Book Review: Everyday People
A collection of eight short stories, set in urban Bangalore, that will make you reflect on the deeper questions that urban living in India entails.
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Everyday People by Salini Vineeth, a 31-page book is a collection of 8 short stories set in urban Bangalore. Many of them involve characters working in the IT field.
All the stories will make you think about urban living, corporate work, and your own life as an urban dweller (if you happen to be one). Most of them move at an easy-pace with one exception.
Some of these stories have a fascinating twist where the author turns a mundane scene into something fantastic. When these stories ended, I felt like reaching out and congratulating the author for her skill.
To be honest, some of the stories could have been better written and the editor’s note at the beginning of the book raised my expectations to a level that were not met in the narration. Having said that, this collection is an easy, thought-provoking read that you will not regret spending an hour on.
My overall rating for this collection is 4/5. What follows is a brief description of the eight stories with individual ratings.
Craving: A story of a young IT professional who seems to have moved to Bangalore from a smaller town. The story is about how this upwardly mobile professional still misses his mother’s Idlis and Sambar that he ate for breakfast. To me, this story questions the middle-class dream of an upwardly mobile corporate life. Do the joys of living in a big city, working for a large business house, and earning a fat pay-check outweigh the simpler day-to-day joys of living with loved ones?
IMO, the story had an excellent theme that could have been developed in a better way.
Lady of the house: This story questions the patriarchy that continues to linger in our collective psyche, in the form of seemingly innocent customs, even as women have long started excelling in every field of work that used to be predominantly male domains.
Even though I have been a supporter of gender equality at all levels since I was a small child, I’ll be honest in saying that I did not enjoy this story much.
Beyond the wall: This is a beautifully told story that shows how urban India can present two totally different worlds to the rich and poor Indians who live in the same neighborhood and are often separated just by a wall of a plush housing complex. I won’t say more, lest I give out any spoilers, but the story and the ending are both beautiful.
The surprise gift: A beautiful story that shows us what true love and affection, between partners, looks like. Such relationships, though somewhat rare, do exist even in the hustle and bustle of modern urban living. A simple and heart-warmingly beautiful story. This story feels like a beautiful oasis in a world troubled by relationship pains.
The blue light: This story popped out like jack-in-the-box, broke the themes of the last three stories, and gave me a real surprise. I can’t talk more about this story without giving out a spoiler — so all I’ll say is that it was a delight to read.
The vacation: This story is as close as it gets to realistic fiction. Many readers might see themselves in it. Without saying more I’ll let these quotes on hope describe this beautiful, realistic, well-narrated story.
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” — Emily Dickinson
“I think it’s a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one’s self.” — Arthur Miller
The first steps: Continuing on the theme of hope, in this story, the author reaches out to what a young mother’s hope, courage, and love for her child look like. It shows us the beauty and purity in the way a mother loves and perceives her child and is willing to deal with all odds and obstacles when it comes to offspring. I’ll let this quote describe the story.
“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” — Jonas Salk
The ugly Indian: The author ends her collection with a crescendo. Unlike the other stories, this one’s really fast that quite literally starts with a road chase, past midnight, on Bangalore’s outer ring road. It will make your heart pound, it will make you read at double the speed to outrun the story and find out what happens next. A beautifully told story.
Check out Everyday People by Salini Vineeth.
This is a rather long review for a 31-page book. I’m experimenting with a new style of reviewing so do drop in a comment to tell me if you enjoyed it (or not).