Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Favorite Christmas - by Rasana Atreya

One of the most wonderful things about being on facebook is the exposure to international flavor, whether it be in style or literary reference.  By virtue of the social network behemoth, I can now count friends in nearly every civilized country in the world, and all six inhabitable continents.  The most fun is comparing things; what games my friends played as children, giggling over their colloquialisms, and flushing pink and red over ours.  It makes the big scary world seem not so big and scary after all.

Today, I am thrilled that one of our international friends has answered my blog post call.  I am so happy to introduce you to a new friend from India, Rasana Atreya.  Rasana Atreya is a blogger, foodie and novelist living in Hyderabad, India. She is also the mother of two grade schoolers who are desperate for the chance to design the cover of her second book. She's still thinking about that one. Her first novel, Tell A Thousand Lies, is an Amazon category bestseller.  She has graciously shared her holiday memory with us.

My Favorite Rasana Atreya

A big part of holidays for those of us in India, as everywhere else, are defined by food and family. In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, an important festival is the Ugadi. I’ll let the characters from my forthcoming book tell you what this festival is about:

To celebrate the harvest, the pachchadi was traditionally made from tamarind, mangoes, flowering buds of the Neem tree, jaggery, salt and chili powder – all fresh from the harvest. The idea behind it was to include all six tastes – sour, sweet, spicy, savoury, bitter and salt. A symbolic reminder that life was a mix of the good and the not-so-good, the happy and the not-so-happy. An informal take on the pachchadi was that if you found it sweet, the year ahead would be sweet, and so on.

The making of the pachchadi should have been simple enough, but Grandma added a special ingredient that she kept secret. As a result, her pachchadi was known far and wide as something to be avoided. Any callers that might have come to greet them for other festivals were conspicuously absent on the occasion of Ugadi.

Prayers for the day completed, Grandma looked around, puzzled. “Where did your grandfather and cousins disappear to? It is time for the pachchadi.” She thrust a cupful of pachchadi in her grandson’s hand.

Madhav took a deep breath and poured it down his throat, almost gagging in the process.

He had no idea what Grandma had put into the mixture, but by God, if the pachchadi were a portent of any sort, he had a lot of really bad months ahead of him.

Tell A Thousand Lies  


Shortlisted for the 2012 Tibor Jones South Asia prize.

Nominated for the 2012 Global eBook Awards.

From the Author

Tell A Thousand Lies came about because Indian television is overrun with advertisements from manufacturers of fairness creams (aka skin lightening creams) that promise everything from good grades to nirvana, if only you use their particular brand of product. This bothered me enough that I wrote out a tagline -

Fairness Cream: Finding Solutions to Life's Vexing Problems, One Application at a Time
Then I proceeded to write a novel around it.


In a land where skin colour can determine one's destiny, fraternal twins PULLAMMA and LATA are about to embark on a journey that will tear their lives apart.

Dark skinned Pullamma dreams of being a wife. With three girls in her family, the sixteen year old is aware there isn't enough dowry to secure suitable husbands for them all. But a girl can hope. She's well versed in cooking, pickle making, cow washing -- you name it. She's
also obliged her old-fashioned grandmother by not doing well in school.

Fair skinned and pretty, her twin sister Lata would rather study medicine than get married. Unable to grasp the depth of Lata's desire, the twins' Grandmother formalizes a wedding alliance for the girl. Distraught, Lata rebels, with devastating consequences.

As Pullamma helps ready the house for her older sister Malli's bride viewing, she prays for a positive outcome to the event. What happens next is so inconceivable that it will shape Pullamma's future in ways she couldn't have foreseen.

A mainstream, multi-ethnic, world literature book from India, TELL A THOUSAND LIES is a sometimes wry, sometimes sad, but ultimately realistic look at how superstition and the colour of a girl's skin rules India's hinterlands.

If you like Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) or Vikram Seth (A Suitable Boy), you might like this book.

Please support Rasana, as always, and buy her book.  You can find her here:


  1. Thanks for having me here, Samantha!

  2. It was my pleasure. Love the international flavor you gave this tired old blog. Join up and stop by often, or sign up with your email address and never miss a post!