Love this review of STARCURSED by author Payal Dhar!
Thursday, September 25, 2014
"Red Turban White Horse is the perfect blend of fairy-tale glamour and relationships convincingly rooted in contemporary reality for teen-age girls everywhere."
Read the full review here: http://mirrorswindowsdoors.org/wp/review-red-turban-white-horse-by-nandini-bajpai/
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Amitha J Knight is doing a series on Asian American Authors on her blog Monkey Poop. I'm on this week but do follow the whole series because she has an outstanding group of authors lined up!!
Vijaya Bodach was sweet enough to review Starcursed and also have a conversation about the book with me on her blog.
Do stop by both!
Friday, June 27, 2014
Monday, June 16, 2014
To celebrate the one year anniversary of Red Turban White Horse I wrote a glimpse into Mini & Vir's life beyond RTWH. It was posted on the Scholastic India page in five parts. Read it all here:
Mini in Manhattan
Taxi-hailing in New York City is an art—one I’m no good at.
I had to meet Vir in half an hour—my spirits lifted at the thought of him despite my sore feet—and I was running late. It was a sunny spring day in Manhattan, perfect for walking, but I had all these shopping bags. Was I desperate enough to trek fifteen crosstown blocks loaded down like a sherpa? There was no way! And I was so not getting on the subway with all my packages either. I had been power shopping, just as planned, from the time I arrived at Penn Station that morning—at least my first solo trip as a fashion buyer for Amy’s had been a success.
Another cab turned down the street and I raised a tentative hand. No luck. The cab didn’t even slow down. Was it what I was wearing? No. I looked normal, at least, if not super cute.
I took a sip of the homemade juice Dad packed for me this morning before I left for NYC. Ugh! It tasted vile but I was sure it was packed with nutrients. I needed them—my only option, it seemed, was to walk.
Right then, onwards.
A cab screeched to a halt beside me and an elderly uncle-ji type stuck his head out the window.
“Taxi chaiye aapko?” he asked, in Hindi.
“Haanji,” I said, trying not to get my hopes up.
“Kahan jana hai?” he asked. “Where do you want to go?”
“Saks Fifth Avenue,” I said and then he was handing me into the cab while explaining the proper style of NY taxi-hailing.
What a nice man, I thought. What a nice, helpful, polite…
A string of the foulest abuses in Hindi, Punjabi, and English assaulted my ears as the cabbie leaned out of the windows and yelled at someone who just cut him off in traffic.
Some of them I didn’t even understand—probably a good thing!
I looked out at the high rise buildings flashing by and tried not to laugh at his colorful vocabulary. The cab came to a stop. Were we there already?
“Samhal ke jaana, bittia,” he said in chaste Hindi as I climbed out of the cab. “And welcome to New York!”
I guess it was pretty obvious that I was from out of town.
I tipped the cabbie generously, and headed for Saks Fifth Avenue’s signature store with a new spring in my step.
Stay on the page tomorrow for part 2...
There was actually an express elevator to the shoe department at Saks. I was not surprised—it’s the only shoe store in the world with its own zip code, 10022-SHOE.
I stepped into the polished wood-paneled interior—felt like I was inside a vintage music box—and it rose noiselessly to the 8th floor. The whole day had passed by in a blink. Trunk shows and sample sales, navigating New York, trying to stay within Amy’s budget—but the hard part was over, and all I had to do now was shop for a pair of shoes for me. And also meet up with Vir, and maybe have early dinner before heading to my cousin’s .
Shoes. Vir. Dinner in NYC. Topped off with a long drive on a perfect spring evening. So. Much. Awesomeness.
The doors opened noiselessly and I stepped into the shoe store.
I look around, excited.
Great selection! But what would work with my prom dress? More importantly, what could I afford?
I tried on some Jimmy Choos, and a pair of laser cut Fendis.
And then I saw them. They were blue Manolo Blahniks. A dark Ferozi blue, my favorite color. The style was a Mary Jane, with an elegantly pointed toe, and a dramatic 3.5 inch heel. The inside edge was scalloped and edged with a minuscule amount of contrasting green.
The display shoe was my size so I put it on.
“That looks great on you!” the sales assistant gushed. I knew it was sort of her job to compliment the customers, but I had to agree. She brought out the matching pair and I tried on both and walked around. Despite the heel it felt like walking on clouds.
“That’s the only pair I have left in that size and color,” she said.
I pulled up a picture on my phone—my dress was a simple empire waist white silk with Ferozi blue flowers appliquéd on it. The shoes would look awesome with it, but OMG the price! They were current season so it would be months before they came on sale and by then my size in the blue would be long gone.
I sighed. At least I got to try them on. I lifted a foot to click a picture for Vir before taking them off.
I handed them back to the sales assistant. “I’ll have to think about it,” I said—she knew it was code for No.
“Do you want me to hold them for you?” she asked anyway.
“No,” I said. I was proud of how firm I sounded.
See you all right here tomorrow for part 3...
It was deflating to ride down in the express shoe elevator completely shoeless—that pair of perfection kind of spoiled me for any of the other shoes. But I knew how to fix that. My mom always said that when you’re sad about something that’s way over your budget, immediately go out and buy something very cheap that cheers you up anyway—a single rose, a silly pair of earrings, or a chocolate truffle to share with a friend. It works—seriously.
I had been holding off on getting a proper New York cupcake for just such an emergency and the Magnolia Bakery was, providentially, just across the street.
My phone buzzed. Running late said the text from Vir. Dang, I’d forgotten he was in a business meeting with his Dad. And I had texted him a picture of my foot!
Now I really needed that cupcake.
K I texted back Will be at Magnolia.
I opened the door to the bakery and let the warm smell of just baked goodies wash over me. Miraculously, there wasn’t even a line to get served.
The red velvet cupcake was a deep luscious red topped with a creamy buttermilk frosting. Even though it was extremely expensive for cupcake I could buy approximately 323.5 cupcakes for the price of that one pair of shoes!
I had almost demolished the cupcake and also my ginger peach tea when Vir walked through the door—the whole place looked brighter, warmer, and more delicious just because he was in it.
“Sorry I’m late,” he said. “We ran over time!”
I dashed over and wrapped my arms around him.
“You want the last bite?” I asked, offering up the cupcake. He was always hungry, but there wasn’t an ounce of spare fat on his frame.
“About dinner,” he said, “—want to eat at the Café at the Rockefeller? We can go ice skating later.”
I hesitated. “I went to this place once. It’s kind of special…”
Of course he wanted to know where.
“It was my first trip to New York. I was three or four, I think. “We went to the Natural History Museum, and the Met, and the lake in Central Park—Mom and Dad rowed and we just laughed because they couldn’t keep the boat straight—and we had dinner at this sweet restaurant. It had lanterns hanging from the trees and horse carriages waiting outside.”
Vir is genius and knew right away that the place I was thinking of was Tavern on the Green.
“Let me see,” he said tapping on his phone. “Hmmm. Oh, that’s not good!”
“What?” I asked.
“They closed it down in 2010,” he said. “No, wait. They’ve shut it for renovations. It won’t be open for a year or two. That sucks!”
I insisted it was fine, but I was sad. I had such happy memories of the place.
“Did you go anywhere else?” Vir asked.
“Mom packed puri-aloo for lunch and we had a picnic in the park, “ I said, remembering.
“So let’s have a picnic too,” he said. “Can’t promise puri-aloo—we might have to settle for pretzels or hotdogs.”
“Sounds perfect,” I said. “Yogi’s favorite treat!”
“And how’s the hound of Westbury?” he asked.
Yogi is my dog and my best friend in the world. It was killing me that I would have to leave him behind when I went to India this summer, and then left for college in fall. At least Dad understood that I have to go, but how do you explain college to a dog?
I said. “I’m really worried about how he’ll deal with me leaving Vir. I’ve always been there for him!”
“He’ll be fine,” Vir said, squeezing my hand. “Here’s something that will cheer you up,” he handed me a Saks Fifth Avenue bag.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“See for yourself,” he said, smiling.
Come back tomorrow for the final piece...
I dug through the tissues and box and unearthed the Monolo Blahnik shoes!
“I kind of guessed that you’d look at them and then put them back,” Vir explained.
“But I can’t take these—not from you.” I said. “I know how much they cost!”
“They aren’t from me,” he said. “They from my step-mother. She was at the meeting and saw the picture. Mini has great taste, she said, and ordered me to get them for you from her as a graduation gift.”
I just held on to the box, speechless and torn.
“She’ll be really offended if you don’t take them,” he said, reading my face. “She might feel rejected and hate you forever. She might think you think she’s tacky…”
“Stop,” I said. “You’re making me nervous! But they’re really too much, Vir.” I took a deep breath. “I’m not keeping them. I just can’t. But can we stop and get her a thank you card? You can give it to her along with the shoes.”
The first pair of current season, retail price designer shoes I owned were going to be ones I bought myself—however long it took me.
“I warned her,” Vir said. “Let’s put all your bags in my car and take a taxi to Central Park.”
We headed to the parking garage and put away my bags. It was nice to get my hands free—I laced my fingers into Vir’s as we walked back together.
Vir stepped to the curb and three cabs screeched to a stop at his one casual wave. Really? I glared at him resentfully.
“What did I do?” Vir asked, mystified.
“Never mind,” I said as he opened the door for me.
Inside, he leaned close. “When the Tavern on the Green reopens we’ll go have dinner there,” he said.
As we merged into the traffic on Fifth Avenue I felt a glow of anticipation. I may not have the perfect shoes, but I did have the perfect date! There were only two weeks left for prom, four weeks for graduation, and six weeks before I left for India.
I couldn’t wait!
Part 5: A final note!
Dear Guncha Aunty,
Thank you so much for the beautiful shoes. They are perfect but I’m returning them with my thanks, as it wouldn’t be right to keep them. I've decided to skip graduation gifts and have asked friends and family to donate to one of my favorite charities instead—Vir isn’t great at reading his email, or he would have known!
So, could you please give to either the American Cancer Society or the animal rescue group Rescue Without Borders in place of a gift? Hope to meet you in India this summer. I will be visiting my Masi and she says that she sees you often.
Uff, your girlfriend, Vir! What am I supposed to do with these shoes, I’ve never returned anything in my life. I guess I should follow her nek example and donate them to a NGO. Please give a couple of grand each to her pet charities so she won’t think I’m heartless. See you back in Mumbai.
And that's all for now! Thanks for reading MINI IN MANHATTAN!! :)