Move over Monica and Chandler – Y and Vijay are here, the quintessential metro couple walking the thin line between life in a metropolis and values of a small town. They are crazy, they are fun, they are you and me and that’s perhaps why blogger Yashodhara Lal’s debut novel Just Married, Please excuse strikes such a chord. There is nothing remarkable about the plot apart from the fact that it is so real that in Yasho’s daily struggles you see yourself. And reading about one’s life, when the narrative is laced with humour, is always fun. Think Sex and the City or Marian Keyes!
Y is the tempestuous 21st century, sarcasm-sprouting IIM graduate who after much trepidation takes the plunge with steady, laid back, still-trying-to-get-over-his-small-town ways Vijay. Her reluctance is understandable – ask any 23 year old, independent metro girl who’s had the question popped. Living together is cool but marriage to a person who, in many ways is the antithesis of you? Absolutely not. Why they even think in different languages! She can’t remember what namaste is called in hindi (!!!) and he loses his tenacious command over English every time he gets agitated. Tough decision but our dear author knows it is the right one when said guy holds her head over the toilet seat without a wince. And thus the drama begins. Suddenly trousers and tee girl Y finds herself struggling to get into a saree to please her mom-in-law or plying pa-in-law with innumerable cups of tea and rhombus shaped rotis to win him over. Not that Mummyji and Papaji are the dreaded monsters-in-law portrayed in Ektaa Kapoor soaps. No, they are the sweet, cute, slightly conservative couple who recognize that while their bahu maybe a complete disaster in the kitchen, drink alcohol and wear short pants, their son finds her to be a great person and that, is enough. They don’t pop a vein, not even when said daughter-in-law throws a fit at 2 in the morning and stalks out of the house. Instead, mummyji calmly explains, “ Ladne ki kya baat hain? Arrey, kabhi main maan jaati hoon, kabhi wo maan jaate hain.” How profound!
And how very difficult to implement. Y and V discover that the real challenge is to get used to each other’s idiosyncrasies - his penchant for all things alu gobhi and her tendency to blow a fuse at the drop of a hat. You breeze through the first 120 pages with a smile on your face as you encounter their efforts to buy a house and witness Y’s driving lessons. And just as you think that this crazy but adorable couple has found their equilibrium, princess peanut decides to make an entry. Thus begins a whole new set of this-is-the-way-to-it battles when internet based wisdom finds itself at odds with good old tradition . Yashodhara portrays with ease and remarkable wit the struggles of a newly wed working couple as they learn to handle their pregnancy. However, it is after baby Anoushka is born that the book loses its pace and charm. The flow, realism and hey-that-could-be-me feel of the earlier chapters that compelled you to keep turning the pages is lost and the embellishments become more glaring. Some encounters, like the one when Y’s househelp raises a false alarm and has the entire locality on the streets at 2 am seem a little too far fetched. Hey, they could still be real but pardon me, if I find them a tad difficult to swallow.
Like most books by Indian authors, Just Married, Please Excuse has a fairly liberal dose of Hinglish sprinkled across it’s pages but Yashodhara’s colloquial style of writing ensures that it does not jar. Her language is contemporary, and yet thankfully it does not make a mockery of English, unlike a lot of new publications. For that alone, the author deserves our gratitude.
Fitzgerald of the Great Gatsby fame once said that to write a good book “you have to sell your heart” because when you begin you only have your emotions to offer. And that is exactly what Yashodhara does. Her candor evokes a sense of déjà vu. (Makes you wonder if this book truely is a work of fiction as the cover states or is it a memoir? Y, are you listening? ) If you are trying to find your niche in the big urban jungle, every page of the book, barring the last few chapters perhaps, is likely to remind you of an instance in your life or of someone around you. And if you are still enjoying the relative coziness of small town India as it races to meet the metros, you’ll get a glimpse of what life has in store for you. Relax, it’s not bad; just insane! A little bit like Marriage
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