Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Navbharat Times

I'm so grateful for everything I have each day. Every day. So thankful to be alive.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Buddhism, Mandalas & House of Cards

I was watching Season 3 of House of Cards when I saw Buddhist monks in episode 7 making a mandala.
According to the Berzin Archives and Wikipedia, "A Mandala is Sanskrit for circle. It is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism, representing the Universe. Mandalas often exhibit radial balance. 

The sand mandalas are unique to Tibetan Buddhism and are supposed to give purification and healing. A great spiritual leader chooses the mandala to be created. Then Monks create a drawing from memory and begin to fill it in with colourful sand. Grains of sand are carefully placed along the drawing with funnels, tubes, and scrapers over a few days, weeks or months. As the monks do this, they recite sacred chants to the divine spirits to meditative music. According to Buddhist scripture, sand mandalas transmit positive energy to the environment and the to the people who view them. Once it’s completed, the mandala is blessed and the sand is swept away, first broken in half with grey sand and then slowly from outward to in, sweeping the sand into a mesh of grey particles and then it is disposed of in water in what’s called a “Dissolution Ceremony.”
At its base, the ritual of constructing and dismantling a mandala represents the transitory nature of life, the way things can be at once present and then removed and just because it’s been removed, doesn’t mean it wasn’t once there."
So first I wanted to marvel at the writers of House of Cards of thinking to bring it in. A power couple who have had terrible strife till now renew their vows in this episode. The mandala seems to have healed them. It also shows the passage of time since a month passes by and the monks come and go. It shows how Frank is so busy with his work that he is unable to see the beauty in it. And Claire goes so close that she almost ruins the mandala, as she does with all her decisions in season 3. It also shows how both of them are struggling to leave a legacy and how right under their nose Buddhism is teaching them that nothing is permanent. Life, our legacies and our desires are all temporary. It was a beautiful way of showing a dichotomy of a power couple against a spiritual message.
The sand mandala made me realise something about myself as well.
All these years I’ve been struggling to leave a legacy for my daughter. Maybe even for my generations to come. I have been working hard to etch things in bestselling paperbacks that has fed my ego and burst my bubble many a time.
I wanted to say I’m truly successful at what I’ve tried to do. I’ve achieved what I set out to be. I have miles to go because the legacy is not done yet. So much more work to be done. So much more writing before I die.
And in that moment when the mandala was done, I could feel that the Monks would be proud. What an achievement. Back breaking work over a month to put tiny grains of sand to make the most incredible and beautiful piece of art ever. And within a single stroke of breath the Dissolution Ceremony began and the piece of work, was all gone.
And I looked at all my six books. Why the hell was I so proud of them? What legacy was I even thinking about? It was important that I did the work. But one should never hold on to the pride of doing it. A Mandala represents wholeness, a cosmic diagram reminding us of our relation to infinity, extending beyond and within our bodies and minds.
When Monks can stand and chant while they see their hard work of a beautiful creation turning to ash, I needed to realise that I was just a small part of this Universe. I must extend myself beyond my creations, a legacy and my ego, to go beyond my body and mind to be one with infinity.
The Dissolution Ceremony of the Mandala shows nothing is permanent. Nothing is ever lasting. Nothing is going to remain forever. Not even this moment.
That piece of work was made to heal you at that time. It gave you a sense of purpose, reason, love, belonging, identity. And we must realise and understand after a single moment of breath, it is all gone. It was important at that time. But you cannot hold on to it forever. The accolades, the dissent, the brick bats, the anger, the praise, the love, the hate for what you created, what you believed was wonderful and what you thought was permanent is nothing but a moment that was given to you to realise and then extend beyond.
The meaning of a mandala is that which encircles a centre. What is our centre? Our ego? Our spiritual being? Our love? Maybe it is our “nothingness.” We came from nothing and we will become nothing. There is no such thing as a legacy. That’s just history.
Does that mean we stop working? Not at all. Because we need to do the things that we’ve been chosen to do. That book I’m working on. That presentation you just finished. That child you just fed. That art that you just completed. They were all necessary. As long as you know that it’s not what defines you.It's what Lord Krishna says in the Gita about Nishkarm Yoga. "Doing your work without expectations."
So I realised long after I finished watching the show that we can do our best every day and then let it be. I know we’ve heard it one million times. But in this we must not let our ego come in. And we must know how to let the beautiful thing we made, worked on and created be free. If it stops meaning anything, if we stop asking for “what we deserve” and stop wondering “why we’re not getting” things or pained by “what is happening to us” then we have truly understood the meaning of the mandala, of the essence of life and of who we really are.
That was my spiritual awakening. Let me know about yours. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Chef Vikas Khanna Loving My Clingy Girlfriend

International Acclaimed Masterchef Vikas Khanna tweets this about my new novel
My Clingy Girlfriend
What an awesome fun book by @Madhuribanerjee. Loving it http://t.co/xOcmkoXsph.

My day is made! 
Get your copy here: http://goo.gl/VwPjmN

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

5 Ways to NOT Be a Clingy Girlfriend

Stop Constant Questions – Where are you? When are you coming home? When are we meeting? What are you thinking? What are you planning for our anniversary? When should we meet? Why aren’t we getting married? The constant questions will make your boyfriend run from you faster than a zebra from a lion. Maybe he doesn’t have all the answers. Maybe he needs some space. Give him time to call and chase you a bit. Keep the mystery alive.

Stop Going For His Boys Nights – He has a life beyond you. He has friends he likes to drink with. This is his support system! Stop landing up for his Boys Night Outs to spend time with him. Soon all his friends will hate you and ostracise him. And ultimately he’ll resent you. Give him that one night a week or month off to just enjoy himself and get sloshed, without you giving him grief the next day. He’ll love you more.

Stop Asking About Marriage – Everyone wants to know where the relationship is going as soon as the third date is over. Some men don’t want to get married. It’s not that they’re commitment phobic, it’s just that they enjoy their space and freedom as much as they love you. Think about an alternate life with him if he’s not ready for marriage. Redefine your relationship. And if you truly want to get married and your “biological clock is ticking” set a deadline and move on if he’s still not ready, instead of pushing him into it and regretting it later.

Stop Comparing – Your best friend is getting married, another is going on a Europe tour with her boyfriend and another has been introduced to his parents. Instead of whining, demanding and comparing your relationship to others, realise what you have. Does he love you? Does he listen to you when you talk about your dreams? Does he give you space and support you? Does he look after you when you’re upset? Those are good things in a relationship. Treasure them and cherish him. Don’t demand him doing it all the time. Sometimes he doesn’t have the bandwidth to support, listen or love you. Doesn’t mean he can’t later. Give him time.

Stop Being Suspicious – He liked a girl’s photo on Facebook. He must be cheating on me! He is having a coffee with his old school friend. He’s probably cheating on me! He has a girl on his team at work?! He is definitely cheating on me! Stop getting suspicious. If you’re cool and easy about the girls in his life, he’ll appreciate it. But the more you lock him down about every female he’s spoken to, he’ll hate you. It’s ok to be possessive and a little jealous. Let him know how much you lust after him and hate it when anyone else does so too. By giving him space to make a choice, he’ll never want to leave you.    

For more laughs buy My Clingy Girlfriend here: http://goo.gl/VwPjmN

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Statesman on My Clingy Girlfriend

I'm a commercial fiction author. That means I'll probably never win the Man Booker Prize or a Nobel for a life changing book. But it also means that I'll write about things that everyone can relate to in simple, funny, emotional ways that no other author is able to do. That's my USP. And at the end of the day all I can hope for is that you'll buy my books and love them, without or without them being classics :) 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Absolute India interview and review of My Clingy Girlfriend

Why Do Women Keep Silent?

The other day I was at the airport when I noticed an obnoxious older man with a pretty, young woman. I use the term obnoxious because he was cursing the woman for no reason, calling her stupid, idiotic and utterly childish. 

My flight got delayed and I was having a coffee while the couple who were apparently on the same flight, were sitting behind me having a drink. While the man got drunk, he became more obnoxious. The woman tried to have a conversation with him in low tones and all I could hear was, “I can’t believe you can be so dumb.” And “I really can’t understand why you’re so stupid. I mean seriously you have no brains or what?” The woman didn't say anything and looked away most of the time, fiddling with her hair and sipping her drink while I was seething with rage. “Why are you keeping quiet woman?” I wanted to yell out but stopped myself as boarding was announced.

A few days later I went to a party where a husband verbally abused his wife in front of all of us. He said things like “Don’t eat that or you’ll get fat again!” And very often, “Oh she has no sense of style. I buy all her clothes.” And even things like “She was nothing till I married her. Now look how high class she pretends to be.” The wife just smiled and drank green tea because her husband hadn't allowed her to have a glass of wine. 

Why did she keep quiet? And again all I said to him was, “I think she’s amazing. With or without you.” But I figured he didn't care and she wasn't bothered.

Why do women keep silent in abusive relationships? Do they feel that because a man doesn't hit them, that there is no abuse? Is it because as a species we've been taught to be subservient? “Be adjusting. Be accommodating. Don’t pick fights. A man is everything in your life. He will give you status and security. Forgive him his faults. All men are like that only.”

The women in question were pretty, strong, and educated. So why do so many intelligent women keep silent at this abuse?

Because we were taught to do so.

Because somewhere we doubt our own capabilities. We are insecure of our potential. We've been told, taught and have imbibed that it’s a man’s world and we won’t be able to succeed without the help of a man. A drunken partner is better than no partner at all. Being single is worse than being in a dead marriage. Be a good woman and look after your partner – feed him, clean his house, look after his needs, keep him happy. If you keep quiet, the abuse goes away.

But let me tell you. It doesn't. 
The abuse never goes away. 

It comes in small lethal doses over time eroding your confidence and belief. And women suffer in silence, living in misery, self-doubt, depression and in delusion thinking their lives are good enough.

But the most important reason why women keep silent is because they’re LAZY. Yes. They don’t want to upset the “system” of having to explain to their families why they broke up, having to deal with friends looking at them as if it was their fault it didn’t work out and having to work hard at earning a living because the man at some level gives them money to do whatever they need. 
“Arrey I can buy whatever I want and he travels often. That’s good enough for me. At least he’s not slapping me.”

Stopping the abuse starts from YOU. Stop being CLINGY, LETHARGIC, LANGUID, SLUGGISH, INDOLENT.

This is what it means to be empowered. To do something for yourself. That’s YOUR CHOICE.

Stand up for yourself and tell him to “Shut up!” Tell him to take his own plate to the kitchen. Tell him what you want him to do for you instead of the other way around. 

Be strong. Be brave. Be bold. Be brilliant. 

And be powerful enough to leave the man to live your life the way you were chosen to do if he continues to abuse you. 

You are not the weaker sex. Stop behaving so. Have the courage to not be silent.
Speak up!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Crossword Bestseller List!

Only one week after the launch and My Clingy Girlfriend is already on the Crossword Bestseller List!

It's available in every book store and Amazon and Flipkart too.

What 25 Yrs of Pretty Woman Taught Me

1990. The year of Good Fellas, Godfather III, Home Alone and Pretty Woman. All great films but only one left an indelible mark on me. The one where the rich man rescues the poor woman from the streets and they fall in love and live happily ever after. Pretty Woman.

Somehow it got ingrained into me for a long time that relationships were as simple as that. And a whole generation grew up waiting for a rich, handsome man to come along and sweep them off their feet while they did nothing but look pretty. I wanted the fairy tale too.

My first boyfriend was a big industrialist’s son. Loaded. Semi good looking. Funny. I thought I had it all. I went to a prestigious lady college in Delhi and thought I would graduate and live happily ever after with this industrialist. After all Edward and Vivian did the same. I believed I was Julia Roberts. I took loaded son shopping and behaved weird most days trying to mould him and teach him to be grounded. He took me shopping like Edward had with Vivian on Rodeo Drive. I wore beautiful dresses and he even got me a magnificent necklace which wasn’t diamonds but quite beautiful. I was living Vivian’s life. This was it. I was Pretty Woman. The kind he’d like to meet.

Till it crashed. And he dumped me.

So I grew up. 25 years later these are the things I learned from Pretty Woman:

Baby I’m Going to Treat You So Nice You’re Never Gonna Wanna Let me Go – Relationships disintegrate over time because we stop being nice to each other. We stop listening to our partners, stop caring how they’re feeling, stop looking after their emotional, physical needs. If you want a relationship to last 25 years, you’re gonna wanna treat each other nicely every day.

It’s just that, uh, very few people surprise me. Yeah well you’re lucky. Most of em shock the hell outta me. – If you saw something different in each other over time, keep the mystery alive. Whether it’s taking a surprise vacation or trying something new in bed, surprise and shock each other in a good way to keep the romance rocking.

I never treated you like a prostitute. You just did. - Never Stop Working! Earn your own money. Wild women do…and they don’t regret it! It’s a high to get that pay check. No matter what profession, strive to do better, to do different things and be your own successful person so that no one at any point can put you down, not even your partner.

Do you have anything in this shop as beautiful as she is? You’re Not Julia! God she’s perfect with the perfect hair, smile and oh smoking hot body. And we’re not her. And we’re still fine. And beautiful and sexy. Be proud. Be humble. Be forgiving to yourself. And know you’re not Julia. You’re better.

You’re Late. You’re Stunning. You’re Forgiven – Let it go. Some fights aren’t meant to last. Men will need space. They will be late. They will forget dates. They’re forgiven. Women may not know how to cook. They may hate children. They blow up too much money. They’re forgiven. Fight over things that are important and let the other small issues go.

What happens after he rescues her? She rescues him right back. – A man cannot do everything for you. As a woman you’re supposed to rescue him too. You need to do it daily for years. You need to help a man become the person he has dreamed of being, not what you think he should be. Always motivate and support him. And make sure he does the same for you.

I want the fairy tale – Doesn’t everyone really still want the Pretty Woman fairy tale romance? In 25 years, relationships have become extremely complicated. Not everyone will end up like Vivian and Edward do on that fire escape. Their happily ever after isn’t yours. A great relationship might actually be exactly what you have. And for all the single people, be the king of wishful thinking and find your own fairy tale. 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Clingy Girlfriend Book Launch

What an amazing evening. Feel so blessed to have so many friends who came and supported me. The book is already rising in the best seller charts. Hard work and patience does pay off! 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Views on #VogueEmpower Videos

First of all I want to say I’m all for women empowerment. I completely agree that it is a woman’s choice to get married, have a child, wear whatever she wants and choose her life and decisions.

Vogue’s empowerment campaigns though leave me a little confused.

For example the first video "Going Home" https://youtu.be/0EDJxs1yJrQ was of Alia Bhatt getting into a car full of male strangers and going home safely. 

I love Alia. But I don’t get the campaign. Yes we need to make our streets safe. But don’t we also need to teach our girls and women to be aware, be safe, be bold, be vigilant, be smart. 

Maybe that video should have been about Alia getting out, fixing her car, holding a wrench when a car full of men drives up and says, “Thanks but I got it covered.” And that should have ended with #Mychoice to be bold, my choice to be brave, my choice to change the world.

Vogue’s 2nd empowerment video "Start With The Boys" https://youtu.be/0Nj99epLFqg was of men being told not to cry. "Ladke nahin rote hain." 
And then in the end we see a man hurting his wife/ partner and the very lovely Madhuri Dixit comes and says “Aadmi rulate bhi toh nahin hai.”


What has that got to do the empowerment or have any relation? What did that video actually want to do? So men who don’t cry will hurt their wives? And men who do will be pansies? Whaaa?

In fact the video should have Madhuri Dixit saying, “It’s ok for men to cry. Take a woman’s support because we can give our shoulders to you too.”

Men should be sensitive. Men should cry. And women should understand that. Women should raise their sons to cry and feel and talk and discuss and that’s how you will have a generation of men who will express their feelings to their wives and girlfriends and never have misunderstandings! Yes they shouldn’t hurt women. But you’re not teaching that by this video.

So let’s come to Deepika’s video. https://youtu.be/KtPv7IEhWRA
Yes I know there are 99 women in it. But it’s her voice and Homi’s vision. So while my Whatsapp groups are having massive debates on how beautiful it is and how it is always a woman’s choice to live life her way I have a few issues with this video and script.

First of all what the hell does “my odour, your anarchy” mean? Or for that matter many other phrases. And what's with this photo of Deepika in boxing gloves with a man looking so pitiful? 
I know plenty of great men who give their partners unconditional support and love. And all it takes for the woman is to help them understand what they need instead of screaming "Mychoice at them. 
Also empowerment is not about making men succumb to your every whim and fancy and boxing them to make them understand your view point. 

Yes it is a woman’s choice as I’ve said in the beginning but let’s talk about EMPOWERMENT for a second.

How does 99 privileged women with hair flying across the screen with a voice over of bindi, odour, sex have anything to do with the common woman and her empowerment?

I would change the video in 4 ways:
1. Had a mix of languages that women across the country speak. We have 30 languages. Why only English?

2. Get a mix of ordinary women with just a few celebs from different careers like a Chanda Kochchar or Indra Nooyi who can say “Don’t judge me because I’ve worked hard to be here.”

3. Get men who also believe in empowerment. Not all men are horrible people who will rape, criticise, judge and slander women. Have men in the video saying, “I’m a feminist.” And “I believe all men and women are equal.” “I will protect you because we need to change the world together.”

4. Take everyday situations to depict how we need empowerment.

For example a woman driving a car who says “Don’t judge me because I am a woman driver.”
A woman employee who is wearing what she likes and says, “I don’t need to sleep my way to the top. I’m smart enough. Don’t judge me.”  

A housewife who says, “I don’t want to sleep with you tonight. I’m not having an affair! Don’t judge me.”

A girl who wants to give up her job and get married, “I believe in love and want to be a mother. Don’t judge me if I give up my job!”

A woman who is overweight and says, “I am a National Award winner. And you’re still judging me on my weight?”

A village woman who will say in her language with subtitle below, “I refuse to have more than one child. I am not barren. Don’t judge me.”

I believe in empowerment. I believe these are the voices that need to be heard from women AND men across the country. Speaking sentences that resonate. That make sense. That we can agree with. That will raise a debate on how we can change our thinking. And truly become empowered. 

My Clingy Girlfriend video!

Culture Machine has taken elements of my new novel My Clingy Girlfriend and made a video about how your girlfriends could be. It's exaggerated, caricatured and hilarious. Not all women are like this but we love all women!

Already gaining momentum online, it's the new Being Indian series that is going viral. With over 19,000 views in the 1st 12 hours of going viral and with over 3 lakh subscriptions, you don't want to miss it.

If you like the video you know you'll love the book too http://goo.gl/VwPjmN

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...