HOW DID MEGHNA PANT CONCEIVE HAPPY BIRTH­DAY AND OTHER STO­RIES?

Storizen Magazine - - Cover Story -

It was turn­ing out to be one of those days. My hands were frozen from New York’s bit­ing cold. I was late to catch my train from Penn Sta­tion. The plas­tic bag car­ry­ing my lunch had ripped, right in the mid­dle of a mall. As I mulled over how best to sal­vage the sit­u­a­tion, some­one put a hand on my shoul­der. I turned and saw an old In­dian lady with hair like moon­light smil­ing at me. She held out a plas­tic bag. When I hugged her

in grat­i­tude, she in­sisted on in­tro­duc­ing me to a group of her “mall rat friends” other el­derly In­di­ans who were sit­ting on a bench out­side the JC Pen­ney store. They gath­ered around me, cu­ri­ous about this girl liv­ing alone in Man­hat­tan, try­ing to be a writer. “Why aren’t you at home with your grand­chil­dren?” I asked them in re­turn. The quiet in their smiles,

their long ex­cuses, re­vealed that they were not wel­come at home.

That day I missed my train, but found a story: ‘Le­mon & Chili’. It be­came my first short story to be pub­lished by an Amer­i­can literary mag­a­zine. And sub­se­quently, part of ‘Happy Birth­day and other sto­ries’. This was 2008 and I spend the next three years fu­ri­ously writ­ing more short sto­ries. From the van­tage point of those old eyes and the un­said things etched wearily on those wrin­kles, I shone the light on the dark cor­ners of our lives that we keep hid­den. I went on a jour­ney, liv­ing vi­car­i­ously through other peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences, gath­er­ing scraps from over­heard con­ver­sa­tions and giv­ing free flight to my mind’s imag­i­na­tion. It

was like tak­ing pages out of a book that peo­ple didn’t want to open. Meghna Pant is an In­dian nov­el­ist and fi­nan­cial jour­nal­ist. Born in

Shimla, Meghna spent her child­hood in Delhi, her teenage years in Mum­bai, and most of her twen­ties in the ci­ties of Zurich, Sin­ga­pore,

Dubai and New York. Af­ter com­plet­ing an un­der­grad­u­ate de­gree in Eco­nom­ics and Statis­tics from St. Xavier Col­lege, Mum­bai, Meghna won a schol­ar­ship for a MBA in Fi­nance at Nanyang Busi­ness School, Sin­ga­pore, and a Masters in In­ter­na­tional Man­age­ment at the Univer­sity of St. Gallen, Switzer­land. Af­ter her MBA, Meghna moved on from a job in cor­po­rate fi­nance to be­come a busi­ness jour­nal­ist. She be­gan her ca­reer as a TV an­chor with Arnab Goswami at Times Now, and went on to work for NDTV Profit in Mum­bai and Bloomberg-UTV in New York City, where she re­ported from the New York Stock Ex­change. She has met and in­ter­viewed Pres­i­dent Obama, Mukesh Am­bani, Sir Richard Bran­son, Hil­lary Clin­ton, Ratan Tata and Shah Rukh Khan, among oth­ers. Meghna is the au­thor of One & A Half Wife (May 2012, West­land Books) and Happy Birth­day! (July 2013, Ran­dom House).

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