My first book, My Friend Sancho, was published in May 2009, and went on to become the biggest selling debut novel released that year in India. It is a contemporary love story set in Mumbai, and had earlier been longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize 2008. To learn more about the book, click here.
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Click here for more about my publisher, Hachette India.
My posts on India Uncut about My Friend Sancho can be found here.
I want to be a structural engineer. Most specifically, I want to be a structural engineer doing a thesis on the problem highlighted in the essay, “A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown.”
After getting my degree, I will become a strapless gown consultant. Many ladies will come to me. One of my first customers will be a nubile nymphet of slim proportions.
“I would like to wear a strapless gown,” she will tell me, her eyelids fluttering.
“Hmm,” I will remark, contemplating her structural equipment. “That can be arranged. I have just the dress for you.”
I shall hand her a silken contraption, and she shall disappear into the changing room. Five minutes later her head will pop out.
“Sir,” she shall say, timidly.
“Yes?” I shall ask. “Is it fitting ok?”
“I’m not sure, sir,” she shall say. “I’m rather worried that it will fall.”
“Leave that to me,” I shall say. “Come here, let me have a look.”
She shall walk over, and indeed it would appear to the untrained eye that the said silken contraption is incapable of withstanding my sole occupational hazard, gravity. But my eye is not untrained. I shall walk behind her, ignore the temptation that the vast expanse of bare back would pose to a lesser man, and adjust her dress a bit.
“Now walk around,” I shall say. She shall walk around gingerly, and then nod and say shyly, “It’s ok. How do I look?”
“Magnificent,” I shall remark. “May I take a photograph of this moment. You are my first client, and I am filled with pride, among other things.”
“Ok,” she shall say, blushing coyly. I shall aim my 2MP cellphone camera at her, and a moment before I click, the silken contraption will collapse to the floor, and her structural equipment will heave.
“A strange development,” I will remark. “Trial and error is clearly needed.”
* * *
The next day, the nubile nymphet will reappear, accompanied by a buxom lady of substantial charm.
“A gown for you, mademoiselle?” I shall ask.
“No,” the buxom lady will bark as her face reddens. “I have come here to investigate a most egregious wardrobe malfunction that beset my sister here yesterday. The matter involves a falling gown. Please explain what happened.”
“Be calm, mademoiselle,” I shall say with sinister grace. “All shall be revealed.”
I shall lay open my thesis on the table, explaining with the help of painstakingly created diagrams exactly where the problem lies. I shall conclude, “My immaculate craftsmanship took your sister’s protrusions into account, but I regret to say, with great shame, that I had not accounted for unaccountably vigorous heaving of the bosomal area. Having spent my university days engrossed in study, I had not come across such movement before. Nevertheless, allow me to offer your sister another gown, and I promise this one shall not let her down. Or, to be most precise, let itself down.
“And if I may add to that, mademoiselle,” I will say, casting a lingering but entirely professional glance at her structure, “let me assert that a gown of the strapless nature shall have no trouble staying up on your body, given the extent of your mammaric development. Would you like to try a gown as well?”
She shall agree, perhaps out of newly kindled scientific interest in this fascinating subject, and I shall hand them strapless gowns tailored specifically for their body types. With these silken contraptions in hand, they shall disappear into the changing rooms.
Five minutes afterwards, they shall both emerge. Words will fail to express the professional pride I feel when I note the delicacy with which my work hangs on the ladies concerned, and the excellent job it does of maintaining the ladies’ admirable modesty while leaving nothing else to the fevered imagination. “Beautiful,” I shall exclaim. “Come here, I shall put some finishing touches.”
They shall come close to me, and one by one, I shall examine their dresses, making structural adjustments that make sure that their dresses sit perfectly on them—on the verge of giving in to gravity, yet coyly holding back.
Then I shall whip out my cellphone and ask them to pose. They shall do so. The nubile nymphet will bend slightly, sensuously. Her buxom sister will proudly thrust forward her chestacious torso. Just then, as I am about to click, the door of my office will burst open, and a large man with a long grey beard will stride in. Both ladies will look at him and shudder with shock, thereby altering the delicate alignment of my silken contraptions, which will slide to the floor as I click the picture.
Both ladies, fear spreading across their faces, will yelp, “Daddy!”
“Girls!” the man will boom. “I never expected this of you! Pick up your clothes and leave immediately. Wait at home while I sort out this, this, man. I will talk to you later!”
The girls will rush to their changing rooms to take their clothes, put them on with an immensely undue haste, and leave hurriedly. The man with the beard will bang the door shut after them, and march up to me. “You make strapless gowns?”
“Erm, yes, I do,” I will say, wondering if these are my last words.
The man with the beard will look around, assuring himself that he is alone with me. Then his cheeks will turn red, as he sidles up to me and asks, “Do you think you’d have one for me?”