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Author Archives: shunalishroff

I chat with Elizabeth Gilbert at the Jaipur Literature Festival about how she likes to travel (Conde Nast Traveller)

The bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love was at the Jaipur Literature Festival recently, her first trip to India in 17 years. She spoke to Shunali Khullar Shroff about how travel shapes her Continue reading »

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My life as an army brat and how it shaped my ideas about life & travel (Conde Nast Traveller)

As children of the forces, our thrills as is evident came from simply living the gipsy life and making new friends, most of whom were itinerant army folks like us. But even as we threw ourselves into our new lives with maniacal enthusiasm, we were conscious of the transience of it all. There were no mobile phones or emails then to help you bridge geographical distances. One had to learn to live in the moment and make the most of what one was served.
To live with the knowledge that ‘now is all we have’ when it came to our homes or our friendships wasn’t easy and it got harder as one grew older.
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My conversation with Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express, London (HT Brunch cover story)

Asma believes the original purpose of cooking is to nourish and heal, and that people in the business seem to be forgetting that. “Everybody wants to cook to be on MasterChef, but cooking has lost its original purpose,” says Asma. “We offered food to gods. I find it slightly problematic when I see people playing around with it.” Little wonder then that she sticks with the traditions of the Rajputana kitchens of Hyderabad, her father being a descendant of the Nizam’s family, and the Mughal cuisine of the royals of Bengal, her mother’s forebearers. “I often tell people I cook the food of undivided, pre-partition India. I’m serving you the forgotten food of the Muslim households of the 1930s,” she says. Continue reading »

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It’s easy to ask for a war, but whose loss is it ultimately? Life or a War Widow (Forces India cover story)

went inside and started putting things in order when someone rang the bell and a stream of people started coming in. I still didn’t have a clue and kept smiling to myself, now sure of the good news I was going to get.

Then two ladies made me sit on the sofa and then sitting on either side of me, they held my shoulder and asked me when I last spoke to my husband. I told them it was two days ago and he had told me he was going to some jungles. I was going on and on proudly about how he had caught militants a few days back. And then they said, listen, your husband is no more. Continue reading »

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My gypsy life as an Army brat

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A conversation with Kevin Kwan (author of Crazy Rich Asians) about Sex and Vanity, life during the pandemic and BLM movement

So I have done my satire of the East Coast WASP elitism with so much love because I feel like I was welcomed into that world. Some of my dearest friends are part of this world.
I’m just looking at the quirks of a community just like I did with crazy rich Asians. In this book, I’m looking at old money in New York and I’m looking at new money in New York. So it isn’t meant to offend anybody because I don’t tear people down and I haven’t done a hatchet job of it. Cornelia Guest who is as old money privileged American as it gets, is one of my dearest friends (she features in the book too briefly) and she has read my book and responded so well to it. And I am also not the first one to write satire about this class, there have been so many before me, writers like Dominic Dunne, Tom Wolfe, Edith Wharton who was the original WASP satirizing WASPs.
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Women who rock the boat without a care (Mint Lounge)

Love In The Time Of Affluenza is a story about an ostensibly happily married woman belonging to the upper crust of Mumbai society, who discovers to her horror that her best friend is having an affair. She expects the very worst, and in a way wants the very worst for her, but when it happens, the outcome is far from what she expected. Continue reading »

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A Return to Innocence (Mint Lounge)

Having grown up in an India of fewer privileges, most parents today tend to romanticize the simpler days of their childhood. It has been my experience that the generation of ‘too much’ cannot fathom how a childhood spent without the internet, fancy gadgets, on-demand entertainment and shopping malls could be a happy one.

I have seen my children look at me with sympathy when I tell them that my summer holidays were spent reading books and swimming with my friends, and that travel or television was only a very small part of these. They are unable to comprehend the joys of playtime that only ever involved board games, the thrill of going over your stamp collection over a languid summer afternoon, and the delicious anticipation of a homemade pizza. Continue reading »

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When everything is a story (HT Brunch)

But my most pleasing discovery during the lockdown has been my ability to sit still without the distraction of a book, a child, a dog or the phone for longer than I thought possible. What’s more, I can hear inanimate things speak to me and take me on exciting journeys without having to leave the couch. In other words, I have become the old woman I was meant to be one day in the distant future, the sort that hates domestic chores preferring instead, to sit around all day smiling to herself. This I can tell you isn’t a bad experience, especially given the circumstances and in the knowledge that one-day when the confinement ends, my precious youth (read midlife) will be returned to me. Continue reading »

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My interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (HT Brunch Cover Story)

I have a date with Elizabeth Gilbert. Perhaps the stars aligned. Perhaps it is because we share a publisher. The fact is that we are chatting under a garden umbrella in the sprawling lawns of her hotel in Jaipur and enjoying the warmth of the winter sun over idlis and cups of steaming masala chai. A few days ago, I’d met her briefly at the Jaipur Literature Festival. So struck was I by Gilbert’s openness and exceptional warmth that I felt I had to meet her again. So here we are today, chatting about life, love, writing and womanhood.

She is draped in an exquisite grey pashmina with blue peacocks embroidered all over it. We are women, after all, we must get the conversation about shopping out of the way first. “Isn’t it just stunning? Alexandra (Bloomsbury) bargained for me, I am really bad at haggling,” Gilbert tells me conspiratorially. She’s managed a good bargain, and presently I hear myself asking for the details of the shawl seller. Continue reading »

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