Graffiti – A Novel
‘Graffiti’ Is a debut novel by East Indian author Joanie Pariera. Set in India and the USA, the novel explores the coming of age of young India at the advent of the global ‘flat world’ revolution. It questions the preparedness of the indulged state-of-mind of a generation raised to believe that ‘PG’ is as far as they can get in terms of attaining adulthood in life. It is a satirical commentary which may very well be a majority impression, and is told through characters who when allowed total personal freedom typically find themselves struggling to make the right choices and struggling to understand why.
The story begins by establishing a strange connection between two people who’ve never met – two women in two different countries altogether, Rene and Pournami. The connection isn’t immediately obvious but becomes so as the story progresses. Rene is a techie who works for an IT company in India along with her girl pal Upasana. The ups and downs of Rene’s love life keep Upasana on her toes as she tries to be the ideal mate, consoling her or guiding her as she sees fit; after all she is her more mature married friend. The plot focuses heavily on their individual personalities and their collective make-up. Rene, a not so typical Indian beauty who could be anybody’s dream girl and yet she’s cloaked herself with this impenetrable veneer,, hiding behind failed relationships and broken dreams. The world could be her cheering squad but she’d still wallow in self-pity. Then it happens; the world opens up for her in some delectable ways, as well as in some unwanted ways.
Meanwhile, far away in the USA is a man who could be her alter ego. Beset alike by personal problems, Vipin’s journey in a new country, is much to his dismay, ruled by emotions he cannot control, and as he’d like everyone to believe, through no fault of his own. Soon Vipin, Rene and Upasana are journeying the highways of relationship world together, along with an odd mix of young men who all ardently court Rene. The dilemmas they face, the challenges they overcome just trying to exist, the struggles they handle trying to read ‘signs’ to be better able to solve the puzzle that is life, make for the rest of the story.
Graffiti begins where age-old Indian traditions and archaic societal rules give way to a more progressive school of thought, eagerly pursued by a generation challenged with pushing that forward upon the other one that raised them differently. It raises several questions including the seemingly ridiculous one that might actually affect the way Indians all over the globe identify. As the need to handle certain intricacies surreptitiously dissipates, what happens to the unique brand that is ‘East Indian’?
- Rene – A young Indian techie and the main protagonist.
- Upasana/Upi – Rene’s closest friend and confidante. Upasana and Rene grew up together.
- Vipin – The male protagonist who is integral to the plot. Vipin’s trials begin when his wife Pournami dies tragically in a car accident.
- Kunal Amar Shah – Full name mentioned here could only mean one thing – he is a VIP. The story behind how his life gets linked with Rene’s is quite absurd. It is also quite revealing of how shocking the effects of globalization are for a generation only just learning to handle it.
- Mark – One of Rene’s more prominent suitors.
- Daisy – An interior decorator who does Mark’s house and earns his friendship.
- Ayub Khan – Rene’s friend and a potential love interest.
- Agni – Rene’s past love interest who abruptly breaks up with her, leaving her to pine for him for years.
- Hari – Upasana’s husband who happens to work for Mark.
- Rohit – Vipin’s techie friend and ex-roommate.
- Subramaniam/Subbu – Vipin’s techie friend and ex-roommate.
- Nirmala – Rohit’s girlfriend
- Nancy – Vipin’s colleague
- Pinky – A young girl who pursues Vipin
- Padmanabhan/Paddy – Vipin’s colleague who is similarly bereaved.
- Prerna – A woman Vipin meets under certain un-real circumstances
- Neeta – Subbu’s wife who is an out-of-work doctor.
- Pournami – Vipin’s wife who dies in a car accident. Coincidentally, that is also the name of Paddy’s young wife who has brain tumor
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