Let me begin with a disclosure. I am not generally a fan of romances, preferring a murder mystery by Agatha Christie or Georgette Heyer or a stomach-aching, double-up-in-laughter book by PG Wodehouse or Bill Bryson as my usual go-to reads. Looking back, I never went through a Mills and Boon phase either, though I did read a handful of them, which came from having lived in hostels where M&Bs were always lying around.
However, I recently picked up Sheila Kumar’s A Start-up Affair as bit of light reading between two heavy books and now I wonder if I have been hasty in writing off romances! This story did not let my inherent cynicism for over-the-top romance rear its sceptical head. Which could be because this romance is by no means over the top.There are several endearing facets to this book. First of all, the story is set in Bengaluru, with the protagonist living in Thippasandra and working in Indiranagar.
Immediate resonance. Having lived and worked in Indiranagar myself, I was overjoyed at the references to Bengaluru. Then, the cover illustration itself evokes warm and fuzzy feelings for the city with good old MG Road so clearly depicted. But it’s not totally a rose-eyed picture.
The traffic problems, as well as the nostalgia for ‘old Bangalore’, have both been captured perfectly. There are several references to the city, of both its positives and negatives, and anyone who has lived in Bengaluru will be able to identify with them.
The characters are all drawn up so well that I felt I knew them. The success of good writing lies in the ability to make the reader identify with the protagonist, and the author does this exceedingly well.
The heroine, Aditi, is described so appealingly. She is a skirt-loving, heavy silver jewellery-wearing girl with wild, cannot-be-tamed curls and reading about her was like reading about one of my friends. That is the beauty of this book, the characters are all sketched out in a such a way that you feel they are (almost all) your friends… or maybe I have spent too much time in Bengaluru!
Aditya and Aditi’s story too, stays very real. This is what a relationship between two hectically busy, working-their-ass-off millennials would be like. I mean, it could have been me, if I owned a start-up! The story is not your usual one where girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy and a few misunderstanding later, girl gets married to boy.
Here, a very independent, food start-up-owning Aditi meets a cab start-up-owning, sometimes cab-driving and sometimes Ducati-riding, emotionally distant Aditya, and they take their time in falling in love. I understood word for word what Aditi was going through in her attraction to this guy and her hurt and pain when things don’t go smoothly. However, she shows a great amount of restraint in not running after the man, and I liked that, it is typical of many women I know. As millennials, we seem to know how to move on when we have to move on.
The twist in the tale? The girl is running away from commitment and the boy wants marriage. I loved the fact that the story did not end with the girl making some sort of compromise and settling for marriage, trading her skirts for the traditional sari, and everything else. The ending stayed true to the personalities of the characters.
The author is simply wonderful with descriptions, and details of Aditi’s emotional upheavals, her ups and downs, in additions to the physical descriptions of Bengaluru, are depicted so well that the reader can picture them clearly. I especially loved the descriptions of Aditya’s mother’s house. I have never visited a sprawling old-Bangalore house though I have glimpsed a few from afar, and reading that passage sure made me wish I had been inside one of them.As a light and entertaining read, A Start-up Affair fits the bill perfectly. Read it for fun. And as for me, I will be less judgmental in picking up romances in the future. Especially romances written by this author.
Title: Our Start-up Affair
By: Sheila Kumar
Publisher: Speaking Tiger
Price: Rs 299