I look at my passport and ask myself: Have I done enough as a citizen to deserve this? Have I given back to society an iota of what it has given to me?

Sagarika Chakraborty is a corporate lawyer and author. She is currently studying at the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Her first book, A Calendar Too Crowded, is a collection of short stories and poems on womanhood.

  • QDescribe your favourite writing space.

    Overlooking the sea on a rainy day, with only the sounds of the waves talking to me, on an old wooden desk scribbling away with a fountain pen on hand-made paper. Nothing gets my imagination flowing like the combination of sea, rain and the feeling of ink seeping into the paper.
  • QDo you have a writing schedule?

    Yes, when the whole world is sleeping. I think my voice echoes through the silence and comes back and challenges me. Like Gulzar saab once said, Brutus and Jesus both reside within us; for me the lawyer and devil’s advocate both reside in me. It is easy to battle thoughts when there is no commotion and the voice that emerges as a winner is clear, distinct and tells me just what I need to write.
  • QEver struggled with writer’s block?

    Oh yes! Lot of times. Earlier it was easy to break; I would just go to my lifeline, my grandmother, and talk it out. The way she would talk about things gave me new insights every time and inspired me to write. Now, I talk to her in my head and it still keeps me going.
  • QWhat inspires you to write? Do you have a secret trick, or a book/author that helps?

    People around us inspire me to write. People with their strengths, weaknesses, shades of grey inspire me each day. The hypocrisy awes me to write about them; the way a few individuals are crafting their stories through bstacles tells me I’ve barely begun. The best secret trick is what my mother and grandmother have taught me — to look at my passport and ask myself have I done enough as a citizen to deserve this. Have I given back to the society an iota of what it has given to me?
  • QCoffee/tea/cigarettes — numbers please — while you are writing?

    Ha ha ha! Do you realise I’ll have my family reading this? None actually; only water to keep me from dehydrating. When I am into my writing I become like a zombie, thus even if there’s a drink beside me it’ll just go waste and cigarettes will burn themselves out. However, in between breaks when I need to reorganise my thoughts or battle a block, I prefer not to count the cups and the stubs.
  • QWhich books are you reading at present?

    The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murari — a gutsy tale of a fiery woman from West Asia who uses her wit, charm and love for cricket to come to her rescue while planning her escape from drudgery. The book teaches to make passion your greatest strength.
  • QWho are your favourite authors?

    Vikram Seth. I love his writing. The way he spins characters, their stories and emotions to the plot makes me wonder what his mother ate while she conceived him. I’ll save the same for my kid :)
  • QWhich book/author should be banned on grounds of bad taste?

    All those new authors in the Indian publishing industry who cannot differentiate between “their” and “there” and yes, are still struggling with college-grade heartache stories to be India’s next Chetan Bhagat.
  • QWhich is the most under-rated book? 

    Anamika by Soorina Arora. I think one half of the world hasn’t heard of the book and the other half, like me, preserves the over-read tattered copy. A lovely tale of love, life and loss sprinkled with nazams, shaayari and lessons about existence.
  • QWhich are your favourite children’s books?

    The Blue Umbrella by Ruskin Bond. I read it as a kid and haven’t watched the movie in the fear that Bollywood will spoil it for me.

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I want to begin with a little story that was told to me by a leading executive at Aptech. He was exercising in a gym with a lot of younger people.

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