“One Indian Girl ” by Chetan Bhagat

Let me start by saying that I like Chetan’s writing. There are some in the writing fraternity who do not appreciate his style but the fact remains that he is one of the most successful authors that India has ever seen. All his books have been best sellers. Recently, I read his 2016 novel, ” One Indian Girl” published by Rupa and enjoyed it. I have a partiality for books written in the first person, (I can’t say why)  and this one was one such. It is the story of Radhika Mehta, the younger daughter in a typical Punjabi family from Delhi. Her mother’s biggest desire in life is to see her married off. Her father is dreamy and too mild to protest against anything his vociferous wife says. Her elder sister is happily married and represents for her parents what every Indian middle class girl should do! 

Radhika, however, has higher aspirations. She does well in academics, graduates from the prestigious IIM and is selected by the top investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs. This changes her life for ever. Her first posting is in New York where apart from learning the tricks of the trade and cutting her teeth in business deals she falls in love for the first time. She is attracted to a Bengali guy who works in an advertising agency. After some time, she wonders if he loves her as much as she loves him.  She discovers that he is two timing her which becomes a traumatic experience. She wants to quit her job but is persuaded to take a transfer to the Hong Kong office as her firm values her professional capabilities.

In Hong Kong, she shines in all her assignments and part of that success is due to the encouragement given to her by the boss of her immediate supervisor. Not surprisingly, as they work very closely together, they soon get into an affair and Radhika is confused because her new lover is married and has two children. She understands that this affair will not work out in the long-term. Ultimately, she decides to end the affair by seeking a transfer to London.

Subsequently, she gives in to her mother’s unceasing pressure and, recovering from her second affair crashing to a halt, agrees to marry a person suggested by her mother. This guy is a techie working in the United States. They talk to each other, they meet and decide to get married. While much of the book is taken up by flashbacks on her experiences in New York and Hong Kong ( and her love affairs, of course), the story reaches a climax in Goa when Radhika is getting married.

Relatives have been flown in from both their families. Radhika and her husband to be are caught up in the many ceremonies that go into the making of a grand Indian wedding, especially when the bills are being footed by a multi-rich NRI like her. From out of the blue, Mr Ex No. 1 lands in Goa from the US! That’s not all. Mr Ex No 2. lands up too from Hong Kong!! Both want Radhika to walk out before she gets married. Each of course does not know about the other till almost the end.

Writing about how the book ends would be a spoiler but I can tell you it has an interesting finish. As always, Chetan shapes his characters well and is able to capture the settings of the story be it in New York, Hong Kong, Delhi or Goa.

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