Monday, April 14, 2014

5 Rules of a Great Marriage

Somehow, the earlier generation got it right. The husband was the provider and the woman the nurturer. They had their roles defined, almost written in stone. There were no complications, no angry bouts over not understanding each other and definitely lesser divorces. Our generation is just lost in the field of relationships and when we think we know everything, we decide to settle down and get married and make the other person as confused as us. With the rate of divorce in 2010 as high as one in four couples in India, people are grappling to figure out what to do to have a healthy marriage. Here are a few tips.
1.    Communicate Positively– Don’t just talk to each other about what you did in the day, your bosses’ angst, the traffic problems, your children’s school issues and the deadlines you need to finish this weekend. It’s all boring! Share what excited you about your day. Convey how you accomplished your dream today or how you overcame a difficulty in office. Share some gossip about friends you overheard. Explain a new problem you might need your partner’s help with. Speak about how your partner made you proud that day. Express effusively. Be generous in your compliments. Your partner wants to make you proud. Do not overdo so he/ she will not care after a while. Some days while your partner is in office or out of town, correspond through messages or emails a fantasy you have about him, click a photo of yourself and send it to him saying you are missing your better half right there and even say a simple “I love you.” Hearing those words and feeling that you are wanted in your partner’s life helps you stay connected. Indulge in a little sex talk. Be naughty and wild. Routine communication can come once a week when you are both lounging at home.  
2.    Book a Hotel – So you and your partner are working like crazy. You are juggling your career and managing children. It is tough and you need a break just to unwind and reconnect with your partner. If every weekend results in sitting in front of the television, having dinner with friends or playing with the children, you need to take a vacation. Not a big vacation of a few weeks that you have planned in summer, but a mini vacation for a night. You need to leave the kids with responsible adults/ family members who can look after them and check yourself in to a hotel. Go on Sat morning and check out on Sunday. Just a day’s break from the minutiae of daily domesticity and work deadlines can rejuvenate you. Do not put on the TV in the hotel room but use the facilities of a pool to lounge together or swim together and spend time walking around the premises. Connect with your partner physically and mentally. Get a couple’s spa. Do this on a regular basis where sometimes he makes a booking and sometimes you pay for it. Both of you will come back refreshed.
3.    Participate – You like capoeira, he likes reading. You like partying every evening, he likes having single malt with his friends. You like cleaning, he is a slob. You have different tastes, different backgrounds, and different groups of friends. How do you combine to have a healthy couple life? The thing is you can’t most of the times. You have to let each other be to enjoy what they like doing most. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean you can’t share in their activities. For every three times you or he does something, the other person has to be with you on that activity once. So if you’ve gone partying with your friends three times, the fourth time he needs to go with you. Then you must not include other people and just spend an evening with him alone. If he has gone golfing three times, you must go with him the fourth time. Even if you sit and cheer him on from the stands. We need to participate in each other’s lives. We cannot live in a bubble content with who we are. We married so that the other person completed us in some way and we need to make an effort to grow and learn from each other. The only way we can do this is by trying to be happy with the other’s hobbies and learning a bit more about it.
4.    Work, Space & Internet – Most of us are in a rat race of some kind. We want to work hard, earn well, and retire early. Therefore, we work like maniacs. We often forget that the people who we are working for need more time and attention from us than the things that we buy them. Finding the balance seems to be extremely difficult. Moreover, what most of us want at the end of a day is space and on the weekends some peace. We live in a world where we connect with people every day but find it difficult to connect with our spouse. So we can use the web to connect with them. Have a steamy twitter relationship, send some encouraging words on his Facebook dp, Whatsapp him about stuff you did. We have to start supporting our spouses in their dreams, the lives they want for us, their hopes and only then will they support us back. Marriage is teamwork. You give and you will get back. Just don’t expect it. It will happen when you least anticipate it.
5.    Commitment - Many of us get married because our parents want us to. Some get married because they think it’s the “correct time” and a few to procreate. Marriage is an extremely strong bond that two individuals choose for themselves. It’s a commitment for life to look after that person because now they are your family. Many of us give up easily. We feel we’ve done enough. The spouse doesn’t “get” us anymore. The love, understanding, consideration is gone. We even find someone who we have a spark with! All marriages are the same. At some time, the passion will die. At some point neither of you will understand each other nor love each other. And you will want to move on. This is the time when you need to hold on even more. Your boat of marriage is going through a rocky patch of tumultuous waters and you both need to hold on to the boat, if not each other to get past it. This could take a few months, even a few years. But when you do come out, you will be stronger and wiser. Many people will find that spark with you. You are a scintillating person. Show it off to your spouse and fall in love with each other all over again.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How Not to Fall In Love in Summer!

It’s summer time! That means vacations, new adventures, and obviously new people. It also means summer romance and heartbreak later. To make yourself immune to that summer fling here are a few suggestions:
1.     Concentrate On The Food – Breakfast buffet! You can eat until you pass out, wake up, and eat again! Experiment on local cuisines and hunt for the best restaurants. You’ll soon be in a food coma and hardly have time to think of what moves to make on that pretty girl or how to react when a cute boy asks you what you do.

2.     Check it out Yourself – Go for a day’s trip to the city, spend the day at the beach alone, and hike in the mountains. The solitude helps you think and enjoy the new sights even more. If you find someone being chatty, walk on!

3.     Family Bonding Time – If you’ve always hated your family here is a good time to connect with them on a `family vacation.’ The purpose for your parents to drag you all the way out there was for them to get to know you better. Spend time making them understand you rather than a stranger who won’t care after the two weeks are over anyway.

4.     Just don’t Do It – You’re tipsy with that wine, that person has been noticing you for so long, you’ve even chatted up and felt the “connect.” You can almost feel the words “Want to come back to my room/ Wanna go for a walk alone” coming out of your mouth. Don’t do it. The momentary pleasure will set your hormones in a tizzy and before you know, you’ll be Facebook friends and on Google talk. Bad idea!

5.     Get a Hobby – Catch up on your reading if you’re a book worm. Find a local library. Get involved with arts and crafts, adventure sports, painting, or even meeting local heroes. Plunge yourself in activities. Push yourself to do more each day on your vacation rather than finding the “one” and hoping to live happily ever after. A summer is not the time to fall in love. It’s the time to relax and enjoy who you are!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Yahoo India with Dove present Fab & Fearless Woman: Madhuri Banerjee

Yahoo India and Dove made a series of Fab & Fearless women mini documentaries.
The one on me was made last year when I was a few pounds heavier and hadn't signed on my 4th novel Advantage Love or my trilogy series Scandalous Housewives or my comedy genre My Clingy Girlfriend.

The core values still remain the same. And my daughter Ariaana makes her debut.

Check it out as their PICK OF THE WEEK!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

10 Chick Lit Novels To Read During Summer

Summer vacations are starting and we all need a break! Since reading is such an intrinsic part of my life I wanted to share some novels I completely love. I'm a hard core romantic and love stories inspire me. I hope you make your own list by the end of summer and share it here. Happy Reading!

1.    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – This novel will change a woman’s life. She will start getting a new perspective to what she wants and who she is. I loved reading it the first time and do so often when I need some encouragement. A story of a woman who leaves her husband to find her way through Eating in Italy, Praying in India and finding Love in Bali will make you laugh, cry and understand life better.

2.    40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafaq – The story of Rumi and Shams, the love that no one understands and relationships that stay strong through centuries is one that has stayed with me, long after I turned the last page. Not a typical chick lit but a book for the intelligent woman.

3.    The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sunderasan – Passion, adventure, history, and the inner world of the Mughal emperors and their love lives makes the book a great chick lit. Actually several men have loved it too because of the intrigue of the Mughal court and the history behind the love affairs.

4.    Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding – A woman who tries desperately to lose weight, find love and makes a fool of herself wherever she goes is so identifiable! The fact that she writes a diary about it relates it to my life entirely. Bridget Jones is the quintessential modern day woman struggling like everyone else to become thin, find love and achieve some recognition.

5.    The Hindi Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan – A book on family, food, relationships, men, marriage and mothers. A lovely tale of how women bond over the simplest of things and always need each other.

6.    Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri - The title refers to the first story in this collection of stories and a motif that dominates throughout. The book is about a world unaccustomed to the constant changes of life, traumas from natural disasters and conflicts in relationships because of this. Beautiful heart wrenching stories. I also loved The Lowland. Amazing tale of a family torn apart because of one man's ideology and another man's sense of morality. Must read!  

7.    Sister of My Heart and The Vine of Desire by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – A love triangle between two cousins and a husband. Complete potboiler that makes you look at your own life and the judgments you pronounce every day.

8.    The Good Daughter by Jasmin Darznik – An autobiographical tale of a daughter who discovers her mother’s past life through tapes and realizes the sacrifices she has made for her family. Sweeping, poignant and enchanting story.

9.    Leela: A Patchwork Life – Leela Naidu with Jerry Pinto – An autobiography told in memories Leela remembers. An extraordinary life lived in the times of great change in Indian history. Evocative and unforgettable.

10. Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas by Madhuri Banerjee – It was my debut novel and will remain my favourite chick lit. Not because I’m being a narcissist but because it is identifiable, true and extremely tender. About a girl trying to find love and gives up her virginity to a married man, only to get her heart broken. A story of self-respect, finding love and believing in one self. A story of every woman, wherever she lives in this world.
Order books online and save yourself a trip in the heat to a bookstore! Start here: 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Message for the Youth of India before elections

Soul Space magazine

The Life of Young India.
“Whatever!” drawled the teenager sipping his iced latte, which was worth more than a maid’s daily wages. He was referring to my telling him how coffee shops and vegetable vendors were using too much plastic. Is this the new generation? They show angst on Twitter, break up with each other on Facebook, and give up after trying just once. But they seem to have enough money to buy endless cups of coffee and eat out every night. I sincerely hope not.
I agree there are too many issues to tackle. From corruption to environment, food prices to petrol, education to employment, the country is ridden with such a heavy burden that the “whatever” seems to be the easiest way to deal with it. I have just one thing to say to the youngsters of India: Don’t give up!
“Why should we clean up the mess your generation has made?” snapped the youngster. I sighed thinking he might be right. It has been our and an earlier generation that has encouraged the evils to live. The forces of power that could have changed for good have used the money to better their own lives with careless disregard for the younger generation. And there have been many who have tried and failed to make that change. The youngsters have a point.
But maybe you’ve heard it before. Maybe it seems like a cliché. Maybe you are just too tired. But you know there is a nagging feeling within you to do something. Anything. Start small. See the change in you. You don’t need to join a movement. You don’t even need to preach. You just need to believe in the change. You’re not “cleaning up” our mess. You’re doing it for yourself. Don’t you want a better life? So what if the earlier generation was stupid? Does that make you one as well? You have two choices: Either you can sit on your ass and sip that latte until things blow up in your face or you can start using that bit of time and money for a fund that could move the government and mobilize people to hear you. You can make that difference.

“Koi nahin suntan hai (No one listens,” said the teenager trying to wiggle his way out. You know what? I’m not convinced! YOU start caring again. Maybe you won’t drink in that plastic glass. Maybe you can give a lift to someone in your car that’s already guzzling gas. Maybe you’ll donate to more charities, give more of your time to old age homes or do something more than just make money.
Life does change. You make it change. Because YOU are our hope. We are too old to fight. You need to do it for us, for yourself, for an unborn generation. You need to believe that you will be the Prime Minister. Believe that you are already. Don’t give up. Don’t let brickbats change you. See the larger picture and start changing the details. I have full faith in you. I will join your movement. You have my vote.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Storizen on Advantage Love and Stupendous Authors!

Storizen is an online magazine that covers authors, writers, poets and fans. For all those who love to read and those who want to know what goes on in the publishing world, this is the platform that tells you all.

March issue of Storizen covers me talking about Advantage Love, my new book but also some interesting stuff I've never shared before.

I also love the article by Ravi Subramanian on Can Indian Authors Afford to Pursue a Writing as a Full Time Careeer.
I've been asked that several times and Ravi writes about it beautifully.

Also to check out Sreemoyee Piu Kundu as an author who isn't afraid to write about sex. For all those loving erotica and compelling story telling, the article would be a great read.

Have a great week. Let me know which one you liked. Read it here:

Get Advantage Love here: 

Friday, March 7, 2014

'Advantage Love' is all about love and what it does to you' Review by IBN LIVE

Vivek Tejuja,

Madhuri Banerjee is always ready, with a new book round the corner. This time again it is about what she does and knows best - Romance and yet it is out of the ordinary with all the ordinary elements to it.

"Advantage Love" is all about love and its workings or perhaps not the workings, given the story and the way the characters behave at times. Trisha Mathur comes to Delhi with dreams in her eyes and the promise of a brighter and better tomorrow. She falls for a politician, Vedant Kirloskar (the name is well-suited I think) and all hell breaks loose (of course that is what you get for falling in love with a rising politician). Trisha then decides to stay away from love, till Abhimanyu - a tennis player (and that is more or less about the title) enters her life. And before you can sneeze, Vedant is back - asking for another chance and Trisha is all confused, all over again.

That in short is the plot of the story. The writing fits the plot. Madhuri does not give you time to ponder or mull over scenes or situations. The book is that well-written and that racy. The characters are human and that is what is needed. Readers do not need over-the-top characters who would not behave rationally in situations as perhaps most of us would.

'Advantage Love' is all about love and what it does to you

"Advantage Love" is all about love and its workings or perhaps not the workings, given the story and the way the characters behave at times.

Trisha, Vedant and Abhimanyu are well-rounded characters. The writing is crisp and precise. At no point does the reading experience feel strained or monotonous. Banerjee's language is simple and lucid for any reader to understand and to me that is one of the hallmarks of good writing.

"Advantage Love" is all about love and what it does it to you and the decisions one has to make irrespective of it. A read for a lazy weekend and will sure enough have you smiling and nodding your head in all familiarity.

Get it here:

Read From Link:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Advantage Love: Book Review

Blurb On the Book : When Trisha Mathur leaves Lucknow for Delhi with stars in her eyes, little does she realize how drastically her life is about to transform. In the din and drama of college student politics, she meets debonair politician-in-the-making Vedant Kirloskar, who sweeps her off her feet with his poetry and rakish charm.
When irreconcilable differences drive them apart, a broken-hearted Trisha becomes wary of love and men. That is until the dashing tennis star, Abhimanyu, comes along and fills her life with love and laughter. All at once she finds herself in the midst of the glamorous tennis circuit which is in stark contrast to her small-town moorings.
Even as Trisha embarks on a path of love and self-discovery, fate brings Vedant back into her life, asking that they rekindle their old romance. Will Trisha dare take a second chance with Vedant or move on to play match point with Abhimanyu?

Review : The book has an apt title and a beautiful cover with a lush green Tennis court that I feel goes well with the plot but acts as a spoiler in its own way. The beauty of the cover could have been enhanced if the title of the book and author’s name were written in a slightly smaller font and without the tilt that seems to bite on the charm of the cover.
Advantage Love is a compelling and passionate contemporary Indian romance that explores the complexities of love, friendship and career in a woman’s life. A book that I could relate to in many ways.
The plot is simple, language lucid and narration impeccable that beautifully paints pictures in words. The beauty of the book lies in the sensitivity with which the thought processes, emotions of love, heart-break and making compelling choices in life has been touched upon.
Without being preachy the author has highlighted many grey areas that people searching for love after a heart-break fail to take note of; hence accentuating their fear of relationships even further. Besides the love story that makes heart flutter passing on the passion in the story to the reader, the book also talked about the importance of family dinners, the dilemma faced by students who never studied in a co-education institute and much more.
The book subtly offers relationship advise that goes beyond the book in its logic, simplicity and ability to clear a confused mind helping it to seek answers. I’d like to congratulate the author for the many wonderful quotes throughout the book that made this book a literary delight.
“Your worth cannot be measured by how important you are in someone else’s life. It needs to be determined by your place in your life”
The book makes for a heart-warming, breezy read that left a smile plastered to my face to last for a long while after I’d put the book down.
I’d highly recommend the book for everyone who enjoys reading contemporary romance that serves passion draped in logic. This book is a treat for travel reading or relaxing on a weekend.

Rating: 4/5

Get it here:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Advantage Love by Madhuri Banerjee : A frothy, light romance

Review by Nandini Muralidharan on February 20, 2014

Advantage Love

If you’re finding yourself having a Valentine week hangover, make way for some fun romance – the bookish kind!
If you’ve read “Losing my Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas” or “Mistakes like Love and Sex”, you’re already familiar with Madhuri Banerjee’s simple yet compelling style of writing. “Advantage Love” follows suit and doesn’t disappoint. It is a story that a lot of young women will relate to, a story of following one’s dreams while trying to figure out a relationship.

The Plot
Trisha Mathur is a smart, intelligent and eloquent young lady studying at JNU, New Delhi. Having been raised in Lucknow by two academics, studying in Delhi and living away from home is her first tryst with independence. Being an avid debater, she meets the suave, cool and well-read Vedant Kirloskar at a debating contest. In true filmi style, animosity (on her part) leads to sparks flying and she is floored by more than just his Greek god looks – his ability to spout poetry to woo her, the constant war of words when they debate about everything under the sun. Vedant is the son of a well-known politician in Maharashtra, and it is inevitable that he will step into the shoes of his father soon enough.
What follows is a roller-coaster ride as Trisha tries to balance her relationship with dreams of her own. When Vedant moves away to Mumbai, Trisha tries to pull herself together by immersing herself in the work she loves.
Trisha’s roommate and only close friend from JNU, Juhi plays an important role in helping Trisha get back on her feet after this low phase of her life.
At this point, enter tall, sporty and handsome Abhimanyu, a tennis player who sweeps Trisha off her feet. He knows exactly what makes her happy and their chemistry is great.
But when Vedant resurfaces in her life, Trisha’s world again goes topsy-turvy. Read “Advantage Love” to traverse Trisha’s journey with her.

The book has some strong characters, the protagonist being one of them. Trisha is a very independent woman who doesn’t want her life to be defined by who her partner is, but by her own achievements. That said, while following her dreams, she wants to also share her life with a partner who will accept her the way she is, and who will love her unconditionally. Vedant and Abhimanyu, despite their “star” statuses are very real men, and have the same dreams and insecurities that all men do have. Trisha’s relationship with Juhi is something that all of us identify with, and the presence of a BFF in our lives is something we’re all grateful for.

Oohs and Mehs – I liked that the story was fast paced and had elements that as women we can identify with. Madhuri Banerjee’s style of writing is easy and effective. But I would have loved a slightly more complex series of events, because half way through, things became too predictable.
Overall, a nice vacation read!

About the Author – Madhuri Banerjee is a versatile media professional. She runs her own production house, Gray Matter Solution, and has worked in various forms of the visual medium. She is a blogger for CNN IBN, a columnist for Asian Age and a screenplay writer for Bollywood films among other things. She has previously authored two books, “Losing my Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas” and “Mistakes like Love and Sex”, both of which have been bestsellers. She blogs at

Buy it here:

The Hindu: Advantage Love & Thoughts

“Love and relationships are important to everyone,” says Madhuri Banerjee. “How much you are willing to give, defines who you are,” says the former screenplay writer, columnist, blogger and author. “Relationships fascinate me and it always intrigues me how they impact everyone’s life.”
Her latest novel Advantage Love, a coming-of-age story of a young, small-town girl, Trisha, explores how love changes the shape of her world. “It is not autobiographical but there are some aspects of Trisha’s life that are similar to my own. I am from Lucknow. I came to Delhi to study and found it difficult to adjust to the new setting. My character came from there but otherwise she is a figment of my imagination, not anyone real.”
Entwined in this story are elements of politics and sports because, “I believe that the youth are the future of this country and I wanted to drive home the message that contrary to popular notion it is alright to have a career in politics and bring about a change in this country. Also, since I am an avid tennis fan I wanted to bring the tennis element into it.”
Describing the book Madhuri says: “It is neither chick lit nor a love triangle. It is just the story of Vedant, Trisha and Abhimanyu and how they try to find themselves.”
Her previous two novels based on the life of a 30-something Kaveri protagonist of Losing My Virginity and Other Dumb Ideas and Mistakes like Love and Sex, is very different from this one. however, she admits, “The Kaveri novels were for a much older audience. It is set in Mumbai and begins when she is around thirty. Since she is a lot older, her idea of life and relationships are far more mature and rigid than Trisha’s. Kaveri was also a lot more like me. I loved that character and lived with her for a long time. But I think part of an author’s evolution is to go beyond autobiography and do something different in every book.” Her next two novels are markedly different. One titled My Clingy Girlfriend is the story of a guy trying to get out of a suffocating relationship while the other called Scandalous housewives is a darkly humorous take on the lives of three housewives in three metros, “I’m trying to create a plethora of different characters,” she says.
Her writing isn’t just confined to books however. She is also offers relationship advice on Twitter, used to write a column called The Love Guru and has a hugely popular blog, “I have so many more words inside me and I just want to get it out and share my ideas with the world.”
On future plans, she laughs and says, “I really hope this novel does well so I can go and buy more shoes.”

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Game, Set, Advantage Love: A New Excerpt with Leander and tennis!

The week flew by. Trisha didn’t know how she managed to clock in so many hours at work when all she could do was think about Abhimanyu. They spoke to each other several times on the phone, and once Abhimanyu took his turn asking her his five questions. Meeting Abhimanyu seemed to have revitalized her. His presence in her life reminded her that we don’t really choose the people we love: Love chooses for us and brings us to them through coincidences.
Even to Juhi it was clear how Trisha’s mood had changed. Trisha seemed brighter and less lonely. She made sure to convey all these nuances to Trisha’s mother, who seemed quite pleased.
At work, Trisha displayed a quiet confidence that impressed her colleagues and superiors. One day, after making a thorough presentation to the board about malnutrition in India, her boss had told her, ‘Never seen you so driven and motivated, Trisha. Keep up the good work.’ Trisha was elated, feeling renewed vigour in life. She went back to her desk, took a marker, and wrote on the white board behind her computer, ‘If you feel like you've been “chosen” to be happy, then nothing can bring you down.’ She honestly believed in it.
Soon Saturday came, the day she was supposed to watch Abhimanyu play. He had told her it would be a friendly match with his friend and that she can come to the Vinay Marg sports complex any time in the morning between six and ten, but that earlier would be better so she can see him  `crush’ his friend.
Trisha took a quick shower, got dressed in a dark red velvet kurta and a white churidar, and threw on her beige coat. She accessorized with silver hoops and flat red kolhapuris. She grabbed her large white purse, stuffed it with a book, and left the apartment around seven o’ clock.
She reached the court in half an hour and was shocked to see who Abhimanyu’s ‘friend’ was: Leander Paes, the international tennis star! She looked for a seat as Abhimanyu waved at her. The umpire shouted, ‘Love- forty.’
Abhimanyu served to Leander and it was an Ace. The umpire shouted, ‘Fifteen-forty.’ Abhimanyu had been losing until Trisha came. He knew he couldn’t lose in front of her. He served again and Leander returned down the line but Abhimanyu was already at the base line ready to lobby it back. Leander hit it back and went running towards the net but it was already declared ‘Out’ by the umpire. ‘Thirty-forty’ the umpire shouted probably for Trisha to hear. She clapped. Trisha was grateful to her father for being a tennis addict and making her watch all the Grand Slams every year since she was ten. Whatever little she understood of the matches was thanks to that. So far, she had only read tabloid stories of tennis stars and suddenly she wondered if her budding romance with Abhimanyu would also hit the tabloids soon. Her parents might just wake up one morning to read about her affair in the papers!
Abhimanyu served again and Leander hit it into the net. ‘Deuce!’ The umpire said.
Abhimanyu had gotten back in the game. They were even. Trisha shouted, ‘Go Abhimanyu!’ Leander looked up at her and said across the net to Abhimanyu, ‘The stakes are higher now huh, Abhi?’
Abhimanyu smiled. He served. Leander deliberately put the ball in the net.
‘Don’t give it to me, man!’ Abhimanyu shouted, ‘Let me earn it.’
Leander smiled and nodded. The next two points were long rallies that were pure A-class tennis. Trisha was enthralled. She had never enjoyed a tennis game as much as she did just then. She felt as if she was at Wimbledon watching the final match between two extremely talented players.
Abhimanyu won the game. He rushed over to Trisha, jumping the seats and grabbing hold of her to plant a deep, sensual kiss on her lips that astounded her and made her heart race.
‘I want you there at all my matches,’ he whispered. ‘You’re my lucky charm!’
Trisha was delighted.
Leander called from his chair, ‘Are you going to introduce me to your lucky charm?’
Abhimanyu looked back at him and yelled. ‘This is Trisha. My girlfriend!’ ’
Trisha’s heart hammered. She had never heard that word spoken about her before. When she was with Vedant, he had always skirted around the word. They had a deep connection and said ‘sweetheart’ to each other but ‘girlfriend’ was never said; Vedant said it was juvenile.
Right now, at the tennis court, Trisha was touched to hear the word.  It meant that she was someone’s, a significant other. It felt nice to ‘belong’. She couldn’t explain it. Even though she had been one-half of a ‘couple’ before, it felt extremely special for Abhimanyu to declare it.
It was a tough match and both Abhimanyu and Leander were very pleased with themselves. They showered and changed as Trisha waited outside the locker rooms, reading her book. Although it was a chilly December morning, Trisha felt warm. She felt a cosmic connection with Abhimanyu that she never had with Vedant. Even though she had spent two years with Vedant, she could feel how she had changed since she left the university. She now understood the things she needed from a man was exactly what Abhimanyu was giving her: a deep sense of security and a strong sense of acknowledgement in his life. After Vedant, she never thought that she would be in a relationship so soon and be able to tell her Mom or Juhi that she had a boyfriend this early.
Abhimanyu came out and walked towards her. His blue denim jeans were tight, showing off his strong muscular thighs and slim hips. ‘You carried a book in case you got bored of watching me?’
‘No.’ She shut the book and kept it in her bag. ‘A book is like my keys or mobile phone. I never leave home without it.’ She said with a smile.
‘Look, about earlier,’ Abhimanyu said shyly. ‘I got caught up in the moment and was so glad to see you that I kissed you and called you my girlfriend. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.’
‘No, it’s fine.’ She paused. ‘So am I really your girlfriend?’
‘Of course,’ he whispered, wrapping his arms around her. ‘I would really like to see where this goes. Is that fine?’
‘Yes, Abhimanyu, me too.’ She closed her eyes and buried her face in his shoulder.
‘Well as I promised I shall take you to breakfast but do you want to wait for my friend who’s flown in from Mumbai just for me or do you think we should ditch him?’
Trisha laughed and replied, “‘Let’s wait for Leander.’
‘Oh you know Leander but you didn’t know me huh?’
Trisha took his arm and squeezed it. The smell of his fresh cologne, the muscles rippling under the crispness of his shirt, quickened her pulse, and she kissed his clean-shaven bronze cheek and said softly, ‘I know you now darling!’ She couldn’t believe that with just one meeting and a few conversations she could have such an instant connect with someone. Was it destiny? She had thought she would take forever to get over Vedant but here was someone who was loving and nice despite being a huge sports star and she felt completely drawn to him. Her heart felt what she was doing was right. Somehow, she felt whole again—as if the loneliness was ebbing away and a new hope was taking its place.
Trisha could feel her body becoming warm and her primal desire swelling up with just his arm lying gently around her waist. The compelling brown eyes, the firm jaw, the confident set of shoulders made him imminently desirable. He looked deep into her eyes wanting to fulfil every thought that ran through her brain.
“‘You look so pretty,’ he said softly. He trailed his fingers down her face, her slender neck, her smooth skin glowing with the golden undertones of the sun’s rays, to the back of her thick, dark hair. He removed the clip that was holding her hair in place. ‘You look even better with your hair open.’ He bent down to softly kiss her lips. He projected an energy and power that undoubtedly left her breathless and overwhelmed each time they met.
‘You’re not wearing a jacket,’ she murmured. ‘Aren’t you feeling cold?’
His warm breath left her cheeks and settled on her ears. ‘I’m quite hot right now.’ Neither of them was willing to let the other go. But just then, Leander came out, and they hastily pulled away.
The three of them considered where to go for breakfast and finally decided on the All American Diner at the Habitat Centre.
At the diner, Trisha was delighted to discover that despite his international stature, Leander Paes was funny, down to earth, and quite a normal person. He was courteous with the servers and posed for pictures graciously with anyone who asked. Trisha had never met a celebrity before and liked how it was to be sharing breakfast with not one but two of them. 
‘As soon as the autograph-seekers had left Leander turned to Trisha. ‘Abhi has never introduced me to any of his girlfriends before. You must be special.’
She blushed as her hair tumbled carelessly around her shoulder.  “‘Well I don’t know about that,’ she replied. She could see Abhimanyu who was smiling indulgently as she continued, ‘Maybe there were just too many of them for him to have introduced everyone to you.’
Leander teased, ‘Yeah…Maybe I should tell her some of your stories.’
‘Do we really need to get into these stories?’ Abhimanyu said.
Trisha nudged him. ‘Let him speak.’
Abhimanyu was desperately changing the topic. ‘I don’t think we’ve ordered enough. Should we order some drinks?’ He spotted a waiter. ‘Excuse me? Can we please have the milkshake menu?’
Trisha and Leander chuckled. She wondered, though, why Abhimanyu should feel so uncomfortable with Leander telling her about his previous relationships. Was there more than just one Sara in his life? Was Abhimanyu truly a ladies’ man? She was confused and suddenly her walls were up again.  
She didn’t want to be a spoilsport so made small talk with Leander. ‘What has brought you to Delhi?’
‘Abhi and I are doubling up for the Australian Open in January and then again for the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters in April. We need to practice together on clay. The professional courts at Siri Fort Complex were being renovated today so we had to play at Vinay Marg. It was just to get warmed up.’
Trisha’s eyes widened. ‘Wow, Australia. And Monaco! It must be beautiful there.’ Trisha vowed to read up on tennis so she wouldn’t come across as a complete ignoramus in the august presence of tennis stalwarts like Leander and her boyfriend. If Abhimanyu was going to show off his ‘girlfriend’ to more friends, she needed to brush up on her knowledge of the game.
‘It is,’ nodded Leander. ‘Monaco is one of the most gorgeous places I’ve seen in the world. I won the championship there in 2005.’
‘I didn’t know that,’ Trisha said. ‘Belated congratulations!’
‘Thanks. We’re hoping to win this year too. And Australia. Well that’ll always be special for both of us.’ He winked at Abhimanyu as if they shared some secret. Seeing the gesture made Trisha go more into her shell. She began imagining skeletons tumbling out of Abhimanyu’s closet. He was, after all, a huge tennis star and female adulation was something athletes were used to.
 As if on cue, some girls who were seated some distance away came up to them and shyly asked, ‘Abhimanyu and Leander can we have a photo with you?’
The two men got up while one of the girls asked a waiter to take a photo with her mobile phone. The girl stood next to Abhimanyu, who casually put his arm around the girl’s waist and tilted his head towards her as the group posed for the photo. Trisha felt jealous, wondering if dating a glamour sports star was the right thing for her to do. 
Soon the waiter brought over their breakfast. Abhimanyu and Leander immediately dug in as they discussed their game, while Trisha picked at her food, lost in thought. She tossed her hair back and tied it with a clip. Then she picked up her fork again. What happened next, she didn’t expect: Swiftly as if he was a magician, Abhimanyu put his hand behind Trisha’s back and removed her hair clip and kept it in his hand. He continued speaking to Leander while doing that, his movements smooth and rapid.
From the corner of her eye, she could see Abhimanyu smiling. She stifled a grin. There was a lull in the conversation and he turned to her, his eyes filled with a compelling, curious longing. His smile was disarming. Trisha’s doubts disappeared in an instant. She realized how foolish she had been to judge him so quickly. Just go with the flow!
The three of them finished their meal and engaged in friendly banter. After an hour, Leander said he was ‘going to make a move.’
Abhimanyu laughed. ‘Sorry for boring you.’
Leander waved his arm to dismiss him. ‘No problem. I remember when I was dating Rhea. It was exactly the same. I’ll leave you two alone. I’ll see you at Coach’s place later this afternoon. Trisha it was lovely to meet you.’ Trisha returned the compliment.
Leander grabbed the check before Trisha and Abhimanyu could, paid for the bill, and said goodbye.
‘He’s a nice guy,’ said Trisha.
‘Yes he is.’
Trisha took the hairclip from him and kept it in her bag.
‘Will you be travelling much through the year?’
‘Yes, baby.’ His eyes searched her face. ‘It’s going to be a lot of back and forth this year. Need to win a lot of championships for India.’ He paused. ‘I’m really reluctant to leave you, but it is my job.’
Trisha knew the distance would be tough on both of them, but she appreciated Abhimanyu’s honesty, right from the beginning. She realized that in matters of the heart, you had to stop playing games if you were really in love. And with Vedant, there never was an honest answer.  
Trisha felt a pang of sadness. They had just started dating and he would soon be leaving on long tours across the world. But this was to be expected of an international tennis player, she reminded herself. But what concerned Trisha was that she didn’t know when she would meet Abhimanyu again. All she knew that here was another man who was not going to be around her just when she had started getting close to him.
Buy it here:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Define your dreams: An Interview in Fuccha for Advantage Love

My interview in Fuccha - a college online magazine aimed for the youth and by the youth of India.
Advantage Love_Final Spread
You can get Advantage Love from Flipkart

In a candid interview with Niharika, Madhuri talks about her successful journey, reading trends in India, new book and more.
Niharika: Tell us something about yourself, how has writing books and blogs changed your life, how do you feel knowing that your books and columns have changed the life of the readers as well?
Madhuri: Writing has always been a part of my life but now it’s become a career, something that I never thought would happen as I set out to be a director in life. I’m most happy if my work can make someone feel good about themselves or if they take something from any of my books and incorporate it or identify with it. If it gives pleasure in any small way, I feel I’ve achieved something in life.

Niharika: What’s a day in the life of Madhuri Banerjee like?
Madhuri: I wake up and take my daughter to school from Monday to Friday, come back and write until lunchtime. Then watch some TV and pick up my child. Post that I spend time with her. An evening walk every day is a must and at night I write again.

Niharika: You write blogs, you are a columnist, you have written bestselling books, you write scripts and you are a love guru and most importantly you are a mother, how do you manage all this?
Madhuri: I prioritise my time. You can’t do everything well at all times. So you must manage which one you want to excel at, for that day. Therefore, I focus on just that and give myself a lot of leeway to not be perfect at everything.

Niharika: In a country like India, where words like ‘sex’ and ‘virgin’ are considered taboos, you have written books with such titles and you have covered such topics. You talk about feminism at a total different level. Comment.
Madhuri: I want to break the shackles of a conservative society where parents can’t speak to their children about these topics. If the youth are open with their parents on many such things, I feel there will be less misunderstanding and less miscommunication. Initially there may be fights but the dialogues will start. Virginity and Sex are not taboo. If understood correctly, they can be liberating.

Niharika: Life before and after first book got published?
Madhuri: Life before my first book got released was me trying to understand who I was and where I wanted to go in life. Life after Losing My Virginity And Other Dumb Ideas was like losing my virginity in the world of publishing, liberating! I finally found my calling and understood what I needed to do for the rest of my life. It took a long time though. I was in my 30s when it happened!

Niharika: When did you realise you were famous?
Madhuri: Am I?!

Niharika: How do you define generation gap? What does today’s youth lacks or what is that something that you think is there in the youth of India today that can bring about a change?
Madhuri: The youth today need a little more focus on their careers rather than their relationships. They are the ones that can change this country but if they just want to please their friends or wear the latest trends, they’re not making a difference in their lives. They need to read more and believe that they will be the Prime Minister one day. Set their path and go forth.

Niharika: What is your take on reading trends in India?
Madhuri: I wish people would read more. Authors and publishers have seen a down turn in the economy of late when it comes to books. People need to pick up their books more than their mobiles.

Niharika: Any words of wisdom for all our Fucchas?
Madhuri: Define your dream. Work towards it every day. Everything else can wait. Don’t let others influence your dream. Believe in yourself.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Review ‘Advantage Love’ by Madhuri Banerjee


Just ahead of Valentine’s Day, I received Advantage Love authored by Madhuri Banerjee. And it really helped set a nice, romantic mood for the most important day in the life of most couples (I presume). This book is a simple love triangle, sprinkled with advice and independence, free spirit and love itself.
Don’t be a woman that needs a man. Be a woman that a man needs.
ALThe book starts off with the simple homely Lucknow girl coming to Delhi with dreams in her eyes. Here, Trisha meets young, hot to-be politician Vedant Kirloskar. He’s the rich bad boy you can’t resist, even though you don’t see a future with him. Soon, Trisha realises that there no “riding off into the sunset” with Vedant, as they come from families that are worlds apart. After an 8 month, Twilight-esque hiatus, enter Abhimanyu, young Tennis player. Trisha and him fall in love, fast and hard, and Trisha realises he is perfect for her. But then, Vedant re-enters her life, and Trisha is left torn. Is a bird in the hand really worth two in the bush?
Supporting cast here is Juhi, Trisha’s best friend and Neha, Trisha’s mother. Both are easily the best characters in the book and Juhi is wise beyond her years. While Juhi has her own life and own problems, she seems to have grasped what it takes to make a relationship work. Neha, on the other hand seems to understand her daughter, better than Trisha thinks so. She unwittingly helps Trisha and teaches her important lessons about being free and spirited. At a certain point when Trisha has hit a dead end with Abhimanyu, Juhi speaks the exact words that resonate in my mind, “Why is this relationship only about you?” At this same point, Neha says, “There is no relationship that has not been taken for granted some point. The good ones rectify it immediately.”
Why should anyone have to live up to your standards? Have you even tried to live up to theirs?
The book, for the most part follows a similar love story pattern, a high, followed by a low, followed by another high and finally, confusion. But, its good writing and simplicity keeps it afloat. The book tackles many issues, subtly so, such as marriage, first love, virginity and so on. The book is devoid of any grammatical and spelling mistakes.
Of course, you don’t question how one ordinary girl can be lucky enough to meet the hottest politician AND the hottest Indian athlete in one lifetime. Also, Trisha’s character is often shown as too flawed and confused, for her own good. Her angst can often be infuriating. It reminds me of Bella Swan from Twilight, though infinitely better.
Overall, this book makes a good and light read, perfect a night-in or any travel!
Overall Rating: 7/10
Buy it here: 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The New-Age Art of Dating: iDiva special for Valentine's Day!

Madhuri Banerjee is a bestselling author, a blogger with CNN-IBN, a screenplay writer for Bollywood films, an Ad film director, a columnist with Asian Age and a mother. She has her own production house, Gray Matter Solution, that makes ad films and TV shows. She has also won a National Award for her documentary on women’s issues calledBetween Dualities. Her new book Advantage Love is a compelling and passionate contemporary Indian romance that explores the complexities of love, friendship and career in a woman’s life. Madhuri tweets with the handle @Madhuribanerjee and her personal blog is

The old clandestine meetings have given way to the new brazen flaunt-it-all relationships.
Dating in India is very different from dating in the West. In both cases, there is a 5-step process. The West is more; meet each other often, fall in love, live together, meet the parents, and then walk down the aisle. In India it is more like; parents meet, grown children feel shy, a week of wedding celebrations, finally fall in love, and then go out for dinner.
However, things have been changing recently and the new generations have been pioneers in bringing about the new rules of dating. Here's a crash course in the new-age art of dating:

1. How to meet: Now while in the west, there are many places where you can meet single people, in India if a man goes up to a woman in a bar, it is considered excessively 'forward'. That is why there are wedding sites. Under the guise of looking for the correct person, wedding sites give one the opportunity to meet several people while checking up on their profile and background. People also use Facebook, chat rooms, dot coms and friends of friends to hook up. Somehow, it is easier to type it out than talk in person for the new generation. And everyone loves it.

2. Where to meet: Everywhere. Earlier people were found in secluded corners of the park or in dingy little restaurants where they would not be caught. Nowadays couples not only hang out in restaurants, pubs, ice cream parlours and movie halls, they walk freely down public roads, hang out at each other’s houses and even have sleepovers at friends’ places. The old clandestine meetings give way to the new brazen, if you are in love, flaunt it in style.

3. What to do: Not many people have time anymore. With college, work, or parental pressure, couples find it difficult to pack in fun and meaningful activities when they meet. That is why all dates are now whirlwind affairs, a quick lunch, a movie, shopping for a few essentials, a quick stop over at a friend’s place that is out of town and back home for dinner and TV with parents. Sameness does not mean boring anymore. Because if it gets boring with one person, you move on to the next. You don’t need to change the pattern. You just need to change the person.

4. What to talk about: You know there are a few interests you have in common since you have seen his profile on that dot com site. Date conversations go from getting to know a person generally to getting to know him deeper. The general questions can be about the “favourite” things in the person’s life, their school and work experiences. The deeper ones would be about love, marriage, kids, parents, fears, desires, and habits. Stories make a man. The more the saga, the more interesting the man.

5. How to break up: It is not working out. You know and you really hope he will understand. Nevertheless, you do not want to hurt each other. Once you are sure about your decision you need to start maintaining your distance. Unreturned phone calls, random messages of “I’m busy” and “I’m looking for something else” might give the other person a hint. While people used to meet earlier to break up in person, changing your status to single on a popular website might have the same effect today, even though it is crueler. New age breaking up is all about texting saying it is over or blocking a person from your chat room. It might not be the best way to get closure, but it is the most effective for becoming thick skinned.

Image courtesy:©Thinkstock photos/ Getty images