This is a love story with a difference – and what a difference. Yes we have the usual rich girl meets poor boy – there are problems – they get separated – she gets married to someone else – and then he comes back no longer poor, but there it stops. And there is no holiday involved – so title is weird.
In between we have all the issues that India faces culturally, socially and economically. Not to mention marriage between people of different races and religions and sexuality.
This book covers all the above, plus! And the plus is what makes this story stand out – the plus being organ smuggling – although we don’t know that at the start – corruption of politicians, police and medical staff at all levels.
We move across cultures as we go from Goa – just before and after the Portuguese leave their colony and the inter-racial and inter-religions marriages that led to, including skin colour – remembering that pale is ‘better’, and Goa’s reincarnation as a hippie destination for free love and drugs; to Mumbai which is not quite as liberal but is rich and urbane; to Delhi, which is neither rich nor urbane but very conservative in its values and mores. Delhi being the place where we recently heard of the terrible case where a girl on a bus was gang raped – girls on their own we/a/re seen as fair game – and we have that reflected here in the story with other women believing that a woman living alone, and having male visitors, is clearly running a brothel! Little things like this enhance the truth of the culture clashes between older India and modern India.
India has many well educated women – and many Indian women here in the UK keep on taking degrees as, was confided to me once, their bridal value increases with a degree – and also it puts off the wedding! Which is still often arranged.
I remember the bombing in Mumbai well. The Taj hotel that was bombed was one I had stayed at the previous year and a colleague of mine was caught up in the incident – he got shot but the bullet passed vital organs as it was deflected by his wife’s glasses case he had gone back to get!
This is a true saga of India and its wide ranging problems that only got richer as the story progressed. So many issues covered in one book – almost too many but so well woven into the storyline that until you pondered the story you almost didn’t realise they had been addressed. However, a little editing of some sections would have helped as the book is long – (and for some readers too long), and it would have been sharper in its textual surfacing and elucidation.
If you’ve been to India you will recognise the things you have encountered, if you haven’t, you will be educated.