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SIMPLY DREAM!

"A Model House". Almost model words. RANA SIDDIQUI finds all this and much more in a frank chat with Uttara Chauhan, an architect-turned-writer.



Uttara Chauhan.

IT'S ALL about a dream house, a dream life, a dream man, dream academic achievements and a dream movement. It's "A Model House" by Uttara Chauhan, a 38-year-old Indian writer-based in Canada. Writer by virtue of an active pen that has churned out "a large number of academic and journalistic articles, for a magazine on architecture for nearly three years and an occasional column on history and leadership in Gujarat for a national daily," informs this Haryana-born author who is an architect by profession. Her 267-page debut novel, published by Indialog Publications, is priced at Rs.195. It gradually starts from a story of a girl called Alaknanda, an Indo-American student in the U.S. forcibly sent by parents to India to learn "Indian culture and academics". It then, moves on to portray through the diary of an unsung student leader of 1974, Navnirman Movement in Gujarat, in which students wanted to create a new society, NGOs and the "game" of development. It also reveals the affectations that Indians settled abroad fall victim to, the typical Indian women sitting at home, cribbing, sneaking into their neighbour's life, about the domestic helpand a young girl in search of roots in India, about Raghu, the protagonist and a perfect model maker.

The book is a result of the author's 10 years of constant jotting down of notes, research on Mahatma Nagar, Gujarat's movement et all. "There was a story in me and it had to come out. I was very restless until I was able to able to articulate and bring to life, some very strong characters, events and images that had been with me for a very long time," recalls the author adding that she began parts of the book 10 year ago. "There was a long gap in between when I gave up. The story was tenacious so I picked up the threads again."

An admirer of Gabriel Gracia Marques, D. H. Lawrence and Vikram Seth, Uttara is back to her student days after a "decade of professional work". She is doing her second master's degree in planning from University of Toronto and is all geared up to with another book based in Canada.

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