The first book I read of the author Devapriya Roy is “Friends from College”. I loved the story and her writing style so much that I wanted to read more of her books. And so ended up ordering from Amazon her second book “The Weight Loss Club”.
The colourful artwork on the book’s cover is more than enough to jumpstart you to dig into the book right away. Just the first chapter and I am totally in hook, line and sinker.
The setting is Calcutta (or Kolkata) and in true Bengali style, the opening paragraph of the first chapter starts with food – “Subtly delicious, like creamy sandesh flavoured with cinnamon and dusted with pistachios.” I have never eaten sandesh and from what I read it sounds divine😘; for that matter anything with cinnamon and pista can set my mouth-watering😋. And this is just the beginning.
The story, just as the title suggests is about the inhabitants of an apartment complex called the Nancy Housing Cooperative. Ordinary folks you can relate to; but when the author describes their routines and thoughts, they begin to sound delightfully entertaining and fun. I am not going to introduce these individuals seen at the windows of the building in the book’s cover, you will have to unravel their curious stories yourself – rest assured they author makes the mundane sound endearing and special; you will enjoy it !!
Inside this housing colony, the author takes you to each apartment like a fly on the wall. She not only describes the home and the eccentricities of the people but also the food they make and devour. Bengali’s love for food is legendary and they enjoy it with such passion that as the fly on the wall, you wish you could get tiny taste. The words are already bringing in the incredible aroma !!
“All she could manage at such short notice, she had reported apologetically, was chicken do-pyaza (tasty chicken with onion gravy) and pulao (rice) with spicy fried fish on the side (pomfret).” It would be good advice to not to read the book on an empty stomach. You won’t progress much, you will feel hungry !!” “The fish had to be fried just before serving for it to be deliciously crisp.”😋
And the Bengalis are constantly snacking – pakoras, kachoris, samosas and they all are freshly fried. The lunch is followed by desserts Mishti doi (sweet yogurt) and sweets. Yummy !!
Wait a minute, the book was called The Weight Loss Club? And so far, it has only made me terribly hungry !! Everyone hates being called fat, it implies two things, you are not good enough and that you are not disciplined enough to take care of yourself. And that hurts more.
But does a few extra kilos really matter to the proletariat? They have more pressing problems to take care of – loans, kids education, retirement. Unfortunately yes it does, if your mother-in-law reminds you of the same every day; if it becomes a pre-condition to find a suitable match in an arranged marriage; even if it is vaguely pointed out by a girl for whom you have fallen head over heels.
In India it is well known that over time neighbours become more than acquaintances and though the gossip carries the annoying little details you don’t want others to know; the actual stuff that you want to scream out to people find no voice. What will others think? Sometimes you need an intervention to shake things up and force people to call a spade a spade.
Into the midst comes a mysterious figure from UK. It’s a she and what business has a total stranger at this middle class housing colony? She is in her sixties, clad always in a white sari, has an Indian name and roots in the Caribbean !?
Does the Weight Loss Club succeed? ” You idiots, it really is a weight loss club; but it’s mental baggage we are talking about.” says Apu, one of the members of the club. Read on…
Here’s the link to her other book “Friends from College”👉Good reads for the holidays🎄📚
Calcutta is hot, humid, polluted and a thriving vortex of activity. I have a traveller’s account of this erstwhile British capital in this guest post 👉Lost in a glorious City…
Needless to say, I have fallen in love with the charming landmarks of Calcutta from Devapriya’s books. I want to visit Flurry’s and Park Street; can’t wait to try the mutton samosas and sandesh. Maybe one day !!
Till next post, take care 🌺!!