Return to India by Shoba Narayan

16029866I heard Shoba Narayan talk about her book in an interview on the radio. She mentioned how she missed the security of her extended family in India during her daughters’ growing up years in the US. That is when I decided to buy this book.

In this memoir, Shoba Narayan talks about her dream to get to America, away from people who know her. She describes her various experiences in the process: while obtaining a visa, her conversation with her grandfather before she leaves, her shopping trip in Chennai, her parents’ unwillingness to send her, getting the dollars for her trip, the life of her fellow Indian students who also travel to America at the same time as her.

She mentions about her traditional wedding in India (she has described it in her previous memoir- Monsoon Diary) and her registered marriage in the US to enable her to obtain a Marriage Certificate so that she could apply for a green card. Her adjusting to a married life, applying for a green card so that she could work, throwing the green card with the trash and then rummaging through the dumpster to look for the green card is very nicely and sweetly described. I could actually picturise it. She mentions about the birth of her first daughter, naming her daughter and her life in New York with a small child.

Her thoughts start changing after her daughter is born. Her mention about the lengths at which she goes to make her daughter learn the Indian values is very natural, her group, Saregama, with fellow Indian mothers to teach the children bhajans, her daughter’s interview for the Indian camp, how she drags her family to the temple, wears a sari for the whole day for a month and so on. She feels that the influence of mixed cultures might not be good for her daughter.

When she realizes that many of her fellow Indians are moving back to India, she starts thinking about it. Her husband is opposed to the idea. She writes about their discussions, disagreements and their agreements. Slowly, things start falling into place and they move back to India after living in the US for about 20 years.

Overall, an interesting read.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Rupa

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The Other Side of the table by Madhumita Mukherjee

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The Other Side of the Table by Madhumita Mukherjee is a very well written book. She really weaves the story through a series of letters between two friends in which we start connecting with the characters, Uma and Abhi. Uma is in Calcutta studying to be a doctor and Abhi is training to be a neurosurgeon in London. The letters reveal a deep friendship where both the characters freely express themselves. They share their secrets with one another and seek each others advice on a lot of things both professional and personal. Uma mentions her family off and on, showing that she is very close to them but Abhi’s family is mentioned fleetingly.

As you read the back cover, you feel that it is a love story, but this story is about friendship. The last line on the cover,”Letters with a story you would never expect”, is very apt.

Overall, a very pleasant and readable book.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Fingerprint

Mrs Ali’s Road to Happiness by Farahad Zama

Mrs Ali’s Road to Happiness is the fourth book in the Series by Farahad Zama. I chanced upon this book while browsing through more books by the author.

Mr Ali is still upset with his son not doing a proper job and Mrs Ali is the protective mother. This book also reflects on the stronger side of the timid Mrs Ali, the way she holds a firm stand against the electric meter reader; supports her husband against her brother and protects Pari from the fundamentalists is commendable. Mr Ali’s plans to save Vasu and Pari and to help Mr Reddy, his client show his sensibility and maturity.

Pari’s views about bringing up her adopted son, Vasu, are modern and very positive. Her firm belief that the child should follow his birth parents religion makes the new Imam boycott the family. With the support of the Alis and her friends, she stays firm and strong even during the religious tension.

Many parts of this book are very realistic like the electric meter reader trying to make a fast buck, Faiz trying to show off in front of her inlaws, a typical Indian marriage, a traditional joint family, a project to widen the road, neighbours interfering in people’s lives, fundamentalists trying to force their religion on Vasu and elections.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Abacus

The Wedding Wallah by Farahad Zama

The Wedding Wallah by Farahad Zama

Mr Ali’s “Marriage Bureau for the Rich People” is doing good business and he has clients from far and near. Mrs Ali’s has a very true to life relationship with her neighbours. Rehman falls in love with Usha, his journalist friend.

Pari has adopted a little boy, Vasu and is now working full time at a call centre. She is lives opposite the Ali household. She receives a proposal from a rich, handsome man, Dilawar, whose family is desperate for him to marry her. He is also being pushed by his mother to marry her.

Aruna is still working with Mr Ali, is happily married and planning to go on a vacation with her husband. On a family errand to a village, they meet Rehman and Dilawar.

Though, this book still has its roots in Vizag, it reflects on the modern side of India- Call Centres, homosexuality, McDonalds, Cosmopolitan Mumbai, Maoist insurgency and single motherhood. The naxalite part of the story gave me goosebumps.

Overall, an enjoyable read.

Book Source: Bought

Publisher: Abacus