Saturday, July 18, 2015

A tiny little incident...

A tiny little incident. I wanted to buy an Oreo Milkshake from Ed's but I wanted to share it with Mum who is visiting from India. So i asked for a spare plastic container with a straw.

The waiter who was serving me was a kind looking young man with an easy smile and heavily tattooed arms. We had a brief chat about the tattoos and then he asked me to sit as i waited for the shake to arrive- an offer i took up gratefully. He then came to me a few minutes later and asked me if i wanted some water. I politely said no.

Soon my order was ready.

He came to me with the shake and the spare container. I smiled as i took them from him.

'Thank you' i said, about to leave.

'No problem' he said and then paused and then asked smiling ' Are you happy?'

I smiled.

'Yes, i am ' i said.

He smiled widely, a warm, genuine smile.

'I am happy that you are happy' he said simply, meaning it, before he about turned and got back to some other customer.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Random update post

Since it has been ages since i wrote here, lets do a random post:

  • London is sunny and stunning these days. Lucknow has and will always remain home for me, but London is finally becoming a close second. After half a decade here, i have finally begun to fall in love with most things London and i think i can safely say that now i get the British sense of humour.
  • Apart from making peace with the British sense of humour, I finally have a decent relationship with British television - there are a few programmes that i now actually look forward to watching and it is so refreshing!
  • Talking about the weather, you will not believe how much the whole city changes when the Sun comes out.
  • I have been doing up my house these last few months and it can be SO stressful. Matching the grey to the green. Arrgghh! I dont think i will ever be done, but miracles of miracles, if i ever am done, i will share pictures on the blog for sure.
  • I am about to complete 5 years in the corporate world and of that i have worked in India for only 6 months. Almost zero experience of working in  India- i find it so weird to believe that, given that ALL my education was in India.
  • I am, of course, juggling a gazillion things, but then what is new in that and i would not want it any other way. Busy bee yet again with a seriously wide variety of projects lined up for this year.
  • I am working quite hard on my third book and i have to say it is my favourite book so far...I can barely not think about the main characters- I am so besotted with them. Someone very wise once told me that pieces of art have their own destiny as well, you can only do so much and then you have to let them go and find their own destinies. i think it is very true about books, particularly if you are not one of those authors who are going around buying spots in book stores and best seller lists. Keep your best wishes coming, i really need them.
  • It has been six months since i went to India last, and i miss it terribly. The next trip planned is a Diwali trip - for the first time in my life it will be more than a year without a trip to India. Meh.
  • These days I have been listening to a lot of Beethoven and Mozart and (surprisingly) I love it! Give it a try if you have not already.
More later sometime :)

Friday, November 07, 2014


Written in a train in India:

I am in a train that will whisk me to Delhi. In a couple of hours I will be on a plane heading back to London.
Back to grey, bleak London.

The noise and the chaos and the love and the affection- all left behind.

I came to India looking forward to two things and dreading a third.

The two things I came for were Diwali and the launch of my second book.

What fate held in store for Nani (my maternal grandmother)- that I was dreading.

Diwali happened. The book was launched not once but twice.

And we lost Nani.                                                                                  

All in a matter of a few days.
The thorn lies next to the rose. The rose lies next to the thorn. And such is life...

To go up on stage and laugh and joke and talk about my book when all I could think about was Nani’s death was one of the toughest things I have ever had to do. But I did it, not only because it was the professional thing to do, but also, as cliché as it may sound, I felt that was what she would have wanted.

Nani is gone now, never to return. The finality of it all is difficult to come to terms with but we have the satisfaction of knowing that she lived a long and happy life (she was 92 when she passed away).  She died in the same room she had been brought into as a brand new bride a gazillion years back. A red bindi, a symbol of a married Hindu woman adorned her forehead when she breathed her last.

Her demise has made me think a lot about death. At some level I feel convinced that it does not all end when we die; that there is a great, fun adventure awaiting us on the other side of life; that Nani is thoroughly enjoying hers and chuckling to herself as I type this.

I also feel that I now have someone up there, next to God who will listen to me when He is too busy sorting out the rest of the world. That image gives me a lot of courage.

I know Nani spoke often about my books. She was very proud that I write and very touched that I had thanked her in my first book.  But what Nani liked most was to have a full house. A house that burst at the seems with her 7 kids, 14 grand children and 7 great grandchildren.

At her memorial service as I stared at the hundreds of people who came to pay their respects, I realised that Nani had done it once more. All of us (most of us, atleast) were there, under the same roof, together. My uncles, aunts, cousins and parents bid her her final goodbye with a lot of dignity and respect and as a mother, I know she must have been very proud.

My cousin made a montage of sorts for Nani that day. We switched off the lights and huddled into a darkened room to watch it. Image after image of Nani appreared on the screen. Nani looking stronger than I remembered,  younger than i could have imagined, more serious than she was in her last few months. 
Images that contained bits of a life now gone forever, preserved in those (now priceless) pictures. When we switched on the lights, there was not a dry eye in the room.

Today in the train, as it chugs to Delhi Railway Station, sitting next to me is a thin, wrinkled , yet oddly robust looking retired Army officer. He says he is 94. I have been helping him with whatever it is that I can- simple things really- opening the food packets, helping him walk, simply talking to him etc.

A few minutes back completely out of the blue, he turned around, folded his hands and with a warm, kind smile blessed me and told me that he is very grateful for my help.

‘No, No’ I said hastily ‘ its my pleasure. And really, to be honest, I am helping you for very selfish reasons. I have four grandparents , all of them your age. If I help you, maybe someone will help them when they need help’

And then I stopped short, as another unexpected wave of grief hit me.

‘Not four anymore’ a soft voice inside my head said to me reminding me yet again of the void that Nani has left behind in many lives.

In Nani's honour, putting up a pic of us together a few months back. This is the first time in almost a decade that I have shared a picture of myself on the blog.

Rest in peace, Nani, and come back to us as you promised me multiple times the last time we met. I wait patiently to meet you again in a few decades.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Why everyday HAS to be awesome!

What was awesome today?
For me it was my swimming class.
The long walk in the drizzle with red autumn leaves lining the pavements
The unexpected help from many people for the second book
The conversations with Ma, Chacha, Bhai and Neha.
The  husband cooked.

Everyday has to have something awesome. It does not need to be great. It just needs to be awesome.

What was awesome today? :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Chotu

This other day I woke up and looked around, very relaxed (a rarity for the hyper anxious me). I knew what I was looking for. I was looking for the prettiest face in the world. Dark hair pulled back in a low bun, a big red Bindi on her forehead, kajal in her eyes, smile on her face.

The first face you want to see when you wake up.

Mum would be around somewhere, doing something. The room would be spotlessly clean. I will call out and she will come.

I am vaguely aware that I am 6-7 years old and in Lucknow.

Only I am not.

I am in London and a lot older than 7. It takes me a few moments to orient myself and then I feel gobsmacked. Where did that come from? Almost as if something had taken me back into time for a few precious moments. Mum has short hair now. She rarely wears a saree and the big red bindi has given way to a smaller one.
I have not thought about our life from back then in years.

As the moment passes, I lay back and try to recall how relaxed I had been feeling a few minutes back. I had not felt that way in months. Maybe years.

Mum, my Mum. Even a flashback makes everything okay.

For most girls their mothers are the best.

Mine really is.

No, really, she is.

I have, over the last few years, mostly through conversation across continents, come to know her better than I did when I lived with her growing up in Lucknow. It is one of the benefits of growing up, you know, you get to know your parents as people. Not just as your bank or your cook or your chauffer or as the invisible hand that helps you out when you need some picking up. But as people with hopes and aspirations and fears and their own battles.

And what I have figured about my Mum is nothing short of extra ordinary.

She is an odd combination of contradictions.

She wont be able to say no to the help at home, yet she will find in herself, again and again, the strength to go against everyone in the room to stand for what is right and with those who need help. I have seen her take tough decisions that can only cause her trouble but might help people she loves. And honestly, i have rarely seen anyone else behave in as selfless a manner as she can.

If someone is upset, even though it is the other person's fault, she will try her best to make things okay. I tell her she needs to be strong. And then my father has an emergency brain surgery and she is the only one who has her wits about herself. And I wonder if I can ever be as strong as her.

She is not a manager in a fancy office, but she project manages complex situations at home better than most people I know would ever be able to. Daily wage workers who come to work at our house love her. One of them, many years ago, liked Mum so much that he decided (and we let him) to work for us. He was with us for a couple of years, went back to hi village and then came back. And then there was this one guy who took to calling her Mummy. I still cant help but smile at the memory.

She choses to not react when the easiest thing would be to kill the person in front of you. Yet when she loses her temper, God alone can help you.

I have seen, not once, not twice but hundreds of times, people come to her just to get good sensible advice. And now when someone asks me for advice there is only one question I ask myself ' What would Ma say?'

She is the strongest person I know. She is the gentlest person I know. She can be the clown that entertains and the wise sage that enlightens.

And boy, can she forgive. She forgives people for being petty, selfish and rude. For having made her life hell. For having denied her things she had a right to. ' They are just being ignorant' she says sagely to me on the phone while I grind my teeth and fanatsize about how I would have given that person a taste of his/her own medicine had I been there.

Sometimes when she is saying all those wise things, things that are so wise that for some moments everything makes sense, I wish I can record them. Record them and keep them safe in a locker under the sea where no one can touch them. Just so that they will always stay with me. People often tell me that I say wise things. I am mostly just quoting my Mum.

I know my Mum is my mum, I also think, she is now her mother's Mum as well. And is mother-like for a few others too.

That I am sane is because of her. That I can be strong (Sometimes atleast) is because of her. That I am, is because of her.

Life has many challenges, but I move through it stronger and steadier simply because my Mum is my Mum.

You matter, Ma, matter so much. For some of us, you are, even now, the one person around whom the world revolves.

Happy birthday.

Your Luchita.


In other news, my second book is about to be released. Pre-order your copy here.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Blog marathon #2 : 'After all, meri shadi hone wali hai'

While IDDI (if you have not pre-ordered IDDI yet, here is the link) is about a lot of things like love, family, trust, friendship (and we will talk about all these things), it is primarily the diary of  the bride to be. A bumbling, fumbling bride to be.

This book becomes relevant to you if
1) you got married within the last decade
2) might get married within the next decade
3) are a guy and 1 or 2
4) either girl or guy but have decided never to marry
5) either girl or guy and very confused about marriage

If you do not belong to the above four categories please don't waste your money on the book- that is my humble advice.

Extract from emails I collected from people I know personally (reproduced here with permission, names changed and all that jazz needed to protect identity)

' I loved my fiancé but the moment I got married, I started looking at every other guy, wondering if I should marry him instead of my fiancé! And I felt so pathetic about this that I did not say a word to anyone.
-Anita, 29, (she did get) married'

'Chandini (by the way, what a romantic name, I must name my next female protagonist, Chandini) and I never used to fight. Till we got engaged. Then the proverbial hell broke loose. I still wonder why that happened because we stopped fighting very soon after we got married!
Jatin ( will never name a character Jatin), 31, married for 1 year)'

'I love the idea of getting married. I hate the idea of getting married. Both at the same time
Anjali , 25, student, who wants to get married and does not want to get married'

'After we got engaged, I used to feel bad when my fiancé would put the phone down after less than 45 minutes. My expectations did not make sense.
Bhumi, 30, whose expectation still do not make sense'

'I was marrying her because I loved her. why the hell did I need to tell her that every two seconds!!
Pushkar (he has insisted, I write again that it is not his real name. I am doing as he bids)

'And she became all senti about her Mum and Dad. Unbelievably senti. Before we got engaged, she would tell me that her folks got on her nerves every once in a while- which really is very normal. But when we got engaged, Uncle and Aunty became sacred. Don't even ask.
Gaurav, married and a very tameezdar damad'

When I was getting married, everyone told me enjoy this period because it was the most beautiful time in a person's life. So much so that I even felt pressurised into enjoying that time.

Like really. Its nice and good and you look forward to new things but it does not come without its own pitfalls. Even the thought now seems ridiculous. I was soon to leave my country and family and job and frineds and settle in a place I knew no one in ( no one remotely trustworthy, anyway, as I would find out after some interesting escapades later with so called 'friends').

The point is, as the book will also tell you, it is okay to be confused.
Its okay to worry and wonder.
Its okay to be ridiculously silly.

And if you have found someone who puts up with all your nonsense, reason enough to don the red lehenga / magnolia sherwani and be there in the mandap.


Question for the post:
I get many emails. (What a pompous way to start a section. Bleh)
Most of them ask me questions about getting published. As far as possible, I will take one question from those emails and answer them here. If you have any, feel free to let me know and I will try my best to answer.

Question of the day:
My publisher is asking me for money. Should I sign with him?

Yes and No.
Yes, if all you want is to be a published author and do not really care about much else.
No, if you want to get a real publisher.

To share my story, when my first book came out one publisher reached out to me with an offer. I would put in x amount and he would put in 2x amount and voila! we would have a book. I am very glad better sense prevailed ( and also that Rupa agreed to publish me!)
My suggestion is to go for a reputed publisher. These will never ask you to put in money. You will get royalty and if things work out well, a decent advance too.

If you are getting refusals at the moment, keep trying. Tweak your story, improve the wirting, invest more time in the manuscript. Getting a book out is hard work- but so, so,so worth it in the end ( before the bad reviews start, that is ;) )


Saturday, September 06, 2014

Blog Marathon #1: As a writer

My books are a bit of myself as I was when I was writing them. Things that made me happy or sad or simply caught my attention- all find their way into the book in some way or the other.
When I re-read my books, oddly enough, I am acquainted with parts of me that I have forgotten.  There is this little joke in the book that actually comes from that little incident that took place which ofcourse I had completely forgotten about till I re-read the book.

Anyway, coming back to IDDI (in case you have not pre-ordered it, please do it here: Even if I say so myself, it is an engaging, fun read. A big throbbing heart- that is how a friend described it sometime back, bless her!), while I cannot say how it will fare in the markets, though I hope you will all buy it and make it a success, what I can say with conviction is that I am proud of it.

Proud in a quiet, sensible way. Proud because I know this story comes from my heart and that is what I wanted. Proud because I know I spent hours working on this book when I could have been out partying. Proud because it has some sentences that mean a lot to me. Proud because of the decisions Kasturi, Purva, Pitajee and Anu take (agreed some decisions are sheer madness, but who am I to complain, afterall it is their life!)

The book touches on many aspects of life and I hope to talk about them as we move through this marathon, in the process discussing matters that affect all of us.

While I would I have liked to do  post each day, I will, due to pressures of work, limit it to Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In the meanwhile don't forget to pre-order the book, you wont regret it :)