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PARADISE TOWERS / Bachchan-Nanda, Shweta

Shweta bachchan nanda writes for both DNA and Vogue as a columnist. She is the famous offspring of actors Jaya and Amitabh Bachchan. Shweta is a wife and mother of two children with her husband, Nikhil Nanda. In 2018, she released her first collection under the label MxS. Now she calls New Delhi home.

About The Book

Story summary When Dinesh opens the door to the Kapoor apartment, he sees Lata, the enchantress who works at Mrs. Aly Khan’s, coming in with a hot case containing freshly prepared gaajar ka halwa. Mrs. Mody, the nosy tenant of the first floor, dusts her expensive binoculars in preparation for a surveillance mission against the building’s security guard. The Singhs get out of their SUV, their four noisy sons making an entrance as strangers and oddballs. Mrs. Ranganakar, ever vigilant, watches them enter through the keyhole. Welcome to Paradise Towers, an apartment skyscraper in downtown Mumbai. Almost everyone here has a tale to share. Or maybe they have stories to conceal. Shweta Bachchan-humorous, Nanda’s debut delves into the lives of the residents of this building, from a clandestine romance and elopement to the simmering tensions in the hallways and an explosive Diwali celebration. The seductive, wacky world of Paradise Towers is brought to life by Bachchan-stunning Nanda’s voice.

Welcome to Paradise Towers, an apartment skyscraper in downtown Mumbai. Everyone here has a tale to share — or maybe, conceal. It is also the location of Shweta Bachchan Nanda’s first work of fiction – a slice-of-life novel that examines the connected lives in one building. In the extract below, reproduced with permission from HarperCollins India, we’re introduced to one of Paradise Towers’ attractive tenants – Mrs. Aly Khan. Paradise Towers is an upscale residential complex located in the heart of Mumbai. Every one of us has a tale or a secret to conceal. Shweta Bachchan-first Nanda’s piece of fiction, a slice-of-life story about the residents of this building and how their lives intersect, is also set here. This extract, reprinted from HarperCollins India, introduces us to Mrs. Aly Khan, one of the fascinating inhabitants of Paradise Towers.

Being accepted by her in-laws was crucial to her happiness. It wasn’t easy for her to convince their oldest son to marry her. The parents wanted their son to marry into a second-cousin household, but he refused and offered his second-cousin’s daughter as his only option. Since then, Mrs. Aly Khan has been making an effort to win them over, which is exhausting and ultimately fruitless. As her mother-in-go-to law’s dessert, she had spent the whole morning toiling over the stove. If there were ever to be a détente, her mother-in-law was her best bet: a sweet woman fiercely ruled by her husband’s unmarried sisters. Mrs. Aly Khan Jr. frequently speculated that the older Mrs. Aly Khan would welcome the bride of her favorite child into her home if given the opportunity.

Once she saw Lata enter the apartment, she desperately waved for her attention. When Lata saw her mistress waiting for her on the other side of a partially opened door, she removed her rubber slippers and delicately cleaned the front of one foot on the back of her leg. Successfully avoiding any dialogue, she strolled by the maulvi and his students, their heads still bent industriously over their books, and carefully entered the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.

‘How much longer for the youngsters to finish? We are becoming late. Please go out there and get him to wrap up. And then ask the children to wash their hands before we leave the house,’ Mrs. Aly Khan said without lifting her attention from her image in the mirror. Lata nodded and stepped out into the dining room.

Mrs. Aly Khan waited for the front door to close before she went to the dining room, even though she could hear the chairs scraping on the floor, indicating the end of class. Lata was pushing her students to put on their shoes for school when their beautiful mother emerged, braids in place and a bag in hand. Mrs. Aly Khan had five children, yet she was still as thin as a reed, and her eyes sparkled even more brightly when upset. Her hair reached her waist when left undone. Why else would Saab have married her against his family’s desires, Lata reasoned. Mrs. Aly Khan and her guests spoke to the chef, who had just emerged from the kitchen with a pad and pen, waiting for dinner orders before leaving for the parking lot and their waiting automobile.

For her first book, Paradise Towers, Vogue contributor Shweta Bachchan Nanda didn’t need to seek far for inspiration. The author, born in Mumbai and now lives in Delhi, gathers an exciting cast of characters to live in a suburban Mumbai apartment building. Bachchan-Nanda, whose book is set to be released next month, said the inspiration came from her curiosity and ability to observe the world around her. The lighthearted novella is 244 pages long and has a forbidden romance, an extravagant Diwali party, and colorful hallway banter—all the makings of a bestseller.

Mrs. Kapoor wiped her phone’s mouthpiece with the end of her cotton dupatta and sighed as she put it down. Whenever she called her mom, the conversation dragged on longer than she preferred. While collecting her employees’ accounts, her landline phone rang repeatedly. She picked it up, puzzled that anybody would use a landline for such a meaningful conversation.

When she picked up, her mother’s deep voice said, “Good morning, betaji.” ‘Forgotten your Mummy?’ Big city, big life, no time for small-town connections!’ accused the matriarch, very unjustly, since she had talked to her daughter only yesterday evening as she had every single day since Mrs. Kapoor had married and moved to Bombay.
She was a wonderful daughter, particularly after she got married since she never let her mother, who never missed a chance to complain about being a single parent, feel neglected.

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