Some work, some don’t, says Ameeta Agnihotri of these three books on romance.
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s Cold Feet started off with a bachelorette party with a bunch of reluctant guests who had nothing better to do than get drunk and stumble home. The book ambles along as the characters — all girls — drink their way and sleep around in the hope of finding happiness. Meenakshi is no Helen Fielding so the book reads more like a series of blog posts. And it has sex. Not the descriptive erotic kind, but the casual sort where people get drunk and sleep together, with some random sex thrown in.
The cover says Meenakshi is “India’s answer to Bridget Jones.” Frankly, I find Helen Fielding’s books more edgy and funny. Cold Feet, on the other hand tends to be depressing. The author flits from first person to third from chapter to chapter, leaving the reader to play guessing games. Could it be Ladli? Oh no! This must be Shayna or perhaps the gay girl... what’s her name? The end dangles like an unfinished seam of hangovers. If you ever decide to get there, that is.
A totally different read is Love Stories that Touched My Heart edited by Ravinder Singh. All the world loves a lover. And there’s nothing like a good love story to make you go “aww”. Some stories transported me into a different world like “The Girl Behind the Counter”, which turned out to be a story of teen crushes. Then there were some that, I felt, did not really deserve to be there. Like “The Smiling Strangers”, a story of unrequited love. When it ended I did not even feel sorry for the two lovers. One particularly well written tale “One Night Stand in Hariharapuram” by Mohan Raghavan was poignant and raw. Possibly the most memorable love story in the book.
Depicting today’s times and the unacceptable “gay” relationships, “Bittersweet Symphony” was a sweet tender love story. Not a tragic sob story, it had some subtle emotional overtones. Then there’s the story of a boy who loves so dearly that he forgoes his meals to get the girl of his dreams a ring. His excitement is palpable on the pages of “Heartstrings”. Brought a lump to my throat that I had to clear and not let those tears show, because it’s after all a story. Love Stories that Touched My Heart is a decent read on a day when you want the love to flow in small yet different ways.
Tick-Tock, We’re 30 by Milan Vora flows easily and the characters are real, quirky, and lovable. The story begins with Lara, a model coordinator, who is turning 30. The book meanders through memories, childhood friendships and a camaraderie that comes from deeply formed bonds. Lara meets Nishad after 10 years and is uncomfortable as she remembers the pact they made then: if both were still single when she turned 30, they would marry each other.
This “pact” looms large in her mind; almost like a speed-breaker in their relationship, causing many delicious twists and turns. Especially when they are thrown together again at the week-long reunion that Sita (a boy, actually) has planned. Nishad, by the way, has moved to Bangalore and is a famous artist obsessed with painting rings into most of his work. The same rings that Lara wears in her ears!
To trick Nishad into leaving her alone, Lara produces a “banker” boy friend: a drop-dead gorgeous hunk with long hair, tattoos and a body a guy would kill for. Perzaan, of Turkish origin, displays his flair for bartending and juggling, making him both an instant success and suspect. I mean, how can a banker be so adept at juggling?
Tick-Tock, We’re 30 is a simple read with characters I could identify with. Even though there are many characters floating around, I found myself knowing all of them without having to go back to check on who’s who. Despite its few typos and delicious predictability, it’s a great read. So what if Holi happens in December, right, Milan Vora?