Monday, July 17, 2017

Three Dog Night - Gouri Dange

Read this delightful little book 'Three Dog Night' by Gouri Dange and woke up to how lovely good writing can be once again. It's lyrical, teasing, tongue-in-cheek and so alive that I caught myself thinking - this is how good it can get. The novel starts off with a bang and goes on and on in that fashion with nothing more than just a feisty outlook peppering things up incredibly on ordinary lives. Character after interesting character breezes in and waltzes out - all as unusual and common place as they could be, as any human could be - or wait. In the hands of someone who knows her craft they become unforgettable, vivacious characters full of life's highs, lows and unique perspectives. Gouri builds them as  effortlessly as she builds this frothy tale and you put your original thought of how she wrote a novel called 'Three Dog Night' aside and dip into this delightful world and when you turn the last page you know the title could not be anything else. Of such a rare, mad world do these people belong.
Harper Collins, 153 p, Rs. 250

Sixty one year old Vibhavari Pradhan, not long since widowed, lives in Mumbai and deals with a family that is as dysfunctional as any - son Rishabh and daughter in law Dharani and grandson 13 year old Dhruv (Dhruvlet) form one unit and her daughter Shruthi (Shruggy Shru) who goes about improving lives in faraway Rajasthan. Vibha loves dogs, possesses a feisty spirit and loves adventurous recipes it appears. From dealing with her young friend Moni's obsession with an insensitive boyfriend to handling an imprudent financial investment that her husband made in association with his friends, Vibha  is a delightful paradox of a modern mind stuck in a time warp. She has trouble with mobile phone ring tones, credit card callers and stuff like that and deals with them most creatively. Stuck with a piece of land she cannot sell she meets another wonderful character Gautam-Gafoor and between them they find a way. Her daughter adopts a Tibetan child. Meanwhile a Scotsman appears on the scene to document Indian dogs and together they meet in faraway Ratnagiri to consider possibilities of potential company. On and on float this loosely bound group of impossible and completely endearing characters each dealing with life in their own way, and enjoying its ups and its downs. One so wants to meet them all.

There are some interesting recipes thrown in. Like coconut prawns. Should try them.

Frankly I haven't read such delightful prose in years. Simply beautiful. In one line Gouri destroys you with no explanation or sympathy for Shruthi whose kidneys pack up in the prime of her youth or the sudden death of Ashwin Pradhan, and in the same manner she goes to Nepal to bring back the child her daughter has adopted with no questions asked. Life just goes on for Vibha, and all its shades seep through without seeming to make any effort;  she handles it all sanely, keeps her perspective and her sense of humour.

Well done Gouri. As for the three dog night - how cold can it get out there in Scotland? How else would a dog lover measure the cold - one dog, two dog and a three dog night which is time to head to India. 

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