Sneak Peek of Train Friends

Here is a special sneak excerpt from the newly released essay collection Train Friends – Bombay Roots, Parallel Track, Shared Journeys. Specially for Mumbaikars!!

The Hussainsagar express train dropped me off at Dadar station at about six in the morning. I carried my light bag to the local train platform, determined to prove to my parents that I didn’t need to be escorted home. I was, after all, a Mumbaikar and everyone knows that Mumbai trains are a safe option, even at that early hour. 

A group of college students were the only evidence of life on an otherwise deserted platform. They talked and poked each other in the ribs, laughing aloud at their inside jokes. I was transported back to my Agarwal class days, wondering if my group had been equally boisterous. My reverie was interrupted by a hoarse voice.

“Aunty, Bandra kaun se side aayega?” Which side will Bandra come?

The question was a common one, one that I had often asked others. But had this boy really called me Aunty? Me? Aunty!!

In typical Mumbai style, the response rose in my throat involuntarily.

Aunty hogi teri maa.” Your mother is an aunty.

After a sixteen-hour journey, with a night spent tossing around on a train berth, in my crumpled salwar kameez and messy hair, I knew I wasn’t looking my best. But Aunty??

Grab your copy here.

Not the Brown Girl with the Red Dot

Photo credit: Shailaja Chilappagari

More than two decades ago, I was the only girl on my college campus in the US who wore a prominent bindi on her forehead, a choice that earned me the nickname of “the girl with the red dot”. Writing an essay about this experience helped me delve into defining my identity by trying to understand my reasons for choosing to stand out this way, so far away from home. I revisited this topic again in light of the current focus on identity which seems to be defined primarily by our skin colour: Not the Brown Girl with the Red Dot.

Writing about Writing

My first guest post. Also my first post on the craft of writing. In this piece I offer practical tips on writing a powerful personal essay using tools used by fiction writers. Author Damyanti Biswas whose debut novel You Beneath Your Skin is available for pre-order on was kind enough to feature me on her blog.

Read my take at: How to Write a Powerful Personal Essay Using the Craft of Fiction

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader/writer? How do you approach the your writing tasks? 


Is it telepathy or serendipity when your thoughts (and actions) match those of someone far away? To our great surprise, we discovered that Khabar magazine, published in Atlanta, USA had the same idea as us – to feature a story about the endlessly fascinating Mumbai local trains on their cover.

At Story Artisan Press, we had been working behind the scenes for the last few months to launch our new book Train FriendsBombay Roots, Parallel Track, Shared Journeys. Check out this essay collection for insightful reflections on growing up (in Mumbai, of course), going away and finding the meaning of home: here.

Mangalyaan – Movie first, book later

Image result for mangalyaan ladies image

It wasn’t until I saw the trailer for the Hindi movie, “Mission Mangal”, that I realized that the story of the women behind India’s spectacular success in launching the Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan, was a story worth depicting on the big screen. When I watched the movie last week, I was pleased to see a sari-clad version of Hidden Figures, the Hollywood movie about women mathematicians who supported NASA for the moon landing fifty years ago. 

Like many movies that feature an underdog or a losing team overcome all odds, this was a feel-good movie. The movie succeeded in highlighting the fact that it was a group of women who spearheaded this effort, a fact that needed to be celebrated. However, the movie failed to educate the masses about the dedication and deep knowledge that is required for such an endeavor. It also failed to highlight the human interest stories that underlie the motivations of the people involved, by making their characters into caricatures.

When books get made into movies, they take away the depth and nuance of words and turn them into a visual spectacle with pretty people, big sets and computer graphics. But is there a book about these women, I wondered? Turns out there is. 

“Those Magnificent Women and Their Flying Machines” by Minnie Vaid. Buy the book through our affiliate link here.

I have bought the book and plan to read it soon. Stay tuned for the review. What do you think about books and movies? Which one do you like better?

Two new books!

It’s Launch Day!! Two new ebooks from Story Artisan Press are available for download today. Purchase from Amazon: and These links should take you to the Amazon marketplace in the country of your residence. Please share this news within your circles. We would love to see reviews on Amazon, on Goodreads, in your blogs and social media posts. Write to us and share your stories about Desi Modern Love and your Train Friends.

Launch of Desi Modern Love

Love is a basic human need and it has been shown to have many health benefits. Love has the power to improve a person’s physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Story Artisan Press is publishing Desi Modern Love, an anthology of contemporary accounts of Love. In a sense, the writers committed acts of Love when they recorded their experiences of grace. At Story Artisan Press we believe that by publishing these stories we are sending positive healing energies out into the Universe and to our readers. Get ready to bring love into your life on August 23rd!