The TamBrahm Bride
A novel by Kausalya Saptharishi
An Indian Writing Publication
Chennai 6ooo18, India
The TamBrahm Bride divided into three parts is set in Delhi, in the year 1999 and the book opens with “ Nineteenth Proposal and Still Counting.” As you read on you can predict the story line, the continuing hegemony of “eligible” grooms over eligible brides in the matrimonial scenario. Added to this are the self seeking astrologers and matchmakers glorifying the grooms, (more so if they are the NRI variety ) not to speak of the would be mothers-in-law with their embarrassing queries and not thinking twice in proffering advice making the plight of the protagonist even worse.
In the matrimonial journey of Shalu, we come across interesting characters, like Natarajan who makes matchmaking a full time business, not accepting a fee for service provided but not objecting to large monetary deposits from Dubai to his account, the highly westernized Karthik Raman expressing his candid views on Indians : “I am a complete American convert. Americans walk the talk and talk the talk, unlike many of us Indians who wallow in hypocrisy” , or the chartered accountant from Cochin, who turns out to be four inches shorter than Shalu!
Then we have one Mrs.Ganesan (mother of an NRI son working in Philadelphia) who thinks photos taken in a studio look artificial and wishes to have casual photos –one in a sari, one in salwar kameez of Shalu sent to her by Parvathi, Shalu’s mother while she has no qualms about her son Arun Ganesan’s photo where he looks like a Himalayan explorer, a tiny speck next to a colossal mountain covered in snow.The best part was the ski goggles he wore obliterated whatever little one could have gleaned about his personality which makes Parvathi think the photo might impress a travel magazine but not her. Again there is the diminutive Mrs.Baskaran, refreshingly modern dressed in FabIndia salwar kameez and proud of her club going culture warranting unwanted advice to Shalu as to how she could get her overlapping tooth rectified.
The main reasons for rejecting Shalu, the family realizes are her 1.Looks and wheatish complexion ;2.Non –computer background; and 3. “Delhi girl”(whether she would fit into a southIndian TamBrahm family). After the 25th.Bride viewing and a mini Bharat Darsan in the process , the Sunderans resort to, Panditji and Prayers which provides a dash of hope to the dejected family.
Kausalya Saptharishi has not only captured the period of the IT boom in America when it was on a hiring overdrive to man its computers fearing a Y2K catastrophe but has also vividly presented the attitudes and behavior of the IT brigade and their parents, especially of the mothers. There are the lighter moments too, for instance when one aspired to become “Mrs.Kohinoor” , — the crème-de-la-crème among US TamBrahm boys who constituted the celebrated scientists, the whiz –kid academicians, the brilliant doctors and the millionaire entrepreneurs whose alma maters were the Ivy Leagues. When Sunderason made bold to apply to a newspaper ad. For a Wall Street banker –a Wharton MBA from a well connected business family, the boy’s grandfather asked that Shalu’s high school mark sheets included in the BHP (biodata-horoscope and photo set). He wrote : “Please highlight her performance in Maths, Physics and Chemistry from class 8 to class 12 .’’
Does Shalu who unfortunately hasn’t inherited her mother’s beauty and complexion but otherwise accomplished withstand the onslaught and ultimately come out triumphant or remain a spinster the rest of her life is the question.
Tailpiece: A book has an added interest when one attends the Book launch where you are informed that every book has an element of autobiography in it. Having aroused the curiousity of the reader, it would have been nice if the author who is said to be based in the U.S. with her family had mentioned its members in her profile.
N.Meera Raghavendra Rao