Read Salaam, Paris Online

Authors: Kavita Daswani

Tags: #Women; East Indian, #Social Science, #East Indians, #Arranged marriage, #Models (Persons), #Fiction, #Literary, #Paris (France), #Muslim Women, #General, #Women's Studies, #Women

Salaam, Paris

Table of Contents
KAVITA DASWANI is the author of
For Matrimonial Purposes
The Village Bride of Beverly Hills
(both available from Plume). She has been a fashion correspondent for CNN, CNBC Asia, and
Women’s Wear Daily
, has written for the
Los Angeles Times
and the
International Herald Tribune
, among many other publications, and has been the fashion editor for the
South China Morning Post
in Hong Kong. A native of Bombay, she now lives in Los Angeles.
Praise for Kavita Daswani
“The culture-clash dilemmas ring heartbreakingly true.”
—Entertainment Weekly
“Completely engrossing—the perfect blend of real-life drama and fairy-tale whimsy.”—Jennifer Weiner, author of
Good in Bed
“What’s nice about Daswani’s storytelling is her ability to maintain a light tone without sacrificing genuine sympathy for every one of her characters.”
—The Baltimore Sun
“Fairy-tale fun bursts from the confines of an arranged Indian marriage in this delectable follow-up to
For Matrimonial Purposes
. . . should appeal to readers hungering for Lahiri lite or a subcontinental Jane Green.”
—Publishers Weekly
“A thoughtful romantic comedy about a young couple’s first year of marriage . . . There’s plenty of Hollywood glamour, but ultimately the heart of this winning novel lies in how [the couple] grow in their marriage.”
“The ultimate beach read . . . funny, fresh . . . It’s
Sex and the City
. . . with saris and samosas.”
—Seattle Weekly
“Daswani can make readers shriek with laughter. Save this enchanting novel for an uncrowded beach . . . Delightful.”
—USA Today
“A cross-cultural confection.”
“A charming debut novel . . .
Bridget Jones’s Diary
with a distinct Indian flavor.”
—Library Journal

My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Sex and the City
with a curry twist.”
—The Boston Phoenix
For Matrimonial Purposes The Village Bride of Beverly Hills
Published by Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario,
Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin
Books Ltd.)
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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
First published by Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, July 2006
Copyright © Kavita Daswani, 2006
All rights reserved
Daswani, Kavita, 1964-
Salaam, Paris / Kavita Daswani.
p. cm.
eISBN : 978-0-452-28746-4
1. Arranged marriage—Fiction. 2. Women, East Indian—Fiction. 3. Muslim
women—Fiction. 4. Models (Persons)—Fiction. 5. Paris (France)—Fiction. I.
PS3604.A85S25 2006
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

In memory of my dearest grandfather,
Dialdas Verhomal Daswani, with whose
blessings all things are possible.
My sincerest thanks to Aimee Taub, my editor at Plume, for always being so gracious and for having such tremendous instincts about the characters on a page and the world they inhabit.
And to Jodie Rhodes, who is tenacious and smart and kind—everything an agent should be.
And to everyone at Penguin, for their faith in me.
Given that I have never so much as exposed my arms in public, and that until just a few minutes ago I had been concealed, cosseted, and cloistered for most of my nineteen years, I should be leaping out of my chair and running for my life.
But I am too stunned to move.
I am behind a dressing screen, in a back room at a nightclub in Paris, a nude thong barely covering the area that only my future husband is ever meant to see. Apart from that, and two small, circular Band-Aid-type things that have been stuck onto my nipples, and which I am later told are called “pasties,” I am naked. The other girls around me, all either blond-haired or black-skinned, are smoking cigarettes and sucking from miniature bottles of champagne. A hairstylist has backcombed my long black hair with such ferocity that I fear I will never get the knots out. Someone else has applied dark purple lipstick to my mouth and slathered pale white foundation on my face, making me look like I am in dire need of a blood transfusion.
I am alone in Paris, almost nude, looking like a corpse, surrounded by smoking, drinking sinners.
I am a Muslim girl, culturally more accustomed to a black veiled burka than this wisp of a panty that is lodged in my backside.
If my elders were here, they would surely impose a fatwa on my head. It happened to Salman Rushdie, I remind myself, for a lot less.
Someone tugs a skinny sweater over my head, instructing me to purse my lips to prevent the purple from staining the white knit. Despite the pasties, my nipples poke through the thin fabric. Someone else squeezes me into a pair of pink leather hot pants. Sparkling high-heeled sandals are thrust onto my hurriedly varnished feet. A wooly coat is thrown on me; a poodle that has been dyed pink is shoved under my arm.
On the other side of the screen, I hear loud, throbbing music. I am pushed toward a short hallway, someone barking in my ear,
“Allez! Allez!”
Staring straight ahead, I see only white-bright lights up high, strange faces reflected in the dark.
I teeter toward them. The poodle pees in my hand.
I hear clapping, whistling, and deafening music.
This is my moment.
Chapter One
If there had ever been such a thing as a Miss Muslim contest, all but one of the women in my family would have won it.
My great-grandmother was named Sundari—which means, simply, “beautiful” in Hindi. Her daughter, my grandmother, was blessed with the moniker Abha, which translates even more vividly into “lustrous beauty.” One aunt is Gaura—“fair-skinned” and another Sohalia—“moon river”—to describe the luminescence of her face. They were the beauties of their eras, each one sought out by a man who was prominent and powerful enough to win their hearts.
All of them, except my mother.
Had a Miss Muslim contest ever existed, the beauty-pageant baton that would have been passed on from generation to generation would have stopped at her. Which is why when I was born, Parvez, the midwife who had delivered me at our home in the Mumbai suburb of Mahim, went running through the streets of our neighborhood, joyous and jubilant.

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