Simply put, Shoba Narayan’s Monsoon Diary reads like a blog. Especially for all us bloggers who love to hop skip and peek into each other’s lives laughing at follies and empathizing with our faux-pas’ , enjoying the memories stretching from food, to dressing, to parents, to colleges and then beyond as adults.
Her writings are peppered with some basic recipes. Comfort-food recipes, strongly rooted in South Indian menus and just reading through the simple menus makes your tongue water. Makes you want to keep the book aside, rush to the kitchen, start the stove making it and relishing the food as you then continue on with her tale. She makes us part of her tale. Almost like a grand mom handing morsels into cupped hands as they tell us a story. Not that she sounds like one, not at all. There is an underlying humor and wit in the words and her style. There are times when you can’t help but giggle and laugh out loud when you see yourself in her shoes. I suspect it’s very hard for any woman/girl of Indian origin to not find at least a part of her life cross Shoba’s.
You’d enjoy the book:
1. If you are a Tam Bram, or one or the either. Knowing one or the either more than qualifies it as well.
2. If you’ve been raised in the south [of India, that is].
3. If you are a woman, mid-30’s and have grown up during the time when India and the conservatives were still struggling to let girls fly coop. The frustrations of being shackled and the parents dilemma in wanting to satisfy the daughter, yet the fear of the unknown holding them back is more more than palpable without any drama or histrionics.
4. If you love food and look at its preparation and the art and the science of it as a chemistry, and as a fulfilling experience.
5. Growing up, if you rather preferred the company of boys, played cricket and climbed trees than indulged in girly games.
6. If you’ve had dreams of making it out to the US and striking it on your own.
7. If you did manage to come out here as a student and struggled through some questions, simple and complicated and adjusted ultimately to the lifestyle that America’s offered you.
8. If you sat through an arranged marriage scene and wished the guy’s folks could say ‘yes’ so you could say ‘no’ just to hold onto a semblance of pride.
9. If the terms Elliots beach, WCC, Mambalam ring a bell.
10. If you like reading personal blogs. :–)
There’s more, but letting the reader discover the nuances is what a book like Monsoon Diary is all about. It’s personal.
I believe I qualifed almost all the pre-reqs, bar one, or rather half of one.