Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cloud Nine Minus One by Sangeeta Mall------ Book review

I had to travel nearly 24 hours from Hyderabad to reach my hometown. I usually read a book during the journey and I succeed to complete this book in the weekend trip. The postmortem of the book follows here in my blog.

On Cloud Nine --- a state of blissful happiness, thats the meaning. After a small search with Google Uncle, I got to know the origin of this term. As always, there are controversies for the origin of this phrase too. One reasonable explanation is that the US Weather Bureau divided clouds into classes and each class has nine types. The ninth in the list refers to cumulo-nimbous cloud which is likely to cause good amount of rainfall. So when a person is "On Cloud Nine", he is all set for extreme happiness just like the cumulo-nimbuos clouds pouring out rain. But Sangeeta Mall choose not to be extremely happy. She wants to come one step down from Cloud Nine and experience the Minus One Stage herself and also the readers of course.

Shruti Malhotra turned Shruti Narayan live in Philadelphia with her husband, Kailash who is a theatre play-writer and their two kids - Isha and Rohan. She is happily settled as an NRI, looking after a Writer's Colony and not allowing her past clinche her present life. She has a dear friend Xenia at her workplace with whom she does not hesitate to share even the darkest secret of her life. Kailash handles and calms down the super excited Shruti every time with his mere looks. They do share a perfect Chemistry which helps in holding their marriage life just like a fresh bloom even after 15 years. The family is all set to enjoy their summer vacation in Spain this year. But time has planned something else for them in India. Kailash receives a invite to Delhi to attend a conference on theatre plays. So they change their holiday plan and land in India in the hottest month of the year. At the same time, Shruti also receives an Email inviting her for the 20th anniversary college reunion in IIM Bangalore, which she has deleted without a second thought. Its because she is not ready to face her dear friend Priya and her ex-boyfriend again both of whom she has ditched 20 years back. Her guilt, her strongly veiled heart says strictly no and could not accept or expect such a reunion.

The face is really the index of the mind and its so obvious that Kailash gets to know about the reunion and commands Shruti to reply to the email. With so much butterflies in her stomach and with so many doubts, questions and flashbacks, Shruti reaches the IIMB campus. Its really difficult to return to past life and look back the old memories if they are not good. What happens in a reunion? The families of the good-old friends meet together, have a diplomatic intro and a few lectures and nice lunch, boring dinner and little enthusiastic games for the kids. Apart from these out-shown activities, within each there runs a whole flashback which they wish
never to come across.

The gold medalist in Accountancy from the Delhi University cracked the CAT and made up to be one among the 5 girls in IIMB 86-88 batch. She slowly made good friends in the India's Prestigious B-School and her identity turned from Shruti to Shruts and finally to Ruts. Even before 20 years, the college didnot escape from the clutches of drugs, booze and smoke. One of Ruts friends was Priya Pathak, the ultra modern girl who turned out to be a nymphomaniac. Ruts never tried to change her but has always accepted Priya for what she was. Jaggu and Ruts fell in love at some point of time, for which Priya never gives a damn. Jaggu, Ruts, Rats(Ravi Saluja) and few others enjoyed college life as any other IIMBian did. The usual lectures, assignments, night studies, treats, terrace talks, rainy days, hot pakodas, tasteless mess food, road-side coffees, exams, rude and cool professors, campus tree shades, new buildings, city's climate all become the discussion topics in the 2 yrs.

Priya Pathak hates guys for no reason, but never stops to enjoy sexual relations with them. She ditches nearly 15- 20 guys in the college. To all this non-ending nonsense, Ruts never gave her point of view to Priya. But as far as Ruts life is concerned, there is always Priya's intrusion in Ruts decision. At the same time Ruts never stop lending shoulders to any other's problems. She was always kind and shared emotional bonding with her friends. She succeeded gaining Priya's confidence and learn about her teenage failed marriage. Yes Priya's hatred for guys started in teenage when she fell in love with a guy in her colony and marry him by eloping away. The end is a tragedy where the guy ditches Priya for the sake of family and the colony people end up in curses for Priya's parents. The incident has made Priya to test guys and handle them as puppets in her hands. She does not leave even Professor Sen for that matter. She gets into a sex scandal in the college during which Priya and Ruts friendship broke like a glass. Ruts and Jaggu also have a break up for some reason or the other.

People forget the past, bury their memories and plant a huge tree on top of it as if these memories are not going to shoot up at any time. But it is these memories which remain as good fertilizers for the huge tree. Yes exactly the same happened with all these IIMB students. Rats and Jaggu gets married to two people differently. Priya remains unmarried, but adopts a girl and live her own life as she has always did. And so did Ruts.

Somehow Ruts get courage to confront Priya and Jaggu. Meeting your ex after 20 years that too when you dont want your loving husband to know all about him is a really different feeling. Shruti manages to overcome all these emotions. In her 2 day stay in IIMB, Ruts come across so many incidents. - Jaggu ends up in a smooch with Ruts, Rats asks for a favour from Ruts to stop his divorce, Ruts and Jaggu help their classmate recover from a heart attack, Kailash gets to know of Jaggu and Ruts old affair, Priya gets clear of her misunderstanding with their old Professor, Ruts arranging Priya's marriage and Ruts coming out of her guilt feelings.

Altogether I felt that it was a good novel to pass my time during travel. And I started the habit of underlining few sentences as I read which I always wanted to do. This way I can re-read those lines in future. The novel neither bored me nor did it get slowed down at any point of time. Thanks to Sangeeta Mall for making my trip memorable for days to come.


  1. postmortem of the book.. haha! Still reading the blogs.. Kept a pause...