Just happened to read the latest Chetan Bhagat bestseller. This is supposedly his best work till date and that’s what I feel as well. Five Point Someone was a good start and was followed by One Night @ The Call Centre which was quite fine (not in the league of his first one though). I haven’t read Three Mistakes Of My Life as it neither excited me nor did it get good reviews. In line with the tradition of his novels beginning with a numeric, the current one is titled 2 States – The Story Of My Marriage and is a sequel to his first novel.
It is the story about a couple coming from two different states of India, who face hardships in convincing their parents and persuading them to get married. The novel is a fiction, but is said to be inspired from the real story of Chetan and his wife who are from Delhi and Tamil Nadu, respectively.
To begin with, I expected the novel to reflect a bit of my personal life which it obviously did and I wasn’t disappointed. Am sure those who have had intercaste / interstate marriages would definitely be able to relate to most of the events / circumstances depicted in the novel. Most of them seem true and believable and obviously, some part is fictional. It’s definitely not a literary classic and am sure Chetan himself wouldn’t term it that way. It is predictable with a wafer thin story of boy meeting girl, overcoming all obstacles and finally getting married (a la our movies) but the narration is what makes all the difference. And more importantly, you are able to connect with it.
Sapna was the first one to finish the novel and I remember how she laughed her heart out when Chetan describes Tamilians (Tamil Brahmins to be precise); their appearance (not all of them are dark, look at me Sapna!), food habits (probably all of them like curd rice, yours truly included), mannerisms etc etc. She definitely enjoyed reading the novel and had a nice time at the cost of my TamBrahm community! Well, some of the detailing were a bit over-the-top and exaggerated I should say but that’s what you probably call “artistic license”!
I, for my part, thoroughly enjoyed reading the description of “Punjabi families”; their loud talking ways, their food habits (paneer, ghee, butter!!) et al. However, I would definitely say that Marwaris (that’s what Sapna is) are probably a sober lot (their “sweet” eating habits notwithstanding!) compared to the Punjabis. I definitely wouldn’t forget my first trip to Rajasthan post-wedding where I was given a Kingly treatment by all her relatives; they literally fell over each other to make sure that the ‘kunwar-sa’ was taken care of well. Since I wasn’t used to such a kind of treatment, it was a little embarrassing initially. But then, am used to it nowadays and have started enjoying it as well.
Another ritual that literally gives me nightmares even now is ‘touching the feet’ of the elders. Not that I don’t want to do it but then it’s quite difficult to figure out whose feet I should be touching and whose not. I remember an instance in Rajasthan wherein there was an elderly lady (Sapna’s relative) who came up to me and I touched her feet. She moved away and I thought probably she doesn’t quite like me and so, didn’t want to bless me. But then to my shock I got to know that she was Sapna’s niece (and so theoretically I shouldn’t have touched her feet though she was older). Phew!!
One thing that Sapna keeps complaining about is that even after 3 years of marriage, I still find it difficult to figure out the names of her relatives and how exactly they are related to her. I just have a handful of relatives and Sapna has done a pretty good job of knowing who is who but the same is not the case with me. I just hope I figure this out by our 25th wedding anniversary!!!
We didn’t have to struggle as much as the couple in the novel to convince our parents for our marriage (touch wood). That was because not just Sapna but my in-laws were also floored by my charm and agreed instantly to me becoming their son-in-law (Sapna wouldn’t agree though!!).
But what I really liked about the novel were certain simple yet subtle points which the author makes; like when he says that South Indians can be great no. 2 people in an organization but are found wanting when it comes to taking up the no. 1 job; that he hopes that such intercaste / interstate marriages would help in uniting India (now you know the reason for me marrying Sapna!!!).
A nice breezy read is what I would say. Pick it up when you don’t feel like reading some heavy duty stuff!!!