The Indian writer Anuja Chauhan visited the University of Delhi campus to endorse her new publication, Baaz, on 25th August, 2017. Her three-tier book tour encompassed stops at Gargi College, St. Stephen’s College, and Miranda House.
The day started off from Gargi College at 12:30 p.m. She was welcomed enthusiastically at one of Gargi’s lecture halls by the English Department teachers and students. Ms. Chauhan was introduced as the renowned author of Those Pricey Thakur Sister, The House that BJ Built, and The Zoya Factor, and the winner of various accolades. Followed by the introduction, the author read an excerpt from her new book with all the rhetorical expressions and dramatics including on the Hindi dialogues. The author walked down the memory lane and reminisced of her school days, the fun of an army childhood, her Miranda House memories, and giving advertising a try as a job because it helped her to write which is what she always wanted to do. She confessed that she chose Economics for ‘keeping her options open’ as was the trend those days and being job-oriented unlike the ‘career-oriented’ kids these days.
Ms. Chauhan emphasised that she didn’t release her book, whose story revolves around an Air Force guy, at this time when there is a wave a nationalism in the country, but it usually takes a year or two for her to complete a book. This was followed by an interactive question-answer round where she expressed her dislike for Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for the message it proffers. She commented that ‘creative artists should only create and not give their political opinions’ in lieu of her contemporaries. At the end of the discussion, she let her fans buy their copies and signed each one’s copy. Everybody left happy from the book discussion and she for her next destination, St. Stephen’s College.
Ms. Chauhan has incorporated the Stephanian persona in most of her characters like Ishaan from Baaz and Dylan in Those Pricey Thakur Girls. She spoke to the crowd about this, saying that most of her family members, including her husband and daughter, went to St. Stephen’s and this provided her with a familiar attribute that could be assimilated into her novels. She spoke of Baaz and explained how she related to the protagonist Ishaan in the Air India Force due to her much similar army childhood background. She also justified why she decided to kill off Ishaan (yikes!), saying “A happy ending doesn’t necessarily mean a glorious one and even if you do think it is necessary for a glorious ending, I think Ishaan had his fair share of glory. And it is also necessary for a light reading to have an undertone of dark narratives, similarly how the brightest lights also bear the darkest shadows.”
Like Baaz, she also mentioned that most of her other works were partially autobiographical because they were a product of much of the things she had experienced in life. There was a question and answer round that followed where she answered the queries of all the zealous fans, with witty and chuckle-some responses. This was followed by a round of photographs with the fans and an interview for the English Literary Society Journal. Next, she headed to her alma mater, Miranda House.
Chauhan’s experience at Miranda House was memorable. She walked around campus and took pictures with the iconic red brick walls. She happened to pass by the classrooms she sat in, and remembered the time when she flunked her Microeconomics paper back in the first year. Before heading to the venue for the talk, she stopped by the canteen and sampled the good ol’ samosas which she remembers gorging on during her days as a student. Her talk with the students was an interactive session where she answered questions about her life in Miranda House, her memories of North Campus, her career as an advertiser to an author, and her story characters that have been picked up from her life. She then went on to talking about how authors should not be labelled, as she has often been labelled as a ‘chick lit’ author. She went on to say that as an author, if one is labelled then they are not able to expand their writing genre, that is why Baaz was a masculine addition to the stories she wrote about women in Those Pricey Thakur Girls series and The Zoya Factor. Anuja Chauhan also placed great emphasis on the importance of strong female protagonists in all her books, each of them, being people whom she has encountered in her own life. The session went on with laughs, smiles, and candid secrets about her life. Everyone was completely enamoured by Anuja Chauhan’s exuding charm and grace (along with the very quirky outfit!). The session ended with a lot of chatter, book signings, and pictures. As she walked towards the gate to return, she again walked by those corridors and those lawns, which signify innumerable memories she created in those ‘red brick walls’.
Feature Image Credits: P.V. Purnima for DU Beat