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When Dimple Met Rishi: 09/11/17
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon is set in and around San Francisco State University during a summer web programming camp for college bound teens. It's told in alternating points of views between Dimple, who is from Fresno, and Rishi, who is from Atherton. Dimple is there to improve her web development skills and Rishi is there to meet and woo the bride his parents have picked for him (Dimple).
I have two main problems with this novel: the way the arrangement is introduced and the basic plot of the summer camp. As there isn't much more to this book besides those two points, they are two HUGE roadblocks to my enjoyment.
I knew going into this novel that it was about arranged marriages. Let me be upfront and say that the arrangement part of this plot isn't what I'm critiquing. Rather, it's the circumstances of that arrangement.
Dimple goes to the camp at SFSU believing she has been given the green light on the blessing of a well respected friend of the family. What she doesn't know is that her parents have secretly sent her information to another family to arrange the courtship and marriage of Dimple to their son Rishi. When he shows up at Starbucks and introduces himself as the man she's going to marry she reacts as any sensible person does, she tosses her drink in his faces and runs for the hills.
From Rishi's point of view, we're told that his family and her family know each other. This wasn't done through a broker. The two families are long time friends.
How is it that she has NEVER heard of him? I'm not expecting the two to be long time childhood friends, but she should at least recognize him. She should at least be aware that two families have talked about getting them together.
When I was teen and living at home, my parents (well, my dad mostly) toyed with this ridiculous notion that I would end up marrying the son of his best friend. There was no way in Hell this was going to happen because we had nothing in common and couldn't stand each other's company. We played nice in front of our parents but there was no way we would voluntarily spent time together.
Looking at other long time family friends from my childhood, even if I didn't personally meet every single child of my parents' friends, I was made aware of them. My parents talked about their friends and their friends' kids. If photographs were sent in holiday cards, they made sure to show them to me and my brother.
So I'm finding it hard to believe that Dimples parents managed to keep Rishi and his family a complete secrete all these years.
Problem two: summer camp. The setting for this whirlwind romance is a coding camp that Dimple has fought hard to attend, has done her homework on before hand, and is basically over prepared for. While we're given the impression that teams will be decided at the whim of people running the camp, Rishi, who has no business there other than to woo Dimple, has apparently rigged it so that she and he are teamed up. There is of course a rule that no teams can be realigned or reassigned — so she's stuck with him.
Rishi by this point in the book has already stalked her twice and been basically the most creepy person ever. I would think the hosts of this camp wouldn't want a lawsuit on their hands. But whatever — I guess it doesn't occur to Dimple to do that despite the rest of her character traits in the first couple chapters.
If we give the camp team selection a romantic comedy pass, there is still the problem of the predictability of the remainder of the plot. Dimple's Facebook BFF ends up being a rich, spoiled, racist twat even though she's delightful online. Real life experience seems to have shown that people are less on guard online than they are in person — so her shit personality should have already been abundantly clear.
Facebook BFF and camp roommate also seems to have colluded with a bunch of rich white male twats to get into a "good group" just like Rishi managed to get onto Dimple's team. Apparently everyone in this camp except for Dimple has control over who gets on what team and they are all conspiring to make her life a living hell.
Now in the real world of start ups and web development, there is the problem of corporate espionage. Companies are paranoid about protecting their assets — including their code, their prototypes, etc. To make this camp mimic the real world, the organizers should have housed their teammates together. What's to stop Facebook BFF/friendemy from spying on Dimple's project or vice versa?
Again — this set up is just for dramatic lols and it's a huge hinderance to plot and character development. Basically, but going for the easy, clichéd set up, the book paints itself into a boring plot. Seriously the plot stagnates from the point where Facebook BFF/friendemy and cohorts coerce Dimple and Rishi to go out to dinner at a place that sells million dollar mac n cheese (price, not taste).