Thursday, January 26, 2012

World of Words Wednesday - The Sari Shop

The Sari Shop – I loved the book in spite of the fact that it left me feeling a little defeated at the end at the futility of it all. I loved Ramchand, the main protagonist in this story – his life revolved around the sari shop and the tiny room he called home.  Ramchand’s life and his isolation from the world are very heartbreakingly depicted by Rupa Bajwa. 
He is sent to work at the Sevak Sari Shop to make do for himself by his maternal uncle after losing his parents at a young age. As a sales person in the Sari Shop, he caters to one small fragment of society – the over-indulged, the rich, bored females of the elite classes.  A series of events throw him - unassuming Ramchand - into contact with two females – one from the very elite classes and one, from among the downtrodden, ignored classes.  As he resolves to relearn English with the help of books purchased at a second-hand book shop, his learning brings in him a new-found knowledge of the social disparities around him, his own life, and a restlessness that had always been there, now magnified to do something – anything – to bring about change in the social hierarchy. As he is driven to action towards the end, there is a glimmer of hope briefly for the character, soon to be removed as he realizes the futility of his efforts and goes back to what once was – a life of monotony and nothingness.
The social hierarchy, the class divide is shown sometimes subtly with a touch of humor and sometimes cruelly in different parts of the book – by showing Ramchand’s amazement when he sees that the saris he sells are actually worn by the women in a world he did not know existed; his wonder at reading and discovering about a bird called the penguin (this reality made me so sad); his confusion at reading letters in a letter-writing book he bought to teach himself English where strange places and words are mentioned; the treatment of Kamala by her husband and by the police; the snobbish intellectualism of Mrs.Sachdeva and the empty lives of the rich housewives; the escape sought by the lower-middle class in the darkness of movie halls where for brief moments they can be in the reel-world of Bollywood.
Rupa Bajwa manages to capture the spirit of the sari shop effortlessly while letting us peek into the everyday lives of the shop salesmen and the patrons. We empathize, we cheer, we sneer, we laugh and at the same time, we can hear the rustle of the silk, the crisp cotton saris and admire the work and the beautiful colors of the saris through her descriptions. 

Rating: B+

This book goes towards the South Asian Challenge

Linking up to Three Word Wednesday (words are Bubble, Wreck, Lumber), ABC Wednesday (letter is B - for Bubble), Alphabe Thursday(letter is J - for Joy), Theme Thursday (word is balance)

Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons
She sat down - amidst the wreck - looking all around her
This was her life, was it? Everything she held dear.
Should she get up, lumber her way through?
Should she even try? What good would it do?
As she sat there, she saw a memory – a tiny scrap of paper
A list she wrote long ago, of things she would do when she grew – just a little older
A bubble of hope, of joy rose within her, grew until she could contain it no more,
Joy and hope - these two would help hold her balance should she falter and help her fight.
Joy and hope, her friends from long ago; they were still there, amidst the wreck, still shining bright!


  1. Sounds like an interesting book. Reminds me a little of The Little Chinese Seamstress, a book I loved!!

    1. Thank you - this was a good read.. I have to read 'The Little Chinese Seamstress' now...

  2. I'm forever BLOWING BUBBLES...
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    1. Thank you.. Blowing bubbles is definitely a wonderful pastime..

  3. I so agree with Anita!!! Good post!!

    1. Thank you Judie.. enjoyed writing this one as well

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks so much.... all these wonderful comments help me keep writing..

  5. That sounds like a good book that is worth reading. Lately we are hearing a lot about class warfare which is sad because we mostly pride ourselves on trying to treat everyone as equals no matter their monetary status. Maybe reading this book would be a good reminder for us as a country.

    And may there always be hope and joy for everyone. Thanks so much for sharing this with Theme Thursday's Balance. Looking forward to next week's post.

    God bless.

    1. This book definitely brought the class warfare as you mention it to the forefront..
      And I always hope for joy! and hope...

  6. The book sounds like it shows a real window into Indian life. I also really like what you wrote about joy and hope. Well expressed.

  7. Replies
    1. Thank you..for visiting and the comments

  8. Joy and hope. Sometimes the only things left at our disposal in life.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely post. The book sounds quite intriquing.

    Thank you for linking.


    1. Thank you for your lovely comments.. they definitely give me hope and joy!!


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