Review: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

First of all let me say this: I’ve been waiting  with bated breath for WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon to come out ever since I heard about it. I mean, a Bollywood style YA? What’s not to love? So when I recently got my hands on an ARC I was thrilled. Unfortunately it took me a little while to start reading because dear hubs, also an avid Bollywood fan, got his grubby fingers on it before I did and so I had to wait patiently. By the time he was done and I started, we were on our way to Santa Monica to attend YALLWEST. You can read all about that experience here.

I was still reading it on the plane and when we landed at LAX we decided to grab some lunch. Afterwards I got lost on my way back from the restrooms as one tends to do (okay maybe not most people, but I am directionally challenged). Anyway, while I was wandering around the terminal trying to locate dear hubs, who do I spy but Sandhya Menon, the author of WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI. Of course, since I’d never met her before in my life, I couldn’t be 100% sure. But like Rishi, I believe in kismet and also, I knew she in the lineup for YALLWEST and it wasn’t that far-fetched that she would also fly into LAX. So unlike a normal person I did not quietly continue the search for my husband, who by this time was no doubt panicking about his lost wife. No, I actually walked up to her, confirmed she was indeed Sandhya Menon and not some other unsuspecting passenger and proceeded to give her an exuberant hug. I can’t imagine what she must have thought about being accosted by a complete stranger in the airport (okay, maybe I can. She will probably always travel incognito from now on).

Of course she was perfectly lovely and gracious. She didn’t even run away the next day when we went up  to her after a panel at YALLWEST. My husband was not too impressed with my stalkerish behavior but after he met her and we chatted for a few minutes, he was convinced that things were fine.

The sad thing is, in all the excitement, I forgot to take a picture with her and worst of all, I DID NOT GET AN AUTOGRAPH!! I had the book in my purse the entire time.

Anyhow, I finished the book and let me tell you it was glorious!

I cannot say this enough: it was beyond amazing to read about a character who could have been one of my daughters. They are South Asian, children of immigrants, a leg in each world and they hardly ever get to see themselves reflected in YA. My older daughter, now 22, was an avid reader all through elementary and high school. There were no books with characters who looked like her or came from a similar background. So as I was reading, there were many moments of feeling connected and rejoicing.

What I loved most about this book was that it showcased two very different kinds of South Asian teens. Dimple is fiercely independent, has her own idea of what she wants her life to be and fights her parents, while Rishi is more traditional and feels responsible for his parents’ happiness. With so few books out there featuring POC it becomes more important to convey to readers that no culture is a monolith. South Asians are not all alike, any more than people of any other ethnicity.

And then there were the scenes with her parents and other relatives. Sandhya’s sense of humor is delightful. I could hear the voices in my head as clearly as if I were watching a Bollywood movie or drama. It was fun and light, while at the same time tackling the deeper issue of two very smart and driven young people finding their place in the world.

I can’t wait for this book to come out soon and watch people rave about it.

Occupational Hazards for Writers

Since I started writing a couple of years ago I realized that there are some occupational hazards of being a writer. These include :

-Your sleep being hijacked by your characters as they live out the  scenes from your book.

-Your friends no longer sharing intimate details of their lives with you as said details inevitably find their way into your book.

-Being unable to go to any social functions without mentally categorizing people and their quirks for future use in your book.

-Listening with disturbing intensity when coming across anyone with an accent, in case you can use it in your book.

-Shushing people at the movies because they dared to fidget as you are trying to mentally record a scene that might help you with your book.

-Having difficulty concentrating on what your friend is saying at lunch because you are fascinated by the way she chews her food and you might be able to use it for a character in your book.

-Developing an unhealthy habit of imitating grimaces and other facial expressions as you try to write them, but forgetting that you are in public.

-Mentally practicing combat moves for your fight scenes, not realizing that you are acting them out while sitting at a Starbucks and people are beginning to stare.

If anyone wants to add weird habits they’ve picked up as writers, I would love to hear about it.

Weight Loss Quest: Day One

So my first day at the gym went off well, no harm, no foul. My friend and I decided to do a 30-minute class. I did it because I didn’t want to look like a moron wrestling with the weight machines that were neatly placed in a circle around the main floor, convenient for the entertainment of the other patrons, but not so flattering for me, as I tried to figure out where to place my limbs. The instructor was great, immediately identifying me as the newbie, no doubt by the look of panic on my face as I realized that if I wanted to get a piece of equipment, I would have to shove aside the elderly, rather buxom lady who had planted herself firmly next to the treadmill. Luckily I didn’t have to resort to such under-handed tactics, as the instructor, seeing that her class was about to erupt in chaos, decided to assign equipment to each person. In the kerfuffle, I lost my friend, who ended up several machines away from me, thus rendering her unable to help me other than with worried looks from across the room. I climbed up on the treadmill I had been assigned and got started. It would have been fine, I’m sure, had it not been for the setting on the machine. Apparently the person who had used it before me fancied herself to be the energizer bunny, because once that thing got going, the only thing that saved me from falling off in pretzel pose was that the instructor rushed over to me. I’m sure it was less to save me from embarrassing myself and more to avoid potential liability issues if I broke my face in the first ten minutes at the gym. Nevertheless she calmly informed me that the treadmill was controlled by my feet. Well, duh. But who would control my feet? Anyway, I survived that monster with my dignity intact and everything was going well until it was my turn to sit on a contraption apparently designed to work the muscles in your back. Well I wish that someone had told me, because when I sat down and put my arms and legs in the appropriate position, nothing happened. Trying to look as if I knew exactly what I was doing, I pulled this way and that but nothing happened. The lady next to me, the one I had contemplating shoving out of the way earlier, must have been a mind reader, because I could have sworn I saw her smirk when I turned to her looking for help. She mumbled something unintelligible, probably that I should watch my back next time I  came to the gym. Luckily the 45 seconds allotted to each machine was over. The next few were alright, but when the instructor came to remind me to keep my toes up on the leg curls, I got distracted by her nipples which were staring at me condescendingly through her shirt. I must say that despite my misgivings I enjoyed the class and will definitely be going back.

Girl Power

When I decided to write a book, I knew that the protagonist had to be a girl. She would be a strong, kick-ass sort of a girl. No standing on the sidelines and watching with big eyes as her man saved the world. No, she was going to save the world herself.I wanted to base my story on the mythology of India, because it is so rich and fascinating. And I knew that I wanted to write for young adults, because they are  at an important juncture in their lives. Not that my book is going to impart any great pearls of wisdom. On the contrary, it is pure fantasy. But I happen to believe that when you allow yourself to indulge in fantasy, you can discover a lot about who you truly are and what will make you happy. Plus it’s just really cool to write about a girl who has the powers of a goddess and can kick a demon’s ass.

Preparing For Success

In anticipation of my upcoming fame and appearances on numerous talk shows, I decided that this would be a good time to get rid of the many extra pounds that I found in the past year and a half as I was writing my YA novel Realm of the Goddess. During that time I embraced a diet of ice cream and chips and rewarded myself nightly with a fruity vodka concoction because I had spent the better part of my days being creative. Now that I am waiting with bated breath for editors and agents to tell me how much they love my book, I thought that I would take the time to get back in shape. You know, just in case I get discovered and they want to meet me.

So, I joined Weightwatchers online. Three days ago. So far it’s been fabulous. I went to the grocery store and successfully circumvented the cookie aisle, as well as the ice-cream section. Even took puppy for a nice long walk. I even tried to give up coffee and switch to water and green tea, but as I was tutoring my students later that day, I discovered that Math problems and chemical reactions are much friendlier to a well- caffeinated brain.

So now I’m happily counting points and waiting to hear from an editor who requested my entire manuscript.