In an earlier avatar, I tinkered with test tubes and petri dishes as an analytical chemist and microbiologist. That was before I quit my secure, nine-to-five job to pursue a dream and try my luck as a full time Mumbai freelance writer. The makeover from the nerdy to the creative type came about in the early 1990s.
Actually, I had caught the writing bug much earlier, from my dad. As a child I had watched him enthusiastically dashing off “Letters” to the editor of The Indian Express. Scores of his missives on topics ranging from neighbourhood sanitation checks by health inspectors to the legitimacy of the demands of dock workers were published with his byline – A. C. V. Gomes. (You can check out a couple of his briefer letters penned in the 1950s here.)
Years later, I cut my journalistic teeth by writing on the side as a special correspondent for the Chemical Industry Digest. I was then a young working mom raising two precocious kids.
After 25 years as a chemist, I decided I enjoyed freelance writing better and ditched the lab environment in 1998 to pursue a Master’s degree in English Literature from Mumbai University and write full time from home as a freelancer. But by then I had already added copywriting and copyediting to my repertoire of professional skills.
I’ve now completed 19 years in the business of freelance writing and am still learning…
My work has been published in national, international, and online publications, and in anthologies like Inside Out and Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul – Brothers and Sisters. I’m also the Assistant Editor of Let’s Travel newspaper (formerly Let’s Travel magazine).
My recent ventures include a couple of film scripts which I’m hoping will catch the fancy of some film director or publisher, and with several books jostling for attention inside my head, I’ve finally commenced writing one of them. Hopefully this first novel should see the light of day in the next year or two.
Personal details, Goan ancestry
My ancestors came from Goa – a patch of paradise on the west coast of India that epitomizes an exciting blend of two cultures, Indian and Portuguese, and is famous the world over for its fabulous beaches. It is also the only place in India where people get to ogle at women in bikinis, but that’s another story.
I was born in Mumbai in the days when it was the jazz hub of India, when it was much cleaner, when the infrastructure kept pace with the growing population, when pedestrians could walk on hawker-free pavements, when public spaces were well-maintained, and yes, when it was called Bombay.
I grew up on D’Lima Street, one of the few Goan pockets in the city, studied at St. Isabel’s High School in Mazagon, and then graduated from Sophia College with a B.Sc. (Hons.) degree.
I’m Goan by descent and Maharashtrian by marriage. My husband Ravi is the perfect foil for a wordsmith wife. He’s a man of few words. Literally. Forget three-word phrases like “I love you”, or “You’re right, honey”, he uses words so thriftily, he is reluctant to grunt even a skimpy “Yes dear”, no matter if I’m only calling out to him.
Last year, we moved from Dahisar in the western suburbs to Navi Mumbai. It’s now an empty nest though, for both our sons earn a living in the United States. Kaustubh, a geology professor, and his lovely American wife Laurel live in Pennsylvania, while Nikhil, a computer scientist, lives in Jersey City.
In my free time, I lounge around in sweatpants with my feet propped up on my desk sipping on port wine or ice cold shandy.
OK, I’m just kidding, but seriously, I wish to God I could enjoy many of such nirvana moments, instead of having to write like crazy, often even at odd hours of the night.
As for other diversions, sometimes I think wistfully of how the songs of Elvis Presley, Connie Francis, the Everly Brothers and the Beatles, and a BIG schoolgirl crush on Cliff Richard had added the oomph to my wonder years. These days, juggling multiple responsibilities leaves me with limited time for pleasurable activities like reading, painting and listening to music, but I try to do the best I can.
Having said that, I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a grumpy, overworked freelance writer, for I love writing. The only thing I like better is foisting what I’ve written on others, editors included.
Last but not least, I believe that “live and let live” is the best principle and that laughter is the best medicine. So there you have it. A somewhat busy homemaker, a committed writer, and a lover of literature, music, and world peace. That’s me.