‘Chennaivaasai’ by TS Tirumurti, HarperCollins Publishers India, pp.268, Rs.299
We find a lot of books based on Indian culture integrating into western in recent times. With Indian writing in English flourishing, many novels and short stories exploring this area in different forms emerge. TS Tirumurti had ventured into a novel ‘Chennaivaasi’ detailing the trials of an orthodox Tam-Brahm boy falling in love with a Jewish American girl Deborah but preferred to wait and marry her ‘only’ with the consent of his orthodox father. How fate and incidents play role in the love story runs to 268 pages.
The main problem is the theme of ‘Chennaivaasi’ is nothing novel because actual Chennaivaasis are quite familiar with this theme in varying forms in Tamil novels and movies. It is also a well established formula that the ‘foreign’ girl is ‘good’ and the Indian parents ultimately agree. So here too Ravi and Deborah turned out to be genial and more loyal to the adamant ‘Appa’ than his homegrown sons and traditional Chennai daugters-in-law.
The only difference probably was the flashback for orthodox Appa who also had a brief and timid encounter with a ‘foreign’ girl during his younger days. Otherwise, most of the developments give a sense of déjà vu.
The author had taken enough interest into bringing out the life at Chennai, the dust and grime, the chaotic population, many ancient Tamil Brahmin delicacies and their recipies, the ever loving mom and aunt, the villainous brothers, the disciplined American etc.
Had the novel had been edited for a shorter version probably it would had been more interesting.