Monday 14 September 2020

The Sari Shop

Finished September 9
The Sari Shop by Rupa Bajwa

Reading this book came about because of a reading challenge that I am participating in that had a requirement to read a book that had won the Sahitya Akademi Award for English, an Indian book award. I looked through the list and chose this one, which was the winner for 2006.
I really enjoyed the story, but I was challenged by some of the terms I wasn't familiar with.
The main character is Ramchand, a young man working as a clerk in a sari shop, the Sevak Sari House, in Amritsar. We gradually learn of his past, growing up as an only child of parents who had their own small shop and lived in a room behind it. His father had ambitions for him, intending to send him to an "English medium" school so he could become more than a shop owner. Sadly, tragedy struck his family, and thus Ramchand did not attend the school his father hoped for, and is now a clerk rather than a shop owner. There are five other clerks in the store, and Ramchand is the second from the bottom in terms of hierarchy.
When one of Amritsar's elite plans her wedding, Ramchand is tasked with taking saris and other garments to her home for consideration. This experience opens him up to new ideas and new possibilities. While he has occasionally spent money on books, he now makes considered purchases, and begins to study English with dedication. He also starts thinking about things beyond his day-to-day existence. But an experience with a co-worker's family brings him back to the cold hard reality of the world he lives in and the place he is expected to take within it.
I was hopeful for his future as he started to study and open his mind to new ideas, but discouraged by how easily he lost hope.
This book definitely showed me a world that I wasn't familiar with and expanded my knowledge of India.

1 comment:

  1. Looks very promising. I love books about India or by Indian authors. Always fascinating. Thanks for the review.