By Dipika Mukherjee
Beautiful girl finds identity in two worlds.
This story, SHAMBALA JUNCTION, is a FIND. Our protagonist, Indian-born Iris, has been raised in the United States and thoroughly Americanized.
The story opens when spoiled Iris is touring India with her controlling fiance when she steps off their train for a quick refreshment when a mishap causes her delay and she’s left behind at the Shambala Junction train station.
Although Indian, she feels like a stranger. It’s a clever character portrayal for through Iris’ eyes we see India first as a chaotic strange place, gradually becoming familiar as the people and places turn from first-impression to full-bodied people.
Penniless and unable to speak the language she finds herself embroiled in a stranger’s family emergency. She’s initially pressured and then wants to help them. Politics, poverty, family, crime comes through Iris’ eyes and it’s all relatable.
Author Mukherjee casts light on the underbelly crime of infant kidnapping/trafficking. At times sobering, often warm – as the story progresses Iris finds an identity embracing both cultures, learning to become a better version of herself along the way.