Review: Marry Go Round by Sadiqa Peerbhoy

June 27, 2013

Title: Marry Go Round
Author: Sadiqa Peerbhoy
Publication date: April 24, 2013
Publisher: Jufic Books (Imprint of Leadstart Publishing)
Genre: Fiction, Indian
Rating: 3/5 stars
Source: Leadstart Publishing
A determined mother using blatant emotional blackmail to inveigle her NRI son into a marriage with the right sort of desi girl; a reluctant groom with a live-in girlfriend following him all the way to India; a bride on the rebound from a disastrous liaison with a married man; skeletons rattling in old family cupboards; an aunt on the vengeance trail, and we have a heady cocktail of an arranged wedding that morphs into a love marriage with quite the wrongest possible girl, with a little tactical help from long-dead ancestors.

Written in a refreshingly original style, Marry Go Round is one quaint combine of today's merrily irreverent humour and a staid Hyderabadi milieu with its Nawabi hangover from grandiose times long past.
  Marry Go Round is very quintessentially Hyderabadi book. Not quintessentially Indian, mind you, but Hyderabadi. I'll explain that little distinction in a bit. 

Riaz is today's typical NRI in the US of A; the ones that we find aplenty nowadays. Though intrinsically loyal to his Indian culture, he has adopted the way of the West in many aspects of his life. When his mother, Sartaj, hears of his live in relationship with his American girlfriend, she freaks out and fakes a heart attack to bring him to her side (she lives in India). Once there, she has a proper khandaani girl all ready to marry him. If he refuses her, she has another one waiting on the sides. And another. And another. You get the picture - she's determined to get him married while he's within her clutches. Meanwhile, his girlfriend Sarah, not trusting him to resist the temptation to get shackled, follows him to India. There's also a parallel story of the prospective bride for Riaz, Sana, which occurs side by side with the main plot. What follows is a comedy of (mostly) errors that dips heavily into Hyderabadi culture and lingo.

The main characters of the book are Riaz and Sartaj. At it's core, it's a story about the dynamics between the mother-son duo and how they each step about and around each other; each loving the other to their fullest capacity, but at the same time, reluctant to hurt the other in any way.

Sartaj is the epitome of the Indian mother. I swear to you, her obsession with her kid getting married is something that is prevalent with every single mother in the country, and is not restricted to gender either. Son or daughter, the main goal in your parents life is to get you 'married and settled'. What's more, Sartaj still lives in the days of yore, when the Nawaabs and Khandaans were still revered, and for all her pride in her son, and how Hyderabad has progressed, she still misses the time when she was waited upon and celebrated.

Riaz was not a favourite character with me. His shift of affection from one girl to another in a split of a second (literally. Not joking.) left me a bit disappointed in his loyalty to his supposed 'love'. *SPOILER - Highlight to see* And this happens not once, but two freaking times. However, I get that it is part of the plot, and couldn't be avoided. The devices he endorses in order to get out of the several fixes he finds himself in are hilarious. There is this one particular scene in a coffee shop where he is trying to convince Sana that he is a bad match; only he ends up doing the opposite. It's almost like they're trying to out do themselves in their sins, and made for a great belly laugh!

The secondary characters are enjoyable and add that little bit of extra to the story. Each of them have their own personal agendas that play out along with Riaz's and Sartaj's, intersecting with each other several times, often to the detriment of one of the characters. It's funny, to say the least. Dilawar, Riaz's cousin and childhood best friend, plays the trusty sidekick, who is employed by first Sartaj and then Riaz to further their plans, only to suddenly find himself with his own plan.

Sana, I found, is a pretty complex character, not really fitting in with the rest of the gang. Not that they're not complex, but it's just that Sana's character had a few darker strokes to it, that seemed a bit abrupt and out of place with the general mood of the story.

There is another secondary character as well, who enters at what is almost the fag end of the story, and creates a veritable storm, but I shall not mention who that is, because doing so would definitely be classified as a spoiler.

The plan that Sartaj devices is no new one to Indian readers, since this has been a tried and tested method of emotional blackmail in several Indian soaps and films. However, it's execution is hilarious, and unique in that it hasnt been incorporated in written fiction before. I did find sometimes the stroy was all over the place, and did have a couple of twists that we never saw coming, but at the end of the day, it is a well written story.

One thing that non Hyderabadi readers might struggle with is the liberal use of Hyderabadi colloquialism which is difficult to understand, since there isn't some kind of glossary either. I am an Inidan myself, but even I had a tough time understanding several terms, and had to keep asking my Urdu/Hindi friends for explanations.

The book also has several serious underlying themes that you notice if you read between the lines. But since the book is comedy at its core, they are touched upon very lightly.

Bottomline: Marry Go Round is a laugh riot that will ultimately resonate more with the Indians, but is also very informative to non Indians (and non Hyderabadi Indians) about the ins and outs of Hyderabadi culture.

*A copy of the book was provided in exchange for an honest review.

2 comments :

  1. You have a lovely blog. I just dropped by and could not help writing here. Can you suggest some themes for blogspot. I have a blogspot blog too and I don't like the look of it :-(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! :)

      I haven't experimented with any templates from other websites, as they tend to mess up the Blogger layout, but you can always check out the umpteen number of sites that turn up when you search for 'blogger templates' on Google. Sora Templates is especially attractive and professional looking, in my opinion.

      Good luck! :)

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