The view on the left foregrounds the tiny spot on the terrace at 135, Greames Road, once 12/1 Greames Road, Madras, the place where I sat with my books in my teens, writing and reading, a place where several generations of my family grew up--and a place which no longer exists. But that, as they say, is another story, and one day I hope to write it.
I was born and grew up in Madras, now called Chennai, in Tamil Nadu, and also for a time in Secunderabad in Andhra Pradesh. I did not strive to become a doctor, engineer, Indian Administrative Service officer, or computer programmer--common Indian-parent aspirations when I grew up. I loved science, math, art, poetry, fiction, psychology, philosophy, music, and learning languages. This diversity of interest is often troubling to people who hear about it, but to me it was perfectly normal and unexceptional. I imagine there are millions of us who enter the schooling systems of the world everyday, filled with an interest in all fields of knowing--in what fashion we emerge from these systems of course is a different story.
I wrote fiction, poetry, and essay from very young, but for various reasons, not least of which was strong interest, received a BS in Physics from Women's Christian College in Madras and later (not precisely through interest), an MBA in Marketing from the University of Madras. In between I embarked on a post-graduate diploma in journalism from Madras Christian College, and worked as a freelance journalist for a year, with articles and news features in the Indian Express, Telegraph, and Aside, and later as a staff writer at SCARF, the Schizophrenia Research Foundation of India. Active in community theatre, I also acted in a film intended for BBC and eventually shown on Doordarshan.
Supported by a teaching assistantship and a graduate fellowship, I came to the United States to study creative writing and received an MFA in Poetry at George Mason University, where I studied mostly with writers Susan Tichy, Carolyn Forche, Peter Klappert, and briefly with visiting writers Sharon Olds, Linda Pastan, C. K. Williams, Ethelbert Miller, and resident fiction writer Richard Bausch. After graduation, I have worked in various venues in the US including universities, telecommunication companies, and the American Red Cross, as a Writing and Composition instructor, physics editor, management consultant, technical trainer and writer, web designer, and Creative Writing instructor.
As a volunteer, I have written case histories and run writing workshops at homeless shelters in Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, read news on-air for the visually impaired through the Metropolitan Washington Ear, and hosted and produced video news & interview shows featuring environmental and animal protection organizations on the Arlington Weekly News and on Uptime, a self-founded show, for a cable station, Channel 33 (now 69), Arlington Community Television.
I currently live in Arlington, Virginia with my husband and daughter, and teach creative writing part-time at The George Washington University and at The Writer's Center, Bethesda. The covers of Temporary Lives and Invisible Season feature my paintings.
(For more on my writing and a list of publications, please see Writing.)
GMU Creative Writing/Question and Answer
Causes I Support
To support the efforts of Jeeva Jyoti, a wonderful organization rehabilitating and educating street children, women, and families in Chennai, and hopefully, in the future, to support other public service projects in India, I have, with friends, founded an organization to raise funds here in the US, India Inspire Fund. We are in the process of applying for 501(c)3 status. Our fundraising efforts have been modest so far but we hope to expand these shortly. Our web site will be revamped soon. Please join us. Please contact me if you are interested in being a part of this venture.
Some other causes I support and would highly recommend are:
The Fund for Animals
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
The Humane Society of the United States
The International Fund for Animal Welfare
Compassion Over Killing
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Natural Resources Defence Council
Marine Mammal Center
Jane Goodall Institute
Front Range Equine Rescue
Performing Animals Welfare Society
Alley Cat Allies
National Anti-Vivisection Society
American Anti-Vivisection Society