Skip to main content

Ghachar Ghochar - Vivek Shanbhag (Translated by Srinath Perur)


Translated works from the regional languages of India have always fascinated me as they resonate a sense of simplicity that speaks to the soul. ‘Ghachar Ghochar’ by Vivek Shanbhag was originally written in Kannada and has been translated to English by Srinath Perur. There were two characteristics that drew me to this book. First, the title – Ghachar Ghochar as it reminded me of “gibberish” that my brother and I came up with in childhood but it meant something only to us. Second, I have always had a special affinity to Karnataka, particularly to Bangalore and Mangalore owing to deep ancestral and cultural roots.

The beauty about this book is that even though it is a novella, it manages to effectively communicate a powerful message about the impact of ‘new money’ on a family based in Bangalore. The story is narrated in the voice of the son of the family who is never named. The characters in the narrative include his parents, sister Malati, wife Anita and uncle Chikappa (father’s younger brother). 

The family is shown as starting out on a modest family income, the narrator’s father being the main breadwinner. The importance of budget is reflected in scenes where the family go out for tiffin only on Sundays or when the mother doesn’t have any money to invest in jewellery or expensive saris. This is captured well in the sentence “……we simply did not desire what we couldn’t afford. When you have no choice, you have no discontent either.”

As the story progresses, the narrator’s Chikappa starts a successful spice trade business called ‘Sona Masala’ and the family is suddenly faced with money. The events that follow constitute the main body of the story – “Its 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. Money had swept us up and flung us in the midst of a whirlwind”.

The writing is succinct and powerful. Shanbhag has done well in effectively addressing the modern day demon of money through everyday characters living ordinary lives. Perur’s translation appears to have done full justice to the soul of the story and for this, he too deserves much praise.

Ghachar Ghochar – so what does it actually mean? Oh not so easily…for the answer you must read the book! The book is set to release in the UK on 27th April 2017. 

My sincere gratitude to Vivek Shanbhag and Faber & Faber for this opportunity to review such outstanding literature. It’s been an honour.

Comments

  1. Great review! I recently wrote an article for Women's Web. Mentioned Ghachar Ghochar in it as a book by an Indian male writer with memorable female characters. :)

    http://www.womensweb.in/2017/03/indian-male-authors-memorable-female-characters/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Sab Moha Maya Hai - For The Sake of Valentine's Day!

14th February, Valentine’s Day. A day we are told we must “celebrate” as it epitomises this wonderful emotion that we as humans are capable of – Love.


“So, what are your plans for the day?” I was asked this question about a million times today and all I said was “Oh! I don’t know, I’m very unromantic!” to which I got responses like “But it’s the day of love” or “Come on! you need to celebrate love!” and so on. Having reflected upon this small talk that people often engage in to ease the awkward silences, I felt the need to put my thoughts to paper about the difference between romance and love as I find the two are often confused- one for the other. Romance is an expression of love, not love itself. Love is when you consistently strive for the wellbeing of another despite it causing you discomfort or pain. It is unconditional, not based on trivialities like tokens of affection which have sadly come to become measures of the extent of love. If you buy me a cake, you love me 30%, a design…

Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma

I was delighted to receive this book for review from Penguin UK. Having grown up with memories of the Penguin logo in almost every bookshop I visited, it felt wonderful to be recognised as a reviewer by this world renowned publishing house. 'Flesh and Bone and Water' has nothing to do with South Asia. However, the commonality it shares with the region is that it is set in Brazil, a place that is often referred to as also being part of the 'third world' group of nations. "It's easy to leave a place when you're young. Coming back is harder. That's my advice : stay where you are." And so begins this beautiful novel which I would term as part coming of age and part an immigrant's journey from Brazil to Londres (London). More importantly why does the protagonist Andre venture back on a journey to his childhood home? The author Luiza Sauma has very poignantly narrated the story in first person so it feels like Andre is telling you his own story. You…

Serving Crazy With Curry - Amulya Malladi

Food! - That wonderful part of our existence that not only plays the essential role of providing daily sustenance but is also an archetype of culture and tradition. For me, food is a meaningful catalyst to creating unforgettable memories and associations. There are certain foods that I associate with certain events or significant people in my life. I also seek comfort in food be it a hot bowl of dal rice after a hard day at work or a sneaky piece of chocolate as a reward for achieving something (Yes, I do apply the principles of behavioural psychology to my own life!)
I first came across Amulya Malladi’s books in London’s local libraries. I was impressed that her books are well stocked which is an indication of their popularity. I read a couple of these books and soon found out the reason for this. Two words – Writing and Characters! Her writing is immensely engaging and her characters threaten to come alive page by page. This certainly applies to ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’.
Devi, our …