She Writes Story Contest winner: Anisha Bhaduri

Anisha Bhaduri is one of twelve winners of the MSN-Random House She Writes a Story Contest', as chosen by our judges. Her story 'Other People's Lives' features in the 'She Writes: A collection of Short Stories' published by Random House India and available at all leading bookstores.

Anisha Bhaduri

Anisha Bhaduri

Anisha Bhaduri has spent more than a decade in journalism. She is currently the deputy news editor of The Statesman and its coordinator for Asia News Network (ANN). She is also the first Indian woman to become a Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Fellow, and is an alumnus of Banaras Hindu University, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, and Konrad Adenauer Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines. A visiting faculty to the Statesman Print Journalism School, Anisha was conferred the Pradyot Bhadra Young Journalist Award for Excellence by Pracheen Kala Kendra in December, 2011. Anisha has written book chapters commissioned by the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung on contemporary Indian journalism and politics. In 2009, she won the first prize in a national literary contest for women writers organized by the British Council in India.

Read an extract from Anisha Bhaduri's story 'Other People's Lives'

  • Konica first noticed the woman with the Handycam from her hotel room window. The sun had risen a while back and the Kanchenjangha was still as freshly bloody as the vermillion on her parting. She had woken up at the crack of dawn and as the reluctant orb had dragged itself up to paint the tip of the mountain, Konica felt the thrill of a child who breaks a cherished vase but receives a forgiving kiss from the mother anyway.

    Since she entered this hotel room with her five-day-old husband Amit the evening before, Konica was intermittently gripped by the indulgent guilt of a little girl who had broken her mother's favourite vase. The room was expensive, the toiletries on the bathroom racks so alien that Konica was sure they could never belong to her. Even the pristine sheets on their double bed smelt of many things that money could and could not buy. As she took in the room, even before setting down her imitation batik handbag on a side table or slipping the new wedding sandals off her feet, Konica thought it would not be fair to crumple that perfectly-made, princely bed with their unfamiliar lovemaking.

    Before taking a shower, Konica had consulted Amit about operating the hair dryer mounted on the wall next to the shower stall. Amit tried to help her, manipulating buttons to hit on the right one to get the gadget buzzing. But, he could not tell her what kind of pressure on which button would make the dryer blow as hot as she desired.

    'What's the point anyway, Koni? You are not going to use one back home. Dry your hair as you do every day,' he had suggested.

    Catching their images on the nearly wall-sized mirror on the other end of the bathroom-Amit with a towel draped around his slightly distended waist and herself unsure in her new nightie-Konica had felt that stirring of guilt again. Only guilt, no pleasure. The guilt of people who were out of place but suffered the discomfort anyway, because doing otherwise would irreversibly tag them as 'outsiders.'

    Even ordering dinner had been a long process involving comparing prices on the menu and settling for the least-expensive combination served in the room. The three-day, two-night package at Darjeeling was a wedding gift from Amit's married elder sister living in the US. The gift covered only breakfast and a government school-teacher like Amit had to watch his money.


In her own words: Anisha Bhaduri

  • Have you always been a writer?  What made you start writing?

    I always wanted to write fiction but started carving out time after my work - the first full-length story that I had written and also submitted to a highly-rated literary publication - was shortlisted by the globally-respected Glimmer Train magazine in August, 2008. The next year, I won the first prize in a national contest for women writers organised by the British Council in India. I submitted the winning entry to Boston Review and when instead of a form rejection, a polite decline that described the story as compelling was accompanied by a request for more submissions, I thought perhaps I should try harder.


    What inspired you to enter She Writes?

    I believe in entering quality literary contests.


    Why did you chose the category you did?

    Because our Indianness is fascinating and should be explored.


    Do you have a writing routine - e.g. do you have favourite places to write/favourite times of day/do you write longhand or on a computer?

    Twelve years in the newsrooms of two national dailies have taught me that writing - whether literary or journalistic - must be summoned instead of waiting for words to flow. And that if deadlines are not set, words will never flow. As a mother of a five-year-old, I know it is imperative that I set deadlines for myself. And, I write on the computer. I  dream of the luxury to write in longhand.  


    Who is your favourite author?

    I have many.


    Which book has inspired you the most?

    Authors have, their talent has. A book is a sum of all those things that an author would have loved to say aloud. When a reader discovers the voice, the earth usually moves.


    Which key piece of advice would you give to any other budding writer?

    Nothing wrong with thinking that no one does it better than you but read everyday, EVERYDAY, and read everything. That will tell you where you stand.


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