Meet the Indian Sherlock Holmes, well his female counterpart, Gulabi
Trench coats, pipes and boots are all very well but there is nothing as endearing as the quirky detective. Think dapper M. Poirot with his oversized moustache and ego who scorns clues and suspects and solves crimes using his “leeetle grey cells”. Or soft, fluffy Miss Marple who knits, gossips and solves murders with equal alacrity. And yes, nothing beats the narcotic dependent, misogynist Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Welcome the newest entrant to this entourage — the charming, village belle Gulabi who arrives in Mumbai, with fourteen suitcases (containing clothes of appalling taste), all set to catch a husband and appease a long-suffering mammaji back home. Jane De Suza, creator of this charming young Miss, says that, “This book is an experiment. I wanted to create a detective who was truly Indian.”
And that Gulabi certainly is Indian — she speaks like one, looks like one and thinks like one, “Gulabi is from Jharkhand and has come to the big city to find her husband but she finds a real life head instead and takes it home by accident and ends up having to become an accidental detective. She is a very passionate one who is supremely confident about her abilities and is afraid of almost nothing. Unfortunately, she gets it all wrong at first as she fumbles and bumbles through the novel, but she finally manages to gatecrash into the solution,” says Jane.
The Spy Who Lost Her Head (Harpercollins, Rs. 250) may be her first detective novel but this is not her first foray into writing. An MBA in HR from XLRI, Jamshedpur Jane has worked in an ad-agency as a copywriter, written children’s books, blogged and contributed to various periodicals. “I have been an ad-writer for a long time and even went on to becoming a creative director. But I got fed up and so started writing,” says Jane, “And Gulabi sort of created herself.”
Though the book does have its spine-chilling moments, it is also very funny, “I wanted to merge humour and suspense,” says Jane. “I wanted people to be both biting their nails and giggling. I am a funny person and I like a good laugh. I find it difficult to be serious.”
A small town girl herself, Jane claims that the book though not exactly autobiographical has certainly been influenced from her own life, “I am a non-resident Goan who was born and brought up in Jharkhand. I’ve known a lot of women from that state. They are very feisty and colourful but unfortunately their voice is not heard enough. Gulabi is an amalgamation of those women. Her reaction to the bright lights of Mumbai is similar to my own reaction when I moved there for my under graduation. Perhaps, Gulabi is at some level my alter-ego,” she laughs.
On future plans, Jane admits that this might pan out into a series of books, “Gulabi certainly can go on. It is a very different voice and there are a whole lot of stories in store so the books pretty much write themselves. I need to come up with a plot that is hilarious and mixed up enough but there is another Gulabi book begging to be written.”