22 April, 2012

The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa


Perfect on those long summer afternoons. 

I really enjoy fiction based in India. It is always interesting to watch an author weave a tale against the backdrop of familiar landscapes. Chaiwallas and dust, matrimony obssessed women and fans that whirr irrespective of which way you turn the regulator, summer heat and Lifebouy soap. Rupa Bajwa won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for this one; a simple story of Ramchand the sari seller in the city of Amritsar (which like every other major city in India has the 'old' areas of narrow lanes and the newer parts with broad roads and fancy houses). The narration charts his efforts to realise a dream and step into a world far removed from his, where people speak in English and travel in air conditioned cars. However, the crushing revelations of the reality he belongs to, send him spiralling into an abyss of depression. As the story allows Ramchand to crawl back to sanity, Rupa Bajwa deftly narrates his resigned acceptance of the reality of his existence.

Here is a review with a spoiler. Ha don't you just love those?


11 comments:

  1. Is there any other kind of fiction?

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    Replies
    1. A vicarious experience one cannot relate to. Sounds splendid.

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    2. The brilliance of a good author is being able to write a book in a different context and yet appeal to various readers. I'm talking of such fiction. [E.g. what I said about Goethe and the Sorrows of Young Werther, a few posts back].

      PS: Why the cynical tone? Or am I overreading?

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  2. No. I am overreacting. Or maybe I just detest vicarious experiences.

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    Replies
    1. Vicarious. Now you're overusing the word darling.

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    2. http://helterskelter.in/2011/06/the-vicarious-lover/
      saala. ek aur jagah

      koi bhi ab kisi ko bhi 'fetid' use karne se na rokega, na tokega

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  3. From-blog-UK11:05 am

    Interesting. When I used to read a bit more fiction (esp short stories), I liked a lot of stuff by Indian authors. I especially remember Jhumpa Lahiri's stuff, even though it was based in US, it drew on a lot of Indian traditions still followed by people who move to US and how it does/doesn't flow through to next generations. Have you read any of her books?

    p.s. Often, the comments conversations on your blog are as interesting/intriguing as the blog itself :P :)

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  4. I've read Interpreter of Maladies which was a nice collection of short stories. And watched The Namesake (doesn't amount to reading the book I know, but what a marvellous story!).

    PS: You always say that about the comments. I think Saransh's entry into the comments section automatically promises some interesting/intriguing bits : )

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  5. Finally someone else who's read this book. I read it years ago - never found someone else who's even heard of Rupa Bajwa. Good one. :)

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    Replies
    1. :) I know Lipi! Same here.

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