Wednesday, October 26, 2011

India Was One by an Indian

…Suddenly, he saw something shiny at the bottom of the abyss. He squinted his eyes to see what it was. He ran back to his binoculars and turned them to see what it was. Sharp barbed wires that separated the two mountains came into focus. He had come as far as he could in his country. But she was standing in another country.

He was in South India and she was in North India…

Have you ever imagined India being divided into two countries? What happens to the millions of Indians who are from South India but are now residing in North India? Kaahi & Jai were two such people who got trapped in this situation. Everything was going smoothly for them and suddenly, their world turned upside down.

How will they get together? Will India become one again?

Take an exciting journey with them from their college days in Mumbai to their life in the US and back to India when they find out that India is divided.

Reviewer: QueenBee
India Was One explores rich Indian culture while the author weaves the dramatic love story of one couple against the backdrop of Indian history.

Jai the hero meets Kaahi and falls in love their first day at college. The feeling is mutual, they are happy – and the first few chapters are that, too, describing their time at college, their interaction with their friends and so forth. There’s also a lot of information on the local culture thrown in. The first chapter in particular is devoted to cricket – it may be quite a revelation for a reader not familiar with modern India how much excitement this game can inspire. To understand it better one should think football – or even baseball, as the heroes and the plotline move to the USA.

But shortly before the move the heroes marry, and I particularly liked the description of the wedding itself, abundant with carefully researched detail and explanations about religious differences. The author clearly takes into account that the general audience won’t know much about such things and even has the American guests act as their mouthpiece when they’re comparing the wedding to lush ancient Roman ceremonies one reads about in history books.

The newlyweds continue their happy life in America but this idyll doesn’t last long. Actually, the first inklings of disasters to come are given already in the first chapter where the hero observes barbed wires separating the two countries. So the politics catch up with them, they rush back home to find out about their respective family - and what appeared to be a relationship story suddenly turns into a political thriller as the heroes navigate their separate (separated) ways in the chaos of the newly divided India. I must say I was disconcerted by such turnabout - I somehow wanted more in the way of the relationship development. It really looked too perfect to stay like that indefinitely but instead of some personal conflicts we got a big political based drama. Maybe it was the author’s intention but I felt it was sprung upon me.

The author tests the boundaries of traditional fiction by incorporating lots of non-fictional elements – cricket rules, descriptions of religious and caste norms etc., and while this is a great way to introduce much needed factual information sometimes it feels overdone. When these facts take over a page in italics – well, the attention of most readers would stray. Actually, to cut out superfluous stuff should be an editor’s job, but I’m not sure the book had one. There were also annoying misspellings like f0rgot instead of forgot. So, basically a good novel but could have done with some improvement. 4 stars.

See the original review on goodreads


An Indian said...

As the author of the book, I must clarify one thing that they get married in India.

Tash M said...

Thanks for noticing! Already corrected.
Must have got too excited over the marriage thing.

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