Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Never mind yaar by K.Mathur

Publisher: SouthPac Publishers,New Zealand

Synopsis (from Goodreads; edited)

The coming of age of three young girls from different backgrounds in Mumbai, a city fraught with communal tensions.
When long time friends Binaifer and Louella meet Shalini at Gyan Shakti College, , a true friendship that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian and Binaifer, a Parsi. Shalini is from a traditional Hindu family. She's been brought up to believe her parents and autocratic grandma will choose her life partner for her. On the very first day at college her eyes accidentally look into those of a young fellow student's and her heart is lost forever. She knows she must resist as her family won't allow a match with a mere student. But she has two unlikely cupids to contend with. Binaifer (Binny) and Louella (Lou) think Bhagu, the young student, is perfect for Shali.

The girls go through four years of college together, facing many challenges on the one hand but also the comfort and reassurance on the other, of growing up in the cultural, political and bewildering mosaic that is Mumbai. The author admits there's a message - that of the curse of communalism (or racism). But first, the book is about the light hearted years of college and true friendship between the girls.
My take on the book

Never Mind yaar is a very sweet book that I loved reading.Though the love between Shalini and Bhagu forms the core of the book, the author has depicted the beautiful friendship between the three girls, Shalini, Binny and Lou extremely well. The gang of three reminded me of my own gang during my college days. Khoty has to be commended for making all the three girls immensely likable . The love between Bhagu and Shalini has been handled in a balanced and sensitive manner. What really stole the show for me were the bits of story that take place in Jaipur,at the grandmas place and the friendship between the girls.Bhagu's activism provides the perfect opportunity for the author to talk about how the youth can make a lot of difference to the sad state of affairs in our country.

The writing is like a breath of fresh air and flows beautifully. The blurbs behind the book made me expect the book to base communal tension as backdrop to the story,but that really isn't the case. However, Khoty does address the issue of Mumbai being a melting pot of cultures and religions,thereby being a sitting duck for communal tensions. How secular really is the most cosmopolitan city in our country, it made me wonder. I liked way Khoty has provided detailed footnotes of not just Hindi words ,but also of customs, traditions and historical tidbits. I loved the note about the history of Parsis in Mumbai and also the stories Shalini's grandma,Mem shares. What was a little disconcerting was the use of paragraph titles that describe sections that follow.Though the titles were apt,i felt that they interrupted the flow and were fairly superfluous.

What also is highly relateable is Shalini's family's traditional view about marriage. That reminded me that such families are not just part of Bollywood movies ,but a reality. Even today, some families are specific about who their daughters and granddaughters can marry.Mem,the ultimate matriarch provides a lot of spice to the story. Strangely, I liked her character.The book not only makes you nostalgic,but also makes you think and want to make a difference.That is probably the best aspect of the book.

Overall, a lovely book that will flood your brain with fond memories of college , friends and first love.

My rating : 3.5/5

The book is available at Amazon, in NZ and from the author's website.

A bit about the author: Born and brought up in Mumbai, Khoty Mathur currently lives in New Zealand with her husband and pets.She spends her time reading and over the net.This is her first book.

Disclosure: This is an author requested review.


  1. Sounds like a good book. I tend to avoid paperbacks by Indian authors but this sounds really good. Thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Vaishnavi.. the book has been written well.

  3. I think the title is weird, and will totally put it in the not-so-likable category.

    I wish the author should have chosen something else? But I am glad I read your review, or else I wouldn't ever pick it up

  4. Veens, you aren't the first to have said that. Writerzblock, commented after a review by Books Life n More that she thought it sounded a tad casual. This is my reason for the title - it is an attitude - our tendency to feel defeated by the scale and nature of certain problems, give up and move on with a sigh and a “Never Mind”. [I do believe it is beginning to change - armchair politics, a good grumble, simply don't seem to satisfy any more.]

  5. Veens.. I guess the titles are misleading at times !!

    Kayem..I should have mentioned the reason you picked that name for the book ! Its a sad fact that we readers are often influenced by the name of the book and how artistically the book's cover has been designed.Its really difficult to refrain from judging a book from the cover and in this case title ! :-)

  6. Bhargavi, I was delighted with your review. Since the book is about India, I thought Indian reviewers were my biggest challenge. Although it is available in NZ and the US, I feel shipping etc is exhorbitant. It isn't available in India as yet as my Indian editors want to get rid of explanations for certain words. I totally understand. (Everyone in India knows what a "Chunni" is or who a "Chacha" is.) In the mean time, here's a reading and excerpts from the story

  7. Will add it to my list of books to get from my next India trip (when ever that is).

    I love Indian authors ... more for the fact that their books make me nostalgic than for anything.