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Follow her as she prepares and partakes the "bread for the stomach" in http://beforesixdiet.blogspot.com/ . And while you are full at it, she offers you the "bread for the soul" in her travels by foot and by thoughts in http://footandfire.blogspot.com/ Happy Reading!

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

For Matrimonial Purposes

For Matrimonial Purposes
Kavita Daswani
Penguin, 2003, 277 pages

This novel was loaned to me by a good friend who shares my interest with anything Eastern. I read this long before I finished the first one I borrowed from her, We want to live here, an exchange of letters between Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls. But I'm glad that I decided to pick it up. I was inspired to pick it up maybe after reading proposals and marriges the Afgani way in a memoir, The Bookseller of Kabul, where the men gives dowry to women's family.

In this novel, I learned that the family of the Indian woman spends lavishly for the wedding and gives dowry to the groom. But the same thing as the Afghans, the family agrees and makes proposals and conducts the marriage ceremony within a short period. Afghans are mostly Muslim while Indians are mostly Hindus but the similarity can be pointed out as regards marriage and women in finding their husbands. In both culture, women can be married off at 15.

Back to the novel, this is a debut novel of the author and I found it really entertaining and readable. Her humor is tempered and not exaggerated that I almost think that it is a memoir rather than a novel, since it's written on a first-person account. I felt the heat of Bombay, I dreaded the crowded marriage parties before the ceremony itself, I felt the social pressure for Raju to get marired too, I felt liberated when she found "home" in New York, I was half-pleased when she was kissed the first time by a "white man" because she has to have "an Indian boy,"  I was sad when she hoped for a proposal that did not went through, and I admired her openness in her quest to marry "the one" among her circle of friends. But I confessed that I shed tears only on the last few chapters when she already met the man who is close to "the one" and she has to get past the traditional way of finding a husband. But mostly, before those chapters, I smiled through and through because despite the oppressive tradition, she chose to adhere to it but of course with little rebellions along the way.    

Aside from the Indian culture and the story of Raju's quest for matrimonial purposes, the book is also entertaining as it mentioned many Indian food which intrigued me till the end that I made a list of them only when I was nearing the end:  samosa, lassi, potato tikki, mint chutney, peas pulao, dahiwada, kichdi, parathas, cashew mithai and papads. I wished I did the list at the onset.

The cover mentions that this is likened to the "Sex and the City," "Bridget Jone Diary" and "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." I saw the latter and ignored the first two. I wonder whether this one was made into a movie. I can imagine that it can be a culturally vibrant (Indian Life) and glamorous (Umrican Life) one with a mix of hilarity in equal measures.  

Whatever hardship there is in finding love, all is well that ends well. As Raju aptly closes her story, "It didn't matter anymore."