02 December 2008

Karma in a Strange Land

Karma and Other Stories
by Rishi Reddi

Just finished this book, which came out in 2007, and I can heartily recommend it to the culturally curious. Included are marvelous tales of cultural integration and its pitfalls as experienced by Indians in the USA. The stories are very accessible and enjoyable even if you're not Indian or an immigrant, as Reddi's writing also reflects universal themes such as teen angst ("Lord Krishna"), generational gaps ("Bangles"), and finding the courage to pursue your dreams ("Karma.").

Lakshmi Chundi, first-generation Indian immigrant, forty-seven-year-old homemaker, wife of a gainfully employed computer-software engineer working at a reputable computer-manufacturing corporation, mother of two grown sons, is melancholy. She knows why she is so. It is not only because her youngest son left for college two months ago, not only because her husband has doubled the number of his card nights since then, not only because she feels uncomfortable with her eldest son’s new wife; it is also because when she went to the Lexington public library last night, Elias Filian, the town librarian, was sad.

She knew immediately when she stood at the circulation desk and his eyes barely met hers, his hands shaking as he passed her book through the sensor light. There was no exchange of the usual pleasantries. No chatting about the last book she read. A full day later, this disturbs Lakshmi very much.
(From “Lakshmi and the Librarian”)

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