International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I’d like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan — a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the “Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis.” She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero. Continue reading International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange

Published: The Prize (Litro #160: Changes)

This short story is in the print version of Litro UK’s issue #160. The theme is “Changes.” As Eric Akoto, the magazine editor, reminds us in his introduction, Leo Tolstoy wrote, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” In this story, the main character has to change himself to get what he wants. Set in India, ‘The Prize’ deals with the main conflict between moral values and material success that much of the country’s rising middle class continues to deal with. A young architect and his wife meet with a powerful customer and his wife for a business dinner, where the architect hopes to close a big deal. As the evening progresses, in trying to gain the contract, something precious is also lost. Continue reading Published: The Prize (Litro #160: Changes)

Booknotes: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands

In Indian culture and society, a lot of the talk/news related to Mumbai mafia and gang violence/crime is mostly about the men–the ganglords, their aides, and their henchmen. Often, the only women we read of (or see in Bollywood movie versions) tend to be the virtuous, long-suffering wives or mothers, or the glamorous arm candy or objects of desire. Though Mumbai’s mafia men, the underworld, and organized crime have all been portrayed in movies over the decades, the cultural fascination truly took hold of the collective imagination with the 1998 movie, Satya, which was about a turf war between two Mumbai ganglords. So a book about the far lesser-known mafia women is irresistible for the primary reason that the authors offer in their introduction: “They are fascinating women because they push the boundaries of our dominant moral codes.” Continue reading Booknotes: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016

Indian short films get, well, more short shrift in India and among the Indian diaspora the world over because Bollywood masala reigns supreme. Still, I am finding this to be a fascinatingly growing, evolving genre. There are some absolute gems to be found if you know where to look. Here are some of them, ranging from 8-30 minutes each, and written by Ritesh Batra, Rashida Mustafa and Suketu Mehta, Kaushal Oza, Leena Pandharkar, and Anand Gandhi. We have a street-dwelling shoeshine boy who wants to be a masterchef on TV, a woman who leaves her husband and child to be another man’s second wife, a Parsi widow trying to deal with well-meaning relatives, a 65-year-old Indian immigrant in the US trying to cope with early retirement, a cast of 15 characters connected across a single day by 2 sets of causal events that come full circle for the one who started it all off. Enjoy. I think all have English subtitles too. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016

Published: The Golden Amulet (Amazon’s Day One Literary Journal)

Of course, she could not imagine telling Girish now. Listening to him describing the meeting with Panditji to Nitin and Kathleen a couple nights ago, mentioning the miscarriages as if they had been routine business failures that simply needed better planning rather than magical protection, her secret had burrowed deeper. She was sure that if he found out, he would make a scene. There would be yelling in rapid-fire English, which she had never been able to match. Once, when she had tried, he had stopped in midstream and laughed at her accented, halting attempt until he could hardly breathe. Never again, she had promised herself, preferring to absorb the bullet-like words he hailed down on her when he had his stormy fits. Continue reading Published: The Golden Amulet (Amazon’s Day One Literary Journal)