Find out how the Indian middle-class perceives dating and pre-marital intimate relations!
Join Michelle in conversation with Aravind Jayan about his book ‘Teen Couple Have Fun Outdoors’, which deals with the aftermath of a leaked intimate-video of a teenage couple from a middle-class family in Kerala. How can humour be used to write fiction about social issues? How does shame dictate the behaviour of Indians? What is dating like in modern India? How much freedom does the couple actually have?
Tune in to find out!
Books mentioned in this episode:
•Goodbye Columbus by Phillip Roth
•Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbag
Produced by Aishwarya Javalgekar
Sound edit by Kshitij Jadhav
‘Books and Beyond with Bound’ is the podcast where Tara Khandelwal and Michelle D’costa uncover how their books reflect the realities of our lives and society today. Find out what drives India’s finest authors: from personal experiences to jugaad research methods, insecurities to publishing journeys. Created by Bound, a storytelling company that helps you grow through stories. Follow us @boundindia on all social media platforms.
Growing up, I always had a fear of randomly appearing in Just For Laughs next video, like I'd be walking down the road and suddenly somebody would prank me and there would be a video of it and then that would be on TV. I think I found that like very tough, I guess. Now the internet is sort of like an exemplified version. Most recently, what I find terrifying on the internet is always Instagram reels where it's like the person being filmed, it might be funny thing where the person being filmed has no idea that they're actually being filmed. Or if they do have an idea that they're being filmed still under the public place, and somebody in the background of the EU has no idea that they are actually in the eye for some reason, I just find that very terrifying and very annoying. That one day I might be walking down the street and suddenly, when somebody is we
welcome to Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara canderel. I'm Michelle D'costa. And in this podcast, we uncover the stories behind some of the best written books of our time, and find out how these books reflect our lives and our society today. So tune in every Wednesday to enter a whole new world with a new author, and a new idea. Yes, and after three years and 2 million lessons, we are back with our factories and five, with hard hitting questions and life changing books. So let's dive in.
Hi, everyone, welcome back to Books and Beyond. I'm really thrilled today because I'm going to speak to a very talented writer whose work has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth prize for short fiction earlier, and I'm doing this episode solo. Because our guest for today has been my friend for over five years now. And we celebrate each other's wins all the time. Actually, even though we have been friends for a really long time, I was shocked to read his book, because it's the first time that I've come across a novel about an intimate clip going viral in an Indian setting. So you must be wondering about the title right? So the book's title is team captain have fun outdoors, which sounds a lot like a Pontypridd right? But it's not. I was so thrilled to know that it was picked up by serpent stellar, which is one of the most well known publishers in the UK. And in India, it's out by Hachette. So the book is a really humorous take on family life. And what happens when an intimate clip of a young couple, three north and Anita goes viral, and everything goes haywire at home. So three nuts family is in denial to the point that drives him away from home and the girl or netus parents is so paranoid that her mother literally packs her car outside their home, and doesn't budge until she gets a satisfactory reply from the boy's family. Now, between all these Khichdi is an Verito sinach younger brother, who is sort of a middleman between both the families right now, is he able to solve this issue and bring strain out back home? Is he able to mend ties between both the families is able to find out who leaked the sex clip in the first place. So I will actually tackled small town biases, gaps in the mentality of millennials and Gen X. And what is it like to go viral for the wrong reasons on the internet? So welcome on. Well, very happy to have you here. Thank you, Michelle. It's lovely to be here. No, such a nice intro. I always have trouble summing up the book, you know. So it's nice to hear someone do it. So thank you for that. Yeah, and I think there's so much drama in the book, I read that I was wondering how to put it together. To begin with. I'm a big fan of family dramas, right. And you know that so I absolutely had to read your book. So before we get into the details about the book, and this whole world that you've created, why a sex scandal out of all topics, it's very difficult to pinpoint the exact starting point, but I think it started because I was interested in writing about shame, in general. And then there was this idea of writing about, you know, an explicit video like this as a sex video, like I said, next music video like this. Because I guess growing up in college in school, there were always these rumors of these clips going around, and always these, you know, urban myths about what happened with a couple afterwards and how their families react to it, and so on and so forth. So I guess I was fascinated by that. But really, I guess, proper reason I really got into it was when I started writing the first version of the book, I started writing the first version of the book, and then I stopped because it felt like I was confused as to whether you know, a sec scandal. I mean, if you can call it this text analytics scandal was in the something that would cause a lot of a work so I wasn't sure
or if it was a big deal, basically saying I was stuck on the question of whether or not was a big deal. And I guess I stopped writing for for the time being then. And then I only restarted the book when I figured out that this was not a question that I mean, I necessarily didn't have to answer myself or something that I could sort of export to the characters and have them figure it out. So I guess I wanted to write about a group of characters who are all trying to figure out what the boundary is and where the boundaries lie, and whether or not such a thing was a big deal. And how basically trying to gauge everybody else's reactions and sort of wrong footing themselves, I guess. Yeah, I guess it was especially interesting, because in India, you have all these different pieces that are all moving in different paces, you know, different speeds. So it's very difficult to have, or predict any sort of homogeneous reaction. So I guess that made it interesting for me to actually dive in.
Yeah, that's actually interesting, or, you know, so I like to points the fact that you mentioned you distance yourself, you know, as as an author from it, and you decided to collect my characters decide for themselves, whether it's a big deal or not. And yes, and the fact that you sometimes you anticipate a really huge reaction, especially with Indian families, I've noticed this, sometimes, you know, kids are really scared to reveal something to the parents. And actually, when they reveal it, it's this anti climatic moment. Parents are like, Yeah, so what, you know, and it's, it's happened the other way around. Also, when kids you know, like, think it's not gonna be a big deal. And they reveal something. And then, you know, there's this family drama with background music. That's a you I think, with Indian families, you never know. Right? It can go either way. Yeah, absolutely. And I guess everyone is just trying to figure out like, how the other person's going to react. And you don't always get it right. I think more often than not, you get it wrong. Yeah. Yeah. Like you never know. Right? And, you know, in fact, I've been when I knew that the book is about this clip going viral, right? I actually kept wondering about the clip, right, like the actual description of the clip, like I was really looking forward to it. Like when I read it, I was surprised, because it's very subtle, you know, it's not graphic at all. So I was really, you know, curious about whether that was intentional on your part, you know, why is it subtle? What were your thoughts behind it? I think one reason for the subtlety was that the narrator is the brother of the person on the video. So I felt like when he would speak about the video, he would not get into any of the actual details of the clip, because it would be really awkward for him. In fact, he doesn't want to focus on the clip at all, he barely watches it, he barely describes the details of it. One of the reasons is because of the choice of the narrator, the narrator will not be someone who goes into the details of the clip, in another reason, I guess, was because rather than giving all the details, it felt more imaginative, or to leave it up to the reader. So I just wanted to give a rough outline of what the clip was, and then just let it be. Yeah, no, that's a very good point. I mean, because he's a family member, you know, like that discomfort really comes across, when he gets to see the video, right. And this actually reminds me of a Bollywood movie. Um, I think it was the, the, you know, so with this character, or MMS goes viral, and when her father sees the video, he's not able to digest that when he actually commit suicide. And I think that was one of the first Indian films I had seen, you know, in reaction to something like this going viral. And as you said, it's very difficult for the narrator to process it. So that's why, since this is your debut, and it's so bold, it's so risky, you know, what you publish, you're worried that it wouldn't be picked up, you know, for example, for reviews because of the taboo associated, you know, with Indian society, or the fact that, you know, it could be banned, because nowadays things are getting banned, left, right and center. So was that a worry? No, not really, to be honest. Because, I mean, you're absolutely right on the censor anything, and everything is getting banned for no rhyme or reason. But I wasn't really thinking about censorship in any sort of way. And with regard to getting reviews and the press, the thing is that it may be taboo in certain circles in India, but I don't think in literary circles, we have the sort of proof who might be offended by a book about a sex scandal or anything of that sort. So that wasn't a concern, either. Yeah, I think that's a really good point. When in literary circles, yes. Because otherwise, we would have had many books being banned. Right. But honestly, the title, okay. You know, I really want to know, how did you come up with the title? Why this because, you know, this has happened to me. I've been like when I googled it thrice. I think, you know, there were just four clips that showed up. And I'm like, What the heck? Why, where does the book so how did you come up with that? I think, no, honestly, the book was just called like, n one and two and three and four, and five, and so on and so forth on my on my laptop for the longest time, but after that, I didn't really have an alternate title. This was the first time
that came to my mind. And you're right, it is actually based on the way the pond flips up title. I mean, I want to call that out, especially like, in particular in the book itself. But it is basically based on how upon clips or title. And I did mention, like when I go before the book came out, and when I googled that athlete, just to see what would come up. You're absolutely right. And that all I got was like pages and pages of porn clips, and I did mention it at the time, and he was like, well,
maybe they'll get the point. That's it. Yeah. And what I found even more curious is the fact that you've added the word team coupled, right? Because, technically speaking, I'm Shana and Anita they are not.
So why that? Why did you add it into? Well, again, it's because I mean, even when slips that way online, it's not an in any way, an accurate description is just whatever they think, will get the most number of hits, or the word combination that they think will get the most combination of hits. So I was just thinking along the same lines, and I guess also, it is a some summarization of the sort of inaccuracy that you get from watching these kinds of clips, I guess. I mean, they are in the sense that you don't really have any, any idea of who these people are in the actual club when you see a run up like this, huh? Yeah, I get what you mean. Like there are these tropes, right? Like even pawn clips have tropes. And it's usually just, you know, bracketed into these stereotypes. Yeah, exactly. It's just like random video clips. Like team couple of days. A couple. Yeah. And of course, yeah, people don't give a shit about the actual people in the video, right? Yeah, absolutely. It's just titled The way they think will get maximum hits. Yeah.
Yeah, clickbait and I think it's this objectification really comes across in your story as well. In fact, when I first started the book, I expected it to be very serious, you know, because it's an unfortunate moment after all right? It's a private moment that goes viral. So expected the seriousness, but you know, it made me laugh out loud so many times, because you chose to use you know, right, you chose to use Joomla, to bring out the quirkiness in your characters, the different ways in which people react to situations, you know, like one wouldn't associate something serious, right, shaming and society with you. But I would say you've pulled it off wedding well. So why humor? You know, was it a natural choice?
Yeah, it did seem to me that as I was when I started writing it, also there was a tendency that I was aware that because of the topic, and because of the all the people and the way they would react, it might come off as very melodramatic. And VP, sober consciously did also want to counter that by making it humorous. Another thing was that, I guess, in any circumstances, any circumstance, when you have a group of people who are taking themselves very seriously, and who think that the world's attention is focused on them, I think it naturally sort of creates a kind of humor, if you get what you mean. Totally. And in fact, you know, and this is something that I've mentioned to you also, I, you know, have sense this kind of connection with you more and Manu writers? I don't know. I don't know why because there are writers like Annie Sadie Manu.
Yeah, Manu Joseph, like, you know, many. So I'm curious whether you see this connection between, you know, Malou, writers and human Why do you think it's so like, you know, this this chasm or this dark comedy that you seem to be going for?
That's a good question. Actually, I've never thought of it from the point of view of something that's peculiar to Malou writers, modern writers, I haven't thought of it that way. But I guess, I guess generally speaking, when you're in a situation where you have no control over what's going on. And when you're in a lot of trouble, the pretty much the only thing you can do is zoom out and sort of laugh at yourself, like laugh at the predicament that you're in, even in real life, you know, when you're in a horrible position, I think. I mean, it seems to me the way to deal with it. I mean, that's the way I often deal with something horrible that's happened to me or something that I'm dissatisfied with or a circumstance that's very shaky. My natural tendency is immediately the thing Oh, God, you've got yourself into a real pickle here. You moron. You could have done this, you could have done that. And then it's sort of like a self deprecating kind of humor, which helps you cope. I think, the I don't know if this is a Malayali thing. I think it might be something that a lot of people do. Which may be because
you're right. A lot of writers Do. Do. Yeah, and maybe it's just to do with the writing. But as you said, this coping mechanism is quite common. Like for me, I might not laugh, but I have found myself smiling in very awkward very serious situations and people just look at me never Why are you smiling? That's so weird.
Because so yeah, I think it is it is definitely a very natural coping mechanism. Oh, yeah. Apart from the UMA admin, what I liked was that the Booker's and tiredly set in Kerala, right, except for the last leg of the book. And I don't want to spoil that for our readers. And you know, since I've known you for over five years now, you've been in Bangalore right? You've actually been away from Kerala for a long time. Um, so what about the small town mentality that you were trying to capture? You know, from memory, like from whatever you know, of the place, maybe you could share a memory of growing up there, you know, that has made it into the book. So I did all of my schooling in Kerala, Interland room, in fact, so, the, I guess, the first format of 17 years of your life, I spent there. And then after that, I went to do journalism in Pune. I think all the time, I kept going back because my grandparents were there. And my parents would often visit and I would go with them. When I think of home, I think two Landrum is home. And Bangalore is often just where I am right now. It wasn't so much recreating it from memory as as some as talking about a place that I know quite well. And it had to be that way, because I wasn't confident enough to set it anywhere else really. Like as you know, the characters in the book bone quite a bit about random, they really hated them. And then they're talking about how they want to escape.
Yeah, they want to go to Bangalore, they want to go to America, they won't go to wherever possible, they just constantly crapping on to Andrew, you will be confident saying those things about someplace that you think of as home basically, like you feel they have the right to criticize it and talk about it. Another reason why it was so random was that I didn't think of it a small town really. And I just still don't think at random and smarter. And I think it's such a strange combination of, I think small town and city where you get a little bit of both. And and it's changed a lot obviously, that one room I think, in the whole thing, the character mentions that there are no malls there. But I think last year or the year before last, Lulu mall actually opened in Toronto, and that was like a big event. Finally the rule set like for like two days straight. And
in and reminiscence of I know, in the book I talk about, talk a lot about how Bangalore has, has got this and he's got that and all of that. But to be honest, I don't take any of that. They don't take advantage of any of that stuff that's in Bangalore, I shouldn't go out to parties or I don't go out clubbing or I don't stay out past like eight or nine o'clock. Yeah, recently when I visited Trivandrum I think that was two or three weeks back, I did visit my grandparents on my father's side, they are from column and I don't see them that often column Angelin column, but they are now in Toronto. So my when they with my parents, and I don't get these sort of questions from grandparents on my father's on my mother's side. But, you know, immediately I was inundated with questions of like, When am I getting married? And what I've been doing in Bangalore, what exactly my job is, how much do I make? And at one point, I think I got so fed up with the questions that I said something along the lines of You know, I'm just enjoying life right now I have girlfriends in Bangalore or something of that sort. I started very casual.
But immediately the room that and this would not have been have been the case hadn't been like, I guess my cousins are on my mother's side. But immediately the room here when like really dark. Everybody immediately when times like my dad, my father was immediately like, oh my god, can you chill out and not repeat what he just said? Whereas my grandpa was like, What did you say? What did you say? I thought that was interesting and unexpected. I did not expect either the wedding questions or questions about Michaels. And
that is really funny, you know, and then especially that moment where everyone goes silent, you know, even the objects in the room. It's just, yeah, I felt quite bad about doing it. I wasn't going to I don't normally say things like that. I usually just go with the flow and whatever they say. But I think they asked me the same question about 20 different times during the course of the day. And finally I just started just said, just enjoying life in a euphemistic way. Enjoying life and you know, spending time with all these girls, which is completely untrue. Yeah, no, no, I totally get it because it's very relatable, right? Like, I mean, even though I'm a girl, you know, I get this job asked all the time, right? Like, when are you? When are you gonna get settled? What what is happening next, you know, like, the questions are so roundabout and sometimes they're just so direct and so on knowing I think I had seen this meme online that if an old Auntie ever asked you, you know, when's your marriage, you should ask them in return. Oh, when's your funeral
which is really nasty. I know, that's dark comedy. But yes, I totally get it that, you know, when we live in an Indian society, there are lots of these intrusive questions that you come across. Yeah. And that's quite stereotypical. Also in the sense of like, you don't, I mean, you, like you said, there are all these memes about old people asking you all these questions. And sometimes you see these memes and you think, okay, these are just stereotypical people, people don't actually do it. But then obviously, like, two days later, you encounter the same question.
Exactly. And unfortunately, you know, we fall into those stereotypes, you know, talking about stereotypes and categories, you know, especially when it comes to books. We've heard of the deadly novel, right, the Bombay novel or the fat, like the great American novel, with you set out the writer Kerala novel, you know, and especially about this particular site to Kara you know, this, this sort of closed mindedness that still exists, because, I mean, let's face it, it's in a lot of places, right, but especially in camera society, and I can share from experience because one of my friends, she was in an inter religious relationship, and her family literally went bonkers, you know, they went through all the drama that you mentioned in your book, and that too, without the clip, imagine, you know, and they are Christians, like they actually dreaded being treated as outcasts, you know, by the church by their neighbors. And I hadn't heard of that something before. Like, I hadn't heard of that, you know, living in Bombay, you know, why did you choose this particular aspect of Kerala to highlight and, you know, did you intend to write Okay, no, no, I didn't intend to write a carillon over per se, it was just the only place that I was comfortable setting the novel in at that time. I think maybe my next book might be set in Bangalore, but I had actually given thought to setting it somewhere else, because as he said, this sort of thing happens all over India with sometimes even like, even worse reactions, you know, dire reactions. Even in Bangalore, for example, recently, I was trying to rent a house in Bangalore. And one of the things I kept hearing was the girls weren't allowed to come over. And I wasn't wearing a PG, or anything of that sort. I just wanted a one BHK. But then the owners kept telling me girls aren't allowed to come over. And this was a condition that I kept hearing over and over again, from owners and also from my broker. So I was quite surprised by that. I don't think it's a kerala thing, per se. I think it probably happening everywhere in the country. I'm not sure. I mean, I've been living in Bombay stock, no idea. I mean, the excuse they kept telling me in with regard to the backdoors was that if you have girls over lead to parties and people coming over, and I've just found that strange, like I do.
It seems as though from what they're talking about, that every house in Bangalore is full of like, people partying and having these sort of weird waves that I'm not getting invited to.
Yeah, make sense? No. And seriously, sounds like your landlords, you know, all the people you've met, they have super formal when it comes to party. They Yeah, they really want to be invited, I think. But yeah, as you said, so, you know, this is something that happens in a lot of places, and I can share it like over here. You know, I haven't heard about this because probably because I'm living with family, but I've definitely heard of places that are only rented out to certain ethnicities, right? So for example, there would be a building only for Gujarati is, you know, there were buildings only to Marathi. And I just I find that insane you know, like, because what I mean is it's your lifestyle, which is question right, nothing else like I mean, it's not just you choosing you know, how to live your life like from partying to who to date, but it's also what you eat right? So sometimes some some buildings love to only have people who are vegetarians and all of that so I think
would be like me buying a building and saying, oh,
oh my god. Yeah, I actually I can I can imagine that happening, you know, because yeah, maybe it does happen. Yeah, yeah. Because I mean, I you know, so I actually grew up in the Guelph as
I like to say it so yes, I have nothing against my nose. I you know, love them. I might most of my friends are modelers. So yeah, I mean, and it's not just with Canada, I think we are what we're talking about is also about the Indian society, right? So it doesn't matter where you are, this close mindedness kind of follows you and creeps into your lives, even if you don't know what to do. But you know, what I liked about the book is also urban, apart from the fact that, you know, you're making a commentary on society, you know, the funny ways in which people react and act, you know, in situations, your story also makes an interesting commentary on the pitfalls of the internet. Right. And I love that you've titled a chapter in your book, it's called the internet is not a fridge. You know, and for some context for our listeners, you know, what happens in this chapter is that upon who is the father of the family and the son, who is the narrator, right? They go to this police station to report the scandal, right? And this is exactly what the policeman says. He says, hey, the internet is not a fridge, you know, I can't remove or you know, go put in stuff or take out stuff like I
We'll do so once it's there, it's there for eternity, right? So how'd you come up with, you know, such a witty analogy of the fridge and the internet and you know, getting unpleasant experience on the internet actually inspired this chapter. I mean, I think the internet itself is very, can be very intimidating and terrifying. And I think the scariest thing about the internet is that you can very easily lose control of your own story and your own narrative. And, and I think that's one of the most terrifying things ever do not have a saying in your story in other people's perception of you. But I think we most recently, what I find terrifying and the internet is always tick tock videos or Instagram reels where it's like the person being filmed, it might be funny, the the person being filmed has no idea that they're actually being filmed. Or if they do have an idea that they're being filmed somebody in the background of it's still in a public place. And somebody in the background of the EU has no idea that they are actually in the eye for some reason. I just find that very terrifying and very annoying. That one day I might be walking down the street and suddenly I mean, somebody's doing. I remember, there was I don't know if you remember there's a show called Just For Laughs Gags or Yes.
Where it was like strangers were pranked and they were filmed on camera. And obviously, in the case of that TV show, I'm sure they got consent forms and thing and things like that before they released an episode because I do remember blurred faces. But growing up I always had a fear of randomly appearing in Just For Laughs next video, like I'd be walking down the road and suddenly somebody would prank me and there would be a video of it. And then that would be on TV. I think I found that like very tough. I guess now the internet is sort of like an exemplified version. Yeah, I think I think you know, it sort of gives people this power right now that you have these smartphones. And it's this this ease, right? This convenience, I think back in the day, during Just For Laughs you need to have a you need to have a proper professional camera camera exactly like how many people would roam with a professional.
And there are only these guidelines of broadcasting and SSI consent forms and things like that. Exactly. And what I liked about that is, you know, at the end, they would always show they would point to the camera and tell the person that it's a prank. But I think nowadays, you know, you don't even realize somebody's filming you. And yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I mean, they were harmless pranks as well. But at the end of the day, I guess another thing was also that, yeah, the connection of this filming is another thing. For example, like in college, when my then girlfriend and I got a room in a hotel, one of the things that we would religiously check was, and the thing is that in college like you're basically broke, right? And most of the time you can't afford privacy. So you end up traveling out of town and you get a room in some shady Hotel, where it seems as though they are very eager to welcome you and take your money and sometimes too eager and that you get suspicious like okay, why are they being so nice? Why are they being so welcome. And then once you get to the room, first thing you do is you religiously, check all the edges, basically check the lights, the mirrors, the cupboards, everything for possibly possible hidden cameras, I think that was also playing in my head. It's like a nightmare, right? I mean, one shouldn't feel this pattern, right? You just want to spend some private moments with your girlfriend, and then you actually have to worry about all these things, which kind of ruins the whole experience. Right? I will say, very counterproductive. And in fact, you
know, when you go in and you look into the screw, take out the light.
Yeah, and it's like constantly playing on your mind. Right. So I mean, you know, there's this movie, Hindi movie Masan you know, with the cautions. First Movie. Yeah. And and that was the, you know, one of those movies, which which really, you know, hit the nail on the head, it kind of shows you this paranoia, you know, that couples had and the way the whole system plays with it. Right. So it's not just the hotel staff who's probably, you know, doing this, it could be the police for all, you know, right. Yeah. The police boss in it.
And they use it against them. The boy commits suicide, and oh, God, it's just, it is just sad. But of course, it's very Indian. I think it's very Asian, which, which is what brings me to my next question, or when because I love the fact that your book is out in both the UK and in India, right. So I'm curious to know, you know, how did readers react to this topic, especially to a sex club going viral? Especially because I don't think the same level of shaming exists in the west you know, as it is in India, at least not that much, right? It's definitely worse here because you have your honor, attached to almost everything that you do. Um, so have received differing opinions regarding
In this, you know, from anybody outside India and from people who are in India?
Yeah, you're absolutely right. I think for this reason, I was also quite surprised when I got picked up in the UK, I just thought this would be one of those first novels that you can write. And it's really published in India. And you know, it's a very cozy affair. I was very surprised, and also paranoid when they picked it up in the UK. And then it was also picked up for translation by coupler into a couple of languages that made me even more paranoid, made me wonder, like, have I written something that's very agitating to the west? Have I written something very pandering? So that was a question in my head. I think the reaction in India for me has been more always seems nicer, because it's people telling you that they find it relatable, or people telling you that they have gone through something similar.
We will telling you that this character reminds me of such and such, and there is this warmth in and this sort of understanding that's shared in the West, you I think the reaction has been very nice. I'm not sure they get all the references that are in the book that are sort of left unexplained. And when I wrote the book, I was the key. The reader that I had in mind was this amorphous collection of, you know, my for close friends. So more, there are a lot of references that people from only people who are fond reminder will get and people who are not front, remember will not might not get, I think the list of references that people don't get grows longer as you go further from the place of origin. So I think once you get to UK, I think there are certain things that will likely be lost in translation. And I've noticed that the while the critical reception, for example, was translated to the enthusiasm and the critical reception in Germany was very nice. But I don't think I don't quite based on like, a couple of German Goodreads reviews that are checked out. I don't know, like Germany completely gets what's going on. Yeah, yeah, no, and I think that's completely fine. You know, because when we read and it lightened, growing up, and we read JK Rowling, you know, all of these British authors, you know, and we didn't know, half of the food stuff that they were talking about. And that's totally fine. We didn't get the references. You know, most of the
summer in some talk on Witcher three was talking about how he used to read all these English books, books that in the UK. And they'd all be talking about how wonderful summer is in summer is the time to look out for somebody the time where everyone goes out and has a lot of fun. And he's they're sitting in Calcutta, you know, it's somewhere so hard, there is no power. And he'd be like, What are you talking about? Summer is the last season in the world? Yeah. I think when we read a novel that's not set in India, that's part of the charm of it as well, I think not understanding, well, not necessarily not understanding, but feeling slightly alien to the place that's being described in the book. Yeah. And you know, what I like is the fact that now people are getting to read more Indian works, right? They are, they're actually seeping into these cultures, like you said, you know, Germany, UK, all of that. And you know, for example, that summer reference, it's really funny, because, for example, she summer in the Gulf, is, again, a whole different story, right? Because if you're out on the street, you would make it in that kind of heat. And if you're indoors, it's almost like you're in Antarctica, because the AC is rusting. So yes. I mean, I like these nuances. These differences in you know, somewhat throughout the world is very different, right? It's not saying the whole world experiences somewhat the same way. So it's funny that you mentioned and enlightened because in any incidences, they have all these, I mean, it's food right, like blindness, a lot of good writing and then you would read it and like watercress sandwich, what is a watercolor sandwich? I still have no,
but you will below watercolor sandwich in a picnic basket. So nice. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So I think, you know, the fact that you know, your book is crossing borders, the fact that it's so Indian, that's what I actually loved about it, because I kind of anticipated, you know, some kind of changes to make it more Western to make it more relatable to the west. But I love that you've stopped your voice and you've been so authentic. And you know, I'm talking about authenticity, your entire story is, I would say, narrated from this brother's point of view. And it is a very risky choice, right? And I love that, you know, he's a middle man. Why did you choose him? You know, because he's sort of an outsider to not just the incident, but also romantic relationships and intimacy, right? He doesn't have this action going on in his life, right? And you can sense his jealousies because he you could have narrated it from anyone's point of view. It could be a power, who's a very patriarchal sort of person, but you know, you chose him. So what made you decide to go with the brothers voice and what is a tip
because he brings his role in an Indian family when it comes to honor or, you know, taboo topics like this. So I did actually say rising from, when I try to draft like, in the very beginning, I had this cycling third person point of view where, you know, one chapter would be from the father's point of view, another strategy would be from a mother's point of view, and the kids and so on and so forth. I didn't even have the brother character in the in that first version. And what I found was that it became very overdramatic, and because these are people who are reacting to the situation in the heat of the moment, right. So you will get all these very dramatic dialogues and nothing to sort of temperate. I think that was one practical reason where I thought I need somebody here, I need somebody directing the same, I need somebody filtering some of the things that these people are saying, and then playing the moderator. And now the reason was that, I guess being in any family is this constant process of negotiation, where you're trying to decide if you can do this, and your parents or like your poor, who are the authority figure in the family is trying to figure out if they can let you do this. And you're constantly negotiating this line that separates you have what can be done, and what's acceptable, and so on and so forth. And I needed something to personify that process of negotiation between family members, which is why I thought the narrator might be a good choice, the younger brother might be a good choice as a go between and a personification of that process of negotiation between family members. He's sort of like a very stretched telephone line going between the parents and the couple in the video. Another reason was that, I think, in a lot of Indian families, do you okay, you often see these monumental characters, I think they come out of the woodwork, not to be disrespectful. But like, when there are marriage negotiations happening, or when there is some scandal or when something needs to be settled, I wanted to show a character who was despite not wanting to worse, sort of transitioning into this old, middle aged person who is forced to play the role of a middleman in all sorts of weird family situations. So yeah, that's then about an artist choice, I guess about the sibling role. I can also say that I'm Anna illicitly, my younger sister is seven years younger than me. And one thing that I've had from personal experiences that asked the older brother, do you often find yourself in a position where you have to be very, you end up putting on this very strong face or like you end up acting very invulnerable to any of the things that are going on, because you feel like there is a younger person who's coming here and us watching you for cues and whom you are supposed to protect, in a sense. So that's definitely there. And then there's also that part where the older brother more often than not clears is a trailblazer, right? He clears the path for the younger person to act out. And he does all the fights that so that the younger person doesn't necessarily have to fight. So that's definitely there. Yeah, those dynamics, right, like, yeah, for me, even I'm actually the older sibling. And my, my brother is nine years younger. And mine is a little different, you know, so I've always wanted a sibling, you know, because I love to share all the stuff that I'm going through, you know, the highs, the lows, all of that. And in fact, it's so funny, because I like to be vulnerable. And then he, you know, maybe because he's a guy, he's like, hey, just get a grip, you know?
Yeah, it's just it's so funny how you like, I'm really interested in you know, family dynamics. And as you said, especially in Indian households, you know, and actually, we are talking about nuclear families when imagine those families who are living in joint families right there. Oh, actually, I when I was in Trivandrum, I was staying with grandparents as well as my parents and also living in a house, which is like very close to all my other relatives, like my aunt was one door, like right next door, and my other aunt would be like, right down the street, in the other lane. And yeah, you're right. It is absolutely claustrophobic after a point of time. Yeah. And I think the level of negotiation just goes up, like 10 levels. Yeah, it's like Soviet level negotiation. It's like decision by committee. You know, you can't you don't have any dependents, even when your parents say you can do something. Right. When you think you've made you have victory in your hands. Somebody else comes along from another family, and they're like, Oh, you're really letting them do that. I'm not letting my kids and suddenly your parents are like, Oh, okay, so this change, you're not going to do that.
Yeah, everybody susceptible. But, you know, I had this funny experience, you know, when my brother was born, in fact, you know, and like, one of my uncle's in India. So because he's probably like the oldest you know, people look up to
him in all of that, and I think we had asked him to share some name suggestions, okay.
And he was super offended when we didn't pick a name by him. He's like,
Would you do that to me?
Yeah. And then he kept on naming people in the family whom, you know, have chosen his names, and oh, my God, I was just like, Dude, you know, like, We are the family, right? Where we get to pick the five choice.
I know, I know, like, I just, it just goes to show, you know, the kind of involvement that family members have, you know, they take it, they take it. So personally, it's almost like it's their own family. But, but in fact, he made a creative decision, and you sort of vetoed it.
Exactly. Yeah. It's always I mean, it was nothing personal. Right. That's the
Yeah, that's the crux of it. It's nothing personal. We just liked another name. But anyway, actually, this part, you know, the fact that I would say your family members kind of get involved in your life, you know, and sometimes it's not strangers. It's not people you don't know, but your family or the people close to you who actually take advantage of your situation, right? You never know. So in fact, you know, I found this brother narrator in your book kind of unreliable, you know, because as his jealousy, there's this, you know, things are not working for him in the book and all of that. And I was probably speculating at one point, was he the one to circulate the video in the first place and then feel guilty about it? You know, did you actually intend it that way, or I think I was overeating. I knew from the very beginning that the narrator was not going to be a likable person, at least in my eyes, he started off as someone who was very annoying, I did not intend for anybody to think that he might have circulated the clip. But I totally I sort of get where you're coming from, because he is unreliable throughout the process. And he even though he might not let on that he's jealous, there is a bit of jealousy in him as well. So yeah, I definitely wanted him to be unreliable. And even when he's trying to get his brother to come back home. There are selfish reasons for selfish reasons for doing so. Because he doesn't want to be left alone one with the family. I think he's also worried about having this imperfect broken family. Because while simultaneously he's trying to mend his own family, and help get his brother to come back to the house. And so those are the big unsolved things out, he's also simultaneously trying to hit on girls and in sort of envying their perfect families, or whatever he imagines their families to be. And so then seeing if he can attach himself to them as well, I don't think he is a bad character. As such, I just think that he's in a very difficult position. And that position sort of makes him act in annoying and unreliable ways. Yeah, true. Definitely. Like, I didn't look at him as a bad character. But yes, there was a lot of foreshadowing, you know, this sort of unhappiness, generally, in his life. And I really want to know, if you've had people ask you whether this is your story, because, you know, as a writer, I've heard of this a lot. Right? No matter what I write about, right? It could be, for example, the character could even be male, you know, the character would be alien. But I've had people ask me, oh, is this you, you know, is this You masquerading as somebody else? And all of that. So if anybody thought you are screened out, you know, like, has this happened to you? Have you had any, like, people probe, especially to do with, you know, how controversial the topic is? I actually did. I had a journalist who is interviewing me. And it was very surprised when I told her that she had the first question that she had for me was that was this something that really happened to you? And then I said, No, there was just elements that I picked up from here and there. And she was quite surprised by and I thought that was flattering in a way. And likewise, setting the funniest. And at the same time, the sweetest thing that I got recently was a message from some somebody who had read the book, and I got a message on Instagram, and he just said, I really liked your book. And I hope you and your brother patch up things very soon.
Yeah, I think I think you've got the fiction tag on books don't work and you want people
to say, you know, I mean, it is flattering when you write Okay, people think that it is real enough to be, you know, memoir level. Yeah, no, that's absolutely right. Because I actually felt that recently. So there was a story that I'd written and I kind of got it workshop, you know, in this residency, and there were people who said, you know, that this scene was so realistic, we could imagine that this has happened to you and it's so funny, they didn't even ask me.
They assumed it happened to me and in my head. I know it's not you know, I literally made up the entire scene and I just love that because I mean, isn't
That's like the best compliment you can get when someone
thinks that it's real, but it's not. Oh, yeah, absolutely. So like, recently, I had a conversation with this filmmaker who told me that he had read this one particular scene in the book. And he was, like, very moved by it, because he was so sure that you couldn't possibly make that thing up. Because it was so real. So yeah, you're right, it is flattering. I don't know if it ever gets annoying. I don't know. Does it ever get annoying for you? Annoying? Not really. But then, you know, it's kind of like
that kind of doubting this ability, you know, have you to make up something, you know, because as fiction writers, it's your duty to imagine it's your duty to make up things. Right. So if someone actually assumes that you've taken from life in a coup, no, but you know, I'm an imaginative person. So, yes, so sometimes it does. But yes, it is, it's definitely heartwarming to know that, you know, someone has related to that incident, and someone really thinks that you've, you've really felt that at your core to write about it so well, right. And, and, you know, talking about convincing scenes and convincing characters, you know, see upon a mug, in the book, I've been there, like my favorites, right? I mean, even though they're like, conservative parents, you know, they're not happy about the fact that their son is a girlfriend, let alone that, you know, your private moment goes viral on people and you've covered like, different reactions to this, right, there are two ways in which, you know, Indian parents could react to something like this First is, you know, just ignoring the fact that it's happened, you know, then there's full blown drama, you know, where this girl's mother literally parked her car outside the house, you know, trying to coerce them into making the kids marry each other. And you look at something taboo like this. See, reactions could also vary depending on the class they're from. Right. So let's say it could be a very liberal, high class family, or the middle class family or a poor household. And, and that actually defines how you react in society. Right. So I'm curious to understand how you created the parents mentality due to toy with different reactions, you know, or was it very simple and straightforward film? Absolutely. All right, I think everything depends on, which is why I think when people started talking about it as just an internet intergenerational novel, I was sort of finding it difficult to use the book to generalize anything, because as you said, it all depends on the class, the cost, the sort of level of education that your parents have, or you have this other money that you have this out of, and then of course, the region of India that you're from. So all of that play a big difference. For me, I think what I tried to do is, or what I what I ended up doing was sort of create the family in the mold of the people that I knew basically, not in the sense of like ripping off any obvious characteristics, but mostly just, I think a lot of people do that with the with the TV novels, but they basically stick to what they know. So that was there. And then I also had that starting point of the car buying the novel begins with the family in the book buying a brand new car. Yeah. And I was my next question was actually exactly about the Honda Civic coming home. And you know, and why you chose to begin with it. Yeah, yeah. So I think that was one of the first scenes that I wrote, I wanted the family to be at this high point, and this and then the scenes are came naturally to me. And once I had that scene down, everything else sort of came, fell into place automatically as well, like, you know, that this is the family that's very excited about buying a Honda Civic, you know, that they care about what people are going to say about the new car, and you know, they're very conscious about it, you know, they're slightly worried about the money that they've spent on the car, you also know that they're celebrating some kind of achievement. So once you have all of these dots on the graph, you have a rough idea of who these, who this family is going to be and what the characters are going to be like. I so I basically use the first scene as a Bible to write the rest of the book. Yeah, makes sense. Because it kind of sets this tone of this middle class family, right? Like, buying a car is a big deal. You know, and we see the way you know, Apocalypse, looking at his reflection, I think in their view mirror, and all of that. There's just there's so much, you know, hype power built in that right, like, whereas let's say for another family who could afford it. Well, they wouldn't think twice. Right? I think you've contrasted this already. Well, and what I find interesting is see I have the book with me here. And on the cover, there's actually a scooty right, there's a scooty near a really lush tree. So you know, why not have a Honda Civic they're like, like, is that is it like pun intended that probably scooters have something to do with sex?
What was the reason that does have something to do with sex?
I'm asking, no, no, I'm asking you what I mean is Am I missing something like why not?
Honda Civic on the cover or you know, maybe just how did you come up with the cover because I do know that we were chatting at that point.
Did you know you had different options of covers? So how did you find the other events. So today try putting a bunch of things on the cover. And I'll tell you what those things one was. So it was the Honda Civic and the three other was the scooter that's in the cover right now. And she and another thing was a pair of socks. The socks were hanging from like a twig basically, like near a bush, it was on a bush, I think but but the final three options were the car, the the scooter and the sock, the I actually kind of liked the socks. But I think everyone at the publishing house felt that it would, it was too suggestive. And sort of, they read something very, sort of nasty, and we are about it. So I liked the thoughts because they were colorful, I guess they stood out on the cover. But so the socks is out. So then it was immediately between the Honda Civic and the scooter. And to be honest, this Honda Civic just didn't look that code on the cover, it just looked too contemporary and too boring. And so the scooter here symbolizes or like stands for the narrative scooter. Basically the father scooter that the narrator keeps borrowing to go back and forth between the houses,
house and the family's house. And also the scooter as his main mode of transport within so Andrew like he's always getting on a scooter and going to the beach, or getting on the scooter or going to the movies. So it sort of symbolizes his escape and his mobility. So it felt like a better choice as well rather than the Honda Civic, the meaning of which will be immediately apparent once you read the first chapter of the book. Whereas the scooter was a little bit more cryptic and a little bit more, a little bit deeper. And I guess, maybe maybe a bit too deep. But I think the scooty is more like the telephone line that connects the family like you said, right? It is it is kind of this connecting factor and and I think falls very well with this whole escapism, kind of you know, a thread that goes on it just wants to escape. And if a scooty can do that, why not? Yeah, at one point, he talks about getting on the scooty. And he calculates the distance between Trump and Romain and Vietnam, I think I'm not sure what you mean, sorry, I'm not sure subsidy in Vietnam, he calculates the distance. And then he says, Oh, maybe I can get there by road. So yeah, it's absolutely a symbol for escape as well.
Yeah, so you're talking about this connecting thread or in the book, or when another thing that kept me going throughout what the dialogues right, like these small diffs between parents and kids, they really come alive, right? And not just about the scandal. For example, Srinagar asked his dad, why did you have to clean in here? Right? He shouted, I told you not to do it, and then upon it towards saying your room is what an embassy, it's part of the house, isn't it? This was so funny, because it's also quite realistic, right? I mean, we often hear this, you haven't sanitized like any of this daily drama, you know, for the sake of sanity, I would really love to hear about your own parents and you know, whether any dialogue from your interactions with them made it into the well and no dialogues that have come in as such, like as in there is nothing that is very, copy paste, as you would say. But I'm sure there's it's my my interactions with my parents are definitely influenced the sort of dialogue that's there on the book, with regard to the exchange that you quoted, now, I remember thinking that while writing it, I remember thinking that I wanted the father to say something very smart aleck key, sort of like rhetorical and sarcastic, because I knew that he was going to be I knew I was worried that everyone would be disliked the father immensely. So I wanted him to have some redeeming qualities, so forth, which is why I thought, okay, maybe I can make him slightly comic and make them say these very snarky dialogues
to children and have and best them that way. And, I mean, I never I didn't have a good relationship with my parents. In the beginning, when I was growing up, I think, possibly because we were all living in the house in Toronto, and was already crammed. And as I said earlier, like all the letters are nearby. And I mean, it wasn't bad in any obvious way. But it wasn't like, it was a difficult sort of situation. And they were like constant fights. And I was very meek. I think my father was very tyrannical growing up practically dictated. I think maybe that's a that's a bit too harsh on him in case he ever listens to this. But yeah, maybe he's not a dictator. What I mean, is that as you come of age, in most Indian families, it's the process is that you overthrow the dictatorship that is your that composed of your parents, and then you sort of established democracy. And those families are characterized by the nature of the transition from that dictatorship to democracy as an in the end in some cases, it's early
To the smooth transition where the parents see that it's happening, the kids are coming of age, they're getting a say in things. In some cases, like in Selena's case of Turner pass case, it's sort of like you have to need, you basically have to overthrow the dictatorship and get rid Glassell the power from your parents. Yeah, I think in my case, the transition for the longest time wasn't great. But then suddenly, I went off to college. And when I came back, I remember there's this instance, where my father was trying to apply for a passport. And he couldn't get the forms, right. And I was around 18, I just come back from college in Pune, and I was staying with him. And I had to do all the forms for them. I think that was a sort of turning point where I was doing something bureaucratic that he couldn't accomplish. That may have helped a little bit in the transition. So after that, it was relatively smooth.
Yeah, I think I think this power struggle, as you mentioned, especially, you know, keeping in mind that both are male figures. Right. And that's, that's very interesting. Like, you know, it's like, who rules the house, right, who's the man of the house, and suddenly, the tables are turned line in your book, which says sex is one thing, but a sex scandal is a whole other thing. And I want to add, you know, that yes, those two are taboos, but writing about sexism. Again, you know, because we know that there is a taboo around writing about sex in India, erotica, all of that. Right. So how would your parents react to that, you know, like, knowing that you've written about something like this? To be honest, I've forgotten but it's a taboo to write. Is it a taboo? Like, I don't know, in the sense that, I think it would be it. Like I said, in literally seconds, I don't think it's a taboo, or it's either that or I've become completely desensitized to it. Because like, when you start working on the book, and you sit with it for like, a couple of years, usually reads just refuses to have any meaning whatsoever in terms of sensitivity. I think a similar thing has happened with my parents, I remember telling my mother when I started the book that I was writing about this particular topic, and she was like, Okay, that's interesting. But why this, and also, jokingly,
all the things that you could possibly write about, why are you writing about this, but jokingly, obviously, but I think, once I started writing it, they became part of the process itself, like in the sense of they see you sitting there working this, know that you're writing about this particular topic, and they also slowly start to get desensitized about it, I feel in a good way, of course. And my mother actually read the book before publication, and even had a couple of suggestions to change, not a couple of three, I think, had lots of versions for improving the work. And they were all like, great.
My father doesn't read at all.
But he read the book twice, once it was out. So that's a that was a nice. Yeah, that's really that's a big relief, actually, you know, it's good to know that, that you're so supportive, and like you said, I think after a point, you know, because you've been a writer for so long, I think our parents had to kind of grow this, you know, thick skin, and they get used to it, you know, when you're probably just starting out, they'll be a little sensitive, and then they're gonna whatever, you know, that they are Righto. And, you know, I think they do get to know that we play around with a lot of themes. So it's not just this, but it's also about experimentation. And a lot of that, I think possibly families tend to get at least my family was more worried about the fact that it could be autobiographical. I mean, rather than this expat, it's more the, the dirt that you spill on spin about your own family, that they might tend to worry there. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, to my surprise, even like my aunts back at random that a lot of them loved it. And I thought that was very interesting, because I never would have thought they were the people who would read this sort of thing and actually enjoy it. Yeah, I guess it goes to show. Yeah, I mean, I have had a couple of people say a couple of years on the family say, Oh, we recognize this from that, or like, we recognize this character from this person. And often it's, like, completely unrelated, but you see what you see. Yeah, yeah, exact, and you have no control over that. Right. And I think for me the question, it mostly came from the fact that I'm a girl, you know, and I'm really conscious. For example, when you write about certain topics, and then people you know, you wonder like, Okay, well, people think this is autobiographical, all of that. And I read something very interesting lately, that, you know, erotica, apparently audio books, you know, which are erotica are written by women and written in regional languages, right, and they are selling like hotcakes, right? But these women because of the stigma, they don't want to be associated with it. They're actually releasing it under pseudonyms. That's very interesting. I think, again, that you're absolutely right. I think that again, comes down to class.
And, and which economic background you are when you're about these things? Exactly. Gender, and all of that. Yeah, yeah, I think often people like us in and gender as well, as you rightly say,
I think in literally, so when you're outside of the literary circles, and you're writing about such things, and somebody finds out it might actually be.
Yes, yeah. Because there's no context. Right. And, and what I liked also in the book is that when you know, apart from all these topics, you bring out the nuances and relationships, right? Because he often things are not said, but implied, right. So for example, you know, this brother has a brief romance with this girl, and her anxiety comes across in how you described it, I just love those lines. And this is how it goes, the whole time we were together, I got the feeling that she was waiting for me to get to the point, offered her a job, push insurance, they've had a medical diagnosis, we didn't go out again. So you know, could this be a commentary on shaming, you know, that probably girls face when you're dating somebody in public in India, because he has a girl, I've heard the stigma, like, Oh, she's been roaming with the sky or guys, you know, so was it meant to show this particular aspect of dating that, you know, you have to have an ultimate goal in society's eyes. And probably that could be a source of anxiety. That's an in very interesting point of view. I hadn't thought of it that way at all. When I actually wrote it, I just what was in my mind was that I was writing about two first year college students were having a very awkward date, because they have no idea what exactly a date is supposed to be constituted of, like they know from what they're exposed to that date is getting coffee and exchanging biographical details. But beyond that they are they feel sort of clueless. So I mostly wanted to talk about that awkwardness that's inherent in I think, a lot of situations where you're just, I mean, when it's your first time dating somebody, or when it's your first time dating at all. But I think your point of view is actually quite interesting. I hadn't thought of it that way.
Yeah, I think that awkwardness of dating comes across, right? Like you just don't know how to go about it. Especially I think dating in dating into one room, I think, because I don't, I didn't go to college in Toronto. And I know, I know that a lot of my friends had dated in Trivandrum. But it's a different sort of environment. It's not necessarily how you date and how you did in Rwanda is not necessarily how you do Bangalore, and vice versa. And I think we just all just gotten out of that phase where like, I don't know if this is a thing all over India, but like when you like people say proposing, is that a thing all over India?
Yeah, instead of like asking somebody out you propose? Yeah, it's asking out is this very new concept. I mean, it's not really very new. But it's sort of often feels very new. Because like when I was in school, people are talking about proposing results. And then I think you get exposed to Western media, like friends and all of those kinds of sitcoms that you watch. And that comes out on TV when you're a kid. And then you get used to this idea of dating. Yeah, very true. Actually. Yeah, you're right. Because, you know, I think back in school, I remember when, you know, couples used to date each other. They would be like, Okay, who proposed who you know, which was, it was just so funny. That would be the town or talk of the town. That would be the gossip. You know, and then the next question would be okay, but how did that person propose? You know, it was just, it was so funny. Yeah. Like, and also the understanding seem to be that you tell the other person that you love them.
I've seen you three times in class. But I just wanted to say that I love you
know that and not go love or nothing, ya know, and talking about hardcore love or when I have a very funny, bitter experience to share. So like, we were very young, right? We were teens in school. And, you know, some of the teams, they had this very peculiar way of showing their love. Okay, I don't know if you have much experience in school, but they would literally carve the person's name on their hand. Right. And this could be with a protractor right, the needle of a protractor which is my goal, which is very disturbing. And apparently if someone does not do that, they don't love you enough.
Oh, my God, that sounds horrifying, though. I mean, I always heard of people doing stuff like this, like carving names with protractors and compass and things like that, but I've never actually I didn't know that was an actual like, a thing that you were expected to do thing and it used to escalate like my point is, for example, let's say it would begin with a chat Okay, let's say someone has posted saying I love you, blah, blah, blah. And let's say the other person
is not giving them power. Okay, they've not taken them seriously. So now what is the next step? The next step is you use a protector to write your name and then they might take you seriously. So it's sort of like emotional blackmail. I love you enough to hurt myself.
Or I'm gonna hurt myself more. Yeah, which is, which is very screwed up. I know.
But also like, kind of
stuff that gets did in school, I guess. Yeah. And no one. Guys do. You don't? Yeah. Oh, no, no, I have I have seen God's doing it as well.
Yeah, like, there was this girl I knew back then. And she was just crazy about this guy. And she's like, Oh, but you know, the guy is just not even looking at me. He doesn't know I exist. So I do this. Oh, my God, which is, which is funny. But yeah, but I think, you know, more than funny, I think what it it makes it agile commentary on on how we view dating, you know, and how we view relationships. And there's so many mixed messages around it. Right? And especially with with dating apps nowadays, you know, and it's, I would say, that's like a whole different, you know, Episode, we can have an entire episode on dating, you know, and we've also covered that on our podcast, we have covered dating guides, you know, with our star tray, then there's the sex book with, you know, these are Mongol Das. And I think this topic is something which is, which can be covered on multiple episodes, but talking about romance and different acts of you know, showing, you know, someone's love or someone's liking for somebody, you know, differences that you have seen in the way it's portrayed on screen, you know, in cinema, especially Bollywood versus Mondo films. I think Bollywood and both Malayalam films have that toxic trait of people, following your people establishing their love for you again, and again, like you said, well, the grown up version of carving somebody's name on your, which is showing up at their house or stalking them in repeatedly confessing your love. I think that is there in both Bollywood and Miranda films, I think that sort of thing is changing a little bit. Right? I'm not sure. I think it's changing a little bit, at least in mainstream media, it seems to be, or at least, there seems to be an automated sort of conversation going on about that. I do remember, like, when I was in college, I don't remember I was doing an internship. At this not in touch. I was volunteering at this. At this home for juvenile conflict convicts. A lot of the kids are big fans of Bollywood movies. And I remember a lot of the kids talking about pursuing the the kind of like, what would they would do if they love somebody, and they often just take it straight out of all of it. So Oh, my God. Yeah, that is scary. That is scary. You know, and, and, you know, apart from from romance, dating, love and all of that, I think you know, that the fact that you can be shamed, you know, for your body, for example. So there's a small movie there show that I had foreseen and I really liked it, because it kind of shows you that, you know, a woman can't be blackmailed by just a video, right. And I think that that speaks volumes, you know about our society about things that that, you know, you shouldn't be shamed for. But unfortunately, it's there. And I think, yes, there are a lot of things that need to be changed. In the kinds of stories were telling Oh, and I really love that you've addressed that in your book, you know, because society sets really these unrealistic standards, right? Like the ways you have to conduct your lives and you know, as if adulting is not enough. So I'm very curious to know if you've had any ridiculous expectation that you have come across in your life as the student or in your work life, you know, like, some issues you've had personally, when it comes to romantic relationships and these expectations that society has.
Good question, in terms of expectations that society has, I think, I also have that same burden of expectation that I will get married, and I will have kids and so on and so forth, I think, maybe not for my parents right now, because I've had so many debates with them back and forth. And they have sort of learned to let it go. But
from as I said earlier, like when I went to visit my grandparents recently, so there is expectation on that. And I just feel like that's a very stupid expectation to have somebody like to be there barely got my life together, and you want me to get married and then have a kidney for Christ's sake. What for watching
this world in this time, when you don't know how the future is going to be so uncertain, and, you know, 100 issues, including climate change, but that's the very obvious explanation. I think everybody our age will have.
Yeah, aside from that, I don't know if your question was also about like moral policing, is it Oh,
Yeah, exactly like, like, did you feel this sort of, you know, pressure to deal with dating, which has, you know, just to do with our society? Yeah, I think modern policing was definitely there when I was dating. I mean, I mean, not so much now, I guess, because we're grown up. And but I guess even now, because as I said, earlier, when I was trying to rent a house, there was all these conditions of girl not coming over. And that was frustrating, because I'm paying rent and saying, I won't make a lot of noise. Why do you care who comes to work? And I wasn't even dating anyone. So this
doesn't matter. Right? Like, yeah, it doesn't matter. It could be a friend, but they wouldn't want a girl to come, which is actually sat down with this. So my broker told me that there was this very cheap house and in Ronda, but the caveat was that they didn't want girls coming over. So I actually thought I might be able to talk to the owner and tell her that, you know, I'm not going to have parties or anything. And occasionally a girl, so might come over maybe a friend, maybe if I get maybe like a girlfriend in the future, things like that. So I actually did sit down with this old woman old and the sense of like, she's 16. And I told her this, but she was quite were meant about not letting people demo and reason was that her knee She has been living there for since I don't know, independence. And what will her neighbor all the neighbors now around? What will her neighbor say? And I said, What will they say?
And she was like, well, there's some girl coming over in the middle of the night. And we don't know who it is. It's strange. And then she also surprising me quoted, you know, I don't know if you're aware, like, I guess you I mean, it definitely would be aware,
those incidents that have happened in Delhi recently, where the horrific incidents where the guy cut up a girl and stole
three, unfortunately, actually quoted that incident, oh, my, he said, he said, and you know, with couples living together, or couples staying over together without getting married, you end up with those kinds of situations. Then I said, as married couples don't get into those kinds of problems. And she actually laughed.
And then she said she loved me. No, but of course, I knew that was a no go. But it was nice talking to her nonetheless. But a very strange interaction. I guess early in college, I've also had interactions with the police, which are unfavorable.
I think my my girlfriend at the time, and I was sitting at this on this park bench was around seven or eight. At night, I think 738. And these individuals holding hands, and you know, we were like 18, starry eyed kind of thing. And these cops, these police officers stopped their bike. And they started saying things like, we know, this is the second time you're passing this story. And you guys have been sitting at this bench for the past one. What's going on? This is this is you shouldn't be hanging out here at night. Do your parents know that you're hanging out with the guy etc? and so on. And so what to my girlfriend at the time. And then they started demanding that we call our parents like on the spot, like take out your phone and call your parents?
Yeah, and we were both freaked out. Because I'm my parents are like, literally understanding now, in the sense that if something were to happen, and some some cops call my parents, I don't think they would care. They will side with us. But yeah, and then the cops started threatening to call her parents. And finally, he just said, How much money do you have? And together, we had like 150
And then we handed over 150 rupees. And he was like, We better not see your bills or whatever, again.
Disappointed like, with 150 rupees, it was like, it was like a wasted moral lecture, you know, because he really went down for like, a good 20 minutes about oh my god, about how we shouldn't be doing this and how what will our parents say and so on. So for 20 minutes to get like 50 pieces quiet. I know you must have thought oh, these kids must be loaded. Let me try my luck. Oh, gosh. But But yeah, but very, very unfortunate. I mean, that shouldn't happen to anyone. I think that's quite common also, because whenever I share these incidents of the police with anybody with most people, they say oh yeah, I had a similar incident recently and so on and so forth. Yeah, like like in Bangalore I think you know, there are parks which which you know, police just target so for example, there'll be carbon park and you know, the police would just wait to you know, catch couples and just you know, had a stem my god it was it was crazy.
And you did your college in Bangalore. Yes. Yes. I studied it. Definitely now in non Campbell and in Christ and you know, you have these few parks right it's just like two three public parks where people come and you know, they relax and it's sad because he if you don't go to a park, where else would you go? Like you said, you know, like
There are, first of all, there are a few spaces that people can hang out, you know, and just spend some time with your loved one. But yeah, it's sad and, and but you know what I liked or when this spoke to the landlord, who is a 60 year old woman. And that's what I wanted to know. Because see, you were born in 1994, you know, which actually makes you a millennial, you know, but your protagonists are younger to you, right, which makes them Gen Z. And you have two parents who are much, much older, you know, who are Gen X? So what was it like to jump between these two generations? You know, did you go about noticing or observing people, you know, from these age groups for the book, especially, like, how did you navigate that? I think these classifications like Gen Z, and especially Gen Z, and millennials, are very loose. And I think often the traits that are ascribed to say, Gen Z, or Millennials are not so rigid in the sense that, I mean, I think they're very
fluid. And what is actually Gen Z behavior in the US when they make that chart about, you know, gently behavior traits is actually may not apply to Gen Z behavior in India. And I think the cadavre Gen Z, I think you were saying was 9096, or something.
There wasn't a big leap by any means. It wasn't difficult at all, to imagine, I think the narrative and the story is to Andy, and brother is 22. And I think I roughly said the story in 2017, or something. So they will be around my age or thereabouts. I wasn't very difficult, I think, with the parents also, like, as I said,
Because I stuck to basically stuck to what I knew. And I think with Debbie novels, you often have people writing about,
about family circumstances and family, right? Because that's the only thing that you know, but it wasn't very difficult, either, because I'm just talking about characters that have a lot of overlap with characters that I know. Yeah, true. True. I think we do meet a lot of people in our lives, you know, and that will be material enough. But you don't know that this book is out. And you know, I know that you're working on your second book, could you tell us more about it?
Actually, I'm like, in a very early stage in the second book, and what always ends up happening is that when I get excited about a new idea, or new book, and then I tell someone about it, and the very next day, the idea collapses. And this has happened to me like seven or eight times throughout benefits whenever I started writing. So as of now, I really don't have any sort of concrete idea. I have a vague notion that based on what I've got so far, that it's we'll have not family drama, but you likely have family and possibly come campus life in it. So I'll just say that much. Because I don't want to say something. And then like two days later, the novel completely collapses. And then it never made the actually materializes. So as I got closer to publication date, hopefully that will hopefully if it gets there, because you never know you write one book, and you don't know if you can actually do another. Yeah, and you're right. And I think for me, also, I've experienced that the moment I share something, you know, it's almost like you're jinxing the idea.
Yeah, but I do hope that I mean, and I do envision that the book will be, you know, as entertaining and as great as this one. So best of luck. I'm very eager to see to see what happens. So this brings us to our fun quiz round oven. So I'm going to be mentioning one line, okay. And three options, so you have to pick one option that resonates you that resonates with you the most. Okay, I'm gonna be terrible at this because I'm bad at typing on my feet. Well, I'll give it my best shot. Okay, let's try one millennial term that you're sick of hearing. A Netflix and chill. B. Sorry, not sorry. C goals AF. I think goals their goals have but when used, ironically, when used and ironically, sorry. Okay, I
mean, like, basically like
Netflix and chill is pretty. It's not bad. What is the other one? Sorry, sorry, not sorry. I do not have no idea what I mean. Sorry. Yeah. And it's kind of I think this cocky attitude like Sorry, you know, Oh,
that's terrible. That's terrible. I think Netflix and chill is the only one in this that is sort of variable. Okay. Yeah. Do it out, too. Okay. One modern relationship lingo that you can't relate with a ghosting, be orbiting see bread crumbing
This is funny because I only know the meaning of the word. ghosting. I'm assuming Brett krumping is sort of like
you leading, leading someone on
them or waiting. I have no idea like, oh, is auditing like you're waiting for a relationship to collapse? So you can swoop in or something? Um, no, I think it's more like this friendzone kind of this peripheral thing, but you're neither here you're neither there. You're gonna you're just orbiting you're in the person's orbit. But you're the first one was ghosting. Yes, I think of these.
I think orbiting is something I can't relate to. I don't do. Okay. Ambiguous.
mixed signals. Yeah.
Like, alright, one platform on the internet that you think is more urbane than don't a Instagram. Be YouTube. See? Twitter? I think Twitter. Awesome. Has anyone ever confused your novel for a pawn clip? Because of its title? A one person be none. See, I don't know. One person if it includes you.
Okay, fair enough. All right. The kind of humor that you like consuming a self deprecation be slice of life. See that comedy? I think see a mix of CNA Yeah, I kind of figured that from your book. Okay. Yeah. One thing about Kerala that you miss the most a banana chips. Be coconut oil. See Malayalam see is just Malala. Yes, like you don't get enough of it in banking.
I think I get my leather bag.
I don't miss any of those things. That's never a banana chip. fan. I don't know shit. I'm gonna get hate from saying I'm not a fan of metal. So I just say banana chips. Just
awesome. Okay, one thing that you consider taboo till now a tattoos, be piercings see plastic surgery? I don't think any of those are taboo. Awesome. Okay, so this brings us to our next round, which is I'm reading recommendations down. So what are the three books that made you a writer?
That's an interesting question. I think when I wrote the book, and the book came out, there were a lot of comparisons to Philip Roth and, and kinara, which is obviously very flattering, although I didn't think I went far enough for it to be Philip Roth kind of thing. And I'm actually very flattered by the fact that you think it was actually quite might actually be controversial. I never thought of it that way. So, but yeah, sorry, influences. I think I'll talk about influences in the way of like writers have tried to copy over the years. And I guess three of those writers would be I think early on in college, I write a lot of John Cheever, the American short story writer, well known shots just shortly but he's known predominately for shots.
So I tried to copy a lot of John Cheever and Raymond Carver as well. And same goes for Alice Monroe, and Flannery O'Connor. And I had a brief John Updike face where I tried to copy like, with terrible results.
And then also like uneasily Neel Mukherjee, I think Jonathan Franzen
wow, I just love this list a little bit of
courage. I found it. And maybe, maybe it's Golan but this is basically writers that write a copy. So I'm assuming that in some way or another, their influence would have Yeah, the bid even though I have no idea what the final product is, like, I want to really like Ben Lerner's stuff, but I obviously can't he's not so if you had to pick three books, okay, that have been very defining in your life, which three would be three books that have been very defining
this Malala novel called variable by mulatto, Ramakrishnan. And we had to study it in school. back then. We weren't like very enthusiastic about it. But once we started reading it, once we started really getting into it during classes I found very influential because it was slice of life. It was about this man was coming back to sell his
house because he wants to move to the big city. And it was funny and was dark and it was sad. I think that played played an influence for sure. played a role
Maybe I'll pick I'm gonna sit here and just say collected chart. So is John Cheever because I think John G would play somewhat of a big role in what we have no idea.
And I'll just say two books. Goodbye Columbus and gotcha, gotcha. Oh, gotcha.
is my favorite also because I love family stories and yes, it's I would recommend this to all our listeners. If you like, Edwin's book, you know, don't forget to check out cultured culture, which is also a family drama. Oh, yeah. Okay, so we reach a final round, or when and if you thought that the fun quiz was rapid. Now this is going to be even more rapid, because, but I'm slowing down all your questions by giving you enough.
Okay, so this Okay, let's see in this round, you have to just answer in one word or one. Okay. I try not to think basically, it's more instinctive. So the first question is one habits that you love about Gen Z.
The fact that they're hyper aware. Nice. Okay. One place in Kerala that everyone must visit for its food. Place in Kerala, two random oak, the hotel near my house into Andrea. It's called Kamala, it's pretty good. Oh, wow. Okay. Awesome. one app that you have found to be very useful in your life.
The notes app, I keep a lot of notes. Who, okay, one word to describe your literary agent.
Okay. That one dating app that's popular in Bangalore, and Kerala? Like, possibly Tinder? I haven't used dating apps in a long time. But yeah, I cannot guess that answer. Okay. The final question, where do you write,
I write at my desk, because I think if you're gonna live for a long time, you got to take care of your back. So I try and sit and write and do all the proper things to say, um, you know, I just I love that I love that you mentioned about posture. Because you know, yeah, even I had like slipped disc a couple of years back and since then, I religiously sit on the table to do all the writing all the work in you know, because I think it's, it's kind of like a, you know, horrible injustice you can do to your back to your posture if you you know, sit on the bed or on the couch. But, you know, we've had a lot of writers who just, you know, pen masterpieces on their bed or their couches. So I think what I used to write in everywhere, like I used to lie in bed and write back when I was in college, like, keep the laptop on my chest, and it's very awkward position.
I realize that once your back gets cruel, it's quite difficult. Yeah, true. But yeah, but God, You sound very old right now. You sound very old. Right? Talking about backs.
You're just, you know, as you say, like, you know, killjoy. You're taking the fun out of the whole creative writing.
Give a cooler answer. Michela just save you right everywhere, right on the cost the right to be right. When we assume yes, yes, yes. I think that's that's definitely a cooler, you know, approach. But I loved talking to you. I mean, I think this was one of the most fun episodes that we've done. You know, so we've covered so much about Indian society, you know, what's good and what's bad and that you know, how we navigate it. And I think this was extra special because I'm doing the solo. So you know, thank you once again, and I'm just so eager to see your next book come out. Thank you. Michelle was so nice to be here and talk about the book. Thank you.
So here we are, were the end of yet another journey into the many worlds of Books and Beyond with bound. I'm Tara candy lol. I'm Michelle D'costa. And this podcast is created by bout a company that helps you grow through stories Find us at about India, or all social media platforms. So tune in every Wednesday if you live, eat and breathe books and join us as we discover more revolutionary books and take into the lives and minds of some truly brilliant authors from India and South Asia. And don't forget to keep your love for stories alive for books and beyond.