The Sari Shop By Rupa Bajwa

Rupa Bajwa’s debut book The Sari Shop revolves around Ramchand a salesperson at a sari shop in the old area of Amritsar. Ramchand’s life is chronicled and interwoven with stories and tidbits from the lives of others around him. Ramchand and his colleagues wait on the richest and the most powerful ladies in Amritsar who choose to come to this sari shop for the variety and quality that it promises. From university professors who look down upon money, and rich business people who look down on people who may not have the kind of money they had.  The Sevak Sari Shop attracted all sorts. They have a strict task master of a boss called Mahajan who used to ensure that they catered to all the customers in the best way they could.

Ramchand lost his parents, who he adored and looked up to, in an accident when he was very young. He is brought up by his uncle and aunt.  As he grows up, he realizes that he has been cheated by his uncle of the shop that his father owned and the jewelery that his mother owned. He is left with nothing. His uncle gets him at apprenticeship at the sari shop and that is where he stayed.  He remembered  how his father used to want that his son to learn English. He realizes that people who know English have an edge, and so he starts his journey to self-improvement. He picks up second-hand letter writing books, a dictionary and works hard at it even when in most cases, the context itself is not very clear to him.

What I really loved about the book is the way the author describes things in the book. Right from the way the old market area in Amritsar is set up, to Ramchand’s sensitivity is beautifully portrayed. Ramchand’s amazement when he sees women wearing the sarees that they bought at the shop. For some reason he had never put it together that people wear the expensive sarees they buy to functions and weddings. Instances of how the sales people at the shops are considered invisible or non-existent by the customers as they talk and gossip away while browsing through the saris. The rich-poor divide is well brought out.  Ramchand is easily affected by the others around him. Even a scolding from Mahajan for coming late has quite an impact on him. One day he unwittingly comes across some issues which he initially ignores and later his conscience prevents him from ignoring and carrying on with his life. Things come to a head when lives across the spectrum of society clash in a way which most of them would have never anticipated..

The ending especially is poignant and makes one wonder at how different people come to terms with what life offers them. The book has several stories, intricately woven into one. It was a 4/5 read for me.  There was something that was missing from making it a completely wonderful read, for me.

38 thoughts on “The Sari Shop By Rupa Bajwa

  1. WOW…another book done and the review too…You are super fast Smithu. 🙂 I had finished with Shantaram on Friday, but taking it easy to start another one… 🙂

    Am not 😦 Hardly get any time these days. I actually read another book too – which sadly I didnot like too much 😦 Am on The Twentieth wife now 🙂

    Good review and looks like a good read too….Has Swaru done the review of this sometime back ????
    Yes, She has – this is one of the books she recommended 🙂

  2. I read it sometime back too, liked it a lot… the characterisation is brilliant

    wanted to review it too but just never got the time to do it

    I know – it happens so many times. I never got around to reviewing so many books that I wanted to 😦 Like A House for Mr Biswas, The Space Between Us… I just did not get the time to sit down and do the review 😦

    will probably link up ur post in my page
    Thanks Mon 🙂

  3. Pingback: The Sari Shop By Rupa Bajwa « Any Excuse to Write… | Shop Long Distance

  4. How do u manage to read so much, Smitha! Awesome!! Infact getting a little J too 😉 I am now used to reading your book reviews here, at your blog, and then reserving the ones you’ve rated well, at idea store 🙂

    I have not been reading as much as I would have liked to 😦 No time these days, my night time reading has come to a grinding halt ever since Poohi started BIG school 😦

  5. There was something that was missing from making it a completely wonderful read, for me. – I hd written the same thing, well almost in my review 🙂 I felt so too 🙂 The ending ws poignant, but I wished he wud never go bk into his gloom-zone again 😦 😦

  6. sounds interesting…i wish someday i leave my job and just sit freely and read lot of books….. 🙂 My to read list keep on growing with lot of recommendations from blog world 🙂

    That is just what I am doing – sitting at home and reading 🙂

    BTW you never did any post on what types books poohi read or which were her first books ….I would luv to read your recommendations for toddlers/kids 🙂

    Doing a post on it, Rash:)

  7. Sounds like a purchase is in the offing!! 4 out of 5 ain’t bad at all!! 😀

    If you were to be buying, I would say Shantaram or The Twentieth Wife, Crafty! Those are far better than this!

    Anyway, me just needs one lil recommendation to buy a book… and this is a full -fledged review! :mrgreen:

    🙂 I did like this book, but have loved some others 🙂

    Am drowned in Satyajit Ray for now! Just finished his book called “One Dozen Stories”… moving on to Adventures of Feluda!

    Awww! I love those! There is something about Feluda na? 🙂 Hugs!!!!!

  8. I saw this book sometime back at the library and decided against it..from your review it sounds like a good read.. i havent read any poignant books in a while .. this book goes on my TBR pile.

  9. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, I am jealousssss now! My son gave me the second part of ’20th wife’ for my last birthday, I am yet to read!

    Keep reading…the feeling is nice, I know, Smitha!

  10. VEry interesting story Smitha.. 🙂 But now I lost my reading ability completely.. sigh 😦 Not even a page these days..

    Harry Potter movie is coming up.. so it may spell some magic on me again 🙂 🙂

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