Updated: Jan 9, 2021
The author of the bestselling book The Windfall, Diksha Basu, came up with another intriguing book, Destination Wedding. But the book is not at all about the wedding. Well, it does involve a big fat Indian wedding, the main theme of the book revolves around the Das family: Neel Das (the father), Radha Das (the mother), and Tina Das (their daughter) exploring themselves as they return to India after a very long time. This book represents India well and really does tell you some of the most fundamental things about Indian society. But it does have its faults here and there.
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First, let’s dive into the relationship between the parents, Neel and Radha, who are happily divorced for over a decade now. Radha currently has a boyfriend, David Smith and Neel is just starting dating again. These “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationships were a little uncomfortable to read. As a nineteen-year-old, I can never imagine my own parents dating again, hell, I can’t even imagine them being romantic around me. So, parents not only giving each other “dating” advice but also exploring their love lives in their 60s made me realize that it may not be as unrealistic as I first thought. That’s one thing I learned from this book - you can find romance anytime in your life, as there is no fixed age for it. However, I do have my reservations for the parents’ relationship because its introduction made Radha an unlikeable character for me. Even though she is fierce, independent, and smart, I had to put in extra effort to like her. The same is not true for Neel, whom I liked and sympathized with instantly. That being said, I found the interaction between both Radha, Neel, and their respective partners are civil, fun, and many times extremely wholesome. (Also, I never knew old people romance can be SO FUN TO READ!)
But one thing was clear for me: this book is not targeted towards nineteen-year-olds.
Which brings me to the protagonist, Tina. She is an American-born Indian who has an ongoing identity crisis and doesn’t know if she “fits” anywhere i.e either in America or in India. If you look at the timeline of the book, it’s clear that Tina was born at a time when not many Indians migrated to the US, hence her identity crisis is understandable. But she was also immature, a bit narcissistic, and annoying along with her best friend, Marianne, who was the same. She wanted to feel more “Indian” during this wedding, but she continuously fetishizes India’s poverty (one example being, when she kept on “crushing” over Sid, a personal trainer from Dharavi) rather than immersing herself in Indian’s beauty and culture. She also thought of herself as a “bigger” person every time she made a “donation” to any needy person. She is a thirty-two-year-old woman with an almost dead career. Marianne is no better than her, as she confused me so much with her love life. As she claimed to be in love with Tom but thought he was boring and she needed some “adventurous” guy (and made mistakes). Although I am happy that Marianne got good character development, I only wished Tina had the same. Her character development was little and of no significance.
However, Basu’s writing is extremely engaging and fun. This book is truly insightful and touching at times, and shows how India is divided, especially in a metropolitan area like Delhi. With some really hilarious moments to heartwarming revelations, I would say this book was entertaining (despite all the negative things). I won’t say the positive moments outweighs the characters’ negative personalities, but it somehow managed to capture the bigger picture and tell us stories of so many characters at once, without it feeling overwhelming. One thing that I absolutely loved about the book was how it gave little insights into secondary characters, giving everyone depth and making them feel real. Not to mention, this is actually the only book I read which represents happily divorced couples!
I would suggest you just go for this book! The opinion can be very subjective, because I am very much familiar with Indian culture, and I know some things mentioned in the book are unrealistic, but it is a fun read. Some of the most annoying and funny characters like Bubbles Trivedi, Rajesh, Karan, etc are quite memorable. I enjoyed reading the book despite the uneasiness I felt.
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