The tearful ‘finale’ scene and how I wrote it

For all those of you who have read my novel ‘Diary of an Immigrant Bride’, you would know that the finale scene is a birthday party where Anjali (the central character) and her friends are performing a musical bonanza on stage. The heart-broken Anjali walks towards the stage, preparing to sing the signature song that she and her estranged husband Ravi used to sing together often in happier times gone by. The song is the classic duet from the evergreen movie ‘Abhimaan’…’tere mere milan ki ye raina’.

Here’s a sneak peek into how I came to write this scene and the work that was involved before i finished writing it:

As I prepared to write this final scene, I first listened to the song a few dozen times, soaking in the words with my eyes closed, letting the meaning of the lyrics wash over me. I knew the scene was going to be a poignant one and I had to make sure I got it right. Once I finished listening to it a few times, I switched on my karaoke system at home, and sang the song myself….repeatedly….putting myself in Anjali’s shoes….feeling the emotions I wanted her to feel…feeling the ache of heartbreak….shattered dreams….dashed hopes. At the same time that I was concentrating on the sadness that the song evoked within me, I also had one ear tuned in to the instruments playing. I knew exactly when the ‘tabla’ beat was introduced, at which point the flute took over and which segments were dominated by the violin etc. This was because Anjali’s friends in the scene would be playing the different instruments, and I had to make sure I knew at which point in the song, the confusion would begin. Although all these finer details did not find their way eventually into the book, they formed a huge part of my background research.

After singing the song myself at least fifteen times, I had become Anjali. Her pain was my pain. Her sadness was my sadness. We were one and the same. I told myself I would sing the song one last time and then go back to my laptop to write out the scene. I clicked ‘start’ on my karaoke device…the music began playing….I picked up the microphone….the first few lines were played out by the instruments…I closed my eyes, and pictured the door opening and Ravi (Anjali’s husband) walking in. It was my turn to sing. Or rather Anjali’s. But we were one and the same by then. I had turned into my character…I was inside her skin. As I sang, I imagined the emotions Anjali would be going through on seeing her husband after months of separation. And I remember the tears flowing down my cheeks as I sang the evergreen words….’tere mere milan ki ye raina…naya koi gul khilayegi…tabhi to chancha hai tere naina…dekho na…’

I wept as I stumbled back to my computer, and wrote the final chapter, with the tears streaming down. I didn’t bother wiping them, because I was in the zone by then. And I didn’t want the emotion to disappear. After finishing the chapter, I was so overcome by the force of Anjali’s predicament, that I actually remember hiding my face in my pillow and sobbing. My husband popped his head around our bedroom door and looked at me puzzled. After a moment, his brow cleared and he said with a half-sympathetic, half-amused smile: ‘Oh dear, crying over one of your characters again?’

Anyways, dear friends, that’s the secret of how that scene came to be written. It will remain one of my favourite scenes forever, because it forms the quintessence of my writing technique. Before writing any scene, I have to internalise the character and only then can I go on to write the actual words.

I have the recording of me singing the song just before writing the scene. Perhaps I will share that clip on my blog some day🙂

Exciting! ‘Diary of An Immigrant Bride’ being launched across India in June 2015.

“What happens if a woman meets her soulmate after marriage…. and it’s not her husband?”

‘Diary of An Immigrant Bride’ is a cross cultural love story set in Sydney, Australia that explores this theme.

Jaico_Final Book Cover

As some of you may know, I self-published my debut novel ‘Unravelling Anjali: Diary of an Immigrant Bride’ in December 2014. The book received very favourable reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as well as via established bloggers. Soon after, I was signed up by Jaico Publishing House and the book is now all set to be launched all over India in June 2015 with a brand new cover and the new title “DIARY OF AN IMMIGRANT BRIDE”.

What is ‘DIARY OF AN IMMIGRANT BRIDE’ about? Well, it’s not just a love story. It’s a lot more. The book delves into the key elements of affinity, love and lust. These three elements are vital for any relationship to succeed. Having said that, many a relationship finds itself lacking one or more of these crucial building blocks. Is lust enough for a relationship to survive? Can commitment without love last over a long period of time? What if there’s love and commitment, but physical attraction has gradually vanished? Will the relationship survive? Can it survive? The book explores this dilemma……

I hope you enjoy reading the book and I look forward to hearing from you. It’s always a delight to hear from my readers. Feel free to drop me a line at:

Best wishes & happy reading!


You can’t cheat, my dear! You’re a woman.

Copyright Nim Gholkar 2015. All rights reserved.

“A good Indian girl cheats on her poor unsuspecting husband and he (gasp!) forgives her??? What kind of spineless, cowardly, weak man would tolerate something so unspeakably terrible? She SHOULD have been banished forever from the family home…the marriage SHOULD have ended straight away..there SHOULD have been no second chances….”

Should, should, should. We live in a world groaning under the weight of a million ‘shoulds’ that have been passed down generation after generation, almost as though it were a legacy to be revered.

~ ~ ~

It was a mildly warm autumn afternoon and the air was thick with the fragrance of freshly baked pies and pastries. The coffee shop was crowded, and I could hear a multitude of accents buzzing around me. One of Sydney’s greatest strengths is how amazingly multi-cultural it is. I leaned forward, cupped my palms around the steaming hot mug of chai latte and locked eyes with the frowning young man glaring back at me. Everyone else at our table held their breath and waited for my response. I smiled. Bring it on! The debate had begun.

The topic being discussed was the love story depicted in my debut novel “Unravelling Anjali: Diary of an Immigrant Bride”. My protagonist, the very sweet, very well-brought up Anjali had actually had the nerve to fall in love with a man who wasn’t her husband. And okay, if that wasn’t bad enough, I had actually engineered the plot in such a way that Ravi, her ‘poor’, ‘unsuspecting’ husband had chosen to ‘remain with her’??? What on earth was I thinking of?

It wasn’t the first time I was having this debate. Over the past few months since releasing the novel I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve discussed ‘the meaning of love and marriage’ with a wide range of people. Some have agreed with the conclusion of the novel, and some have argued against it. Why couldn’t Anjali have gone off with Jake, her lover? Why couldn’t Anjali have given up both men and soldiered on alone? Yes, indeed, Anjali could have chosen any one of a handful of paths, as can we all when faced with major decisions in life. She chose the one she chose because of who she was. The product of her times and her upbringing. She was neither right nor wrong. She simply was! And I have been thoroughly entertained by the different view points I have heard. It’s always fun to see how different people have such unique perspectives on the same book.

Anyway, back to the debate about Anjali’s husband having done the unthinkable and absolutely unacceptable by forgiving her. I sipped the chai latte, gathered my thoughts and posed my question: “Let’s for a moment pretend that it wasn’t Anjali who cheated. That it was actually her husband who betrayed her by having an affair. What, then, would you have to say?”

My young friend, a bit red in the face, obviously from the strain of having to tolerate such a bizarre question, threw up his hands and rolled his eyes: ‘Now, that’s different” he said, his perplexed frown indicating I was obviously clueless about how the real world functioned.

Aha! So there it was. The miserable, bitter truth. Some of the saddest words spoken in the history of mankind’s infidelity are ‘Now, that’s different’.

I felt a nerve twitch at the corner of my eye. ‘Interesting!’ I murmured. ‘Please enlighten me. Why is it so very different if it’s the man who has cheated on his wife rather than the other way around?’

‘Well, he’s a man…’

‘Yes, of course. And so….?’ I asked, struggling to believe my ears.

He cleared his throat uncomfortably. ‘Umm…like I said, he’s a man. It’s different for men. History has proven it time and again’

I decided to release him from his misery and make it easier. ‘Are you saying it’s okay for him to cheat because he’s a man. And that it’s unforgivable of her to cheat because she’s a woman?’

He nodded vehemently, simultaneously impatient and relieved that I had finally figured it out. ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I mean!’

I stared at him for a few seconds, then shook my head and looked away.

Therein lies the essence of the argument. According to him it was wrong of my heroine to cheat because she was a woman.

And that is precisely where I beg to differ.

I don’t condone infidelity or adultery. But that’s my personal opinion. I chose to write about a young woman who made a choice…a regrettable one as she later believed.  Another woman in the same situation might not have felt the same. She didn’t blame karma or destiny for all the pain and suffering that followed. She blamed the choices she made.  We are all such complex beings. The divide between right and wrong is a mere line in the sand…the edges blurring with time and the complexity of human experience. Would he, for example, have more sympathy for my heroine had she chosen to slash her wrists to battle her loneliness, instead of falling in love with someone? Would that have been more acceptable?

However, that is not what troubled me. What troubled me was not that my young friend believed Anjali was wrong to have been unfaithful? At the very core, infidelity reflects the absence of respect for one’s partner and should, therefore, be avoided. We all have different moral compasses, though, and for every person who says ‘Infidelity is wrong’ there will be others who ask ‘Says who?’

What troubled me was that he honestly believed she was wrong to have committed adultery because she was a woman.

If adultery is wrong in your opinion, my friend, then it is wrong irrespective of you being a man or woman. If adultery is unforgivable, my friend, then it is unforgivable whether you’re a man or a woman. If infidelity is not to be accepted, then it should be unacceptable from a man or a woman.

Spare me the weak argument of ‘Now, that’s different’

It’s not different. And the day we realise that, we will be on the road towards new horizons.

A spoonful of childhood & a sliver of faith

For the past couple of days, Sydney has been groaning under relentless rainfall….thunderstorms, lightening, fallen trees, flooded roads….Every news bulletin has been highlighting frightening conditions everywhere….
While chatting with friends about this rather grim picture, I came across an absolutely heart-warming story that reminded me of the beauty and innocence of childhood.

A friend of mine was telling me about how his five year old was petrified the other day at the sound of thunder cracking through the night air. It was bedtime, and she had been sleeping only for about half an hour before she woke up startled on hearing rain lashing against their rooftop. The whistling wind, eeerie and ominous, was enough to strike terror into the heart of grown-ups, let alone a five year old.

She sat up straight in bed, convinced their beloved house was going to collapse over their heads. Hearing her crying, her parents gathered around, and hugged her. But nothing would console the little one. Their house was going to crumble to the floor, and she was certain of it.
Finally, her dad reminded her of the story he read to her each night…the story of the 3 little pigs….’Remember, how there are three pigs and each has a different house? The first pig builds a house made of straw, but the wicked wolf blows it down. The second pig builds a house of sticks, and the wolf blows it down too’…..The little girl, eyes wide as saucers, listened as her father spoke…..

‘Well, guess what, little one….Our house is made of brick. And remember what happened to the 3rd pig? He built a house of brick and that is why the wolf could not eat him. Just like that, no one and nothing can blow our little house down. It’s made of brick. So we are safe’

And like magic, the little girl smiled at her father, tucked her disney princess quilt under her chin and fell fast asleep, a smile lingering on her face for a long, long time.

Oh, the beauty and innocence of childhood. As adults, we probably lie awake for a long time on troubled nights, listening to the wind howling and the trees swaying…our minds are plagued by all kinds of thoughts, some so full of anxiety and worry that we find it impossible to go back to sleep. But childhood….there’s something so sweetly pure about it. And there is nothing quite as beautiful and touching as little babies sleeping peacefully, knowing with an absolute conviction…a conviction we adults can never hope to have….that everything will be alright, simply because their parents say so🙂

10 random facts about myself

Hey dear friends,

Here are some random facts about myself…some which you may know already…and some which may be a surprise to you🙂

1) I love singing karaoke (particularly Bollywood songs from the 1960s and 70s). In fact, in my debut novel ‘Unravelling Anjali: Diary of an Immigrant Bride’, I have shown several of my characters being part of a karaoke group that sings Hindi film songs.

2) I rarely watch TV ( whenever I have some free time, I prefer reading either fiction or non-fiction books). On the odd occasion, though, if there is a really good movie being shown on TV, I will watch it. But a good book is always within arm’s reach)

3) My grandmother, Kumudini Rangnekar, was a famous Marathi author of her time. I grew up watching her write her masterpieces🙂 and being thoroughly inspired.

4) As a child, I was extremely shy and timid (a fact no one believes any more, because I’ve been called a ‘chatterbox’ on many an occasion)

5) My favourite meal is dal and rice with pickle

6) I’m deeply affected by the weather. If the sun is shining, I feel energetic. If it’s dark and dismal, I feel gloomy.

7) I hate arguments and will do anything to avoid one.

8) My truly creative time is during the early hours of the morning. Most of my novel was written somewhere between the hours of 2 am and 6 am.

9) I’m a die-hard romantic and will cry inconsolably if a mushy novel I’m reading ends sadly.

10) The quality I find most attractive is a sense of humour. I adore funny people who say funny things🙂

My favourite movie-dialogue

Some movies are unforgettable. And some dialogues from movies remain eternally etched in memory!

So, here’s a very short, fun post about movie dialogues.

I would love to hear from you about which movie dialogue stayed in your mind for a long, long time. I’ll go first…here are 3 of my all-time favourite dialogues…..

1) “Pushpa, I hate tears…..inhe poch dalo” …..unforgettable words said by the very debonair Rajesh Khanna in ‘Amar Prem’

2) “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”….Ah! who can ever forget the charming, very suave Rhett Butler in ‘Gone with the Wind’….Clark Gable was one a kind…a kind we’ll never forget!

3) “May the force be with you!”….short, snappy and superb….the amazing line from “Star Wars”

Now, it’s your turn….do let me know one or more of your most favourite movie dialogues ever….

So, you had an arranged marriage???

There is always a bewildered silence when I tell people about how long I knew my husband before I married him.

“21 days???” they squeak, not quite believing their ears.

Of course I could easily say ‘three weeks’ instead. It’s just that ’21 days’ has such a deliciously shocking ring to it🙂

‘Umm….err…so was it an arranged marriage?’ is almost always the next question I’m asked, in hushed tones, a sense of quiet disbelief still lingering in the air.

‘Yes’ I smile back.

‘Wow!’…The listener leans back and digests this piece of information, not quite sure how to proceed. I sip my coffee/white wine/mocktail (depending on the situation) and wait.

‘So, you did have a choice?’ this is said in a slightly worried, at the same time hopeful voice. ‘I mean, could you have said ‘no’ if you didn’t agree’

I lean forward and decide to let my audience out of its misery. ‘Yes’ I smile. ‘Arranged marriages are an old tradition in India.’

Without fail, what follows is an interesting, thought-provoking, animated conversation about the enigma called arranged marriage. For it is a mystery in the true sense of the word. What makes arranged marriages tick? Do they have a higher chance of survival compared to love-marriages? How does it feel to marry someone who is little more than a stranger? How does love grow? Can you LEARN to love someone?

I have explored all this in my debut novel: ‘Unravelling Anjali: Diary of an Immigrant Bride’ (a fictional account of a young Indian girl who migrates to a foreign country following a traditional arranged marriage). And no! it’s NOT autobiographical. But I’m hoping the story resonates with every girl who has moved to a foreign land following marriage and faced the challenges of settling into a new culture.

If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear from you about your thoughts on it🙂

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