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New novel embraces differences in Indian communities


New novel embraces differences in Indian communities

"Never Mind Yaar" by K. Mathur aims to share an inside look at political and religious diversity through story of friendship, family and romance

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (MMD Newswire) August 2, 2011 - -

"Never Mind Yaar" by K. Mathur, a native of Mumbai, seeks to offer a fictional tale of friendship and love that becomes tainted by the real-life conflicts of communalism or racism between different Indian communities. "If there is one message I would hope for readers to take away, it would be to think about why secularism or a different way of doing things is such a threat to some," says Mathur. "Once we understand why, we'd make more informed decisions about our future actions."

The title is representative of an attitude the author wishes to refute: a tendency, she says, "to feel defeated by the scale and nature of certain problems, give up and move on with a sigh and a 'never mind.'" "Yaar" is a term made popular by Bollywood that simply means friend or pal. "Never Mind Yaar" follows the lives of friends Binaifer, Louella and Shalini, women of diverse backgrounds - Hindu, Christian and Parsi - who meet while attending Gyan Shakti College on the outskirts of Mumbai in 1999.

The novel's main plotline surrounds Shalini and the fact that, despite an impending arranged marriage, she has fallen in love with fellow student Bhagu, an aspiring political candidate. Bhagu shows his promising leadership in various ways, his debating prowess being one, as he easily cuts through his opponent's informed arguments about racism in Mumbai. When eleven synchronised bombs go off in their city however, he wishes he hadn't argued simply to win. The city disintegrates into violence. The girls are greatly disturbed as they witness firsthand, violence between the Hindu and Muslim communities. The onus is upon Dr. Naakwa, the astute college principal, to calm their agitation and to replace the hatred with healing. Bhagu's strong spirit and youthful inexperience also lead to his forming unfounded suspicions that Shalini is secretly ashamed of him. This creates a rift between the two lovers. He joins a new idealistic political party and gradually distances himself from Sh alini. Having escaped an attempted rape, Shalini becomes aloof and distant too. The two are reunited after college, however, when Shalini's parents, realizing it could be the only key to her happiness in life, come up with a clever scheme to make her autocratic grandma accept Bhagu as Shalini's life partner.

Graeme Lay, editor of "Write Right" in New Zealand, says of "Never Mind Yaar," "Technically, the writing is sound, the settings authentically depicted. Mumbai is not romanticized, yet the author's perspective and insider information draw in both the Indian and Western reader. Characterization is competently handled. Conflict, both ideological and physical, is constantly present, lending tension and drama to the narrative."

"Never Mind Yaar" is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.

About the Author K. Mathur, born and raised in Mumbai, worked as a stewardess with Air India from 1973-1989. The mother of grown children, Mathur now lives in New Zealand with her family.

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