Name of the Book: No Onions Nor Garlic
Author: Srividya Natrajan
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Mandeep, Murugesh, Rufus and Sundar are bucks who talk dirty for the same reason that they remove the mufflers from their motorcycle exhausts— it makes them feel like men. Like libertines. To their hormonal despair, when Professor Ram stages his remake of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at their college fest, he casts these four as fairies. The farce that follows gradually takes over the lives of the rest of the characters in this achingly funny novel about the pratfalls that accompany caste pride. On and off the campus of Chennai University, you will encounter onion-and-garlic-free TamBrahms who rewrite Shakespeare to uphold the Hindu order, smug NRIs who call the shots in matrimonials, visiting Canadians who are aghast at the plight of Dalits (pronounced ‘daylights’) and, at the apex of the whole tumbling structure, a bibulous builder who invokes the gods even as he defrauds his clients. Tailing the characters around this plot is an unseen but all-seeing spectator. You may never guess who that is, but will laugh all the way to the answer
The book begins with the cool sea breeze of scorching hot summer of Chennai battling against the builder Mr.Sheshadri that no matter how many towers he raises the blowing wind cannot be stopped. While Mr.Sheshadri determined to win by placing stone-n-cement in possible corner of the coast of the city. There is also Prof.Ram, challenging the world literature with his spiritually-creamed Midsummer Night’s Dream play, in which he plays the narrator of the drama, while his students are fit into other characters or rather pushed, stuffed and cello-taped into the characters. Prof.Ram is a man who highly thinks of his caste and is devoted towards refining education “TamBrahm” style. One of his students is Sundar, who though is a TamBrahm too, but falls his heart to a pretty non-tambrahm girl.
But the story a twist when Prof. Ram places a matrimonial ad for his NRI children based out of Canada specifying NO ONIONS NOR GARLICS in bold letters. Sundar and his sister Uma’s marriage gets arranged with Prof’s children.
Every character in the book has a unique attitude towards life and a humor side. There are many petty situations where you cannot help but laugh your guts out. But there are times when author takes the situation over-the-head like the mention of lavatory function of few characters leaves the reader with bad taste. At certain times the story loses momentum which disappoints the reader but humor-spark is brought back in few pages.
In the book Srividya has put in lot many characters but has put life in all of them from the astrologers to the bus conductors. The narration of the story is done elegantly. She beautifully keeps up the humor upright all through the book, or may be the way she builds up the relation between people or it is the flow of the story.
This book is good read and if you hadn’t had a hearty laugh long time then you must go for this one.
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