There’s more to life than a House in Goa by Heta Pandit was launched at Goa Arts & Literature Festival. And that is where the author very kindly gave this book to me for review. Going by what she read at the launch, the book promised to be an entertaining read. So, as soon I finished what I was reading, I picked up this book. And I was particularly interested in knowing the work author has done in heritage space in Goa being the founder of Goa Heritage Action Group.
The book is a memoir that begins with an anecdote of Heta Pandit buying a house in Goa. And how after viewing many houses she found her dream home. After that, she drifts into her family’s life, or to her mother’s family life. And you get lost in the names and names of her cousins and other family members who keep popping up. She jumps over to her days in England and Kenya before coming back to Munnar and finally Goa. It seems she has had quite an eventful life as someone who just goes with the flow. And never really sets her eyes on something or works towards something.
Parts of the book are interesting like her stint in Kenya. And her description of tea gardens of Kerala. Or her days in South Goa when she first made Goa her home with her cousin. Alas, these are just small bits and pieces in this book.
There are lots of missing links in her story. And at the end of the book, I was left with many unanswered questions. The author begins the book by flaunting heritage properties that she owns in Bandra Mumbai and other cities. In the rest of the book, she is struggling to make both ends meet. She has chosen to categorically not to talk about certain parts of her life – like when you read her bio at the end of the book, you know she studied in M. S. University Baroda. But this does not get mentioned throughout the book and you wonder when did she do that.
In first 10 years of her existence in Goa, she has no money to even feed herself a wholesome meal. And then suddenly she has all the money to buy herself a house in Goa that anyone who has looked at property market in Goa knows comes at a substantial cost.
At places, she thinks they are poor because they get only 2 rooms to live in her grandmother’s palatial home. And at other places, she is happy in a one-bedroom house. Her Mumbai stint gets mentioned only in passing. And I am not sure if it was the Mumbai riots that made her force out of Mumbai. I can go on and on about these inconsistencies.
Now, I think a good editor could have easily pointed out these gaps. And helped author fill them or leave them in a way that they do not show up. I also wonder if the author wanted to write her own biography, why did she leave out large chunks of her life. Similarly, she repeatedly mentions that all her works revolve around Houses. But when you see her description of houses it is very clinical. Her style of writing is also that of someone who is used to documenting. And not that of a storyteller. Her anecdotes come as Story 1, 2, 3 and not something that flows from one to another.
If it were written well, Heta Pandit’s life would be an interesting read. I know it is too much to ask for, but if I could suggest I would tell Heta Pandit to re-write the book with a better editor.
Take your call.