I didn’t like the title of this book but Bhavna Rai emailed me a link to a teaser on her website and it promised a lot of action. So I decided to go ahead, and must say I was very impressed. It wasn’t just the fast-packed action and the well-thought-out and carefully-built-up plot. It was the authentic detail of setting, and its unusually perceptive application of everyday situations, that I felt made this book really stand out.
At one point I worried a little about one of the main characters who has studied at New York University – but is totally disconnected from the letters of credit and purchase orders at her father’s import-export business where she works. Until I realised that the whole point of being an import-export heiress is that you can go abroad to study and get a good education without ever caring a bit about tedious necessities like LCs and POs.
Other people and situations in this book are equally genuine. We get to watch a client presentation by an IT outsourcing firm, see how the team thinks and reacts, and how the client team behaves. And to observe the eccentricities of a call centre floor – but also the dynamics at an ‘exclusive’ golf club in Delhi, and a havan conducted in the hope of resuscitating a failing business. There are possessive and emotionally castrating parents – and I loved the instructions their son gives his long suffering American girlfriend before taking her to meet them.
Bhavna Rai showcases the social changes catalysed by the fast-opening Indian economy well. And her focus on the many different man-woman relationship formats in this book does a really good job of exposing human needs and points of vulnerability.
I enjoyed this book so much that I almost didn’t get irritated by its numerous clichés and clumsy proofreading. I asked Bhavna Rai what she’s working on now and was very disappointed not to hear that there’s another blockbuster on the way soon – instead, she said:
Some ideas have been taking shape, but I haven’t committed to any of them, yetHurry, will you, girl!
When I told her I found this title annoying she replied,
My manuscript was initially entitled "What time is it in Delhi?" but then it was suggested to me that I need a more descriptive title which is when I changed it to the alliterative title it now has.And when I asked her which authors' books hers should be displayed alongside in a store, she said:
I'm part of the new breed of India's contemporary writers, so probably alongside Chetan Bhagat, Karan Bajaj and Advaita Kala.Well – this I definitely do not agree with.
If it was my store, this book would be next to Jeffrey Archer’s, not Chetan Bhagat’s.
Now … rereading what I just wrote, I suppose I should clarify, for the record: Bhavna Rai didn’t pay me. And I don’t know her at all – in fact, we aren’t even facebook friends (yet). And I’m wondering whether I should be embarrassed about all my lavish praise. But perhaps not – because I know I’m unlikely to be so very effusive while writing about a well-publicised book by a well-known author.