Hindi-Bindi

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Reading Group Guide - For Discussion
1. Discuss Pradhan's storytelling approach. What did you think of the varying first person viewpoints? Email/letter exchanges? Recipes?

2. Though Meenal, Saroj and Uma - the three mothers that make up the Hindi-Bindi Club had fairly different experiences in India, they forged a very strong bond once they moved to America. Did they all embrace the American way of life in the same way? How did their pasts affect their adaptation? Think about each woman's choice of lifestyle - how she lives, if she works, how she raised her children, etc.

3. Describe the dynamic between the daughters, Kiran, Preity and Rani, during the first part of the novel. In your opinion, what reasons underlie the tension that surrounds these three women?

4. Kiran, Preity, and Rani each journeys home to face and deal with some haunting aspect of her life. Discuss their different experiences and situations. In what ways do they use the wisdom, strength, and comfort of their mothers and/or one another to ultimately act and move their lives forward? Compare and contrast the mother/daughter relationships. Specifically address communication styles and issues.

5. Explain the Deshpandes' reaction to Kiran's decision to marry and ultimately divorce, and the eventual strain her lifestyle caused to their whole family. Reference the words Kiran's father shares about "a disposable society." Do you agree or disagree with him? What would you have done in Kiran's place? What role does parental approval play in your family?

6. Throughout the novel, the author interweaves a good deal of significant Indian history. Discuss the role it plays in the story. Specifically describe the ways in which Partition affects both Saroj and her daughter Preity, though in quite different ways.

7. What do you make of Rani's character? How has the pressure of success and consequent fear of failure in her decision to pursue art affected her? Explain the significance her trip to India with her mother has on her health, her relationship with her husband, and her overall outlook on life.

8. Uma tells the tragic story of her mother's - and Rani's grandmother's - death. Reflect on the common Indian blessing, "May you be the mother of a hundred sons," and relate this to Ma's situation in life.

9. How does the author use different illnesses or diseases to help reveal things about certain characters? Think about how in portraying the way Meenal, Rani, and Preity respectively deal with maladies, the reader's understanding of the characters is changed.

10. To which character do you relate most? Least? Why?

11. Food plays an important role in The Hindi-Bindi Club. What is the significance of each recipe that follows every chapter? How does it represent the character who references it?

12. The Deshpande, Chawla, and Basu families all came from different states in India and never would have mixed if not for their immigration to America. Name each family's hereditary Indian state and mother tongue. Site passages and scenes which depict the different Indian subcultures. Compare and contrast regional, national, and hereditary identity and (sub)cultures in America, India, and any other countries.

13. How does Kiran's semi-arranged marriage and wedding ceremony blend Eastern and Western traditions?

14. In what ways do the various immigrant journeys portrayed in The Hindi-Bindi Club parallel those in your family's history?

15. Prior to reading The Hindi-Bindi Club, how much did you know about Indian culture? American culture? How did you come to learn this—through formal education, media, friends, family, etc.? What, if any, cultural insights did you gain in reading the novel?