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Annie Zaidi and Smriti Ravindra have written a collection of stories that explore what it means to be a Good Indian Girl (or GIG - if there’s a GIG, there’s got to be a Bad Indian Girl or BIG as well). The stories, set in small towns and big cities follow the lives of interconnected characters - but unlike the more annoying fractured narratives that found currency in Hollywood movies like Crash and Mexican ones like Amores Perros, these stories grow organically, branching out and reaching heights of joy or digging roots deep down to the darker side of being a young woman in India. If there was a laundry list of things that affect women in this country - harassment, incest, assaults, unsuitable marriages, uncomfortable underwear, drinking, not drinking, rumour-mongering, lying, escape, independence - you'd be checking them all when reading these stories. But the tales here have not been constructed in an obvious, let’s-write-this-by-the-numbers manner. The delight of these stories lies in their smooth flow, the lightness of touch on even the darker subjects and the compassion and empathy they evoke. Two stories in particular stood out for me: Finger Play, a jewel of a story, like a clockwork animated tableau come to life, and Satyagrah, which gives insight into the mind of a GIG determined to get what she wants.
You want to know how the GIGs and BIGs live their lives? Read this book.