Adventures

I was born in India, grew up in the Midwest and live in Helsinki, Finland. I spent my childhood living all over the world which led to a lifelong case of wanderlust. The discovery of the unknown is my greatest inspiration which is why I’m usually in a new country every month. My global adventures and my addiction to John Hughes, Judy Blume and Shonda Rhimes are the reason I write stories about kickass heroines of color.  

 

This is a little space for me to share my musings, microstories and (my husband’s) awesome photos from my travels. 

 

(All photos on this page by Kalle Koivisto)

Assam—The Motherland

I was born in a tiny little state in the very northeastern part of India called Assam. My family moved to the US when I was three which made for a very love/hate relationship with my birthplace while I was growing up. These days though, it’s definitely more love. Assam’s raw beauty, deep mysticism and its diverse culture inspire me. So much so that I created a mythological legacy of badass Assamese warrior queens named the Aiedeo in my latest novel, Brown Girl Ghosted (comes out Spring 2020 from Versify/HMH). 

 

Here are some pics from my latest writing trip to the Motherland. 

There are no fences at Kaziranga National Park so the elephants, rhinos, tigers and all the other animals that live here roam free. When we were children, my brother and I would bring bananas to feed the elephants. They’re still my favorite.

Much love to this very cooperative rhino who was nice enough to comethisclose and pose. Assam is the only place in the world that has the one-horned rhinoceros.

Good Girl. Bad Girl. Nice Girl. Mean Girl. American Girl. Indian Girl. White Girl. Brown Girl.

—Brown Girl Ghosted prologue

Assamese Girl. This is me rocking a traditional Assamese mekhela chador (kind of like a saree w/ a bit of an Assamese twist). My dress is made out of pure Assamese silk in fierce Assamese colors (red, gold and black).

After the sun goes down, the farmers honor the fertility gods by burning mustard seeds in little bonfires that light up the paddy fields.

Along the long drive on the windiest, narrowest road up a very high hill, vendors brave the trucks, busses and motorcycles that whizz by to cook delicious Assamese treats.

A Bagania (tea tribe) woman working at one of Assam's many tea gardens. Assam is the tea capital of the world.

I can’t talk about Assam without giving some mad love for the one of a kind food that comes out of here. The Assamese kitchen beautifully combines fermentation from the hills and lots of fresh herbs, veggies, fish and meat from the plains. This is Tenga Maas (tangy fish) which is my favorite Assamese dish. Usually cooked with river fish in a tangy, citrusy sauce made out of elephant apples, mustard seeds, cilantro, ginger, garlic—my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Tucked deep in the foothills of the Himalayas lays my kingdom, mighty Assam. Majestic river valleys loop through rolling blue hills like the bamboo baskets the tribal women weave along the banks of the Brahmaputra River. 

—from Brown Girl Ghosted

(drops March 2020 from Versify/HMH)

Portrait Photos by Marek Sabogal/Background Photos by Kalle Koivisto