Right from her birth, an Indian girl’s life makes for a controversial as well as an interesting journey. I call it controversial because everyone around her has a view about her at every stage of her life while its interesting because she is blessed to have a better and beautiful life. Though, I would call myself a privileged one, I often feel that our society is still male dominated and most of the rules are made to facilitate the men. We may be living in the 21st century but a girl is still raised with restrictions too many. She is expected to behave in a particular manner. She is supposed to look beautiful. She is made to believe that she is incomplete until she gets married, bears children and takes care of the house. She is encouraged to have a great career but not better than her husband. And above all, she is judged for every action. Well, does it all sound cliched? While some may say it isn’t that bad, I bet for most of the girls all of its stands true. Come let us meet Radhika, the girl who must be congratulated for living her life in her own way. One Indian Girl is Bhagat’s new novel and in this one he gives us a powerful protagonist who has nothing less than an interesting but complicated personal life.
Usually, I judge books through their cover and blurb. For this one, none impressed me. However, I had an urge to read it because of three reasons. First, it was all about a girl. Second, I had not read something for long and I wanted a breezy read. Third, I know I can trust Chetan Bhagat as an author. I wouldn’t shy from accepting the fact that I do like reading Chetan Bhagat. There is no point arguing how he writes and what he writes because there is no denying the fact that there is none who brought a revolution for both Indian authors and readers. He absolutely knows what works for an average Indian reader. As a reader, I crave for a simple and entertaining story and he gives me just that and that what makes him successful. To some extent, ‘One Indian Gir’l is a repetition of his mantra. Well, it doesn’t create the charm of ‘Five Point Someone’ or ‘Two States’ but it definitely makes for a Sunday or an in-flight read. After all feminism is debatable and quite a touchy topic these days. Women will go through many emotions while reading the book.
Radhika is all set to get married in Goa. She is a smart, intelligent, career woman who makes great moolah but at the same time she yearns for a soul-mate who can love her forever. After two debacles, she gives in to her mother’s nagging and agrees for an arranged marriage. A Punjabi wedding isn’t complete until it involves lots of drama, so Indian readers wouldn’t be surprised with all that melodrama that goes in the intial chapters. However, the real twist comes in when she has two unexpected guests from London and Hongkong. The shy dulhan who has been trying to put up her best Indian avatar reveals secrets from her life and there we know she isn’t the submissive kinds who is expected to behave in a certain way. She is the sensible girl who wants things for herself, who speaks her mind and who earns much better than the men around her. I loved Radhika for her honest confessions, for her commitment to her work and for her final decision but there were times when I was bored of the monotonous tone of the book. I found it quite unbelievable that her mother had only one thing on her mind to get her married when her daughter was doing so good in her life. The thought of having a dumb sister in real life who has been shown in a better light just because she is good looking and has chosen to marry early makes me shudder. And sometimes, I disliked Radhika for choosing the wrong men in her life just because she wanted to be loved. (Why do we women go weak when it comes to losing our heart?)
Its not a travel book but as a traveler I liked the book as it progressed and took me around on a virtual trip to NewYork, Hongkong and London. Since I have not been any of these countries, I loved the little details around the places where Radhika went shopping, dining or dating. And people who fall in my clan and thrive in traveling will definitely agree with the end. Apart from its realistic approach, I liked the plot of the story for its ability to make us think. There were many instances in the book when I was left wondering, ‘Why are women so vulnerable? Why do we have to make sacrifices? Why some men take us for granted? Why women are forced to behave the way they do not want? Why some women make it tough for other women when they have been through the same life? Why are we judged so often? If you have views about the book or the author, do drop in your comments below.