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In her bestselling novel Aftertaste over 5000 hardback copies sold Namita Devidayal provides a captivating account of a baniya family settled in Punjab headed by a matriarch Mummyji who is in hospital after a stroke Th. I was sceptical when I started Aftertaste Blurb said it told story of a Baniya business family of the 80 s good enough reason for me to be cautious After all this is story line of majority soap operas on Indian television today where women cooking in kitchen are dressed as if they are attending a wedding and chief goal of their lives seem to either conniving against other women of the family or seduce someone else s boyfriend or husband I could not have been wrongAftertaste tells story that is probably one among countless similar stories from India s business class families It is story of Todarmal family during early 80s India is still under Licenseraj not yet economically opened up and almost all businesses small and big are family owned Only family members are ualified to run the business there is no professional organisation structure and family matriarch and patriarch hold the key to every decision All business families are closely knit yet there are suabbles among siblings rivalry to gain upper hand in business and most importantly an unspoken but distinctly visible tussle to corner family wealth This is a typical Indian joint family drama that has transpired since time immemorial from Mahabharata to Mughal war of successionMummyji the matriarch of Todarmal family has ruled the family and business like an undisputed emperor Her four children though independent in their own sense are still tied to her by an invisible thread of family business and wealth Like a master puppeteer Mummyji pulls these strings goading bribing and manipulating her children all for the sake of family However Mummyji is now comatose after heart attack and the rivalry among her children is about to come out in openThis could have been a melodrama with known twists and turns and stereotype characters But Namita Devidayal has scored with her restrained portrayal of a dysfunctional family The book takes us through small incidents that shaped up four Todarmal children Rajan Sunny Suman and Saroj Business always played a major part in their life Family ups and down that came with business moulded their insecurities Author has done justice to each character Each chapter gives us a peek into a character s mind outlining his or her rationale for pursuing family wealth and thereby wishing Mummyji s deathI especially liked the climax It would have been very tempting to provide easy solutions to all family problems with And then they lived together happily ever after type of ending But Devidayal has finished the book on a note of cautious hope Yes the problems are still there but the siblings have started to find their own footing Saroj is looking forward to meeting her estranged husband Sunny and Jassu will probably give second chance to their difficult marriage Rajan and Sunny are thinking about overcoming their differences and Suman is no longer maniacally pursuing Mummyji s JewelsI think non Indian readers will enjoy this book If you are looking for fast easy read set in old times try Aftertaste

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Aftertaste

E Todarmal family glued together by money not love includes the weak and emasculated Rajan Papa who is desperately in need of cash; Sunny the dynamic head of the business with an ugly marriage and a demanding mistress;. Reading a second book by an author is much like watching a movie seuel the reader s expectation is a greater barrier for the author to scale than merely a plot or a narrative Namita Devidayal s first book The Music Room a memoir with a twist featuring the life and times of her music teacher as the centerpiece was a wonderful debut for this journalistLike the earlier book Aftertaste also has a central theme not music but something primal food Specifically the heavenly mithai that the matriarch of the Todarmal family has converted into a thriving business Mummyji as the powerful old woman is known is in the hospital suffering from a stroke from which she is not expected to recover The book chronicles the effect of this event on the condition of her four grown children and the impact her impending death has on the family dynamicsThe narration moves back and forth between the days prior to Mummyji s stroke in the lives of Rajan Papa the oldest son who is in a financial crunch which his doting mother is aware of but does nothing to alleviate Suman the once beautiful elder daughter who preaches spirituality and detachment but is firmly entrenched in the material world Saroj the unfortunate dark skinned younger daughter struggling with her personal tragedy compounded by Mummyji s tyranny and Sunny the youngest spoilt son who is juggling an extra marital affair while dealing with business problemsThrough the lives of one family the book shows the obsession of business families with money and its constant pursuit which becomes an end in itself even as the family ties chafe under the eternal pressure to maintain wealth and importantly social standing Mummyji transforms the sagging fortunes of her husband by using her skill at making mithais and as she traverses the traditional barriers she picks up the family honor and the power that accompanies her actions A strategy of bribing her kids either with food or money leaves a devastating trail in the dysfunctional family spelling doom even for the next generationThe story is fairly interesting but the author s use of similes and metaphors about food leave a bad taste Instead of the gentle show not tell style of the Music Room there is judgment and justification for each character s action an analysis of events from the author s point of view about the reason the characters behave the way they do While a few loose ends are tied up at the end it was heartening to see the surprise unresolved piece which is apparent but invisible to the ones who clamor for itI was reminded of a similar family saga Home by Manju Kapoor which focused on the lives of three generations of a business family that settles in Delhi after the partition Both books read like polished versions of the family soaps popular among TV viewers Perhaps it is in this element that as a serious reader I am disappointed

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Suman the spoilt and greedy beauty of the family who is determined to get her hands on Mummyji’s best jewels; and Saroj Suman’s unlucky sister who has always lived in her shadow Each one of them wants Mummyji to d. Read this and my reviews of many many many other books on my blog at Feminist uillWordpress I start off by saying that I cannot believe this book has a average Goodreads rating of below 3 when SO MANY terrible books are rated 4 and 5 out of 5 starsPlot Description The powerful matriarch of a wealthy business family they sell sweets has suffered a str0ke and lies dying Aftertaste is the story of how her children and her children in law deal with her impending death while also fending off personal troubles of their own In addition to metaphorical interpretations the title also directly refers to the theme of Indian sweets that runs through the book in the form of the Todarmal s businessThe one word I d use to describe this book is stark Stark as in stark reality Stark as in stark truth Stark as in stark naked Note This has nothing to do with the well known and generally unfortunate House of Stark located at Winterfell Mummyji is what she s called and that term itself is SO typically Indian of the way we ve managed to blend English customs with customs of our own from all over the country So far she d run the family business with an iron fist and an eagle eye on the accounts They ve zillions of rupees stashed away in a Swiss bank account the details of which are known only to Mummyji Then there s also the matter of Mummyji s extremely valuable jewels emeralds or diamonds or something I forget exactly which These too have been suirreled away with none of the children the wiser to their locationMummyji clearly doesn t trust her kids and with good reason because as it turns out they ve kind of been waiting for her to die for uite a while now Each of them for their own personal reasons her eldest son Rajan Papa is in debt to a local money lender Her daughter the beautiful yet indifferently married Suman seems hell bent on finding those jewels or die trying Her other son Sunny the spoilt brat who s cheating on his wife and her youngest daughter Saroj who s been estranged from her husband under the weirdest circumstances ever they all need money from her for some reason or the otherMummyji herself is no saint and as the story progresses she s revealed to be a master manipulator and the ultimate controlling parent determined to keep her kids tied to her apron strings way after they ve grown up gotten married and in some cases had children of their ownThe story explores numerous sub plots as it switches between narrators including side characters like the largely overlooked and invisible servants of the house Sunny s young mistress and one of Mummyji s grandchildren who s struggling with issues related to his less than heteronormative sexuality Not many of these sub plots if any at all are boring or annoying Rather than distracting the reader from the main narrative which is my main gripe with many multiple narrator stories the subplots combine to make a perfect wholeWhat you end up with is a lazy comfortable Sunday afternoon read that doesn t pretend to you that life is any less difficult messy ugly or complicated than it really is but makes you feel like maybe you can deal with it all the sameAs long as you take it slow and relaxed like the pace of this book itselfPS I haven t done a very feminist critiue of this book because it represents than half the types of uintessential Indian women you can ever come across Reviewing it from a feminist perspective is going to reuire a scholarly article on Indian Feminism no less


10 thoughts on “Aftertaste

  1. says:

    She rules the Mithai Shop She rules the House Enjoy it with Bournvita Barfi

  2. says:

    25 Not bad I did finish it but there's not much too this novel either The writing is fine but there's little story or characterization here I did like the look at Indian culture and family dynamics especially celebrations and rituals but without that aspect I wouldn't have bothered

  3. says:

    I was sceptical when I started Aftertaste Blurb said it told story of a Baniya business family of the 80’s – good enough reason for me to be cautious After all this is story line of majority soap operas on Indian television today where women cooking in kitchen are dressed as if they are attending a wedding a

  4. says:

    Year 1984 Mummyji the matriarch of the famous Mithai business family of Bombay lies comatose at Bombay Hospital The least that is expected from her family is prayers but each of them are counting on her to die as they have a lot to gain with her death Rajan Papa her eldest son is buried under a big debt and in n

  5. says:

    Sometimes a book gives you a very uniue experience and this book surely stands a testimonial to that I can never forget it but for the most weird reason of course – a huge craving for sweet and not any sweet but Bournvita Burfi A generation which has grown up on regular dose of morning evening glass of milk can never thank the availabilit

  6. says:

    Reading a second book by an author is much like watching a movie seuel the reader's expectation is a greater barrier for the author to scale than merely a plot or a narrative Namita Devidayal's first book The Music Room a memoir with a twist featuring the life and times of her music teacher as the centerpiece was a wonderful debut for this journalistLike the earlier book Aftertaste also has a central theme n

  7. says:

    A well formed family drama with memorable characters I was looking for an easy holiday read that would get me back into finishing novels and this one fit the bill perfectly Devidayal weaves an engrossing narrativ

  8. says:

    Read this and my reviews of many many many other books on my blog at Feminist uillWordpress I start off by saying that I cannot believe this book has a average Goodreads rating of below 3 when SO MANY terrible books are rated 4 and 5 out of 5 stars?Plot Description The powerful matriarch of a wealthy business family they sell sweets has suffered a str0ke and lies dying Aftertaste is the story of how her children and h

  9. says:

    As the name goes the book also lingers on the mind for uite some time A very strong point of the book is the portrait of each character Every character is uniue and different from each other and has been portrayed through the words very very effectivelyAftertaste is a story of a big joint business family settled in Mumbai The perio

  10. says:

    The initial impression of ‘Aftertaste’ – the title coupled with the cover seemed promising But later when I browsed through the