Book Review | Classic Indian lad lit peppered with clichs


4 February 2023

Dinkar Sharma is not a happy bunny. He’s still a virgin at the age of twenty nine, despite working for an MNC in Noida where depraved behaviour is normal. That’s his own fault—he’s terrifyingly conservative and believes that “violating cultural restrictions” is tantamount to committing sins, so premarital sex is just not his thing. Porn keeps him sane, though.

Life sails along till he gets retrenched.  He experiences shock, shame, and a strange sense of relief as well:  “There was no need for me…to sit through the regular ordeal of meetings, lectures, seminars, trainings, instructions. Small blessings. Silver linings and all that optimistic crap.”

He mopes around in his rented accommodation for a few days while groaning to himself about finding a job, and going back to his family in Amritsar to save money. Life is bad, very bad, till he chances upon a laughter club in a neighbourhood park and meets a sassy young woman who makes him, well, laugh. He enjoys the online and offline verbal jousting with Kirti, and almost believes that it is love that he’s feeling, till he discovers something about her that shocks his conservative soul. Yet they stay in touch even after he goes home to nagging mummy and supportive daddy in Amritsar. But hello, he still hasn’t started looking for a new job!

Mummy seems to think marriage is the solution to all problems, and he reluctantly does the rounds of meeting suitable girls but remains unimpressed. When his cousin in America (who was retrenched a few months before him) invites him to spend time with him over the Christmas season, he seizes the opportunity, much to his mother’s disapproval.

America is an eye-opener for Dinkar. His cousin makes him do things he’s never done before — like eating proscribed meat for starters (something his conservative Hindu soul would never have countenanced) and several far more titillating matters involving flesh. Dinkar opens up in more ways than one, and returns to India a changed man with a rousing motto: “If it’s gotta be, it’s up to me.” He realises that he has been “shamefully passive” all his life, and while he still doesn’t know what he wants, he’s very clear about what he doesn’t want: “A nine to five job; an arranged marriage…” among other things.

This novel is classic lad lit done Indian ‘ishtyle’. There are clichés after clichés, but the author cannot really be faulted for that because most conservative Indians do fall into stereotypes! It’s not just his family, it’s his closest friends too who urge him to make out with a firangi when he goes abroad, and other salacious Indian male locker room clichés.

Yet, Gurpartap Khairah’s book is very nicely put together and has two hilarious character sketches of the most domineering women in his hero Dinkar’s life: his landlady and his mother.  It’s well written too, with a generous smattering of witty one-liners. In fact, I would say that it’s way better written than the best-selling Indian lad lit authors his hero worships.


How Dinkar Lost His Job and Found a Life

By Gurpartap Khairah

Speaking Tiger

pp. 274; Rs.399

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