I came into Chicago in winter - I'd never been so cold in my life! I was very homesick, and a poor student at that time. America seemed so different and so filled with amazing things - and almost all of them were out of my reach.
As I remember my grandfather and those Christmas mornings he gave for a little girl's pleasure, I know that often a big life starts with doing small things.
My favorite part was when my grandfather and I would make a special trip to Firpo's Bakery for red and green Christmas cookies and fruitcake studded with the sweetest cherries I've ever tasted. Usually Firpo's was too expensive for our slim budget, but Christmas mornings they gave a discount to any children who came in.
We even had a different word for Christmas in my language, Bengali: Baradin, which literally meant 'big day.'
I realise that a novel and a film are different mediums. As artistes, we need to respect other artistes. It also needs a lot of courage to take risks to experiment and interpret known literary works.
Perhaps what distinguishes my characters is their courage and spirit and a certain stubbornness which enables them to keep going even when facing a setback. I think this developed organically as I wrote, but also it came out of a desire to portray women as powerful and intelligent forces in the world.
I hate it when people throw away food - I've seen too many hungry people.
Strong women, when respected, make the whole society stronger. One must be careful with such rapid changes, though, and make an effort to preserve, at the same time, the positive traditions of Indian culture.
I write in my study, where I also have my prayer altar. I believe that keeps me focused and gives me positive energy and reminds me that I'm merely the instrument of greater creative forces.
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