Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s One amazing thing can be summed up in one word: Amazing.
It is 3 P.M., there are nine people in the visa office in the basement of the Indian Consulate in the United States. Uma Sinha, a girl of Indian origin, whose parents moved to the US when she was a little girl, have now moved back to India and want her to visit India. She is here to get a Visa to travel to India to visit her parents for six weeks during the winter break. There is an old Chinese-Indian lady, Jiang, accompanied by her teenaged granddaughter Lily, and the two are fighting inhushed tones. Then there are Mr and Mrs Pritchett, an affluent looking couple of Caucasian origin. Cameron is a lanky African-American, in his fifties, with a shaved head, an ex US armyman. Tariq is a 25 year old Indian, with a beard and dark glasses. Malathi, from Coimbatore is the Costumer Services staff at the Visa Office and Mr VKS Mangalam is the Visa Officer.
Suddenly, there is an earthquake, and the building crumbles. Uma breaks a hand, Jiang gets a deep cut, the water starts seeping, the phones don’t work and with no sign of help, they are trapped in the building. The stress builds up and to keep everybody occupied, Uma suggests that they each tell a story; with the condition that there would be no interruptions, no questions and no recriminations especially by family members.
Jiang goes first, talking about her childhood, youth and marriage in Calcutta, India and how she moved to the US and started her chain of stores. Mr Pritchett’s story about his childhood (it was very touching, I was crying while reading it) and Malathi’s story was about her bravest act in Coimbatore. Then Tariq speaks about his family and their life post 9/11 and his friend Ali. Lily, the little one about her childhood, her brother Mark, her music lessons and the efforts she made to get noticed by her family. Cameron talks about his younger days and why he wants to go to India and Mrs Pritchett talks about her reason to go to India. Mr Mangalam talks about his family and how he wanted to be rich and Uma, about her college days.
I enjoyed the characters and their stories and couldn’t keep the book down and when I reached the end, I was disappointed that there is a big question mark about the rescue. A sequel would be more than welcome.
Book Source: Bought