Kavita Daswani’s debut effort stylishly tells the story of an Indian girl and her saga of getting married. Anju, the daughter of a rich Sindhi jeweler, remains unmarried at the age of twenty-plus while her fellow girlfriends and even younger cousins are getting married in droves. With advancing age and no matrimonial offers, Anju’s parents, especially her mother, get frantic, incorporating the aid of their widespread family and intricate network of friends in order to garner eligible prospects. But it's all to no avail; whether due to bad planetary influence or Anju’s less than fair complexion -- or just plain bad luck -- no one knows. Not all the efforts of numerous swamis or countless fortune-tellers or famous matchmaking gurus in the world can help Anju snare a bridegroom.
Burdened under the escalating feelings of having brought pain and disappointment to her family, increasingly alienated from married friends and crushed and disappointed in her own right, Anju somehow manages to persuade her parents to let her go to New York for further studies. “Umrica” is a totally new experience for this naïve Indian girl, and though at first reluctant to try anything new, she gradually thaws and takes the first step toward cutting the metaphorical umbilical cord. Her career takes off and soon this fashion consultant is jet-setting around the world -- gaining confidence, becoming independent and mingling with top-notch designers and celebrities. But for her family and friends back in India, all her success pales against her unmarried status. Will Anju ever find true happiness?
Kavita Daswani has a taken a simple story about an unmarried Indian girl and told it with mesmerizing intensity. A commonplace Indian tale, it takes on significance in view of today’s liberated attitude. The book makes clear the importance of marriage and getting married at a young age, a basic fact of life for most Indians, whether boys or girls. This in turn highlights the concept of arranged marriages - something which has the power to shock Westerners and yet remains an ordinary, taken-for-granted occurrence in Indian family life. This disparity of culture, values and morals is brought out very clearly through the heroine, Anju. Her tale initially begins in India, but later on moves to America, and she experiences these disparate societies and their vastly different attitudes towards life and love.
Also through this courageous Indian girl, the author emphasizes the point that the search for love and happiness remains the same, whether parent-sponsored or not, whether East or West. These deeper issues are coated in droll observations, humorous anecdotes and pithy comments, making the entire story a delicious and provoking read. The atmosphere is beautifully and authentically brought to life, whether it’s the dusty and bustling streets of Bombay (or Mumbai, as it’s known now), the grandeur of Indian weddings or the skyscraper city of New York. Throughout the story, word imagery is excellently wielded to maximum impact with minimum fuss, and the result is a story which is simple, serene and yet serious. For her debut effort, Kavita Daswani has done a commendable job.