Thursday, 19 March 2020



Book Synopsis- Jeeva is Shiva. Either as a ‘Nirakar’ (formless) entity or as the life energy in every living being, Shiva thrives in people’s consciousness. Shiva’s presence is not only felt in the chants and prayers of ascetics but also in the common man’s
household, in folklores. And in the hearts of every woman who aspires to see Shiva’s virtues in their husbands. This is the love story of 25-year old Kattyayni, who saw Shiva and His various ‘Gunas’ in a man. In a firangi, to be precise. Yes,
you read it right. A brown-haired, blue-eyed, pale-skinned, 6-footer firangi, born from an American father and a Spanish mother.
Kattyayni, who grew up in a traditional Bengali family, has always felt fascinated about the sweet-cute-dutiful, passionate, and sometimes tragic Shiva-Parvati romance, the stories of which she has been hearing from her grandmother
since the onset of adolescence. Deep in Kattyayni’s mind sits the Lord, spreading His aura throughout her conscious and subconscious mind. So when Kattyayni meets ‘Rudra’, the firangi who demonstrates a ‘shuddh desi’ way of
life by embracing yoga, rudraksh, dhoti, khichdi, and his beloved ‘Shiva’, Kattyayni finds a deep connection with him. This is a connection that goes beyond the level of her heart to touch her soul, to a point where love becomes totally unconditional. She sees Neelkanth, Adiyogi, and Vaidyanath in the firangi. But at the same time, she feels a deep desire to know Rudra’s actual identity. Who is Rudra?
Set in the mixed cultural backdrop of Goa and flavoured with the ethnic specialties of Kolkata, this romance will surely knock at the minds of those who are in love or looking to find true, selfless love.

Review :

The book opens amidst turmoil, at the culmination of a long term relationship right before Kattyayni's CA final examinations. We find her unable to dedicate her utmost attention to her studies, and rightfully so. Her betrothed has cheated on her, and like anyone whose aspirations are coming towards an end she looks devastated. At this point I turn my attention to her characterisation, probably pivotal and most carefully sketched out in the novel . Her family appears to be extremely supportive in the initial introduction, as her sister cheers her up and her mother has been praying in temples, a custom in India many parents follow as well wishers for their children's examination scores. And although Kattyayni wants to feel strong and happier for the sake of her family, her mind is preoccupied with her failed Relationship and how her fiance had cheated on her with Sonika , a woman who Kattyayni despises, as she caustically remarks on her modelling career -

' She failed in Higher Secondary exam twice before she finally gave up and chose to capitalise on what she got without any effort, through God's grace and her parents' genes!'

We have a very millennial look at love as Kattyayni logs in to her Facebook and looks at her friends updates on their love life in the light of her own heartbreak. She does not deny her true feelings, and what you find about the character is that she maybe a lot of things, but she is not pretentious! She accepts 'And those pics... are driving me crazy!' Craving an explanation, Kattyayni starts a conversation with Arman where he insults her character as backward in presentation and modern in implementation - and here I resonate Arman with society's impossible standards for women. No matter what they do, they are little off the perfect mark. Here I feel the author's own personal experience has helped shape her characters and plot, owing to a much better handling of women's experiences in the hands of women who write about them. 

"You have always been too much career-oriented." He complains. "Your 'No's have always hurt my manliness" Destiny leads Kattyayni to Rudra in the beaches of Goa, her lover addressed in the title of the book as 'Shudh Desi Firangi' Despite being of foreign origins, with an American father and Spanish Mother, Rudra is essentially Indian in his own right, infact, in some senses his identity is more Indian than others who belong to the origins. While their relationship begins with a lot of sexual tension, especially as Kattyayni worries about Rudra touching her 'accidentally' inside a car- we see a gentle side to Rudra emerge as she assures ' I can see him now exercising special precautions whenever he has to operate the gear.' This calls for a stark contrast between him and her ex, who had been preoccupied with his own convenience compared to her comfort. We can easily guess that eventually the two are going to be falling in love and while the story is pretty simple in that respect, the book is worth a read if you're a beginner or into romance novels.

Something I highly commend about this book is the references to Bengali culture specifically in the festivals, the ideal avatars of husbands and wives. While I strongly detest the ideas of deities, my Bengali origin allows me to resonate with the conditioning received by Kattyayni that leads her to search for a Shiva like husband. Kattyayni expresses the view of the Orient of the exotic, as she admires his pronunciations of Hindi words with an accent. Skirting the edges and venturing into cultural differences, coming to a better understanding of the other and eventually figuring out how to best work things out are other minor, yet significant aspect in this book that focuses of relationships.

Two problems with this book have to be the formatting and extremely simple writing style. While the author uses ornamental words sometimes, the events are narrated in a way that failed to grab my interest  due to the monotonous chapters. There are extremely minor grammatical errors that you can ignore if the book interests you in it! Overall, the book is worth a read but the author has immense scope of improvement.  I rate the book 3.5 Stars!

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