I find it not only broadening, but refreshing to read stories written by authors from other cultures, in this case South Asian. Weather Permitting & Other Stories (2016 Guernica Editions) is Pratap Reddy’s first collection of stories. He moved to Canada from India in 2002 and works as an underwriter by day and an author by night.
There are twelve stories in this collection, and they all focus on the various trials and tribulations of Indian immigrants to Canada, primarily those that land and live in Toronto. Weather Permitting gave me a glimpse into not only their poor economic situations, but more importantly their emotions and feelings as they dealt with the weather, job hunting, low pay, separation from family and so forth. Some of the stories are written from the perspective of the families left back in India as the husband/father has come to Canada to get established, only to find life very different from what was advertised.
Some selected favourites:
- “Going West” in which we are taken along with a new immigrant (who goes unnamed) from the moment his plane circles the CN Tower to his temporary accommodations in a Mississauga guest house run by the kindly Patels. It is here we meet “The Prince” a recurring character that despite his negativism about the chances of a new immigrant in Canada is somewhat endearing as the man who cannot make a decision, and when he finally does, it is an amusing one.
- “The Tamarind Relish” relating the loneliness and uncertainty of a new wife (of an arranged marriage) left behind while her husband is in Canada trying to make enough money to get settled so he can bring her over.
- “Weather Permitting” the title story, starts at the Patel’s doorstep as Ravi is leaving the guesthouse to get his own room at a sketchy house owned by “Maya” a brusque woman with a walking stick and two faithful dogs, Ruff and Tuff (“I don’t know why, but they remind me of the hounds from Hell” Ravi tellingly muses). This longer story deals with the trials Ravi faces as he endeavors to find employment that pays him enough to live on while dealing with his less-than-friendly landlady. The ending has a macabre twist that was well-played. (Several other stories have endings with an O. Henry-like twist.)
Overall, I really enjoyed all the stories in this volume. I’m sure Mr. Reddy spent many late hours writing and honing these stories down after working full-time during the day. What you have in Weather Permitting & Other Stories is an obvious labour of love, effected for the love of writing and for recounting the plight of South Asian immigrants. The Miramichi Reader wishes him every success with his next endeavour which is another collection of his stories as well as a novel.
You can read an interview with Pratap Reddy here at Guernica Editions: http://news.guernicaeditions.com/2016/03/03/interview-with-pratap-reddy-author-of-weather-permitting-other-stories/