We normally meet the 3rd Saturday of the month but I have a conflict (April School Break) so am scheduling this two weeks early. The main character is South Indian so let’s try Minerva in Norwood. I hear it gets crowded so let’s aim for 11:50am and be sure to get seated when they open at 12:00. NEW LOCATION -- SINGH'S CAFE
Approximate cost: $14-18 (includes lunch, tax, tip, and $1 to support the meetup). May be a little less depending on location. Additional cost for anything you add from the menu (breads, beverages, chai).
In Beautiful Disguises by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
In Beautiful Disguises tells the story of a sixteen-year-old girl living in a small town in South India. Life is not easy, especially when she's been blessed with a family that includes a brother who watches TV as an occupation; a father who drinks and regularly bullies his family in alcoholic rage; and a silent, all-suffering mother. Insulated by her dreams of becoming Audrey Hepburn (and daily trips to the local cinema), she observes her family with critical detachment. But her inner world begins to crumble when the inevitable marriage is arranged for her and she runs away to Delhi to work as a maid. There, she falls in with the misfit members of her new household; Raju, the servant with the heart of a revolutionary, Maneka the maid who mysteriously disappears every night, and the seductive but arrogant Armand. But even as she embraces this brave new world she realizes that she can't run forever.
Balasubramanyam writes with an effortless air and a strong sense of mischief, but this lightness is shot through with intelligence and a compassion for human frailty. He has created an unforgettable heroine--childlike but determined, naïve yet shrewd--whose delightful voice resonates through the book.
Rajeev Balasubramanyam was born in 1974 in Lancashire, and originates from Southern India. Rajeev Balasubramanyam has said that he set his debut novel in India not as a way of connecting with his Indian roots, but as a way of detaching himself from his own complex ideological relationship towards Britain and race.
Tara’s comment: We typically read authors born in India but I thought the story was intriguing and made an exception.