(I must begin with apologies to the author who sent me this book so long ago and I unprofessionally forgot about it. The memory of this lapse would nag me at most inopportune moments when I was in no position to make amends. This delay is writing the review is deeply regretted especially since it was an entertaining book.)
‘A newlywed’s adventures in a married land’, as the title suggests, is a newly married woman’s adjustment to married life in an unfamiliar, foreign city. Mythili’s life undergoes an elephantine change when she marries the man she loves and follows him to Manila, capital city of Philippines away from her family. She also has to deal with the accompanied shift in her identity: from a successful crime reporter in Bangalore to a wife in Manila on dependent visa. Mythili , while recording her impressions of Manila–jeepneys, flashy malls, tanduay and Tagalog, does her best to settle in her new life. But it is not easy. When her husband inevitably returns to work, her job searches prove futile, she increasingly feels she is lonely, homesick and devoid of purpose.
To fill in her hours and partly to please her husband, she befriends his desi gang along with their wives. Though desi gang wives are like her who left India and their life as they knew it when they followed their husbands to Manila, Mythili, who has always been a career woman, can’t discern anything common with them. They are older women who have advanced degrees in household management and motherhood with completely different perspectives to life. But, she will soon be engulfed in the vortex of their lives and learn a few life lessons!
I found the book engaging and very witty. All chapter names are inspired from Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland and open with few lines from the Master himself. It is like Alice aka Mythili’s journey in the rabbit hole aka Manila before she finds her wonderland. Besides this, I giggled at the witty nicknames Mythili bestows on her desi-wife-friends. I took to one in particular ‘Enthucutlet’ and further nicknamed my hapless friends and colleagues who displayed similar boundless reserves of enthusiasm and cheer.
The book offers a deep insight about love and marriage. In fact, it had such an honest voice that I was certain it was a story author has lived herself. What reached to me was her deep love for her husband, boundless faith and zeal to live life as she knows best. It is a light-hearted book with wit that leaves with you with warm, fuzzy feelings in the end.
This novella is an Indireads initiative – a Toronto based Publishing house that publishes books on the vibrancy and intensity of modern South Asian life. I was intrigued why an author whose first book I’d read as a hard copy had agreed to publish the solely as an ebook this time. This is one of the reasons Shweta explained in her mail to me: The first was the simple case of worldwide distribution. As a book-lover who lives abroad, I have found it extremely hard to access Indian literature when it is in paperback form, as foreign bookstores do not stock an Indian author unless he/she is a booker prize winner at the very least. As a writer, I have found that while most smaller publishers promise they will release the book in all formats, they tend to give the eBook second class status. This means that a whole chunk of South Asian readers who live overseas never get to read the book
May more of you find Shweta Ganesh Kumar’s delightful novella-ebook ‘A newlywed’s adventure in a married land’ here at Indireads web site! Amen.