In his first novel, Harp, Nidhi Dalmia, takes his reader to the late 60’s. Ashok, an Indian guy is raised to follow his father’s path in managing a Dehli dairy corporation. Ashok has favored the chance to be trained at and exposed to dairy businesses throughout the world. Compared to the then developing third world country of India, Ashok imagines the West to be a magical place. There’s so much music, films, books, thinking, movements coming from there. The West, especially Europe is the place where things are happening.
Harp follows Ashok in his coming of age, understanding management principles and yearning for love. Having met and dated several girls in Europe, he ends up with the Polish Lauren for whom music is the ultimate calling. To add to the complexity there’s Arapna, an Indian girl also thinking of Ashok as the ideal husband, but trading India for the U.S. Harp blends the love for music, literature, the clash of generations, value of work and love, and personal identity, set in the late 60’s, early 70’s of the 20th century.
Will tradition win, and Arapna and Ashok finish the novel as love couple? Will Lauren and Ashok overcome their resistance to leaving their home turf, sacrifice for love and end up either in Poland, India or somewhere in between as compromise? Or is Harp a tragedy with an abundance of fatalism and naturalism with only losers in the end?
Dalmia has put a lot of couleur locale in this novel using expressions in several languages (a glossary is included), lyrics from songs belonging to the era. The author repeats himself often, and at times it’s not at all clear whether the story’s still in the 60’s or 70’s, since time lapses are made to the 80’s or even more contemporary situations. Mentioning management principles or techniques without explanation is another weak point in the book. Not all readers will be familiar with JIT, SWOT, and TQM. Despite these remarks, I was hooked to the end and praise Dalmia for the harmony looked after in Harp.
About the author
Nidhi Dalmia is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College in Delhi and pursued his post-graduate education at Oxford University. Thereafter, he graduated from the Sorbonne and Management education at Harvard Business School. Born into one of India’s oldest industrialist families, he was brought up surrounded by a business and industry culture since childhood. However, it is the spiritual environment prevalent in his home, where Vedas, Upanishads were a part of his home schooling, that Nidhi most cherishes.
A member of several prestigious professional bodies, Nidhi has received extensive professional training across the world. His professional life exposed him to diverse business responsibilities, especially in the manufacturing sector.
He is a sports enthusiast — from tennis, swimming to chess. Nidhi also traveling Western pop music, Indian and Western classical music and playing the piano. He divides his time between Delhi and Paris.
The author provided me a free review copy in exchange for my personal, unbiased review upon reading.