There are GIGs and there are BIGs—by which co-authors Annie Zaidi and Smriti Ravindra mean there are Good Indian Girls and Bad Indian Girls—and contrary to popular belief, the two are not sharply distinct creatures. The GIG is full of casual mischief, surreptitious acts and carefully kept secrets. The BIG is often considered bad only because her good actions are misinterpreted and misunderstood.
The Bad Boy’s Guide to The Good Indian Girl is a charming collection of short stories accompanied by a running commentary from the two authors of the book. Partly fiction and partly a sociological document, it is made up of tales fashioned out of anecdotes told to Zaidi and Ravindra by real women. Thanks to the fieldwork and the authors’ imagination, the 29 stories in The Good Indian Girl are mostly credible, well-observed and poignant. Interspersed are commentaries that give the stories context and provide explanations for the actions of the GIGs and the BIGs. Most of the girls and boys in the different stories are connected, and consequently there’s a winding map through the strange worlds of girlhood, romance and adulthood in the book. Among our favourites in the collection are “Finger Play”, “BIG Girls” and “Stains”.
Zaidi and Ravindra’s storytelling and commentaries suffer bouts of laboured poetry but by and large, there’s a lightness in their tone that ensures The Good Indian Girl reads engagingly without dismissing the complexities of being a woman in India. And there are complexities aplenty. Petty little cruelties end up leaving scars that don’t fade. Defiance must be carefully enacted. Every GIG has her dirty little secrets and every BIG has a good side. All of which adds up to many good stories.
The Bad Boy’s Guide to The Good Indian Girl by Annie Zaidi and Smriti Ravindra, Zubaan, Rs295. Buy it from Flipkart.com.