Her driver turns on the reverse signal, the door opens and she steps out in a white dress. Those curls in her hair quickly gossip with the wind and announce the arrival of something very exciting. May be it is the story in her mind. She waltzes into the building with a gait and before I could negotiate the parking spot she disappears. We are at Anita’s Attic where she is helps budding writers mold their clay. I walk gingerly up the stairs expecting her to be celebrity types like Shoolapani but she is warm, friendly and smiles like sunshine. I try to stop being a fan and pose many questions to her but she knocks them out of the park with a flick of her eyes and the only time I can get her in a fix is when I have my camera pointed at her. Anita Nair‘s new book Alphabet soup for lovers is out and we are here to discuss the book! Here is what happened when Anita talked to Tiger!
Alphabet soup for lovers! A sudden love story. How did this happen?
I was working on my new book and was too involved in research which exhausted me, drained me. I would come home and keep thinking about the things I was hearing. I wanted a break and at that time my publisher in Italy wanted a short love story with food as a base. I said I can’t and won’t write a commissioned story but will check. I had this love story in my mind for a long time but wanted to elevate to a different level. I go to this place for a break many times and then everything fell into place.
About the happy ending. Finally!
I wasn’t sure how I would end this story but a friend of mine said, “For once in your life can you give a happy ending?” I wanted to try that and see where the story goes. So I leave it to the readers to see what they want to in the story! I also wrote this book for myself to help me believe that there is a positive possibility.
Should we assume that Ship and Lena lived happily ever after?
Depends. No book can be a happy ending per say. It is not so in real life. There can be a happy ending for the book but the characters cannot be happy ever after. Life is more real and practical. I like my stories to be the same as life.
Who is Komati in real life?
I modeled Komati from collective wisdom from many women I have spoken to and met over many years like my mother, my maid, friends and many others.
Why food then?
Food is something very… I like food. I don’t have reservations for food and eat almost everything. I only don’t eat things I am allergic to.
What is the most exotic/strangest thing you have eaten?
Fried ants in Columbia!
What were the foods you were having on when you are writing Alphabet soup?
Filter coffee and Arisiappalam.
Just like in the book. What you don’t like in food?
Horsegram! I don’t like the taste of that one. All the others I like.
Alphabet Soup for Lovers is set in a beautiful place. The sudden change shocks them. Why?
If you know plantations, life there goes on smoothly. It is not very exciting and they are not very extraneous people. Not many strangers come in. Lena as a character is not complaining and is happy with her life and doesn’t feel there is a vacuum. But when Ship comes in, she finds out that she needs the sudden possibility, sudden emotional highs that are possible.
Why do most of your heroines have a character change or revelation around 36-38 years?
I don’t know! She goes on to explain. You are a student, you get married, you have a family and all that. Lena doesn’t have children and may be her life would have been different or may be not. Usually 38 is when a woman starts thinking about herself.
What happens to Komati?
What happens to Komati? What would you like to happen to her?
May be she goes back. Everybody deserves happiness.
Okay. May be she does. May be she will take a leap of faith and go back. May be she will go to Rayar and sees how it goes. May be not. This book is like a dream. Like into a middle of a dream. it is in dream-space. I wanted this to… while this is a realistic story, I wanted it to be set in a dream space. You know you enter into it and stay there.
To take a metaphor from the book, you say he goes to the cliff as if to jump and comes back later. The story however leaves the reader on the cliff about to jump. But doesn’t give an ending.
True. That is why I call it a cliffhanger! She laughs. I wanted to let the readers decide. You are an optimist so you are thinking Komati will go to look for Rayar and Rayar will come looking for her. For a normal person they would think that Rayar wouldn’t be coming back. Komati would continue to stay and take care of KK or go back to live with her children.
Komati is an anchor for the story. Do you think she will go out? You could have chosen anything. If you want to rewrite the story with a villain? What would you do for KK? Is he happy?
There is no villain. Circumstances act this way. KK is probably happy. He is a boarding school boy who is still a boarding school boy. Actually most men don’t grow up for a long time. They might wear all the trappings of a man but not really grow up. Maturity is a relative term.
There is a pup in the story on a leash. Can you explain! He suddenly finds a pup, rescues it and keeps it. Was it planned?
The pup happened just like that. I have seen many people who are scared of dogs but a couple of years later you find them with a dog and they are completely changed.
How would you summarize the book?
I wanted the book to feel like comfort food, like the soup. It is fresh, hot and hope this completely changes your mood and look at relationships.
Is there a second part?
Oh no! I don’t know. I think this story should end here with possibilities happening… this way or that way and for the reader to decide.
Tell me about your next book. Can we see inspector Gowda?
Yes. In a superb story.
She told me the story but I can’t give it away. It is very very exciting though. She also signed all my books and promised to give a pen with which she writes her stories 🙂
Pick up the book here.