In the early hours of 20 August 1968, the morning of his son’s departure, Prem Kumar Patel succumbed to a luxury he had never, in all his forty-seven years of living, experienced before: he had a dream.
And with such magnificence the story of Patel-Joneses begins in Madras (Chennai formerly as). The story is rather simple: About a mixed-up love between two people, one a Gujarati and the other a Welsh girl. Both belonging to different worlds and different ideas, till they merge.
Babo, who travels to London for further education, leaving his family behind in Madras and Sian who flees her small Welsh village to come to London to work. The saga has only begun. With colourful characters such as Sian’s parents and Babo’s Ba, the novel kickstarts and preaches one constant throughout: Love. Love that brings Sian all the way from London to India to get married and have kids and find home at last, and yet continue searching throughout the book to find a place – their own speacial place. To Babo who seeks his unique identity amidst the chaos and the business of being a family man, and to their children, Mayuri and Bean who struggle also to call a place home.
I have loved reading this book. More so because of the brilliant writing and use of language which is seamless. The terms used such as, “shabang shibing” and the bursts of poetry (since Ms. Doshi is first a poet) reminded me of a favourite song sung in a different language which I could fathom with ease.
My perosonal most favourite character in the book is Ba – the magical grandmother who can smell her family members from miles away (they all smell like spices) and takes a heartfelt interest in her children’s lives. There are blue peacocks and red lizards and then this tapestry of emotions that pull you away. At least they did for me. I loved Ms. Doshi’s prose and the story grew on me.
Beneath the layer of the narrative, there is the question of identity and which place is called home. The children – a result of a union of two different people, from different religions, races, cultures and countries. The country goes on with its life and historic incidents like Indira Gandhi’s assassination, the Gujrat earthquake, the Bhopal gas tragedy and their lives go on, intertwined with each other.
Prose becomes poetry. Savour this work of brilliance.
Published by Bloomsbury, The Penguin Book Group, Available at all leading book stores, Rs. 499/-