KG, having the time of my life. I grew up on YRF romances and till date enjoy them from time to time. Slowly I began understanding Hollywood romances, albeit the censored versions on TV. Then finally at the appropriate age [don’t worry my mother was aware] I graduated to the mainstream fodder for romantic souls, Mills and Boons and Harlequin romance novels varying from fantasy, historical to mystery. Books were always a joy to me and when I discovered them to have romantic themes; I predictably got interested in them. I am now realistic and cynical enough to know that relationships are not all flowers and dates, they are painful and difficult. Observing the individuals around me I know that people one could fall in love with are not without faults, and we ourselves are ridden we faults big and small, lack of common interests or even time are the undoing of relationships. But at 5 I had more rose tinted view of the concept, the TV was full of movies that showed how people fell in love in college, like in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, or High School students with exciting love and social lives as in Hip Hip Hurrah. Years later as teen I have to still absorb all these fictional stories about American schools and colleges where apparently all students care about it is love, or better yet lust. Now of course I am aware that this isn’t so.

Having finished schooling without seeing any remarkable romances around me I am pretty sure they aren’t all that common. But as a young child between the ages of 5-10 I used to wonder if my later years of schooling would be that glamorous, after all if Gabriella Montez the nerd in High School Musical could have an epic romance why not me? But as it so happened that neither the environment nor the people around me in High School were conducive for an epic romance. The little girl I was had even seen romances based in college, like in this movie, a boys college, a close by girls one. Or other movies like Pyaar mein Kabhi Kabhi where Dino Morea is the lover boy, and finds his girl in college and they too playfully fall in love. But hello! I am through a year and a half of college and nothing like this is happening to me, it might be happening around me though so the 5 year old version of me isn’t as disappointed as she was in High School.

They say romance in fiction makes people unrealistic and makes their relationships unsuccessful, but it makes me all the more cynical as I am sure that these are just stories and highly unlikely to happen. I know that college romances often don’t last, I know that there are many more things to concentrate on like the future and friendships, and I also know that I am not just small fish, but phytoplankton in the big pond, nay the sea that my college is. So I don’t keep my hopes up, after all there still are movies and books where love is found by adults in their 20s! I still have hope, on a philosophical note, right now my motto is “Don’t search for love, it will find you if it has to.” But of course my motto will definitely change when in a decade or so societal pressures, the ticking biological clock or my own romantic nature when compel me to actively search for it.

Romantic movies like Mohabbatein or new ones like “Shudh Desi Romance” [I just can’t hide the fact that I am looking forward to it!] are a heart shaped lantern in this dark world where women and children are raped every few minutes somewhere in the country. They prove that somewhere someone has pleasant thoughts in their head and put an indulgent or wistful or even an annoyed smile on someone’s face. But till then realistic as well as whimsical fiction that is indulged in between lengthy essays and case analysis will keep my satisfied and sane. By whimsical I do not mean of the nature of Wizards, Werewolves or Vampires, I mean those stories of love-at-first-sight, uncontrollable passion and beaus who are perfect for each other without and character flaws. So I have rambled on about how differently the logical and romantic sides of me perceive the same thing, I guess the psychologist was right about this one, my Left and Right side of the brain are indeed balanced, and this regularly causes problems in decision making. So off I go to make another decision hinged on fact and fantasy…

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Homesick!!!

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Now whoever is from the place that has been home to me for the past 5 years will recognise the above photo with ease as a part of their daily life and travel. As I stay up listening to music on the internet, I had sudden urge to listen to Kannada songs, now I confess I don’t know many, just a few that I heard on the radio in 10th grade (a very interesting part of my education). In fact I haven’t paid much attention to Kannada songs after that year ended. But the purpose of the last sentence was to say that, I ended up looking up these songs on Youtube, had a difficult time as I could barely spell the names…but in the end it was worth it. Beautiful songs that were a culmination of feeling homesick for quite some time. I knew I was homesick…not mum-sick…but proper home-sick, I even got sentimental seeing pictures of my school. When on the way to college while I listened to the radio, the jingle of 94.3 Radio One started playing, instead of the hindi lyrics that play up here, I found myself mentally singing along with the Kannada lyrics. I still do not remember what is the hindi version, but I most definitely know that the Kannada one goes along the lines of…Namma station nalli navu, haku hadu, baby super nodu…[forgive me for any blunders in the roman script spellings] thus cementing my opinion that I indeed am homesick. I miss the crazy windy days when a tiny person like me can get blown away, when sweaters come out in the middle of the summer and the rains create mini lakes everywhere. I was particularly missing my room in my grandpa’s house, where the large windows air-condition the room too a frosty temperature, the same windows where I used to sit and hum when I couldn’t fall asleep, too bad my hostel room window doesn’t bring any breeze in. Now that I have moved away, I regret not having learned the language spoken, every time my Kannadiga friends in college talk to each other in their mother-tongue, I get further home-sick and wish I had learnt the language so I could identify with the place a little more. I was never that attached to the city as I never saw much of it, but I guess you can’t not be attached to a place in which you cross the threshold of adolescence and live for almost half a decade. Take my advice and appreciate which ever place you live in, trust me, it could be worse and I have seen places worse than my home and my current place of residence.
So I am going to continue being homesick, plan to badger my friend from college for Mysore Pak and listen to songs I do not understand and heave wistful sighs, remembering my school days, when assignments were few, sleep was plentiful and food in my lunch box tasted good…

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Not just a Pricey book!

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As the exam fever rises, so grows my so called creative streak wider, prompting me to write this book review of the book I just recently read and greatly adore! So here it goes…my inconsequential opinion on the latest addition to the chick-lit bookshelves- Those Pricey Thakur Girls by Anuja Chauhan. I can practically hear my friends who have read the book shout with glee and the ones, who haven’t, groan in unison as I have been bombing them with spoilers since the night I finished this book. But I shall promise to keep spoilers to a minimum as my friends might bludgeon me to death with my own law books!

This book is shorter than Chauhan’s earlier ones, [and more expensive!] a mere 400 pages to Zoya Factor’s 500, but definitely faster moving than 450 in Battle for Bittora. Those Pricey… is about Debjani alias Dabbu Thakur, the 4th daughter out of 5 alphabetically named daughters of a retired Judge, she lives in a posh locality, is a champion of the feared wild dogs and cats of the colony and has aspirations to overcome her clumsiness and shyness and step out of her eldest sister, the posh Anjani’s shadow, escape the dramatic criticisms of Binodini and is supported it in this scheme by her youngest sister Eshwari. Well it won’t be an Anuja Chauhan book if it did not have a hunky male protagonist would it? Enter Dylan Singh Shekhawat, son of Brigadiar Shekhawat of the proud 14 Rajputana Rifles and Juliet Lobo, a Mangalorean catholic lass who dared to elope with a Rajput officer. Dylan has the best of the both worlds, the Rajput courage [I do not claim authorship of this stereotype!], the southern brains [stereotype x2] and sensitivity that his Maama inculcated in all her 3 sons.

The book is set roughly in the 80s and is not just a love story, it is about family and the trials they put you through, it is about taking the risk of standing up for the truth, of not letting pride come in the way of happiness. I would call this book my favourite out of all the three books by Chauhan, it will make you chuckle at odd times [so make sure no one is sleeping near you] but not send you into guffaws like the previous two. On the other hand, it deals with a topic which is at odds with the cheery goody-goody note of a romantic novel, where Zoya Factor dealt with India’s obsession with Cricket, Battle for Bittora dealt with electoral politics and the corruption in it, Those Pricey…takes on a further serious topic which I shall not reveal to you…but this does not take away from the book its humour, sweet moments and over all charm. Characters like the dramatic Chachiji who laments about her husband and curses people with termite biting their derriere, a cousin who would rather open a gym than study law, twin nephew and nieces named Monu and Bonu and a mother who tries to keep everyone happy without being walked on remind us of all our families and distant relations as every average Indian family have either one or all of the above!

The female protagonist Dabbu is like most women a little low on self-esteem but high on dreams. She is not quick to judge nor is she coy and afraid to abuse and does not live just to have a love story. She is a woman who tries to rise above her weaknesses as a human and try to keep peace in her family full of oddballs. Don’t ask me how I got so much seriousness out of a chick-lit novel, I just did!

Moving on to dear Dylan, out of all the male protagonists Chauhan created, he is the most described. Nikhil Khoda and Zain Altaf Khan had an air of mystery around them and there wasn’t much to clue the reader about whom they were as people, at least to me. But Dylan is shown as a multi-faceted man who might run from commitment like most men, but still retains his sensitivity, he loves his mother and family but is most definitely NOT a maama’s boy. He makes the mistake of trusting the wrong people in his zeal for his work but he also knows how to love and forgive slights to his ego. He is not the traditional macho man, but someone who would also appeal to a sapiosexual person!

I seem to have developed a soft spot for the book as like Dylan I too am a product of crazy genetics, as my friend calls me, a state Hybrid. I am second generation mixed-marriage progeny and tend to imagine my Grandad and Grandmom on my mum’s side in the position on the Brigadier and his wife, of course there is some tweaking with regards to who is from where in my family’s story, but none-the-less I see the similarities. Dylan and his brother’s find their relatives on both the sides a little strange from their little family, the southerners have preconceived notions about the northerners and the Hindus actually believe the stereotypes perpetuated by Bollywood movies like Julie about Christians. These are things I can attest to.

The book best described in one word is REAL. Maybe not to so much my generation but definitely to our parents’, Campa Cola, warm summer nights spent on terraces with the family, DD being the only TV channel aired. Ask your parents will definitely agree nostalgically to them.

If you want to “ooh!” and “aah!” about a hot guy and make dreamy eyes while reading a book, then get your copy of Those Pricey Thakur Girls as soon as you can! But kindly don’t bring your brain along for the ride as this is no mindless mushy romantic novel, if you don’t understand Hinglish, keep a friend who does handy and lastly get ready to finish the book in one sitting for you will not be able to put it down!