|Debeshi Gooptu's novel, "Gurgaon Diaries". Illustration by Kavita Singh Kale and graphic design by Mugdha Sadhwani|
Title: Gurgaon Diaries
I have had the good fortune of interacting with the author on Twitter on many occasions and have been following her blog, The Gurgaon Diaries, for quite some time now, which lured me to her book. Being a fan of her writing, and trusting her to lighten up my mood, I picked up the book on an otherwise dull summer afternoon in Kolkata. Much to my expectations, the book did not disappoint.
For a Bengali, growing up in Kolkata, and then moving to a new place is never easy. The person must come to term with the language, culture, food, and people of the new place. Something similar happened to the author, Debeshi Gooptu, when she moved to Gurgaon, from Kolkata, almost two decades ago, in 1999. The move from Kolkata to Gurgaon can be quite a culture-shock; but not if you are the author. She takes it in her stride and spins a chain of free-flowing, hilarious essays in her book which is divided into three main topics — Life, Work and Play— in which each chapter talk about plethora of events with women, kids, food, festivals, etc. are some of the striking themes in the book.The book chronicles her love for city and points out its faults as well. Having lived in the city for over twenty years, the author, by her own admission, has seen the city grow from a “quiet hamlet in Haryana” to “a leading IT services and industrial hub with third highest per capita income in India”.
In her book, the author, dedicates a lot of pages to people from her home state, West Bengal. The overriding essence is summed up in one of the chapters, “The fishmonger, the rickshaw puller and even the man at the stationery shop — they are all the same. With the same coy smile, there’s a big reveal, ‘Big sister. I am a Bengali!’ Ugh!”
In another chapter — The Ladies of Gurugram — she has a clear verdict: “Gurugram women. Struck somewhere between myth and reality. Much like the Village they inhabit. Outward trappings of fancy yet unbelievably archaic inside.”
The book is full of such amusing tales and anecdotes, with a pinch of humor and satire, about things around her. And you can almost visualize Gurgaon, with all its idiosyncrasies, and our author, somewhere in the middle of all the activities, is frantically documenting them all. The book cover pretty much sums up what the book is all about and credit must go to Kavita Singh Kale and Mugdha Sadhwani for coming up with this amazing design.
I loved reading the book because it is honest. There is no pretense in her writing, and she tells as she sees it. The book may not be a piece of heavy literature, but a fun and light read which will make you smile.