Author: Abhijit Bhaduri
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Abbey, after graduating from the Management Institute of Jamshedpur walks straight into a job at Balwanpur Industries in northern India. As the first MBA from a premier institute to be hired by the family-owned business, he knows that every step of his attracts undue attention. It doesn't help that he's an HR man whose business it is to meet and get to know people across the ranks, which means there's hardly anyone in the company who doesn't have a view of who Abbey is and what Abbey does or should do.
Add to this the complications of being newly married to a women whose looks and personal wealth make him the envy of most others, a crusty golf-playing boss who believes in straight talk, and a sudden turn in the company's fortunes that catches Abbey unawares. It's up to him now, to apply all that HR wisdom learnt at business school to the dilemmas confronting him at work and in love. Can he hold down his job and keep his friends, despite the mounting pressures, or will his first job end the way his marriage threatens to - rapidly and without too many regrets?
Sequel to the sleeper hit of 2005 - Mediocre but Arrogant, this novel starts exactly where the last one ended. The author looks for inspiration within his workings in the corporate sector and draw some well-sketched characters, with punches of drama and action thrown in. The best character is still Rascal Rusty. His idea of selling condoms in a telephonic conversation is mind-blowing. Even Father Hathaway advice how an organisation in India employs just not the person but his entire family is deep and distinguished. The final learning makes you feel touched - how Abbey realised that a visiting card and a designation in the corporate world doesn't bring any fulfillment in life; only self-actualization does, realising one's true self does. The narrative, for most parts, in first person, flows unhindered without too many glitches.
I was quite critical about the attitude of Abbey in the first book. Well, things have got better but still not perfect. His relationship with women is still hazy, though this time there is more meat to most of the women characters....something which i thought was missing before in the prequel. Overall, he is nicer and calmer but still confused which i believe make the main lead more enigmatic and interesting to read.
The book is finally let down by some clunky dialogues (Abbey's father says: I am not sure you are ready to move on to grahastha ashram just yet!!) which makes you cringe no end. Even the twist about Abbey's marital life in the end seem forced and is deliberately intended to create a third installment of the series. There are periods of self-introspection which lingers on for too long and that sucks out a bit of fun from this life ride of the main protagonist.
I am going with 3/5 for Abhijit Bhaduri's, Married but Available. It is less humorous, but a better, more compact book than its prequel. It is an easy, breezy read and one can look forward to third installment of this series. Hopefully, it can deliver again.