Background : I happened to read about this book - Red Carpet by Lavanya Sankaran when I was reading some travel book by Jet Airways while on a flight from Delhi to Bengaluru. It said it was a book of stories set in Bangalore involving characters from the city. It got me interested. Till then, I had ordered books online only through Flipkart.com. This time, I wanted to try a different site. Bengaluru's well known book house, Blossom has an online store. I ordered the book choosing the option of cash-on-delivery. Apart from trying a different site, another important aspect which made me choose Blossom was the discount on offer which was 20%. Flipkart was offering 10%. But the book did not arrive even after 2 weeks from Blossom and there was no reply to my mails asking the status. At last, I sent one more mail saying that I am cancelling the order; no reply to that also. Back to Flipkart - order delivered in 2 days!
Characters and Settings : Lavanya's characters come from different social strata - if car driver Rangappa becomes the protagonist in one story, in the other NRI Priyamvada becomes the main character. Yes! There are software engineers playing the central role too. Primarily the confrontation of different social backgrounds, upbringings and how different characters react to the shift of our society from a traditional one to a fairly modern form the crux of many stories. Though there are characters from different social backgrounds, I felt persons from Tamil Brahmin background appear more often.There are 8 stories in this book - Bombay This, Closed Curtains, Two Four Six Eight, The Red Carpet, Alphabet Soup, Mysore Coffee, Birdie Num-Num, Apple Pie One By Two. Lavanya has chosen variety of themes - how a girl from Bombay finds Bangalore, how a common man feels about a couple working MNCs, a NRI coming back to see a transforming India, Software engineers in trouble, dilemmas of a competent but introvert professional, mother looking for a bride groom for her highly educated daughter, a car driver finding a saviour in his boss and then a story of a house maid and her antics. The author also touches boldly upon subjects which are still taboo in India.
Style of writing : As the stories unfold, you start developing a liking for the style of writing. Voice is sharp and wry. Sensitive portrayal of human emotions which is intricate and rich in detail is what keeps the reader hooked. No wonder several publishers fought over the rights of this book! I should say this book is a must read!