Book Review — Encounters Of A Fat Bride by Samah Visaria

Thank you Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Image courtesy of Goodreads

Encounters of a Fat Bride unveils the humiliation and harsh circumstances that an overweight woman has to undergo in order to find a groom in India. Madhurima Pandey has learnt to set aside her complex about feeling like the quintessential DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). While all her friends find fairytale-esque romances, Madhu has devoted her time to work and study, so as to steer clear of the reality that no man in his right mind would ever choose her. But as per societal norms, marriage is the most essential rite of initiation into adulthood. And soon, her middle class family begins to invite a bevy of eligible men in the hopes that one of them would accept Madhu into their household. Samah Visaria’s novel aptly reflects the age-old customs of dowry and arranged marriage, complete with nosy neighbors and body-shaming parents of potential grooms.

It should be noted that some people may view this novel as being offensive, but I assure you that it is not. The author, in no way, propagates discriminating against “fat” brides. She is merely trying to convey to the audience that women should be confident regardless of their physical appearances.

As lighthearted as this book is, it also approaches some very serious issues like that of fat-shaming, mental health disorder, the dowry system (wherein the family of the bride compensates the groom’s family in cash or kind for going ahead with the marriage) and gender bias. While a lot of these issues are dealt with rationally, I wasn’t comfortable with the way mental health disorders were handled. You begin to think that Madhu is a very mature and educated woman, but then her sidelining of mental instability as “retarded” or “losing it” is totally not acceptable. On the other hand, through Madhu’s strength of character, we see how other negative elements are treated strictly. Her acceptance of her body image and understanding that all genders ought to be equal attempts to remove society’s misconceptions.

What’s unique is that the chapter titles feature a countdown; so you are made aware of the ending but you don’t know how that transpires. See, there’s some mystery in there too. The author’s writing style is colloquial, humorous and incorporates few Hindi terms. There are a couple of cliches, but nothing major. She makes several references to the movie industry, juxtaposing Madhu’s behavior and feelings which made light of the situation at hand. The narration is so convincing that I’d feel just as infuriated at society as Madhu does. I mean, it is appalling that people expect you to be a certain way and if you aren’t, they rain down the most horrible comments on you. I really liked the plot because it is still so relevant. Some aspects of the story were a little over the top, but you can’t expect anything less from a dramatic character like Madhu. Her character arc sees quite a change throughout the novel. Initially, she is against the idea of arrange marriage, then tired of being lonely, she begins to crave it. Even her outlook undergoes certain essential changes. Without a doubt, Madhu’s funny quips renders the entire novel so enjoyable that I finished it in one sitting. I liked the book and I look forward to anything else the author may write in the future. You should check it out!

Ratings – 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Thing About Confidence is That…

It is seeded in thyself
And watered by others.

Or

It is weeded by failure
And altered by changes.

If

You turn away,
And only look within,
Are you doomed to
A withering confidence?

Perchance

It is a concoction,
Of others and you.

Maybe

Situations and actions
Hath more to do.

But

In this celebrated pandemonium,
I shall pluck every instance
Of strength,
And bury every doubt.

Until

I’ve acquired a legacy,
Of fierce quotes and
Affable anecdotes.

– Meera

 

College – A New Phase.

3 weeks into college and my head is a jumble of mixed feelings – mostly all good, some a little whiny 😛  Been coming home late, no time for anything else. Usually this would’ve driven me ballistic, but somehow it doesn’t affect me as such. Even though I would’ve liked to have a little “me time”, the college and friends make up for it. Plus there are  just so many activities and clubs I can opt for, it feels as though this journey is going to an enriching one.

I’ve never been an attention seeker and yet I’m a Media student. Look at the irony of that! 😛  Its not that I have any problem with being under the spotlight but I haven’t felt the need to do anything extra to be put there. Like some people have a natural ability to command attention regardless of what they say or do. Whereas some, in their ways of talking and gestures are well known among people. I don’t know if  its common for all Media students to be very open and expressive or whether its a gradual process of becoming like that. Because I haven’t met anyone who is the shy-bug types. So its a little confusing when I think of myself as the shy, less talkative one. I’m not shy, not since long. But I’m not as bold as some others. So obviously I’d seem like the most reserved among them all. 어떻게?  I know that at some point of time, in order to kick start my career in this industry, I will have to leave back all of my reservations and step forward. I’m ready for that. But for now, I am clueless on what I ought to be doing.

Anyway, so far, taking this course has proved to be a brilliant decision. I only hope it continues to be.
We are getting so much exposure, in terms of knowledge and practical assignments, its reaally really overwhelming. The whole college atmosphere is different from that of senior secondary school. Good different, that is. I wake up every morning, eyes droopy, yet ready to drag myself out of bed, just because of college. 😀 I’ve met some good people and some not so good people. But then again, that’s how life is. Maybe, I’m jumping far too ahead with my opinions on certain people. Maybe not. Only time will reveal how good  judge of character I am. Perhaps at the end of this year, I’ll be able to post more elaborately about my experiences with people 😀

I love change. For this very reason of being able to eliminate the monotony in life. Meeting new people, newer adventures and a somewhat changed personality.

Mia