Excess Baggage by Richa S. Mukherjee | Book Review

“Yes, if you could please note the second name. Smita Punjabi. S for strong-headed, M for manipulative, I for incorrigible, T for tyrant and A for Adolf Hitler.” 

Anviksha Punjabi can’t seem to get anything right. At 30 years, she is signing off on divorce number two, is barely keeping any friends, and repeatedly getting into trouble at work. And, if all that weren’t enough, she must put up with her gregarious, over-bearing, sixty-seven-year-old mother as a housemate.
Afraid that if this continues she’ll finally unravel completely, Anviksha decides she needs a break – a Bollywood-style-solo-trip-across-Europe kind of break because Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. What she doesn’t expect is her opinionated Sindhi mother, Smita Punjabi, insisting on coming along.
And so, the unlikely duo embarks on a journey complete with nudists, an unwelcome blast from the past, a British dog named Bhindi, and several eligible bachelors. What was supposed to be a soul-searching journey for one, gradually turns into a life-altering experience for two.
8. Excess Baggage
For a mother-daughter pair, Anviksha and Smita Punjabi couldn’t be more different. Where one is an anthropologist who prefers the cosy confines of her room, the other hosts neighbourhood langars in their home, inviting anyone she can findfrom the watchman, to the dhobi, and even the passersby peering in through her window.
Anviksha finds her mother’s overbearing nature intrusive but as Smita Punjabi sees it, she is simply looking out for her daughter’s wellbeing. It doesn’t help that their contrasting personalities are enough to bring out the war paint every time they so much as stand in the same room.
Once Smita Punjabi bulldozes her way into her daughter’s solo trip, preparing for it gives her a new lease of life. From shopping for clothes covering all the seasons to preparing enough food to last a famine, Smita Punjabi is on a mission, and it looks like Anviksha’s first challenge on the trip will be dealing with excess baggage. 
Now, it takes considerable amount of willpower to label one’s mother ‘excess baggage’ and Anviksha likes to hoard this power just so it can fuel her sarcasm-laden jibes and disperse them at opportune moments. Then again, being an anthropologist does have its advantages.
The USP of this story lies in how the author explores the relationship between these two women – from the literal baggage they must deal with, to the underlying emotional baggage that threatens to strangle what little semblance of a relationship they hold in name. Ex-husbands, potential boyfriends, nosy neighbours, lying cousins and angry aunts, all play the perfect part in supporting this madhouse.
However much a tyrant Anviksha makes her mother to be, as a reader, I can’t help but admire Smita Punjabi for her gumption. Though the book is meant to be about Anviksha, it is Smita Punjabi who clearly steals the limelight from right under her nose. It is she you admire for her joie de vivre. 
A delectable storyline fed on generous servings of humour, this is a soul-searching journey of a mother and daughter in an attempt to rediscover the love that binds them.
Excess Baggage by Richa S. Mukherjee. Published in 2020 by HarperCollins India and Black Ink Books. This review copy courtesy of Blogchatter.
Book 8 of 2021.
Aquamarine Flavours Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟.
Available on Amazon*.
About Photo: As soon as Smita Punjabi decided she was joining Anviksha on the trip, she set about preparing heaps of food to take along. Of the many bags and boxes that Anviksha rejected, only these were allowed in the suitcases.
These papercraft snack boxes are made with cardstock and decorated in cheery, travel themes.

8. Excess Baggage
About the Author: After spending years in advertising, selling shampoos and juices to unsuspecting housewives, as well as chasing after a few criminals and their lawyers as a journalist, Richa finally decided to write a book of soul searing poetry and a few funny blogs. She then went on to write her first novel I Didn’t Expect to be Expecting, followed by Kanpur Khoofiya Pvt. Ltd. 
When not traveling or singing in the bathroom, she spends time in Mumbai juggling life, writing, and chasing after her alarmingly nimble-footed daughter.
You can reach her on Twitter and Instagram or email her at richasmukherjee@yahoo.com.
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*Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link which means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.


6 thoughts on “Excess Baggage by Richa S. Mukherjee | Book Review

  1. Pingback: 10 Posts for you to Read This Week (11-Feb-2021) – Satabdi Mukherjee

  2. Pingback: 2021 and Changing Plans | #BrunchBookChallenge – Aquamarine Flavours

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