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Published on: 06/18/18 9:34 AM

Book review: A House for Mr Misra by Jaishree Misra

Trivandrum Diary

A House for Mr Misra (Westland)

This slim volume is the ideal  read when you are between books that tackle matters of a more serious, even grim nature. Or in my case, a break from editing a turgid manuscript. Written rather like a Trivandrum diary fleshed out in engaging detail, it keeps the reader interested all through.

The author and her husband Mr M decide to relocate to Kerala from London for a variety of reasons,  set about buying a plot of land on the Veli beachstrip,  and attempt to build a house on it. Now building a house anywhere in India is not an easy thing to do and building it in Kerala with its ancient bylaws, its threatening nokku kooli  concept and  the invariable involvement of a hundred bystanders, is less easier to do. But the Misras persevere.

While the house goes up, the author touches lightly and entertainingly on a host of Kerala-related matters like the state of garbage, feral dogs, snake visitationS, KSRTC buses, the first rains, the subtle hue of Malayali male chauvinism, the curious dearth of ice cubes, the prurient curiosity of the locals (`If you stop to ask for directions to a street, the Malayali will inevitably ask you who you are going to meet there`), the kaili/lungi, the ubiquitous daytime nightie, and suchlike.

Using words like `flibbertigibbet` and the Malayali  intonation of `einh` to good effect, the writer sticks to a good-humoured tone even when exasperated at times, and leaves the reader in good humour,  too. Sometimes you need books that serve as amuse-bouches.



A House for Mr Misrabook reviewhouse-buildingJaishree MisraKeralaMalayaliquirksTrivandrum

Sheila Kumar • June 18, 2018

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