Thursday, November 22, 2012

Behind the beautiful forevers - Katherine Boo

Amazingly well written, I finished it within a day, it was that un-put-downable.

The book reads almost like a fictionalized narrative. From the opening page,s with its richly detailed description of a garbage picker in a slum hiding from the police, his family huddled next door, the stories of these people grip you. The woman aspiring to be the slum lord, the way out with politics and power. The garbage pickers fluctuating fortunes, the way out with sheer hard work and initiative. The background of every family's hope of education as a way out, and the reality of barely even a single graduate.

The thing with such stories, is that all too often , we have a neatly manufactured happy ending, which depending on the quality of writing, could either leave you dissatisfied, or with a warm fuzzy feeling of how hard work and/or education always pays. But somewhere , there's a nagging feeling that things don't always work out neatly like that. One has only to look around, and see that that they usually don't.

This book however, is a work of exhaustive research, years of spending time in Annawadi, hundreds of interviews, getting information out of a dusty leaky system, which is quite intent on burying it. What this also meant, was that there were no neat answers, no beautiful forevers, no happily ever afters. And that, is what makes it so depressing in the end.

However, depressing though I found it, its still a must read. If nothing else, then just as a jolt out to the increasingly smug attitude (i worked hard, i'm smart, and i'm entitled to the world giving me everything mentality) that a large number of upwardly mobile people seem to be succumbing to.

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