Ever wonder what it would be like to marry a man who grew up in a palace? Patch contributor and former People magazine features writer Alison Singh Gee did exactly that when she wed Ajay Singh, now Eagle Rock Patch's editor in Los Angeles. Throughout the 1990s, Alison even lived behind the rusted wrought-iron gates of the Singh family's 100-room Indian palace.
She met Ajay when both were journalists at Time Inc.'s newsweekly Asiaweek in Hong Kong. Although Alison knew very little about her fiancé or his family background, the couple swiftly got engaged within three months of meeting at a company offsite event. A few months after the engagement, Alison discovered that not only did her betrothed grow up in a rambling old 19th-century grand manor on the outskirts of Delhi, but also that she and Ajay were now heir to the grandest wing of the house.
It may sound like a fairytale but, of course, there's always the fine print. Mokimpur—as the house is called—turned out to be not much of a fantasy palace. It was certainly no luxurious showcase of velvet daybeds, gilt-framed portraits of maharajas and other lofty ancestors, and sweeping palm-dotted landscapes. Instead, it was more of a sprawling moldy tear down, with hot-and-cold running mosquitoes, belligerent peacocks, and the odd royal ghost or two.
Alison writes about her adventures—or misadventures—in her astonishing new memoir, Where the Peacocks Sing: A Palace, a Prince and the Search for Home. In the book, which was published Feb. 19, she also chronicles her challenging relationship with Ajay's idiosyncratic landed gentry family, her memories of a fraught childhood with a real estate obsessed Chinese American father, and her growing love affair with the broken-down palace and with India itself. Throughout the book, Alison invites readers to join her on a magic carpet ride through the bustling streets of Hong Kong and into the private salons of India's gentrified families. She also asks readers such essential life questions as what is wealth and where do we truly find home.
Selected on Feb. 4 by National Geographic Traveler as its Book of the Month and reviewed by the Orange County Register on Feb. 17, Where the Peacocks Sing is an expansive page-turner in which Alison masterfully braids her poignant search for home, love and family with the vibrant, startling details of an exotic landscape.
Alison will discuss her insightful and supremely entertaining debut memoir at Barnes & Noble, Tribeca on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m. If you've got friends who love books, Hong Kong, India or just a good night out, please let them know. There will be cocktails and conversation afterward at Tamarind, Tribeca!
Where the Peacocks Sing New York Launch Party
Book Discussion: Barnes And Noble Tribeca, 97 Warren St., Feb. 27, 6 p.m.
Followed by cocktails at Tamarind, Tribeca, 99 Hudson St.