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Through Flight Of The Flamingo, Sangeeta Mall talks about the different dilemmas that many urban Indian women face in their everyday lives.
Review by Maitreyee B Chowdhury
Sangeeta Mall’s Flight Of The Flamingo, makes no pretensions about the fact that it is a book by an Indian woman, for Indian women. Preeta Dhingra, the protagonist, is the efficient and unassuming Editor in Pradhan Publishing. A successful woman in more ways than one, she doesn’t seem to understand her importance in the firm and constantly underestimates herself. In many ways, the book is the story of a confused, hardworking and honest woman, who has suffered and sustained her dignity but in the process lost her confidence. Preeta’s story runs parallel to the stories of other Indian women, those like Sonia the corporate honcho, Rimpy the socialite, and many others on whose lives is based ‘Dangerous’ – the scandalous novel that Preeta is editing.
The author gives readers an insider’s view into the world of publishing in the many asides that unfurl through the story. Bewilderingly, it leaves out some grey areas that are not answered at all, loopholes that no publisher can afford. Preeta edits a book that has enough material to slander men in esteemed positions in society and yet when her publisher asks how she would justify the content without evidence of the same, there are no answers.
The book has many strong Indian women, most of whom are shown to rise against all odds to finally overcome their struggles. While not all of them are as successful as Preeta, it is their journey that will keep readers interested. Preeta, her mother, her daughter, Sonia and Rimpy – in the end they are all strong and beautiful women who have grown in different dimensions.
One wonders why Preeta, a smart and well-educated woman, is not confident of her own abilities, until you realize with gripping reality that most Indian women are more hit by failure in their marriages than they would admit or even realize, often reacting in different ways and different proportions. Descriptions of her sexual relation with a partner about whom she does not know much seems to have been hastily put in to add some thrill to the story. It does not really take off, considering the fact that the relation is not mentioned more than once in the book.
Preeta’s romance with her colleague Prakash isn’t really whirlwind or even exciting. Readers might have wished for a twist, which somehow never materializes.
Most urban Indian women will relate to Flight Of The Flamingo. It has most of the ingredients that such women are already familiar with; busy schedules, office politics, the need to prove oneself, deadlines and more. Written in an easy language, the book grips you slowly. The characters are well woven and do justice to the plot. There is a gentleness to the writing that is difficult to miss and it is one of the high points of the book.
To the author’s credit, there is no sense of anger or pent up angst in any of the characters, only a sense of renewed purpose and the zest to make one’s life correct on one’s own terms. However, the book perhaps gives too much importance to a woman’s understanding of her success or her place in life, in relation to how she has been treated by men. Flight Of The Flamingo is a book that will make you reflect.
Publishers: Westland Books.
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