Tamarind Mem is a story told in two voices. Daughter Kamini, now a doctoral student in Calgary, grew up in post-colonial India. The daughter of a railway officer, the family moved frequently and young Kamini's life was clouded by her mother, nicknamed "Tamarind Mem" because of her tart and sour disposition.
Under constant pressure to perform at the strict convent schools her mother forced her to attend, she receives constant mixed messages from a very young age about needing to excel and yet not focusing on academics at the expense of finding a husband.
Her restricted social sphere is limited to her younger sister, who can do no wrong, concocting imaginative narratives about her intriguing neighbours, and limited socializing with the children at the officer's club. Her kindly father is often on the road and, faced with her harsh and contradictory mother, it is easy to envision a childhood that is lonely, frustrating, and restrictive. As an adult living in Calgary and dealing with her now-elderly mother living in India, we see little has progressed for her - her mother is as tart and contrary as ever, sending mixed messages and making Kamini feel inadequate. It is against this background that her mother announces that she is going to travel. Having spent her life being forced to move around the country as a rail officer's wife, she's decided that she is going to finally travel India on her own terms - a decision that causes her daughters no small amount of grief.
Does the book make me want to travel to India? Absolutely. You get a vivid depiction of everyday life and it is enthralling.
Does the book make me want to travel to India? Absolutely. It's depictions of post colonial India for a middle-upper-class Indian family are fascinating. The descriptions are so rich - from the savory foods, to the lush gardens, to the train carriages, to the material of the wedding saris. You get a vivid depiction of everyday life and it is enthralling. It's a pleasure to watch the author weave the picture of post colonial India from one corner of the country to the next and the drama of the central characters simply adds to the enjoyment.
Look for it at your local bookstore, or you purchase the book from my Amazon link.