Sunday, April 25, 2010

Review: Of Wooing, Woes and Wanderings

Of Wooing, Woes and Wanderings
Amitabha Chatterjee
Rs 250
Pp 258,

Of Wooing, Woes, and Wanderings is entertaining, fluid, and sensitive. Chatterjee explores the love-life and profession of an Indian oilman in the bleakness of oil rigs in the world, a little-explored theme so far.

Lovers without borders Deccan Herald
Venezuela, sultry beauties with voluptuous figures, Latino rhythms, Harry Belafonte singing ‘Matilda...Matilda... she took me money and run Venezuela’ (all the more relevant as the author too, invokes Belafonte). These are some of the thoughts, images and cadences that Of Wooing Woes and Wanderings evokes, by free association.

This is the story of Rajarshi — a young, inexperienced Indian oilman with traditional values, posted to Venezuela, and Marisel — a vivacious, curvaceous Venezuelan woman, and their adventures and misadventures in Venezuela, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Sudan and Muscat. They meet at a party thrown by Rajarshi’s friends to celebrate his arrival at the oil-rig in El Tigre. At first, Rajarshi’s vocabulary in Spanish is limited to half a dozen words and Marisel’s knowledge of English is non-existent, but the chemistry between them needs no language.

Of Wooing, Woes... reads like part-travelogue, part-refresher course in Spanish, and part log book of an oil-rig interspersed with rambunctious, titillating romantic episodes. Reading about the author’s experiences in Egypt reminded me of my trip to that country, the Nile Cruises, the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor, the Sphinx, the mummies, the statues of Tutankhamen and Nefertiti, the papyrus paintings, and in a lighter vein: “You from India? Amitabh Bacchan!” I looked ruefully at myself in the mirror to see whether I resembled the Big B!

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