Wednesday September 9, 2020   |   Rachita Ramya Singh

Rachita Ramya Singh is a New York based researcher and a budding poet and writer. Bookaholicanonymous is delighted to bring to you this interview with her. What is amazing is the fact that she is able to write stories and poems despite her busy schedule as a researcher, of course this is not surprising because she comes from a family of writers and has enjoyed story-telling since her childhood. The anthology of tales contains seven short stories, all different from the other in content and approach. It’s noteworthy that Rachita as young as she is could write on such varied subjects. Her collection of poems talks about New York City, as she sees it. Meet Rachita though her interview and let no one say “I love writing but I don’t have the time”…let her inspire you.  

 

About Rachita Ramya Singh: She is an author and public health researcher. Currently working in New York City, Rachita has worked on projects on mental health and health disparities. Soon to be published by Penguin RandomHouse in an anthology, Rachita's debut book Radical Politics of Indian Love has been received well in India and abroad. Her second book a collection of poems She is New York has been recently launched. Rachita lives with her sister who is a scientist at the New York Stem Cell Foundation. 


The interview:

When did you come to NYC? What was your first reaction? Has it changed now?

I first came to NYC in August 2015. My first reaction must have been that of pure joy. New York certainly felt refreshing. I took into the vibe immediately. 

NYC has changed now, especially considering the fact that we are all living in the middle of a pandemic, but still, at the root level, the city is pretty much the same. 

Life always goes on in NYC. 

What do you love or hate about New York? 

There are so many things I love about New York :) I love the culture here. The entire tribe of people from diverse backgrounds, traveling together in the city's subway trains, walking on streets - all united by their common ambitions and dreams. The architecture of New York is unique, a combination of modern and vintage, making the city appear eclectic and unique.

There is so much to love about NYC, but there are also things I hate. On good days, every little nook and corner of the city becomes special. And on bad days, the city is jarring and overwhelming. But this city pushes you to feel. You can't ignore New York. It has such a strong personality. That is what I ultimately love. 

Why do you think New York is such an enigma, that you could write poems on it?

New York City embodies the spirit of never giving up hope. The city rises up after every single blow, each time higher than before. 

The power of adaptation is New York's strongest suit. Even in the middle of Covid19, we see people in masks cycling on the streets, restaurants opening up outside, subways running, etc. It emulates what life is about. After all, the show must go on. NYC is a hub of activity, a place that has always been relevant. I guess that's why it always attracted attention. New York never needed tourism sector promotions or advertisements. Because people always visit it or want to visit it. For me, it was the perfect muse to write about. 

Being in NYC for years now, what is that one place or nook that you discovered that you love and all should visit? Or you want to keep it a secret? (Do tell though :))

Central Park is an amazing place to visit or just hang out in. It is like the breath of fresh air in the middle of a concrete jungle (literally). There are a few secret places I discovered right inside Central Park. The secret garden and cop cot are some of them. The High Line is another cool place with the juxtaposition of nature and buildings. I like places in NYC where you can just walk around and grab a coffee. Some of the coffee shops in Brooklyn are also very cute and authentic. 

Why have you named your collection of poems She is New York? What was your thought behind it?

Every city has a unique identity and personality. I feel, at its core, New York has the character and the heart of a strong woman. If you look at New York’s history, women empowerment and feminism were said to have origins in NYC. 

Other than that, read my book to know more :) It’s a journey of discovering New York in my words. 

Your first book is a collection of short stories titled Radical Politics of Indian Love. How many stories are there and is there a common thread binding them together or are they themed differently.


There are seven short stories in this book, each with a unique theme of love. Love can be very subjective, so there are different emerging concepts of emotions explored in different stories and characters. The narrative is built against the social, political, and cultural landscape of India. For example, themes of unrequited love, friendship, tragic love, and patriotism are all explored by means of story-telling. 



Radical Politics of Indian Love is an interesting title to give? Your thoughts.
Even though love in its purest form should be unconditional and undiluted, I feel there is constant politics corrupting it. These stories are subtle on the surface level, but beneath the words, they deal with extreme or radical politics plaguing our society. Honour killings, stigmatized view of mental health, gender bias, religious clashes, are issues that need attention. I have tried my best to address them via means of story-telling in my book. That is why I thought 'Radical Politics of Indian Love' would be a befitting title. 

 Which is your favourite story?

The first story in my book, ‘Treesome’, is my favourite story by far. In this, the main protagonist is a tree who falls in unrequited love with a man. It was a very unusual story that also won the first prize in the Literatea story contest in the US. 

Trees are mute spectators that witness everything that goes in the world. Imagine if we give them a voice, what stories they could tell! This story was an attempt to do that. 

Which do you like most, writing poems or stories?

I wish I could choose. There are both completely different processes. 

In poetry, one has to convey the story behind a poem in limited words, by use of lyrical words, metaphors, personifications, and alliterations.

In a story, it’s the complete opposite. A good story will always have some kind of poetic justice behind it. That's what makes it seem much more beautiful. 

Who has inspired you and your writing style?
I remember a quote that said something along the lines of ‘we are nothing but the places we see, the people we meet and the books we read.’ 

 I feel this pretty much summarizes what influenced my writing style. It is derivative of all of my experiences. 

 What can we expect from you next?
I am going to dive more into the personification of voiceless characters. Maybe more trees, cities, or places, who knows. 

There could be 'She is India' in the pipeline very soon :)  

 

Bookaholicanonymous wishes you the best Rachita…keep on writing!


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