Praise for My Books

"Manreet Sodhi Someshwar is a gifted writer of great promise. I have a gut feeling we have a new star rising in Punjab's literary horizon. She has an excellent command of English and a sly sense of humour."
- Khushwant Singh on The Long Walk Home

"An enjoyable tale of a sassy girl's headlong race up the corporate ladder."
- India Today on Earning the Laundry Stripes

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Thank you Ms Udwin but No, I am Not India's Daughter

Honestly, for any thinking Indian, does the documentary 'India's Daughter' reveal anything new? What the rapist espouses has been espoused by Indian politicians and assorted sadhus and babas time and again. Remember Asaram's execrable judgement on the victim? Then why this brouhaha over its telecast?

Because we don't like to wash our dirty linen in international public?
Because now the whole world will know what we in India already know?
Because, women, we understand your problem, but as good Bharatiya nari, please adjust?

Of course there are issues with Leslee Udwin's documentary. First, the title itself. No Ms Udwin, as an Indian woman, I am nobody's daughter but of my parents. Second, the patronizing of the victim as a 'speaker of excellent English'. For more on what's troubling about the documentary, please read Kavita Krishnan's article:…/kavita-krishnan-ni…/story/1/2347.html

Meanwhile, my question is: Why did India need a British film maker to make a documentary on what became a lightning rod for debate in this country?

If we don't tell our stories, others will. Because telling a story requires more than Bollywood bling - it requires courage, empathy, and the determination to dig deep and come up with the truth, however unpalatable.

Friday, 27 February 2015

A Character Certificate for a Greeting

A new place disorients, to begin with. If it didn’t, how would it be new? Eight months into a city that is home, for the nonce, I continue to be surprised when the language I speak isn’t the same as the language of other denizens of this city, despite both being curiously labelled ‘English’. Hmmm. Is it a minor matter of the pond coming in the way, you know, the Atlantic? British English versus, you know, American English? (On an aside, why do Americans use ‘you know’ like a comma, using it to pause very now and then, instead of, you know, actually pausing to collect their thoughts?)

I am trying very hard to not dish out my character certificate every time I am asked: How are you? Usually, when greeted thus, I answer: I am very well, thank you. How are you?

However, I realize that the greeting is not really a question of enquiry, more a shorthand for ‘Hi!’ So, my long answer isn’t what folks are expecting exactly. It’s also impractical because by the time I finish answering, the queue behind me at Starbucks is curving around the street corner. So, I observe others to see how they solve this conundrum. An upward toss of the head, a not-quite smile but a stretch of the lips, and a brisk, “Good. Yourself?” Ah ha, there! Economy, efficiency, the hallmark of America, at least of this city.

I linger around to hear if anybody answers that greeting with “Bad”, or better still, “I am bad”. No. None. Each person is intent on stating his/her certificate of goodness upfront, securing the coffee and striding off. 

Months on, and I am still resisting. I don’t want to be good today, not-so-good another day, or seriously bad one day. Besides, whose interested? The greeter is being polite. I have truncated my reply to “Very well, thank you. And you?” But it’s still too long, for the transaction at hand - Starbucks server, building concierge, school doorman - requires a two-second social lubricant, one which any non-standard response can derail. “Say that again?” 

When and how did a greeting become a call for a character certificate? 

Curiously enough, when Americans are not being good, they can be caught declaring ‘they’re bad’, rather, ‘their bad’. First person: My bad. Which is bandied around as substitute for ‘my apology’ or ‘my mistake’. I am gobsmacked. ‘My bad’ is indeed very very bad: grammatically incorrect and oh so inelegant. 

But you have to give it to the Americans - at least they are consistent in their obsession with declaring their character at the drop of a hat. There, I slipped in my little British English idiom, as fusty as the Queen herself but when you’ve grown up listening to BBC as the standard bearer of English, it’s a little hard not to be pernickety. As even Bollywood certifies, angrezi padhdi git mit tu kardi, jinvey queen saadi Vic-to-riya …

Any examples of Americansims that have bamboozled you? Please do share, right here!