For the longest time, I have not read fiction. One sunny afternoon, I find a book that my brother shipped thinking I’d enjoy reading: The Hindi-Bindi Club by second generation Indian-American Monica Pradhan.
This book is about 3 women from India settled in the United States, and about each of their daughters. The way the book is written, each character speaks for herself.
There is Saroj Chawla from Punjab who is a great cook and runs a catering business. Her daughter is Preity, the Miss Perfect, as viewed by one and all. The other character is Meenal Deshpande who hails from Maharashtra. She is more philosophical than others and has learnt from the experiences she had to deal with. Her daughter is Kiran, a physician and a divorcee in her early thirties who comes across as smart and stubborn. And then its Uma Basu, a Bengali scholar and professor. Her daughter is Rani, a wild child growing up but now an artiste.
From the eyes of these three mothers and daughters, you get to experience their wonder years growing up, their challenges with motherhood/daughterhood in a foreign country and all the gossip of what the girls call “The Hindi-Bindi Club”. As I read on, at different points, I could identify with some, the goosebumps, the nostalgia. And above all laughed and laughed at the humor! Saroj has her roots in the cosmopolitan Lahore, a part of India before the horrifying Partition, to become a part of Pakistan. With the character, you go back to the days half a century back with the description of the beautiful city, the festivals, the cheer, the Basant (Spring) in Lahore. Its poetic. Reminded me of the old Hindi movies. Meenal represents the typical and realistic Marathi woman and her life as a girl in Mumbai. The Mumbai rains, the paper boats, the street food, the beach etc. Uma is from Kolkata – the city of so many shades and contrasts. She is an intellectual, has a tough past, how she deals with it and her triumphs, her perspective towards life- its all is very inspiring.
Then there is the second generation of the daughters and their lives and challenges. Thus, it is a seamless patchwork of old and new Bollywood movies into a spectacular melange; now who wouldn’t like that! The book is very entertaining and brings that warm and fuzzy feeling. Its one of those I didn’t want to end. I highly recommend it to women, especially women from the Indian subcontinent settled abroad. They can most identify with it. I will be surprised if no one makes a cross-over movie out of it.
The best part is, each chapter is followed by a recipe. That is a real treat in more ways than one! I actually tried out a few!
My last word: A delightful book that is a must read! 🙂