Anjali Bose is "Miss New India." Born into a traditional lower-middle-class family and living in a backwater town with an arranged marriage on the horizon, Anjali's prospects don't look great. But her ambition and fluency in language do not go unnoticed by her expat teacher, Peter Champion. And champion her he does, both to other powerful people who can help her along the way and to Anjali herself, stirring in her a desire to take charge of her own destiny.
So she sets off to Bangalore, India's fastest-growing major metropolis, and quickly falls in with an audacious and ambitious crowd of young people, who have learned how to sound American by watching shows like Seinfeld in order to get jobs as call-center service agents, where they are quickly able to out-earn their parents. And it is in this high-tech city where Anjali - suddenly free from the traditional confines of class, caste, gender, and more - is able to confront her past and reinvent herself. Of course, the seductive pull of modernity does not come without a dark side...
At nineteen, Anjali Bose was a tall girl, one hundred and seventy-three centimeters - five foot eight - taller than most boys in her college. She was on the girls' field hockey team. She smiled readily and when she did, she could light up a room like a halogen lamp. The conventional form of Indian femininity projects itself through long-lashed, kohl-rimmed, startled black eyes. Modest women know to glance upward from a slightly bowed head. Anjali did not take in the world with saucer-eyed passivity. Her light, greenish eyes were set off by high cheekbones and prominent brows. Her face resolved itself along a long jaw and generous mouth, with full lips and prominent teeth. Her parents, looking to the day they would have to marry her off, worried openly about her overly assertive features. But the rare foreigners who passed through town, health workers or financial aid consultants for international agencies, found her looks striking and her boldness charming. Speaking to them, she ...
Although Mukherjee's work begins with the familiar plot of a daughter who is not enthused by her parents' decisions about her future, the author is careful not to allow generational differences to serve as simple catalysts for trouble.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (963 words).
Situated on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern Indian state of Karnataka (aka Mysore), of which it is the capital, Bengaluru sits approximately 940 meters above sea level, and is one of India's largest and fastest growing cities.
Legend suggests that Bengaluru was named after King Veera Ballala of the Vijayanagara Kingdom (14th century), who, lost on his travels, was given a meal of beans by a charitable elderly woman. He named the town "bende kaalu ooru" (town of boiled beans), which then became known as Bengaluru. However, the word "BengaLooru" is documented as having been used long before King Veera Ballala's time and can be found on an inscription on a 9th century temple in the village of Begur, rendering the legend rather ...
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