Thursday, June 2, 2011
Marrying Anita - Book Review
As the title suggests, this is a memoir of the time period spent by author Anita Jain in India. In her early thirties, Anita takes up a job in New Delhi and returns to the land her father left, coincidentally at the same age to seek their fortune in America. But Anita. a Harvard-educated, well-traveled, independent woman, comes to India for a different reason - to find a husband.
Anita's journalist background is displayed both in her writing skills and her analysis of the India of the new millennium in the chapters that describe her on-off relationship with India in the years of growing up in USA. Her self-proclaimed " A quest for love in the New India", as the byline reads on the cover page of book that shows a pair of hands covered with mehendi leads Anita towards several young people. While she finds many kindred souls, particularly when it comes to consuming copious amounts of alcohol and cigarettes, even hashish, in the racy bars of Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida, they all seem to fall short of her requirements for a spouse.
Along the way we meet many characters including the couple who host her during her first days in the capital, Nandini, a small town girl gone wild in the freedom provided by the metropolis, Anita's parents and their relatives, her outspoken maid Chandra and some other unique characters like the members of a band and members of the gay fraternity. In terms of prospective grooms, she comes close to a couple of guys but for some reason things don't materialize to the much-awaited four words "Will you marry me?"
Anita candidly shares considerable details of the lives and motivations of her parents immigrant experience as well as her own life as a single woman who gets tired of her dating fiascos in New York city. There are way too many details of her interactions with men of many nationalities and the complicated rituals of the dating scene which only fosters greater emptiness in Anita. While we feel sorry for her unfortunate dalliances, Anita comes across as a bold woman not afraid to share her growing desperation at her loneliness.
The book reminded me of a work of fiction "Sharmila's Book" by Bharti Kirchner where a woman comes to Delhi to marry a suitable boy but ends up marrying someone else instead. I did not much like the novel for its superficial treatment and point of view which was written for a Western audience. At times, I thought of "Eat Pray Love" one of my favorite books in the memoir genre about a woman's year of soul-searching with the specific intent of not being with a guy. Though not of the same caliber as Eat Pray Love, this book certainly is an honest investigation and analysis of the reality of finding a mate in these days of internet matrimonial portals and global range of choices.
At the end, Anita is not looking for a bigger pool to choose from, but like everyone else, she is looking for one soul mate. And I wish her well as her quest continues.