Saffron and Silk opens with a wedding between two unlikely lovers: a handsome thirty-something Indian-born development worker and a thirty-something Catholic academic from Sydney. Out of character with her background and normal demeanour, the bride has left the predictability of her life in Australia to marry and live in the South Indian city of Chennai.
Readers enter into the bride’s new family and their Kerala origins and into some of the rich culture of Tamil legends and history. She shares her struggles and frustrations as a ‘foreign wife’ and her insights into both the domestic minutiae of everyday life and the macro challenges of poverty. These stories are all set within the annual cycle of religious feasts and festivals around which life in India turns.
At the heart of the story is the pogrom sparked by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984. The horrors of this time are re-lived and the author’s perspective reveals much about the complexity of modern India. This is set against another story of tension when the accidental death of one of the author’s colleagues results in threats to her and her husband.
As if to reassure herself, the author concludes the book with stories of more domestic matters – motherhood, women and travel. She uses her personal experience to explore larger issues of India’s culture and history, making Saffron and Silk a personal insider story of some of the treasures and dilemmas of a country that is increasingly significant to contemporary Australia.
A journey of love, idealism, challenges, rich with the pungent spices of India.
~ Susanne Gervay OAM, multi-award winning author
A definitive insight on the intersections of two cultures, Australian and Indian.
~ Dr Meenakshi Bharat, Indian Association for the Study of Australia
Written straight from the heart of a person who loves India.
~ Professor T. Krishnan Nair, Chennai
Saffron and Silk
Dr Anne Benjamin is an Honorary Professor at Australian Catholic
University and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Western Sydney. She has been recognised for her principled and visionary contribution to education in Australia and India, and in particular to Catholic education in Western Sydney. Since concluding nine years as Executive Director of schools in the Diocese of Parramatta, she returned to her love of writing and has published widely.