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Want to read a beautiful multicultural story?
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Photo courtesy- franandwally.blogspot.com
The above scene isn’t uncommon in India or for that matter elsewhere in the world especially if you happen to drop by an Indian home. Why, you may ask do I have to remove my footwear before I enter your house?
Well, the explanation is simple. For us Indians, our house or home is a sacred place and to contaminate it by bringing dirt from outside is not just disrespectful, it is almost akin to sacrilege. And, if you happen to visit a temple you will be often expected to not just remove your footwear but also wash your feet before entering.
This is not necessarily a religious tradition. It is practiced across most communities in India and as I discovered, in many other countries of the world, including Asia, Hawaii, Pacific Islands, as well as some corners of Europe.
So the next time you happen to spy footwear outside a residence, you may want to remove yours too 🙂
If you enjoyed this cultural nugget and wish to learn more, please join my Facebook group–
I have two exciting announcements to share with you! First, the cover for my next novel ‘The Accidental Wife’ is finalized, and it is gorgeous. If you haven’t seen it already, here it is. We’re looking at an early March release date for so stay tuned.
The second announcement is that I’ve set up a group on Facebook for my readers, fans and friends. Please consider joining the group as it will allow me to share news, host events and interact more easily with everyone. To celebrate the release of THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE, I’ll be hosting an Author Chat for this group. It will be a couple of weeks after the release of the book (and after a special offer to pick up INCONVENIENT RELATIONS, my first novel for free)! The idea is that you’ll have time to read the book and then ask me questions about it, learn more about my culture and offer feedback. Facebook groups are the online equivalent of the office water cooler so stop by and hang out for a while. Here is the link for the group. If you wish to join please put in your request and I’ll add you to the group.
Another Excerpt from ‘Inconvenient Relations’
“Here… lunch.” She pushed a box towards him.
“I don’t want it.”
“I feel awkward.”
“But you never felt that way before, so why now?” You took me for granted. She stared reproachfully at him.
“It’s different now.” My perspective has changed. I behaved like a slave master, it’s humiliating. He stared right back.
She pretended to appear disinterested, “you can eat it, give it to your friends or throw it away. This is all I can do to pay you back right now.”
“You don’t have to worry about paying me back. It’s the least that I can do to make up for what I’ve put you through.”
Her chair knocked sharply against the wall, as she jumped to her feet. “What? You think that’s compensation enough? Nothing you do will give me back what I’ve lost! Yes, I agreed to marry you because I was blind and innocent! But who gave you the right to destroy my life, especially since you were having an affair and there was no hope for us? You treated me as if I was a disposable object! Why? Tell me why?”
“Yes I know I’m the worst kind of cad! But my hands were tied! My grandfather was on his death bed, I had no choice!” He snapped back gripping the counter till his knuckles turned white.
Walking up to him, she said softly, “Yes you had a choice. You could have walked away. You could have been a man.”
Ruhi has an emotional outburst. She wants to know why? Why did Shaan think her fair game to betray her on their wedding night and then say sorry. Is it that easy to forgive and forget?
To know more read ‘Inconvenient Relations’
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Here’s a chance to win a free Ebook copy of my Contemporary Romance Novel ‘Inconvenient Relations’ which KIRKUS REVIEWS calls- ‘An Often Intoxicating-Will They-Won’t They Tale’ (More reviews and sample chapters here)
As well as an AMAZON GIFT CARD
She had lain awake all night, quite unable to digest the shock. Was this really happening to her, Ruhi Sharma, for whom receiv- ing love notes from potential suitors had become as routine and sundry as brushing teeth? Could a man really reject her? It was hard to absorb.
The following morning, Shaan found her sitting in the same position he had left her in the night before. Feeling sorry, he made an offer, “You can opt out right now. I expect you would want to do so. Don’t worry. I will take care of everything.”
Turning to him, with an unusually serene expression in her tired eyes, she said, “No, that is not an option. I can’t be the cause of distress to my parents. I’m willing to carry on with this charade, that is, if it’s all right with you.”
Shaan wasn’t just disappointed, he was taken aback. This was highly unexpected. It was meant to be only a small complication, but now all his plans would turn awry.
He had clearly informed his father about his ongoing affair, but Shiv Ahuja, being who he was, had dismissed it. “Ohh! So you are playing around with a white woman? Well, that happens, my son, and it doesn’t matter.”
“But it matters to me, Dad. I love her!” “And does she love you?” “I think so. Yes, I’m pretty sure about it,” he’d replied, albeit a little doubtfully.
“Then is she willing to marry you and be my bahu?”
Looking down embarrassed, he said, “She can’t, she’s already married. It’s…it’s complicated.”
“So that is the case.” Shiv beamed. “And here I was straining my brains wondering why our son hadn’t hooked up with a girl yet.”
It goes without saying that the youngest Ahuja was by no means lacking in looks. He was unusually handsome, of good build, and above average height who liked to maintain an athletic physique with regular exercise. But despite being inundated with innumerable suitable matches, each willing to part with unbelievable amounts in dowry, he had steadfastly declined. In fact, he had even refused to pay a visit to his hometown until now. His hand finally being forced by the news of his dadaji’s terminal ill- ness, whose final wish was to see his youngest grandson married and settled in life.
But what Shaan lacked in moral makeup, he made up for by his integrity. “I don’t want to live under false pretenses. I do not want to be instrumental in ruining an innocent life!”
“Then are you willing to let Papaji go to his deathbed with his final wish unfulfilled? Do you want the shadow of his regret to cloud the rest of our family’s future?”
Shaan wasn’t too pleased, but his father was leaving him with no real options.
“Just get married to this nice girl, bid farewell to your Dadaji, then you can do whatever you wish. Get a divorce or, if you are a real man, carry on at both ends, neither party need know!” Shiv had winked conspiratorially while giving him a sound thump on his back.
His son wasn’t surprised. For a long time, he had suspected that his father ran more than one household, and his long-suffering mother probably knew about it but was too tired to fight. He went through with the farce, and no one raised a finger.
Fortunately for Shaan, it appeared that his grandfather had been holding on to his last breath for this particular event before he gave up and was declared free from this world.
Therefore, undoubtedly the extent of his alarm was immeasurable when Ruhi refused his offer of an amicable separation. He was flummoxed!
Why did he have to carry on living a pained existence with this girl till she made up her mind to set him free? She was being unreasonable.
“But, but I can’t—”
“Carry out the duties of a normal husband?” she asked without hesitation.
Shaan looked surprised. “Yes.”
“I don’t expect you to, especially after what you told me last night. But can we maybe give us a chance?” There was a clear and desperate note of plea in her voice.
Not exactly enjoying the exchange, he retorted, “No, that’s impossible. I was forced into this.” It came out sounding brutal, but he couldn’t take it back.
“But I wasn’t. What about me? Where is my fault in all this?” Why was he being made to feel guilty?
“Well, that was the reason for my offer. We can end this now, and you will be free to start a new life again.” He looked eagerly at her; this was the opportune time to get his way.
She laughed. “That’s easy for you to say. You are a man! But in this society, a woman rejected after marriage is like a pariah. All the men who at one time used to flock around me would not even consider looking at me again.” Smiling wryly, she continued, “Besides, what about my parents, their dreams? What about all that my father had to go through to get the best possible match for his only daughter?”
Shaan closed his eyes…He hadn’t realized, but things were much more complicated than he had imagined.
Then she said in a much calmer tone, “I request you to think it over because this doesn’t affect just the two of us, it does a lot of others—those whom I love and care for above and beyond myself. Perhaps if we give it a month or two we could develop differences? I could tell my father that I can’t stay with you, that we don’t get along, and he’d understand. It won’t be as harsh, and you would be free to do as you please.” Looking at her, he wondered. Did she really mean what she said?
“It’s just a request.”
Ruhi Sharma was a blushing bride, practically a newlywed, locked up in this glittering cage for almost a month, twenty-nine days to be exact; an object of envy of all her friends and family.
Twenty-nine days ago, she had signed her name beside his on the marriage certificate. She had gone through all the miscellaneous ceremonies associated with the typical grand Indian wedding—the engagement, the Mehendi, the Sangeet, the Haldi, and the grand finale (her father had spared no expense) until finally her betrothed had staked his claim by placing the Sindoor on her forehead and tying the Mangalsutra around her neck, and she had quietly and blissfully followed him around the sacred fire carefully listening to and reciting the Saath Pheras in her mind.
She was the very beautiful and accomplished daughter of Amrit and Devyani Sharma, the apple of their eye, and they had left no stone unturned in raising her the best way they possibly could.
Friends and family were surprised for not only had Ruhi been provided with a very good education, she held an MBA from a leading institution, but her parents had also made sure that she was adept in all other various skills, which a well-bred traditional Indian girl is desired to be proficient in. Therefore, nobody marveled when marriage proposals came pouring in from all directions.
But the Sharmas were choosy; they wanted only the best for their golden child, and they did get it, or so they surmised.
The idea of giving their daughter’s hand in marriage to the well-accomplished son of the most well-known family in Chandigarh was beyond their wildest imagination. It was wilder because they hadn’t gone in search of it, rather it had come and landed on their lap.
Shaan, the youngest and most eligible of the Ahuja clan, was twenty-seven, a fresh aerospace masters grad from a premier engineering institute located in the Los Angeles county of United States, California, who had already bagged a plum job in a leading aeronautics and space exploration company in sunny LA.
“My son makes interplanetary spacecraft. He’s the man of the future” had become the proud and frequent rant of Mr. Shiv Ahuja, who for some odd reason seemed to be trying to paint his son in the most rosy of tones even though he really didn’t need to, for as soon as Ruhi saw her future husband’s likeness, she lost her heart, and there was no question of a retrieval.
“Huh? Yes please with just a pinch of sugar. Thanks!” He took the cup from her hands, careful not to touch her fingers.
Ruhi closed her eyes; she could now repeat every movement, every word by rote. He was a creature of habit…and she was bored.
What was supposed to be the most exciting time in every young woman’s life had turned out to be the worst…Well, not really. He wasn’t mean. rather he was the perfect gentleman, too perfect!
Oh how she wished he would rather be screaming mean and nasty. At least that would bring some excitement into her not- so-happening life! She laughed, pausing as she brushed her long black hair, rather hysterically.
The bombshell had dropped on their wedding night.
He had walked into the room late as she sat there, a shy bride in all her wedding finery waiting, nervous yet excited at the same time, to meet the man she had hardly spoken to or looked at. What would he say, talk about, or do?
She had heard a lot of stories about what to expect, some factual and some fabricated (her friends had prepared her well), but she wanted her own to be special, unique, and it was…
Sitting down on the bed in front of her, he had taken her hand in his and said very gently, as if to tone down the trauma, “I bet you are one of the most beautiful brides in the world, but I’m sorry I cannot make love to you. There is someone else.”
Not sure if she’d heard right, Ruhi had watched puzzled as he lay down on the mattress and turned his back to her. Is that it? A plain and blunt dismissal of her dreams, her life? Was that all?
Mangalsutra: Sacred thread that a married woman wears around her neck.
Mehendi, Sangeet, Haldi: Traditional marriage rituals conducted during a North Indian Hindu marriage ceremony. During the Mehendi ceremony, henna is applied to the bride’s hands to strengthen the bond of love in the mar- riage. During the Sangeet or music ceremony, the families of the bride and groom celebrate the upcoming wedding with music and dance. During the Haldi or turmeric ceremony, turmeric is applied to the bride and groom in their respective homes as part of the cleansing and beautification process.
Saat Phera: Seven sacred vows taken during a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony by the bride and groom.
Sindoor: Red vermillion powder worn by married women along the parting of their hair.
Hi friends and readers!
The 2nd edition of my debut novel is almost out with a new name and a new look. Here I’m sharing with you an excerpt along with the first few chapters. I’m sure you’ll want to read more. Do get the book because part 2 is in the works.
My 2nd book titled THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE will be out early 2015. 🙂
Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.
What KIRKUS REVIEWS said about the book:
Shaan Ahuja and Ruhi Sharma’s arranged marriage has an inauspicious start. Shaan spurns his new wife on their wedding night, still pining over the American lover he left back in Los Angeles. However, the begrudging spouses soon make a pact: Ruhi will stay with Shaan in the United States just long enough to avoid embarrassment. The young bride hopes she can use the time to win Shaan’s heart, and although Ruhi’s beauty and attentiveness do change Shaan’s feelings, his immaturity and inability to express himself—and Ruhi’s lingering mistrust—keep them from reconciling. As they attempt to be “friends without benefits,” they start to reveal their true selves, including her needling puckishness and independent spirit and the reasons for his reserved nature and impulsive jealousy. Their eventual reconciliation comes not from forgiveness but from acceptance and understanding. The novel trades in a certain amount of melodrama that, thanks to its light tone, comes across as indulgent but satisfying. …The novel seems highly aware of its influences, using cultural expectations and delayed gratification in the same spirit, if not with the same deftness, as Jane Austen. Shaan and Ruhi also sometimes mirror the star-crossed lovers from Casablanca (a film that the book directly
An often intoxicating, … will-they-or-won’t-they tale.”
Love: A temporary insanity curable by marriage.
This tale is an attempt to prove the reverse
or at least give it a chance.
Her heart fluttered when she heard the sound of the key turn in the lock. She quickly adjusted her maroon silk sari with the yellow border, the one that had caught his eye, and waited eagerly for his footsteps.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven…Yes, exactly seven steps before he stopped, hesitated for a few moments, then removed his shoes one by one and arranged them neatly side by side on the shoe rack.
She smiled. He had been mindful of taking his shoes off every day now. “I am not used to it, but I will if you want me to. It’s probably a good thing to do anyway.”
He walked into the hall toward his favorite chair; he never sat on the settee beside her.
As he settled down, he would pick up the TV remote and, without looking at her, would say in his smooth baritone, “So how did you spend your day, anything interesting?”
She would shake her head, still looking down, though out of the corner of her eye she liked to steal glances at his feet—they were nice to look at, clean with well-manicured nails—then realizing that he was not looking at her, she would vocalize in the negative.
Her soft “no” would drown easily in the raucous loud blast from the TV game. He probably didn’t hear her; he probably didn’t care.
One of the most stunning examples of Southern India’s Dravidian architecture is The Brihadisvara Temple located in the city of Thanjavur in the state of Tamil Nadu. Completed in 1010 CE, it was built by Rajaraja Chola 1, one of the most powerful rulers of South India and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is built almost entirely of granite blocks. The circumabulatory passage along the periphery of the temple feature some exquisite sculpture and paintings from the Chola period.
Mumbai’s historic Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus)
Humayun’s Maqbara (tomb of the Mughal emperor Humayun) in Delhi, India built 1569-70
Alongside Chicago river
Clean windows, plain, glass, open, close, bright,
Light, shaded, paned, shuttered, blinded, boarded,
Rusty, dirty, smoky windows.
Broken, shattered, run down windows
Windows that protect and hide, windows to the world outside
And sometimes to the world within
Unraveling layer by layer, revealing,
A tool for introspection and scrutiny,
A glance into a soul, full of secrets and smokescreens,
Evasion, denial, half-truths
Windows, they tell it all.