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“It’s true what they say – it’s not we who control money, it’s the money that controls us. When there’s only a little, it behaves meekly; when it grows, it becomes brash and has its way with us.
From a cramped, ant-infested house to a spacious bungalow, a family finds itself making a transition in many ways. The narrator, a sensitive young man, is numbed by the swirl around him. All he can do is flee every day to an old-world cafe, where he seeks solace from an oracular waiter. As members of the family realign their equations and desires, new strands are knotted, others come apart, and conflict brews dangerously in the background.
Masterfully translated from the Kannada by Srinath Perur, Ghachar Ghochar is a suspenseful, playful and ultimately menacing story about the shifting consequences of success.”

REVIEW : I rated this book 4 stars originally but changed it to 3.5 stars. I’ve removed .5 for the translator’s use of the word Rangoli and Chiwda. I’m sure these aren’t Kannada words and that Kannada words should have been used (According to Google Translate Rangoli in Pyatam in Kannada). If people can remember the score of every cricketer at every game they’ve played it can’t be too difficult to remember two new words. Using Hindi/common Northy terminology for everything annoys me. It’s like calling an Idli a rice cake. It’s a bloody idli. Not a rice cake. Now onto the review.

This book is the journey of a once poor family into new money and how they lose sight of themselves along the way. Their initial struggles and how they go overboard to make sure they never feel like they don’t have what they want/need. But you won’t get that in the first few pages. The first half of it (the non moneyed portion) evokes beautiful memories of my grandma telling me stories on how her life was as a child.

I remember the stories quite clearly, about the house they lived in when they were young and the little critters that kept paying them visits. Ants, scorpions, roaches and grasshoppers to name a few. Gran would tell me how they use to buy ant powder (not a powder made of ants but one to repel them) and sprinkle it around the house to get rid of them. The moat around the food we made is something that immediately made me chuckle and brought a tear to my eye.

The second half on the other hand is dark and ominous. The author has seamlessly brought the two together and presented us with Ghachar Ghochar. Written in a simple and easy to read manner, this book manages to show us the evils, not just of money, but also of misguided affections and how decent a”decent” family really is. It would be perfect for readers of Ruskin Bond and R.K Narayan. Expecially of Narayan who manages to make every book memorable and precious. A book that brings tears to your eyes in nostalgia is a magnificent piece of work. And Ghachar Ghochar is definitely that.

COVER : The cover is very simple and beautiful. Perfectly showcasing the story that is inside. I didn’t know who Vivek Shanbag was and wouldn’t have known this book existed if not for the beautiful cover that caught my eye. A great job by the designed (For the life of me I can’t find out who it is!)

Buy Ghachar Ghochar on Amazon

This goes towards my Indian Books resolution which is to read one book set in each state written originally in the language of said state by an author from there or in English by an author from there. You can read more about it here.

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