A young man’s close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle founds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes almost overnight. As the narrator—a sensitive, passive man who is never named—his mother, father, sister, and uncle move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a large new house on the other side of Bangalore, the family dynamic starts to shift. Allegiances realign, marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Before he knows it, things are “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can’t be untied.
Driving home after work one evening, I caught Maureen Corrigan’s review on NPR. So taken with it, I ordered it the next day. And I was not disappointed. My summation comes to this, “Money changes everything.” And when you don’t have it, and all of a sudden get it, life changes in unexpected ways.
In 118 pages, Vivek Shanbhag spins the story of how money changes everything for one family in Bangalore. Of most interest to me were the emotional changes sudden riches wrought. From the overspending, possessively jealous women to the carefree narrator who simply doesn’t understand why his bride finds pride in earning her own money, when he doesn’t need to work at all.
The ghost of no money hovers over this family like a foul-smelling cloud. Money does not bring peace, the way many of us think it would/should. In Ghachar Ghochar, all it does is bring chaos.
I love this little book so much that when our CEO announced his departure, I knew he needed a copy. From someone who loves great stories to someone who also loves them. This is a book I wish I could buy for all my readerly friends.