Thursday, 7 November 2019

Mommyness


Sometimes you look into the mirror and don't recognise the person you see. The tired body, stooping shoulders, greasy hair and a drained mind; the paling skin due to receding hormones and dark circles due to infinite  hours of nursing at nights. Sometimes you feel like you are the only one awake in the world at those odd hours in the night. And then you soothe yourself by saying that there are millions of other moms across the world sailing in the same boat.

There was a time when I was the youngest amongst my team mates in the office, a free bird. I could party anytime, work for long hours and go back home, eat and dive into my books! I often awed at moms around me and wondered on why they were always in a rush, puzzled and weary. I questioned in my mind as to why they left office early, does a child really require that much of maintenance and attention!? I never knew the battles they had already fought even before reaching the workplace in the morning, and that so many others were awaiting them for the later part of the day.

Realising that a tiny human is entirely dependant on you for everything, makes you feel burdened and overwhelmed at the same time, all the time. Holding your pee, you have to be on your toes to provide for the little person, who seems to be growing so slow. There is always a bunch of laundry to be swirled and splashed. The empty tins of baby food asking to be refilled and the stack of soiled diapers waiting to be recycled! The same question that you have to ask yourself every day for the rest of your life is what to cook for dinner. The monotony of life seldom leads to the thought of absconding to my old life, the carefree one. 

They say, "it takes a village to bring up a child" But there ain't always one! Enormous pressure is put on the parents while we try to make up for what entire communities used to provide. Advices keep pouring in. They tend to judge you on why your child is at the care centre and why you do not nurse your baby that often, why is the baby leaner compared to other children of his age and how he could have been plumpier if the quality of your milk was better! You are being held accountable for all that is not happening and all that is happening! And they brutally push you into a guilt ride.

With my child beside me, I open Facebook and see how my girl gang is out on a holiday and how others are out for an adventure trip which I had never been for long. How from being a voracious reader and movie buff , I've turned into someone arranging baby laundry, surfing for baby poop color indications, exploring recipes for a healthy baby and shopping for economic diapers!

"Turn your face to the sun and shadow falls behind you".

A plumpy child is not always a healthy one, but an active one is. Working mom is never a vamp, she is quarreling with the world each day for the baby's bright future. A daycare baby is not to be sympathethized but congratulated for being independent way before his peers.

All my dismay vanishes when I see the little one grinning at me after a tiring day at work, when the baby chirps mummma and phahhapaa (Papa) unexpectedly, when he crawls towards me and smiles for no reason, when he grows a new tooth or makes a new sound, when he clings to me tightly and makes me feel he is elated on me being around him and that he prioritises me over anyone else. All becomes worth it. He will not be a baby forever, and the innocence would fade gradually. The joy that he brings to us is second to none.  My house feels full when he is around. I am sure he too shall be proud of his parents when he grows up.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Book Review: City of Nine Gates



Book Title: City Of Nine Gates
Author:  Pankaj Rajput
Edition Language: English
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 308


Firstly, a big thanks to Blogadda for sending across the book to me for review.

To begin with, the first thing I loved about the book is the quality of pages and the appealing bright cover.

This book written by Pankaj Rajput is a work of fiction which efficiently merges mythology with philosophy and modernism with spirituality. It is a perfect treat for the mind and a great source of motivation for the conscience. Its a spiritual tale taking you to a dream world.

With meticulous usage of language, following the contemporary style of verbiage and simple dialogues, this book gets a plus. I specially adore the names of the characters like Gyan, Niyati, Vishwas, Buddhi, Manas etc. Unlike commonly used names in other Indian fictions like Raj, Rahul, these names suit well to the intent of the book.

The book takes you to another universe while you are reading it. It keeps you holding throughout. It is like a fairy tale, plotted well. The sequence of events is nice. It feels like the reader is watching a movie!

The protagonist of the book is a millionaire named Gyan, who is an atheist. He is a a naive and young man who after a journey through city of nine gates transforms into a man who is aware of his potential, and above all of himself.

Gyan is an archaeology enthusiast, joins his friend and team in the excavation of a hidden city. On a secret trip to the ruins, Gyan finds the wisest sages at the city entrance and the history of this discovered city from the sages. While he was being awarded the entrepreneur of the year, he ended up reaching to the city of nine gates, following an explosion on the stage itself. I don't want to be a spoiler, so leaving the rest for the reader to experience!

The content of the book clearly depicts that the author has done extensive research and iterations of the content to create the ultimate piece of work that he has done. The Sanskrit glossary at the end is also a helpful reference.

Although I like most of the aspects of this book, but I would have had a better reading experience if the spelling mistakes at certain pages could have been proofread and rectified. I hope this will be fixed in subsequent editions.

I rate this book 4 on 5 and recommend it for all the youngsters who are looking for spiritual and motivational treat for their mind.


(PS: the reviews expressed here are based on my personal reading experience, and do not intend to defame, derate or 
degrade the sale or vice-versa for the book.)


If you are an author and want your book to be reviewed, drop an email at bookreviews@mansiladha.com.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Divit's World at Eight Months


Mom is feeding me some paste with something she calls as purple spoon. Yakk, this doesn't taste great. These big people need to understand my choice. By now I know that feeding time means learning A,B,C,D and Johnny Johnny Yes Papa. And of course, the dog says bhaau bhauu and cat says meoww meoww. The thirsty crow is thirsty everyday, and slow and steady tortoise wins the race daily. I smile on hearing all this, because that makes you people happy and think that I am eating well. Oops! I turned my head towards that big illuminated object on the wall and leaked the paste out of my mouth, to my side. Look at Mumma's eyes, she seems angry... Never mind, all I have to do is smile or cry, either ways, I win!

They call me "Divit". I think that's my name, just like Mumma Daddy's names are Mumma and Daddy.

Mumma and Daddy go to a place called office.These people are talking about their day. I can't make sounds like they do. All I can do is say hummmmm, ummmmaa, bubububu, ahaaaan (clearing the throat), unngeee, giiiiiii, ammaaa, tattattata and so much more.

This world and its objects sound interesting. Those strange things that my tongue touches these days hurt me sometime. But they help me produce new sounds. And I want to chew everything with them. I want to chew my toys, and the bedsheet, and Mumma Daddy's dresses and tresses, the TV remote, my hands and even my feet! How can you really know something if you haven't put it in your mouth!

I am so curious to know how this world works. I want to see and touch and taste and hear everything.

Yesterday I went outside with Mumma and Daddy. There was so much light.There were so many big people. So many things running, some small, some big. Big people were sitting on those running things. Those things were making noise also. There were some big people who were walking like Mumma and Daddy with two feet. I have got 2 extra feet unlike them. I like walking, I mean crawling with those. I also try to stand and walk like these people. But when I try to hold the sofa and stand, I fall down. It hurts on my head and I cry. Mumma Daddy rush to me, lift me and take me to the window to show light and big people. I open my eyes wide to see them. It is wonderful!

Nowadays, Mumma and Daddy play a weird game with me, they hide behind the wall and appear again. They believe I am giggling back because it pleased me. Nah!


At my daycare, Atharv also has 4 feet like me, but Ahaan, Ayub, Amairaah, Kiara, Faaz and the aunties have 2 feet! They are different.

Few days back, something was running out of my nosy all the time. That thing came in my mouth also, it was so tasty. Mummy Daddy were wiping it with some soft soft thing.

Mumma Daddy are taking me into the room where we sleep. I hate sleeping, why do we have to sleep. Mumma and Daddy are saying "Good Night Divit". Oh no, please please Daddy don't pat on my side, please don't sing that lullaby Mumma. It will make me sleep. I have an idea, if I cry I can stay awake for little long. They soothed me. I am turning now, I like to sleep on my tummy. They are patting me again, Oh no, please I want to play. Zzzzzzzz I am not sleeping. No mosquitoe net please... No...zzzzzzz. khrrrrrrrrrrr...

2 hours later.

They are still sleeping, I slept enough. Time to scream the house down. They are awake now, whooppiiee. I am the Boss of the house!

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Being Me


Being the flawless mother,
And a sublime partner,

A cook, advisor, and a teaser,
Crazy and hazy nagger,

From the weekend laundry,
And the weekday crockery,

The stack of grocery,
And the shack of cutlery,

The ardent worker,
And the workforce docker,

Ready to take all the failure,
But I am not a loser,

I know it's a phase,
But life's become a race,

I know I have to be skeptical,
And be adaptable,

I adore this with ultimate vanity,
Because this is life's beauty.

I can't be none of thee,
So I adore being me!

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Diary of a Daycare Mom




His rattles spread on the mattress, his soft toy Tuffy lying alone in the corner, his little pants and those wet nappies waiting to be picked up and a mountain of his laundry waiting to be washed.

I am already tired of packing and labelling stuff for his daycare adventure and googling to know when his first tooth would appear, browsing e-commerce sites to look for his needs, sterilizing those containers for him and preparing his feeds for the day.

It's been exactly 23 minutes since I dropped my 6 month old to his daycare center, sitting on the couch I already feel like it's already hours since I met him, saw his innocent smile, his cheery giggle and that unexpected cry. They call it separation anxiety and I call it motherhood.

I should be taking a nap now. But my heart thuds at the thought of, what if they call and say that your son is crying, and that he needs you, come over and check on him. What if I fall asleep and miss their call. I have anyway forgotten on how to sleep alone.

I have pit in my stomach and lump in the throat, even though I know that he is just 750 metres away as per google map on taking the shortest route. He was in the lap of the caregiver when I bid him goodbye, staring at me while I was walking out and then smiling at the lady. I was jealous of the caregiver, because I am his Mom and no one else is!

Am I a bad mother for handing my baby to someone else at such young age? Is my career that important? Is it that easy to pack his stuff and drop him to that center? 

For the past 6 months and 13 days I had been longing for some "me-time", read and write and pamper myself and do all that I want, and be myself. But in this span of time, I had forgotten that now I am his Mom first and myself later.

I never knew I would be so habitual of this little person in my life. No matter what the world says, no matter how many societal relations he has with family and extended family, I am the one who carried him inside me and I cannot be replaced. No one owns him as much as I do. Call it obsession or love for him.

Being apprehensive about his well being would last forever. Kids never stay with their parents forever, but a part of them stays in us till the end. And it's just the beginning. The sooner I let him practice being away from me, the better it would be.

Perhaps, the world may blame me for being a harsh mother, a career oriented woman or a parent paying others to bring her child up. My conscience might shake for a while and question me. But I will stand strong and do what it takes to make him a better person.

Because I am not a bad mother, I am doing this to make him independent, disciplined and a good human, and focussing on my career so that I give him a wonderful life.
I am sure my son will be proud of me when he grows up and reads all this.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Happy Half Birthday Divit


We never knew,
Your delicate touch,
Will make us love you so much,


We never knew,
You will make our days shorter and nights longer,
Our clothes shabbier and life happier,


We never knew,
Those intial feelings of scare would turn into overwhelming joy,
And you will be our favorite toy,


We never knew,
The innocence in you will steal our hearts,
And with you we will begin our lives from the start,


We never knew,
How fast the days will go,
And we will enjoy seeing you grow,


We never knew,
Secretly we wish you stay a tiny baby forever,
And amaze us every moment forever!


Happy Half Birthday Divit

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

किसका आधार मेरी पहचान


इस लेख का उद्देश्य रीतियों या व्यक्तियों पर नहीं किन्तु नीतियों पर कटाक्ष करना है।

प्रिय बदलती हुई सरकार/ पुनः लौटती हुई सरकार,

मेरे 4 माह के बेटे की पासपोर्ट अर्ज़ी इसलिए रद्द कर दी गयी क्योंकि मेरे आधार कार्ड में मेरे नाम के साथ अब तक मेरे पिता का नाम जुड़ा हुआ है। मेरा surname शादी के बाद भी मेरे पिता का ही surname है और मैं अब तक सभी सरकारी दस्तावेजों में मैं w/o की जगह d/o से ही जानी जाती हूं। और इसलिए मेरे बेटे के दस्तावेजों को अधूरा करार दिया गया।

मैंने सोचा था "मेरा आधार मेरी पहचान" है, किन्तु वर्तमान में घटित घटना से ज्ञात होता है मैं किसकी बेटी या पत्नी हूँ ये मेरी पहचान है। मुझे ना ही अपने साथ अपने पिता का नाम जोड़ने में शर्म आती है और ना ही अपने पति के नाम से जुड़ने में कोई झिझक। तो यह तो मेरी इच्छा पर होना चाहिए ना कि मैं किसका नाम अपने आधार में जोड़ना चाहती हूँ। हालांकि मैं भी मेरे पिता और पति की तरह एक स्वतंत्र करदाता हूँ, लेकिन मेरी अपनी पहचान रखने का मुझे कोई अधिकार नहीं है।

वैसे भी मेरे पुत्र के आधार में तो मेरा नाम आना नहीं है, तो उसकी अर्ज़ी रद्द करने का कारण मैं कैसे बन सकती हूँ। हालांकि उसके जन्म के पूर्व, जन्म के समय और जन्म के पश्चात एक माँ के तौर पे जो तकलीफ़ें मैंने सही उनके इनाम स्वरूप मुझे हर मदर्स डे पर एक कार्ड मिल ही जायेगा, आधार या पासपोर्ट का कार्ड नहीं, ग्रीटिंग कार्ड। मेरा बेटा फिर भी मेरे नाम से नहीं जाना जाएगा। वो सिर्फ उसके ननिहाल में उसकी माँ के नाम से जाना जाएगा।

इन सब के उपरांत यदि मेरे पिता का नाम मेरे आधार में लिखा भी है तो मैं समझती हूँ कि उसे बदलने का क्या औचित्य है, मैं तो हमेशा मेरे पिता की ही बेटी रहूंगी ना। मेरे अनुसार शादी के ख़र्च में 50 रुपये आधार में "सुधार" के लिए भी जोड़ देने चाहिए। या फिर हमारे देश में जैसे 6 माह का मातृत्व अवकाश होता है वैसे ही "पहचान परिवर्तन" अवकाश भी होना चाहिए जिसमें की हर वैवाहिक महिला अपने सभी पहचान पत्रों में पिता के नाम से जुड़ने की त्रुटि को सुधरवा सके।

मेरे पास और लिखने का समय नहीं है। मैं चली अपने आधार, पासपोर्ट, वीसा, ड्राइविंग लाइसेंस, बैंक एकाउंट, पैन कार्ड, क्रेडिट कार्ड, डेबिट कार्ड, आफिस रिकॉर्ड,  PF, वोटर पहचान पत्र इत्यादि में "सुधार" करवाने। गनीमत है सोशल मीडिया एकाउंट्स में परिवर्तन अनिवार्य नहीं है।

Friday, 12 April 2019

My Little boy



My little boy,
One day you will tower me,
And become smart and clever,

One day these moments may fade,
You will become a man,
And have your own priorities,

One day you will have a life of your own,
A family to call your own,
And I will be gone,

But till then,
I will continue to nurture you,
And to care for you,

Till then,
I will bask in the sleepless nights,
Begging you to sleep and miss you when you might,

For the world you are just 3 months old,
But for me you are already 12 months old,
3 months out and the rest untold,

For the world you are a toy,
And they love you when you give joy,
And back to the mother when you are a crying boy,

When I see you learn every other while,
When your little heart beats against mine,
I feel being on cloud nine,

When I see you grin innocently through my scoldings,
And your little palms enclosing my fingers,
My merriment lingers,

The scars on my body would always remind me,
that every part of you was someday a part of me
And how you arrived and we survived,

The scars on my body may never heal,
But my love for you would never seal,
Because, my little boy, you and I were connected by the umbilical.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Divit's Letter to Mumma Papa


Hello Mumma Papa. Here's my part of story of being on the earth for nearly 10 weeks.

It was all good and dark inside Mumma's womb. It was so warm, and happy place to be. I could sleep and wake up anytime. I had been hearing voices of Mumma and Papa in there. I liked you people, I always wanted to know you more all this while. Though I hated the "office time" with Mumma, I loved the cab rides en route to her office, and also all the movie dates that I had been to with you folks throughout. I saw my fingers and toes build, and felt my hair grow. I could hear Mumma's stomach grumble and all her heartbeats. I had enjoyed swimming in the water in my house while Mom and Dad played music for me. I had gotten my food home delivered, and enjoyed kicking and moving my limbs in the house.

 I often felt Mumma and Papa's hands on the walls of my house. Slowly, my house became smaller for me because I was growing in size. Sorry Mom, I had become so heavy, and you faced all that pain!

Ooohlaaaa, here comes the moment. This place is much bigger than the previous one. There's so much noise here, so many people. Oouuchh! Why are they pulling my head out? This place unlike my home has so much light and is cold too. These people are congratulating each other. I am crying and everyone else is smiling. I hear a familiar voice now, feels like its you Mumma.
From what I can understand, "I am born".

Last 9 weeks had been versatile, so many visitors, all the chit chat, real car rides, noise, music and a lot. These days I am meeting Dadu, Dadi, Nanu, Nani, Mama, bhuas and many people. I sleep and wake up and sleep again and wake up. Mumma and others are talking a lot about my sleep routine, my susu, potty and hunger. I do not understand what is this "8 hour sleep".

Sorry Mumma I cry when I pee or poop. I do not know how to tell you this, so I cry. No one would like to stay in their own poop, would you? Sometimes I cry and Mumma cries with me, we are so similar. Ain't we? Mumma calls me Diaperman! I get hungry every 2 hours. Unlike you people, all I have for food is milk. When I pass gas, why does everyone laugh at me? I don't like bathing, I never did it in my small home.


Mumma thank you for hugging me, lifting me up, keeping me warm when I feel home sick or become cranky. Papa I love you too, I often meet you in this new home, and sometimes on that small thing which they call mobile phone.


I will become a good boy soon, and learn this "8 hour sleep" thing, and then we will be a nice happy family.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Author Interview: Shuchi Singh Kalra


Shuchi Singh Kalra is an Amazon best selling author of two romantic comedies - 'Done with Men' and 'I'm big. So what?!'. She is the wife of an Army Officer, the mother of a pint size daughter, and two lazy cats, but she's also been an optometrist, a wine connoisseur, baking enthusiast, a restless traveller and a compulsive nomad. She's a sucker for funny romance and does her best writing surrounded either by mountains or the ocean. The characters in her books are the kinds everyone knows at least some of, in their real lives. She also runs a quaint writing and editing studio and is currently a full time editor managing the official blog of India's largest travel portal. When not doing any of the above, she loves engaging with people on social media and inflicting her opinions on random strangers. She loves creating quirky craft work and is a hoarder of eccentric fashion accessories for no reason at all. 

You can also go over our review of her latest book "A Cage of Desires" by clicking here. It was fun interacting with Shuchi. Have a look at the compilation our interview with her.

Where do you belong to? Our readers want to know about your education and family.

I was born in Lucknow but I spent most of my childhood in Libya. My parents returned to India when I was 11 and I completed the rest of my schooling from Seth MR Jaipuria School in Lucknow. I went on to study Optometry from the Bausch & Lomb School of Optometry in Hyderabad and then did my Masters in English Literature. I belong to a family of academicians, mostly doctors and professors. Both my parents are independent medical practitioners, and my husband is an Aviation engineer in the Army. I am the first in my family to go take up writing as a profession.


Tell us about your book.

It's been a long and arduous journey but my third book  ‘A Cage of Desires’ is finally out there in the stores now. Although it straddles many genres but if I had to label it, I think it would come closest to contemporary romantic erotica. It initially started off as a short story published in New Asian Writings anthology. The story received a lot of praise which encouraged me to develop it into a full-length novel. Like all my other books, this one too is also woman-centric but the central theme is far more intense. It's about a woman's journey towards facing her inner truth and finding freedom. At the same time, it also explores the depths of female sexuality, toxic love and emotional abuse. I'm sure every reader will relate to it at some level. 


Tell us about your other books.

My first Book was ‘Done with Men’. It was all about the romantic (mis)adventures of Kairavi Krishna – serial dater and ditzy girl extraordinaire. She is a travel writer and is urban, young and…single. After an unfortunate rash of loser boyfriends, she is pretty much done with men and ready to focus on her career. But her latest assignment, to cover Sunburn in Goa, packs more surprises than she bargained for. In the middle of partying, falling off her balcony, food allergies and ex-boyfriend encounters, Kairavi develops a hopeless crush on her dreamy doctor, but she isn’t sure if he would possibly be interested in more than her broken clavicle. And then we have Kay’s best friend Baani, Kapil (Baani’s fiancée), Ravi (Kay’s boss), Ricky (Kay’s latest ex) and the The Thought Bubble (Kay’s alter ego) to add to the mayhem. It was a fun romantic comedy.

My second book was ‘I’m Big so What?’. I have always felt that plus-sized girls have been severely underrepresented in Indian mainstream fiction. There are so many books from western authors that have plus-sized heroines but that space is severely lacking in India. I thought it’s high time the plump girl breaks out of the stereotypical role of a friend, sister or comic relief, and takes over as the main lead – with a strong personality of her own and dreams to boot. Through Roli, the protagonist of IBSW, I also wanted to explore and bring forth the social and emotional challenges that a person of that size might typically go through, and how it would impact their confidence and self-worth. 

While my first two books were at their core, breezy romantic comedies, my latest book ‘A Cage of Desires’ is comparatively more serious, dark and brooding. Like my previous books, this one is also women centric but it has more complex characters and emotions which are deeper and more layered than the first two books of mine.

What is your writing journey like, where and when did you start? Are you a writer by choice or by chance?

I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember. My first unsuccessful attempt at writing a book was when I was ten. It was a science fiction written in a school notebook, and it eventually got lost somewhere.

I have always found solace in writing, even as a child. I remember writing little poems and stories although I never tried to get them published. All through my school years, my writing skills were my only saving grace as I had no other talent to speak of. I can’t say I wanted to become a writer because those days (using those words makes me feel very old), it wasn’t really seen as a career option, at least where I came from. But I did maintain a personal journal and won the occasional writing/essay competition.

My journey as a professional writer began in 2005, when I was working as an Optometrist at an eye hospital. I took up some academic writing assignments just to escape the drudgery of 9-5 (which was more like 7-9 at the hospital where I worked) and it was only when I received my first payment that I realized that I could make a full-time career out of this. I quit that job, took the plunge and kept at it. Looking back, I feel so glad that I did. I wouldn’t trade my career and lifestyle for anything else in the world.

As far as writing my first full length novel goes, a friend of mine was telling me about her sister who had gone on a vacation after a breakup and had landed up in the hospital injured – that’s how the seeds of this story were planted in my mind. As for the title, I saw a random tweet by someone who wrote “I’m so done with men” and I realized that so many women (me included) have gone though that post-breakup phase when we say “I’m done with men” only to go falling in love all over again. It is not merely a phrase, but a feeling that most of us have actually experienced at some point. Since it encapsulated the essence of my story so well, I decided to weave it into the narrative and use it as the title too.


As a new author, what is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process? Least favorite?

My most favorite part of the writing process is the moment when I finish a book. It’s an amotionally overwhelming moment. I have never not cried every time I have finished each of my books. My second most favorite part of the writing process is reading the reviews for my book. Friends and family will always tell you that your writing is great but it’s really heartening to read a review from a reader I do not know that says that someone found your fictional characters so relatable and that it reminded them of themselves or some other real person. It’s a great feeling to read that.

My least favorite part of the entire publishing process is the marketing and promotion part. As a newbie author you assume that once your book is accepted for publishing, your job is done. It’s only after my first two books that I have come to realize that the hard part starts after your book has been accepted by the publisher. Even though my books were received well, in hindsight I realize that they could have fetched much better sale figures if I had concentrated more on marketing them well.Marketing and publishing are the hard, sweaty, boring part of the publishing process and I hope I get better at it with my future books.


Are you an avid reader as well? What kind of books do you read? What is your frequency of reading?

 I love reading all kinds of books from rom coms to classic literature to Indian writing and everything in between, I’ve lapped them all up. I believe that my writing style carries the influence of all the authors I have read till date. Unfortunately, between my current full time day job, my kid and managing my home, the worst casualty has been my reading frequency. I hope to make up for it soon.


Which is your favorite book and why?

There are too many, different ones in different genre :)


Who are your favorite authors?

There are just too many authors I love! I have been a voracious reader since childhood and I never missed a chance to bury myself in a book. From the Bronte Sisters to Enid Blyton, and Shakespeare to Sophie Kinsella, I’ve loved a whole lot of them. I am currently reading a lot of Indian authors and I think some of them are extremely good story tellers. 

Do you pursue any other profession apart from writing? How do you manage everything? How do you find family time amidst all this?

I have been writing professionally for over a decade as a freelance writer and editor with my small firm that went by the name of ‘Pixie Dust Writing Studio’. Currently I'm in a full time corporate job working with India’s leading travel platform. This is my first full time office job. I have a school going daughter and manage my home alone since my husband is in the Indian Army and posted in another city. It’s hard to manage everything alone and find time to write but I am trying to get better at stealing more free time to concentrate on my writing.

What does your writing space look like?


Every time I have moved houses, the first thing I have done is set up my study. That cozy space is always my favorite place in my house where most of my writing takes place.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

When it came to my professional assignments while I was running my writing editing firm, I couldn’t afford writer’s block because there were deadlines to be met and clients to answer to. However, when it comes to my books, I give myself more leeway to slack. When I do face the reader’s block while writing my books, I have discovered that reading books from the same genre I am writing is the best way to break out of a block. It helps bring my mind into the same zone and usually I find a trigger for the words to flow sooner or later.

What motivated you to write this book?

It was a discussion with a Pakistani author who writes under a pseudonym that triggered the story. I wrote a short story titled Maya which received a lot of critical acclaim from the readers and I decided to develop the story into a full fledged novel. From there, it flowed on its own.


How long did you take to finish this book? What was the process like?

Out of all my books, ‘A Cage of Desires’ took the longest for two reasons. First, it was unlike my first two books, which were breezy romantic comedies, a genre which naturally comes to me. ‘A Cage of Desires’ is a dark, brooding, contemporary romantic fiction with a sprinkling of erotica. The characters are way more complex than my other books and the emotions are darker and more layered. It was an emotionally exhausting process to write it and took me more than two years to finish the book. 

What are you hoping people to gain from your book?

‘A Cage of Desires’ hopes to connect with the darker side in all of us that lies hidden under layers of our superficial real public self. I hope that people struggling to bridge the gap between their deep real selves and the roles they are forced to play in the real world can identify with the characters in the book and believe that if Renu can break from her cage of desires to discover her true inner self, then so can they. 

What were some of the challenges you faced on the road to publication?

It’s really difficult to accept the fact that when you have poured your blood and soul into writing a book, the publishers might not love it as much because they receive hundreds of manuscripts a week. That rejection is hard to face, especially when you are a newbie author. It’s extremely demotivating and often makes you want to give up writing altogether. But once your manuscript gets accepted by a publisher then this challenge is over. The next hard part comes when you are waiting for the book to finally release in the market. The gestation period between a manuscript being accepted and the book finally seeing the light of the day is extremely long in India, frequently extending to well over a year. It’s pretty frustrating to wait that long. And once the book is out, then the next challenge is to market and promote your book. That part is another long sweaty journey along a dreary boring road. But if you love writing enough, all this pales in comparison to the joy of holding a book in your hand with your name written on top of it :)


What kind of research have you done for the book?

I mostly write from imagination, but I draw from my personal experience and those of people I know. So far, I haven't written anything that requires very intensive reasearch or fact checking but I will delve into that too soon enough. All thanks to the internet, most of the research I have needed so far has been possible with the help of a broadband connection.

Any story behind deciding the title of this book?

‘A Cage of Desires’ traces the journey of Renu who escapes from her cage of desires to discover her real self. It’s an inner journey of pain and hope. The title just popped in my head one day thinking about how all of us are trapped in a cage of our desires and how much we want to escape from it and discover our true selves without needing anyone else to validate our existence.


Why should we read your book?

There is no end to the issues we as women face everyday! Right from safety, sexism, social pressure, career limitations, family dynamics, gender prejudices, abuse—there are so many issues that need to be talked about. One might say that some of these are relevant to men too, but women’s voices have been stifled for far too long. And as a woman writer, I felt I owed this to my tribe. We women live in the same world, but at the same time our realities are very different. I was brought up by very progressive parents who never discouraged me from voicing my opinions, or expected me to put up with the social norms just for the sake of it. I was a wild, rebellious teen but nobody asked me to tone down my personality and be more ‘ladylike’. My father taught me to hit back at bullies, and not take nonsense from anyone. As for the society, I could somehow never bring myself to care enough about what other people think about what I say or do.

Gender biases existed all around me but they were not a part of my immediate environment. It took me a while to realize that the way I was brought up was not the norm. My relationships with men opened me up to a lot of grim realities.

A large number of women in India continue to struggle with gender biases on so many fronts every day that it is insane. I want to be a voice for all these women and write about big and small issues that affect our everyday lives. Through ‘A Cage of Desires’ I have tried to carve out characters that everyone can identify with, at least in part, and believe that if they can discover their true selves, then so can everyone.

Do you have any blog or website the readers can visit?

I have a website that your readers can connect with me at http://www.shuchikalra.com/ . However, I admit that I am more of a social media person and the best way to connect with me is through my twitter handle @shuchikalra


What advice do you have for budding writers?

I don’t think I am experienced enough to dole out advice. I myself still am on the learning path. But I can definitely say that don’t wait for the perfect moment to write that book cooking in your head. Set a routine, write a few words everyday and FINISH that first draft. Don’t waste time on fancy words and expressions when you are writing – just let the story flow. And some of the harsher things that I wanna tell young writers are

- It’s going to be slow. Very slow. There’s no such thing as instant gratification.
- It’s not enough to be a good writer. You have to learn to market yourself well.
- Don’t count on books for money, at least until you have a few bestsellers out in the market

Becoming an author requires a lot of patience and perseverance. It is an unbelievably slow and painful process, at least for most of us. There will be times when you feel like giving up – just remind yourself why you write and keep going at it.