Friday 27 July 2018
"Even more mystifying is ‘Mother Pious Lady’,
a description that is perhaps meant to connote a Mother-in-law concerned more with burning incense sticks than daughter-in-laws".
"We are like this only. …the Disclaimer Indica - forgive us , we are Indian and sometimes we behave in ways that would seem very strange to you.
But there is an implicit logic, or at least some sort of explanation that might render these Indianisms more comprehensible".
“Balancing responsibility with indulgence, the need for external display and internal comfort, the family and self, anxieties and aspirations, desires and duties, self-respect and pragmatism, these were all quests of an un-heroic everyday kind that made the Indian middle class what it was.”
I’m not a great fan of non-fiction but this one seemed to touch some nostalgic nerves when I flipped through random pages. I finally picked it up because it seemed to resonate with many interesting experiences of an average Indian’s daily life.
I must admit it took a long time for me to finish reading this book. I finished reading three other fictional novels before I finally decided to finish Mother Pious lady and I did, on the 5th of July 2018, a full two months after I got hold of it, with immense relief. This by no means indicates a decline in the quality of the book, although I do concede that it does get boring, somewhere along the way.
In fact, the book is a refreshing change from many other books about India that one gets to read. However, unlike the preachy or condescending reads that one might expect, this one just states random everyday facts as they are, just as one might perceive them.
The book reminds me of the Bollywood movie PK, in the sense that it brings to our notice everyday stuff that we are so accustomed to, that we fail to observe or try to make sense of them. We are so immersed in the fabric of society that we complain, rant and finally accept that this is the way things are. This is how we are. However, Mr. Desai goes a little further, when he tries to analyze and make sense of why we are the way we are. And perhaps he isn’t too far off in his analysis, although one may not agree with all of them.
The convenience of reading this book cannot be undermined. The book is divided into small chapters, each dealing with a new topic. This allows readers to pick it up and catch up on reading it, even if they only have five minutes to spare. Like reading short stores, one can finish one chapter within a few minutes, and mull over one particular topic of the great Indian social landscape.
The initial chapters are interesting. As the book progresses however, the ones in the middle are rather boring, because they fall into a repetitive mode.
The best feature of the book is the sheer variety it offers. From street food to shared clothes, politics to movies, postcards to holidays, commodes to kites, family quirks to technology. It discusses most forgotten aspects of Indian society that has been subjected to change or undergoing evolution.
The whole book maintains a breezy tone and touches on even the most controversial topics in a cleverly presented, non-accusatory, almost matter-of-fact observatory mode.
Mr.Desai exhibits a profound understanding of the Indian psyche, finds convincing 'reasons' for most deep-rooted customary Indian quirks and presents them in a dry humor mode .
Overall a good book, especially for the middle aged populace of the country, or even the younger generation of readers who would identify with some situations they've heard being recounted by their parents and grandparents. Or for the non-Indians of the world, who cannot figure us out and attempt to decipher why Indians are the way they are.
Most of u have grown up wearing clothes that wre two sizes too large till we ‘grew into them’.
The fear of separation from one’s roots runs deep in our way of life.
Our luggage was the tangible manifestation of ourselves, our anchor in the sea of turbulent strangeness…
We never travel alone – we ravel with our entire way of life…the great Indian Journey
At a deeper level there is something about the form of paper and ink that creates a feeling of personal intimacy.
The irony of course, is that property disputes grew at a time when the dominant theme was one of seamless sharing.
As we move into a time when affluence is a promise than a legacy, perhaps we will see fewer disputes of this kind.
Looking back one is struck by how little materiel was used in creating such a rich and satisfying experience.
The Indian mother has changed. How she get represented in cinema has changed.
‘Mere paas ma hai.’ Four words that established what really mattered, what could not be bought or achieved , merely earned.
In more than a few ways Indian society has conspired to make the woman most comfortable in her role as mother. As a mother she faced no censure and no limits.
The mother's role was to turn her little girl into a knowing woman as soon as possible and to keep her son a little boy for the rest of his life.
The window of yesterday has been replaced by the TV of today.
Technology individualizes us by offering us the ability to stay connected on our terms.