Book: The Bad Boy’s Guide To The Good Indian Girl
Authors: Annie Zaidi, Smriti Ravindra (nee Jaiswal)
Price on Flipkart: Rs. 207
What made me pick up this book:
Sometime ago, I nicked an anthology of poems called ‘The Almost Drizzles Of May’, by three women – Annie Zaidi, Smriti Jaiswal, and Prateebha Tuladhar, from one of my bibliophically inclined friends. The book was just like the title promised it would be – elegant, whimsical, simple and haunting. [Yes, you should buy this book too] And like any normal person with an internet connection would do, I googled the authors and discovered Annie’s bayangara awesome blog, which lead to the other books she’d authored.
There. [You’ve been spared of the rendition of how I ordered it on flipkart and what bookmark I got, etc]
You should try this book out if:
1.You’re a Pre-teen girl, YoungAdult woman, Lady, or basically any female Homo sapiens of any age who has once been a teenager.
2. You live(d) in India.
3. You live/ have lived in a small town.
4. You have felt the need to do not-so-nice things (aka Forbidden By Amma) from time to time and wished there were more people like you.
5. You love a well-edited collection of stories offering you a glimpse of how girls actually live in India, as opposed to what’s shown in Bolly/Kolly/Tolly/Mollywood movies.
This book is not for you if:
1. You’re the mother of a teenage daughter. No. Stay away, and keep your BP under control.
2. You are a male-chauvinist, Girls-Should-Follow-Good-Indian-Culture type of gandu. My dear sir, your services are required in the Shri Ram Sene.
So, you say this book is good?
Yes, very. It’s witty, authentic, subversive and shocking at times, but I love this book mostly because..it’s so True!
Starting from the pithy introduction as to what constitutes a ‘Good Indian Girl’, it takes you on a highly irreverant ride on the life and adventures of GIGs. And contrary to what we seek to make people believe, we do have a good, wicked dose of those. There is sadness as well – when the GIG make-up is not applied carefully enough, or when you just didn’t know you had things to conceal. Not all of them have a happy, oh what the heck, even acceptable endings. But then, that’s what we GIGs are best at – taking things in stride.
The book has a set of recurring characters who narrate their tales, followed by a short take on GIGness by the authors. The characters from each story know and interact with the ones in others, and at the end of the book, a portrait of the escapades of a bunch of teenage girls emerges.
Growing up as a girl- a GIG is, to quote the authors, ‘about as exciting as being a janitor in a pigsty on a full-time basis. It stinks. GIGdom is tolerable for approximately three days a month.’ So, the need for secrecy in GIGs, you see, arises purely out of the need to preserve ourselves against dying of unrequited wishes and/or boredom. Their secrets – well, you’d never have guessed that the other girl too had a drawer full of dirty secrets like you. But she does, and how!
At quite a few instances, it felt like reading my own experiences on print, replete with all the thrill and anguish. It was heartening. Feminist, and subtly so. I’m not given to cliches like these, but I think I’ll risk it for this particular book – this is one book that’s gonna stay with me for the rest of my life.
I won’t talk about the stories individually as I can’t afford a 10,000 word post here. For more erudite and polysyllabled reviews of the books, please go over here.
Please buy this book. And if you’re a teenage girl, preferably without your mom’s knowledge.
p.s: The only thing I don’t get about this book is the ‘Bad boys’ part in the title. The other title – The Good Indian Girl’s Guide To Living, Loving and Having fun is infinitely more appropriate.