My space

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The real heroes..

I think this is the most powerful and heart wrenching ad I have seen. This was forwarded to me by a good friend of mine.I can feel a lump in my throat and tears trickling down my eyes each time I read it.If it was not for the sacrifice of gallant soldiers like Vikram Batra , I wont be even able to share this thought with people, sitting in peace. The unsung, unknown heroes guarding our borders day and night, fighting off militants, thwarting insurgents, helping us when natural disasters strike - have you ever spared a thought for them. People who have put the interests of a billion people ahead of themselves and who lay down their lives for their motherland.

I also came across this article in rediff

The story of another brave young officer who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect his motherland.

There are so many such heroes who dont even get a passing mention in the star struck Indian media for whom Shahrukh Khan and Sachin Tendulkar are the only great heroes alive. Cut through the media hype and please shed a tear for the real heroes - the faceless nameless Indian soldiers who have stopped breathing so that others can breathe.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Veg or Non Veg?

Veg or non veg -A question that generates a lot of divided opinion and heated arguments.

I was just thinking of my next topic to blog and what do I stumble across - a post on vegetarianism written by a person whom I know( not so closely though) enlisting the benefits of vegetarianism and even taking potshots at people who eat non veg. I really could not agree to some arguments put forward in the post.

The author argues that human beings are herbivorous by nature and the whole body and digestive system are programmed to accept only veg diet. I remember learning in high school biology that human beings are omnivores - meaning we can eat both meat and plant produces.Are humans not part of food chain.Dont animals of higher order eat animals in the lower links of the chain. Did not cave man roast and eat animals along with berries and fruits. I am not a historian or scientist, but going by the images and whatever knowledge I gained of my science education I believe what I have written is correct.

The writer argues that Brahmins are not supposed to eat non veg. I know most people including me( If eating egg and chicken once in a blue moon counts as non veg:)) in my community of Goud Saraswat Brahmins eat non veg , especially fish is eaten widely in Mangalore side.As per the ancient caste system, the varnas are decided by Guna ( quality) and Karma ( action). That means Brahmins are those who have the qualities and skills of a teacher , scholar or priest. But now a days Brahmin people are into lot many occupations, so just from my Karma point of view I am not a Brahmin. And people have this misconception that not eating non veg is the hallmark of a Brahmin; in fact not eating meat might be just one of the gunas or qualities expected in a Brahmin.

Telling that all non veg people have animal instincts and are not good people shows lack of maturity. I am a person who does not believe in generalisations. Are all veg people good. Just eating eggs or meat does not make/break the character of a person. What about the monks and Swamis who are getting caught for bad acts these days.They are fed on vegetarian diet , but their actions are far from noble.I remember having a ' pure veg' colleague of mine staring disapprovingly at my lunch plate for taking eggs and proudly declaring he will never have those. I have lot of vegetarian friends who are so by reason of faith/ religious practices or by personal choice. Most of them never question other people on their food choices . I respect them for being vegetarian, thats their wish, I respect it.But the same way people who are vegetarian should also not look down upon people who are fond of meat. Everybody in this world is entitled to their own opinion and choice.If we argue that all non veg people are bad , then in western countries atleast 90% of population is gone case. Thats why I told generalisations dont work. Also I have to mention that some of the really wicked and money minded people I have met were/are vegetarian incidentally.Bottomline is it takes much more than what you merely eat to determine what sort of a person you are.

Another factor that comes into play is when you are out of your home country. In UK and US there are lot of options for vegetarians , of course not as much as in India. But if you go to remote areas where mobility is an issue, you may have to taste unpleasant things because it is pretty difficult to get vegetarian food.My husband had to stay in Finland for a while in a hotel and his diet consisted of just bread, potato mash and French fries. The only other thing that was available in that area was half cooked reindeer soup. I am sorry for almost killing your appetite.But many people turn non veg as they have to constantly live out of their comfort zone. My father who works with a bank gets transfer every 3 years and most of the time he is on his own. I have never heard him complain of the food because he just adjusts with whatever is available. He used to tell that when he was working in a remote area in Malappuram the breakfast was malabar parota and chicken/beef , a far cry from the idly/dosa routine of our household.But sometimes there is no room for being fussy especially if you cant cook on your own or you are fed up of the staple diet of bread and curd rice.

I have heard people complaining about how UK stores put eggs in cakes and ice creams whereas we get ' eggless' in India.In western world, egg is considered vegetarian. Most of the veg people I know really dont make this an issue , they are fine as long as they dont smell or see the egg. When foreigners come to India dont they adjust with whatever food available. Do they ask for steak and mash and scones and croissants.One thing we have to understand is we cant have a mini India wherever we go.The superstore near my house in UK can't stop putting eggs in cakes and ice creams and pastries to cater to just less than 1% of its customers, they will incur loss by doing so.Most of the joints here, Subway, McDonalds , Pizza hut, Burger King etc have atleast one vegetarian option and again its driven by how many customers are actually there for vegetarian items.

Having said that I strongly believe in treating animals well and detest all cruelty meted out to them. I respect the conviction of people who could make vegetariansim a part of life and enjoy its benefits.I tried hard, but had little success.Eating too much of non veg is also not good for health as it leads to cholestrol and heart problems. Even non veg should be eaten in moderation.The whole world works on a fine balance. If all are vegetarians or all are non vegetarians, the fragile ecological system will be threatened; so its important to keep an eclectic mix of both.

My one wish is that people who have opted vegetarianism are genuine in doing so and it does not end up being a fad and a way to bash up people who are different from them in eating habits.And humans are not judged by what they eat, but how they behave and how good they are at heart!!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Good old DD

Have you ever felt that there are too many channels , but nothing worthwhile to watch? Have you spend your Friday night just browsing channels , but never able to make up your mind what to watch and ended up exclaiming ' all is crap on TV'. It is very strange that despite so many channels being there, we some times have nothing to watch.

Now rewind back to 20 years when only DD was there in India.The time when we use to wait eagerly for the serials and other programs.Atleast I used to wait eagerly for serials like Circus, Tehqueqat, Vyomkesh Bakshi, Oshin, Giant Robot, Didi's Comedy show, Vikram Betal etc etc.I used to watch Chitrahar, Chitramala, Rangoli, Turning point, Ankh ajube, Siddharth Basu's quiz show and all that.Now also I tune into DD to watch Rangoli some times. After coming to UK partly because of dearth of Hindi channels ( I get only Star channels) , I started watching DD and seriously I feel DD is a much better bet than all those entertainment channels. Before dismissing me as a colossal bore for watching DD, just think. This is the only channel where you get all the stuff in one place whether it is news, entertainment, educative programs or social programs.

I am not a great fan of Sony or Zee or Star as I feel they just provide mindless entertainment. They have money , but the shows and serials are just too monotonous and over the top. I do watch some programs on these channels , but what I find is most programs are directed towards urban middle class people who want just pure entertainment and nothing else. There are only talent shows( read singing and dancing) , serials, film based programs and films. Not even a single thought provoking or educative program. Now people might say if you want documentaries why dont you watch Discovery/ Nat geo, yes I do watch them as I find those channels extremely educative and atleast my brain cells work for a while. I feel like if people watch only the skimpily clad dances and biased singing competitions in Sony and the K serials in Star or Zee, the IQ levels are definitely going to be low. Those serials teach people all the bad things on earth like cheating, lying, extra marital affairs and even murder.Compare this to the innate goodness that DD serials used to have, very simplistic and down to earth stories.

The new age news channels like NDTV were good at start, but now they are hovering at the verge of sensationalism and always try to show their opinion rather than what the actual news is. And too much of celebrity gupshup also reduces its status as a news channel. Many important news is just skipped or ignored and only the ones which can grab eyeballs are shown.

I also dont think highly of some of the regional channels especially the Sun network stuff. For any festival , Surya in Malayalam and Sun inTamil broadcast interviews with film stars; some obscure ones at that through out the day. And of course some very stupid movie will be playing that day.There is not even a program on why the festival is celebrated or what the common man thinks about it.

I may be wrong in criticising these channels, but I feel they should stop being all glitter and glamour and too 'filmy' and infuse some amount of simplicity in their programs. I am fed up of seeing people dressed in weird costumes anchoring shows with a weird Hinglish accent. I also am fed up of seeing people getting touchy and crying in talent shows and all the hype surrounding it.Is this what our kids should see and grow up. Or they should see some programs that enable them to think and enjoy at the same time.

Just see DD once. It would be a refreshing break from all this hype and hoopla of all other channels.And we get to relive the easygoing days of our childhood where simplicity was the norm!

Back to Blogging!

Well after 4 months of hiatus from blogging I am back on public demand.( A little bit of self praise never hurt anyone, right?) :).

A new year has come by bringing with it new hopes and of course once more time for those resolutions which are the hardest to abide by and will invariably be breached at some point of time.Last year was not all that great for me , I had to quit my job, travel abroad and did not succeed in getting another job also. But I am optimistic and looking forward to this year and all the things it has in store for me.

On that note wish everyone a very wonderful year ahead!! There is only one life, live it to the fullest!!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Sabbatical from blogging

I have decided to take a break from blogging. Dont know how long this is going to last, may be for a couple of months. Somehow I am feeling like I have become overtly pessimistic in my posts and need some time to rewind and see some positive things also to motivate me to write cheerful posts. Given the pessimist that I am , guess I see all negative things first. In the past 3 months I have bombarded my blog with so many posts. In past 2.5 years,I have written on most of the topics I feel strongly about .Call it a test of will power or whatever, felt taking a break from blogging is a good idea.

I wanted to write a travelogue on my very memorable Swiss trip, may be after some time I will post that.

For the time being it is bye and thanks for all the encouragement provided.

See you all later.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Destiny's daughters

'Pitro rakshati kaumare
bhartro rakshati yauvane
putro rakshati vardhakye
na sthree swathanthram arhati'

This is probably a rough version of a quote from Manu smriti which literally means

A woman in her childhood is protected by her father, in her youth protected by her husband and in old age protected by her son and hence a woman never deserves freedom.

I am not sure what the intention of the original quote was , but this (mis)interpretation, especially the last line seems to have been the foundation stone for the ill treatment of women.

She might have come out of man's rib or might have been worshipped as Goddess, but the position of women is still very deplorable in our society. There is not even a single country in this world where women are not ill treated. Even in the greatest of the nations or the most advanced and liberal minded societies, there are so many instances where a woman is treated like dust on the road.

The role of woman is often taken for granted. How many guys even bother to realise how much of efforts their wives/mothers/sisters put in cleaning the house, cooking, managing kids, getting groceries, managing household expenses etc etc. But alas! in our male dominated society we dont have place for super woman, we only have super man to save the world.Juggling between her multiple roles in office and at home, yet carving an identity for herself, taking care of everyone in the family - after all women are born multi taskers - how easy to say that!So if your wife does not bring you morning tea as she was doing 10 other tasks , you have every right to shout at her-How ridiculous an argument.

The situation of women even after 60 years of independence is really nothing we can be proud of.I remember having a chat with one of my male friends on that domestic violence bill that Renuka Chaudary introduced. Guys were arguing that the bill had loopholes that would even trap people who are really innocent and have not indulged in domestic violence.Yes there might be women who take advantage of this kind of laws, but just how many of them.Most of the women are not even aware of their rights nor the bill or anything outside their own house. Do you think these women who suffered abuse will ever come out in open.When they dont open their ghoonghat in front of their own spouses, how will they come out.

Look at the rates of female literacy, in states like Bihar it is as low as 34%.That too literacy just means ability to read and write. What about having a mind of one's own. How about reacting to the inequalities or protesting against mental and physical abuse.Now if you think in educated modern society the gender equallity is better, things are far from good. Women who are well educated, know the rules or have finacial stability also never come out in the open against atrocities they have to suffer for fear of social stigma. In our society there are even educated men who consider their wives as ' pair ki jhooti'.I have always believed in India , education for most just remains getting degrees and getting a job; but education is supposed to be the overall development of a person and that definitely includes inculcating good values and the ability to discriminate between good and bad. But sadly so we have conveniently left the values part, so we have even engineers and doctors torturing their wives for dowry.Dowry system, like Sati -should have been abolished, but its there very much - a system which degrades a woman to a commodity in the marriage market.As they say the biggest enemy of a woman is woman herself. So we have no respite from dowry deaths in the hands of in laws or from the constant mental abuse if a girl child is born.It is taboo to get a girl child in many parts of the country still. Look at the dwindling female numbers in Punjab which has got the highest female infanticide rates.

Why a womans life is not valued at all. A woman is always supposed to adjust. Have marital problems , adjust. Have professional problems, adjust. How much of adjustment will she do in her life. Is she not an individual. Does she not have her own ideas, aspirations and beliefs. Does she not have emotions and a mind and heart.How much can she bear, isn't there a limit to her patience also.whatever goes wrong especially in a marriage the general tendency is to pin point a woman - ' Its all her fault you know.' ' He is not like that. She must have said something to provoke'. Cant a man go wrong anytime.I strongly believe adjsutment is not a one sided term, both parties should compromise something for any relationship to work out. Its unfair to expect woman to sacrifice everything after marriage and adjust to the husband's choice. She is also somebody's daughter, somebody's sister and above that another fellow human being - respect her individuality.

Today on one hand there are successful women like a Kiran Bedi or Sunita Williams , but on the other hand, we have those nameless faceless women who are victims of male dominance and domestic violence and the very derogatory eve teasing.I am not blaming all guys, some are really encouraging, understanding and supportive, but there are some who still dont give woman her due. Its time we changed our attitude towards woman and help them grow in a society where gender equality and women's empowerment is not there just on paper, but in the thoughts and actions of each individual.

Note - I am not a feminist. I dont believe in feminism, but I believe that women should be respected and appreciated and given their rightful place in the society.

Monday, August 06, 2007

East vs West

The Indian society is becoming increasingly westernized - this is one common observation many people, especially the elderly have in India. So what exactly is westernization - wearing bare all clothes, roaming or being overtly friendly with opposite sex, late night parties, unwanted pregnancies, doing drugs, frequent divorces - just what aspect of our lives do we associate western culture with.In fact we associate only negativity with western culture, but it is much beyond teenage pregnancies and unruly youngsters and drugs. Every culture has its own pros and cons. Even Indian culture ,that we are so proud of, has so many drawbacks like caste system, ill treatment of women to name a few. So why single out western culture and always bash it up for promoting bad habits and immorality in a supposedly civilised society.

I strongly believe that culture is an assimilation of vices and virtues. Culture is something very collective in nature and includes aspects that are of day to day importance also. The very way in which we talk, we behave, we work all reflect our culture.

Thats why I decided to write what I personally liked about western culture .The things probably we overlooked in our hurry to condemn western culture, the things which we knew did not even exist in western culture or never bothered about.

1. Hygiene and cleanliness - This has to go first for me because in India hygiene comes as last of our priorities. 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness' is just another phrase we study in school , later to discard all practicalities of this.I can never imagine going to a public loo or a train toilet in India. Here everything is so clean and tidy.The public toilets and the toilets in the train are maintained well.Toilets in homes are also pretty well planned and treated like a room , whereas in our country toilets are strictly meant for relieving oneself. People might laugh at me for writing this, but this again shows our light attitude towards hygiene. The roads are so clean and dirt free, there is no garbage strewn all over the place with stray dogs and cows feasting on it.There are waste bins at each point of the road to effectively dispose off the wastes. Even in our flat there is a separate refuse store to dispose the wastes. Actually it is a far cry from the dirty lane we lived in, filled with half km stretch of garbage in the posh Indira Nagar area of Bangalore.We are just living in the country side here, not any major city and the care the Town Council and people take to maintain the place clean and beautiful is laudable. The parks maintained by the Council are so neat and pretty. I have never seen anyone spitting on the road or throwing garbage or bottles , atleast not in the main roads.Some people do lack personal hygeine here also, again thats there in all the countries. The overall cleanliness of the place is very impressive.

2.Facilities - You may be wondering why I am putting all this under culture , the reason I have already stated. Culture reflects essentially what we are and what we do.

Some of the facilities here provided by Government are amazing.

Medical care - There is the system of National Health services under which we have to register and then all medical care is available at a subsidized rate.What more all the hospitals and pharmacies across the country are interlinked and even if you shift to some other place within the country, all your details are readily available in the data base for the next doctor.Can we imagine going to a Government hospital in India or can we imagine any hospitals having such facilities. We can afford private health care may be in India, but there are millions in india who die every year for lack of facilities in Government hospitals.

Library - The Council library here is just incredible with its vast collection of books, CDs and internet facilities - and guess what it is all for free. So much for the tax you pay. They have amazingly combined technology with every aspect of their lives. There are online catalogues, 24 hr renewal services - things which even private libraries cant boast of in India.

Job centres - This is a boon to all the job hunters and again for free. We can go browse online jobs and take how many ever printouts without any questions being asked. They even have free telephones in the office to contact the prospective employers.

3. Trust and honesty - This is what impressed me the most , they trust you. We had gone to the council office to ask for concession on council tax as we are not permanent residents of UK. The lady was very kind and she clearly explained us what needs to be done.She just took our passport xerox and took down our address in India and next week we got a letter with the revised taxes.Tell me guys if this is possible in India, have any of you got your tax returns any time. And for any file in a government office to move it takes months together or years together coupled with a good dose of bribes. If we show passport, they want ration card. If we show ration card, they want PAN card. Why is it that we have to prove each time that we are legitimate citizens of India. The reason is we simply dont trust each other. With corruption and red tapism ruling the roost money is the key factor for any thing to be done.

Our blender was spoilt just 32 days within its purchase time, 2 days beyond the stipulated 1 month exchange time.We took the blender along with the receipt and walked over to the store and told the lady in charge it is not working. The only question she asked was what is not working, we told her it is the motor and she just replaced it with a new one, without any questions being asked. There was nothing like ' you people must have done something' or ' its 2 days beyond the exchange time.' That shows their immense trust in people, a thing which I am sure will be misused and taken advantage of to a great extent if in India.

There is honesty and openness in this country. People just say it on your face, whether pleasant or not.When my friend got her dress spoilt the dry cleaners here were polite enough to say ' sorry, this cannot be dry cleaned '.

The government itself works with a lot of transparency. We receive newsletters from the council stating how they are using the tax money and what are the forthcoming plans.They even have open markets for farmers so that they can directly sell their goods.They also take care of the senior citizens who are often neglected in india.

4. Respect for all jobs - IT people and doctors are not the only respectable people here. All jobs right from cleaner to businessman are considered equal. Its not surprising that a plumber or mason may earn more than a software engineer here, thats because no job is considered inferior to others. This is very important aspect of their culture as it gives equal respect to all individuals irrespective of their professions. In India how do we treat the labourers who toil hard to build our offices or homes , for that matter people who do odd and menial jobs - they are considered third class and we look down upon them. Why cant we consider that also as a decent job, after all they are working hard to earn their living. This hype about software is really killing sometimes.

5.Gender equality - This country is one of the foremost in gender equality. Women are treated with atleast some respect.Yes stray incidents are there, but not the kind of abuse women are subjected to India. In India all this talk to women empowerment is just a sham. Women are emerging in the mainstream, but just how many of them. The horrid stories of female foetuses being dug out every day in some part or the other of the country tells a different tale. Why are women still subjected to domestic violence even if they are educated. Why are they treated worse than cattle in some places.There are even women workers who are discriminated on the basis of wages for the same work. They cant even complain against their husbands or families or employers for fear of social stigma and because of the sati - savitri image we attach to women and we expect them to bear everything.The divorces here may be shocking for us , but I feel it is better than being victims of unhappy marriages - bearing everything and leading miserable lives.

6.Preserving heritage - They preserve their old monuments and castles and take great interest in maintaining them . In India people are hell bent in destroying public property, they wont even spare the Taj Mahal. My cousin was telling me that people had written over the white marbles in Taj Mahal, one of the 7 wonders in the world. All the monuments have writings and paan stains and garbage and what not. Even places of worship are far from neat and well preserved.The Government is also not bothered about the revival unless UNESCO declares it as a heritage site.Even the museums are ill maintained for lack of interest from Government and over zealous destruction desire of people.

7. Work hard, party hard - Yes, they believe in this.We may find them not so ambitious as us, but they strongly believe in working only for stipulated time and enjoying their life too. Good or bad , I feel we should take a cue from this and learn to take it easy in life. I mean Indians are very hard working, but I think we should also start enjoying life a bit rather than focusing on career and work all the time. They never miss a holiday or doing interesting things or pursuing their passions outside the work life.

8. Infrastructure - This is just mind blowing. Even the most insignificant roads and highways are interlinked in a well planned manner. Hats off to the planning , the whole infrastructure is very well built , be it roads, schools, parks, malls or whatever. The public transport system of buses and trains is so well connected and it does not take years to build a flyover.This is one thing India lacks completely and it contributes to India's traffic woes and adds to congestion.

9. Regard for law - This is the most important thing which I really admire about all western countries. No one is above law. In India there are 2 laws - one for the rich and powerful and the other for the common people. And needless to say the mighty escape the long arms of law very conveniently.Here, no one can ask the police man 'do you know who I am ' when caught in an act of crime like drunken driving or rash driving or anti social behaviour.No one cares even if you are the prime minister's son; law is law and will take its own course.

People have respect for the law of land unlike India where people show scant respect and in some cases are not even aware of the laws. How many people obey traffic rules or lane discipline in our country. We even make fun of people who try to obey law or any rules. For us lawlessness is slowly becoming a way of life and days are not far when whole country might plunge into a Jungle Raj.

These are some of the facets of the western culture that I felt like appreciating.I am not being a spokesperson of western culture, let me clarify this. But how long will we live in this assumption that our culture is the best and rest all are useless and have corrupting influence. The problem with us is we have adopted the wrongs in the western culture and conveniently ignored the good aspects.Thats the natural tendency of humans I guess; to see the wrongs first. Perhaps our youngsters consider that pre marital sex ,PDA( public display of affection) and dance parties are cool. But what they fail to see is western culture is not just about that.Why cant we incorporate some of the good things like good and transparent governance, clean and well planned infrastructure , punctuality and honesty, wise use of tax money etc.

The comparisons with India are inevitable as I wanted my points to be seen in right light. I have not meant to demean Indian culture , but all I wanted to say is we should see good points about western culture too.My dream about India is that it emerges as a culturally sound country devoid of corruption, bad politics and dishonesty where equality and respect for one and all is present and for that we need to have a cultural revolution. We definitely need to change our narrow minded attitudes, stick to some virtues and fast track our development in order for our country to reach its rightful place in the world.

Monday, July 30, 2007

' A Suitable Boy' - Review

Well a book with 1474 pages might not be one's ideal idea of light read. When I picked up ' A Suitable Boy' by Vikram Seth from the nearby library, my idea was to read an Indian author's literary work . Another compelling fact was;the library being British I could not make out who 90% of authors were, I had never heard of them. With a bit of effort , I saw some familiar names like Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Jeffrey Archer, P G Woodehouse, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens to name a few.

I picked up Seth's book and just checked the outer cover to get a glimpse of the story. The story line in a nut shell went ' At the heart , this is essentially a love story , the story of Lata's and her mother's search for a suitable boy..and at the same time the story of a young and newly independent India' . It did appear interesting to me , but the length of the story and the small letters in the book were not an appealing sight. 'Anyways I am sitting at home, why dont I give it a try'- I just thought that and picked up the book.I also picked up 2 more books just in case this was boring.

Little did I knew I had brought home a book which went thru 3 renewals over a period of 9 weeks and an incredible reading experience that was to remain for a life time.
The other 2 books I was sure I could not read along with this one and hence I returned when the first renewal was due in 3 weeks.Sometimes 100 pages at a stretch, some times 10 - I was in a world of magic that Seth had woven so intricately. Ordinary places, ordinary people, ordinary situations , ordinary language -all blended in an extra ordinary piece of literature.

A story set in 1951 -1952 period when India was just independent in a fictional city called Brahmapur , the characters are so vivid, so unique , so real , sometimes I felt their pain, their happiness, their loneliness, their struggles.The language is very plain , no embellishments , so my vocabulary was not put to test each time I read a paragraph. I always believe that connecting with all kinds of audience is important and hence I think the flow of a literary work is more important than the language.Yes language is important, but there is no point having the Oxford dictionary in your book when there is no story.

The story, as the title suggests, is indeed the search for a suitable boy for Lata Mehra, one of the protagonists.Her widowed mother, Rupa Mehra who believes in lineage, caste and religion wants her to be married to a boy of her choice by hook or crook and hence thoroughly disapproves of Lata's affair with a Muslim Boy.The interesting fact is the story is not only Lata's but there is a gamut of characters, the whole of Mehra family of 2 brothers and 2 sisters with an imposing and utterly brash daughter in law and a simple and upright son in law, the Chatterjis, the Kapoors, the Khans, the courtesan Saeda bai, the socialist Rasheed - all characters important or not, big or small have a unique identity and characteristic behaviours. Never once did I confuse between any of the charcters.Its interesting to see how Seth fits the legendary Jawarhal Lal Nehru in the scheme of things.He does make his appearance in the book every now and then and I never felt odd about having a real life character along with other fictional characters.

Another fact that is laudable in the book is the painful recreation of the social, economic, political and cultutral backgrounds during that time. The Zamindari abolition act to give powers to tenant,Hindu Muslim conflicts, first general elections, state of Indian villages plagued with poverty, illiteracy, exploitation and ill treatment of women - all are real life accounts and left me thinking about the India today as we know it. I could relate to the humiliation of the chamars, the pathetic life of shoe makers, minority appeasements of Congress, politicians' hunger for power, women in burqa denied a life outside, caste system and it ills, people still raking in the glory of British rule and looking down on their fellow Indians - doesn't it persist still. Yes lot of things did change, but the spirit of modern India is non existent in many villages today also.I commend Seth's efforts for sticking to facts of the time where the story unfolds.They are very much accurate.

Also what I liked is the introduction to the 19 odd parts of the novel which is each a story in itself. Seth has used his poetic skills to describe each part in a couplet, which I found was good compared to the normal titles we have for parts.

But having said good about this book, I also have to warn about the infinite length that might be a hurdle in peaceful reading.I believe around 200-300 pages of the book could have easily done away with as it containd descriptions that neither help the narrative nor is relevant to the context.I did skip a few parts like the court room scenes on Zamindari bill. This was relevant, but so much of description was not required.The problem is you cant skip too much as you never know when the next character is introduced and hence have to be alert while reading. But I guess Indian authors tend to be descriptive , so this can be forgiven.

I finished reading the book on Friday and was happy to see Lata finally married off , but ever since I have been feeling a sense of loss.I got some other books, but not been able to get Seth's fictional city and its characters out of my mind. I wish this story could go on and on. The last novel which I thoroughly enjoyed was 'Da Vinci code' as it completely mesmerised me. But ' A suitable Boy' with so many different characters and so many different shades of life appeared to be a complete novel for me.

Agree or disagree with me , I thoroughly enjoyed reading ' A suitable Boy' as I could connect to the story and its characters who are painfully real. I think this reading experience is going to last a life time unless I get Amnesia. Period.