A humourous take on the tedium in matrimony

It seems that the man is rather indisposed, holding a television remote in one hand and a bottle of liquor in the other. He watches on manically, his baggy eyes glued to the screen. His wife stands to one side with her arms crossed. She is not pleased. The caption reads ‘When the woman spends hours at the hair salon and returns home with bangs, and the man has no reaction whatsoever, it is called “the blindness of the mole’.” This is just one of the pages from The Married Kama Sutra — The World’s Least Erotic Sexual Manual, an illustrated book by American cartoonist Farley Katz and humorist Simon Rich.

The book discusses the tedium of married life, when romance is often overlaid by daily chores and domestic issues. With elegant palaces with flowing tapestries, plush carpets and arched doorways, the illustrations of the satirical manual are quirky caricatures of the original.

The man sports a long moustache, colourful turban and is dressed in regal clothes while the woman, adorned in jewellery, sports bright ghagras and cholis. They are matched by Simon’s tongue-in-cheek captions. Says Farley Katz, the illustrator, “To mimic the style of the Kama Sutra, we had to study the sexual positions closely.” And this, say the authors, “got us thrown out of several libraries”.

An excerpt from the book, which was released a few weeks ago, has been doing the rounds on social media networks, garnering much guffaws and praise for the ‘positions’ that married couples seem to find themselves in. Farley says that the manual required only one precondition. “The sexual positions in the Kama Sutra are extremely daunting. Many require incredible flexibility. Our goal was to write a sex manual that set the bar way lower.”

Contrasts in setting

While the illustrations are catchy, it is how the vintage Indian setting completely contrasts with the presence of contemporary elements — such as a dishwasher — that captures the essence of it. Imagine a man, decked in royal finery of that era, placing dishes into a dishwasher (placed on an aubergine-coloured carpet, mind you), and his wife standing next him looking weary. “When the man is loading the dishwasher and the woman must come over, because he is loading it wrong, it is called ‘The Dishwasher Position’.” Find a man sneakily closing his laptop (with tall shishas in the background) and his wife peering in from the edge of the page, “When the woman enters the room and the man quickly closes his laptop, because he has been looking up ex-girlfriends on Facebook, it is called ‘a close call’.”

Farley and Simon met at Harvard 10 years ago and are regular contributors to The New Yorker. And so, when they decided to write together, a satirical book evolved. “This is our first book together, but hopefully not the last,” says Farley. “We’ve been thrilled by the response, both at home and internationally. It’s our fans that keep us motivated to write.” They are planning to write more books on similar lines. “We have a few ideas for sequels, including The Divorce Kama Sutra and the Trial Separation Kama Sutra,” he says.

The Married Kama Sutra is available on Amazon India for Rs. 780.