Thursday, 3 April 2014

Book review - Soldier & Spice

Sneak preview from the cover
For Pia, regular life is a thing of the past. She is now an Army wife. In the mysterious and grand world of Army wives, Pia learns that walking in high heels is okay as long as you don’t trip on combat boots. She learns that “civil” is also a noun, that JCO and GOC are very different, that snacks are shown and WTF is better explained as Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Yes, it really is a new world!

Let this quirky, hilarious story of the first year of Pia’s Army wife life show you that the spice to a soldier’s life is most definitely his better, very strong, extremely elegant, never-cussing, witty, warm and passionate half, his Army wife.

My view
What would be your reaction if you receive a parcel from Kargil? I came home one evening to find a somewhat concerned mom in law looking at a parcel on dining table. “Are you expecting a gift from some friend of yours in Army? I got this courier from Kargil and I didn’t open it wondering…” her unusual reaction somewhat concerned me, for I have no friends in the Army. The mystery was soon resolved when the wrapping gave way to a pretty book inside. “Soldier and Spice..hmmm”, the title seemed promising and my mind began to come up with all sorts of preconceived notions I have about Fauji life.

No matter how much glamorous the Army life looks from a distance, one only has to get closer to understand the difficulties an Army wife faces. For Pia too, the Army life is like a fantasy world of parties, flaunting designer dresses, making new friends and having someone to help you with housework, until she marries Arjun, a Captain in Indian Army. She sees a trailer of the movie, when she asks her husband the time on their drive to Pathankot “We’ll be there by eighteen hundred hours”, he says, much to her surprise.  

Once at the cantt it seems her dream life has come true. Dinners, ladies meet, welfare activities…she is excited about it all. But as the story unwraps, she figures out that Army life is not a bed of roses. Discipline, commitment, courage, leadership, perfection are some of the words we all prefer to confine to books. But her maiden year as the Army wife teaches Pia the true sense of these words, and transforms a carefree civilian into a responsible Army memsaab!

Pia is not alone in this journey – various characters in the story help her in her metamorphosis in some way or the other. There is Arjun’s sahayak Ganga Bhaiyya, who transforms from the “one Pia is jealous of” to “the one who comes of help when she needs it the most”; Naina, Pia’s friend and confidante who gives her the first lessons on Do’s and Don’t’s; Mrs James, who keeps transforming from a friend to foe and back to a friend; Mrs Sengupta and Mrs Singh who are never short of their gossip supply; Mrs Nair, the queen bee who ends up having her way; Mrs Bhandari the second in command; a certain Mrs Nose hair and many others.

Then there are these various rules of the game Pia learns throughout the book, many of which left me laughing out loud. I mean, snacks are served, not “shown?” Hehe…and so thinks Pia!

Every page has this drawing of Army boots, perhaps a sign that to fit in Army boots, it requires a lot of hard work.

Although her debut, Adti has got the flavor of the book right, for once you start the book, the story keeps you hooked on till you haven’t flipped the next page. I write this usually for thrillers, but sometimes simple stories weaved to perfection make an instant bond with readers.

Strongly recommended from me whether you are well versed with the Army culture or not. For if you are not, the book will open you to a whole new world; and if you are, then the book will definitely remind you of some of your own experiences and smile.

About the author
Aditi Mathur Kumar is an ex advertising girl, one upon a time blogger, a fanatical Army wife and a real life social person. With this debut, she has taken up writing for good. May we get many more interesting reads from her!



  2. Loved this review, Shaivi. Thanks a million. Hugs!


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