Caroline's Reviews > Chef

Chef by Jaspreet Singh
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's review
May 29, 2010

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bookshelves: coping-with-loss, friendship, human-rights, middleeast-india, war, june2010
Read from June 11 to 13, 2010 — I own a copy

** spoiler alert ** First, I won this book in a GR giveaway.

This book has so many faucets to it. It's like Kishen and Kirpal's dishes. I have no idea what Rogan Josh is (even after reading the ingredients and even though I dislike Indian food) but that is what this book reminds me of.

So this novel is the smell of garam masala (an ingrediant in Rogan Josh and the only Indian spice mixture I am familiar with) and the sound of Kirpal's beloved Symphony no 9.

Kirpal joins the army chasing his father's ghost. He leaves the military after being accused of having sex with a female prisoner. He is found not guilty but leaves never the less. He returns years later, by General Kumar's request to cook for Rubiya's wedding. He decides to cook for Rubiya, as he was fond her when she was a little girl and in hopes the General will send him to a better doctor.

His father who's plane crashes into the glacier which always looms in the distance. (Was the body the hiker's found Kirpal's dad? or someone who'd been there longer?)

Kishen is Kirpal's teacher, but after saying a bit too much he is demoted and sent away to the glacier. Seeing the gross difference in how the ranks are treated (the young soldier's lives are disposible, the rations they are given aren't great and aren't long lasting, compared to the higher ranked officers who live in comfort and eat like kings). He commits suicide in an attempt to make a statement, but nothing is mentioned in the media or in the camps.

General Kumar, who lost his wife and is never around for his daughter Rubiya, a shy and withdrawn girl. He was fond of Kip's father, and (although he never admits it) he probably raped and impregnated the Kashmiri prisoner. Kumar may have been wracked with guilt, but I think moreso he knew Kip knew what he had down and he was the reason Kip left the army. He is the one who calls Kip back so many years later to cook for Rubiya's wedding. he confronts Kip and asks for the real reason he left. The following day, he kills himself.

From rumors, Kirpal's father may have been having a relationship with an enemy woman- a Kashimiri woman. which leads me to wonder why he was in the war. When he was a child, his family was attacked why e was headed to school. He was the only one to live. He boards a train headed into India, and Muslim officers are searching for him- to kill him. But a Muslim woman allows him to hide under her skirts and she is the reason he lives.

Irem, the Kashimiri Muslim women who is taken as a prisoner on claims of being a terrorist. In fact, she had tried to commit suicide but her body floats down to the India border and she is arrested. Kirpal grows close to her and is asked to interogate her. She tells him there is a plan to destroy a bridge that the General uses, but oddly enough, Kirpal does not report this. She later has a child (she never names the man who impregnated her) whom she names Naseem. At the end of the war, Pakistan agrees to allow Irem to return but not her 'Indian' daughter. So Irem stays in India until they both are allowed back into Pakistan.

After all the fighting, Rubiya is to marry a Muslim man. Her father disagrees and never allowed the man into the house. Because of his suicide the ceremony would have been held off, so after Kirpal and Rubiya talk of the past (of Irem, her father) she boards a train to Pakistan to marry.


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