Ghachar Ghochar- Vivek Shanbhag

Title- Ghachar Ghochar

Author- Vivek Shanbhag

Published- 2017

Pages- 128

Genre- Fiction

A simple tale of a Kannada household narrated in style. The tale is about a man and his family, their lives and habits.

We have fond memories of spending our vacations with a large number of family members. Big houses, shared responsibilities and rights to admonish the pesky kids, eternal supply of snacks and beverages, timely food and never-ending playtime. That’s how I spent my vacations when I was a child. Ghachar Ghochar is extremely relatable in that sense. It tells the story of us. It could be yours and mine.

It starts with the scene of a coffee house which is a local favorite. An adda for people living in the vicinity, it hosts a wide variety of people. Coffee house is the Indian version of clubs and bars in the western world, with brisk barmen listening to the qualms of the tired visitor, while wiping the counter with a cloth. In the place of the barmen, we have Vincent.

The way the author writes about Vincent makes him come alive. The uniform, the physique etc. It took me to the phase when premium hotels of the olden times, like Palmgrove in Nungambakkam, had crisply dressed waiters, who could pass off as a band-member from the R-day parade.

Slowly as I progress through the pages, I saw myself in those houses that resembled a set of train compartments. The lives of the family revolving around stringent budget, with a father who goes paranoid when his accounts doesn’t get tallied is just a slice of my own life.

The story says a lot about the behaviour in most Indian families. The maximum respect in the house is reserved to the member who earns the most. The entire family strives to make that member comfortable, ignoring the teeny-tiny discomfort they have to go through in that pursuit. The silence of that member is always greeted with fear or anxiety, unquestioned. Let me give another such instance through a sentence in the book-

A man in our society is supposed to fulfil his wife’s financial needs, true, but who knew he was expected to earn the money through his own toil?

There were other profound lines in the story too. They seemed to convey more than their literal meanings, at times with humour, like this one-

Had Vincent taken on a grand name and grown a long shimmering beard, he’d have had lakhs of people falling at his feet

or this-

Sir- one story, many sides

or this-

The last strands of a relationship can snap from a single glance or a moment of silence

Towards the end, the story has a subtle twist, giving it a psychological shade. I was expecting some sort of closure, to be honest. But, this was a great idea. It leaves the rest to my imagination. May be, I could write an epilogue to this or a spin-off.

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for anyone who needs a light read.

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