Review: The Way We Were by Prajwal Hegde - Hindustan Times

Review: The Way We Were by Prajwal Hegde

ByNeha Kirpal
Nov 27, 2023 09:00 PM IST

A workplace rom-com set in Bengaluru and Mumbai, Prajwal Hegde’s second novel occasionally reads like a feel-good film script

The Way We Were by Prajwal Hegde, Tennis Editor at Times of India in Bengaluru, is a heartwarming workplace rom-com. Her first book, What’s Good About Falling (2018), was a love story featuring a tennis player and a cricketer. Clearly, the intermingling of love and career is a recurring trope in her books.

An idyllic view of the city: Bengaluru race course (Shutterstock) PREMIUM
An idyllic view of the city: Bengaluru race course (Shutterstock)

The first chapter of The Way We Were presents the backdrop for the action – a bustling news agency in Bengaluru redolent with the scent of freshly brewed morning coffee, complete with editors, reporters and photographers. 28-year-old Myra Rai, head of the features department at Morning Herald, is a prominent journalist with an enviable dating life. She is almost engaged to Dr Ravi Rao, the adopted grandson of Karnataka’s longest serving chief minister. Myra believes Ravi balances her and they are great friends too.

304pp, ₹499; Hachette
304pp, ₹499; Hachette

It is at this juncture that a ghost from her past, Andrew Brown, a headstrong political activist, returns to the city after a successful stint in the US. Set to take over as the executive editor of Morning Herald, he sends the female population of the newsroom into a frenzy. That Myra and Andrew share a complicated history makes things awkward. They were schoolmates and Andrew, who was once the hottest boy in town, was her first crush. He had also been by her side when she lost her mother in a car accident. Over the years, their relationship went through many ups and downs, and became clouded by misunderstandings and communication barriers.

When they meet again after years, the sparks begin to fly all over again. Lovers once and colleagues now, Andrew and Myra soon realise they have unfinished business between them. As she spends more time with Andrew, Myra also learns about his struggles with confusing issues of family history. And so, she finds herself at a crossroads – between an almost-fiancé and an ex-lover.

Among other things, the book is an ode to Bengaluru, and loosely traces the city’s transformation from a sleepy town to the country’s IT capital. It’s clear the author loves her city despite all its traffic and other drawbacks: “The honking taxis and swerving two wheelers, pedestrians who walked on roads and spat on pavements, the Kannadiga who’ll speak to an outsider in Hindi even if he couldn’t string two words in the language.”

A scene from Bengaluru (Savitha (ANI Photo))
A scene from Bengaluru (Savitha (ANI Photo))

The story is replete with typical scenes from the city such as Sunday evening walks at Cubbon Park and mentions of local eccentricities. Apparently, shortening names is a pastime of sorts in Bengaluru – “like picnics and board games”. While talking about the Central Business District, the city’s “intellectual compass”, she describes the collection of bookstores in its two parallel streets – the old names (Premier, Gangarams, Sapna and Higginbotham’s) and those that have sprouted more recently (Blossom, Bookworm and Bookhive) – referring to them as “therapy on rickety shelves”.

Some of Bengaluru’s neighbouring settlements are also woven into the narrative. Andrew and Myra go on a gruelling trek to Ramanagara, a town with seven hills located on the fringes of the metropolis. Later, the duo embarks on a road journey from Bengaluru to Coonoor, wherein “the mighty Nilgiris drop in a majestic sweep”. At one point, Myra also visits Mysuru – “the picture of what Bengaluru once was” – with its clean air, soft temperaments and clean surroundings.

Author Prajwal Hegde (Courtesy Hachette)
Author Prajwal Hegde (Courtesy Hachette)

After breaking up with Ravi, Myra decides to quit her job as she finds it difficult to work around Andrew. She lands a job in Mumbai, and even moves there temporarily. Besides missing Andrew and her father, Myra finds it hard to adjust to the pace of the city that stops for nobody: “Mumbai lives faster than her express trains. She’s impersonal. She has much to accomplish and little time to spare, and she doesn’t necessarily care.”

A line at the start of the book reads “If it’s love, it’s never lost…” A bit of a cheesy romance that reads like a movie script, The Way We Were will please those who love happy endings.

A freelance writer based in New Delhi, Neha Kirpal writes primarily on books, music, films, theatre and travel.

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