Not at all Born Confused
the writer, film-maker, lyricist, singer Tanuja Desai Hidier in a jiffy. Sit with
her and she spews interesting anecdotes and some off-the-shelf philosophy that
really gets you thinking. She knows the
men and women who make her giddy. Her favorite quote is "It's a beautiful
day" by U2 and the dictat that she lives by can be traced to an ordinary
kitchen: Never turn your back to a pot of milk on the stove. It is her way of
saying things; you need to find solemnity for yourselfHer
eyes are blue. No, they are not borrowed from the optometrist; they are real blue,
like the dainty waters off Mauritius and Seychelles. You get the colour? She wears
contact lenses but that is just for the myopia she got from all that reading.
She knows the men and women who make her giddy - Pablo Neruda, Charles Dickens,
Michael Ondaatje, Zadie Smith, Mira Nair, Pedro Almodovar. And, of course, Madonna.
Her favorite quote is "It's a beautiful day" by U2 and the dictat that
she lives by can be traced to an ordinary kitchen: Never turn your back to a pot
of milk on the stove. It is her way of saying things; you need to find solemnity
That's the writer, film-maker, lyricist,
singer Tanuja Desai Hidier in a jiffy. Sit with her and she spews interesting
anecdotes and some off-the-shelf philosophy that really gets you thinking. Her
first book, Born Confused, definitely did get Larry King, the famous talk-show
host with his ubiquitous suspenders, thinking. No wonder the book was chosen for
the Larry King/CNN pick of the week tag. The book went on to become Sunday Times
'book of the week', and got her the London Writers Award for fiction as well as
the James Jones Fellowship.
Reared in the town of Wilbraham,
Massachusetts, Hidier went to a school where there were two other Indians and
two African-Americans. That kind of completed the color spectrum within the classroom,
but Hidier - just Tanuja Desai then - wasn't really raring to track Indianness,
to bond, to go with the matching color scheme and be like peas in the pod.
up I just didn't really think of my Indianness. When you live in a town this size,
from the age of two to 18, with pretty much the same group of people around you,
you stop seeing these things about each other. They are the whole world you know,
and you are part of the only world they have ever known, and Ramona is Ramona
and Jennifer is Jennifer and Brian is Brian, not black or brown or white or purple,"
Though Hidier says she did not think much of
her Indianness, nor did she have the clichéd "rebellious" streak
against her parents, but Born Confused somewhere has the Indian connection. It
is a coming-of-age story of Dimple Lala - a confused desi, if you would please
gulp that - an aspiring photographer who does the tightrope between two cultures,
without falling apart in the process, instead learning to be herself.
- the surname comes from her French other half - is now adapting her book for
the big screen. Earlier, combining her vocal and songwriting skills, Hidier worked
with San Transisto and T & A (she sings and songwrites for these London and
New York based bands) and released 'When We Were Twins', a CD of original rock/pop
songs based on Born Confused. The CD, which was recently picked up by Creative
Artists Agency as a cutting-edge first-of-its-kind 'booktrack', ships worldwide
and is available through www.ABCreativeD.com.
her favorite tag? Singer? Lyricist? Writer? "I love them all! All three really
feel like part of the same creative process to me, and the common love with all
of them is writing, whether it is fiction, lyrics, or script-writing. These different
art forms cross-feed wonderfully - songwriting can help bring a sense of rhythm
to your prose, script-writing can hone your dialogue skills, and fiction aids
all these areas, at least for me, by leading you to the heart of the story,"
At the end of the road you ask Hidier "What's
next?" And she comes up with the most unexpected one: A bigger screen for
my computer. Looser shoulders on surya namaskar Driving on the other side of the
road. And a toast to the people who kept my energy up and wrists straight for
the writing of this book.
That was Hidier a little while
ago, at the moment she is "thoroughly enjoying this process, and it feels
like such a gift to be in a place where I am able to finally do what I love and
love what I do unreservedly. I am blessed to have some amazing people in my life
through my family and friends - and my jeevansaathi and I are now hoping to build
a family of our own."
Didn't I begin by saying this
is Hidier's way of saying things - you need to find solemnity for your self.
you can't find that solemnity, sit longer with her. She might spew some philosophy.
If even that escapes you, sit still longer, at least you would know the real blue
of her eyes.
in Sun Magazine, August 2004