"At Miranda House, She Wore Miniskirts": From Anuja Chauhan's New Book

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'At Miranda House, She Wore Miniskirts': From Anuja Chauhan's New Book

Cover of Anuja Chauhan's book Baaz


'She's the coolest cat in the place,' a starry-eyed first-year science undergraduate whispers to her friend as Tehmina Dadyseth strides past them, her vibrant red miniskirt swinging, a plate of samosas in her hand, clearly late for her first class of the day. 'I wish I were her.'

'You wish you were a crack, you mean,' sniffs the friend. 'All these rich arts girls are crack, but she's the crackest. Look what she's doing now!'

Because Tehmina, having reached Room 33, has dropped dramatically to her knees in the open doorway, and is holding out the samosas like a tribute to the professor, pleading to be let in. The unseen professor relents and the briber rushes in gratefully, still on her knees, dropping her register in her eagerness and scurrying back out a moment later to retrieve it.

'Clumsy too! And a show off, maaroing that fake American accent!'

'Arrey, she lived in America till she was ten, and it's very slight - besides, her Hindi is so good!'

Her friend isn't convinced. 'Do you know she organized an antim sanskar with an actual funeral pyre and last rites for three of her friends who are getting married this month? She has no respect for religion - must be because she's Parsi.'

'That was a bonfire party.' The starry-eyed first-year defends her heroine stoutly. 'Anyway, I think it's a shame that girls come here - to the best women's college in India, for heaven's sake - to get quality education and then get married off without even completing their degree! Tinka's protesting against that in a symbolic sort of way - what's wrong with that?'

'It's against our traditions.' Her friend shakes her head. 'And I don't think she's pretty, she's so frowny and browny - there are at least ten girls in MH more fair-complexioned than her!'

These accusations are not entirely invalid. As Tinka Dadyseth officially enters our narrative, seated within the gracious, red-bricked walls of Miranda House, University of Delhi, furiously scribbling on a chart paper with a black crayon, it must be admitted that she is not conventionally pretty. She is wheatish and unfashionably thin, with slender, tennis-player limbs, unusual in a time when most girls aspire to voluptuous curves. Eschewing the floral prints in vogue, Tinka dresses in skirts of red, orange or emerald-green, teamed with white tops in the summer, and black polonecks in the winter. In an establishment as conventionally fashionable as Miranda House, this is indeed brave. Her hair is black and wavy, her large eyes combative, her nose straight, her mouth generous, her opinions decisive. Her face is long, ending in a pointy chin, and when she smiles, two tiny dimples flash in her cheeks. 'You look like an imp,' Jimmy used to say, chucking her under the chin. 'A young imp - an implet. An implet with dimplets.'

But we mustn't talk about Jimmy. Nobody in Tinka's family does.

Excerpted with permission of HarperCollins from Baaz by Anuja Chauhan. Order your copy here.


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