You are here – by Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan

You are here… or… so you think !

What do a couple of college friends do when they are reunited after a long time ? Think about the good old days ? Especially if you are one of the lucky few who have had an entertaining & adventurous Teenage to Twenties. That was the feeling I got while reading ‘you are here’.

It looks like Ms. Compulsive Confessor has had some good times, some not so good, some difficult (which every 20 year old has) decisions to make and has met some interesting people. Except … that is all it is.

Half way through the book I stopped to think “hmm… Where is the story going ?” and then it dawned upon me… there is no story, no plot, no event, no climax, no nothing. Just a peak into the life of Arshi.

And who is Arshi ? She’s twenty five, works in a PR agency in Delh, comes from a broken family, lives with her room-mate who can’t decide if she is Ms-goody-two-shoes or anything-for-love types… who’s boss is a slave driver… has a boyfriend who for bizarre reasons blows hot or cold… Sounds like Bridget Jones (oh! Come on… at least a lil bit) However, the humor is used pretty well, and several passages will have you smiling at the images created, metaphors used, almost like Carrie from SITC.

If you have read/like her blog “The Compulsive Confessor” you may enjoy the book, otherwise it will be a bit of a drab. So pick up the book if you have nothing better to do.

A bit about the Autor: Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan studied English Literature at Lady Shri Ram College at the Delhi University and has been a journalist for many years. She writes the popular blog The Compulsive Confessor where she talks about her experiences as a young, single woman in urban India. You are Here published by Penguin, is her first novel.

The Zoya Factor

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The Zoya Factor is a laugh-out-loud funny novel. People from Delhi especially of Karol Bagh origin (like me) will certainly enjoy how amazingly dilli-types this book is ! Phrases like “My heart was dhak-dhaking”, “dhik-chik dhik-chik music”,”so uncool”, “loathing 98 percent; lust 2 percent” or “ok baba” add to the punjabi tadka & explains the emotions the author is feeling so much better than plain ol’ English.

This, more than anything, is what make this book such a good read.
For instance, the manner in which the author describes the Karol Bagh types
is particularly funny. The following two excerpts from the novel should give you an idea about the dry sarcasm of the main lead, that tickels your senses.

“I obsess a little about being ‘cool’, because, hello, when people ask me where I stay I have to look them in the eye, smile brightly and say ‘Karol Bagh’ with casual unconcern…..

….Because Karol Bagh has a soul.

It may be a loud, expansive, dhik-chik dhik-chik music-loving soul that died and became a soul because its arteries clogged with too much high-cholestrol, ghee-laden Punjabi food, but it’s a soul nonetheless.
Think lousy old Golf Links has Soul ?
Naah !!

The plot reloves around , you guessed it … Zoya … who works in an advertising agency, waiting for her first big shoot with a big bollywood actor … SRK … which she has to leave half way to do a shoot with the Indian Cricket team … one thing leads to another & she becomes the lucky mascot for the team … hence the name, The Zoya Factor.

TZF is full of characters that every Indian can relate to. Zoravar, Eppa, Rinku Chachi, Vishal, Monita even Sanks are all people you all would have met somewhere. It has all the ingredients of a masala Bollywood flick – SRK, Cricket, Cola wars, superstitions, boy-meets-girl, foreign locations…Block Buster !!

The ‘Yang’ of the book is that it’s a bit too long (the second half is a bit of a drag)  and the story is predictable at times. Inspite of this, I quite like the Writing style of the author.

All-in-all The Zoya Factor is a fun read as all chick-lit type books are supposed to be.

Final Word: This Will definitely make a great Bollywood style chick-flick… KJo  are you listening ? 🙂

(About the author – Anuja Chauhan went to school in Meerut, Delhi and Australia. She has worked in advertising for over fourteen years and has created many popular ad campaigns including ‘Nothing Official About it’, ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ and ‘Oye Bubbly’ for brand Pepsi.

She is currently the Executive Creative Director and Vice-President at J. Walter Thompson Advertising.)