Today on my blog I welcome Sunita Rajwade as a guest blogger. I had been corresponding with Sunita since her interesting posts on Textiles for the AtoZ challenge a few years back. I had the good fortune to meet her in person in 2018 and the friendship has became stronger and warmer since.
She is a Mumbai based granny who is also an avid blogger, a lapsed bibliophile, and an accidental cook who has a finger in every pie. Sunita has a deep interest in history and politics, loves travelling, capturing the world around her through photographs, enjoys listening to the radio and having a good conversation with friends.
She has decided to review Milk Teeth by Amrita Mahale for us today and this one is quite an interesting one.
Title: Milk Teeth
Genre: Indian Fiction
Publication: Westland Publications
Author: Amrita Mahale
You can take a person out of Bombay but you can’t take Bombay out of the person. This is quite apparent in Amrita Mahale’s “Milk Teeth”, her debut novel long listed for the JCB prize for Literature 2019. Bombay is a city that is hard to get out of one’s system and one can easily relate to nostalgia and the pull of the city that the author must have felt during her stint abroad.
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The residents of Asha Nivas, a tenanted property in the leafy Matunga suburb ,are facing a problem that confront many Mumbaikars. With rents the way they are, Mumbai landlords are loathe to maintain their property leaving their tenants no choice but to live in dilapidated buildings. In such a scenario, a re-development scheme is often the best solution one most landlords and tenants are amenable too. But not all the residents of Asha Nivas are willing to accept this offer. Particularly the Kamats whose daughter Ira is one of the protagonists of this story.
A threatening call to Mrs. Desai’s one afternoon is the stimulus for a Society meeting to discuss the re-development of the building. The middle class tenants are a mix of Saraswats, Gujeratis and South Indians, the typical demographic of the neighbourhood. The Kinis, whose son Kartik was Ira’s childhood buddy, are all for development.
Working on this platform, Amrita Mahale captures the different cultural and social changes in the fabric of the city where “Old money whispers and new money shouts”. It boldly addresses social mores that are no longer taboo in a forward looking middle class India such as live-in relationships.
A series of flashbacks, effectively track the turbulent relationship of the two protagonists who are once again thrust back together. But after a gap of several years, both Ira and Kartik are far removed from their childhood milieu. Ira is a reporter covering the Municipal Corporation and its politics while Kartik is working as a ‘consultant’ in an MNC that has an office in a suite in a swanky South Bombay hotel. Will the two re-discover their camaraderie?
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Lasting Impression on me:
Milk Teeth would definitely appeal to Mumbaikars and indeed all city dwellers whose cities are at the cross roads of change. For many people metamorphosis doesn’t always yield a beautiful butterfly, but no matter how great the resistance, change is inevitable.
Reading this book at a time of year when the whole country seemed to be engulfed in some kind of conflict and conflagration, this book was a delightful read. Written In a style that truly reflects the gentility of an era gone by, this book was perfect to end the year with.
It is also perfect to begin the year with. Actually, it is perfect when you are looking for a story that is simply told – like an onion which is peeled one layer at a time without any of the tears.
My rating is 3/5 stars for this book.
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