Summary and Story:
Nothing seems to be working for Anviksha Punjabi. Thirty-something, twice divorced (almost), she is forced to move in with her gregarious and over-bearing 67-year-old mother, Smita Punjabi. Someone she is always at loggerheads with.
Looking for a break from both the professional and the personal, she plans on taking a “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” – esque solo trip across Europe. Only to have her mother tag along after much arm-twisting and emotional blackmail. What follows is a journey of self-discovery where old wounds are reopened. Choices and decisions are questioned. Are they able to make peace with each other? You need to read the book to find out.
Lately, I had been reading emotionally draining books and was looking for a light read. A mother and a daughter, constantly in each other’s hair, and off to travel the world. It was touted as a quirky, funny, and witty family drama with a generous dose of wanderlust. And I was quite eager to read it.
The book primarily revolves around Anviksha and Smita Punjabi. A mother and a daughter who couldn’t have been more different. There are a horde of characters but they all add to the story. The exes, Rudra and Ranvijay. The gal pal/colleague, Nikita. The newfound friend at work, Aakash. A bunch of neighborhood aunties. The cousin. And not to forget the two mutts – Mutton and Bhindi.
The fast-paced book has a linear narrative in the third person. The writing is lucid and witty, and there is rarely a dull moment. It is peppered with the colloquial and the Sindhi language. But that does really not take away from the story.
As a daughter, I could relate to the story and the characters. I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that mom can practically chat up complete strangers, much like Smita Punjabi. Not to mention the idiosyncrasies and the constant “when you are my age”. We have all heard that from our mother, right?
“I wasn’t diagnosed with bubonic plague. It’s just a divorce.”
The author is known to tackle difficult issues through humor in her writing. In between all the fun, there are two important topics that the author delves one. The first is the prevalent stereotypes and the unacceptability of divorce. How an unhappy woman in a bad marriage is considered better than a divorced woman. Both Smita and Anviksha are divorced. They are strong independent characters living on their own terms. And do not shy away from calling a spade a spade.
The other is a conversation on our relationship with our parents. Particularly our mothers. There is a Punjabi adage “Teeyan vaddiyan ho jaandiyaan ne, maavaan jhalliyaan ho jaandiyaan ne“. Roughly, it translates to “as daughters grow, they start considering their moms not polished enough”. As the title “Excess Baggage” suggests, Anviksha considers her mother an unwanted add-on and is always embarrassed by her behavior. Unfazed, Smita ends up teaching her daughter a few life lessons or two.
I enjoyed reading the book. If you are looking for a light pick with laugh-out-loud moments, this is the book for you. You will not be disappointed. And just as the author’s previous “Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt Ltd”, this book too is set to be adapted on screen.Excess Baggage by Richa S. Mukherjee #BookReview @richashrivas @CindyAnnDSilva @nooranand @bugshieldcloths #BlogaberryDazzle #BohoPonderings Click To Tweet
About the author
Richa S. Mukherjee is a poet, ex-journalist and an old hand in the advertising industry, all of which she bade farewell to in order to write books about imaginary people. After writing a collection of poems titled A Penchant for Prose, largely for herself, she went on to write her first novel, I Didn’t Expect to be Expecting, a light-hearted take on accidental pregnancy, and Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd, a humorous thriller that has been procured for a screen adaptation. She has been a TOI Write India winner, is a blogger and travel writer and contributes to several platforms.