Time for a Suitable Boy update and progress report. Part one finished and only eighteen more parts to go! That kind of sounds like a lot, doesn'it it? If I read only one part a week I will finish by the arrival of spring! That sounds so far away, though it always comes sooner than you think. I hope I can manage to read it faster than a section a week, but even if it does take that long (since I am spending time with other books as well as with this one) it's not a bad thing to think I will be spending those coming cold wintry months in sunny, hot India. There is nothing like an epic read to capture my attention and help keep my mind off bad (coming coldness and snow . . .) weather.
So, part one is all about the marriage of Savita, Lata's older sister, to Pran. We meet the Mehras and some of the Kapoors, Khans and Chatterjis. I think I mentioned that Lata's elder brother is married to the beautiful but shallow Meenakshi? They have a very cute yet very indulged three-year old daughter named Aparna. Being around such parents she is demanding, usually gets her way and has a very adult way of asking for/demanding and getting things. She knows, however, that Lata will not give in always holds her ground. Sometimes kids respect that even more.
As for Meenakshi? This is how shallow she is. Her mother-in-law gifted to her as a wedding present two gold medals that her deceased husband earned as a student. She parted with them with sadness but their value has always extended beyond the mere wealth that gold will bring. Meenakshi is lusting after some gold pear drop earrings that she simply must have but does not have the money for. How convenient to have gold medals so easily melted down and made into something else. Even the jeweler is hesitant to take on such a commission. When Arun, her husband hears what she did, he berates her, tells her she must not sell the second medal, yet callously mentions it in passing in a brief letter to his mother. I can see already that they both will be problems. More so since Lata's mother has asked him to help her find a suitable boy for her youngest daughter.
At the close of the first section, however, Lata meets a young man in a bookstore. So, already the plot thickens. She is not especially impressed by him, but I know he will make another appearance soon enough.
"After classes, Lata and Malati, both dressed casually in their usual salwaar-kameez, went to Nabiganj to wander around and have a cup of coffee at the Blue Danube coffee house. This activity, known to university students as 'ganjing', they could afford to indulge in about once a week. As they passed the Imperial Book Depot, they were magnetically drawn in. Each wandered off to her favorite shelves and subjects. Malati headed straight for the novels, Lata went for poetry. On the way, however, she paused by the science shelves, not because she understod much science, but, rather, because she did not."
It's almost like one of those set pieces--boy and girl meet eyes across a bookstore? A tall young man with wavy black hair and rather aquiline looks also happens to be looking at the science books. She can feel his eyes on her, to her annoyance. And then his attention shifts to poetry, so a shared interest. Too bad Lata gives him a withering look and cuts him to the quick when he tries to chat her up. As yet no names are exchanged but I am sure we will meet him again.
I love the conversation Lata has with her friend Malati after. Of course Malati wonders who he is and remarks on his good looks, despairing of her friend's utter disregard for him. Lata gently castigates her friend and says, "Seriously Malati, he just came up and started talking nonsense . . . don't add chillies to boiled potatoes." I really need to remember that line--isn't it great? And if you clicked on the link to the salwaar-kameezes--aren't they beautiful? If I ever had a reason to wear one, I would, but I suspect I won't so will admire them from afar.
Onwards to part two, which is already underway in my reading. We've switched courses slightly with the festival of Holi upon us and a concert at Pran and Savita's home. More about it next week. I am getting a nice work out carrying my book about by the way. I have already put thick protective tape on the corners and spine as it is also going to get quite a workout!