Q. When did you start writing? What inspired you to start writing?
A. If you mean when did I pen down my first story well you are in for some amazement! I conceived my first story when I was 4, yup the perils of having an imaginative and hyper kid. I still remember my mom used to struggle to keep me busy, so one day she gave me an opening line and asked me to tell her a story – role reversal. She apparently loved what I said and then scribbled it down to show dad. Thus, the seeds were shown of storytelling!
Yes even when I didn’t know how to write, I thought scribbles also made interesting reads –
As for serious writing, guess I took it up during second year of my law school days. I had written a term paper which my Professor wanted to convert into a research paper and then she sent it to the UNESCO forum just for testing water. It got selected and after the UNESCO trip I got the kick of writing and decided to pursue it.
Q. Your first book “A Calendar Too Crowded” is based on the subject of women, isn’t it? Tell us more about it.
A. A Calendar too Crowded is a collection of short stories. It’s my anti-thesis take on the days of the calendar which are attributed all over the world to women and children, but how they are nothing but dates today. We look around to still see blue being preferred over pink, or to hear the first question of “what was she wearing” after we hear about a rape, but the same us would march for rights of children and women on National Girl Child Day or Anti Sexual Harassment Day.
The attempt is to delve deeper and analyze whether it is merely enough to rely on statistics and be complacent in the knowledge that the numbers indicate a better society in the making, or whether there is an urgent need to look beneath the covers and realize that despite all such dedicated days, there are 300 odd days when there is nothing special that life has to offer. Where each day is still an unending drudgery, where womanhood is cursed and trampled upon. You can find more about my book on FB(https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Calendar-Too-Crowded/318541608164764) or on my blog (http://endowedwithmetis.wordpress.com/).
Q. Who are your favourite authors?
A. Loads – am a book addict or rather print addict. I can read everything and anything (yes I even read everything that is written on the newspaper wrapper in which my chaat-wallah serves me bhel!):-P. Also, since I read a lot my favourite authors keep changing.
To talk about a few whose books I seek comfort in would be Rikle, Rumi, Vikram Seth and Devdutt Patnaik.
Q. Apart from writing, what are your other interests and hobbies?
A. I am a person with diverse interests and my love for research and writing only broadens my passions. I love cooking and indulging in new recipes. I love baking cakes and experimenting with new cake designs – I even design cakes for close friends and family. I love photography, I love running, I go crazy over puzzles especially the 1000 pieces ones. And yes, I love to tell stories to children. I have done quite a few story-telling sessions for kids and each one has just made me melt!
Q. Have you started writing your next book? If yes, tell us about it.
A. Right now I am in the middle of final edits for my non-fiction book. It’s related to law and is a huge manuscript, thus it’s taking up all my time. Saying that it would be wrong if I say that i haven’t started any work on my next book! It’s also going to be a collection of short stories (I feel I cannot keep the audience captivated in a novel – am too naive for that!) – A sarcastic take on the Indian education system.
It’s gonna be a fun read, rest assured
Q. How good is life at ISB? Do you have fun too?
A. ISB has given me the most precious year of my life. I never thought I could grow so much in a year, but ISB proved that never say never! Here you discover yourself in a new way, you learn where your priorities lie, you learn about handling relationships under unimaginable stress, working with a gush of adrenalin and yet not losing out on life. As I told someone, ISB is like arranged marriage, u can’t decide on how you’ll behave , you’ll discover it on the way, think of quitting mid way, fall in love after that and then say when I have suffered the worst n now seen sunshine I don’t wanna leave.
ISB is loads of fun, the parties are to die for – but yes it’s definitely more work than play. Play is just the release button so that after you come back at 6 am from a party you still work towards that 10 am submission which is due.
Q. Mumbai to Hyderabad! Do you miss Mumbai? And how do you like Hyderabad?
A. Oh! I miss Mumbai every single moment. That city makes me up – I heart Mumbai, to say the least. There’s a sense of comfort and individuality which Mumbai imparts to me, thus I don’t feel lost in the crowd. Mumbai has taught me that it’s not important to “fit in” or “stand out” what is important is to be happy in the skin you are in. The craze for social acceptance weans out once you learn the lessons Mumbai teaches you!
Hyderabad has been special in its own way, for quite some time now, especially for a few very special people have lived here who make up my life! Hyderabad has the charm and the royalty yet there are parts which will make you wonder how stark is the difference between the traditional get up around the Charminar and the posh modern life at the Film city. The only regret it that unlike Mumbai where I did my Mumbai Mondays campaign (an attempt to discover different places around Mumbai with friends and then write about them to make Monday seem less mundane) I could not do Hyderabad Humming(s) – but maybe later someday life will again bring me back here.
Q. What was your childhood like? Tell us about your schooling.
A. My childhood was indeed very colourful and culturally enriching. My father believed in keeping us on the move with his love for changing jobs! However majority of my school years were spent in Kolkata. I drove my parents crazy with my Calvin like questions and had a blast fighting with my sibling. I hated school, hated the set pattern of drab teaching and thus every morning was a struggle – even during my last days there. Nobody was happier than me when school was over!
My mother struggled to keep me rooted to a place and yes mainly I used to hate the normal methods of teaching. (Thus, I was often found day dreaming in class) My parents ensured that they make learning fun for me. Thus, I learnt multiplication and division through cricket match scoreboards courtesy my dad, who played the game of who can guess the run rate first! My mother taught me divisibility through number plates of cars on roads and love for words by playing ‘make words from a big word’ by picking out words from billboards. However, the greatest influence was indeed my uncle and grandmother who introduced me to the wonderful world of quizzing and debating that helped me to become a national level quizzer and debater during school days.
Q. We totally love your blog. How often do you blog? Also, we heard that you are into photography. (Yay!) Do you have a swanky camera? What are your favourite photography spots?
A. Awwww thank you thank you! Blogging has indeed given me a lot. I used to be a daily active blogger till ISB happened. Though I promised myself that I would never stop blogging, ISB decided to show me its power. But yes, am looking forward to go back to active blogging after ISB. I love my blog too; guess it gives the glimpse of all that makes me up
Yes, I love photography – am smitten by the concept of capturing a moment forever! No I do not have a swanky camera yet! Guess, that it’s all set to change soon, but!
I have a special connection with the sea – my father did name me aptly. Thus I love shooting by the sea; it helps me discover myself and fall in love with life over and over again.
Here’s a look at what the sea does to me –
Q. What is your passion? And what would you do to follow it?
A. I live every day with the question “Did I make someone smile today?” and if it is “yes” I snuggle off to contended snores. I am totally my grandmother’s child and she taught me the greatest passion – the desire to make a difference. I guess I strive to be a better human being – the one without biases and the one who has a heart. I follow it in everything I do, right from cuddling a dog, to teaching a child. My grandmother always used to tell me that never forget to repay the society and your country back the identity it has given you, and I strive to live her dream.
Also, I find the greatest sense of satisfaction in teaching kids something good, so guess my passion is indeed to contribute so that I can proudly say that I have done my bit to make the next generation be aware of their society, country and never take it’s blessings for granted.
–By: Sunaina Patnaik