- Book: The Uncoupling
- Location: Europe
- Author: Cauvery Madhavan
Janaki and Balu Shankar hail from Madras, a couple in older years who have come to England to visit their son and his family. He is unfortunately too busy to spend time with them, so ships them off on a 16 day trip to Europe. They are a reserved and traditional couple who quietly absorb the new experiences, although husband Balu has moments of irritation when his wife dozes off amidst spectacular scenery.
They become friendly with the Singhs and there are further characters to add colour to this snapshot study of a marriage of over 30 years.
First stop is Amsterdam with the inevitable trip to the Red Light District. It is here that Balu experiences a damascene moment of sexual possibilities and in one scene sadly takes advantage of his wife when she is comatose due to unaccustomed alcoholic imbibition. Whether she is aware of his actions or not, there is a subsequent change in the trajectory of their marriage and Janaki finds a bit of a voice that has never been heard in the marriage.
As they bicker and co-exist, the bus hurtles around Europe from Cologne, down through the Black Forest, past Schloss Neuschwanstein (mad Ludwig’s Disney castle) and on to Innsbruck and back to Paris.
There is quite a tongue-in-cheek element to the group of disparate people enjoying the wonders of their trip; quirks and personalities are well observed and the context of Shankar marriage is nicely put in the wider context of their life back home.