A Sweet, Multicultural Romance
Haripriya Sanyal sees herself as an all-American Indian-American, and is not happy when her parents arrange for her to wed a virtual stranger—but can Bollywood-handsome Namdev Chakrabarty charm her into accepting their mutual fate?
Alone with Namdev at last, I stared down at my hands to see them trembling, revealing the vulnerability I felt. It was hard not knowing if he found me attractive or lovely before I would need to reveal myself to him. I had rather large, wide-set eyes. Would he think them pretty or imperfect? As much as I liked to stay active, I also enjoyed eating good food and had a curvy if not chubby figure. Would he wish me more slender, or be happy with the squeezable parts of me? Would he love to listen to me sing or hate to hear my slightly nasally giggle about which I was already self-conscious? Would he find my personality too fussy, or my way of moving as graceful as I’d been told I was those years ago when I’d studied Indian classical dance?
To be fair, I knew this worked both ways. While Namdev might have been able to figure out that I thought he was cute based on the number of interested looks I’d given him in the past, he had no way of knowing whether I would welcome being close with him—because I had no way of knowing that myself. Not yet.
When a knock came at the front door of our suite, I let him answer it while I continued to unpack and tried to make myself loosen up at least a little. But then he walked back into the bedroom holding a gigantic bouquet of tropical flowers in a vase so huge they hid his face. He placed them atop one of the bureaus and turned to me with a sweet smile. He took the card from the bouquet and held it out.
I opened it and read out loud, “‘Call this our version of the flower-bed ceremony’”—I felt my face heat with a blush, knowing he meant the phool sajja—“‘and then let’s start enjoying the rest of our life together.’” When I glanced up, he was watching me hopefully, questioningly. I looked from the card to the flowers to him, and gave a chuckle.
“This is perfect,” I said. “Thank you.” It was the first time I’d relaxed, even a little bit, in weeks.
“Thank you again?” he asked teasingly.
“Thank you again,” I confirmed with a nod.
When he opened his arms to me then, I stepped into his hug and released a sigh of relief and contentment.
Maggie Adams believes she was born to be a writer—but it took awhile for her to figure that out. She grew up in North Carolina, then went “up north” to college (first to Virginia, then to upstate New York). Unable to decide what interested her most, she majored in anthropology, Spanish and English, and studied voice. It wasn’t until she married and her husband entered graduate school that Maggie figured out what she wanted to do with her own life. They’ve lived in southern California, the Caribbean island of Trinidad, and now New York City—so thankfully, writing is a career that travels well. She writes “sweet” secular and Christian fiction as Maggie Adams, and mystery stories as Rhett Shepard; she also writes poetry and literary fiction as Margaret Adams Birth and short nonfiction as Margaret Birth, and has spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor. You can follow her writing news by giving her author page a “like” at www.facebook.com/MaggieAdamsRhettShepard.
“Sweet and well-written. Adams’s story is about family, duty and finding love after the I-do's.”
~ Maria Ferrer, President, Romance Writers of America, New York City chapter
“Bride at First Sight is a love story that is as rich, beautiful, and finely woven as a gold-threaded sari. Maggie Adams crafts a wonderfully written tale of love's power amid a clash of cultures. I highly recommend this terrific, emotionally charged story. . . .”
~ Award-winning author Cara Marsi
Why Did Maggie Write This Novel?
I got the idea for BRIDE AT FIRST SIGHT while looking through photographs from when I lived in Trinidad—thinking about one dear friend in particular, whose Hindu wedding and related festivities I was honored to attend. Hers was an arranged marriage much like that of my character Haripriya: she knew her groom before their wedding day, but not well, and came to fall deeply in love with him in the months and years that followed. I now live in New York City, in a neighborhood with immigrants and descendants of immigrants from Trinidad, Guyana and India, among other places; many of my friends here work hard to keep their families’ religious and cultural practices from their home countries, or to adapt them to what they find here in the U.S. When these ideas from Trinidad and New York City merged in my brain, it inspired BRIDE AT FIRST SIGHT!
Tell Us Something Topical, Interesting, Funny, or Something We Would Not Expect About the Writing or Research For This Story.
While in the process of writing Bride at First Sight, I was invited to an Upanayam (Janeu) Sanskar—a Hindu initiation ritual in which a youth, typically of the Brahmin caste, commits to religious learning from a guru—for two boys with whose family I’m friends.
I wasn’t sure how to dress or present myself as a Christian guest at this ceremony, so I sought counsel at a local sari shop, where they outfitted me in a pretty pink kurti (tunic-style top) and advised me to wear it with an American-style skirt. I learned that giving gifts to the celebrants was also acceptable.
When I lived in Trinidad, people from different religions would share their special events and holidays with each other. This reminder—the Upanayam (Janeu) Sanskar—of the immeasurable value and joy to be found in such sharing among a diverse community of friends further inspired my writing.
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