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The Taste of Water weaves history, folklore, humour, irreverence and adventure on two continents in a sweeping story spanning three generations set against the backdrop of Indian mythology and Western philosophy.

Victor and Shambu, two young boys mesmerized by a performing cyclist in their sleepy village of Uppal, South India, hatch a mischievous plan to prevent his macabre live burial finale—the first of many collaborations in their lifelong struggles with ambition and success, lust and love, power and impotence, and sin and redemption.

Victor achieves success as a telecom analyst in Toronto and New York City during the dot-com boom. His spectacular rise to fortune is matched only by his painful fall into excess and depravity. Shambu becomes a feared man in the underworld, selling cheap government booze. But his success, too, comes at a price.

Along the way we meet Rama Rao, a Brahmin storyteller and exorcist who plays chess with malevolent demons; Meena Rai, whose husband kills her lover then remains locked up in their house for decades until convinced to leave his room to murder again; the Alvares sisters, devout spinster twins who strip naked to scare away ghosts and later engage in nocturnal activities with one; Girija Bhandari, a young mother who cures inflamed eyes with jets of fresh milk from her breasts; and Zuao Manuel De Souza, famous for vanquishing a demon with the power of his rosary.

By turns magical and mystical, tragic and triumphant, The Taste of Water tells an unforgettable tale.


A different India, a surprising India, and a refreshing India. Utterly original. A rare and authentic slice of life in the villages around Mangalore—one that should be preserved in a time capsule.

- Richard Crasta, author of The Revised Kama Sutra

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