Review : Never Mind Yaar by K. Mathur

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Title:Never Mind Yaar
Publisher: Southpac Publishers Limited
Pages: 242 Paperback
Release : 2010/2013
Genre: Fiction

Buy the book : HERE
The coming of age of three young girls from different backgrounds in Mumbai, a city fraught with communal tensions. When long time friends Binaifer and Louella meet Shalini at Gyan Shakti College, gyan for knowledge and shakti for strength, a true friendship that transcends cultural and religious backgrounds is born. Louella is a Christian and Binaifer, a Parsi. Shalini is from a traditional Hindu family. She's been brought up to believe her parents and autocratic grandma will choose her life partner for her. On the very first day at college her eyes accidentally look into those of a young fellow student's and her heart is lost forever. She knows she must resist as her family won't allow a match with a mere student. But she has two unlikely cupids to contend with. Binaifer (Binny) and Louella (Lou) think Bhagu, the young student, is perfect for Shali. The girls go through four years of college together, facing many challenges on the one hand but also the comfort and reassurance on the other, of growing up in the cultural, political and bewildering mosaic that is Mumbai. The author admits there's a message - that of the curse of communalism (or racism). But first, the book is about the light hearted years of college and true friendship between the girls. This is how it all begins: Dr. Naakwaa of Gyan Shakti College couldn't help smiling to himself as he looked at the sea of eager, animated young faces. They all seemed to speak at once, or so it seemed to an old man like himself, their ceaseless chatter outdone only by sudden bursts of loud laughter. Even as they talked and laughed in their own groups, he saw their eyes covertly watching the others. An air of breathless expectancy hung about them, as if something momentous would sweep them up on a wing and fly them away to an unknown destination. Without exception, they all clamoured to go, even the ones standing at the periphery, hesitant and slightly lost though they appeared to be.

A book cover is always the first impression, this one lacks in that department a bit but let's not judge it by it. Though the elements used on the cover like a trio of girls sitting on a coffee table, talking reflected the real essence of the book, etc are quite apt but execution of elements could have been better, color scheme could have been  more fun as this is book is fun carefree sorta.
Her big brown eyes and long lashes perfectly complemented a smooth, dusky complexion. ~ pg no 10
This is a story of three Girls Louella D’Costa aka Lou, Binaifer Desai aka Binny and Shalini Dayal aka Shali. Girls who met in one of the most reputed colleges of Bombay, Gyan shakti college in late 80's and early 90's. All hailing from different backgrounds and believes found common thread in each other and become best buddies. Their journey starts with their first year in college, the trio took me to my times when life was more carefree but also when I was learning new ways of life, adapting at many steps from friends and teachers. All three have something good to give to each other, they look out for each other and it's friendship that matters seems to be the base plot of the book. Another interesting element of the book was Bhagu, close friends with the trio and love interest of Shali, who is slightly at the protagonist side. 
Shali hails from a family where everything depends on her grandmother Mem's permission, who is rather a hardcore traditional woman refusing to budge even with the changing times hence it is hard for Shali to confess her love to Bhagu. Bhagu later emerges as a social/student activist, his character showed the power of youth, how they can change the mindset, change the scenario if they will to.

Where Lou and Binny are trying to get Bhagu and Shali together, Shali's economically strong family is against the match. Their love faces numerous hurdles. And to top that Bombay is shattered to core by a horrific blast. Towards the climax story got more interesting with many twists and bit unexpected chain of events.

Though the beginning was a bit slow paced it kept on improving with each chapter, there were parts which could have been edited better but the writing style wasn't typical but refreshing. Choice of words and phrases were good but couple of times seemed like trying too hard, the character development of the story was good as each character learned a lot and changed a lot by the end which was a bit plus point in the book. The side characters were etched thoughtfully like the Shali's Grandmother Mem, Chacha and the professor. The fusion of three backgrounds, Hindu family, christian family and Hindu family was reflecting the real essence of Bombay along with the challenges a friends has to go through.

Never mind yaar as name suggested is carefree light read, but there are elements of inspiration as well.

Author's Profile:

Born and brought up in Mumbai, K.Mathur lives with her family in New Zealand.
Mathur showcases her unique perspective into her city’s psyche in Never Mind Yaar.
“I’ve always enjoyed my city except when violence has erupted between communities. On the whole people seem to get along fine. We are proud of our own community but accept that others are proud of theirs. The food we eat, the clothes we wear and the languages and dialects we converse in are diverse and most of us say vive la difference. But there’s a handful in every community who are extremely suspicious of those differences.”
“Why is secularism or a different way of doing things such a threat to these people? This issue has disturbed me since the 1980s when I witnessed communal riots in Mumbai. I felt compelled to talk about it in Never Mind Yaar. But first and foremost, the book is a love story and a story of friendship and fun between three young girls from different backgrounds – Hindu, Parsi and Christian - who meet at college.”

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