Lucky Everyday: A Novel

Paperback | May 26, 2009

byBapsy Jain

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An inspiring novel about a women named Lucky who is anything but . . .

Forced to flee Bombay when her wealthy and charming husband divorces her and squashes her career, Lucky Boyce feels defeated and desperate for respite. Fortunately, old friends welcome her to New York where life begins with promise. Determined and trying to make a difference, she volunteers to teach yoga to prison inmates. But with her confidence in question and love starting to surface, a series of bizarre events leave Lucky searching once again for answers. Is her journey through life destined to be marred by duplicity and betrayal? Or does she simply need to overcome her fears and look within for the strength to break free? A stunning novel about one woman's struggle toward enlightenment, Lucky Everyday blends the principles of yoga with a thoroughly modern take on the quest for a fulfilled life.

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An inspiring novel about a women named Lucky who is anything but . . .Forced to flee Bombay when her wealthy and charming husband divorces her and squashes her career, Lucky Boyce feels defeated and desperate for respite. Fortunately, old friends welcome her to New York where life begins with promise. Determined and trying to make a di...

In addition to writing, Bapsy Jain is an entrepreneur and educator. She divides her time between Singapore, Dubai, and Bombay. She is married with two sons.

other books by Bapsy Jain

The Blind Pilgrim
The Blind Pilgrim

Kobo ebook|Feb 14 2008

$17.19 online$22.28list price(save 22%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 7.95 × 5.15 × 0.6 inPublished:May 26, 2009Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143115359

ISBN - 13:9780143115359

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Table of ContentsTitle PageCopyright PageDedicationAcknowledgements ONETWOTHREEFOURFIVESIXSEVENEIGHTNINETENELEVENTWELVETHIRTEENFOURTEENFIFTEENSIXTEENSEVENTEENEIGHTEENNINETEEN Teaser chapter AN INTRODUCTION TO Lucky Everyday A CONVERSATION WITH BAPSY JAINQUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION PENGUIN BOOKSLUCKY EVERYDAYA chartered accountant, Bapsy Jain is an entrepreneur and educator who divides her time between Singapore, Dubai, and Bombay. Jain has stood on her head many times in the course of the ten years it has taken to complete this novel. She is married with two sons.Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandPenguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, IndiaPenguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South AfricaPenguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, EnglandFirst published as The Blind Pilgrim by Penguin Books India 2008 This edition published in the United States of America by Penguin Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2009Copyright © Bapsy Jain, 2008All rights reserved THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATAJain, Bapsy. [Blind pilgrim]Lucky everyday : a novel / Bapsy Jain.p. cm.Originally published: India : Penguin Books, The Blind Pilgrim, 2008.eISBN : 978-1-101-02482-91. Women—Fiction. 2. East Indians—United States—Fiction. 3. Life change events—Fiction. 4. Self-realization—Fiction. 5. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. I. Title. PR9499.4.J34B’.92—dc21 2008043225The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.To Sammy and Gaurav May you strive to be lucky every day!ACKNOWLEDGMENTSSpecial love to my late parents, Dina and Manek Medhora, and my in-laws, Neera and Shashi Chand Jain, who have always been parents to me. To my soul mate, Nitish, and to all my relatives and friends who have supported and encouraged me through this incredible journey.To my publisher, Penguin, many grateful thanks. To the team at Penguin, Mike Bryan, Kathryn Court, and Branda Maholtz, much appreciation and sincere thanks.ONE THE CADILLAC ROLLED TO A STOP IN FRONT OF A FORMIDABLE wrought-iron gate. A white sign inscribed with large black letters and posted eye-level to the driver read: NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ONLY TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTEDWhat kind of fool would trespass onto prison grounds, Lucky wondered. Aren’t people usually trying to break out? She counted five guards at the gate: three reading newspapers and drinking coffee inside a small glass-and-concrete cubicle, one standing on the road with a clipboard, and another a little off to the left cradling a shotgun in his arms. It was October and though it was midmorning there was a chill in the air; the guards outside wore green overcoats. The guard with the shotgun had a woolen cap with flaps pulled over his ears; his breath hung in the fog hovering around him. It was that kind of morning—hazy, gray; a few tentacles of lingering fog stretched along the ground, refusing to burn off.Alec rolled down the window and a guard peered in from the driver’s side to inspect the car. He jotted down the license plate number and the names of the two occupants. Lucky smiled at the guard, then at the oversized surveillance camera perched on the pole beside the road. After inspecting Alec’s driver’s license, his Department of Corrections security card, and Lucky’s passport, the guard waved the Cadillac through the gate. Lucky winced at the high-pitched grating of iron on iron as the gate swung open.Between the gate and the prison walls was a bare gravel field nearly a quarter of a mile wide and perfectly level. Nothing grew there, not even a weed. No cover, Lucky reasoned. She looked up at the towers spaced evenly along the prison wall and spotted the silhouette of a guard with a rifle. There was a sign on the road directing employees to proceed straight on; visitors, deliveries, and “others” to the right. Lucky wondered who “others” would be. Us, I suppose. Alec followed the road as it turned and circled the prison all the way around. He parked in front of a small, detached, “portable” office building between the parking lot and the walls.Lucky looked into the rearview mirror one last time and brushed the bangs out of her eyes. People said she “radiated confidence,” though she was no longer sure what that meant. In her late twenties now, she was tall, her body still supple and youthful. Her jeans fit tight and her light blue blouse accented her olive complexion. Her black hair was pulled back and held at the nape by an enameled barrette. On her wrist was a slim gold watch, the only ornament she allowed herself to wear. Odd for a woman who was once in the jewelry business, she thought wryly.As Alec stepped out of the car, he took out a pair of narrow, rectangular wire-rimmed glasses from his coat pocket and fumbled with them before finally putting them on. He was tall and thin and, at sixty, still possessed a sprinter’s physique.“Are those new?” Lucky asked.“Picked them up yesterday,” Alec replied, banging the door shut. “Bifocals. Time flies, you know.”“You look like you’re going to meet the queen.”“I’ve got a meeting this afternoon. Peer reviews. Got to look professional, whatever that means.”Inside, they were greeted by two guards—an African American woman and a Caucasian man. The man rose deferentially and regarded Lucky with a hopeful look. Lucky eyed him with a cool stare. The woman, lounging in a chair with her feet on the desk, was reading O, The Oprah Magazine. She barely looked up.The guards wore identical uniforms: smoky blue shirts and trousers, with a navy blue stripe down the sides of the pants and matching epaulettes on their shoulders. The woman put down her magazine and stood up slowly, as if disturbed from some important work. She was taller than her male companion, nearly six feet, and muscular. She pointed to a set of footprints painted in red on the floor, indicating that Alec and Lucky should stand on them. When they did, the guards frisked them carefully. They took Lucky’s barrette, watch and handbag, and Alec’s keys and wallet. “Pick ’em up on your way out,” said the female guard.Lucky shook her hair loose. “You look better that way anyhow, honey,” the male guard murmured. He took a Polaroid photo of Lucky and a set of fingerprints, and strode off saying he would be back in a minute. He returned ten minutes later with the photo and prints laminated on a heavy plastic card clipped to a string. Lucky hung it around her neck. Then he handed her a small orange plastic cylinder with a large black button set at one end.“What’s this?” Lucky asked, fingering the button.“Ah-ha,” the woman said, swatting Lucky’s hand. “This here’s your panic button. If something goes wrong inside, you press that. But not unless you need it, baby. That thing shrieks like crazy. And if you sound it, all hell breaks loose. Total lockdown. Clip it on your belt and take it with you, but remember it’s only for an emergency.”Lucky followed Alec out through a side door. They crossed a gravel drive to the prison, shouted their names into an intercom and waited while a guard—whom they couldn’t see—called for the gate to be opened. They repeated the procedure a second time at the inner gate, before entering the prison proper. Inside was a vast field of asphalt surrounded by featureless concrete buildings constructed in rows, like tombstones—identical, three storyies tall, with narrow slits for windows and roofs overhung with concertina wire. Elevated walkways enclosed in chain link connected the buildings. Lucky noticed more guards with rifles, prowling the catwalks and silently watching. Her eyes fell on a small work detail consisting of three prisoners overseen by two guards. They had a bucket of paint among them and a brush each and were lackadaisically covering graffiti scrawled on the walls. They were about to paint over an admonition: “Abandon dope all ye who enter here.” Further down the wall Lucky read another inscription: “Life is a prison.” She shivered.They followed a lane that skirted a blacktopped recreation yard raucous with inmates playing basketball, walking or standing around in small groups, smoking, talking, taunting each other. The prisoners wore identical “uniforms”: blue jeans and faded blue denim shirts. Their names were stenciled in large black letters on their backs and in small letters on white patches sewn over their shirt pockets. The yard was divided into four fenced areas. Like pens, Lucky noted. She also noticed that one area was predominantly for Caucasian prisoners, one for the African Americans, one for the Hispanic, and one mixed.“It’s about control,” Alec said, nodding in the direction of the prisoners. He had been watching her take in the surroundings. “There are five thousand prisoners here, never more than two hundred guards on a shift. They have to be able to lock down if there’s trouble. Divide and conquer. It’s the only way to keep order.”To Lucky it seemed that the architect who designed the prison had dreamed it up in a state of acute depression. Every inch of the interior, with its metal bars and concrete barriers, demanded compliance, forcing the inmates to move along right angles and in straight lines. The long corridors had rows of hivelike cells on both sides and locked doors at the two ends. At best it was spartanly functional, at worst it was torture through sensory deprivation. She looked at Alec. “It’s sad,” she said. “Like sheep to the slaughter.”“It’s devoid of any trace of humanity,” Alec agreed. “The system says they don’t deserve it.”“And you think you can change that?” Lucky asked.Alec shrugged. “It’ll take time. I’ve been here for a year and a half. But I figure one life redeemed makes the effort worthwhile. I’ll get permission for you to come in and teach, if you think you’re up to it.”“Teach what? Accounting? The last time I checked, felony convictions weren’t considered assets on résumés.”Alec laughed. “I was thinking about yoga.”“Yoga?”“Sure, why not?”“I’m hardly an expert.”“Of course you’re an expert; you’ve been at it since you were a toddler. Your dad said it became second nature to you. Besides, you’re Indian. They’ll assume you were brought up in an ashram.”“Who here would want to learn yoga?”“People outside do yoga, why not people in here? Might be the best way to rehabilitate them, let them know they can fit in. Besides,” he added, a mischievous glint lighting up his eyes, “this is an all-male institution. You won’t have any trouble getting men to show up for a class.”Lucky rolled her eyes. Alec stopped and put his hands on her shoulders, turning her around to face him. His face was serious now. “It doesn’t matter what the subject is. Inmates need to learn how to live. We try to build a bridge and then hope they cross it. The only way is to earn their respect and trust. Once they accept you, you can make a difference. I believe we have the power to change lives. And I’ll tell you something else: the best way to escape our own misery is to help someone else with theirs. Think it over.”“Right,” Lucky said. One of the things Lucky most admired about Alec was his unshakeable optimism. She had heard the same sincerity in his voice the morning he had received her at JFK International Airport. It was one in the morning and Alec had waited for two hours in the lounge because the flight from Bombay had been delayed.“You should have gone home. I could have called.”“Would your dad have gone home?”“Just like India,” Lucky said, feeling guilty. “There’s always something.”Alec laughed. “I think India was just sorry to see you go.” They collected her bags and carried them to the car. “Are you hungry?” he asked.“Starving!”They had driven to an all-night diner and Alec watched sleepily as Lucky packed away a double helping of lasagna. “Welcome back,” he said. “You’re going to be okay.”Over the next few weeks those words became a mantra for Lucky. BOK. BOK. She’d repeated them to herself as she lay in bed waiting for sleep to come. At the end of the walkway they cleared yet another security check. “Welcome to D Block,” Alec said. “My playground.” Lucky followed him down a long corridor past a loud, bleach-saturated industrial-sized laundry and a cluster of cluttered offices. As they passed the last office, a man called out, “Alec!”Alec stopped and smiled. “Good morning, Larry. Larry, Lucky Boyce; Lucky, Larry Capps. Larry’s the warden here.”Larry came out of the office and laughed. “Chief cook and bottle washer is more like it, so pay no attention if Alec tries to butter me up.” Larry took Lucky’s hand and shook it vigorously.Lucky liked him instantly. He was of average height with a slim build, dressed in an impeccable light-blue silk suit; his hair was silvery gray and trimmed short, his face clean-shaven. His most striking feature was his eyes. They were kind and gentle; a sharp contrast to the harsh prison interior. He looked absolutely unsuitable for his job. Can a man so gentle really handle this place, Lucky wondered“I’m trying to recruit Lucky as a volunteer,” Alec said.“We can use all the help we get,” Larry replied. He looked Lucky over. “Thank you for coming. Don’t worry about being a pretty girl among these naughty boys—we have quite a few female volunteers. There’ll be a guard close by at all times and you’ve got your panic button, right? Stop by my office anytime you want to chat. I like to know what’s going on, you know; all the things my officers won’t tell me.” He handed Lucky a card. “Call if you need me,” he said.Alec led Lucky into the cafeteria and pointed out the classrooms, three of them in a row on the far wall. “Not bad for a prison,” he said. “Better than what you’d find in most public schools. They’ve got blackboards and desks, a file cabinet for your records.”“I don’t think I’ll need desks to teach yoga, Alec.”“No, probably not. I’m just saying it is a real classroom. If there’s anything you need, ask, and I’ll do what I can.”Lucky looked around. “Is there a women’s washroom around?”“Hmm,” Alec said. “Hadn’t thought of that. But there must be one somewhere; they have female guards and volunteers, right? I bet it’s in the office,” Alec gestured down the corridor. “I’ll be in D-43,” he said, nodding toward the classrooms and turning to leave.A moment later a buzzer sounded, and there was a harsh clang as the electric bolts threw in the doors. In a moment, the halls echoed as the prisoners made their midmorning station changes. A number of them entered the cafeteria, calling and whistling as they filed past Lucky and into the classrooms. How predictable, she thought. Just like schoolyard bullies.Lucky stood to one side, watching and waiting, until the buzzer sounded again and the doors sealed with a metallic clang. Three inmates remained behind. They carried mops and buckets, and two of them began to swab the floor carelessly. The third rested his mop against the wall, plopped down on a bench in the far corner, and lit a cigarette.Lucky inquired at the office, found the bathroom, and then returned to the cafeteria. She was crossing the room when one of the prisoners moved behind her. The shorter one was already blocking the classroom door, leaning on his mop. But it was the third inmate, the one in the corner, who caught Lucky’s gaze. A huge hulk of a man, tattooed and bald-headed, he sat in smoldering silence. Once they locked eyes, Lucky could not pull away. Anger seemed to rise off him like heat waves. He looked as if he would explode.The shorter inmate edged closer to her. “Come on in, babe,” he said. “We’ll give you a good time.”“Hey, not bad,” the taller one added. He drummed his fingers nervously on the mop handle.Lucky looked around the room. If there was a guard in the area, he was nowhere to be seen. The bald man blew a cloud of blue smoke, his face expressionless. Lucky looked around reading the names on their shirts, her lips moving silently. The short one was Rooster, the tall one behind her was Rob, and the bald-headed one, Steve.“Praying? What’s the matter? Scared?” Rooster asked. “Come closer.”Lucky took a deep breath and, almost involuntarily, stepped forward. Her hand slipped to her belt, groping for the panic button. Then she thought about something Shanti—her friend back in India—used to say: “Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. Nothing was there. Face your fears; otherwise they will chase you around.”Steve lit one cigarette from the other and flicked the butt on the floor. Rooster made an obscene gesture with the mop handle.“What do you want?” Lucky asked.Rooster leered at her. “To f—your brains out,” he said. “Really? That’s it?”He shrugged his shoulders. “You don’t want us to tell you, do you? Not a nice lady like you.”“Sure,” Lucky said. “Tell me.”Rooster and Rob made eye contact. They looked puzzled.“All right then, let me tell you,” Lucky replied, pinning Rooster with her eyes. “You throw me down on the table and tear off my blouse. You push up my bra and you take my tits in your hands and squeeze. While you’re holding me down, he”—she nodded toward Rob—“pulls my jeans off and then my panties. I might kick, I might scream, but you’re hoping that I’m too frightened. And, if I do, so what? You’re stronger than me, right? And so you take turns, one after the other. It isn’t very good, but that’s not what it’s about, is it? You want me to fight, you want me to cry, because the fighting and crying is better for you than sex. What else? Humiliation? Degradation? Then what?” Lucky’s voice was detached, flat. “You think it’s over? You think it ends there? No such luck. You’re still in prison, maybe looking at another twenty years. Nothing has changed, has it? You’re wallowing in the same shit; lonely, frightened, sick, and this whole sorry episode is one more voice echoing in your conscience you’re trying not to listen to. Then you wonder why you can’t sleep at night. And, you know what? I’ll survive. I know that. I’ll survive because I have the strength. I’ll survive because I’m stronger than you are. You don’t scare me. But I bet I scare the hell out of you.”

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INTRODUCTION“We are not human beings seeking spiritual experience, but spiritual beings undergoing a human experience.” —Lucky EverydayNot long ago, Lucky Boyce had every reason to believe that she had been aptly named. After her big promotion at Paterson & Company in New York, the lovely Lucky was wooed and won by the dashing and highly eligible Vikram Singh. He whisked her off to Bombay and marked her as his bride with a custom-made, four-carat, heart-shaped diamond ring. Lucky felt as if the world were at her feet. Until Vikram forcibly—and without warning—threatened to annul their marriage, which ends in divorce. Lucky was stripped of everything she cared about: husband, wealth, and her nascent career as a jewelry exporter. Completely unmoored and seeking refuge in New York with her old friends Alec and Susan, Lucky has no inkling that her life is about to take a dramatic new turn. But will she be able to open herself up to it?It is Alec who convinces Lucky to volunteer as a yoga instructor at the state penitentiary. The men’s aggressive posturing intimidates her at first, but Lucky’s no-nonsense attitude—and her ability to do one-handed push-ups—wins their grudging respect. Even more surprising, Lucky finds students like Rooster and Steve who are willing to put aside their preconceived notions and open themselves up to the truths that yoga offers. Sharing this knowledge with others that truly appreciate it brings Lucky closer to Shanti—the yogi back in Bombay who rescued her in the darkest days of her failed marriage—and begins to restore her shaken self-confidence.While teaching yoga enriches her soul, her pockets remain empty. With little else besides her flamboyant engagement ring, Lucky decides to collect on a few debts from her days as a businesswoman running a firm for Vikram’s family. The owner, Mike Lockwood, is a bit of a shady character but he respects Lucky’s abilities and agrees to pay her back if she helps him turn his own ailing business around. She accepts and finds herself enjoying both the camaraderie and the challenge.Yet, Lucky is hardly settled in her new life when she is brutally mugged and winds up with a broken wrist that might be paralyzed. While Mike and her old friends rally around her, Lucky is beset by one calamity after another only to find herself at the center of a web of lies that may spell complete ruin. Lucky wonders what she has done to deserve such ill fortune but—reflecting on Shanti’s teachings—realizes that it is she alone who has the power to break free.In her charming and utterly original debut novel, Bapsy Jain juxtaposes Lucky’s current adventures with her carefree single days and the decay of her marriage. Part women’s fiction, part thriller, and part spiritual parable, Lucky Everyday is a wise and wondrous meditation on one almost-enlightened every woman’s journey through this life.ABOUT BAPSY JAINBapsy Jain is an entrepreneur and educator and divides her time between Singapore, Dubai, and Bombay. Jain has stood on her head many times in the course of the ten years it has taken to complete this novel. She is married with two sons.A CONVERSATION WITH BAPSY JAINQ. Vikram and his mother/aunt attribute many of the problems in their marriage to the fact that Lucky is Parsi rather than Rajput. How important is the caste system in modern India?Vikram and Lucky’s marriage is an intercommunity marriage. They belong to different religious communities. That is different from the caste system, which is based on a hierarchy of castes within one religion, Hinduism. Still, both the caste system and intercommunity relations share some commonalities. The caste system has been in existence in India through many centuries of history, and to some extent the remnants exist even today. But here let’s look at Vikram and Lucky’s intercommunity marriage. There’s a vast difference between attitudes toward intercommunity marriages in different parts of India. For example, in a traditional rural setting, issues of religion and caste are still hide bound. In the vast urban areas where there are multi communities, multi castes and multi cultures all sharing the same environment, there is less emphasis on a person’s traditional background, and Western values do come into play. Many young people of different religious backgrounds meet in college and have relationships that may eventually lead to marriage. Yes, grandparents may object initially, but they are usually won over.The system does still affect lives, though it is losing ground to modern realities and conditions.My aim in the novel, however, is to show how the caste system stems in a way from an aspect of human nature: a possessive mother who wants to be in the center and in control of her son’s life and so resents an independent daughter-in-law. Had Vikram married as per Geeta’s wishes she would have completely dominated her daughter-in-law who would have had to toe her mother-in-law’s line. This relationship, this upmanship between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law is relevant even in today’s society.Q. What are there major differences between contemporary Indian novels and American novels? Who are some of your favorite writers—of any period and in any language—and why?I think contemporary Indian novels generally reflect an extremely complex society that has shaken off the struggles of colonial experience but now has to find its moral voice. America’s history is more recent, and perhaps contemporary American novels reflect the success of America as a nation and the creation of an individualist culture, where people are fiercely proud of their freedom. At the same time there seems to be a search for greater meaning that often plays out in personal relationships.The other difference between contemporary Indian and American novels is one of style and tone. The style and tone tend to reflect the culture and background of the novelist. The theme and point of view are generally far apart because of the different exposures and influences of the novelist. Similarly characterization and plot differ again on account of different thinking and circumstances.The Indian author does dwell in some way on basics and philosophy as this is a poorer country where people lay emphasis on traditional and religious beliefs as an antidote to their powerlessness, whereas American novels deal more with emotions and conditions—and sometimes the emptiness of materialism—that relate to America.I like and read a variety of novels, and Eckhart Tolle, Khalil Gibran, Paulo Coelho, Khaled Hosseini, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amitav Ghosh, and V. S. Naipaul are among my favorites. I find we share a common spirituality and essence which appeals.Q. How much of Lucky—if any—is based on you?Lucky is a woman who shares my history as a Parsi. Like all women we struggle to find who we are, our values and beliefs, and what is free will and destiny. I may have reacted differently if I had experienced what she does, but sharing her story has given me tremendous courage. I have always felt her presence within me, and the decisions she makes instinctively come out of a sense of that presence. On the level of the immediate plot and events, I studied for chartered accountancy in London and based her professional life on my own experience. I also enjoyed practicing yoga for several years.Q. You live in Singapore, Bombay, and Dubai, yet your rendering of New York City is faultless. Have you spent much time there?Yes, I have lived and worked in Manhattan and visit the United States frequently. I have a lot of close ties in the way of family and friends there.Q. Lucky Everyday transcends many genres and offers a truly unique heroine. What was your inspiration?I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many layers to our experiences. And that’s what I wanted to relate in Lucky Everyday. On one hand, Lucky could be victimized by the way she is treated by Vicki’s family. And this would ring true with women in India. But that’s not the end of it. Setbacks can be turned around. They leave their mark on Lucky, but she refuses to let them destroy her. Again, this is something that grew from within as I captured her thoughts and actions in words. In the end, Lucky lives and is empowered as we, women, are empowered by experiencing similar struggles.What inspired me to write was the belief that Lucky Everyday could open minds to a new perspective, which could change thoughts, actions, and lives.Q. Although this novel was originally published in India, you wrote it in English—why? Will it be translated into any Indian languages? How do you think it will be received?I grew up speaking English and for me it is my first language. Though I do speak other languages I do not possess the fluency to write a novel in any other language.Penguin India has been my primary publisher and the novel has been well received in India in English. I am pleased that the novel will be published and distributed by Penguin worldwide because this novel has universal appeal and draws on cultures of the East and West. In today’s world many people can relate to this in their own lives. I’m sure it will be translated into other languages later.Q. It is incredibly brave of you to show your main character having an abortion. What is the prevalent attitude towards abortion in India and what do you think of the controversy it arouses in the United States?In India, abortion is regarded as a personal decision. It is not the subject of public discourse or the subject of religious or political controversy. In Lucky’s circumstances it’s a complex decision. She wants to protect Amay, who remained loyal to her even though she had hurt him before. She feels that it would throw a loop in his life, which is too great a price for him—and his family—to pay. There’s something in her that reaches out intuitively to shield him even though she knows she will not marry him. She also grapples with the issue of the quality of life she can offer a child who is born with severe physical challenges. The potential physical and emotional suffering for the child and for Amay and herself weigh into her decision.In the United States, abortion is a publicly controversial and decisive issue. But I feel that abortion is a very personal and deeply felt decision for a woman to make. It should be based on her own and her family’s views and circumstances. Rights and responsibility go hand in hand and it doesn’t seem right for anyone to impose their views—or judgment—on any woman.Q. What is the most important aspect of the novel that you fear an American audience may miss?The symbolism in the novel. The message the novel transmits to the readers is that it is internal engineering that gives happiness, not external trappings. The novel symbolizes in many ways that we do not choose this kind of life—our family, our circumstances, and in many cases, the outcomes of our decisions. This kind of life chooses you. It does this at various levels, and the audience may not comprehend this at all its levels. The story of the blind pilgrim embodies this. He searches futilely and yet in the end, the search is what he blindly sought.Lucky’s choices are hers, but buried somewhere in those choices are circumstances that are far beyond her choice or control. Examples would be her marriage of choice but she has no choice in the influences that change the values of her husband; again her choice of joining Mike in business and the deception she faces as a result of that choice. This shows we do not choose our kind of life.I hope that an American audience will see Lucky Everyday as a story on many levels. This is a story about women’s experiences anywhere. It could be India or America. The American audience must see this as more than just a glimpse of a woman from another culture. It’s her realization and understanding of being removed from her experiences, looking at them, and moving—growing—along with them that is the heart of the story.Q. Has there been a Shanti in your life?Almost unconsciously, Shanti in my life has been a force that came from people I grew up around. When I picture her within, as a person, in terms of her physical being, she is based on my dear maidservant, Janki, who looked after me from childhood until I was about twelve years old. But it’s not that she expressed to me verbally things that Shanti says to Lucky. It was part of the way she lived. She struggled without any outward display of struggle and she had a sense of detached acceptance that I really understood only years later in my adult life. There have been other people I grew up around, whose lives and actions have touched me and a part of them are woven into Shanti.Q. What do you like about standing on your head?Standing on my head allows a different view, a different perspective of circumstances and events. One has to flow in tune and along with life and if your world is turning upside down you also need to stand on your head to get the right view!Q. Your novel has an incredible surprise ending. One would be hard-pressed to call it happy but—unlike many novels’ pat endings—it is extremely satisfying. Did you initially intend for Lucky’s journey to end this way?I did intend for the novel to end this way. To me Lucky is empowered and will be able to face life with vigor as she no longer sees herself as a victim. She is able to live her life and is not drawn into it, she witnesses her life from a distance and can see things as they are—events that come and go.After all she goes through in the novel, it was just not true to arrive at a place where Lucky lived “happily ever after.” Again, the ending came to me as a place that the reader has to be a part of. They have journeyed with Lucky and shared her inmost turmoil. And she holds on to something inside her in the end. But in the real world that is the something we all seek; an understanding that leads to happiness within despite happenings on the periphery. All of us inwardly hope to find joy amid sorrow!Q. What are you working on now?I am working on a sequel, Night Vision.DISCUSSION QUESTIONSAre mixed marriages—whether they be Parsi and Rajput or Christian and Muslim or Chinese and Mexican—more likely to be plagued by troubles than homogenous pairings?Did Lucky make the wrong decision in throwing over Amay for Vicki?What does Lucky’s encounter with Jerry Freed—the prison’s African American assistant warden—teach her?It would have been easier for Lucky to carry on an affair with Amay if she had never met his wife or if she had cause to dislike her. Yet Lucky not only meets Laila but likes her immediately. Does this affect your opinion of Lucky?When Dr. Das Gupta tells Lucky that she is infertile, she feels as if it is her fault. Why do so many women feel this way when they have no control over it?Does Vikram know that he is the one unable to have children or is his family hiding it from him?Discuss the parable of the blind pilgrim in relation to Lucky’s (mis)adventures.Cite three incidents in the novel in which karma is at work. Do you believe in karma?What do you think about Lucky’s decision to have an abortion? Should she have told Amay first even though she had his best interests at heart?Describe a time in your life when you—like Lucky—felt beset from all sides. How did you handle it? What might you have done differently had you had Shanti’s guidance?The novel’s ending is a blur of images and thoughts. How do you interpret what happens to Lucky?

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"I want every woman in the world to read Bapsy's book."
-Bikram Choudhury