The secret story behind my first novel

Pciture for blog

It all started with one word- arangetram.

I was at a running event in 2011 when someone asked my friend Abhinaya, a Bharatanatyam and contemporary dancer, “Have you had your arangetram?”

I didn’t know what that word meant, but it was stuck in my head. I found out later that arangetram is the debut solo dance performance of a classical dancer. After years of training, it is the first occasion that a dancer gets to perform a complete Bharatanatyam recital on the stage. This emotional-charged ritual is only possible with the blessings of the guru. This is what the tradition dictates.

I was intrigued.

I could draw upon my experience as a professional athlete to imagine a young dancer eager to get on the stage and showcase here skills. Her perfectionist guru (just like mine), however, would have none of it.  Not until she masters her skills and even that is not enough for him.

The story developed layers of complexity when the girl in question, Ayla, is a Kurdish refugee who had escaped persecution in Turkey and arrived in Delhi in 1990s. Not only did she have to master intricate dance skills, but navigate cultural and social hoops. Acceptance of an outsider, in this deeply traditional art, was anything but easy. Would these strong personalities self-destruct or could they come together to create a spectacle on the dance stage?

It took seven years, 83-rejections and countless drafts for The Last Dance to become a reality.


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