Set in India, this is the story of two people and their extended family, who in midlife have a dramatic change to their world. The language used by the author reflects beautifully, the thoughts and emotions experienced by the characters. Speaking of the main character’s mother, Diksha says, “Once a week they went out for dinner, and Mr Jha’s mother would dress in the latest fashion of the town and push her feet into sandals with high heels and stiff straps that made her ankles bleed and she loved it.” This gently flowing language explains and sets the tone of the story.
Mr Jha is the main character. He began a website some years previously, and developed and built it up. Now an international company has bought the site for millions of dollars. Mr and Mrs Jha have always lived with their son Rupak in a housing complex, where they watched Rupak grow up and also watched their neighbours wash, iron, cook and argue. Windows were never closed and the close proximity of each apartment meant there was little privacy. This is the way they have always lived, and now Rupak is going to study overseas, Mr Jha has decided it is time for he and his wife to move. Not to another country or city, but to the elite side of Delhi, where each house is isolated and the silence is overwhelming.
The humour in the tale comes from the way the husband and wife gradually adapt to their new way of life, and the old habits which still persist. Mr Jha notices that even though they have a bidet now, Mrs Jha still keeps her mug in the bathroom…. The neighbours are a mystery to Mr Jha, who wonders if he should get a pool because the other houses in the street have one. The lounge that he has specially imported from Japan with Swarovski crystals embedded in it is very impressive, but rather uncomfortable to sit on.
As time passes, Mr and Mrs Jha gradually adapt to the new neighbourhood and the exclusive club. They begin to see the nasty, insincere people who are shallow and needy, and realize they have a wonderful relationship, and a greater degree of groundedness which will always serve them well.
Now they have recovered from the shock of absolute wealth and the idiotic way it makes some people behave, they are determined to find contentment and fulfilment in their lives. This is a gentle story and a delightful reflection on custom and culture from another country.