Thursday, Oct 06, 2022
Outlook.com
Review

Page 3, Page 368

A meditation on the pains of love and a city's impress on it also glimpses into the leprous core of Indian polity

Page 3, Page 368
Page 3, Page 368
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

This novel is about the English-speaking upper middle class where characters drink Bellinis, watch Naseeruddin Shah films, buy Billie Holiday records from Rhythm House and watch Urdu plays. Their cars’ backseats are strewn with copies of ArtIndia and Tehelka. Lovers talk in a mix of Americanese and Hinglish: "You’re a real trooper, you know." "I’ve got the skin of a rhino, jaan." This is Shobha De for the thinking man.

Rhea and Adiare are a corporate couple desperate for a child. Adi attends business meetings in foreign cities, listens to the saxophone, drinks bourbon. Rhea dabbles in pottery, bakes cakes for him. Samar is a pianist who spurned the limelight at his peak and now lives in with his American writer boyfriend Leo. There is the ravishingly beautiful Zaira who yearns for Samar but is defeated by his homosexuality. Holding the novel together is Simla boy Karan, a talented photographer who turns up in Bombay via Delhi. Karan fancies Rhea; they even have a brief affair but, in the end, she chooses the security of her marriage. But it’s the odd friendship between Karan and Samar which outlasts other bonds. Zaira is shot dead by a politician’s son after refusing to serve him alcohol at a promotional event—an obvious reference to the Jessica Lall incident. Her murder and the subsequent court case serve to bring Samar and Karan closer.

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