It’s All About Smiles is just that: it leaves you with a grin and gives you a feel-good takeaway the moment you put the book down. Right from the cover to all the nuances of the book, you can tell that Ranjani Iyer Arumugam’s ability to tell a story is not encumbered by any pretentions, but rather, is an inherent ability.
A loosely autobiographical rendition of the funny and poignant side to dentistry, the book traces the trials and tribulations of a young protagonist, Aditi Raman. At the very outset, you begin the book already knowing Aditi. She is your average girl-next-door, with a simple love for life, and enjoys the idea of clean and good fun. Reverent to humour and irreverent to everything else, and a lover of life, warts and all, Aditi is the perfect example of the urban desi girl. She makes a choice at med school to pick dentistry over medicine because medicine is too serious to deal with, and as she views it, life is all about being light-hearted and enjoyable. The unassuming girl makes a trip to Chennai from Goa in the hope of pursuing a career of her choice, as she sets out for the first step: dentistry school.
While not only opening the floodgates to the future profession, this shift also takes Aditi on a crazy journey as she discovers a completely different culture. Coming from Goa where dresses go shorter than the lab-coat, to a universe where the saree is a major must-have, Aditi chances upon a side of her life that is altruistic and compassionate. She meets a crazy girl, Indu, who would be her best friend for life since. A crazy, whacked out and absolutely funny girl, Indu is Aditi’s anchor amidst a culture shock. Enter Nick: the man who would charm the pants off Aditi, while also making her terribly angry sometimes. The book traces Aditi’s sojourn at dentistry school, and the narrative is peppered with beautifully essayed episodes of humour, poignancy, tear-jerking lump-in-the-throat moments as each patient she meets brings forth a cache of experiences with them.
The book comes in with its own slew of cartoons and hand drawn caricatures that offer a graphic interlude to the reader. It’s All About Smiles is a great read for anyone: irrespective of what your literary choices maybe. A light-hearted, quick paced and simple book, there is something in it for everyone. What sets Ranjani Iyer’s book apart from the rest of the crowd is her sweet narrative style, and the talent of presenting insider knowledge without coming across as “uppity.”