ďAll the rivers flowing east and westThree women, each new to America after leaving their homes in India, find comfort and solace in their familiar ways and similar struggles. Their friendship continues to grow and their bonds strengthen as each year goes by.
Merge in the sea and become one with it,
Forgetting they were ever separate rivers,
So do all creatures lose their seperateness
When they merge at last into pure Being.Ē
Their daughters, now grown, return home during the holiday season facing struggles of their own. Growing up among ďThe Hindi-Bindi Club,Ē the nickname with which they graced their mothersí friendship and gathering of the souls, they donít experience the same bond. They have been born and raised American and donít feel the same internal struggle of the two lands - or so they thought.
Kiran, daughter of Meenal, returns home after a failed marriage. It was a marriage that occurred despite her fatherís disapproval; this will be her first trip home in five years. She arrives home craving tradition, wanting a family of her own, and wondering if a semi-arranged marriage is the answer. Her mother, thankful and joyous to see her daughter, has experienced a serious struggle of her own over the past year. Looking for the right time to discuss it with her daughter and scared to break the precious ground they are gaining in rebuilding their relationship, she focuses on refereeing the pain and misunderstanding between her husband and daughter. As Kiran and Meenal grow together through their shared desire to find Kiran a husband, they each realize that they have grown and evolved in their life experiences.
Preity, daughter of Saroj, is happily married with two adorable children. Most would describe it as the perfect life. What Preity is haunted by, however, is not the present. A past encounter with her soulmate is keeping her up at night, remembering and wondering. She too is home to spend the holidays with her family and awakes one night in a panic, worried that she has lost the long-treasured connection to the past. As Preity tries to discuss the incident that ended it all between her and her love, a brief affair that happened long ago in far-off India, her mother will not discuss it, warning her to leave it alone for the sake of her happiness. Preity is hurt and confused by her motherís reaction, torn by the desire to listen to her heart at the expense of disobeying her mother. What Preity does not know is the deep secret that is driving her motherís response.
Rani, daughter of Uma, is a rocket scientist-turned-artist, a career move which, while painful for her parents, has proven successful. With an opening night exhibition on the horizon, Rani should be celebrating her success. Instead she is drowning in depression, her creative juices run dry.
As the daughters, home for the holidays, once again reconnect, they begin to appreciate who each of them has become and break down childhood barriers. A wedding in India brings mother and daughters to their ancestral homeland, and each finds a way to come to terms with who they are. For some, this is letting go of the past; for others, it is finding a new beginning. For all, it is completing the circle and gaining a feeling of wholeness.
The Hindi-Bindi Club is a heartwarming look at the bonds of friendship, the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship, the intricacies of culture, and how life has a way of gently guiding us in the right direction. Monica Pradhan has developed a feast of characters and launched us into a matrix of Indian-American culture. As if the rich storyline werenít enough, the reader is treated to recipes encompassing a full menu of Indian fare, an ingenious addition to every chapter. The Hindi-Bindi Club is a highly recommended read and would make for an excellent book club selection. Kudos to this first time author - this book definitely tops my favorites list for 2007.