Book: Marry Go Round
Author: Sadiqa Peerbhoy
Year: 2013
Bookhad Rating: ❤❤♡♡♡

As the title suggests this story is about the trials and ordeals faced by a young man, Riaz, with regards to his marriage. Sartaj Jehan, his mother, has hatched a grand plan to get him to return from America (or, Amreeka, as she says it) and marry a good khandaani girl, settle down and produce good khandaani kids.

The story is set in Hyderabad with a couple of pages based in Manhattan. The family of Riaz and Co. is the old royal families who have nothing more than their lineage to show off. The wealth is fast diminishing and so is the respect that they once commanded. Their ancestral bungalows are shrinking in size but not their sense of worth. Sartaj Jehan wants Riaz to settle down with a khandaani girl, or a girl whose family is at least on the same pedestal as them. Basically she wants him to marry someone whom they can equal in status. The nawabs call it Rutbah. On the incessant and vehement refusal by Riaz to return to india for the marriage Sartaj hatches a plan.

marry-go-round-sadiqa-peerbhoy-paperback-cover-artLittle does Sartaj know that her “dil ka tukda” (piece of heart) is living with his American girl friend. Incidentally, even she has been difficult to handle because she wants to get married to him and settle down too. Even with so many white girls throwing themselves at this apparent greek god look alike, Riaz hasn’t ever been interested to marry and settle down. Not even to Sarah, his live in. Sartaj goes in an overdrive mode as a last ditch effort to get grand kids.

She fakes a heart attack which pulls Riaz out of Manhattan and into Hyderabad as swiftly as a wet melon seed. The drama of arm twisting starts the moment Riaz steps into their Haveli. His mother suddenly becomes alright on seeing him but gets back into attack mode when Riaz refuses to stay back and get married. A son is a son is a son. This is the tenant upon which Sartaj plays her cards. Like a typical Indian movie, sloshed with drama, she keeps getting better only when Riaz agrees to whatever she says. Finally, Riaz bites the bait and goes along, but only after he happens to meet the radiant Sana. Sana is the daughter of a rich nawab and is a perfect match for Riaz.

Riaz is smittened after he meets her and decides that Sarah has to go. He is all set to give her the bad news when she tells him that she is on a flight to Hyderabad!

All hell breaks loose and Riaz is at the epicenter of it all.

The book is a humorous take on the shenanigans that go into a typical arrange marriage and the possibilities of it all going wrong. The book neither promotes nor condemns anything. It is just a funny take on the Indian scene of marriages and the madness associated.

Now, the question is whether it succeeds in doing so. I’m still iffy on it to be honest. Well, there’s nothing wrong with the story; the characters are ok (discount their idiosyncratic mannerisms here for a while); the setting is absolutely real and the author’s grasp on the language is good. Well, she has published several hundreds of short stories in leading magazines and stuff.

I’ll come to the “idiosyncratic mannerisms” now. I am unaware if the author uses EXACT translations of Hindi proverbs and truisms as a form of humour or it was an honest effort by her to infuse the non Indian readers with the apparent delight of Indian truisms and proverbs. My opinion is iffy because of this very reason. For example, let’s take this idiom: “Your request on my head and my eyes”. I haven’t ever heard an idiom in English which sounds remotely like this. The phrase is an exact translation of the Hindi idiom which goes thus: Aap ki marzi sur aankhon par”. It means that the request made will be afforded as the top most priority and that it would be fulfilled. The English phrase that corresponds to it is, “Your wish is my command”.

Like I said, I am not sure if the author did this on purpose to make it sound funny and infuse humour or it was a literary exercise in idiom translation. So it sounds icky and made me feel that the writer tried too hard to make the reader laugh and fails.

The book is strictly a one time read. There’s nothing bad; its USP is it’s metaphorical style of comedy. The author uses the Hyderabadi sense of well being and grandeur to good use. It elicits laughter in places and mild smiles in others.

All in all a single serving book.

Bookhad
(07.01.2014)

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