So desperate was I for a doze of fiction in the busy exam season of my life, that the first book I lay my hands on, I finished it in less than a day.
I did not read the whole book in one day; part of it had been read earlier by me. Keep The Change, authored by Nirupama Subramanian, is a book I started reading in the breaks during my brief stint as a Derivatives Trader. In its initial pages, it did not arouse enough interest, and so was comfortably abandoned to give way to the more bulky text books I needed to mug up for my CS(M) exams. Once they got over, it was only natural that I returned to this book. And now it seemed more entertaining, for I found myself flowing with the story-line.
Keep The Change is a book I would classify under the mundane chick-lits, with nothing really new or exciting to offer. It tells the tale of a Chennai born, conservative, unmarried and ambitious B.Damayanthi, whom fate leads among the demanding corporate realms of Mumbai from the stagnating accountant's job she held back home in Chennai. Employed now at FirstGlobal, a leading bank, it is quite simple to predict the kind of turns her life would take. Enough of new age literature has been written delineating the insides of the corporate world; and there is nothing novel this book presents. Interspersed into the demanding, hectic, unrewarding and unpredictable office life of Damayanthi is of course, the essential ingredient of love, which she craves for, sorry, lusts after. She stumbles, both in office and her supposed love life, and learns her lessons. And when she does, the story ends. Simple as that.
Damayanthi Balachandran is sent to live her new life in the Mumbai milieu with cautioning parting words of her mother, concerned with her marriage more than anything else in the world- "Be good. Don't do anything silly." To her (supposedly correct) judgement, Damayanthi translates these words as "Stay away from sex and alcohol." The plot then unfolds to show how she deals with a size-zero flatmate, Sonya Sood, who is completely anti-thetical to her her own self; a friend, Jimmy, at work place who looks after her and often imparts arcane words of wisdom; a senior, CG, whom she wishes to impress and attempts to understand and re-understand; a typical, parasitic office senior, Harish, who sucks of her work and leads her to depression; and the hot and immensely desirable Rahul, whom she clearly lusts after, but checks herself in time.
Typical. Predictable. Mix all those characters together, think of a story, and you might as well have created the same one as Nirupama Subramanian does.
The author is herself a South Indian, who had a brief stint at a bank. So the setting of her narrative was quite obvious. The story, as made quite evident by now, was nothing spectacular. So, what kept me hooked onto it till the end? The first reason, is of course, the desperation of wanting to read and the guilt I develop over unfinished books.The second reason was the mode of writing which Ms. Subramanian employed. The whole book is written in the form of the protagonist's journals, which I know is not a strikingly new technique, but it added a layer to the story line. Her, Damayanthi's journals are written in as her letters to an imaginary friend, Victoria, with whom she manages to have a two way conversation. This two way conversation is sustained on the imaginary persona of Victoria, which Damayanthi creates as an image of everything she aspired to be. I know I have attempted such relatable weirdness in life, so it felt kind of good.
The third reason is the language of the book. It is easy, contemporary and witty. Humorous too, and effortlessly at that. At the end of reading, I was left with a many pithy one liners which I would love to employ in appropriate situations. The author is immensely successful in creating Damayanthi's character as any other woman you might see slogging away in the corporate world, with an apposite peek into her psyche as and when necessary. Her inner self is an important character in the story, called the Little Voice. Besides her and her inner self, the development of other characters is just under satisfactory, as it leaves a lot of scope for a reader's own judgements and imagination to aid their picturization. May be that is how the author intended for things to be.
The fourth reason was Damayanthi herself. She came across as a loveable and familiar 26 year old, who is trying to find the stability in her existence, as she juggles between the stereotyped orthodox notions and regulations of her home, and the forward, dynamic, sharply competitive and challenging life of the corporate world. This is a situation which would give a sense of deja vu to many.
I would give it 2.75 stars, as 2.5 seems too less and 3 too much. And this, on a scale of only chick-lit literature, if I can call it literature at all. Read it like you would watch a movie. If at all you do.
What I would preserve from the book are the following lines, along with the context they emerged in
"Regret is a more miserable bedfellow than guilt"
"I am still trying to understand my non standard deviation from the desired behavior and do a variance analysis of the factors that can lead to an above average specimen of the male species to call a girl at the end of the bell curve."
"There is no direct cause and effect relationship between many things that happen in this world. Things just happen and we try to rationalize them afterwards, to make some sense of this random existence."
So, I finally finished the book I was gifted two years ago on my birthday.
1. The Winner Stands Alone, by Paolo Coelho
2. Kadambari, by Banabhatta.