chapter 1: paradise pickles & preserves
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The scene opens on the town of Ayemenem in the southern Indian province of Kerala. The setting is almost unbearably abundant and full of life. We encounter Rahel, who returns home to Ayemenem to see her twin brother, Estha. Still living in the same house is her grandaunt, Baby Kochamma. Rahel and Estha have a peculiar relationship. As children they considered themselves to be one person. Roy tells us that "they were a rare breed of Siamese twins, physically separate, but with joint identities." Rahel used to share experiences, dreams, and memories with Estha. But as 31-year-old adults, the twins have become individual emotionally as well as physically. As young children they lived in the famous tea province of Assam. Later on, their parents divorced and Ammu returned to live in Ayemenem.