Saumya Balsari

Saumya Balsari

I was born in an Indian call centre. No. I’ll start again. The Bombay hospital was demolished shortly after my birth … a completely  unrelated event, of course. My childhood was both wonderful and weird –- I created a magical, fantasy world in my head but was always “that strange girl” at school. I read everything I could find, even my father’s accountancy journals, and wrote poems and stories that I almost never kept. Words were bendy creatures performing the somersaults that my gawky body couldn't manage at P.E.

Then my poem The Cat on the Wall won a commendation in an international competition. I was ten. That was perhaps the "sign" that I was "born to write" — only, I chased literature degrees in English and German and language studies instead. Happiness was being able to ask the time in ten languages including three Indian ones. That's sad. I was Peterella Pan, refusing to grow up.

Still, I did try my hand as a translator (German and French), and then as a teacher at a United Nations-designated college in Denmark. Also as a free-lance journalist and columnist for The Times of India Bombay Times and The Hindustan Times UK Edition.

There were travels across four continents before the move to Cambridge. Samba, salsa and Australian aboriginal storytelling made my fingers want to dance and yet … I only turned to writing in a serious way with The Curry Club, a comic play that had a rehearsed reading at the Soho Theatre, London in 2003. The play then became my debut novel.

Many manuscripts on their way. In the meanwhile, I am honoured to be Writer-in-Residence and Research Associate at the University of Cambridge, Centre for Latin American Studies. It finally feels as if writing is what I am meant to do. I'm a late-starter, what can I say? Surely time hasn't been wasted, and the universe is as patient as it is ancient?

After all, writers don’t have to retire.

Read more about me on Wikipedia