Saturday, April 16, 2011

The day I was more than a Mom: Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas in India Today

I loved my India Today article.
It was well researched, well written, and well shot.
I had the time of my life with that one piece.

Bhaskar Paul the photographer spoke Bengali to me the whole day as if I was from Calcutta and I kept reminding him I'm a Delhi Bengali and a Mumbaikar at heart. But he insisted that I could do with a little improvement.

We didn't eat through the day. There was just so much to do. So many changes I needed to have. I wanted them all. I wanted all 5 changes. I had a makeup artist for the first time since my wedding to put make up on me. And immediately Bhaskar wanted me to remove it all. He said I was way too pretty to be so pancaked. I laughed. A photographer who had shot top Bollywood actors didn't want ME to have make up?! I was on a high. That energy remained until dusk. We shot through 5 different changes; a casual but form fitting lovely black shirt and my favourite Diesel jeans, a Desigual dress I had picked up at the last minute from Dubai in January (thank God!), a red and black sari with reception jewellery which my husband and I posed in and it looked like we were married again, albeit much fatter, a casual work look that is ethnic and still very me and my absolute favourite Maneka Harisinghani dress with black swarovski and a pink trimmings that go perfectly well with the cover of my book (Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas)

Bhaskar made me pose in each outfit. First sitting, then standing, then leaning, all the while trying to figure different smiles, different moods, different styles. I loved it all.

However, in between I got a little tired. He could see that. I didn't have a maid. So my child wanted to cling to me. I had to look after her in between shots, redoing make up, changing outfits and feeding her. The husband was at home to look after but with a cricket match going on, he was too consumed to really care. However, when the pics got out he was extremely proud of me. I knew he wd be. I just needed to give him time.

By the evening once we had finished, Bhaskar and I had some upma and coffee and went through the photos. I pointed out how fat I was looking and threatened to never talk to him if he didn't photoshop my belly and thick arms. He turned to me and with a naughty smile said. "Didimoni, how about I just leave it and see what the people really think? If you're fat, or not!" I pleaded. But the photos have come out with not a trace of adjustment. I know. I could have looked thinner! But I prefer it this way.

This is who I am.

I am all those moods. I am playful and most comfortable in a lovely dress that highlights my complexion. I am sexy in a low cut blouse and jeans. I feel traditional in a sari and wear fusion kurtis when I have fat days. And I love wearing glam dresses that make me feel special. A black cocktail dress any day!

When Bhaskar had entered and I had shown him my clothes, he had turned to me and said, “This is a very high class magazine. Are you sure you don’t want to wear anything better?” And I had told him, “You know, this is probably the best I’ve got. Cos I’ve never had the money to blow on a Dolce and Gabbana. I’m middle class. And proud of it and that’s what I want to project….how a mother and a woman can really be pretty just by smiling!”
And we shot. And at the end of the day, he turned to me and said, “You know what, I’ve seen prettier clothes. However, the most ordinary clothes and the most glamorous clothes only look good if the person wearing it has inner beauty. And my dear girl, you do.”

Olina was another wonder. She made this happen for me. I thought that she would not put more than two photos in small boxes and let it be. She called, she wrote, she made me feel larger than life. When the 4 full-page photos came out, I was ecstatic. I was jumping for the whole day at her beautiful words and the photos. Not even a model ever had the kind of coverage I had. Moreover in a magazine that is circulated all across India and the world. A magazine that is known for “substance.”

I pray this is the beginning of a new journey for me. I hope everyone wishes it for me too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It’s time. You know it. You’ve waited long enough. The grown beard and the manly chest fur only proves that you’ve become a man. You’ve matured. You’ve seen `it’ happening on your dvds. You feel you’re ready.
It’s time that you finally lose your virginity. But you just don’t know how. The internet doesn’t help and neither do your friends who are making fun of you. You need a simple guide to help you with this basic but complicated act. Here are the ten steps that will lead to you having a great time.
10. The Girl – you have to have a girl to have sex. It is basic I know but it’s still a fact. Now sit quietly and give up on the notions of what you want. If she’s tall, intelligent, makes good chapattis and looks after your mother, chance are she’s not going to sleep with you in your current state. Also, no one intelligent, drop dead gorgeous and sober is going to give you a look either. So change your standards. Look for anyone. You will not find girls at bars. It’s a myth. Girls who come to the bars to hang out with other girls are there to have fun and checkout the men. They need not necessarily be wanton sex goddesses. The best way to get that girl is that friend who you never had any sexual feeling towards. Yup, that’s the one. She’s adored you for many years and tolerated your stupidity. It’s highly likely she doesn’t find you repulsive enough to throw a glass on you if you pop the question. Target. Found.
9.  The Preparation: Honestly, if you haven’t been laid yet, you need to do a little bit of preparation on yourself. You need to either get thin or get bulky. Preferably both. No woman is attracted to a fat man. Oh, come on, if it was vice versa, would you be? A little bulge is ok. No one expects you to be Hrithik Roshan. But unless you’re tremendously rich or powerful, you have to get rid of that paunch that will hamper the act. And women know. Hit the gym. Go for a jog. And stay off those aloo parathas your mom is making for you in the morning otherwise she will be the only woman in your life for a long time. Use a good deodorant and smell good. Don’t bathe in the deo, splash it lightly. Check for bad breath, oral hygiene is essential. It invariably begins with a kiss.   
8. The Conversation: This is something that not many men think about but is crucial to the act. While you may think that, “what conversation?” here is where you can go horribly wrong. One wrong word, and her “mood” is off and you’ve lost the opportunity. Conversation needs to be correct, before, during and after. It is vital that you get her in the proper state of mind, continue until you’ve had a good time, and then sustain it so you can have round two. And the only way you can do that is to Read, Read, Read. Read poems, read sonnets, read a few books on topics she would be interested in. And then you’re finally ready to approach her, in the way you never did before. You have to praise her just enough so she is interested in what more you have to say about her. Women are suckers for flattery. Once you quote Shakespeare, or remind her that the color of her dress goes beautifully with her eyes, she might want to have a little more to do with you. DO NOT compare her to your mother. It kills it. You must continue the praise in bed, continuously giving her encouragement instead of correcting and afterwards letting her know that she makes your life complete. She knows it’s corny, but she still loves to hear it.
7. The Ignore: This is the most difficult bit. You’ve buffed up your body, you’ve read the books, and you’re ready. But there is a little change in the plan. You have to now ignore her. But this has to be done very surely. You have to know she is interested in you. If she calls you instead of you calling her, or she has taken an interest in you instead of you following her around, you know she’s hooked. But then you have to, just for a little bit, become indifferent. Suddenly you have a project that doesn’t take you away from work for a few days, you don’t return her call for a few hours, you send vague smses, and you don’t have time for her. Now you can’t be rude. At no point should you ever snap, be angry or be blunt. You need to be apologetic for your time being taken away from her but you “just can’t help it.” You should not do this for too long as she will get bored and find someone else. It needs to be for just a week or so once you know she is hooked and waiting. The trap is set.
6. The Present: Oh yes, there needs to be a present. It has to show you’ve apologized for your bad behavior of not meeting her for a week and it acts as something that you’re grateful she’s in your life. You need to floor her. While diamonds may be the ideal thing a woman wants and loves, maybe some flowers and a gift package from Body Shop would be a better deal on the first date. But don’t forget to get her something otherwise she’ll think you’re a cheap, pompous man who has ignored her and doesn’t deserve her royal being.
5. The Date: A perfect date is a combination of two things, the right place, and the right mood. If your woman is an adventurous variety, a bike ride to a secluded spot with a picnic basket of wine, and light snacks might be appropriate. If she is the high maintenance kind, she might prefer a fancy new restaurant that has been in the news for the last month or so where she can be seen and a place where you can compliment her even more. If she is the romantic but down to earth kind, a drive to the furthest place from town while you chat in the car and take her to her favourite restaurant for her favourite meal might be just the thing that hits the spot. Research into this would be a good idea for you. Do not ask her. Observe her for a few months and read up about her sun sign!
4. The Location: There are exciting stories out there, of how men have had wild sex in cars, in the jungles, in bathrooms of a mall and other such absurd locations. But rest assured, these are only  urban legends. Public places might happen later in life, but they are never the places where you lose your virginity. The good old bedroom, with a stable bed in an empty house has been proved by a staggering 85% of the population to be the ideal place. You need to find one. While you still live with your parents, it’s not ideal to tell the woman to keep quiet while you sneak her in hoping your father doesn’t see your eagerness in the middle of the night. It is not ideal either for you to suggest that you go back to her place. That could kill the mood as well if she thinks you’re cheap. Ask a friend who lives by himself to go to a hotel room for a night. You can pay. You cannot take the girl to a hotel room since she will think you had it planned and subsequently an idea that you think she’s “sleazy.” It’s better to have your friend’s place cleaned up and say casually, “I was planning to stay with a friend tonight so maybe you can come and have a cup of coffee so I can have the pleasure of your conversation a little more.” Or something to that effect!
3. The Setting:  On a date, you need to be able to give her just enough alcohol that she’s in her senses and mildly intoxicated. A little too much and she will go to sleep and you will be dragging her to your friends place over your shoulder and taking care of her nausea instead of her horniness. The alcohol should continue once you’re back. Even if she insists on coffee, pour a lot of alcohol into it and make it an “Irish” one. Make sure there are only a few table lamps on instead of the top tube light. The lighting could take away from the mood, the intoxication, and the conversation. So be careful that it is soft, dim, and just right.
2. The Foreplay: All right. Here we go. The moment has come.  You have to start taking things a little slow. Preferably, don’t make the first move. If you’ve done all the correct things, she will make a move first. But if she doesn’t and is still felling shy, you move in close and look into her eyes. That’s when you have to figure out if she is into you or not. Do not grab her hair and kiss her. The first time is not about being rough or violent. It’s about the sensuality of the feeling. If she kisses you back, you’re on track and you can continue with the act of foreplay, gently touching and kissing all the spots around her neck, her back, her fingertips. She will tell you where and how. Keep complimenting her.
1. Losing Your Virginity: Be “careful.” For all your imagination and great prowess, this will probably take only up to two minutes. But enjoy it. Do not be tentative. Take charge. Do not call out any dirty words. Behave normally.  Listen to her and listen to her body.  And you will remember it. You will remember it because you took the effort that made this moment so special. You will remember her. And after it’s over, be sure to compliment her and hold her close and talk about how special it was for you. Because you know in your heart, it will be. Best of luck!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Easy Delivery of Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas

My book "Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas" can be available at your door step within 72 hours by dialing 09650-457-457.

Payment on delivery.

Now everyone should have a copy!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Times of India interview on Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas

I wrote when my newborn slept: Madhuri Banerjee

Madhuri Banerjee.jpg
I wrote when my newborn slept: Madhuri Banerjee
One day, a friend confessed to Madhuri Banerjee that she was 30 and still a virgin... that sparked off the author's first book.

A media professional, Madhuri runs a creative production house. She is currently working on commercial film scripts and her next book. In the past, she has assisted filmmakers such as Subhash Ghai, Kaizad Gustad and Rohan Sippy.

Was it easy to get a publisher for your book?
It was easy for me to get a publisher as a friend recommended that I send my entire manuscript to someone she knew in Penguin. She happened to love my book and passed it on to The Metro Reads editor who called me to discuss a contract. I had simultaneously sent it to Harper Collins but I never heard from them. I guess luck was on my side with Penguin!

What prompted the book?
A friend of mine accidentally told me one day that she was 30 and still a virgin. And it got me thinking. Here was this beautiful, intelligent, independent woman and she was still a virgin. That was the germ of the idea that made me do further research about love, relationships, virginity and women who are conflicted between traditions and morals on one side and with peer pressure and modernity on the other. I was 33 when I started writing the book. It took a few months to write it. I wrote mostly at night after the birth of my daughter who kept me awake most of the times.

In what category do you put your book? Who is the target reader?
My book is a fiction novel in the chick lit genre. My target readers are women from the ages of 18 – 45 and men of any age who want to understand women better! My inspirations are Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni whose book The Palace of Illusions kept me thinking for a long time, Elif Shafaq who wrote this wonderful novel called The Forty Rules of Love and of course Jaishree Misra, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Are you writing any more books?
Yes, of course. My second book is on short quirky love stories and my third book is about the modern day Sita. I'm also planning a series on my protagonist Kaveri from Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas. The sequel is called Marriage and Other Dumb Ideas where she gets married and realizes it is not a bed of roses. And the third one being Tolerating Motherhood and Other Dumb Ideas where she has twins and tries to grapple with her work and being a mother in modern day society. The book has got a phenomenal response. People on my personal twitter account as well as on Kaveri Love Guru are raving about how I have dealt with issues that have not been discussed before and how steamy some of the scenes are! I've also got a lot of followers on Facebook. I'm planning to make it into an agony aunt page.

What is True Love?

Ever since my book came out, I have met so many people who want to talk about something that is at the heart of the book. True Love. You see my protagonist Kaveri, believes that there is something called a True love and she wants to wait for it/ him to lose her virginity to. So the discussion starts because people wonder, is there such a thing at all?
I really didn’t think so. Being a skeptic in this department, I often felt that life is a series of compromises and love is a situational hazard. One gets married for companionship, has sex to gratify the body, reads books to gratify the soul. Where did True Love fit into any of this? Dharma, Arth, Kam, Moksh. I was taught it. I believed it.
Then I met Adya. She confused me even more. She was 38. She had found a man she wanted to marry. It wasn’t pure love. It was a feeling that of all the men she had, he was the nicest. Moreover, her parents could not put up with her coming home to an empty apartment every night. Even though as a single child, she looked after her parents and they needed her, they wanted her to be married more than anything in the world. She decided that maybe it was high time that she give in to her parents even though she was completely happy in herself. In addition, there was that feeling of loneliness. She had felt lonely some days when she really wanted to celebrate something or really wanted to cry and there was no one there to hold her either ways.
Then she got married. She was still lonely in her marriage. He loved her and she loved him but somewhere they didn’t “get” each other perfectly. She is still married. But she said something that made sense, “Maybe for this lifetime, he is my true love.”
WE always think that there is “a better person” out there. We believe that there is someone who understands us perfectly, loves us deeply, wants us dearly, and needs us immensely. And we fool ourselves and let go of something we have or wait eternally for that something. It is all in the hope of that phantasm called True Love. And it’s not that only women think this way. It’s a men as well. Men go through heartbreak. They might not profess it so loudly, not weep so emphatically, and not talk about it so openly but they also go through heartbreak. Because they too wished that, the woman they chose was their True Love. They don’t know any better either.
 Then there’s Zara. She has just turned 33. And she’s still a virgin. She lives in New York. And I realized it’s not just an “Indian” thing. This waiting to lose your virginity to your true love. It’s a global phenomenon. More and more people believe that it is out there. It will touch them and they will marry that person. Zara is a beautiful, successful woman who has had plenty of opportunity to sleep with men. But she’s chosen not to. Because until her heart falls in love with someone she cannot make herself do so.
But Zara is lonely too. Even though she wants her True Love to come to her, she has built so many walls that I wonder if it will happen. She believes that her true love is like a knight in shining armour who will break those walls and capture her heart. I try to tell her life is not that way. But she knows that unless that happens, she can’t give in. And so she waits.
I’ve started thinking why do people have so many hang ups? Why are we constantly after something we cannot have? Unrequited love is the most painful and dangerous and hence most addictive. But if we know it’s an addiction ,why can’t we break the bad habit? The more we make lists of things we want, the narrower our search becomes.
The truth is that the Universe does give you what you want. Not exactly the same way, but it does happen, eventually. True Love is not the person who you might marry or the person who got away. It’s not something that only you can complete with yourself. It is a person. Or persons. And that’s where the mystery lies. We all think that it is just one person. But we don’t realize that it could be many.
There is no one soul mate in a person’s life. Soul mates come and go as the heart desires. In this lifetime or the next.
That doesn’t mean we don’t try and make it work with the now and here. It only means that it’s ok if we have to let go.
And even with a True Love, there are compromises. There are bitter fights. There are ugly tears. And there are heartbreaks. Because that’s what it does. That is what it is meant to do. True Love is meant to toughen your soul, strengthen your resolve, and increase your courage to be able to do it again. It opens your heart, and makes you vulnerable to show you what you can be capable of. It changes the strongest of skeptics to believe once again.
True Love is the cycle of rebirth. Where one ends, another has to begin. Just wait for it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle discuss my choice of books

Writer's block

Madhuri Banerjee is a media professional, writer and film director. Her debut book, Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas, was published recently.
Q Your favourite reading spot?
Crossword bookstore that has a cafe attached.

Q Which books are you reading at present?
Rana Dasgupta’s Solo, Elif Shafak’s Flea Palace and Mahabharat (yet another version).

QWho are your favourite Indian writers?
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Jaishree Misra, Jhumpa Lahiri and Amitav Ghosh.

QWho are your favourite novelists?
Elif Shafak, Ayn Rand, John Grisham and Agatha Christie.

QWhich are your favourite children’s books?
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Enid Blyton books and Calvin and Hobbes.

QWhich is the most over-rated book?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

QWhich is the most under-rated book?
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates, The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh and The House of Blue Mangoes by David Davidar.

QWhich classics do you want to read?
The works of Rabindranath Tagore.

QWho is your favourite literary character?
Draupadi in the novel The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Q Which book changed your life?
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Q Which is the funniest book you have read?
Erma Bombeck’s I Lost Everything in the Post-Natal Depression.

QWhich is the most erotic book you have read?
Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho.

QWhich book did you want never to end?
The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak.

QWhich book would you make compulsory reading?
The Upanishads.

QWhich school/college text did you enjoy the most?
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Much Ado About Nothing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


“My mother has been very unwell.” There’s always a very. “I never told you because I didn’t want you to worry.” Of course not I thought. “I have to go back to the village to settle her property before she dies.” Aah so she’s found a better job with more pay. With a false tear in her eye and a hope in her head, my maid Kajal stood forlornly at the kitchen door. This was the eighth maid that had made an excuse and left. And I could not do a thing about it.
I thought I was the epitome of the modern day woman. I was educated well. I had worked hard for a career. I was a mother, a perfect wife, a loyal friend and I even had a few hobbies thrown in like painting, writing and being a sommelier that would categorize me as someone who could hold my own. But the thought of not having a maid, yet again left me weak in the knees and a fear in my heart.
Therefore, I did what I only knew I could do. I called the husband and blasted him. “Kajal’s mother is sick,” I sobbed, “What am I supposed to do? I cannot get any more leave! My boss thinks my maid situation is the excuse I give for bunking work. She’s going to fire me.”
“Call the agency. Ask them to send a replacement.” He said calmly as usual. See it was not his problem, he thought. His problem was to become the CEO of whatever he was doing. A maid or no maid was not going to stop him.
I took a deep breath before I began, “They do not pick up my phone!” I screeched, “We have paid 3 agencies already. I don’t have money to keep giving out to new agencies every month to find a replacement. Do something! Call the consumer court. Go to the police station! Come back home! Look after your own child!”
He said he had to go back to his meeting and would discuss it when he got home. Typical! Therefore, I was stuck once again without a maid and a deadline that had to be submitted in the next few hours. My two-year-old daughter needed to be picked up from school, fed, changed, and kept busy while I had to find an excuse in office, call the agency, and find a replacement. It’s only one of these days that the washing machine would break, the geyser would bust, and there would be no milk or food in the house with the cook on vacation.
I remembered the list of maids I had.
Anandhi – A cock eyes south Indian who lived in Dharavi, or Chembur, or Ghatkopar. We never knew where because every time she had to leave early she came up with a place far away that she had rented, bought, or moved to. One day, after she had taken her full salary she called frantically and said she had to leave for the village. “Why?” I asked. “My first husband who left me for another woman has got an electric shock and might be dying and wants to see his kids for the last time so I have to take them there.”She said in one breath. So I thought about it and replied, “Well, by the time you reach, won’t he be dead anyway?” All right, it was an insensitive thing to say. But I was grasping in thin air. I reasoned with her that I would let her go by the end of the week once I had figured out who could look after the children and I would give her money to go as well. She left nevertheless. And was never heard from again.
Maya – She was a plump Assamese woman who I thought would be great since she could teach my daughter some Bengali. She stayed with us for two months. Just when my daughter was easing up to her and I was taking on more responsibility at work, she said her sister in law had cancer and needed to go back to Assam for treatment. “Are you sure it’s not just because Durga Puja is in three days?” I asked sarcastically. But she insisted that she would return. Next thing I know, she can’t find a ticket to come back for another two months. Oh yes, she took her full salary and all the clothes I had bought for her as a thank you for looking after my child.
Priyanka – By the time Priyanka entered our lives some three more people had come and gone for less than two weeks. Why? Because a 40 year old woman can’t play with a three year old child and she get’s “bored and needs entertainment” as Shaila once cribbed. A 20 year old woman “can’t live without her boyfriend” and ran away with him as Renuka did and a  friend of the cook’s who lived close by and could come for a few hours was berated by her husband for leaving her own children to look after another as Mangala alleged. Priyanka stayed a whole ten days. When I left for Delhi with my child, I gave her a few days off to enjoy herself and come back. But she never did. Apparently, her brother found a husband for her took her to the village and got her married off. Oh yes, even she took her full salary and left.
Maids are the Modern Woman’s ailment. We can cope with aches and pains, we can manage four inch cysts to 36 hour deliveries, we can handle bad bosses and painful in laws. We can even survive poverty, bloatedness, and moving houses a hundred times. What we cannot deal with is how to endure bad maids, or lack of them.
My foreign friends make fun of me. They say I have the benefit of having “help” in my life and they do not have any. I wonder if we are better off as Indians to have that much of “help.” Abroad, you cannot hire anyone unless you have background checks, social security numbers, and reference calls. Here we ask, “When will you start?” As much as I do not like my child being brought up by a maid, I don’t have an option of a large joint family who can look after her. She refuses to stay in crèches and day cares even though I have tried to leave her. Moreover, asking friends to look after my child while I go make a career for myself is neither ethical on them nor me as a mother. The guilt for mothers will remain. A successful career or time with your child. The eternal conflict.
A good friend once told me, “The Perfect Maid doesn’t exist. It’s like the Perfect Man. They’re both urban legends!”
I envy the people who have great maids. Farah Khan would not have been able to direct two movies if she did not have three people looking after her three children. Angelina Jolie would not be able to save the world in her Lara Croft outfit if she didn’t have 5 maids looking after her 5 children.
There will be a constant problem with the maids. Therefore, I have figured out a few solutions:
·         Find a neighbour who’s reliable who can babysit the child for a few hours while you do urgent work in office.
·         Figure out flexi timings with your office so you can work around your husband’s schedule and child’s school. Alternatively, can work at night once she sleeps and you can go back to office/ send out things from home.
·         Ask the husband/ family to look after her 2 days in the week while you tell your office that you will work weekends if given 2 days off in the week.
·         Find a good crèche or day care close by where you can settle your child for the whole day.
·         Move closer to people whom you can leave your child with – friends or family. Pay them well. Deposit money into their accounts or buy them expensive presents every month as a thank you.
·         Keep a battery of maids. If one goes, at least you have another to back up without jeopardizing your work.
·         Tell your husband you need time off for yourself every week to replenish your resources to manage a house and child.
After watching the back of nine maids in the last two years, I have learnt the most important thing is to breathe correctly and not panic. I know that it is not my fault that they are leaving since I make all attempts to make them feel at home. Nevertheless, I know that my child and my career are equally important. Sometimes the house need not be perfectly clean. And sometimes it’s ok if the child doesn’t eat healthy food or watches too much television. I know that I have the strength to become the best at what I do even though it may take time. But I know I don’t have to pressurize myself in doing so immediately. In the meantime, I pray every night to the God of Maids for rewarding my patience and finding me that Ideal House Help.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Bombay Times Reviews Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas!!!

Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas by Madhuri Banerjee Kaveri is thirty, single, knows seven languages, is an interpreter by profession, has read all the books about men and how to get a date. Yet all her bookish knowledge cannot get her a real date. Since ‘The One Great Love’ of her life has eluded her for thirty years, she decides she has waited enough and that it is high time she had some ‘action’— love or no love. On her thirtieth birthday, she makes a resolution to lose her virginity. But the path of love or lust is as twisted as it comes as her resolution takes her on a roller coaster ride and life will never be the same. Ideas, ideals about love and life will undergo a complete rehash, compelling her to rethink about all the benchmark that she has set for all the neatly compartmentalised sections of her life like love, family, friends, etc. The book starts off as a chicklit, goes on to become one of those M&B romantic tales and finally ends in Kaveri’s spiritual contentment very Paulo Coelho-esque. You have to be fond of all three genres to be able to enjoy Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas as it encompasses every womans’ journey of accepting herself and her life’s adversities.

Penguin Books, Rs 150

Rediff Review and Hot New Excerpt from Losing My Virginity & Other Dumb Ideas

Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas by media professional Madhuri Banerjee is the fictional story of Kaveri, a 30-year-old interpreter by profession whose aim is to 'figure out the language of love'.

By way of an excerpt, we bring you Chapter 21:

I was wrong. Her life wasn't about to change. Mine was.

He didn't SMS till the next afternoon. I had seriously started thinking the worst. But the worst was yet to come, when we met that night. He took me to a lounge where we could see the sea and listen to some nice jazz music, and the atmosphere was lovely. But the tension between us was unsettling.

I was wearing my Fendi jeans again, and a nice sleeveless white top with some long beads. My diamond studs in place, I felt I looked fresh enough for him not to even think about his wife anymore and cool enough for me not to be bothered even if he did mention her.

He looked great too with his two-day-old stubble and his casual chic grey pants and a striped black shirt.

As soon as we ordered drinks and starters, he started, 'Babe, I am so sorry about yesterday.'

'Don't worry about it,' I said, trying to act cool and mature. 'I'm perfectly okay, so let's plan another night. I mean, we should, na?'

He paused for a second. 'Of course, we can. I want to. I want to actually plan a holiday with you.' This came out of the blue. I would have thought he would have the courage to explain why he had dumped me yesterday and why he hadn't called all morning. But instead of sounding like a colossal crib-oid, I just went all giggly and teenager on him. 'A holiday? Really? That would be great. Where should we go?' I said straying from the topic.

'Anywhere you want.' The bearer came and gave us our drinks and we toasted to 'Greece in the summer!' The wife matter was like an elephant under the table that neither of us was willing to notice.

I was dying to ask the question, but since I didn't want to bring up the 'wife' topic I said instead, 'For how long should we go?' I know our conversation was veering towards the absurd, but I didn't care what we spoke about as long as it wasn't his marriage.

'We can go for four-five days. I mean, with both our work and all, I don't think we'll get more time than a few days off including the weekend, and with Maria at home in...' he trailed off.

I stopped drinking. There it was. A slip of the tongue or intentional I would not know, but finally it was out. Something was not right. He seemed unsure and yet eager to please. This was not like him. The man I knew was supremely confident, took charge, and would tell me if we were going on a holiday, where we were going, when and for how long. He would have made bookings and paid up and let me just pack my clothes. He wouldn't be hesitating and pausing. So I kept quiet. The waiter brought our order of food. I picked it up and offered it to him. He picked up a fork and a knife and gently cut it into four pieces and then offered the fork back to me. His manners were impeccable. Something that proved that he was nervous since he was generally a klutz. It was also a sign that he was playing for time. I waited for him to say something while I sipped my drink.

He had said her name. It was only right that I waited for him to elaborate or apologise. We had made a pact that we wouldn't say her name. We would only use 'her', 'she' or 'Mrs'. So it had slipped out.

'Kaveri, I need to tell you something.' I kept chewing. 'I want you to know that I love you,' he said with great conviction, though I could see he was holding his breath.

I felt better. Marginally. That was a nice thought. He loved me. I loved him. Whatever it was then, could be fixed.
'Maria is pregnant,' he blurted out.

At first I thought I hadn't heard right, so I wanted to say 'what?', but then I knew I had and didn't want to hear the name or that forbidden word in a sentence again, so I kept quiet.

I stopped eating. I couldn't swallow. I couldn't move. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit him. But what I really felt was a wave of sadness pouring over me. I still wanted to act cool.

'I need a cigarette,' I said finally looking around. 'People in such situations feel better when they smoke.'

'But you don't smoke,' he interjected.

'So?' I retorted. I knew he was against smoking and secretly felt happy that I was going against his ideology. A rebellious act which seemed absurd compared to his. Yes. That's what I thought, I'll make him cringe like he had just made me cringe with his announcement. The comparison was stupid but it felt right at the time.

He remained quiet for some time till the bearer brought us a pack of cigarettes. I took one and the bearer lit it and left.

Arjun started speaking all at once, as if he was in a debate and was given only two minutes, after which the bell would go off ending his turn.

'This happened five months ago. She didn't tell me and she herself didn't know. It was on our trip to Paris, our last trip together where we decided that our relationship was not working -- our last night together, for old times' sake. And I promise you I haven't slept with her since then. I have been faithful to you for these last four and a half months. When we came back, she left for her parents' place and I thought she would come back to take her things and say it's finally over. She never once mentioned this even on the phone...' He trailed off.

I didn't know what to say so I kept quiet.

He looked at me and took my hand. I recoiled immediately. I didn't want to be touched. I just wanted a plan, now that my dreams had been shattered.

'Baby,' he started, 'I love you...'

'I don't see how,' I interrupted softly.

'Don't say that. I didn't know.'

'Is that why you cancelled on me yesterday?' I asked trying to make sense of this new development.

'Well, she came back early and I realised she was pregnant...'

'Obviously,' I said sarcastically. My maid's words came back to me. She had warned me that he was talking to his wife. Obviously he must have known or suspected something but didn't say anything to me.

He continued in the background while my mind was racing towards where my life would be headed now. 'Then when I was leaving, she tripped and cut her lip on the kitchen counter. I took her to the hospital and while the doc was asking her some questions as to what meds to give, she confirmed that she was pregnant for about five...' he trailed off again.

'Please stop saying it,' I said quietly. I wish I could have raved and ranted. Or at least thrown the drink on his face and walked out. That would have been what Aditi would have done. But I wasn't her. And I didn't know how to react. All I wanted was the pounding in my head to stop and for him to take back his words.

'Okay, I'm sorry.' He stopped talking for a while and we sat there in silence. Then he cleared his throat and learned over to speak, 'But I have a plan. So please hear me out.'

I started stuffing my mouth with food so I wouldn't start sobbing.

'I didn't know about this. She tricked me. I have been completely yours since we've met. I want to have you in my life because I can't see myself without you. So please tell me what you want after hearing me out okay?'

I desperately wanted to say okay and hear him out, but I couldn't. 'I don't know,' I heard myself saying. I could have just left. This man was going to have a child with another woman, his wife, in fact. Where did I fit into any of this anyway? Wasn't having a family a deal breaker in relationships?

The little voice in my head started again: who made these rules anyway? What does your heart say?

Should I ask him to leave her and be with me? A moral voice in my head said it was wrong. He was the Father. He had to do the Right Thing. Would his parents help her? Maybe, maybe not. How could I do this to her? What kind of an unscrupulous human being would I be?

But I knew I could not be with him either. Well, that's what I thought for now. 'I think we should break up,' I said. Though my heart was breaking just saying it.

'Please Kaveri. Please don't do that. We can work this out together.'

'How?' I said, almost in tears now.

'Please give me some time before I can be with you. Right now, I suppose I'll be around when she needs me and once the baby is three or four months and she is more settled I'll find her a place of her own, get her a good maid who can look after the baby, set the infrastructure up, and then I can be with you.'

It was logical. And less heartless.

'But wouldn't you want to be part of the baby's life? Her life?' I asked trying to blink away my tears and my shattered dreams.

'I don't feel a part of this baby. It was one night in Paris where she tricked me to save this marriage. I had specifically told her that it was the last time, as a goodbye and thank you for spending so many years together. I didn't know this was going to happen. Hell, she even said it was the "safe" time.'

He began to make sense in some odd way. Or had I completely lost my sense of self worth?

'And since five months are already up, it's only a matter of a few more. I'll be free of her and be yours completely. Kaveri, you have to believe me, I've never felt this way about anyone. After all, it has only been four months since we've known each other and I'm already "committed" to you. I was with her for twelve years and there was never anyone after her. Until I met you.' He pleaded. He was almost begging me not to leave. I had never seen a guy like this before.

I did love him. He was the first man I had slept with. The only man I ever wanted to be with. If he was genuine about what he was saying, I could have a future with him.

He saw a ray of hope in my eyes and continued, 'Please trust me. I want to do the right thing for all of us.'

He was a good man. Maybe I could wait. After all, what were a few more months? It was just a little more than half a year. And half a year slips by so quickly that even gym memberships would get over before you could actually attend the gym. My head was swimming in a sea of confusion and pain.

'I don't know, Arjun. I really don't know. I need time to think. I need to be alone right now,' saying that, I got up and left the place. He tried to run after me. But I was too far gone. I had got into a cab and left. I needed to breathe. I needed to cry. I needed to call Aditi and tell her that she had been right.

And I had been so wrong.

Has the line between sex and love ever blurred in your experience? What was your first time like -- did it work out, or were you taken for a ride? Share your relationship stories with us. Write in to (subject line: 'My First Time') and we'll publish the best entries right here on

Excerpted from Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas (Rs 150) by Madhuri Banerjee, with the permission of publishers Penguin Books India [ Images ].

An article in Spanish online/paper abt me & my book

Igor G. Igor G. Barbero Barber
Nueva Delhi New Delhi
 A new generation of young artists want to talk openly about sex in India, the land of Kamasutra, where this type of literature slowly begins to carve a niche among the more liberal a society still very conservative.
 In "Losing my Virginity" (Penguin, 2011), author and screenwriter Madhuri Banerjee says the adventures and misadventures of a girl who, after staying a virgin until age 30 without having found "true love", decides to radically change her life.
"In my book, basically I mean a woman has the right to explore their sexuality whenever and wherever you want, should not be restricted by the pressure of society," said Banerjee in an interview with Efe in Bombay.
 The author deals with in its pages issues like infidelity, premarital sex or multiple relationships, and adds to a generation of writers and artists who do not blush when you delve into areas still held by many guardians of morality.
Raj Rao, considered the author of India's first gay novel ("The Boyfriend", 2003), or Dhanvat Siddarth Shanghvi, who in his short but prolific life has written of love, karma, or sexuality.
 Many of these pens are based on the most liberal Mumbai, a metropolis in constant turmoil and sharp contrasts, which in turn is the seat of the powerful film industry Bollywood.
According to Banerjee, the situation has begun to change, especially in the last five years, in line with the emergence of social communication virtual networks or more movies that revolve around women, but admitted that the youth still has ideas "very wrong "and are misinformed.
Annual surveys like the India Today weekly magazine show that nearly 70 percent of Indians are virgins at marriage and only 18 percent confessed infidelity, according to a study last year.
In a more recent issue of Outlook, released in January, 46.4 percent of young respondents said that having sex is just physical need for culture negative.
 "There is hypocrisy. On the one hand, we are the land of Kamasutra and secondly we have a society that is telling you that sex is bad, we are the country of religiosity. For many, the Kamasutra happened long ago and did not come today in depth unless it is done in jest, "said Banerjee.
A twist occurred in 2008 when a British-Indian entrepreneur Puneet Agarwal caused great controversy when it launched the first online pornographic comic Asian giant, which, as the operator said in several interviews, was used to facilitate the sexual revolution in the country.
"Savita bhabhi, housewife india is embroiled in all sorts of games and sexual fantasies, soon became a mass success and thousands of web sites to reproduce the cartoons, until the summer of 2009 the government of India-where pornography is illegal, closed the page.
According to the sociologist Sudhir and Katharina Kakar, authors of "The Indians" (2007), although ironically the Kamasutra is one of the few books in Sanskrit that many people are able to mention, among the country that coined this work and contemporary India "many centuries in which the company managed to enter the dark times of sexuality."
 According to Kakar marriage, some blame it to the Muslim invasions, others Victorian morality in the British Empire, but if there is a major cause must look at Indian culture in itself and its commitment to the ascetic ideal and the virtues of celibacy preached by Gandhi.
For Banerjee, who in her novel, the protagonist Kaveri is unike her more promiscuous friend, Aditi. Women in India might have gone to bed with 40 men but will never proclaim it.  "Some will (a link)  say that they are still virgins," she said.

An article in The Hindu abt my book Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas

Made for the metros

The latest novels from Penguin's Metro Reads keep up their date with breezy, fast-paced tales

LIGHT, NOT FRIVOLOUS With these books, publishers say the thrust is on “honest literature”

A series that smacks of the times. Metro Reads from Penguin, launched early last year, spins out quick, breezy reads tailor-made for the fast-paced lives in metros and towns. After the first three books of the series created enough flutter, the publishing house has brought out its second and third part over the past few months.
The five books, “With or Without You”, “The Premier Murder League” and “Close Call in Kashmir” along with the two launched in March, “Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas” and “Love on the Rocks”, keep abreast the underlying idea of the series. From chic-lits to whodunit to cricket and corporate boardrooms, they embrace genres while keeping the mood light, though the content would hardly spur an invigorating thought process. A walk down a less trodden path for Penguin.

“It was an untapped market,” says senior commissioning editor, Penguin India, Vaishali Mathur. The idea bounced from observing contemporary lives, especially in the cities — friends and family who have moved in from towns and the ensuing change in their lifestyles. “The first thing we lose is the reading habit. It becomes too difficult to sustain with the Internet, iPad, all making it too much to handle,” she adds. It is the need of the times these books pay heed to, according to the publishers. Page-turners for the quick-paced, the books are all a little over 200 pages long and uniformly priced at Rs.150.
With the series, Penguin also seems to be walking a fine line. Though never literary, the books are meant to boast a formidable story. “Fast, breezy with a strong storyline. It should not be frivolous or repetitive. It should have a great storyline and is not about being literary or non-literary,” asserts Vaishali.
With the series, the accent is on “honest literature”, she says, and it is merely a matter of coincidence that most authors are first-timers. For debutante author and media professional Madhuri Banerjee, her novel “Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas” may fall in the chic-lit slot, but its virtue is superior editing. “I feel a lot of chic-lit is not good writing and that gives a bad name to the genre. At Penguin, there were many editing sessions and of high standards,” says the Mumbai-based writer.

Madhuri's protagonist, a la Bridget Jones, is 30 and still a virgin. “I wanted to look at how hypocritical our society is when it comes to matters of sex and virginity and how a modern woman grapples with them. I wanted it to be a breezy, fun read and not a research-based, non-fiction account tracing it from the ‘Kamasutra.'”
Corporate guy Partha Sarathi Basu with his debut novel “With Or Without You” gives a ringside view of the world he is familiar with — of cutthroat competition, blind ambition and yardsticks of success in the corporate world. In the novel he wrote across nine months in his spare time and during travel, the author plucks out dialogues and conversations from everyday life. “I wanted to use simple language, the one we use daily. I also wanted it to be an easy read,” says the Gurgaon-based writer. According to him, the idea was to get those to read, who never had the habit.


An Article in Times Life abt my book Losing My VIrginity and Other Dumb Ideas

The tale goes short!

Young India has a lot of stories to tell and has created a space with short fiction, Anuradha Varma reports


    STUCK in a doctor’s waiting room, the metro or awaiting a delayed flight? How about picking up Fish In Paneer Soup… no, that’s not a meal takeaway, but a book for your mind to snack on. There’s more where that comes from, with titles like Mom Says No Girlfriend, Can’t Die for Size Zero, Losing My Virginity & Other Dumb Ideas and Chocolate, Guitar, Momos gracing bookshelves.

    From office politics to teen chick-lit and urban angst, these books are often less than 200 pages between the covers, priced between Rs 95 and Rs 250 and written by authors drawn from the very readers they aim at — college students and those starting their careers. Interestingly, they are brought out by leading publishing houses that have caught on to the market savvy of catering to the young and restless with attention spans to match.

    Author Shobhaa De is supportive of the trend, “The shorter, snappier, more affordable book fits in perfectly with the shorter, snappier attention spans of today’s young readers. It is hard enough to get youngsters to pick up books in today’s ‘virtual’ times... publishers have to seduce them with material that reflects their lives, their concerns.”

    Adds Vaishali Mathur, senior commissioning editor, Penguin Books India, which has launched Metro Reads, “For the reader who travels around, has a shortage of time and doesn’t have the pa tience to lug around heavy books, we have these books that have a good, gripping storyline and accessible stories that they can read in their everyday lives.”

    While Penguin aims at publishing six to seven such books a year, Rupa has pushed their figure to 50 annually. For Kapish Mehra, MD, Rupa & Co, it was the phenomenal success of Chetan Bhagat’s Five-Point Someone that changed the rules of the game. “We began with campus fiction and went on to chick-lit (such as Pink or Black by 18-year-old author Tishaa) and corporate fiction.”

    While Kapish terms originality of an idea, continuity of thought and a target audience as the hallmark of a good book, most do not make the literary cut, barring a few such as Paritosh Uttam’s Dreams in Prussian Blue (Penguin) and Rajorshi Chakraborti’s The Balloonists (Tranquebar), where the protagonist ups and leaves his girlfriend when she announces her pregnancy, to contact another ex-girlfriend, accompanied along the way by her exboyfriend.

    A Pune-based software engineer, Paritosh was 26 years old when he wrote the short story in 2003 that Penguin asked him to expand into a novel in 2009. He says, “The theme is relationships among the urban youth, of love, loss, longing and ambition. The target reader is the young urban reader, probably in college or just out of it.” Paritosh has also edited and contributed 10 stories to Urban Shots, published by Grey Oak.

    For filmmaker Madhuri Banerjee, author of Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas, the epiphany happened when a friend accidentally told her that she was 30 and still a virgin. Madhuri recalls, “That was the germ of the idea. I was 33 when I started writing the book. It took a few months to write it. I wrote mostly at night after the birth of my daughter who kept me awake most of the time.”

    Communications professional Deep Ghatak, author of Fish In Paneer Soup, finds that publishing houses are more receptive to new age writing and m ove q u i c k ly from acc e p - tance to the proofing stage, although there remain some “that don’t even follow guidelines specified on their own we b s i t e s ” . Blogger and mom Parul Sharma made the transition to writing a book with Bringing up Vasu and followed it up with By The Water Cooler.

Ismita Tandon Dhankher, author of romantic thriller Love on the Rocks, recalls when the writing bug bit her, “I began sailing with my husband in 2006 and discovered that sailors are colourful company. I was 26 years old when I just started doing poetry on the deck one evening, and that one poem changed it all!”

    Before landing a publisher, Ismita says she faced at least a dozen rejections in the mail box every month, sometimes more.

    When freelance writer Sonali Ghosh Sen decided to write a book, it was as the outpourings of a fan for Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan in Kkkrazy About Khan. She says, “I’ve aimed it at what I like to call the ‘Shah Rukh generation’ — people who’ve grown up with his movies and who’ll relive those years with fondness when they read the book.”

    So, can just about anyone be a writer… and is that necessarily a bad thing? Shobhaa De doesn’t think so. She says, “Of course, anybody can be an author! Isn’t that wonderful? I have always said, ‘There is a book in everyone’. The only question is whether or not the person wants to write it!”

    She admits, “Well... some books are terrific, some are plain bad. It’s a whole new language out there, a different ball game, a fresh market. Why sniff at innovation?”

    Why, indeed? So, if you were toying with that idea for a book, this is the time to go for it. Who knows, a publisher may be waiting for just that manuscript to pop into their inbox!

Bitten by the writing bug: Madhuri Banerjee (left), Rajorshi Chakraborti (centre) and Parul Gupta

Reserved for One: A poem

We don't trust enough We don't pour out our hearts  Telling all our secrets, our fears and surrendering to each other. Comple...