Lemon Girl by Jyoti Arora: Book Review

Lemon Girl

Notwithstanding the candlelit marches and party manifestos, life for a woman in India seems to be on an unceasing downward spiral. If the papers report occasional incidents of kindness and warmth, the ever so frequent reports of crime against women put much of it to dust. Taking a cue from the pitiful present, Jyoti Arora (author of “Dream’s Sake”) pens down a tale of acceptance and transformation. Primarily told through the eyes of a strong female protagonist, Lemon Girl succeeds in being immensely topical and insightful. However, it trips somewhere along the path and falls short of living up to the scope it had presented.

Lemon Girl is the story of Nirvi and Arsh – individuals brought together by fate every now and then. That Nirvi has a painful past becomes apparent early in the story. She creates a dual identity to mend for what she has been repeatedly told was her fault. When Arsh, the one link to her former world, comes to live next door, Nirvi is tempted to give up this dual existence carved out of guilt. The result is expectation, temptation and regret, all rolled into one.

“When it’s time for you to fall in love, even a lemon can become the cause of it,” says Arsh.

What is interesting is the insight that Jyoti provides into characters which aren’t all white. The story is placed in a contemporary setting – we have a live-in relationship, house-parties, even a dose of the good old anti-corruption movement. To the author’s credit, the various elements blend in with each other very well. There are plenty of people in the tale, all well painted: a chauvinistic boyfriend, a sweet girl-next-door, orthodox parents, the rich knight with a troubled personal life. The reader travels through the city smoke to the hills beyond in an expert change of pace.

The big concern which spoils the experience lies in the editing. The book desperately needed a more watchful eye. Minor things like a misjudged word, an overlooked comma or a description gone overboard take away focus from the otherwise well intention-ed tale.

In her second book, Jyoti Arora takes us through an undercurrent of emotions and effectively conveys that not everything that goes wrong is our fault. If you are looking for some fresh reading from the Indian Fiction shelf, consider finding out why the book is called Lemon Girl. ;)

Pages: 165

Price: INR 255/-

*The author sent along a review copy to Saddi Delhi. Check out the “Write to Me” section for our Book Reviews policy.

November Bliss

It seems the other day when I wrote this downright crazy poem for R and this absurd code of conduct for myself. In this world, however, several years have passed. It was in November 2009 when I first met R. It is November again and a very special one at that. For my best friend over the years is now also my fiancé. R and I got engaged on the third of November, to be wedded on February 23. Yeah, in less than four months from now. Is the world real?

I have been bombarded with questions from friends and family. Half of them can’t believe I am having a “love” marriage. They can’t picture the *allow me some vanity here* class topper, spectacled, pig-tailed girl marrying someone who isn’t a Bengali and is apparently someone she chose herself. This half overlaps with the other half that is smitten by R’s apparent patience, intelligence and poise. Okay, I am only kidding.

I am overwhelmed at the direction life has taken. It seems surreal that I am going to soon marry my best friend over the years – the one who has been my most trusted confidant and my most effective support system. While R and I have never shied away from talking to each other about anything under the sun, I am certain that most of our engagement pictures will see us staring at the ground, cheeks red as crimson.

So yes, ladies and gentlemen, yours truly is engaged to be wedded. How about you start planning the wedding gifts right away?

Too Many Trumpets

*All opinions below are strictly personal.


*Picture from yourstory.com

No, seriously, tell me. Why is everything in the world so commercial? We are hell-bent on obsessing with monetizing everything and then lament about the world losing beauty. Teens (I am being generous here) compete for Facebook likes. Brands fight over putting up their promotional material in the once-friendly street corner. PR agencies compete for media stories about the gung-ho things their clients do (which aren’t always that gung-ho after all). It tires me out.

Lately, all the world’s innovations, awards and rungs-to-the-corporate-ladder seem to centre on marketing. An MBA is better paid than a technical person because he apparently has the strategic foresight to design a breathtaking campaign. Notwithstanding the foresight the technical person needs to create the program that feeds a medical diagnostic device, or lay the foundation for the bridge that will stand across the sea. Well, parents root for the MBA. It is the direct route to the paradise on the 23rd floor of a high-rise.

There was a time when companies used to advertise through the newspaper. They now sell us things through the television, the billboard, the radio, the internet, the flyer tucked in from under the door, the soap case, the roti, and the last I heard, the wrapper of your bhelpuri. It’s so intrusive it’s scary! In a blink, they will be advertising on your bed-sheet and your morning-coffee cup.

Imagine for a moment the world didn’t incur marketing spends. Wouldn’t people discover products and brands on their own? Oh yes, we have far too many brands today for anyone to capture attention without being promoted. It reminds me the various kinds of water they rattle off in high-end places. You know, sparkling water, bubbly water, blah. Do we really need 350 brands of soaps and 567 brands of deodorants? (I know there are probably more.) 

Didn’t economics theorize about everyone investing their energy in what they do best – producing wheat or coffee? Who would have thought there would be dozens and more of people willing to produce fine-wheat, organic wheat, chocolate wheat, and golden-brown, blue and sublime coffee? (Yes, please add to the list.)

Well, I completely appreciate how marketing is essential for a company’s profitability, especially in the big, crowded marketplace we now live in. My contention is around how the marketing circle is constantly turning more vicious. One marketing innovation begets another; one successful product begets a hundred clones. One campaign you have successfully done must be broadcast-ed for the world to understand how you can do several more. You market, and you market, and I still don’t know if I care about my deodorant having too much gas or the dish-washing gel I have always used being suddenly proven by “research” to be ineffective.

Day after day, as I see the world competing on the skill to blow the trumpet, I grow more detached. I feel satisfied enough with a soap that clears dirt, even if it leaves about 0.1 percent of germs untouched. I am happy with water that quenches thirst even if it has only the natural composition of oxygen. What’s more, with all due respect to the marketing fraternity, I feel much more perked up about innovations that cure diseases, help kids learn better or assist us with space travel. Why not focus on marketing these some more?

Of course, it’s all very good to develop marketing skills in general; bloggers like me pitch in to felicitate our favourite brands get “their message across”. Yes, I know. It’s just that I am tired of seeing brands splashed over all the media I use, ALL the time. Companies engage in tussles over product lines that are dissimilar only in their advertising campaigns. Millions of rupees are used to keep innovations going only to ensure the product gets sold.

What’s to stop anyone from using this money and effort to work on a product with a utility no one else has managed to provide? I mean Authentic Utility. Which Benefits the Customer. I don’t mean a vegetarian toothpaste, or a killer of 99.95% germs, or a Eureka-feature chatting application.

Now if someone is willing to offer me a month’s solace, sea and calming sunshine, please market all you like. Let’s get going.

Four Months on the Dose

Yes, I have been on tablets. In the singular, actually. The nifty device has come in handy for several maladies of my existence.

In the first month, when Dell very thoughtfully initiated the Blogger Review program, I found the tablet does a terrific job of Tuning out Noise. Loaded with music, movies and other A/V delights, I found the noise of the Delhi Metro fading into the background.

When Delhi burned under the furious June sun, the tablet helped me make the most of my evenings. I would sit out in my balcony, dream of distant thunder and write. My New Blogging Assistant had wireless internet connectivity, hassle-free portability and decent battery back-up. I could focus more on words, less on logistics.

With July, that month of sultry afternoons where clouds contain anything but rain, the tablet revealed new aspects I didn’t know existed. A massive app-store remained to be explored. At its convenient price point, this was a perfect gifting idea for the hordes of anniversaries and birthdays I always feel upon me. I sat down in June, Dwelling on Dell.

To bring further cheer to hot and humid July, a six-year old and his tiger came along one fine day, philosophizing on the hidden adventures in life. With the 5 Lessons by Calvin and Hobbes on Tablets Et Al, I found I could use my Dell Venue to never be late for an appointment, figure out my way in Delhi’s winding and scheming lanes, and work on the move to save precious moments of my day.

There came one fine day, when I came across my diary from yester-years. It was loaded with plans, moments and memories. Of times I could never turn back. My tablet helped me formulate new Bottle-Green Plans by evolving into my Corporate Fallback, Tour Guide, Social Consultant and De-Stresser.

Having found tremendous utility from my tablet, I turned charitable in August and decided to share 5 Symptoms to diagnose if you need a Tablet. People with crumbling laptops, who come into meetings dazed, and have a miniature world atop their desk at home, fitted the bill exactly.

While adopting technology was all very good, the abundance of over-smart relatives with their wise-as-an-owl kids tempted me to talk of Hi-Tech Children. While kids can learn volumes from the interactive applications, videos and learning games – all of which are supported by Dell Venue – parents, I feel, need to strive for a balance between the story book and Facebook, the muddy playground and the virtual game.

I have completed four months on the dose and it has been a fantastic journey. The Dell Venue comes across as a non-flashy, high-utility product, perfect for organizing, entertaining and working on the go. Dell – thank you for this brush with the Venue. With multiple (a)venues for the product, I’d say it’s highly recommended.

Oh, if words could kill. :)

*Written as the closing post for the Dell Blogger Review Program

Hi-Tech Children

“My little one has over 600 Facebook friends. Fifteen of them are even foreigners, isn’t that so darling?” chattered away an aunt I am only – and thankfully – distantly related to. We were having coffee in one of those plush Delhi cafés that have in-house Wi-Fi and live tweeting areas. The coffee excursion had been the aunt’s idea and I am too wise to give up on the opportunity to partake of some hot, creamy and hold your breath, branded coffee.

I was intrigued by how our foreigner-philia is still very much alive. I was also intrigued by the sheer size of her little one’s friend circle, considering the number was about 60 times his age.

“Oh, he hasn’t personally met at least half of them.” My aunt sounded offended. “It’s all thanks to his proclivity for technology. The champ is a natural with cellphones, laptops, tablets, you name it.”

The champ indeed. “What else do you do with these gadgets, champ?” I broke into the feverish tempo of a guns-and-bullet game he was playing on his Android tablet.

“Oh, my friends and I talk on Skype. After school, you know.”

Many moons ago, when I was in school, the land-line phone was the only source of contact with school friends who lived far away. The phone would usually be administered by Mom – not that I have ever been much of a phone talker anyway. If we heard of tablets back then, we would have thought they cured headaches.

Fortunately, I know of parents who have optimized technology for best results. I have a fairly well-turned out Uncle who grew up independently, away from anyone’s eagle eye. He continues the tradition with his school-going kid, albeit within limits.

“My son and I discover new applications on the tablet every now and then. We even celebrated a karaoke night last Saturday.” My Uncle happily commented on my Dell Venue tablet. “Junior knows of better pastimes than checking out others’ lives on social media.” he added, giving me a contemptuous look. I quickly put the flap-cover back on.

Opinions differ on what is the right amount of exposure that kids need with technology. They can’t do without, that much is for sure. Not if they want to keep pace with the bright Alec in the classroom, or the smart candidate in the job market. However, giving up on the muddy playground, the playful dog, the modelling clay and the story books will most certainly form a void nothing can fill.

The Dell Venue, for instance, comes with a sturdy cover, good resolution, A/V playback, and compatibility for tonnes of interactive applications that children can enjoy and learn from. There are games in the PlayStore more insightful and enjoyable than shooting people with guns – and please don’t tell me these improve concentration.

Over my cup of creamy, branded coffee, I fervently wished that as far as parenting goes, the world gets more people like my Uncle and less like my aunt. If mutually exclusive, give me a well-bred over a hi-tech child any day.

Stay tuned for the closing post tomorrow.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program