The Recession Groom
“The Recession Groom is a story that most of us can relate to” — Malayala Manorama
“Vani’s book is a perfect blend of Indian-American or even Indo-Candian story telling…It is a story that most of us can relate to…Vani’s simple yet effective style of writing does keep the readers gripped until the very end – a most unusual end indeed.”
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“The Recession Groom is like a three and a half hour movie”— Anandabazar Patrika
India’s biggest bangla newspaper, Anandabazar Patrika, positively reviewed ‘The Recession Groom’.
The reviewer says that the book is like a three and a half hour movie. It deals with the arranged marriage system in a fun way, highlighting this whole thing about how grooms are marketed in India. Interestingly, this marketing package also has an expiry date. Next, it highlights how a couple of years ago it was the bride who had to work hard to find a groom; today, it is the groom who has to work doubly hard to find a bride.
আমার আইটি আছে
৩০ জানুয়ারি, ২০১৬, ২৩:২৫:২৬
ছেলের বাবাদের এমন দুর্দিন বোধহয় আগে কখনও আসেনি। বছর কুড়ি আগে পর্যন্তও পুত্রসন্তান লাভের গর্বে আটখানা তাঁরা মেয়ের বাবাদের দিকে তেরছা চাউনি ছুড়ে বিয়ের ক্ষেত্রে এক ধাপ এগিয়ে শুরু করতেন। সোনার আংটির মালিকানা তাঁদের হাতে। সে আংটি বাঁকা, চ্যাপ্টা, টাল খাওয়া যা খুশি হোক, ও সব নিয়ে ভাবে কে? ছেলের বাড়ির তখন একটাই কাজ। তাক বুঝে আংটিখানা পাতে ফেলা। শুকনো-মুখো, কাঁচুমাচু মেয়ের বাবাদের হ্যাংলামি তখন স্রেফ তারিয়ে তারিয়ে উপভোগ করার ব্যাপার। ছেলের শুধু একখানা পাকা চাকরি। সরকারি হলে, তোফা। নিজের বাড়ি, দর আর একটু বাড়বে। একমাত্র ছেলে, সুপুরুষ, বয়স অল্প, নিজের গাড়ি… লিস্ট যত লম্বা হবে, মেয়েপক্ষের গদগদ ভাব আর হাত কচলানি তত বাড়বে। গড়পড়তা এই তো ছিল ছবি।
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“The Recession Groom is a smart story” — The Tribune
Aradhika Sharma: Marriage has always been an overwhelming obsession with Indians. The Recession Groom is a ‘smart story’ about the trials and tribulations of a Punjabi boy working in Canada. Parshuraman Joshi — an unlikely sort of a name for a Punjabi boy from Chandigarh — is a highly desirable candidate in the marriage mart, chased and feted by ambitious mamas, who desire nothing more than to have their daughters marry well.
Indeed, almost all the Indian female characters in the book have only one thing on their minds: How to find a handsome protagonist, a suitable partner and they leave no stone unturned to parade before him a bevy of brides-to be. Then occurs the situation, with an unwilling Parshuraman fighting off their attentions, until disaster strikes in the form of global recession. Overnight, the most suitable groom loses his lustre as ‘demand’ for him falls in the marriage hypermarket. Almost at the altar, a wedding is cancelled and Parshuraman struggles with the double whammy that life has dealt him — loss of a (almost) wife and loss of a job.
There are plenty of characters in the book, including a firangi-love interest, a philosophical grandmother, a shrill sister, an aunt who has blind faith in a ‘Maa’ claiming divinity. Vani has tried to capture the flavours of the quintessential Indian household and has recognised the importance of a family, while trying to keep the scenario multi-cultural. The marriage theme has, in fact, been excellently explored by Vikram Seth in A Suitable Boy on a much wider canvas, where bridegrooms were sought under rigorous maternal evaluation for Lata’s matrimony. Seth has thus set a high benchmark for fiction in Indian matrimony.
Vani’s book offers glimpses of the recession in 2008, in Canada, and how it impacted professionals there. The loss of jobs and in some cases like Parshuraman’s, it is about a loss in prestige, as he gets rejected by the very people who pursued him relentlessly.
Finally, Parshuraman finds himself back in India when he starts working for an IT firm in Chandigarh. The story hereafter is about the hero unlearning the professionalism of the West and learning the Indian work culture — missing deadlines, shoddy work, coming late to office, making excuses to International clients.
Finally, all the misunderstandings and issues with the multitudes of wannabe brides are resolved, the job crisis is over and Parshuraman is deemed desirable once again by the matchmakers. He discovers where his true love lies.
The tone is light, the story linear, nothing complicated. The book is simple, almost on the verge of being simplistic. It is an easy read and it doesn’t tax the reader.
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“Vani’s debut novel deals with recession in a fun way” — The Hindu
S. Ravi/ New Delhi: Finding inspiration in the real world, Vani chose recession as the subject for her debut novel “The Recession Groom” launched recently. The former business journalist had witnessed first-hand the effect of this economic phenomenon in 2008 while pursuing masters in business administration in London. “I would hear and read stories everyday about redundancy but at that time it never occurred to me that there was a story in it. After completing MBA, my friends and me, contrary to our expectations of getting hired in big companies on huge salaries, struggled and had to make compromises. It struck me what if I write of a young person, who is very capable and has attributes much sought after in the employment market, facing the change in his fortunes due to recession,” explains the author.
The Leadstart publication revolves around Parshuraman, a 27-year-old IT professional settled in Canada making him hot on the Indian wedding market and how his world falls apart when confronted with global credit crisis and how he copes with it. Besides it also zooms in on his search for a perfect partner. To her credit the writer avoided infusing the story with details and jargon about recession and stuck to neat characterization and simple language. “I wanted to write an exciting and entertaining story aimed at a wide spectrum of audience. Recession is a dry subject and I did not want to portray it in a very complicated manner. The intention was to enable common people to relate to the small world of Parshuraman affected by the macro world.”
As a sizable portion of the narrative is located in Canada there are several characters of foreign origin in it including the main female lead. Why so? Vani says, “I was trying to pitch my novel to publishers around the world and wanted it to have an international flavour and cast which blended with the Indian ones. It also helped in creating confusion and complications in the male protagonist’s life besides depicting the differences in the cultural values of the West and India. The feedback from foreign readers and authors suggests that they were able to connect and relate to the story due to honest and relevant depiction of characters.”
What is sure shot to interest all readers is the vivid description of many aspects of Indian society like portrayal of arranged marriages, family support systems etc. “Our marriage system being unique was bound to be stirring and compelling for readers specially non-Indians besides informing them about a slice of our life. Similarly, differing perceptions about janitoring and bartending bring out the contrast in the two societies,” comments Vani. In tune with this, it also shows how close-knit Indian families support their kith and kin akin to their western counterparts albeit with a difference. “They respect personal space and do not encroach upon it allowing you to make your decisions.All this is not a commentary on what is good or bad but just outlining what is true in a subtle way,” explains the writer.
Vani gives a surprising twist at the end of the book. Terming it “uncharacteristic” she reveals, “It was to keep enough turmoil in my male protagonist’s life going to enable writing about him in two or three more books and also force my reader to think about.”
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“An interesting and entertaining commentary on the morales of both the Western and Indian societies” — The New Indian Express
“The Recession Groom is a roller-coaster journey” — Hindustan Times
In her debut book, Vani takes us through a roller-coaster journey of a Chandigarh groom chasing dollar dreams in Canada. He has no time to find a bride till he is almost chasing them: Hindustan Times
It is not just the name, Parshuraman, which is rather unusual for a Punjabi family. As an IT professional chasing dollar dreams, he is also the most unlikely protagonist for a book that captures love and longing in times of recession.
Set in the backdrop of Chandigarh, The Recession Groom, the debut novel of Vani, 35, who left business journalism to pursue an MBA from Kingston University at London in 2008 — takes us back to the time when global recession had hit the Western economies and top multinationals were declaring bankruptcies and handing pink slips to their employees.
The book delves into how these macro-changes changed the small world of an Indian IT professional overnight — from a sought-after bachelor who is in no hurry to find a bride to one who finds himself desperately longing for one.
Vani chose Chandigarh as the setting for her novel as her protagonist prefers the pace of a small city to the humdrum and chaos of a metro. For someone who did her schooling from Chandigarh, followed by working as a business journalist for a newspaper here, Vani understands the nuances of City Beautiful. “I grew up loving this city and wanted my readers to know about it and then fall in love with it,” she adds. She studied at Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 27, and graduated from Government College for Girls, Sector 11.
On being asked what made her take to writing a book after quitting her job, Vani said writing had always been a passion for her. “After I completed MBA and was working in England, I realised I did not want to be in a routine 9 to 5 job. This was also the time I saw friends and family lose jobs in the land of opportunities and it became an inspiration for my first book.”
Interestingly, Vani also tries to break the stereotype of the usual brash, brazen and macho Punjabi male that our movies love to portray or we see around us. Parshuraman is shy and rooted in tradition and modesty. He endures the many quirks of his marriage-obsessed Punjabi family but is never disrespectful towards anyone, in the least a woman, whether she is an over-zealous aunt, a flamboyant colleague or a dominating sister.
Giving the IT guy his due
But it is not all that he has to deal with. He has quite a few quirks of his own. He is unpredictable and impulsive. But as an IT professional, he is programmed to think logically. So even in matters of the heart, this logical Indian thinks through the mind. Only to find, one does not at times let the other rule! And in the words of Vani, it is high time an IT professional got his due in a novel as the main protagonist… not as a nerd, gamer, hacker or a call centre guy but one who can have a happening life, some melodrama …all worth a good read.
To read the article in Hindustan Times click here.