Seriously how does one? I have a major "Mother, may I ?" moment coming up. But I am mighty chuffed at the mention, so without much ado I will direct you towards An Indian's Summer's home tour of my ghareeb khaana
Whether you click on it is of course all up to you.
What I have no qualms recommending is Yashodara Lal's and Diptakirti Chaudhri's book projects that were out just a couple of weeks ago. Diptakirti I have long "patronized" as I found shades of Dibakar Banerjee (both Bengalis in Delhi finding work in Bombay) and now Yashodara assures me of her Some percentage of Bongness sometimes Bombay sometimes Delhi-ness so I am taking all this VERY SERIOUSLY.
So on to Yashodara and her latest baby JUST MARRIED PLEASE EXCUSE
But before that two confessions.
Though I firmly believe that books make for the best present, I usually gift people a book voucher rather than gifting them a book per se..this as I believe "imposing" my taste in books or what the NYT BestSeller is telling us a particular week, equals a well-meaning aunt steering you towards the trial room "Oh but sweetheart this colour looks so GREAT on you". So, there are very few books that allow me to rethink my cardinal rule "THOU SHALT NOT FORCE"
Now coming to my second disclosure (we will come back to the first a bit later)there was a reason why I pre-booked Yashodara Lal's first novel without biting my finger nails down,"Would it do OK?" Something along the lines of why I do not stress that much when a Dipankar Banerjee releases or a Kashyap (they will do fine)
while I would for a Reema Kagti (her work is edgy, and I love it but would the audiences be kind and make it a hit?)
Yashodara's words have been a friend for a long, long time (she runs a really brilliant blog--and contrary to popular opinion, that the first novel is the fine art of recycling the Best Of, "Just Married, Please Excuse" is the actual act after she is done making her opening jokes on the blog.
So as I was saying Lal's words have been a friend during a particular turbulent time in my personal (and South Asia's) political history. Yes sometimes the personal IS political, and 2008 with all the nightmares that plagued Islamabad and Bombay, the two cities of my heart; and my own questions about being pregnant, it were Lal's words that kept me from going to a very dark, dark, place in my mind.
Her book, which has been launched just this month will be the new Chicken Soup for the Angst Ridden Woman. It has been on my bedside all of this week and though I finished it (as I do most books that I love) the first night of its arrival, I have been reaching out to it and re-reading certain parts. Scratch the chicken soup reference, it is my dark chocolate for days when I am mom to a pre-schooler and fasting for Ramzan. If this doesnt get you running to the book store I do not know what will!
"Just Married, Please Excuse" is not just about relationships in an increasing urbanizing India, or about small time India meeting an increasingly fast paced and demanding big city,or even all the cliches of modern marriage and the pressures of love (lives) in the times of cleaning baby poop. It is about how in spite of all the talk of new "truths" for new times, of growing up in a time when a significant section of young South Asia is living away from their families, with a good number choosing to live in, modern relationships (with all my anxieties of using the word MODERN) and modern South Asia might not be that different from that of the generation before. Also if both partners in a relationship have some "team rules" (I refuse to use the word "compromise") they will get by with the help of their friends, and sometimes SPOILER ALERT their parents.
And regards my BOOK GIFTING KA EK RULE.
Yesterday evening I visited a new mum. Along with the ubiquitous cute dress for the baby and chocolates for the new parents, I made a goody bag for the new mother which I hope will keep her sane once the happy hormones start wearing off. That goody bag contained a copy of "Just Married...."
Consider it 260 pages of pure endorphin.
And Chaudhri's KITNAY AADMI THAY will fingers (and toes crossed) become the Dil Chahta Hai of our generation. It is cool, shuns away from The Formula, but is still reverential to the dictum that Script is King (and will remain forever the book you wish you had written/film you had made).
Other than Desai's "Nehru's Hero Dilip Kumar: In the Life of India" I have yet to read anything that unpacks the tale of how life in South Asia imitates art and vice versa how/what we watched reflected the life and times of a particular generation.
It will also put many a younger sister or frenemy out of commission--you know the one with which you have a standing agreement, that you may conduct a Cold War with them all month but you can wake them up at 2am with niggling questions of (film related) life (Neeley Neeley Amber Par is the soundtrack to ?, who went "Pallo" in a movie and ruined three years of a good crush, who was Anita Raj and which one was Amrita Singh). KAT answers all those queries and then some more.
Anyone who knows me knows how seriously I take my Bollywood, and how I frown on pretenders to the "I Too Love Bollywood" mantle (as a certain "academic" who tried his hand at Bolly history may tell you)..some may say the only reason I submitted the Phd dissertation was to prove to mom and disapproving relatives that a lifetime of watching Bollywood and TV does AMOUNT to something (Ive sneaked that somewhere in the acknowledgments )...so when I say THIS BOOK IS IMPORTANT I do not write in jest.
When it comes to what constitutes as religion for us desis: Chaudhri has given us his take on two, Cricket and Bollywood (read his Cricket! All You Wanted To Know about the World Cup! if you have not already); and accomplished it quite admirably what remains now is his tome on Politics.
He could of course just hurry up with the sequel to KAT.
You trust me dont you?
So settle down, draw up a chair, read a book ...or just visit the links and tell me did I pass your critic's test or not?