BookClub Exclusive: An Excerpt from Sonya Singh's Sari, Not Sari

Melissa Boles

We love a good romcom - and a good cover reveal!

Sonya Singh, a former entertainment reporter turned communications professional based out of Toronto, Canada, gave BookClub an exclusive look at her debut romcom, Sari, Not Sari, including a look at her beautiful cover! Check out the excerpt and the cover below and be sure to pre-order her book. Sonya will also be on BookClub discussing the questions we know you'll be dying to have answered once you read this funny and endearing book.

Excerpt from Sari, Not Sari

Anjali turned around. She was staring at her green tablet. “Mr. Patel is on line one.”

“All right, I’ll take it.”

“You will?” her voice cracked.

“Just the call, not the case.” Mr. Patel was getting annoying. Time to set him straight.

“Manny Dogra speaking,” I answered the phone when the call came through. I used my don’t mess with me voice.

“Ms. Dogra, I really need your help, and I’ll do whatever it takes at this point. I am pressed for time, and the clock is ticking.”

“Mr. Patel, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but, as I’m sure Anjali explained to you, we just don’t do temporary breakups. It could get us in a lot of trouble with our stakeholders if we start going against our company policies and—”

“Ms. Dogra, you haven’t even heard my story. I just need you to make an exception. My request . . . it’s unique, and if you could just hear me out—”

“Mr. Patel, you have to hear me out. I get this all the time from clients, but—”

“This is different.”

Oh, here we go. It was always different. Just like the client who shared a dog with her boyfriend and needed help dognapping him before their breakup, or the client who was guided by voices to the new love of her life even though she was married at the time, or the client who was having an affair with her neighbor’s twentysomething son—we had heard it all.

“And you should understand,” he continued.

This was going to be good.

“You’re Indian, after all,” he said, stating the obvious.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“The girl I’m dating . . . she’s not. . . you know . . . Indian. I can’t possibly take her to my brother’s wedding—”

“Because she’s not Indian?” I cut him off.

“It’s just never been done before. The oldest son bringing a non-Indian girl to his younger brother’s wedding. Hasn’t been done with any of the Patels. Never. So I need a week off from my girl, from us.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Let me get this right. You want to temporarily split with your girlfriend while you attend your brother’s wedding, and you’ll return to her after the wedding, as if nothing happened?”

“Yes. At least by then, one Patel son will be properly married.”

My nostrils flared. “I’m sorry, Mr. Patel. I just can’t make an exception. And to be honest, I don’t understand. It sounds . . . it sounds silly to me.”

“Silly? You think Indian tradition is silly?”

“That’s not what I meant—”


I stared at the phone, and then put it down. I had learned early in my business life not to take these things personally. I hated to turn down clients, but it was the right thing to do. What was that saying, when one door closes . . .

And with that, there was another knock on my door.

“Manny, how did things go with Mr. Patel?” Anjali asked.

“Come in for a second!” I signaled her to take a seat. “It was a strange call, no doubt about it. Mr. Patel wants a temporary breakup because—did he also tell you this—he’s dating a non-Indian woman and can’t tell his family. He said something about tradition.”

Anjali looked at me with big eyes. “I wouldn’t be able to tell my family, either.”

“Really? How could you not tell your family if you loved someone? Surely, they want what’s best for you?”

“It’s just every Indian parent’s dream that his or her child will grow up and marry into another Indian family. My parents want me to have my happily ever after with an Indian doctor, lawyer, or engineer. They want to keep all the traditions in the family.

Mr. Patel probably feels he would be bringing a kind of disgrace to the Patel family name if he married outside the culture.” Anjali obviously had some experience in the matter.

“Well, then, why bother dating a Smith or Jones . . .” I pressed her.

“Because not all the Viks are adream and instead end up being your worst nightmare,” she said, obviously thinking back to her brunch bust.

“So, you’re telling me this client would rather lie to his own family and his girlfriend—?”

“At least until his brother gets married. Then it will be less pressure on him because at least one Patel son has married Indian.”

So he wasn’t making that up. I had never been exposed to this side of being Indian before. But, really, I hadn’t been exposed to much Indian culture at all. It just wasn’t the way in our family.

“He was still kind of a jerk to Rajiv this morning. And as you know, we don’t do—”

“Temporary breakups.” Anjali completed my sentence. “I know that Mr. Patel seems like a hothead, but after I spoke with him, I got the impression he’s just in a huge Patel . . .” She searched the room. “Retell. Patel retell.”

“Patel retell?”

“He’s about to make history here, Manny. He wants to change the course of who Patels can marry. This is a total Indian narrative. Most of us can relate to this in one way or another,” she said in away that made me feel excluded from her new club with Mr. Patel. “Not that you can’t relate to it because you aren’t Indian, it’s just . . .”

I watched Anjali as she struggled for the right thing to say.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love being Indian. But it comes with a lot of responsibilities, and families are rooted in tradition. That includes mine and, from the sound of it, Mr. Patel’s. I know it seems dated, but it’s like rice and dal. Culture and convention go hand in hand. From the arranged marriages to the oldest son not wanting to dishonor his family because he’s choosing to marry a non-Indian.” She got up and headed to the door. “Manny, I thought . . .” She hesitated. “I thought most Indians grew up just knowing that’s the way it must be. It’s like the plot to almost every Bollywood movie.”

I tried to recall the few movies that Rajiv had pressed me to watch, but the truth was I always fast-forwarded to the beautiful wedding scenes full of gorgeous dresses, so I missed out on most of the plot.

“Thanks, Anjali. Maybe I just need to watch a few more of those movies. I’ll see you in a few minutes with the rest of the team.”

When she left, I thought about my parents. They had never suggested I date anyone. I went out with guys I felt a connection with, and, growing up, I didn’t feel connected to anyone Indian. And in our house, dal and rice didn’t come together. It was pasta and red wine.

I sat back up in my chair and typed “I am Indian and want to marry a non-Indian” into Google.


Forum after forum with men and women wondering how to break it to their parents that the person they were dating or even considering marrying was a non-Indian.

I shook my head. It didn’t matter if this was a real problem or not. It wasn’t my problem. I had said no.

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