Excerpted from an online chat with readers at IBNlive:

  • Your stories are different from the romances we grew up on as teenagers. Is this a book for the cynical grown up? Asked by: Zoya
  • I am not a cynic myself, definitely not where love is concerned. But love and romance are not the same. I personally find romance a little tiresome, and was never drawn to romantic stories. Even as a teenager, I think I read just a couple of M&Bs and then grew disgusted with the genre. I did like Jane Austen, but her novels are about much more than just romance. They are also about social structure, the power dynamic between women of a certain class, and so on. Besides, she was so very astute, so witty. I think I cannot stand dishonest narratives. "Romance" in books often obscures the precise nature of what a human being is feeling at a given time. Perhaps you mention cynicism because the stories are not always about happiness.

From this interview with EDEX, the Indian Express paper for students.

How did you score points with the opposite gender?
I did not. It was a girls’ college.

Another interview with Dial-a-book:

Farhan: Did you peek into the life of lovers when writing this book? Did you need to make any research before writing this book?
Annie: Not ‘research’ really. I did not go looking for lovers and their stories. I observed what was unfolding around me and then played it out different in my own imagination.

Extracts from an interview with BlogAdda

Q: After 64 years of Independence of India, which group of people have still not gained their freedom, according to you? Also, what are the positive factors that have evolved in these 64 years?

A: I cannot say what has changed for the better over 64 years. I don’t know enough about what India used to be. But urban/semi-urban, middle-class families certainly have changed even from the time when I was a kid. There’s more consumerism, a lot more television and very little patience.

As for freedom…freedom is not a trophy. You don’t win it once and for all, nor take home little souvenirs that you can display on a high shelf to feel good about yourself. Freedom is a process, an ecology, a constant negotiation of the terms of your life. It can and will be taken away by others if you let them. And you also don’t lose freedom in one go. You lose it by degrees. You can surrender it, or it can be beaten out of you. And when you look at it that way, you realise how fragile freedom is for all of us – all groups.

Q: A lot of buzz has been created by Anna and his supporters regarding corruption. Where do you feel this movement is headed? In a country where herd mentality exists, do you think that a large scale movement by Anna is justified? Can you suggest any solutions to curb corruption? Share your views.

A: I don’t know where Anna’s movement is headed. I don’t know if it was a movement, really. It seemed more like an outpouring of grief, anger and frustration. But a movement requires sustained involvement. It isn’t enough to express solidarity, wear a cap, and walk away.

I don’t know about ‘herd mentality’ though. Most human beings in most nations have a tendency to follow, rather than lead. I think the problem is that there isn’t a large-scale anti-corruption movement yet. Anna Hazare might mean well but he needs to think harder about what he is pushing, who will be affected, and what the dangers are.

Suggestions for curbing corruption:
  • Police reforms.
  • Judicial reforms.
  • Make the interface between citizens and bureaucrats simpler, more transparent.
  • Use the Internet wisely. Make all state and central officials accountable if they do not respond to official emails within a stipulated time frame. All websites paid for by the people must be updated every day, or at least every week.
  • Strengthen RTI. Fight attempts to dilute it or keep certain people or government departments or private organisations outside its purview.
  • Every district, every constituency, every municipality and every village and hamlet should have an account of its monies – what it gives to the state, what it receives, and how it is spent. This ‘hisaab’ should be up on the walls of every panchayat, every year. It should also be uploaded onto websites.
  • Shorten leases on land, shorten mining licenses. Review usage every year.
  • Allow and encourage communities to decide how money should be spent in their area.

Other interviews:

A radio interview on Karachi's City FM89

"We did some interviews, informal chats with friends, or friends of friends. The only question I asked was: What makes for a Good Indian Girl (or a Not-Good girl)? Some scrap of memory would be volunteered.
For instance, the bit about a girl sticking together two pages in her scrapbook to hide a photo of a film star posing sexily – a friend actually did that. Someone else told me about family friends who’d sneak out from a second-floor window in their Delhi bungalow using a rope ladder; they actually had a fixed phone line that their dad knew nothing about. Yet another friend told me about how a group of girls broke some rules in school, but the prettiest girl got off lightly, while the girl with the biggest breats was ostracised." From an interview with Out of Print.

"These stories need to be told partly for the same reason that any story needs to be told and partly because, where girls-women are concerned, the pressure to conform to strange stereotypes of ‘good’ or to live up to the ideal of ‘good Indian girl’ is higher. Forgiveness does not come so easily if we challenge those stereotypes, and social censure for being ‘bad’ ranges from criticism for not being ‘Indian’ enough to outright violence" In the Pune Mirror.

More: At The Tossed Salad.
At a book blog.
About colourful creatures out of a filmi imagination.
On Terror.

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