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Book Review: Saris and the City
Dissent: Volume 6 of the Helter Skelter Anthology of New Writing

Book Review: Saris and the City

Has it ever struck you how much simpler your life would be if you dropped certain words and phrases, like “why”, “how”, and “what the fuck”, from your vocabulary? Extract these poisonous words from your life, throw them into a recyclable plastic bag and leave them to rot—and then pick up Saris and the City. If you’re going through a breakup, are low on self-esteem, or have a dead-end job where you search for and stare at pictures of your high school crushes on Facebook for the greater part of your working day, Saris and the City is just what you need.

Attractive, rich, brilliant, and successful, self-proclaimed “Bengali babe” Yasmin Yusuf is manless in the metro, after having discovered an incriminating text message on boyfriend Sam’s phone. She goes into Gloria Gaynor survival-mode, and through the course of the book, turns around a failing company, finds recognition, money, and Armani dresses and, of course, hooks the man of her dreams. But, of course.

Helter Skelter: Saris in the City
Saris in the City book cover; courtesy of Hachette India.

Yasmin is on the wrong side of 30 by the way—lest you be fooled by her girlfriend gang, her taste in music, or her text messages. Reading this book will give you an interesting insight into demographics and statistics. Apparently, every second person in London is a Bengali Muslim, thoroughbred or half. It is the thirty-plus dumped group that has the maximum model-potential—they have the size-zero bodies, perfect clothes, and pouts to break a million hearts. The book also doubles as a self-help book for pre-teens—pearls such as “Taking the smallest step can make the biggest difference to your life” and “If you’re the good girl and he’s the bad boy you will get burnt” make for chapter titles. Why would you not want Maid in Manhattan, The Devil Wears Prada, Legally Blonde, and Chicken Soup for the Just-Dumped Soul all rolled into one, dead-end job or not? The book’s pure gold.

A running assumption in the book is that the love of her life, Zachary Khan (half-Bong, half-gora, with furrowed brows, slicked-back hair, and a smile to die for), falls for her striking personality. I searched through 300-odd pages for traces of that elusive yet much-talked-about trait of Yasmin’s. No results found.

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Yasmin’s most memorable moments include her comparing lingerie to blueberry muffins at a board meeting (it’s cute in her universe), dropping a bag full of sex toys in front of her potential in-laws (of course), and cleverly naming a colleague “Perky-Perfect” (epic win). Yasmin doesn’t just take her phone out of her bag—she takes out her “sleek iPhone” from her “Gucci reticule”, and glances at her Baume & Mercier watch to check the time. She never just pulls on a pair of jeans—she pulls on her size-zero limited-edition Guess skinny jeans. Either Yasmin’s the biggest show-off on planet Earth, or the author decided to earn from advertisements what she figured she couldn’t in royalties. Please, do read Saris and the City, if only to be assured that even someone who listens to Beyonce and compares lingerie to blueberry muffins can get Zachary Khan.

Ultimately though, I must say, you race through it much faster than you expect to, and find yourself eagerly awaiting updates on Zachary Khan. You discover his secret story with bated breath and pray for Yasmin as she makes her way to a perfect Hollywood ending. And trite or not, it is fun to read a no-brainer book that is written engagingly. Go ahead, pick it up, crack supercilious jokes at its expense, and defend being caught with it (“I’ve been asked to review it!”), as you change into your pyjamas, grab a mug of hot chocolate, settle in under a cozy blanket, and feel 13 again.

[Hachette India; ISBN 978-0-7553-5613-3]
View Comments (2)
  • Thanks for the nice bait, but I decline. For lack of better material I picked up ‘countess below stairs’ off a girl I knew, and it gave me diabetes for a month. This book holds promises of being even more sugary.

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