Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Novel on the Expat Experience 'Becoming Mrs Kumar' by Heather Saville Gupta

Random House  launches its new fiction title, Becoming Mrs Gupta by Heather Saville Gupta. The book is the first novel to address the increasing common reality of expats looking for love in the new India.

 Heather Saville  arrived in Mumbai in 2003, just before Diwali.  She’d been to India before, on backpacking and business trips, but this time  she decided she  was here to stay.  She had  garnered  an expat job with one of India’s largest advertising agencies, a comfortable salary, and a company owned apartment to live in. Once in India  her life took a total 360 degree turnaround.  It was a whole new experience for her and that is what she has tried to capture in her debut novel brought out by Random House titled 'Becoming Mrs Kumar.' She speaks to Johnson Thomas about her life in Mumbai and her varied experiences in the vibrant, lively and intriguing India that she has come to love and call her own.

From being single and fancy free to hitching up with an Indian , getting married and then having two babies it's obviously been a whirlwind for Heather Saville Gupta. She was single when  she arrived,  ready to explore and make the most of the  city. When she first came to Mumbai , the scene was totally different from what it is now.  Then the tony neighborhood was south of Breach Candy, Worli was too far away from the 'Life' while Bandra was a suburb. Andheri, Versova, Malad, Goregaon were all just words on the map.
Offices were in Nariman Point, Fort or Churchgate. Most Expats  hung out at the Breach Candy club which provided a lifeline of sanity for Expats in the chaotic environment of a bustling alien  city teeming with people.

The expat scene was small at first. Things started changing in early 2000. Globalisation was well entrenched by then . In 2009, The Sealink, and the Global recession changed everything. Heather moved from Breach Candy to Bandra  sometime in 2007 and  got herself acclimatised to the more cosmopolitan social scene there. The Global recession which started at the end of 2008 also re-engineered the expat presence in Mumbai .The number of Expats in Mumbai has increased tremendously. But Heather is no longer in that strictly 'Expat' zone anymore. Her marriage to Vivek has changed her total outlook on life. Today she is working as Production Head and Taking care of the HR at Bang Bang Films as well being mother to Jake and Noah. She isn't involved as much in the party whirl as once she was. There have been so many changes in her life and she has managed to embrace them all successfully. Mumbai itself has changed tremendously. The skyline today is totally different from what it was 10 years ago.  According to her , Mumbai’s famous spirit hasn’t altered one bit through all the change, though.

Heather's travels around India has improved her adaptability to differing  environs. She now finds it difficult to spend more time in England because in her own words 'the first week back at home is fun but thereafter it's terribly  boring!' India is her home now and her first attempt at fiction best exemplifies that!

Synopsis(Becoming Mrs Kumar):  Julia Robinson is bored. Her job at a top London ad agency is becoming a bit sameish. Her London rent is killing her and she has been rained ononce too often to find British weather amusing.Julia wants to shake things up and so jumps at a chance of a job in Mumbai. She now finds herselic cities f in the centre of one of the most chaotic and energetic  cities in the world. Will she find Mr Right in all this hullabaloo?