This time I went to India through this hilarious story by Karan Mahajan. He is like a funny, eloquent and perceptive guide into India.
Family planning is a novel revolving around a father and son and their life in India. The story begins with Mr.Ahuja who is deeply troubled that his son, Arjun, walked in on him having sex with his heavily pregnant wife. He wonders how to explain to his son that he is only attracted to his wife when her stomach is bulging with child. Arjun on the other hand is more disturbed that his parents still have sex. Mr. Ahuja has 13 children with one on the way and this causes Arjun to be constantly taunted by his friends in school.
Mr. Ahuja is the minister of Urban Development whose plans are to rid the city of the traffic lights and reinvigorate traffic flow by building a series of flyovers. These plans are however hindered by the dysfunctional government. The other ministers want flyovers built everywhere resulting in an ugly cityscape. At the moment the flyovers lie incomplete described perfectly by the author as having ‘their two rising slopes frozen in midair like tongues that failed to touch’.
Civilians have been cast in this book as ignorant bystanders as Karan says ‘they believed in flyovers with preindustrial innocence. They earnestly put up with months of noise and pollution if it meant fast transit in the future.’ The women go out and demonstrate when a popular male actor is killed off in a soap opera and all the ministers resign in support of the women. The super prime minister angry that the ministers are plotting behind her back, appoints the soap opera star as prime minister.
Karan incorporates many themes in his story such as the perceptions Americans have towards Indians in America. Mr. Ahuja remembers his time in America where he was asked ‘is it common in India for a person to own elephants the way people here own horses?’
Why you should read this:
1. Get a look into India through Karan Mahajan’s creative viewpoint.
2. The problems in developing nations are brought out; Corrupt systems, Poor governance, Disillusioned people.
3. For a good laugh
4. To discover simple truths in life which have been brought out subtly all through the book.
The book is very relatable to me as I live in a developing country which has just recently caught the wave of building flyovers. On the downside, I was looking forward to the ending but I found it rather anticlimactic.
Copies Available at: Prestige Bookshop