“Married But Available” is the second novel by HR professional Abhijit Bhaduri. In the first- “Mediocre But Arrogant” the protagonist Abbey spends two years drifting along in his B School, from relationship to relationship.
In this one, Abbey gets into his first job, as a Personnel Manager at Balwanpur Industries, at the plant and the township owned and managed by the promoter Balwan Singh. The other people he meets are his first boss, Capt. Sobti, who has his own homegrown knowledge of people and HR. Then there’s the assorted other characters in his life, his father who thinks that he should be loyal to his employer, his mother who always thinks he’s a small kid. Then there’s Ass, his sister- Asmita. Then there are his women Ayesha and Keya and Priya. One is the one he lusts after, one is his love and then there’s one who has a crush on him.
As Abbey balances his work – getting to understand how the worker’s union works- with his love and then married life, life begins to take its own sweet pace. As he goes about acquiring the trappings of success – a bigger house, a car his marriage seems to be headed downhill. Finally his wife walks out on him, accusing him of being selfish. Devastated, Abbey looks for a chance to move out of the small township – and moves to Balwan’s corporate office at Delhi. He constantly compares his designation and personal life to his friends- trying to define success in the materialistic expressions of life.
Years pass, an old love comes back into his life – and everything seems to be fine – but life seems to be keen to throw his balance off-kilter. Abbey finds out unsavory truths about his mentor – and about his Chairman’s plan for the plant too.
Soon Abbey goes back to the township – to do the toughest job in his career so far – and to make the toughest self-journey he would make. In the end he understands that the sense of self he derives from a mere visiting card – and designations is hollow. As Father Hathaway – the Jesuit priest tells him:
“If you want success, think of yourself. If you want happiness, think of others. Stop asking about the meaning of life and instead, think of yourself as the one being questioned by life.”
So the book ends with a question: Will Abbey finally be able to break free of the selfish self involved pattern of behavior? Maybe we’ll find the answer in the next book.
Overall the book is an easy read, however, sometimes the management jargon can get to be a little off putting to the lay reader. Like the gyaan that Rascal Rusty gives Abbey on the phone can get a little tiresome. The book is set in the mid 80s to the mid 90s – so there are few contemporary references for today’s readers – but quite a few nostalgic references for the generation that was brought up then 😀