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One Amazing Thing
Author: Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9780143416555
Pages: 206
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One Amazing Thing begins on a dull day at an Indian consulate in an American city. There are nine people at the office. Two are workers at the consulate. The other seven are waiting to get their travel papers to India. They are as diverse a group as possible.

There is an ageing Caucasian couple whose marriage is in trouble. An African-American Vietnam war vet, a young Muslim American man whose world is turned upside down after the events of 9/11. There is a Chinese grandmother and her teenage granddaughter.

Then, there is Uma, a young graduate student, who is getting ready to visit her parents in Kolkata, Her parents had moved back to India a year ago, and this was the first time she would be visiting them. She plans to spend her six week winter break with them.

Uma, always curious about strangers, was keenly observing her companions, especially the Chinese grandmother and the teenager, who seemed to be having a disagreement, when a tremor sweeps through the room.

Before the group,of people in the room could recover, another violent tremor rumbles through and they realize it is an earthquake. The building starts to collapse, and water starts seeping into the room, slowly rising. The small group is trapped inside this stifling space, wondering whether rescue or death awaits them.

As confusion begins to set in, the African- American man, Cameron, quietly takes control, suggesting they collect water from the bathroom sink, and ration and share whatever food they have among themselves, as they wait for rescue.

As time moves on, without any sign or hope of redemption from this desperate situation, trouble erupts as the small group shows signs of increasing impatience and disagreement. Then, Uma, in an attempt to take their minds of the current situation, makes a suggestion.

Uma proposes that each of the nine people present in the room should relate One Amazing Thing that happened in their lives, an incident or occasion that they would never forget.

This idea of sharing the One Amazing Thing in their lives slowly works its magic. The people begin to forget the stress of the current situation, as they each try to recall that one unforgettable moment in their lives.