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Interview: Bindu Dalmia author of 'The Dairy of a Lutyens’ Princess'


Bindu Dalmia, a well-known social figure and writer from Delhi, recently announced the launch of her first book -‘The Dairy of a Lutyens’ Princess’. Bindu was mentored in the 'Shiv Nadar factory of mind-machines in thought- leadership' as she calls it, in her formative 20's, where remaining paranoid in pursuit of ones goals was virtuous. She worked as the Industry Manager with Hindustan Computers in its nascent years, successfully setting up a gorilla marketing division. Thereafter married into an industrial family, she chartered her own course in living life on her unconventional terms. The lessons she learned in practicality of managing her estate and finances, led her to an avid and absorbing interest in keeping a pulse on the zeitgeist of current affairs, tracking the state of governance, and the policy changes in the economy.

Bindu Dalmia
'The Dairy of a Lutyens’ Princess' is the story of middle – class girl which is satirical yet inspirational, heartbreaking yet heart - warming. 

Starry eyed young Akshraa marries her childhood love, but soon realizes that youthful passion does not always translate into everlasting togetherness. Craving a professional niche for herself in her early thirties, she becomes one of a rare and successful breed of ‘intrapreneurs’. Her life takes another turn when she falls for and ties the knot with Suryaprakash, the scion of one of the first families of business India, a package that comes riddled with its own set of sorrows. But Akshraa retains her vivacity and spiritedness, penning witty observations on the superficially perfect lives of the elite – beautiful people in exotic locales, yet in a state of search and sufferance, undergoing the same travails as any one of us. While doing so, she discovers her own path to salivation, as she bravely resets the rules of femininity: to own up to ambition and life –on – purpose is sexy!

In an exclusive interview with Readersland.com Bindu Dalmia shares more insights about her book and upcoming projects.

Excerpts:

RL: What inspired you to become a fiction author?
Bindu Dalmia: Honestly and truthfully I wrote out of deep pain, in an effort to self-reflect initially. It was a very cathartic experience to write in a diary almost daily. I could only write when I was either happy or sad, as thoughts never flowed in a state of equilibrium.  In a state of equilibrium I would then divert my time to writing on the prosaic, and reflect on politics or economics, then forward my posts to Economic Times, Mail Today or the Sunday Standard, where I write as a hobby and as a guest-editor by invitation.

Fictionalizing my 'Diary....' was actually in a way enlarging my universe, by extending the boundaries to reach out to a bigger world, and being able to distance myself from subjective emotions, or at times even transfer them onto my characters to animate them with real-life feelings.

RL: Can you please tell us something about the characters in your novel - 'The Dairy of a Lutyens’ Princess'?
Bindu Dalmia: There are no heroes or antagonists in my fictional world. Akshraa is a woman-in-transcendence, coming into full bloom after years of trysts...the story of every one of us. Who doesn't God test? And do we eventually succumb or triumph over those travails? My protagonists Akshraa and Suryaprakash are ordinary people, though very affluent, who mature through strife, and ultimately live an extraordinary life. To live an extraordinary life, we are sometimes tested by extraordinary circumstances.

It's a genre of fiction I call 'posh-people-angst', rich people in luxurious surroundings, yet emotionally as fragile and vulnerable as anyone else. Pain is a great leveller, isn't it?



RL: Why did you choose a woman centric story for your first novel?
Bindu Dalmia: Because I want to see every woman bloom by coming into her 'astitva' , achieving her fullest potential, and never having to subjugate herself to male-dominance. She can only do so if she is, what I call, 'Financially Literate'. Otherwise, she has to bend, or crawl, which is very different from being adjusting and accommodative. Love is only a part of life, and a very important part; but it cannot be your only raison d etre...to survive as a wife and homemaker. The woman of India in a globalized world cannot be caged and contained to primitive ways of thought. Whether she develops her skills in arts or commercial life, she must break out of the mould of just- domesticity.

RL: How much time you took to complete this novel?
Bindu Dalmia: A year and a half! Because it took me time to figure out what was the high-point of conflict between my protagonists. Infidelity is the most common reason to sever a bond, and the real reason in real- life why marriages break. My story was about a conflict over a woman having deep ambitions. Women who have ambition are shown in Hindi movies and TV serials as the prototype of being wily. Owning up to your God- given gifts and developing them is her birth-right. Ambition in that sense, is sexy, isn't it? Because she is then in herfullest-bloom.

RL: Who is your favourite author and why?
Bindu Dalmia: I have no favourites because I am always learning from new talent.

RL: Are you working on any other project?
Bindu Dalmia: Yes, am working on the government to get the subject of 'Financial Literacy' included in school syllabi, as even in the First Country of the First World, the US, women are under-educated in this future-life-skill. Women must know the vocabulary of finance and how to grow their corpus, save and compound their savings into wealth slowly, irrespective of what they earn.

I want to do what Malala Yousafzai is doing as an activist after she suffered a brutal Taliban assault; she is an activist for basic Primary Literacy for women. I want to take that to step 2: financial literacy. It's not just a rich woman's domain, but any woman whose earning even meagre amounts can and should know how for example, even banks and money lenders can exploit them. They must know the very basics of title-deeds etc. They must be co-owners of assets within the family.  In a gist, this is an awareness program I want to bring about.

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