By: Tanuja Desai Hidier
It’s been a wonderfully va-va-vrooming road trip of a year. Writing a book, you take your characters on a journey. And your characters take you on one as well. During my writing of Bombay Blues and accompanying albumBombay Spleen, I lived in that distant motherland city by the sea. While there for my three research trips, yes…but also for the three-plus years of the writing process, I inhabited this metropolis of the meeting of my parents, the birth of my mother, and brother, too: on the page…and in the imagination, via my heroine Dimple Lala.
And now, with these works out in the world, on-page Dimple has allowed me to continue these travels off-page as well: In January I headed back to India for the launch of Bombay Blues/Spleen there, first at the Jaipur Literature Festival, then in Bombay. In the spring, Dimple took me back to the wonderland I’d lived in nearly ten years and that inspired my first novel, prequel Born Confused: New York City. And this October, for one of the most memorable trips of all, Dimple accompanied me to a part of my own birth country I’d never seen before: Madison, Wisconsin.
Madison is an amazing city—on an isthmus, with a stunning state Capitol, jazzy music venues and tummy-rumbling foods (it’s cream country, after all; fried cheese curds were a discovery!). The city and University of Madison campus intertwine to create a really lovely buzzy vibe. And the warm, welcoming people of the Midwest I met there: The best part of all.
It was a magical five days: I was there as Bombay Blues had received the 2015 South Asia Book Award, which was such an honor. The awards ceremony was held as part of the 44th Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Madison–the world’s largest such event, with more than 800 scholars, students, professionals, writers, artists in attendance for four days. (Yes, in Madison, Wisconsin. Who knew?) I also had the great pleasure of meeting children’s category winner, the utterly delightful talent Paula Yoo, as well as honor authors Vivek Shreya and Padma Venkatraman.
The entire experience was serious refuel for the writing road!
And now, I’ve wound full circle in this road trip of a year to wrap it up and ring in the new in the small town in Western Massachusetts. where I grew up from the age of two. On these streets that are the basis of those in my books, though those stories are set miles away. Overlooking Bennett Pond…which became the fictitious Mirror Lake on the page. Setting of the childhood experiences—including being the first ‘brown’ family in the whole area all those years ago—that ignitioned my writing path.
And surrounded by the people who believed in this path, and in me, even when I barely believed myself.
And the next generation as well, those little ones to whom we pass on that faith.
There’s no place like home. But that’s because home is not a place. It’s a sense of sanctuary. And I’m so happy to be here again.
Feeling ever ever so blessed.
And may you and yours be blessed, too.
Happy holidays, all!
For this winding road of a drape, tuck one end on the right side. Bring it around. Pleat and tuck in. Wind rest of material around in one full circle. Bring it over the right shoulder from behind and leave it hanging from there. (You can use a brooch to keep it fastened on shoulder and waist.) As a final touch, I brought the blouse ties around the neck and tied them with the baubles hanging down like a necklace. I also attached multicolored feather clip-on earrings to the draped fabric, around the naval area.