The Awasthis of Aamnagari is a delightful read that will leave you with a warm feeling long after you have read it. A gently humorous series of episodes in the life of the Awasthi family of Aamnagari, which could represent any town in northern India, it is sure to make you laugh, reminisce about your own childhood spent visiting relatives in a small town, where life moves at a slower pace, and at its best it reminds the reader of RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days, where the events of a small town, seemingly lost in time, are recounted. The book has helpful features such as a family tree and a list of characters to help readers keep track of who’s who in the Awasthi family, which had many shoots and branches, much like the spreading mango tree that has a central role in the household, and which forms a key plot point in one of the episodes. While recounting the foibles of the family, the book also touches upon serious issues, such as family dynamics and politics – how daughters-in-law and servants can be mistreated and how fake godmen can con the gullible members of a family. The need for open communication, often suppressed in Indian families, is brought out particularly well in the story about the ‘ghost’ that eats eggs and in the final episode of the book, where the matriarch of the family goes missing. In its depiction of family power struggles and how the youngest daughter-in-law appeals to the patriarch’s sense of justice to wrangle an expensive saree from him, after being hoodwinked by the elder daughters-in-law, the book also suggests a typically Indian solution of ‘adjustment’ to maintain the peace within a family. And yet the warmth and affection described in the book, particularly towards the children and the pets of the family cannot be denied. The ‘normative’ depiction of patriarchy, where the menfolk do no domestic chores, and never enter the kitchen is also possibly true of the earlier time depicted in the book. Hopefully, the times they are a changing... That said, the book makes for enjoyable reading, particularly since every reader will find some character or quirk they can identify and empathise with in the family jungle—and menagerie—of the Awasthis of Aamnagari. The author Shubha Sarma, a civil servant, shows a keen eye for detail and her observations on human behaviour and foibles are entertaining. She gently relates each episode and describes each character, their thoughts, motivations and agendas, in deft strokes. The episode of the godman seeking to con the matriarch and her brother is a particularly insightful one in this regard. The final crisis in the book, where the matriarch goes missing, also brings out genuine emotion particularly from the patriarch, who realises how he has neglected his wife, who felt increasingly bereft as her children and their families moved away one by one. The final resolution, where branches of the family find their own space, either within the house, or nearby, brings about a feel-good, group-hug solution, which is apt in the universe of the book. Read it to remind yourself of life at a slower pace and laugh along with the residents of Paradise, the home of the Awasthis of Aamnagari. This book is valuable laughter therapy in these uncertain times!