Celebrating Life with Sagarika Chakraborty

Sagarika Chakraborty, born in Kolkata, studied law at National Law University, Jodhpur and is currently studying management at Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Apart from delving into serious research work, she has also written light fiction and poetry for various online and print media. A Calendar Too Crowded is her first book. Here we are in conversation with the pretty and vivacious author!

She blogs endowedwithmetis.wordpress.com . Anyone who wants to contact her can drop a shout over there. Or even here :P

Arpita, our newest admin, interviews the pretty amazing and amazingly pretty author on life before and after being an author.

We said- Hi, Sagarika. Congratulations on the success of your debut novel! Blogging seems to have been your passion; how was the experience of writing a novel different from that of writing for a blog?

She said- Yes, indeed! Blogging is my passion and I love to blog about a myraid subjects; but with a book that's dramatically opposite. There's a theme to follow and a style to maintain. Also, for each of my stories a heavy amount of research goes into it; unlike blogging where I can let my hair down, it is not the case for a book.

We said- What was the inspiration behind this book? Is there any incident that stood out in your memory while working on it?

She said- There's some inspiration or the other behind every story in the book. The story When Ganges Ran Dry has snippets of my relationship with my grandmother ... Similarly, the last story on migrants is my experience of working with them in the Supreme Court matter. Every story has a bit of me, or what I have witnessed or how the society has come to affect me.

One incident that clearly stood out was while working on the story A Life in my Mind where I deal with an over zealous feminist. I asked my mother to sketch her own protagonist on the same theme ... She sketched out a complete anti thesis which showed me how the previous generation really thinks this generation is better off. While I, being from this present one, was questioning this very notion of well being.

We said- It really was one of the most impressive stories in the book; it had a different take on feminism as a discourse. Is there any character in the book that you can particularly relate to?

She said- Thank you; I am glad you liked it. I was a bit skeptical though, about the response, as it somewhere stands out amongst the other pieces.

Though it's hard to believe, I can relate to the protagonist of Knowledge Beyond Printed Letters - somewhere her humility and her attempt to make her work known being in the shadows tugs me and inspires me to walk the same lines. I shall be happy if I am known by the name and references and there's no picture which people can associate with their recollections of me. Glitz and glamour unnerves me, am a simple girl who's extremely crowd phobic.

We said- Crowd phobic? Really? But you sound wonderfully outgoing! Well, speaking of the response of the readers, would you hesitate to write about sensitive issues that might lead to controversy?

She said- Well, yes, almost EVERYONE thinks that am extrovert, outgoing and very social. (Laughs) But the truth is I appear that way; very few people actually know me or about what's going on in my life. The very idea of sharing my life and space with more than a select few unnerves me. And yes, I am extremely crowd phobic, I feel lost in a crowd and thus switch off - it's likely that I will not speak much, but just observe.

I have never hesitated to speak my mind and never will. I truly believe that we all might have different perspectives but deviance of thoughts should not lead to disrespect. Also, it's only through constructive criticism and sharing of ideas that you'll grow. I have also faced quite some trolls and my friends have told me I shouldn't have responded, but then again I felt every little thing builds you - either strengthens your convictions or makes you more humble.

We said- That's a great way of looking at things; like you said, constructive criticism does help you grow. And I bet your habit of talking less and observing more has helped you immensely in becoming such a good writer. You studied law and management from some of the best institutes around; how did publishers- and family- react to your decision to pursue writing? 

She said- No, no! I do talk a lot! :P Well, I don't know how the publishers took my university tag, except maybe that they were assured that I knew the genre I was writing about. As for my family, since childhood I have been a stubborn kid, who will do what she sets her heat onto (unless the same logically refuted and struck down) and thus my family by now has let me be.

I am a first generation everything in my family - a first generation lawyer, a first generation MBA, a first generation author, thus there will be differences in perception. But, having said that, I love the fact that they respect my decisions - my Dad always said that people might not concur but that shouldn't make you disrespectful towards them, and am glad that he lives by example.

We said- "A first generation everything''...like the sound of that! :D At the moment, writing is not a full time profession for you; how do you manage to balance the time you give to writing, work and leisure?

She said- I am a person who is smitten by work - yes, I am a self confessed workaholic. I like to survive on 4-5 hours of sleep to have a sense of 'doing' else I get bogged down by the thoughts of wasting my life. So in general, majority of the work I take on in life is voluntary - be it at work, home or even research.

And the un-social element that I am, I like to invest time in doing my own thing and thus roam about, do photography, observe and thus when I sit down to write it is all already written in my mind - the draft at least! And yes, writing also acts like a stress buster for me along with dance and cooking! :)

We said- Well, which author would you say you really look up to?

She said- I love Devdutt Patnaik amongst Indian writers. I am a sticker for mythology and the way he spins his stories simply takes my breath away. Also, though he writes the same genre, each of his books are so different and I guess that's where his greatness lies, the ability to keep the reader hooked no matter how similar two titles look!

In western writing I would pick my favorite poet - Rilke. I feel that despite being almost a century older the way he simplifies life through his poetic nuances no body can. His greatness lies in the fact that every reader feels that those words were written for him/her.

We said- Which book are you currently reading?

She said- I am actually in a transition phase now. I just finished reading a collection of stories by Pakistani women writers called And the World Changed and while am enjoying its aftertaste, I am ready with a book by my bedside. This one is called The Warrior and the Charioteer by V M Mohanraj. It's an interesting concept he writes about - looking at Mahabharata not from an age old philosophical angle but a refreshing materialistic point of view. It looks very promising :)

We said- It does sound very interesting! And that reminds me, do you happen to have read The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni? What are your top five favorite novels that you would recommend to all bookworms?

She said- Yes, I loved PoI and in fact to be truthful after reading it I got an idea for a story for my book!!! :P

Hmmm... top 5 books would be -

1. Maximum City - Suketu Mehta
2. Out of my Comfort Zone - Steve Waugh
3. Anamika - Soorina Arora
4. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez
5. Pregnant King - Devdutt Patnaik

We said- Panchaali's letter to Lord Krishna right? :) Oh, you have a great choice of books; do have a look at the reviews of some of them on ALOP! Which is the one literary character you'd love to be like?

She said- Bingo!!! You have indeed read my book well ;)

Thank you, thank you!! :D I surely will look them up!

Hmmm... one character would be Juila from An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. I love her strength and grit. She somewhere shows me that in love and life there's no room for ego and if someone you love does bring in ego and the likes as pre condition for acceptance it is best to move on. Also, that you are what you make of yourself and it is indeed upto you to build your life and move on - for life and time sadly wait for none, not even the deviant lover who was bound to return! :)

We said- Now, this might sound insane, but which anti-hero would you say you admire, and why?

She said- I think Othello shows that it's important at times to listen to your heart when taking a decision. I know he stands for what goes around, comes around but still there's a certain charm about the character and the love he had for his wife, the passion for his community which makes me admire him.

We said- Which story from a book that you would have liked to live...as the protagonist or any other significant character?

She said- Oh I would have loved to live a Calvin like childhood, though my Mom would say that in many ways I did!!! On a serious note, there's a character I would love to live no matter how hilarious it sounds .. it is the character of Mrinal from Tagore's short story Strir Patra.

To be brief, the story is penned down in a letter format and recounts the life experiences of the protagonist Mrinal who having abandoned her marital life, goes to the sea and writes a letter to her husband. The paradox of her life is that her beauty is forgotten by everybody including her husband, but her intelligence is a source of discomfiture to all. In an attempt to curb her intelligence, they corner her and she is relegated to the corners of the household.

That is when she asserts her individuality and decides to break free - and that is what alludes me. .. the desire of a mind to live and fly. Also, maybe cause I never really care much for the outer beauty and respect al those who in turn respect their thinking souls ...

We said- It's such a beautiful thought. How has being a published writer changed your life?

She said- Life hasn't changed trust me, except that now I have more work to follow up on reviews, plan events and yes- think of writing more. But, I have changed to be more of the thinking kinds - every troll has got me thinking as to why my stories have brought out such strong reactions, or why do people think I can't make that impact? It's got me thinking that it's my small step towards that big social consciousness and how to go about it.
But yes, it has made my father realize that his princess has grown up and also shown me not all acquaintances are friends and not all friends are true ones/well wishers....

We said- Would you say reviews on blogs help much in promoting the sale of a book?

She said- Not really, but yes it helps you attract eyeballs n atleast make people think about your book. Also, for me its really given me good feedbacks which has helped me grow as an author.

We said- Last question...what advice would you give to our readers and budding writers?

She said- Having a reading list or love for writing on something should not be influenced by what's "in" or what will make people love you. It is as personal as your bra size - push-ups don’t work for everyone and not all are comfortable with the concept of half-cups. But whatever suits you is what your skin is the most comfortable in, so stick to that. For, in order to fit in you might fake it, but that shall take away your beauty and your comfort and then you'll be lost in the crowd!

We said- Hear, hear! :D Well, Sagarika, it has been an absolute pleasure interacting with you. We wish you the very best of luck with your upcoming projects; and a very happy Women's Day!

P.S: [Freelancer obviously has a crush on her. I guess many other male readers do as well! :D]


  1. Thank you so much! It was lovely talking to you, I enjoyed the interview thoroughly!

  2. good job Arpi..awesome interview :)

  3. A brilliantly covered interview, an interesting conversation that made up for a very entertaining read :)
    god bless both the people involved in the talking :)

  4. Great job arprita! Awesome work \m/

  5. rilke !! you sure have an awesome taste Sagarika :)

    thank you for the candid talk !
    Much inspiring !

  6. thanks everyone; it was a fantastic experience! :)

  7. A great interview Arpita. You are suddenly turning into a professional in this field. Keep up to the good work!! :D

    P.S.- Thanks Sagarika for such a different and fun interview (Crowd Phobic?? Lolz).

  8. Awesome interview. Thanks a ton Arpita. And you too pretty author, for giving us a chance to know you better

  9. I loved reading the book! And the interview is great work as well!

  10. thanks, upasana. glad u liked the interview. :)

  11. Loved the interview... :)
    It was like me talking to Sagarika - that personal touch made it look great.
    Great going Sagarika !!! :)

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