Just Married, Please Excuse – A Review

September 10, 2012

Book Reviews

There go the wedding bells for a cute IIM alumnus, oven-fresh from classes, peddling soaps and detergents for an MNC! Déjà vu? Let’s find out.

We enter the story through a scene where the thirty years old beau of a twenty three years old management trainee who is not sure whether she is the ‘marrying type’, proposes marriage to her. The trouble is, the most beckoning years of carefree youth, the golden twenties, lie ahead of the girl, waiting to be lived. And to top it, the courtship with the gangly man is barely three months old!

It turns out that Vijay, the boyfriend, is from a traditional Brahmin family, strikingly different from Yahodhara’s, the narrator. Where Vijay’s folks are God-fearing vegetarians meld in orthodox middleclass ways, non-vegetarian food is staple fare at Yashodhra’s family. Her mother visits clubs and can down the odd beer too. But Vijay seems to have grown out of the shackles of traditions. At least, he refuses to be caged for life into a marriage arranged by his parents. It turns out that he is determined to have his say in the final round of a series of attempts at romances routinely torpedoed by his family.

We get glimpses of their first date together when they go watching ducks and fishing, their bickering and patch ups and their eventual marriage followed by honeymoon in ‘Goooaaaa’. We move ahead in life with the married couple who hunt interminably for non-sweating blue sofas, nearly turn into farmers, cope with driving lessons, move to a different city and invent social life for themselves. And all this while their contrasting personalities and appendages ignite enough sparks of merriment in a story already rippling with humour. Thus, it is only when they sit together in their wedding hall that Yashodhara realizes how ‘freakishly short upper body’ Vijay has! No wonder the poor photographer has a horrible time having their faces aligned conventionally, ‘Madam, can you more down, Sir, can you more up?’

‘Up yours, sir!’ mutters our heroine under her breath.

Then she gets pregnant and there is the familiar despair on her part for the loss of an unlived life of freedom and adventure. Nevertheless, they go ahead and have the baby and call her Peanut. The baby brings about many changes and challenges in their lives and their all too familiar conviviality starts frittering away. It blows into a ‘volcanic’ albeit hilarious climax where a young, fuming and flummoxed Yahodhara is warned of an impending disaster by a scampering man, ‘Run, Aunty! TSUNAMEEEE!’

However, the book is not without its sober moments. It is true, after all, that life is not a bed of roses, nor does it proceed forever with the easy jocularity of a comic strip. The many traps and pitfalls get illumined by the couple’s move to Mumbai, travails of nursing the baby, shifting of Vijay’s attention to Peanut, and going along with a live-in maid. Another significant strain is Yashodhara’s fight to be accepted as her true self, a non-vegetarian, non-saree-clad, guitar strumming and drum beating woman who likes to have her occasional drink.

The initial skepticism with the novel caused by a familiar sounding start wears off quickly as we are faced with a delightful tone, liberally spiced up with Hinglish and Hindi. That, the narrator has an uncanny eye for the comic in life as it abounds, both ordinary and extraordinary, is unmistakable.  Right from the moment when ‘pop goes the question’ to the very end of the story, she uncovers the rolling miles of domesticity in the same vein. She doesn’t flinch in highlighting the hilarious even in absurd and alarming situations. And to her credit, she sounds decidedly natural rather than contrived.  The pure, sterling humour of the book is reminiscent of installments of Flintstones, devoid of ironies, hidden meanings and subliminal messages. Don’t be surprised if you identify with some, if not many, of the emotions that swirl in those anecdotes.

The twin characters of the young couple pop out of the pages to quickly grow upon the reader. The author has tastefully sketched the minor characters too, notably that of Kajal, the old housemaid. And those looking for a serene message in the book would surely nod at what Vijay’s mother has to offer:

‘Ladne ki kyaa bat hain? Kabhi main maan jaati hoon. Kabhi wo maan jaate hain.’

In the end, Just married, Please Excuse turns out to be an uncomplicated and rollicking account of coming together of a couple hailing from disparate segments of the society. It is destined to put a stubborn smile on your face with its innate humour and disarming frankness.

(The review is part of IndiBlogger / HarperCollins Book Review initiative. To know more about Yashodhara Lal, do visit her blog.)

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About umashankar

I am just a watcher then. Sometimes I watch life. Sometimes I watch death. Many times I watch in between...

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67 Comments on “Just Married, Please Excuse – A Review”

  1. Richa Says:

    The book sounds so much nicer than the cover! I thought this was another of those chick-lit or chetan bhagatish novels which one read if there really was nothing better to do, fume while reading and throw it out in despair in the end! But obviously, I have to change my mind after your review! Writing with simplicity can be the most difficult of all! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      Richa, I share your thoughts about the cover: the book is infinitely more interesting. And hey, it is a far cry from what Mr Chetan Bhagat writes and it is surely on a higher plane than what they do in Chic-lit pages! Yes, it is hard to sparkle along the entire length of a book. Thanks for your visit.

      Reply

  2. The Fool Says:

    Nice, sober review.

    Reply

  3. Amit Ganguly Says:

    Heart warming story of people from different backgrounds yet entwined with humor.Nice post indeed.

    Reply

  4. anupampatra Says:

    Splendid review, as always I must add.

    Reply

  5. rajni sinha Says:

    thanks for this review it does tempt one to read the book –and this also reminds me of a book –“any thing for you ma’m “

    Reply

  6. Ruchira Says:

    I have read the book too ! Somehow I found kajal and her jamai babu-isms really hilarious. A very nicely written review !

    Reply

  7. sudhagee Says:

    I haven’t read this book, and to be frank was avoiding reading it. But I think I may pick up a copy after reading your review.

    Reply

  8. C. Suresh Says:

    Mmm! Uma! Another of your splendid reviews! As usual you make the reader itch to pick the book when you find it good 🙂

    Reply

  9. Found In Folsom Says:

    Umm..the list of books you are referring to is increasing…:) I don’t know how I will feel after reading the book, but you make it so appetizing. 🙂 A sweet review from you.

    Reply

  10. Amit Says:

    I am reading it and I am halfway through. They have reached Mumbai.
    It is easy on the brain right now. 🙂 Lets see in what state I am by the time it ends. 🙂

    Reply

  11. Bhagyashree Says:

    It has been a long long times since I read anything other than my favorite blogs. But you have tempted me. And it is just possible that I pick up this book.

    Reply

  12. ashreyamom Says:

    i was just wondering whats this with these IIM guys, they dont want to do business, but write their own love stories.. :)..

    Reply

  13. Yashodhara Says:

    Umashankar, this may one of the reviews I’ve enjoyed most so far – and I’ve been lucky enough to get lots! 🙂

    Many, many thanks, and am so glad you liked the book!

    Reply

  14. Ganga Ganapathi Says:

    So identified with the book and this review! Great writing both of you 🙂

    Reply

  15. Bikramjit Singh Mann Says:

    I wish what vijay’s mother say’s becomes true in every household.. so many problems will go away

    a great review uma sir , thank you

    Reply

  16. indiamap Says:

    Read this book already, its really an awesome one in my library

    Reply

  17. shovonc Says:

    Well, Chetan Bhagat gets a lot of people to read. That can’t be bad.

    Reply

  18. TTT Says:

    really this book was nowhere in my ‘to read’ list . but after your review I guess i will give it a try on a lazy weekend when i don’t want to do much of thinking as such .

    Reply

  19. umashankar Says:

    That fits perfectly in the scheme of things!

    Reply

  20. Ghazala Hossain Says:

    You are so good with this review, you gave a clear look at the book and it’s characters. Would love to read this one 🙂

    Reply

  21. Ajeeth Boaz Says:

    Good review, will definitely pick up a copy now.

    Reply

  22. Zephyr Says:

    At the moment I am reading children’s books and Mitch Albom. I might pick it if I get a free copy 😉 But your review is tempting me to maybe even buy it!

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      Zephyr, it is one of those sunshine things you keep talking about; do read it. There is a contest on the author’s blog where you may just earn a copy for yourself and maybe a lunch too!

      Reply

  23. sharmmila Says:

    Sounds good…..will pick it up 🙂

    Reply

  24. Farida Rizwan Says:

    A wonderful review .. may be a step ahead of the book itself ;). No wonder the author appreciated you review.

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      We have to be reasonable, Farida. Six hundred odd words of a review can never stand up to the trials and tribulations and the monumental efforts that go into authoring of a book. If the author has chosen to put in her stamp of approval on my piece, it shows how graceful and down-to-earth a person she is.

      Coming back to your glowing compliment, many thanks to you! 😀

      Reply

  25. soulsearchingdays Says:

    Hi , That is quite a review!! Liked it so much. I have read the book, done the review but your review is so full of life and an apt one at that.

    regards

    Reply

  26. Rachna Parmar Says:

    Now that is a cracking review! I don’t expect anything less from you. I actually love such tales because I see so much of myself in these kind of stories. One good thing about Indian stories is that we can relate to the cultural stuff as well as the language and circumstances that seem to flow from our own lives. I will surely pick it up. But first, I have to place a request at my library. As you know, I am not buying any books these days :).

    Reply

  27. Spaceman Spiff Says:

    Now that’s what you call a well-written review!

    Reply

  28. panchali Says:

    That sounds interesting, Uma. I haven’t read Yashodara’s blogs, Now I must visit her….asap! Thanks for the neat n crisp review…beautiful language 🙂

    Reply

  29. Jas Says:

    What a review! I am sure if the author herself reads it, she will be on cloud nine 🙂

    Reply

  30. dnambiar11 Says:

    That was a very entertaining review, USP.
    I swear, you make me want to read this one too. 🙂 I love how you share so much of the story yet manage to convince us that there’s so much more to it.
    I hope you’re doing well. 🙂

    Reply

  31. JayadevM Says:

    Hey Umashankar,

    Seems you were busy churning out reviews while I was sleeping!!

    When we met you said one is complete and waiting to be posted – but now I see two!

    Felicity with words and economy of expression are commendable aspects your writing … worth learning and emulating.

    The book you have reviewed has an oft repeated theme which is dominating the mindscape of young writers in India – particularly in a period when the institution of marriage itself is being questioned.

    You say that although the storyline is the same old one the treatment is different. Somehow new Indian literature leaves me cold. Maybe exposure to Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi has led to some sort of allergy.

    I think I shall stay satisfied with your review, which is balanced and, as always, well-written.

    Waiting to read your book – I am sure it will be different! But before that the next article at the blog …

    Reply

    • umashankar Says:

      Jayadev, you fully deserved the break! Yes, I have been writing reviews just as I had said. Thanks for writing such a glowing review of my review! It encourages me endlessly. 😀

      Reply

  32. NM Says:

    Wonderful review!!! I myself just started writing reviews and this is a good place for me to pick inspiration from!! Loved the review. The book sounds like a fun read. You’ve inspired me to pick the book up and read it!! Thanks

    Reply

  33. jkhona Says:

    certainly. your review makes a new picture in my mind. it must certainly not a chetan bhagat-is novel. though i have Gore’s Circle of Three pending to be read and next buy should be this one. may be i have to revisit this blog to share my views on this title 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Reply

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