The secret recipe for a happy life lies in the ability to laugh at yourself and look back at things with a hearty smile. And bringing this secret out of the closet is this anthology that reveals one thing - we all have stories, but what matters is our outlook and how good a storyteller an individual is.
Belliappa takes a walk down the memory lane with over 50 anecdotes that are drawn from his personal experiences and succinct observational skills. These tales, narrated in a lighter vein, portray the comedy of day-to-day life in a manner that we all can associate with.
"We encounter several sticky situations in the course of our daily lives; and my attempt too has been to spin a humorous angle to these predicaments," writes Belliappa in the author's note.
The novel reveals two things about the author: his love for the French language and golf - something he has candidly admitted in his stories.
"My Experiment With French" reveals his fascination for the romantic language he had studied during his college days and then decided to brush up on his own. The humour element comes in when his "working knowledge" of French is challenged by a woman and all he did then was to come up with an excuse and quickly leave the place.
Many tales like this, where the author was clean bowled by events or people or had to eat his own words, have found a place in the novel.
In a hilarious tale, "The Umbrella, he shares the story about how he tried to get rid of an umbrella that had become a burden during one of his foreign trips. All his cruel attempts to abandon it at airport lounges or market places, failed miserably and every time the umbrella would land up happily in his lap.
For Belliappa, who is a regular contributor to newspapers and has authored three novels, weaving a tale in simple language and adding sprinkles of wit and humour come easy. And this is pretty evident in his way of story-telling.
One is not surprised when he makes fun of himself in "The Introduction". He was once the chief guest of a function - and was mentioned only once in the two-page-long introductory speech. The achievements of his father and son were highlighted throughout!
He admits he was absolutely aghast.
Through these vignettes, his travel history is also traced. From Paris to China and many other places, he has come back with many stories.
His ironic shopping experience comes into the picture with "Chinese Bargain" when once in China he went on a shopping spree and splurged on the fake branded gadgets. To his horror, back at hotel, he realised none of those worked. So he swore "not to buy anything made in China again". But the twist comes at the end of the tale when he regrets not having gotten himself a golf-set from China.
There possibly might be nothing new in these stories, as we all have had such experiences in life. Yet the simplicity with which they are told is beautiful.
At times, what is annoying is the first person narration. It gets so repetitive that one gets exhausted if the eye meets one more "I". Even a quick word-count by the author revealed this single alphabet appears 500 times in the novel.
Rest assured it will tickle your funny bone a bit.
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
--IANS (Posted on 06-09-2013)