Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book review: A Songbird on my Shoulder

Arise! Awake! All you women who have been
screaming slogans, putting up banners and walking streets, forcing the nation to take notice of your movement demanding marginalised position, you are about to be joined by yet another group, the Madams. These “madams” will arrive in their chauffeur driven cars amply endowed in all fronts and yet demand from the Government a marginalised
status for themselves, as they are a growing number in India, who needs recognition and special allotment of space in public places for themselves! Like please to note, separate Parking Places for women who must drive their own cars because the driver gave them a slip!

Saaz Aggrawal in “The Songbird on my Shoulder” is the unrepentant Madam, who has had everything one can ask for in life, but now gushes forth to initiate the Society of Highly Opinionated and Amply- endowed Madams (SHOAM) in her debut autobiographical novel!

“We’re a tiny and sadly marginalised community, us Madams, with our headaches and bridge mornings and afternoon naps, especially these days with attrition figures in the house-hold industry marching ahead of the IT and even BPO sectors”. – pg 11, The Songbird on my Shoulder

Laugh out loud - LOL for short!

Mixed with a generous helping of humour, the book takes the reader through her life as a writer starting from her heart wrenching early life as a boarder at The Lawrence School, Lovedale and ending with a delicious blend of high living with Cocktail parties, world travels and coming down to basics like house-keeping, managing house-help and keeping a vigilant eye over their services trying to manage her home with 6 Sigma management principles. Not to forget the lessons
learned and shared as a hi-fi Corporate Trainer.

The book is a reminder that the so called SHOHAM group of Madams is a growing number in urban and semi-urban women, who mix the old with the new. Check them out at your buy 1 get 1 free, when they can afford much more because here is a new social sub-section of women, who can afford much more but are still thrifty. They are a confused blend of women who definitely identify as “elite” but don’t want to miss out on the bargains available to the less fortunate.

Therefore, dear reader, laugh through pages holding your sides. However, don’t miss a few chapters that bring tears to your eyes as well, including poems that make you laugh and cry at the
same time!

The power of this autobiographical book, lies in bringing out the dilemma of a woman, who no matter where she is in life, and how privileged, she still battles with the day to day struggles of life, not very far away from where you and I too struggle our way through.

“Once upon a time I fancied myself an intellectual, and put on airs and pretended, like many others in my generation, to read Sartre, Joyce and others...then one day I noticed weeks had slipped into months and years and all I’d done. Day after day, was ironed three even-sized but gradually expanding sets of school uniforms,,,fill water bottles ( and snack boxes and lunch
dabbas).” – pg 10 The Songbird on my Shoulder.

Saaz Aggarwal was born in Mumbai and worked as a Journalist for many years in Mumbai. The book has some of her articles formerly published in Times of India, Deccan Herald, Femina, The Little Magazine and many more. It also has a generous helping of Bombay life for those who stand up on the roof and say I love Mumbai!

“In 1998, the same year as she was awarded a “Best Mumma Ever” cup as a birthday present, Brown Critique, an eminent poetry journal, described her as ‘Well-known Mumbai-based journalist (editor) and columnist who lives in Pune’ which prompted her to rush about telling people that she was ‘well-known’. – pg 267, The Songbird on my Shoulder

Laugh out loud - LOL for short!

If last week I spent a weekend at a Zen Monastery, this weekend I have had a sumptuous helping of laughter, thereby completing my “Zorba, the Buddha” appetite! Life! Love and laughter!

Title: The Songbird on my Shoulder –Confessions of an Unrepentant Madam
Publisher: black-and-white fountain, 2, Flemington Terrace, Clover village, Wanowari, Pune 411040, India
Author: Saaz Aggrawal
Pages: 274
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Amrita said...

Sounds like a good book to read. Thanks for the review Julia

Julia Dutta said...

Jolly good Amrita! I know you will love it, just that kind of stuff, some of us like about a generation of writers.