Malgudi Days

I took Ashwini’s suggestion and watched “Malgudi days” (through NetFlix).  Earlier, I  had checked out the book “Malgudi Days” from my local library.  So far, I highly recommend both the book and tv show.  Malgudi Days focuses on a small village in South India named Malgudi circa 1935.  Both the book and show are made up of short stories about everyday people-the mailman, a young boy, a local shepherd, a miserly grandfather.  For Satya, “Malgudi Days” reminds him of his mother’s village.  He also remembers watching “Malgudi Days” in school.  For Westerners, the closest thing might be the James Herriot books and tv show-universal, everyday stories about a specific region and time.

 

The stories are not very sugar-coated or like a glossy Bollywood movie.  Some stories are funny or cute like the story of young Swami and the thief.  Some are sad like the story of the dog and the blind, elderly beggar.  One episode poked fun at wealthy American tourists.  Some pose great dilemmas-should the postman deliver a letter and thus possibly destroy a young girl’s chance at a good marriage?  Another was a ghost story…was the mechanic possessed by the ghost of the elderly temple caretaker?  (I thought that was one of the best ghost stories I’ve seen-enthralling because of the storytelling and not any over the top gore or effects.)

 

One aspect I thought was a little strange was that in the show, nearly everybody spoke in English.  Only the old man with the two goats spoke in Hindi which made sense as the whole point of the story was that he couldn’t understand the American tourist and the American tourist couldn’t understand him.  Was this because the author of “Malgudi Days” R.K. Narayan wrote in English?  Was the remake in English too? 

 

We’ve gotten through the first disc of episodes and have gotten through half of the second disc.  I’m looking forward to more great stories and heartily recommend “Malgudi Days”!

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“A Good Indian Wife” by Anne Cherian

Yesterday, I checked out from the library “A Good Indian Wife” by Anne Cherian.  At the moment, I’ve only read a few pages, but it is very readable.

Neel (real name Suneel) went to medical school in the U.S. and became an anesthesiologist in California.  He has a girlfriend of three years, a blonde secretary named Caroline.  Neel’s feelings for her seem to be straight out of the modern dating classic, He’s just not that into you.  For example, he forgets their 3rd anniversary.  Neel is 35 and his family is growing tired of him remaining unmarried.  His family gets him to return to India to visit his grandfather-Neel is told he is very sick and near death.  His mother and aunt, however, plan to get him to India to marry him off.

I admit I don’t like his character much at the moment, but hopefully that will change.

Leila seems more likable.  She is 30 years old, teaches literature, and loves to write stories.  She has two younger sisters, Kila who is 8 years old, and Indy who is in her mid-20s.  Leila has seen many suitors come and go.  She had one indiscretion around age 20, but gets passed over because her family cannot offer a dowry.  

The book does touch a lot on the theme of family.  Early on, Cherian writes from Neel’s perspective, “In India it was always family above self, with no one considering his difficulties”. 

On the trip back to India, Neel sits near a mixed couple.  The husband is Indian and the wife is Italian, although at first Neel thinks the wife is also Indian.  He overhears the husband saying, “It is difficult to be neither fish nor fowl in America, and I told Lisa our daughter would be more accepted back home.  I mean, when the British came, our kings greeted them with open arms.  America is not such a welcoming country.” Mr. Rolex agreed, but Neel thought the man was a simpleton.” 

I’m curious to find out what happens once Neel and Leila meet.  What are their first impressions?  How will Caroline deal with it all?  What kind of marriage do Neel and Leila create for themselves? 

Article by Dinesh Ramde  about the book.  Ramde rates the book a B+.