Book Review: Musafir Cafe by Divya Prakash Dubey

The first ever Hindi novel that I read was Divya Prakash Dubey’s Masala Chay, because who doesn’t get intrigued by such a title? No, I’m not a chai-addict, though I know of people who cannot live without it. Anyway, once I’d finished Masala Chay, I knew I wouldn’t be going to another Hindi book for a long time. It isn’t that I couldn’t read it easily; only, it took more effort than it would take for me to read an English book.

There was, however, another of author Divya Prakash Dubey’s books that was waiting for me. Called Musafir Café, it talks about dreams and love, and how when intertwined, can create so many problems, yet bring so much peace. But despite all this, I wasn’t prepared for how much I was going to like it.

Musafir Café is the story of Sudha and Chander, two people who couldn’t be more different. They meet on a matrimonial setting, done by their parents. But Sudha doesn’t want to get married because as a divorce lawyer, she has seen a number of marriages going down the drain. Chander, a software engineer, agrees with what she has to say. They are slowly attracted to each other and start living in, and fall in love, too. They would even get married if Sudha’s stubbornness not to do so hadn’t come in the way. But the world doesn’t work like that. And Sudha and Chander’s paths part. Will they be able to find their way back to each other? Or will the world get in the way?

I’d mentioned that Sudha’s stubbornness kept them from being together. But it is the biggest quality that I admire in her. She doesn’t compromise for anyone, no matter what. And that comes with a lot of courage and independence. I wish I could be like her, though I know it isn’t a smart thing to be at all times. Of course, there are things I didn’t like about her, the biggest being, she is many-a-times, condescending towards Chander. Every time Chander says something, it’s a given that something completely different is going to come out her mouth. There is no way Chander is going to win. It isn’t fair, really.

Other than that, however, Musafir Café is a beautiful narrative with casual sprinkling of life lessons, though there is nothing casual about the depth of what Divya Prakash Dubey is trying to tell us. The quotes and the lessons being in Hindi, I need to make a point that they wouldn’t sound and seem as poignant in any other language. After all, they say original is original. Try as you might to duplicate it, you just cannot bring the spirit from the original. There are very rare instances where the translations are as good as the original. Take for example, Ghachar Ghochar, the English version of which I had the opportunity of reading and reviewing recently.

Because the story is so Bollywood-like, it keeps the entertainment going. And because it is so unlike what Bollywood teaches us, it stays fresh and gives you a perspective on the possibilities. Even though I love happy endings, it was refreshing to see the realistic portrayal of a relationship, telling us that not everything happens according to what we like. Yes, the characters are stubborn and don’t have the gall to reach out first, but we just have to accept that a lot of couples don’t actually go ahead like we’d expect them to.

On the whole, Musafir Café is a read that all of us can learn something from, irrespective of age and experience. If you are young, you can learn from it. If you are old, you can identify with it. If you can read Hindi, I’d suggest you go ahead and read Musafir Café!

Rating: 4/5 stars

Picture Courtesy: Amazon India!

Click on the image below (my Amazon Affiliate link) to buy Musafir Cafe:

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