Friday, June 19, 2015

Book Review: The House that BJ Built by Anuja Chauhan

I first heard of this book through the omniscient ever buzzing twitteratti. Before I knew it, I was one of those wanting to get the book. I was fortunate to get a copy through a cool online library through an app.

I had really no idea what I was in for. I had heard the words ‘sparkling’ and ‘witty’ associated with the author Anuja Chauhan. So, well, the easiest way to describe the book is a rom-com written by a Delhi wali writer in chaste Hinglish.

A sequel to her previous work ‘The Pricey Thakur Girls’, this book revolves around their ancestral house in Delhi’s priciest part of town that their uncle BJ had passed on to them after he died. Bonita Singh, the daughter and heir of one of the pricey Thakur girls, is a feisty entrepreneur somewhat on the wrong side of the law through her pirated designer clothes business. Sparks fly when her step-cousin Samar who she had a crush on forever visited to see the dying BJ. Of course he is the handsome talented brooding energetic passionate (and all that classic Mills &Boons stuff) filmmaker while she is the sparkling, successful, witty, beautiful, smart (and all that classic M&B stuff again) heroine of the book. Samar promises to BJ that he will sell the house and divide the proceeds among all the Thakur Girls. The other Thakur girls are only too happy to be able to make crores with their ‘hissas’, but Bonu Singh refuses to sell. But that is the least of their problems.

Other family members make false claims to the house, and legal wrangles with oily slick lawyers need to be fought. Tenants refuse to evict and local goons demand their share. And Samar and Bonu Singh (Bonita) continue with their simmering chemistry with all the petty squabbling while their aunts indulge in mostly frivolous activities in a jolly get-together.

Overall, was a fun book for those who enjoy rom-coms, M&Bs and Hinglish. For others, I could classify it as a fluffy read but the Hinglish can put you off. I would give a rating of 3.5 on 5 for this book

Friday, June 12, 2015

The most Accepting and Accommodating country in the world - India

In yet another aspect where Indians score over the world must be the accepting and accommodating nature of Indians. Not only do we value everything we have, but we also tout it to the world outside as a ‘unique Indian aspect’ found nowhere else but in India.

It is perfectly acceptable to have foreign MNCs peddle sub-standard stuff to us…afterall we seem to be paying lesser than other countries..where else would you get a Rs5 chips packet or a Re 1 shampoo? Our toothpaste is chalkier, our soap less moisturizer, our ready to eat packets are slow poisons, our cosmetics are skin abrasives. But they are big brands you know. So we use them and will continue to use them. Our ‘export’ quality is the good quality stuff that we can’t buy while the stuff we buy from foreign brands is the worse quality many times the price..but who cares if we get the latest styles right? Some of my friends even get baby diapers from abroad because they are ‘softer’…but then perhaps babies abroad are more delicate right..and need diapers all day long unlike many of our cloth nappy wearing babies?

It is okay if the mangoes and all fruits are pesticide laden. After all what can we do? How can we not eat Hapoos? So we accept and life goes on. And yes, then we even have purifiers that claim to remove all pesticides and ‘harmful elements’. It is okay if cows eating plastic and garbage are milked and who knows our milk isn’t some white powder anyway. But again what to do? Change the milkman maybe?

We pay a lot of taxes yes. But you could say they are less than many countries such as the US so that is okay. What is also okay is the garbage strewn on the roads, footpaths, road dividers, and everywhere you look. So what if the road is terrible on the way to work. It is still better than what it would be after the monsoons as long as we can drive on it. So what if the footpaths have encroachments – hawkers, shops, garbage, parking spots, huts and you cannot walk on them, the roads are there for all to walk. It doesn’t matter anyway. The bikers can run you down on the footpath as well and get away with it.  Talking of roads and the brilliant infrastructure we have in the city, I mean the eastern freeway, the bandra-worli sealink (2-3 good roads in the whole city), obviously prices of Rs 2 crores for a matchbox unit are so justified anywhere in the distant municipal Mumbai limits. The rest of the connecting roads be damned.

I wonder if it is our ‘Chalta hai’ attitude that has prevailed, the fear of backlash from anyone or the lax attitude of anyone in the government office. Whatever be the reason, we learnt to compromise. We compromised, accepted, created a little noise maybe, but then went back to our peaceful routine, accepting everything like the Zen masters.  On the side, bad roads will continue killing people, our food, water and air will be the slow poison to kill us amongst the other things.  We can either put up, change brands, use more home cooked food (still pesticide ridden), get everything from abroad or flee abroad or maybe create some small movements to change things (which will die anyway)..forgive me for being so pessimistic!

However things are changing. A large organization  has been brought to its knees for the poor quality product they have sold us for years. We never believed fried squiggly dough could be healthy, but we didn't think it literally had poison either.  Abroad they would have had millions of dollars of lawsuits, but in India…chalta hai, they ll get away with it, you and I both know. As a result of this case, there are several organizations Indian and MNCs scurrying for cover with products they never should have sold to us in the first place. May such organizations that deem us unworthy of quality products remain in the covers forever.