Biography

Some of my stories are set in the United States, some in India. Some cross from one place into the other and back again, just like me.

infant_uma                uma_portrait2

I was born in New Delhi, India. My father worked for the government, so we moved quite often which meant that every four years or so, I was in a new school. I didn’t have any brothers or sisters, so books were my friends. The stories I read and the stories I made up in my head both felt very real to me.

At one point we lived in a house with a big banyan tree outside. I’d spend hours up in the tree, reading. For a long time I imagined that Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood had banyan trees in it.

The first story I ever wrote was in green crayon on a wall. Of course, it got painted over, so I have no idea what it was about but I do remember it had ducks in it.

My father had a Remington Rand manual typewriter that I loved. I loved the clean sharp smell of inky ribbon. I loved how when I struck the keys metal letters would fly up to hit the paper and leave their mark. Between the ages of five and eleven, I hammered away at those keys. I wrote stories and typed them up. At ten, I began sending my writing off to magazines. When I was thirteen, my first poem was published in “Children’s World,” a children’s magazine begun in India by a man called Shankar who drew cartoons and believed in kids.

And I read all the time, even though no one at the time wrote anything about the world I lived in. I read everything I could lay my hands on. I read and reread Hans Christian Andersen, A.A.Milne, Beatrix Potter, Noel Streatfield, a couple of books by E. Nesbit, and old copies of Life magazine and the Reader’s Digest Junior Treasury. And like so many kids in India then, I read Enid Blyton. There was a lot in Blyton’s books that mystified me. I didn’t know what scones were, or heather. Eventually I got disillusioned with her books, but I still have fond Blyton memories. She taught me to race through stories, breathless, heading into the drama, reading for context and clue. Maybe it was all just practice for the writer I’d end up becoming.

Now I live in northwest New Mexico and travel regularly to India. Some of my stories are set in the United States, some in India. Some cross from one place into the other and back again, just like me. I spend my time teaching and writing.