It was a pleasure meeting a bindaas babe whose spunky memoir with oodles of sex, lies and dates could not hide her loneliness even in the New India.
Boooof! It hit me in the gut minutes into our virgin conversation. Anita Jain, the author of Marrying Anita is like a nuclear warhead – lethal!
I met the delicious former journo at the First Indian Writers’ Festival (organised by India Se magazine) in Singapore this June.
It is one thing ‘Knowing Anita’. But ‘Marrying Anita’? You need guts! How many men in our hypocritical society have them? I completely and totally adored the latest enfant terrible on the rapidly growing literary circuit in India. Quite simply, Anita Jain, is a character. Not quite Kamala Das, not Erica Jong… and certainly not Bridgit Jones. She is Anita – her own person. And she has written a spunky book that could also have been titled ‘Being Anita’, and it would still read the same.
But Marrying Anita is a more commercial title, as I am sure Bloomsbury, her American publishers realised when they decided to publish her memoir in 2008. Well, the book has not sent cash registers ringing in the US but in India, Anita has been noticed and is being courted by desi publishers, impressed by local sales. Carelessly tagged ‘Sex and the City, Delhi-style,’ the book is much more than just a raunchy account of the 36-year-old’s sexual romps in her motherland. Her ‘Quest for love in New India’ is more hilarious than erotic and begins on a rather comical note.
The narrative is a loosely linked catalogue of her sexapades – near-misses and a couple of booze\drug induced ‘dates’ (notably with an Amritdhari Sikh virgin whom she initiates into kissing by caressing his turban). But behind the very American upfrontness and ‘let it all hang out’ tone of the prose, I sensed enormous pathos. And after meeting Anita over two days and three sessions, I could understand her rather unique dilemma.
Anita has shifted to Bombay so she can hack it in Bollywood. Why Bollywood? Well… virtually every talented individual I have met over the past ten years wants a piece of Bollywood. To achieve her objective, Anita is sharing a rented hole-in-the-wall with an American guy (not a boyfriend, she hastily clarifies), and doing the rounds of studios and ‘contacts’ in production houses. Has she given up her search operation for a Suitable Boy? I don’t think so – she didn’t say. But I could sense her ambivalence…. and loneliness.
Anita, a Harvard graduate, business journalist and most recently, an author of a successful title, is caught in a cultural vortex – she thinks American but wants to live Indian (well, to the extent possible).
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