When my niece recommended Ghachar Ghochar to me, I didn’t know I’m in for a surprise. So, when the book was delivered I was intrigued. I remember staring at the book cover for some time. The white background with a picture of what looked like spilled tea on a plate which was crawled by ants did not even give you a faint idea of what the book hides in it.
Being from the north I had heard a similar word (ghachad pachad), so the title Ghachar Ghochar did make me feel that the story might be about something going bad and beyond being fixed. And I dived in the book to know how such a phrase could carry an entire story on its shoulders.
The story commences with the unnamed male protagonist and the narrator sitting at Coffee House, where he is a regular, and in awe of Vincent, a waiter at this cafe. The narrator lives in a joint family, comprising his parents, his sister, and an unmarried uncle.
The life of the family goes off-track when the narrator’s father announces a forced VRS and his uncle announces to start a business of a spice company. The newly founded spice company reaches success in no time changing the fortunes and the lives of everyone in the family overnight.
The family moves from a cramped small house to a new, larger house which offers a separate room for everyone, resulting in everyone retreating to their den after the daily family chores. The story revolves around how the family tries to adjust to a new and wealthy lifestyle. Marriages happen and begin to falter soon.
The uncle is the sole bread earner in the family and so everyone enjoys the wealthy benefits, some greedily, some casually. As a result, the narrator is never seen voice his thoughts much like the other family members. Everyone had adopted and accepted the new way of life.
Conflicts start to brew in the background when a new character is introduced and things begin to go Ghachar Ghochar. Ghachar Ghochar said by the new character, is a nonsense term which means when things get tangled beyond repair.
Why you should read the book
The story shifts from the present to the flashback and again to the present and the transition happens exceptionally smoothly. The depiction of the everyday lives of a middle-class family is pictured remarkably. The story very carefully paints the picture of the modern era where money plays an important role in bringing power, dominance, and arrogance to one’s character.
The book has an open ending, leaving you to ponder and contemplate the various scenarios the story could end. The way the story moves forward one could never expect that it could end the way it did.
About the Author
Ghachar Ghochar is penned by Vivek Shanbhag who is an established writer not just in Kannada language but also pan-India. He brilliantly portrays a seemingly regular family with its own share of being dysfunctional underneath.
Ghachar Ghochar is translated into English by Srinath Perur, marking Shanbhag’s debut in the English language. Srinath Perur has also penned If It’s Monday It Must Be Madurai: A Conducted Tour of India.
Just over 100 pages, Ghachar Ghochar is a slim novella. So, though the pace of the book is slow it kept me hooked and I finished it in one go.
To know what exactly happened which led to the things in the family going Ghachar Ghochar, you ought to read the book.
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