Skip to main content

The Cambridge Curry Club - Saumya Balsari

I have always been in awe of Oxford and Cambridge as they are home to universities that define the pinnacle of academic success. To have one of these University ‘towns’ depicted in a book by an Indian author was extremely inviting especially during my first year of having moved to the UK as a University student.

Saumya Balsari’s depiction of Cambridge is vivid in imagery and the opening line of the book, “The sly October wind tore through Cambridge, boldly lifting the prim skirt of the Junior Bursar as her court shoes, indignant at a male colleague’s promotion, clicked briskly through a college archway to meet the waiting porters and bedmakers” is evidence enough.

The book revolves around a charity shop called India Need located on a popular street in Cambridge called Mill Road. The characters consist of three South Asian women with their unique personalities and an Irish lady, all of whom work at India Need. The charity shop is owned by an English woman named Lady Di by the staff and she remains elusive throughout the book. Whatever we know of Lady Di is through the perceptions of her staff and I wish I could have seen more of an interaction between her and them!  The visitors to the charity shop are quirky in their own way and a couple of them remind you of simpler times and prod you to consider that just maybe, life is a journey and not a race to reach your destination.

Personally, I felt that the book left much to be desired and I say this because I felt let down by the under developed story line and plot. The fact that the characterisation was so strong and the feeling that the plot didn’t do justice to that effort was disappointing. Having said that, I would recommend this book if you want to get a glimpse into Cambridge, the running of a charity shop and most importantly the characters that add colour to this otherwise sober English ‘town’ known for producing scholars and world leaders.


Popular posts from this blog

Sab Moha Maya Hai - For The Sake of Valentine's Day!

14th February, Valentine’s Day. A day we are told we must “celebrate” as it epitomises this wonderful emotion that we as humans are capable of – Love.

“So, what are your plans for the day?” I was asked this question about a million times today and all I said was “Oh! I don’t know, I’m very unromantic!” to which I got responses like “But it’s the day of love” or “Come on! you need to celebrate love!” and so on. Having reflected upon this small talk that people often engage in to ease the awkward silences, I felt the need to put my thoughts to paper about the difference between romance and love as I find the two are often confused- one for the other. Romance is an expression of love, not love itself. Love is when you consistently strive for the wellbeing of another despite it causing you discomfort or pain. It is unconditional, not based on trivialities like tokens of affection which have sadly come to become measures of the extent of love. If you buy me a cake, you love me 30%, a design…

Flesh and Bone and Water - Luiza Sauma

I was delighted to receive this book for review from Penguin UK. Having grown up with memories of the Penguin logo in almost every bookshop I visited, it felt wonderful to be recognised as a reviewer by this world renowned publishing house. 'Flesh and Bone and Water' has nothing to do with South Asia. However, the commonality it shares with the region is that it is set in Brazil, a place that is often referred to as also being part of the 'third world' group of nations. "It's easy to leave a place when you're young. Coming back is harder. That's my advice : stay where you are." And so begins this beautiful novel which I would term as part coming of age and part an immigrant's journey from Brazil to Londres (London). More importantly why does the protagonist Andre venture back on a journey to his childhood home? The author Luiza Sauma has very poignantly narrated the story in first person so it feels like Andre is telling you his own story. You…

Serving Crazy With Curry - Amulya Malladi

Food! - That wonderful part of our existence that not only plays the essential role of providing daily sustenance but is also an archetype of culture and tradition. For me, food is a meaningful catalyst to creating unforgettable memories and associations. There are certain foods that I associate with certain events or significant people in my life. I also seek comfort in food be it a hot bowl of dal rice after a hard day at work or a sneaky piece of chocolate as a reward for achieving something (Yes, I do apply the principles of behavioural psychology to my own life!)
I first came across Amulya Malladi’s books in London’s local libraries. I was impressed that her books are well stocked which is an indication of their popularity. I read a couple of these books and soon found out the reason for this. Two words – Writing and Characters! Her writing is immensely engaging and her characters threaten to come alive page by page. This certainly applies to ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’.
Devi, our …