- Shop with balance and get Rs.50 cashback per customer. Minimum order Rs.250 (excluding delivery fees). Applicable on orders paid using only Amazon Pay balance during Feb 16 - 28. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)
Blue Blood Paperback – 14 Jan 2011
Special offers and product promotions
About the Author
Uttara Chauhan grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada, and was educated in Canada and India. She has lived and worked in India as a planning consultant and freelance writer. Currently, she works as a policy analyst for the Government of Canada. Her first novel, A Model House, was published in 2003. She lives in Ottawa.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter mobile phone number.
|5 star (0%)|
|4 star (0%)|
|3 star (0%)|
|2 star (0%)|
|1 star (0%)|
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
A refreshing collection of short stories, Blue Blood gives us insight to world of Royal Families of Post-Independence India, where some struggle to hold on to their rich history while some are busy creating a new history by adapting themselves to the ever changing lifestyle of the modern hustle bustle.
The Indian Royals have a very vast history. We have the Hindu Maharajas, Muslim Nawabs and the Portuguese Royal descendants all captured in a different light in this book. Pre Indian Independence, the Princely sates were offered `Privy of Purse' which were a payment to the Royal families of these Princely states as a part of their agreement to integrate with India in 1947, and in 1949 to merge their Princely states with the states of India, and losing their right to rule their states. In 1971 with the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi abolished this allowance completely.
Here are some excerpts from the conversation with Author, Uttara Chauhan
* Congratulations on your nomination to the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. How does it feel to be recognized for your work?
Thank you. It is a very nice feeling, and the news came as a wonderful surprise. "Blue Blood" is my second book, but my first collection of short stories. To have been on a long-list with some of the best contemporary short story writers in the world was a great honour. It is also terrific motivation for my future work.
* Tell us about yourself. Which part of India did your parents come from, some special moments during the making of your novels that you'd like to share.
My parents are from North India. I arrived in Canada as a baby and grew up in Saskatchewan. My family and I moved back to India when I was a teenager and I spent many years there before relocating back to Canada as an adult. Quite naturally then, I am very interested in both countries; both societies. Currently, India and the Indian diaspora in Canada are of great interest as subjects of my writing. History, social change and identity are other themes that recur in my work.
* What motivated an Architect or a Planning Consultant to try her hand at writing?
I have always loved to write. I remember enjoying creative writing in my Grade 7 English class and my best friend from Grade 2 recalls how I told her I would write a book one day (even though I don't remember that myself!). However, as I went through high school and university, creative writing got pushed further and further aside, because I was expected to pursue science and take up a profession. I became an architect and an urban planner, and worked as an architectural journalist and a planning consultant, but all the while my love of fiction grew, especially the work of the new crop of Indian writers in the early 90s. Those were the first moments of my writing.
* Tell us a little about your first book A Model House, what is this novel about? How long did it take you to write it?
"A Model House" follows the journey of Alaknanda (Nanda), a young Indo-American woman in search of her Indian roots. Nanda falls in love with Raghu, an architect who becomes involved in a controversial reconstruction project in an Indian village torn apart by caste violence. She also discovers the diary of Raghu's deceased brother Shiva, an unsung hero of the student-led Navnirman Movement of 1974. Watching Raghu's struggle with manipulative NGO leaders and politicians, and reliving the heady moments of Shiva's idealism through his diary entries, Nanda gains a unique insider-outsider perspective on the politics of change and development in India - and in the process, a better understanding of her own identity.
"A Model House" was written in bits and pieces over ten years.
* Tell us a little about Blue Blood. How long did it take you to write it? How many days did you spend in India researching your book?
"Blue Blood" is a collection of 8 short stories on the theme of former royalty in India. It describes the personal triumphs and tragedies of former royals as they navigate the space between their past glory and the reality of the present. Through their stories, I explore universal emotions such as love and longing, betrayal and revenge, loss of status, and issues of identity.
Again, work on the book was spread out over several years, during which I was in and out of India. I did not make any special trips to India to do the research, nor did I conduct any formal interviews. My interactions with formal royals were informal, and more by chance, rather than by design. The manuscript was accepted by Penguin India in November 2009 and the book was launched in India in January 2011.
* What made you write about Indian royalty?
Being trained as an architect, I suppose my fascination began with the erstwhile palaces, many of which have been converted into heritage hotels. My interactions with former royals were informal, as well as people who are familiar with the subject matter. And then I began to read widely. I discovered that while there are a lot of books about Indian royalty, most of them are in the non-fiction category (memoirs, biographies, histories, etc.), and most of them focus on the pre-Independence era. Till now, no one had written a short story collection on post-Independence Indian royalty. So in that sense "Blue Blood" is unique.
* What do Indian royals stand for in the eyes of modern-day Indians?
They mean different things to different people. Some royals continue to be very visible, especially those who have taken up politics and public service. Others have become successful hoteliers, while those from smaller states have slipped into middle-class professions or businesses. And some have slipped into complete oblivion.
There is an eternal fascination with royalty, not just in India, but worldwide. The recent visit to Canada of Kate and William is a case in point. Today, the notion of royalty is not just associated with the glory of days gone by, but with a high degree of glamour and commercialism. Today's royals are celebrities in their own right, and this can be seen in India, as well. With the rise of heritage tourism, India's royals are also seen, and used, as cultural symbols.
* Your 8 short stories have tried to cover every aspect of the Indian royals' lives, care to elaborate.
My intention in writing these stories was to describe the complete ordinariness of today's royals, especially the ones from smaller, lesser-known princely states, in their struggle to adjust to modern times. Despite the pomp and splendour associated with their past, today they are forced to work for a living and rub shoulders with commoners. Some have accepted this transition gracefully, while others continue to live in the past, and the few who are unable to reconcile with their loss of status engage in self-destructive behaviour. I wanted to let readers inside the private lives of royal families, simply to demonstrate that despite their special history, they share the same human emotions as you and I: love, lust, loneliness, jealousy, betrayal, greed...and questions around identity, be it sexual identity or the royal vs. non-royal identity.
* Your stories bear some similarities to some real life events such as Manvendra Singh Raghubir Singh, the Gay Prince of India and Raghavendra Rathore the first royal to become a fashion designer. What all scenarios did you explore before developing the 8 stories?
The opening story "The Birthday" is about a young prince who also happens to be a gay fashion designer, but the character takes no cues from either Manvendra or Raghavendra. In fact, I wrote that story in Ottawa and only after I finished did I find out that India has an openly gay prince - who has also been on the Oprah Winfrey show.
I did not set out to write the collection with a premeditated plan. Adherence to the lives of real-life royals was not important. Rather, reality merely formed the starting point for the stories, which are largely the product of my imagination.
* You seem to cover all your bases from Rajputana royals to an Indian-born descendant of the Portuguese royal family. How many types of royal families did you interview or research?
It was not my goal to cover all regions or communities of royal India. Most of the stories have Hindu Rajputs as characters, while one story focuses on a Muslim family and another on a Catholic Portuguese king. As one reviewer has observed, the stories have a North Indian bias, and that is because I wrote about characters and regions with which I have some familiarity.
* Do you still think there is a certain amount of respect for the royals of yesteryear?
In India, I think people appreciate the work of the royals who are committed to public service and clean, constructive politics in a democratic system. The perception is that because they have their own wealth, they are not corrupt. People expect them to provide positive role models, but as common citizens. At the same time, they are visible reminders of a bygone era.
* What's next in store for your readers?
I've finished a draft of my third book -- another novel - and am waiting for comments from a reader. This book, set in India, Canada, the U.S, and Hong Kong, explores memory and mid-life issues and the new Indian urban middle class. I'll be spending the next few months reworking and polishing the draft.
I've also started researching my fourth book.