Seven months ago, just after we said farewell to our favorite chaiwallah, ate our last Sagar’s dosa, and gazed at the green water of Hauz Khas Reservoir one final time, we ensured our ties to Delhi were just beginning by signing a book contract to write about expat life in Delhi. Today, 80,000 words later… it’s not done.
Only a small portion of the manuscript is taken directly from this blog. What’s more, unlike this blog, the book isn’t a collection of short disparate essays; instead, it’s a seamless narrative encompassing every aspect of expat life in India’s capital, from dodging aggressive cows to learning Hindi curse words. While eight chapters are complete, there are at least three more that still need to be started, not to mention all the rounds of revisions and editing that we’ll need to complete before we can call it a draft.
So last week, I quit my job. I’d been working part time at an ad agency, while Jenny’s been working for a charity. And while the job was a really good one, it had one problem: it was making me work too hard. I had no time to write.
Now that won’t be a problem. I’ve bought a desk, I’ve bought an office chair, and I’ve bought a bicycle so when I get sick of working at home I can go work at a nearby coffee shop. I fully intend to have the manuscript done by December — which means, if all goes well, illegally bootlegged copies of the book will be hawked on the streets of Delhi well before the Commonwealth Games begin.
To round out this progress update, here’s my favorite thing I’ve written today. (Yes, I’m working on Saturdays.)
“It wasn’t necessary to learn Hindi to get by in Delhi. But the more we learned, the richer the experience became, because the more we could decipher the country around us. Once we learned that dil translated to ‘heart’, we understood about half of the Bollywood titles that came out; and once we learned a few curse words, I understood what my drivers were saying about me on their mobiles as they took me to work. (I would imagine they used ‘choothia‘ to mean ‘heck of a guy’ like Michael Jackson used ‘bad’ to mean ‘good’.)”