Srividya Natarajan is the author of the novels No Onions Nor Garlic (2006), and Undoing Dance (2018). She cowrote Bhimayana (2011), the graphic biography of Dr B.R. Ambedkar. She lives in London, Canada, where she teaches English and Creative Writing at King's University College.
Amandeep, Murugesh, Rufus and Sundar are bucks who talk dirty for the same reason that they remove the mufflers from their motorcycle exhausts-it makes them feel like men. Like libertines.
To their hormonal despair, when Professor Ram stages his remake of A Midsummer Night's Dream at their college fest, he casts these four as fairies. The farce that follows gradually takes over the lives of the rest of the characters in this achingly funny novel about the pratfalls that accompany caste pride.
On and off the campus of Chennai University, you will encounter onion-and-garlic-free TamBrahms who rewrite Shakespeare to uphold the Hindu order, smug NRIs who call the shots in matrimonials, visiting Canadians who are aghast at the plight of Dalits (pronounced 'daylights') and, at the apex of the whole tumbling structure, a bibulous builder who invokes the gods even as he defrauds his clients.
Tailing the characters around this plot is an unseen but all-seeing spectator. You may never guess who that is, but will laugh all the way to the answer.