Have you ever imagined what your life might have been if you had made a different decision at a critical juncture in your life? Most people ponder this “what-if” question—wondering about the turns their lives might have taken if only. BOMBAY CALIFORNIA, a work of adult literary fiction, explores this very question—imagined in films such as Sliding Doors—by chronicling the triumphs and failures of an Indian family across two separate fates.
The novel begins the day after the wedding of Manoj Gupta and his bride, Parvati, and provides a speculative, multigenerational account, in alternating chapters, of how life unfolds for the couple in two parallel existences—between 1968 and 2012—one imagining what would have happened if they had stayed in India, and another imagining what would have happened if they had moved to the U.S.
In the Indian version of the story, Manoj is a common man who works his way to the top, making a name and a fortune for himself against the odds. In the American version of the story, Manu is a successful immigrant entrepreneur who cannot seem to accumulate enough wealth or status. In both worlds, Manoj/Manu is successful, but the means by which he achieves that success and his ultimate fall from grace depict the cultural nuances of India versus the U.S., and of living in one’s own country versus living the life of an immigrant.
Parvati (Paro in America) and their daughter Pinky (Leela in America) are as impacted by that original decision to leave India or to stay as Manoj/Manu is. Their own paths are informed by the two distinct cultures, as well as the man Manoj/Manu becomes in each place. This is a story of love, fate, loyalty, identity, and family. BOMBAY CALIFORNIA brings readers into the lives of characters experiencing two very different sets of reality, and scratches the itch of that ever-present question: What if?