Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miss New India


This is not about the Miss India beauty contest - but the book "Miss New India" by Bharati Mukherjee. Though, I daresay the book is as frivolous and meaningless as those contests.

From Amazon here is the gist of the book:

Anjali Bose is “Miss New India.” Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family and living in a backwater town with an arranged marriage on the horizon, Anjali’s prospects don’t look great. But her ambition and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her expat teacher, Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny.

So she sets off to Bangalore, India’s fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Seinfeld in order to get jobs as call-center service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents. And it is in this high-tech city where Anjali—suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender, and more—is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side.

First off, it looks like Ms. Mukherjee read a brochure by one of the third-rate call centers in Bangalore. Also looks like she saw a documentary on the lives of call-center personnel and then just thought up a book.

Some things I found totally ridiculous:

Anjali wants to run away and the catalyst for this is a brutal and horrific rape. What was most surprising about the whole thing was that Anjali is not in the least bit traumatized by the incident.

Then just as if to compensate - some time later there are pages devoted to apparent PSTD after another horrifying incident. But most unbelievable and lacking in depth.

Add to the mix international terrorism(yes really!), a gay American cohabiting with a caricature of a trans-gender person, a series of crazy coincidences and altogether TV Soap like one-dimensional characters.

Bangalore wilts and dies with Mukherjee's descriptions. Call Center personnel are reduced to teeny-bops who will head for the nearest bar given the slightest chance.

Read this to recoup from the travesty that passes of as a book.


  1. Havent read any Bharati Mukherjee and probably won't. I mean, I read one Chetan Bhagat book and that was revolting enough!

  2. Shammi - thanks for the warning. I was wondering whether or not to read Bhagat - I'll give it a miss.

  3. I stopped by to thank you for your fun contributions to last week's Limerick-Off!