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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Enthralling, Memorable
I was completely enthralled with the book and the characters. I absolutely love Thrity Umrigar's writing style and the way in which she was able to make the reader truly identify with each of the characters, their lives, their pains. I have to say that the most disappointing part of the book, was when it ended.
I could NOT put this book down. This author has a...
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Katherine Warsager

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1.0 out of 5 stars Leave this one at home when going to the beach
Bombay Time is a horrible book, reading it was a waste of time and a test of patience. The book deals with no real issues but does hit you in the face with the Indian Gosip train of family and neighbors. There are so many people meddling around with one anothers affairs that it becomes a frustrating read. Rather than providing an escape from the bickering and...
Published on June 29 2003 by Saleem Gul


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Enthralling, Memorable, Dec 29 2003
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was completely enthralled with the book and the characters. I absolutely love Thrity Umrigar's writing style and the way in which she was able to make the reader truly identify with each of the characters, their lives, their pains. I have to say that the most disappointing part of the book, was when it ended.
I could NOT put this book down. This author has a special way of really making you feel like you are inside the characters heads and hearts. I think this is a wonderful book about India, but for ANYONE and EVERYONE, from any country in any culture. If you are interested in reading a book rich with emotion and culture, a book that you will think about long after you are finished, and make you hungry for more of these people, and this author, THIS is the book to read! I honestly cried at several points and had to put the book down to contemplate the emotion and thoughts that were conjured up in me. I also laughed heartily at moments.
I carried this book with me everywhere, stealing a sentence here and there while at work, and reading it everynight for about 3 days until I greedily ate up every word. This is a book you can finish in one sitting, but to savoir it, I would recommend spanning it over a couple days, if you can bare it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic trip down memory lane, July 27 2003
By 
Fred De Luca (Small town, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
Thrity Umrigar has captured the essence of the experience of being a Parsi in Bombay, India and distilled it beautifully in her 271 page book -- Bombay Time. Reading this wonderful, complex story is like being wrapped in a quilt of stories of Parsis from different walks of life with the whole being greater than the sum of the individual tales. I must confess that I had some difficulty with Ms. Umrigar's writing style which I attribute to a matter of my individual taste. However, Ms. Umrigar is a skillful storyteller and I found myself unable to put the book down as it transported me back to the Bombay of my youth evoking tender, bitter sweet memories with every page. If you're interested in getting an insider's view of this endangered culture (the population of Parsis world wide is falling), I suggest you get yourself a copy of this book.
If you're not familiar with the term "Parsi" - they are descendents of a group of Zarathushtis i.e. followers of the Prophet Zarathustra (anglicized to Zoroaster) who fled Parsa (anglicized to Persia) and came to India some time around the 8th century (may be earlier). Though they've lived in India for well over a thousand years, they've managed to keep certain aspects of their culture distinct especially those that pertain to practicing their religion while simultaneously integrating themselves into the vivid heterogeneous cultural tapestry of India. Try an Internet search on "Parsi" for more information or better still find one and engage in a conversation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a charming and sensitive novel, June 24 2002
By 
Simon Cross (RUSTINGTON, West Sussex. United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
In Bombay Time, Thrity Umrigar focusses on a small neighbourhood community of Parsi Indians. All share a common bond for the apartment block that they share, and a common bond of heritage and religion.
On the face of it, the characters all have a reasonably high standard of living, but Umrigar scratches the surface to guide us to the real hearts of the characters.
The starting point for this exploration is the tale end of a wedding reception for the son of one of the couples, when the only guests left are those that have grown old together. The groom, Mehernosh, has grown up in the company of all the favoured guests, and has surprised most of them by returning to Bombay after studying law in the US. Each successive chapter concentrates on one or two of the reception guests, and reflects upon formative incidents in their lives. These incidents may have left them physically or mentally scarred, but all have grown through their pain into new more fully-fledged people.
For the final two characters, all the characters are brought together to share joy and fleeting pain, and all again finish the evening wiser than they started. Although very much in the background, the city of Bombay too develops its character as the novel progresses.
Umrigar writes beautifully and sensitively, and I recommend highly this delicate and thoughtful novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Slow Destruction of Bombay, May 18 2002
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
Wadia Baug is an apartment house in a middle-class section of Bombay. The Parsi inhabitants know each other, talk to each other, know each other?s lives and take part in them.
The central occasion is the marriage of Mehernosh, son of Jimmy and Zarin. Here they all sit together and reminisce about those bygone days when they were young. Jimmy, who did not seem especially talented, became a rich lawyer. His best friend in school was Rusi, who always wanted to become famous and rich, but never made it. He married Coomi and had a daughter, Binny, who got married in England and stayed there. Rusi?s heart never stopped aching for her presence. Dosa and Sorab, who decided not to have children and realized that as a mistake almost too late. Soli Contractor, who fell in love with Meriam Rubin, whose father moved the whole family to Israel. Soli never got over it. Tehmi married Cyrus Engineer, who got killed shortly after the marriage. Tehmi now has terminal cancer. Adi Patel, who can not forget Sararwati.
Each story is worth at least one hanky, but the ending is worth at least two of them. Wadia Baug is getting old and one no longer knows the newcomers. And Bombay is, more and more, approaching hell on earth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Treasure, April 11 2002
By 
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
I read about "Bombay Time" when it first came out. A busy life intruded on my plans to purchase a copy and then I misplaced my note with the book title and author's name. Since "Bombay" and "Parsi" had completely left my brain, searches on [amazon.com] and inquiries at bookstores and at the library left me empty handed when all I could recall was, "The book is about the lives of the residents of an apartment building."
A few weeks ago, I went to Chicago on a business trip. My plane from Seattle arrived late at night. While waiting for a shuttle bus at O'Hare to take me to a hotel near the airport, I started a conversation with a woman from Ohio who was going to a conference.
The next night, I was in the hotel restaurant, which was located in the lobby, and saw the woman from Ohio. Claudia joined me for dinner.
As we talked and ate, the topic of India entered the conversation. It probably came about as we both spoke about our respective son's love of travel and how my son, many years ago, traveled around the world for nine months and spent six weeks in India. Then I mentioned, with great affective, that two of my best friends are Indian. Raj is a Jain and Dilu, a Parsi.
Claudia's eyes lit up. Her friend wrote a novel based in India about the residents of an apartment in Bombay who are Parsis. The serendipitous connection caught my breath.
Thrity Umbrigar's autograph graces the title page of my copy of "Bombay Time". I treasured every word and didn't want the book to end. Someday, when I visit Bombay with Raj and Dilu, I know that I'll be compelled to try and find Wadia Baug.
And yes, when it's my turn to host my book club, The Blue Stocking Book Society, "Bombay Time" will be my selection. One day soon, I hope that Oprah makes the same choice.
Thank you Thrity for this gift of enlightenment!
Carol
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse into a Bombay Neighborhood, Feb. 10 2002
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This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
Thrity Umrigar's first novel is an outstanding one. The scene is a Bombay apartment house, populated by members of the minority Parsi religion. The event around which the plot centers is the wedding of the son of the building's most successful residents. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of one of the apartment dwellers, but all chapters are inter-related. As each person's story unfolds from his or her own point of view, we get an insight into how and why the resident is the person he/she has become.
Ms. Umrigar's gift is her ability to make each character human, sympathetic, and compelling. Many of the wounds that shape these people are self-inflicted, but our sympathy is engaged because they are so recognizable. One needn't be an "outsider" in terms of religion or ethnicity to understand how being a Parsi in predominantly Hindu India has impacted on many of the residents; even the most successful have to deal with their minority status. And the events that happen to us all--unfulfilled dreams, separations, deaths--know no "insider/outsider" status anyway.
I highly recommend Bombay Time, both as a glimpse into a culture quite different from the American one and as a glimpse into human souls, which are not very different from ours at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "A day...A silver urn of promise and hope. Another chance.", Jan. 23 2002
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This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
This beautifully constructed novel quickly seduces the reader with strong imagery, pitch perfect dialogue, vibrant characters, and beautifully realized interrelationships which extend well beyond the bounds of the apartment house they share in Bombay. All the characters are attending a wedding reception hosted by successful lawyer Jimmy Kanga for his son Mehernosh, the wedding reception serving as the loose framework on which the author hangs the characters and their stories.
While this is not a plot in the traditional sense, Umrigar uses this device very effectively. As the festivities begin, each character privately recalls how s/he has been affected by some early love and/or loss, and the reader comes to know the characters and their stories intimately. We see how the characters relate to each other and interact, we care for them, we silently scold them for their blindness, and ultimately, we hope for their eventual happiness.
Unique aspects of Parsi heritage and history, the pressures of life in Bombay, the attraction of educated Indian youth to England and America, the unbridgeable chasm between middle-class Indians and the masses of homeless poor, the marriage customs, and the changing role of women in India are just a few of the fascinating subjects which Umrigar manages to weave into the stories of her characters. These personal stories take on broader significance in the light they shed on contemporary Indian society, and they achieve universality in their focus on love and loss.
As the novel comes to a close and the sweetness of young love and the wedding reception linger in the reader's mind, Umrigar injects an unexpected and powerful dose of Bombay reality, forcing the reader to see these lives in the even greater context of the human condition. This is a beautifully realized portrait of the lives of one group of friends in one building in one Indian city and how it relates to the world at large.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Indian contradictions, Jan. 13 2002
By 
MR G. Rodgers (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
A Parsi community in Bombay attends the marriage of the son of one of its members. As the people congregate, memories of their past lives come flooding back. Using this device, the author weaves together what could be a series of short stories. I thought that she did this well.
Each of the stories relates some personal tragedy or disappointed hope, revealing that all of our lives involve unachieved ambitions or deeply felt losses (or frequently both). We all have to cope with the hand fate deals us.
I thought that this novel had strong echoes of Rohinton Mistry's work, but it's very readable it is own right. It's sensitively told, from a predominantly female point of view, describing Parsi life in Bombay - the problems the community has had to cope with, feeling that they are in India, but not precisely of India. Feeling too the tensions of living in a city where the rich/poor divide is so marked that although the community is comparatively well off, it feels constantly under threat from the masses of dispossessed people.
Indeed, the author alludes skillfully to the fact that whatever the personal problems faced by the members of the community, they are nothing compared to the day-to-day struggle for existence and meaningless lives experienced by the truly poor.
The author examines the contradictions in Indians' feelings about their country (something that I've noticed in many of my Indian friends), in that whilst there is a pride in being Indian there is also a strong feeling of disgust and frustration with the actual state or condition of India.
Very much worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully insightful character portrayals, Nov. 24 2001
By 
Gary Worthington (Olympia, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
Bombay Time deals with the Parsi residents of a Bombay apartment house in a delightfully fresh way. Always in the background is the setting of the huge city itself, which most of the characters feel has changed for worse during the their lifetimes. To a large extent the novel is really a series of related "mini-biographies" of characters who have known each other throughout their lives, with the focus shifting from time to time to a different character. As a novelist writing recently about Indian characters myself (in India Treasures), I greatly admire Thrity Umrigar's insightful and sympathetic portrayals. Compared to the multitudes of the poor outside on the streets, the apartment residents live a privileged existence, yet they have their own worries and problems. While focused on the viewpoint of one resident, the reader typically learns something about another character in the building, often one with whom there is some sort of conflict. Later in the book, the viewpoint shifts to that other resident, and the reader has the revelation of seeing how differently that person views himself from how he's seen by the other characters. The framework of the novel is a wedding that almost all residents attend, where most of the late-middle aged characters realize how much their lives have ended up disappointingly different from their plans or hopes when they were young; yet, in a short space of hours the characters come to see themselves and their antagonists with more empathy and understanding. Along with them, I found myself viewing people in general in a more positive light, quite a compliment to Thrity Umrigar's skill.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Chowpatty Beach, Breach Candy, Sept. 20 2001
By 
EARL WATERS (Marietta, Ga. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bombay Time: A Novel (Hardcover)
I was transported to Bombay without leaving my chair reading this book.The characters jump off the page into your imagination and you become immersed in their lives and you care about them. You hurt when they hurt,you are happy when they are happy. The book revolves about the invited guest to a Parsi wedding party given by a prominent Bombay attorney, Jimmy Kanga, father of the groom. I liken "Bombay Time" to an Indian "Canterbury Tales" but instead of going on a journey the travellers in this book have already arrived at their destination and are telling their stories up to the present.The book has an architecture to it in that each chapter of the book is like a free standing structure that is tied back in a neat package to the event all the characters have in common, the wedding party. I have read Paul Scott's "Staying On", Bapsi Sidhwa's "The Crow Eaters," and Kamala Markandaya's "Nectar in a Sieve" and I consider "Bombay Time" to be in the same class as those great books. If you like myself love India culture and just the names Chopatty Beach, Breach Candy, Apollo Bunder, Marine Drive and others conjure up visions of the sun rising or setting over the Indian Ocean or a steaming Bombay sweltering in the monsoon heat, you will love this latest addition to Indian literature. You can almost smell the pungent aromas of delicious dishes being prepared by the Parsi aunties, mothers, grandmothers, and wifes as your mind enters Wadia Baug. Parsi is an ancient religion that originated in Persia now present day Iran and Iraq. Many of the Parsi followers who were forced out of their homeland fled into India and formed pocket settlements in the midst of surrounding Hindu, Muslin, and Sikh populations. In "Bombay Time" you will learn more about Parsi culture and how it seems to be losing ground as the younger generation move away to England and America and sometimes never return. They usually leave to go to the universities in those countries and intend to return but as often happens they meet someone they fall in love with, marry and never go back. The Parsi do not have prearranged marriages made by their parents like the Hindu have and they are free to marry whoever the wish. They of course have to deal with the fact that all Parsi mothers want their sons to marry nice Parsi girls and likewise with the fathers marrying off their daughters to nice Parsi boys. Soli Contractor, a Parsi, falls in love with a nice Jewish girl, Marian, but you will have to read the book to find out how this relationship developed. I don't think that anyone will be disappointed with the time they invest reading this book. I know, I certainly wasn't.
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Bombay Time: A Novel
Bombay Time: A Novel by Thrity Umrigar (Paperback - July 5 2002)
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