I managed to finish reading Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s debut novel ‘You Are Here’ in about a week. Not that it is over-the-top intellectual, or just plain boring, but the story of Arshi’s ‘here n now’ is such that makes you pause and ponder, draw parallels, and meditate on how we all lead such similar lives. For all you know, the book could have been my story, with a few little adjustments, written just how i’d write it, again maybe not in such bold strokes.
The book is good.It is obvious that the writer is a blogger, because there’s that style of writing which gives primacy to telling your own story and your own thoughts. Long monologue type flashback sessions everywhere, intricate detailing of what she’s wearing and what he’s doing and even psychoanalysis make that much apparent.
But there are also glaring flaws that bring out the first-timer syndrome. Reddy’s thoughts and flashbacks sometimes don’t hold your attention like she’d like them to. In short, it gets boring at times. You can also sniff out a desperation to paint her protagonist and contemporaries as the new liberated Gen Y, where drugs, sex and alcohol are very important and unassuming parts of the misc-en-scene. I mean, sure, they really are part of this lifestyle, just not as glorified as she’s tryin to make it sound.
But despite these turn offs, the book managed to sustain my wandering attention, simply because i could identify with this twenty-something, who’s tryin to live it up in New Delhi and the New Times, and well, simply be part of the crowd. There’s a description of how Arshi would have an Orkut-like social map in her head, where she’d link all her friends and acquaintances into a vast web of socialness. The book cover draws inspiration from this idea and flags the important chronological stations in her life. That’s probably the best part – deriving a tool for some semblance of organisation in life through cartography. Map up, i say!