Sunday, September 11, 2011

Perpetually late? You ain't alone.

An excerpt from my novel.

I embarked upon the newest journey of my life by boarding the right train strictly following my old man's instructions. The flashboard at King’s Cross station indicated that my connection was late by five minutes giving me a break from obsessing about the first five minutes at work. The opportunist that I was learning to be from Riya, I decided to jump in line for a steamy cappuccino. I could survive on caffeine, did I mention? Caffeine and love was what I’d tell potential love interests but mostly caffeine. Tapping my feet, I impatiently calculated the process in my head: twenty-five seconds to order, forty-five seconds to process the transaction, stop gap of sixty seconds while the cappuccino was being made, another sixty seconds for picking up the drink and running to the train bringing it to a grand total of three minutes and ten seconds with still one minute and fifty seconds to spare in which I could find me a seat on the train next to a cute guy with a pierced tongue and tell him all about my brand new job at Hues. I had a thing for pierced tongue and it wasn’t just curiosity. But the grandma in front of me with her red lipstick and huge pearls had a different agenda in mind for me – to prove how naïve I was and how misplaced my calculation was. It wasn’t her order of four drinks that I was particularly opposed to. It seriously aggravated me when people were not well-versed with the contents of their handbag. Minutes of frantic search and fumbling later, much to my grief, she pulled out a cheque book. I think I’d written my final exam paper faster than the time it took her to fill that cheque which she so lovingly did. But wait, that wasn’t it. Suddenly, she had a light bulb moment and she decided to apply for a frequent buyer card while ensuring that the four drinks she had just bought would indeed be registered in her credit on that card. I was about to take a U-turn and run when I finally heard, ‘What drink can I get started for you, miss?’

My take-offs were generally flawless. It was somewhere midway through the transit where I tended to screw up. If there was one class I needed to go back to, it was time management because I missed the connection and after all the drama, somehow I reached the office by 9.25. Twenty-five minutes late on my first day. Shameful was not the word. Story of my life. I held the coveted record of never been able to reach on time anywhere. It was never a deal breaker though. I always pacified myself saying that once I had achieved the impossible and stumbled upon a career I fancied, I’d be a changed person. Brand spanking new. But here I was, on day one of my first job that I’d tried so hard to get, late just because I couldn’t resist one more frothy drink.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Swiss snaps

I got no Swiss bank accounts to gloat over, sadly. But I do have some Swiss treasure... memories of this gorgeous country. Some images from my recent trip below.

The fatal fete

An excerpt from my debut novel, Live from London.

The party was a riot. Everyone we’d invited had come bringing more uninvited people along as was the norm in dorm parties, turning it into an event the size of a prime minister’s address. Free alcohol needed no invites, I guessed. We were rather pleased by the number of people dressed up for the theme at such a short notice. It was an impressive sight. Nemo was making out in the corridor with blue crab; giant turtle and sea horse were drunk and singing; a gang of seals was making a mess in one of the bedrooms; dolphin had started on the karaoke machines without Riya’s permission and was singing along; an eel-lobster duo had locked themselves in the orchid-themed bathroom; a whale had launched an unsightly food attack and a hundred varieties of fish were dancing in the backyard.

I hadn’t smiled and hooted so much in ages. The spontaneous karaoke sessions, embarrassing people with ridiculous costumes, shaking a leg on catchy beats, cracking up at funny jokes, gorging on junk food; it was a fiesta. The clock struck two in the morning, five hours after the party had started, and no one seemed in a hurry to call it a night. It suddenly occurred to Riya that one of the neighbours had complained about loud music in the past and the deadline to dial it down was 2 a.m.

‘That’s it, guys! I’m killing the music. But here’s to board . . . ’ She tripped while carrying out a dozen board games stacked over each other from the game room. Her alcohol tolerance level was way lower than what she thought, which always resulted in her crashing. Not that anyone in the room was in their senses. People howled and attacked the board games.

Another hour later, it was almost time to wrap up when somehow someone dared someone into doing something wild and that’s how everyone got onto the truth-or-dare game. My feet were aching severely from the high heels, the generously greased food made me want to throw up and three shots of tequila had me buzzed. I was in no mood to play ‘dare’. I just wanted to go home and lay supine. But that was far from what happened.

After all the drama and cheering and screaming, it dawned on me that somehow I had been dared in front of fifty people from college to sing on Britain’s Got Talent, the reality TV talent show. I had been dared, and I had lost.

I brushed it off as one of those things that none of the drunks would remember the next morning. But, much to my shock and stern disapproval, I had managed to become the topic of conversation for everyone who had come to the party as well as the rest. Sarah, I suspected, was taking the lead in spreading this piece of non-news like wild fire. Sarah was my only friend who was very highly accomplished. She was a professional ballet dancer, a student of MENSA with an IQ of 145 and could put most learned people to shame when she discussed macro-economic policies in the Third World countries. Gorgeousness oozed from her. She stood tall at five feet nine inches with a slender frame and sexy auburn locks. Her periodic articles in The Sun, our campus newspaper, were thought-provoking and brilliant. She was on the board of The Sun and I would never have guessed how capable she was of misusing her power, until now.

Riya giggled and showed me the latest issue of The Sun that was bound to bring utter darkness into my world. There it was; an oddly charming picture of me with messed-up hair wearing a grey tank paired with graphic pyjamas, playing my red guitar while jumping on my bed from one of our slumber parties under the headline ‘Senior from Literary Arts to go on Britain’s Got Talent’. It got me severely aggravated and I could feel fumes rising from my head. My knee-jerk reaction was to kill Sarah, strangle her until she could breathe no more. But the world around me thought of it as the most exciting piece of news they had heard all day. I heard giggles, cheers, ‘congratulations’ and words of inspiration. I wanted to bury myself.

What followed was nothing short of a movement on campus like no other I had seen in a long time. Everyone was dreadfully determined to send me on that show. WHY?

Photo credit:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hail H-visas

This appeared on yesterday.

It's time for fashion week committees to overlook the conventional seasons and take note of the political season because it's the hottest of them all. In various parts of the world, decade old rulers are been overthrown as new stylish blood makes its way in. Here in the US, the presidential race picks up more steam every day. The reasons include everything from outrageous claims to outrageous proposals and everything in between by race runners.

Here’s one intriguing story. A Republican candidate recently suggested, hold your breath, that the U.S. negotiate a bilateral free trade agreement with India. The politico in the spotlight is Jon Huntsman. If you must ask, he's a center-right conservative or what I call fully flexible. Of course that's only the case before adequate caffeine has kicked into my system.

The million dollar question is, does the state he once governed (Utah) sound more inconsequential to you than the politician himself? If you have trouble remembering his American name, get this. He has a Chinese name too. Hong Bopei. I want two names!

While you mull over that, here's the scoop. The latest trend, just like no-show socks for men, is presidential candidates submitting job proposals to create more employment opportunities in the nation. Mitt Romney (the robotic presidential candidate) submitted one. John Boehner (house speaker) did. So did Jon Huntsman and surprise surprise, India was tossed around like olive oil in a mixed green salad. He made a great point that since 95 percent of the world's customers live outside U.S. borders, opening more markets for American businesses spark immediate growth. He also suggested that Washington must immediately start discussions with India to end in a bilateral free trade agreement strengthening US and India’s relationship. Of course I agree, given the limited foreign policy knowledge I possess. Which reminds me, it's time I quit the 'I have more foreign policy knowledge than Sarah Palin' group on Facebook. It was an impulse; it's done her no harm and done me no good.

Jon also said that in New Delhi amongst other cities, US competitors are making the hard choices that will help assure their children have better lives. I'm willing to bet my new SLR that he hasn't had time to catch up on what hard choices New Delhi has been making recently from Kiran Bedi’s ghoonghat act to Rahul’s MIA act to Sushma Swaraj’s dance act to the PM’s silence act. Someone give him access to Indian mainstream media, please.

But let’s get to the meat. Imagine a bilateral trade agreement between India and US. Taxes, tariffs and quotas - all lifted, reduced or restricted. Imagine. No H1. No H visa! H-visas are the iPods of visas. Entire ancillary industries have been created, from lawyers and body-shoppers to fortune tellers who thrive on this visa. One day, all gone. I shudder to think of what will the immigration population obsess with. It's the single most common factor that binds millions of Indians in the US.

But let me not get ahead of myself here and get all carried away with proposals by the Manchurian Candidate, as the media refers to him. Chances are, most Americans haven't heard of him and never may. Hail H-visas!

Here is the link to the article on

The last laugh

This appeared on in August '11.

If you haven't been keeping up with news from Capitol Hill, get this. Exceptional performance by people of Indian origin in the White House from the Director of Social Innovation to the Intergovernmental Affairs seems to have persuaded Mr. Obama to engage Indian stand-up comics in special White House events. In an upcoming reception, seven Indian comics are scheduled to perform.

OK, I made that up but it can easily happen. There's been an explosion of ethnic comics in the US in the past decade and at the forefront of this trend are South Asian Americans.

When my non-Indian (Filipino and South Korean, to be precise) colleagues started throwing around jokes by Russell Peters and Aziz Ansari and made me the target, unabashedly so, I knew I had to do a deep dive and get ahead in the game. Looking for Filipino and South Korean comedians sounded like too much work so I went the Indian comedian route and voilà, was I in for a treat. Not only did I stumble upon humor that made me laugh so hard my neighbors came knocking, but it was more universal than I'd imagined and gave me plenty of fodder for payback.

I caught up with one such comic in LA. Declared by Russell Peters as one of the only two U.S. based Indian "comics to watch," Rajiv Satyal, of, is the small, bespectacled Indian guy from Ohio whose witty and TV-clean act covers everything from racial (not racist, as he graciously clarifies) issues to soap bottles to his favorite topic - himself. He has repeatedly performed in sold-out shows across the U.S. and from Switzerland to Oman to India. Ethnic humor, he claims, has been evolving at a rapid pace, but South Asians in this country are not running out of material. He confirms that every Indian comedian worth his salt isn’t restricted to doing ethnic humor – quite a few are humorists who happen to be ethnic.

Indians in the US have long been on the receiving end of jokes but the tide seems to have turned now. You can spot them being comfortably on the giving end of jokes as well. From Aziz Ansari to Arj Barker and several in between, the comedy space is quickly getting filled with some zest.

They’re funny, a tad irreverent, their accents are impeccable and their observations about events in general and ethnic groups in particular qualify them as equal opportunity comics. Rajiv says a lot of South Asians are not only funny, they’re also broadly appealing - brown fits snugly between black and white and they appear to seamlessly bridge the gap between the Caucasian majority and the colored minorities.

For all those who want to be funny in real life, he points out that not many women care to be around a joker perpetually. But try to get out of your comfort zone and put an entertaining spin to your observations and opinions and you might just get women flocking to you.

Here is a link to the article on

Live from London by Parinda Joshi: book reviews

Links to my -
Times of India -
The Vault -

Book reviews:
* a partial list below

Review on The South Asian Times - a US newspaper
“The novel is essentially a tale of the London lady who must reconstruct her life for what seems like the third time in these 204 pages-but with most difficulty in a country she has always been so disconnected from. This isn't your average, run-of-the-mill novel-and it certainly isn't one with farfetched elements governing its credibility. Rather, the struggles of the protagonist as they relate to her familial life are very well described and believable. The reader is able to garner a complete sense of Nishi's thoughts as a direct result of her often over-analytical ways.”
“Joshi employs clever language and literary elements that turn otherwise ordinary situations into escapades.”
“Live from London is able to harness the most basic yet important parts of a typical Indian student's life-love, family, career and social etiquette-and touch on all of them in an authentic way. That is perhaps the best selling point of the novel.”
“Joshi uses Nishi as a sole representative of issues that South Asians would enjoy reading about because they can relate to them.”
“As a result of the realism portrayed throughout the book, Joshi's work and writing can be complimented. That element is essentially what transforms a novel full of otherwise ordinary events into an epic journey through the protagonist's life. Add to that the author's story-telling methods, and the book ends up as a quick read.” Complete review here Volume 5 Issue 8

Review on the blog - A Chronicle of Dreams"The author captures the moments with candid humour that often belies the tribulations and pain beneath. The conversationalist style coupled with a fast paced storyline makes for a quick, entertaining read. I would recommend this book for those looking for a good story well told, who want a modern fairytale with its sad moments." Complete review here

Review in The Sunday Guardian"Set against the backdrop of the British music industry, it has all the elements—fun, friends, gossip, romance, struggle and emotions — that would get you through the course of a three-hour flight." Complete review here

Review on the blog – Life under microscope"I just loved this book. In fact it’s one of the best chick lit books from an Indian author after 'Almost Single' by Advaita Kala. The book has all the ingredients of a typical masala Bollywood movie and I wouldn’t be surprised if some producer /director got the rights of this book and made it into a movie. The author has a very chic and sophisticated writing style which gives the book a whole new refreshing feel to it. " Complete review here

Review by
“The author Parinda Joshi has a decent writing style that makes the narrative descriptive yet makes it flow smoothly. The story is packaged well with an interesting premise and a refreshing feel. To conclude, pick this up when in mood of a breezy read. The book would not let you down.” Complete review here

Review on Flash News Today"There are scenes of stolen moments and funny repartees to develop the romance between the two. The story is alive and very contextual. It talks of dreams – dreams that seem far fetched but a little nudge in the right direction makes the dream come true. The author maintains a positive voice even when the protagonist is in despair." Complete review here

Review on the blog – The Hungry Reader“My take on the book was that it is a refreshing change from the innumerable books penned by Indian authors on the scene today. This book did make sense to me in some parts and I enjoyed the wit and sarcasm that seeped in at times. Live from London has a great storyline. At times I felt that the narrative was rushed but that I can overlook if the overall structure is good enough. This book is nonetheless a breezy read if you want a break from the literary fiction genre.” Complete review here

Review on
"In short, I loved the book. Although this is Parinda's first book, her blog is total fun too! Live from London is written in two different settings - London and India and I relished both points of view. It was actually done quite well and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the different angles of the story and the depiction of the big, fat Indian wedding blending in with Nishi's spirited personality. The book has cute romance and the usual chick lit elements that makes it a fun read. The story became more alive with other vibrant characters and some interesting twists and turns and moved along at a pace that entices the reader to keep reading. Overall I was very impressed with Parinda's debut novel and highly recommend it to everyone!" Complete review here

Review on
"Parinda has done a tremendous work with the emotions. One, while reading the book, can actually feel the situation and can feel oneself spell-bounded by the magic of emotions. This is the best thing I liked about Parinda’s book. In the end also, when Nick meets Nishi in her dressing room, then also Parinda played very well with words. On the whole, story was breathtaking but ending could be something better." Complete review here

Review on"I never expected such a good book from Rupa Publications. Author Parinda has written a good one. A really good debut effort. The content and plot is something very different and can't be easily found in the stable of Indian writing." Complete review here

Review on

"My fav part was also the strong undercurrent of subtle and mature humour that one could feel while reading. No childish jokes or desperate attempt to sound funny and no in your face humour. Strong yet subtle one liners, clever description of scenarios and characters." Complete review here

Review by a reader on“This medley of love has ample of humor and romance and drama to keep the readers interested. There were many instances I could connect with. Even the characters were funny and quirky and relatable. I’m sure there was ample research or background check done by the author before setting the plot. Good work here. There is potential in the author’s writing skill and definitely a taste for ideation. I hope she grows further with her writing.” Complete review here

Review on the blog – Myspace
"To say that the book was refreshing would be an understatement. It was a huge welcome change from the regular campus capers, which have bored me to death so far! Parinda has done her homework well, because she has captured the music scene in UK and USA quite accurately. And the supporting characters lend extra charm to the story. There are chuckling moments too, running throughout the book." Complete review here

Review on

"Light-hearted, free spiritied, adventorous, all things sugar and spice for Nishi, a girl caught in the music world, her passion, her dream to succeed, well written in this book. You will thouroughly enjoy Nishi's journey and maybe even get inspiration to follow in her foot-steps!! A good entertaininer from start to finish, hoping More Nishi adventures from the author.The author has also captured the essence of London and Mumbai and that will strike a familiar chord!!! " Complete review here

Review on"The book is an out-n-out entertainer with sporadic doses of humor, romance and introduction to some interesting new hindi words (with translation for those who aren't acquainted with the language)." Complete review here

Review on the blog – Scribbled by GB

"I just completed the book and here I am typing the review of it; fresh and green. 'Live From London' by Parinda Joshi was truly a page-turner, I should say. I loved every wee bit of the book." Complete review here

Review on the blog – Rav’s world
"The book isn't all about the love story but also about struggles, family, friends and success. It also reaffirms our faith that whatever happens, indeed happens for good. It was a pleasure to enjoy something different in this book." Complete review here
Review on

"A light and fun read with well defined characters and a smooth story flow. I absolutely loved Nishi and her journey. A great debut from the author." Complete review here

Review on the blog – Observer’s Paradise
"Professions that haven’t been the norm in India have had a huge appeal factor in the recent past. A career in music is one such profession. With the influx of reality music shows, a huge number of young bees find themselves fantasizing about being a pop star. The main character of this story, Nishi Gupta, is one such girl: talented and ambitious." Complete review here

Review on
"Journeys always make for a good story. There's exposure to an extensive cast of characters in London and 'modern' India as it is now widely referred to as. It's written well too. It made me want a boyfriend just like her's although I'm not one bit certain I could handle him. Bit of a jerk. I'm no fan of bad boys. Or am I? In conclusion, a fun and breezy read. Don't walk into it expecting the world and you won't be disappointed." Complete review here

Review on the blog – The Broken Nib
"To her credit the author has built upon the character of Nishi Gupta really well. Being in my early twenties I could easily relate to it. Nishi is smart, sassy, confident and defiant. The book is enjoyable and makes for a light and pleasant one time read. If you are apprehensive about getting bored on your next train journey you might consider taking this book along with you." Complete review here

Aiiiight people. I hope that helps. Feel free to hit me up if you have a question or just wanna say hi. And if you get around to reading, please post a review. Toodles, Parinda