INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.

INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.

Sales Pitch

An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's race up the corporate ladder



By Manpreet Sodhi Someshwar


Price: Rs 195 Pages: 300

I thought I wouldn't get beyond Chaapter 2, where I was mired in B-school jargon on every other page. Here's Noor Bhalla, a graduate of IIM-C, tougher to get into than Harvard, who has managed to get recruited by Hindustan Lever, rhapsodising: "Would such a moment ever come in future, where all co-ordinates would zero in to a state of absolute contentment?" Pretty turgid, huh? Made me think, oh no, a desi Kaavya Viswanathan of Opal Mehta infamy.

But persevere and you shall be rewarded. Noor Bhalla is as bright, amusing, sensitive and perceptive a protagonist as one could wish for, and the story of her roller-coaster ride as a management trainee in sales with India's largest sabun-tel company, is choc-a-block with provocative insights. On brand management: "Relaunches are new clothes for the geriatric (products) to ensure they appeal to the grandchild as much as they the gran!"

A Sikh, thwarted in her love for a Tam-Brahm by parental opposition on both sides, Bhalla is trenchant on India's caste-and-religion-ridden mindset: "The geography of our land may be varied but we have determined the flora will be uniform...purple flowers whose dried stigmas produce the pungent and aromatic saffron."

Tales of female foeticide in the villages, of the feral madness of six-year-old Imran, traumatised after watching his entire family being electrocuted in the aftermath of Godhra, evoke horror and pathos. But there is humour in descriptions of interactions between the sales force and gora saabs, and there are smart business "fundas" entertainingly expressed throughout this enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder.

Spirit of Fusion

Her imageries traverse many boundaries and her well-sculpted movements convey a multitude of emotions. The body and its context become tools to produce a rich human landscape, complete with all its unevenness, innocence, ironies, paradoxes and failings. Even inert objects suddenly vibrate with life, while "absent skin" and "vegetarian smile" rhythmically delve on the dearth of existence. Whether it is Chennai, London or Nairobi, her self-assured poise and robust energy are enchanting, but mostly it is her pursuit of significance in life's journey that makes Tishani Doshi's stunning debut almost a lyrical prelude. She is based in Chennai and works as a freelance writer with choreographer Chandralekha, who on seeing her the first time, had said: "I hope your work will take you to the skies."

"We live in a violent world and my poems try to address the pain and anger that we go through in everyday life, while trying to identify beauty to bring out the innate joy," says Doshi, whose Countries of the Body (Aark Arts) recently won the UK's Forward Poetry Prize for the "best first collection". Born in 1975, Doshi went to Queen's College in Chennai, and thereafter spent considerable time in the US, where she studied at the Johns Hopkins University, specialising in creative writing. "Travelling can sometimes be the best medicine to get over the writer's block," says Doshi, who penned the lines over many years. She is the recipient of the Eric Gregory Award, and her The Day We Went To The Sea has won the All India Poetry Competition.

Doshi says dance has enabled her to realise how art can inspire, transform and elevate. "I want to bring out these effects in my writing to make my work more holistic." She says Chandralekha justifies having chosen her primarily because she was a "non-dancer". "And this openness taught me never to shut out to new ideas and yet helped me retain my innate personality," she says.

Doshi is currently treading new ground. A book on Muttiah Muralidaran is on the anvil, which she assures will be a "cracker". It will explore the controversies surrounding this "simple guy", while bringing out the "genuineness" of someone who is looked upon as a "bridge" in his own country. A semi-autobiographical Pleasure Seekers, too, is taking shape.

-By S.S. Jeevan


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INDIA TODAY - The most widely read newsweekly in South Asia.
DECEMBER 25, 2006

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