Monday, January 20, 2020

A new short story and interview

I have a new short story out in the Massachusetts Review. The story's called Mallika Reflects on the Events of Discount Monday. 

The journal also interviewed me for its blog about the writing of this story and other writing stuff in general. 

What inspired you to write this piece?
Well, I’m a woman and I wish I could say that I am the sort of woman who rejects all norms around femininity. But I do go to a salon once in a while. In India, there are all kinds of salons, more frequently known as ‘beauty parlours.' Parlours come in all sizes and cater to all classes. Many women operate from their own homes or rent little shops in neighborhood markets. I’ve seen some of the fancier ones too, though I usually go to a ‘normal’ parlour, which caters to the average middle-class woman.

Women sometimes go to a parlour looking for some kind of life affirmation, for emotional reassurance rather than physical plucking and primping. I remember going to a fancy salon once for a haircut, having just recovered from a bout of malaria. I was alone most of that week and feeling quite shaken. I needed to treat myself to something. The haircut cost five times what it would in the place where I usually go. The stylist told me that my skin and hair was in bad shape, and that I needed to buy fancy shampoos that cost ten times my normal shampoo, which she wrote out as a ‘prescription.’ I walked out feeling angry and have sworn off the place.

I’ve overheard some strange and sad conversations over the years at various parlours. I see beauticians trying to coax you into spending much more than you can actually afford by thrusting fresh norms, which they’ve picked up from Western (usually North American) magazines, upon their clientele. I also see women coming to the same place for years, never pushed into trying anything beyond the thing they came looking for. The story was an attempt to capture some of these conversations and experiences.

Here's a link to the whole ten questions: 
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