Set in a middle-class housing colony, this is the story of stay-at-home mum Monalisa, who cannot clean the kitchen counter enough times; Meera, who is bullied constantly by her traditional mother-in-law; college-going Abeer, who isn't sure how to impress the glamorous Mandy; academic Aparajita, who has no takers on the marriage mart; philosopher Ananda, whom no one takes seriously; and Treeza, a former school secretary now sunk in gloom. Into their midst arrives Oxford-returned Sandhya: half hippie, half saadhvi, full spiritual guru. Under her aegis is formed The Weight Loss Club, throwing the lives of our heroes and heroines into utter and delightful disarray.
Devapriya Roy has degrees in English literature and performance studies from Presidency College, Calcutta, and Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, where she is pursuing a PhD on the Natyashastra (at least, that is what she says when asked what she does). Once upon a time, she was the Keo Karpin girl. Her first novel, The vague Woman's Handbook, was published in 2011. She is currently working on The Heat and Dust Project, the story of a quirky journey through India on an extreme budget, along with her husband, Saurav Jha.
It wouldn't have been called Nancy Housing Cooperative (Society) but for the government clerk's mistake.
The promoter, Bishwajit Nandy, had wished to immortalize his family name in brick and mortar. But the government clerk, in his rush to attend a distant aunt's funeral, had typed 'c' instead of 'd' and the five-building colony ended up with a strange American teenage detective's name. Nancy.
The accident of naming had its own consequences. Though in other respects quite ordinary-the four-storey buildings were cream and beige, the hedges dark green and dusty-there was a strange quality about Nancy Housing Cooperative, a kind of X factor, that set it above its station. It was no different really from Basanti Housing to its left or Silver Wings to its right or Bengal MLF across the road, but somehow Nancy tended to give people ideas, made them vaguely dissatisfied with things as they were.
That is how The Weight Loss Club was born.
Or, perhaps, it wasn't like that at all. Perhaps the houses were as everyday as their neighbours until the lady with the portable garden arrived. But that was afterwards.
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