Kiran Manral is, amongst many other accolades, the author of five excellent books, she is on the planning board of the Kumaon Literary Festival, Chair of the Women Unlimited Series of the Taj Colloquium, a mentor with Sheroes and Qween, and is an advisor on the Board of Literature Studio, Delhi. Having (almost) met her for the first time at the Kumaon Literature Festival I was delighted when she agreed to be interviewed for The People of India Collection. Here is what she shared:
- Who you are (naturally!)
Naturally, a sloth in human form.
- What inspired you to become a writer?
My love for words and my complete disdain for anything that involved physical activity or interacting with people on a daily basis.
- An anecdote which epitomises your India?
During the terrible cloudburst in Mumbai on July 26, 2005, I, along with so many others, was walking down flooded roads, having abandoned the car in a flooded street. At Bandra, on SV Road, regular residents had come together and had put out plastic chairs for the weary to sit and rest a while, and were handing out tea and biscuits. I still bless them. At Andheri, near the station, an elderly Muslim gentleman, somehow noticed I was walking barefoot (I had thrown off my stilettos, given the flooded roads) and my feet were bleeding, he took off his own slippers and gave them to me. I will never forget his kindness. This is my India.
- One thing that you can’t live without?
One malai kulfi every single day after lunch.
- One thing that you hate?
Waking up early. Detest it soundly.
- If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
Probably, our complete lack of pride in our surroundings and our heritage. A modicum of pride and a sense of ownership would make us ensure we kept our surroundings clean, and venerated the rich monuments we have.
- Who is your greatest inspiration?
Cliched, but my mother. She’s lived the kind of life that demands a book be written on it.
- What is your favourite quote?
“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot
9. I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
The consumerism. We have morphed into insatiable, hedonistic consumers of things we don’t need. Even family outings on the weekend which would be a park or visiting folks have been reduced to cookie cutter mall outings, where all we do is shop and eat.
- What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
Ensuring that our wonderful demographic dividend gets its due in terms of work opportunities and living conditions.Creating sustainable livelihood opportunities. Creating infrastructure that could cope with the population.
- Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
Within India, Kashmir. Outside India, Scandinavia.
- What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
Can’t really think of any. But school would come tops.
- Book or Movie?
Book. Always and forever.
- I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
I am a creature of fixed habit and for years my breakfast has been one crisp, made in ghee, plain paratha, rolled and dipped in sugary tea.
- In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year old self?
“You are perfect. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
Thank you so much!
Kiran Manral was a journalist before she moved out to set up a content supply company during the first dot com boom. An erstwhile blogger, both her blogs were considered amongst India’s top blogs and she was a Tehelka blogger columnist on gender issues. She was India Cultural Lead and Trend Spotter with an US based Consumer Insights Firm and is currently a senior consultant with a qualitative market research company. Her books include The Reluctant Detective (Westland, 2011), Once Upon A Crush (Leadstart, 2014), (All Aboard, Penguin, 2015), Karmic Kids: The Story of Parenting Nobody Told You (Hay House, 2015) and The Face at the Window (Amaryllis, March 2016).