Ghachar Ghochar – Book review 

Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag was translated from the Indian language Kannada. This book is pretty famous so I was curious to see what the hype was all about. Most reviews said that this book made them nostalgic about old Bangalore. There were few times it did make me nostalgic but overall it was pretty meh.

The one star is just because I was able to relate to some descriptions in the book like putting rangoli in the morning and such simple incidents. I still couldn’t relate to a lot of things since I was never poor and never lived in a small house or poor locality. 

But overall, I didn’t get the point the author was trying to make. I definitely don’t think money was the culprit here. The main protagonist has problems with every single woman in his life and keeps talking about how women are evil. These statements throughout the book made my blood boil. I have seen enough chauvinist men in real life that I didn’t want to read about them in literature too. Writing was great though – translation done by Srinath Perur.

I think I would prefer reading about women warriors or engineers in fantasy or sci-fi literature, instead of books like these. Thanks to this book, I remembered why I avoided Indian contemporary literature. It looks like this book would have been more appropriate if it was published during my grandmother’s time or a century back. Nothing is relevant in the present day. Also nothing really happens and there is no plot and it is just a character study.
Issues I had:
1. He broke up with a woman since she was a feminist and worked for women’s welfare organization. Whaaaat?!

2. “Are you going to just sit there bawling? Heat up the food and serve him.” – this is how his father speaks to his mother and the main protagonist justifies this saying – “He set her to work and calmed her somewhat”. What a way to calm an upset woman!

3. About his sister leaving her husband – “Maybe she had got used to having whatever she wanted and this diminished her capacity for the inevitable compromises that accompany marriage”. Someone please remind me why one has to compromise in marriage? Compromises don’t make a marriage successful. It is mutual love and respect which makes it work. Looks like the author is saying that women will compromise if their father is poor, so it is better that way.

4. “Whenever I try to start, I quickly run into one of three women – Amma, Malati or Anita – each more fearsome than the other. I sometimes wonder if their every moment is spent sharpening their tongues, silently accumulating resentments for later use” – what a way of describing the only three women in protagonist’s life. He keeps emphasizing how hard working the men in the family are but doesn’t appreciate women. It is as if women have no better work to do other than picking fights.

5. “In any regular household, family members glare when a wife begins to freely spend her husband’s hard-earned money”. – was this book really written in 21st century? *speechless*

6. “I’ve always wondered if she’d have turned out as spoiled without his pampering” – spoiled because she left her husband for whatever personal reasons.

7. “Very argumentative at work. And apparently with her in-laws as well. No wonder he was driven to get rid of her” – this is how characters discuss the murder of a woman by her husband who killed her since she was not taking care of his parents.

Overall, it wasn’t boring or as bad as some of the other books that I DNFed. I was able to finish the book but it left a bad taste in my mouth. These days, I look at how well the women are represented in a novel. I don’t mind novels where there are no women characters but misrepresentation bothers me a lot.