Blog Tour : Fashionably Yours by Swati Sharma - Excerpt Reveal

I am so delighted to be a part of the blog tour for Swati Sharma's debut novel, Fashionably Yours! Scroll down to find out more!

“Maya Kapoor swaps the snowy mountains for the glittering ocean.”

Maya Kapoor arrived in Mumbai with a glamorous dream, quite literally. Maya wants to be a serious fashion writer for the high-end fashion magazine, Glamorous but luck is not in her favor. Instead, she lands a job with a local fashion magazine, Style. Maya hates everything about it but for now this is all she has. Despite all the odds, Maya is excited about living an independent, fashionable life in the city of dreams.

At twenty-five, love has eluded Maya. But when she bumps into the dashing photographer, Aryan Malik, she falls head over heels for his gorgeous smile and charming manner.

But Maya seems to be stuck in a rut - her credit card bills are sky-high, her melodramatic mother can't stop ranting, the boss is unbearably cruel, her younger sister has decided to tie the knot, and she's not sure if Aryan could love a simple, confused girl like her.

Will Maya get the fairytale life she dreamed about or will she let everything slip through her fingers? Read her diary and find out.



It was a very cold December morning and I was lying in my bed blissfully with one foot propped out of the warm quilt. A five-foot tall PVC Christmas tree was standing gloriously by the window. It looked almost magical under the layers of twinkling fairy lights and hundreds of ornaments. Though it had been four days since Christmas, I couldn’t bring myself to take down the decorations and transport the tree back to the attic, much to the annoyance of my mom who could never understood that how on earth her by-all-means Punjabi daughter came to loving such a foreign festival. But for me Christmas was the most happy day of my life. Nothing could go wrong around Christmas. I blew a kiss to the tree before reaching for the top drawer of my nightstand.
As I pulled it open, I felt my heart flutter at the sight of a crisp, white envelope which was going to take me a step closer to my dream. Gingerly I reached inside the envelope and pulled out a letter. I read the job offer for the zillionth time since it had arrived last evening.

Dear Maya Kapoor,
Congratulations! We are pleased to offer you the position of ‘Feature Writer’with the online division of Style magazine.
Please find the attached draft copy of your offer letter from Style, Mumbai.
Do go through the letter and let us know if you have any queries with regards to the offer.

I had waited for this letter for far too long. Though Style was not my first preference, I realized that Glamorous was too posh to recruit someone straight out of Shimla College of Mass Communication and Advertising. But at least Style was situated in the same city as my bible. For the last seven years I had dreamt only one dream, and that was to write for Glamorous. And for this I had fought a tough battle against my mom who was adamant to see me graduate to become a CA or a primary school teacher at the very least. Yuk! According to her, no decent man would marry a girl like me who had had a word ‘media’ written in her bio.
“Girls in media are considered to have loose character. You have landed yourself in a dark pit,” she grumbled in my ear as we posed for a family photo on my convocation.
Gazing at the letter in my hands I wonder if she would throw me out of the house, dragging me by my hair or have a minor panic attack when I broke the news to her.
Fifteen minutes later I was out of the comfort of my bed and ready to spill the beans to my parents. I just wanted to be over with all the drama as soon as possible so that I could finally celebrate my job with a tall cup of hot chocolate before starting to pack my stuff. Trotting along the creaking wooden floor I walked up to my closet and pulled out a jumper to slide over my old GAP T-shirt. It was freezing. It had been a week and it hadn’t stopped snowing.
Pulling the jumper over my head, I tied my light brown traces in a top knot on my head. Bracing myself for true Punjabi mother drama I tiptoed down the stairs and just when I gave myself one last pump and headed towards the kitchen where she was usually found in the morning hours, I came to the screeching halt at the sight of our neighbourhood ladies. The realisation hit me like a basketball. It was the last Sunday of the month. It was sort of a ritual on Gulmohar Street. On the last Sunday of every month all the women of the colony gathered at one neighbour’s house along with their daughters where they would cook a wide variety of delicious brunch treats. In the meanwhile, their daughters of nearly my age, a.k.a marriageable age, sat in the drawing room and merrily discussed whatever cooking, yoga, knitting or sewing classes they were attending. Then, over the breakfast table, the women discussed possible suitors for their daughters and recommended any eligible bachelors they knew of for each other’s daughters. And while all this happened, all the male members of the colony headed to the town’s sports club where they played squash, tennis, swam and bonded over beer and brandy. To be honest to me it all seemed like a cult where the women tried to brainwash their daughters into thinking that all they needed to do in their lives was to be a good housewife. I was the least favourite member of this cult.
 “Maya, why are you still in your pyjamas?” Mom appeared from the kitchen and looked at me disapprovingly. Suddenly all the girls in the room who were dressed to the nine in their salwar-kameez’s stopped talking and looked at me inquisitively. I bet they were enjoying this moment. Those bitches never liked me.
“I forgot it’s brunch day!” I said, in a small voice, like a child who had been caught for breaking a cookie jar.
Hayo rabba! Kudiya ki kara mai tera?” she waved her hands dramatically in air. “Now go and get ready in five minutes, and I mean five,” she hissed.
“I’ll be back in four,” I threw a look to the girls whose ears were well trained on our conversation, before heading back to my room and running a quick shower. Three minutes and fifty-five seconds later I was back downstairs, dressed in a delicate chiffon suit with a shawl around my shoulders. I despised wearing suits because they are clumsy and I didn’t feel like me, but today was an exception. I had already screwed up and I didn’t want any more blunders to spoil my mom’s mood, at least until the afternoon when I would finally tell her about my job offer. As I entered the room, mom gave me a brief smile before instructing me and my younger sister, Payal, to lay breakfast on the dining table which was taking a place of pride by the one and only fireplace of the Kapoor residence. While I laid the cutlery, Payal garnished the dishes and very artfully arranged them on the table. Payal was every inch the part of this cult. She had attended the sewing class and was currently attending the cooking class. As much as she was loved by all the members of the colony and by my mother for her dutiful nature, I was looked down upon for being rebellious and ultra-modern. OK, now I wanted to spew.
Payal wasn’t always like this. In fact we used to be really close till recently and she told me about everything from her first fag to her first shag. But three months ago one of the girls in our neighbourhood, fresh out of the high school, got married to one of the rich men in the town courtesy her parents. When Payal saw a girl who couldn’t even afford a taxi ride, proudly travelling in a BMW, she decided to get married to a richer guy and up her standard and status in town. And this new Payal made me cringe every single time we were in the same room.
“Breakfast is served,” I announced to all the ladies and their dying-to-get-married daughters. As everyone helped themselves to the deep-fried and oil-laden dishes, I piled my plate with egg bhurji and perched myself on one of the sofa seats. As I was hungrily scoffing down my breakfast, I heard the girls around me discussing TV serials from last night.
“I can’t believe Ram left her…” said a girl in a gaudily embroided patiala salwar-kameez.
  “…and that fight in Big Boss last night was so amazing, yaar…” said another, through a mouthful of pav bhaji.
“I am sure she will win it this time,” Payal remarked about a girl with an awfully long face who was one of the top finalists of Big Boss.
“Hey, who do you think will get evicted this week?” out of nowhere Sharma Aunty’s daughter directed a question to me. Or was that Verma Aunty’s daughter?
“Ummm…I have no idea. I don’t watch Big Boss,” I retorted.
“You are kidding, right?” she asked and I felt something in the air suddenly shift.
“Err…no!” I nearly laughed at her idiotic expression.
“You don’t watch Big Boss?” I could tell she was in deep shock.
“I prefer Game of Thrones,” I said nonchalantly.
“What is that?” A girl clad in a red churidar asked me curiously.
Oh my goodness, was she even serious?
“Umm…a TV serial!” I said gingerly.
“My mom was right. You are crazy,” she said in horror.
Well to be honest I wasn’t surprised or baffled to hear her remark because it was common belief about me on Gulmohar Street. And on top of that my own mom had declared me insane, impractical, crazy and utterly irresponsible, time and again.
“Have you talked to Mr. Alhuwalia?” I heard a snippet of the conversation between Mom and Sheetal Aunty when I went back to the breakfast table to refill my plate.
“I did call him but same answer. He said that his son is very innocent and down to earth and he doesn’t think that a modern girl like Maya would be compatible with him or the family. Main tan badi pareshan haan. How will she get married like this?” Mom moaned.
“Take my suggestion, Sunanda, and from now on don’t tell anyone about Maya’s mass media degree and instead tell them that she has graduated in arts? Trust me nobody asks to see degrees and certificates while fixing marriages. Nobody would ever find out!” Sheetal Aunty added helpfully and I could see Mom’s mind working around this idea.
How could they?
I had spent three years studying my arse off to graduate with first class and worked doubly hard to get the campus placement. What’s wrong with all the women of Gulmohar Street? Why couldn’t they think about anything beyond rishtas and weddings?
Four hours later everyone bid goodbye to each other and left for their houses. While Payal and I cleared the table and dishes, mom rearranged the drawing room.
“Mom, I want to talk to you about something” I said and as if on a cue the main door swung open and Dad entered the house. I instantly felt relieved and much more confident now. Though Dad had never openly approved of me doing a media course, he never, not even once said or did anything to make me feel guilty about my choice. He understood me, but unfortunately he didn’t have much say when it came to me and my sister because Mom believed that she knew how to raise girls into proper ladies and Dad should steer clear of all womanly business.
“It’s colder than ever today.” He shrugged the snow from his overcoat before taking it off and hanging it on the coat rack by the door.
“Let me get you some tea,” Mom said, but before she could make a move to the kitchen I offered to get the tea.
“Mom, you relax. I’ll get the tea.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth I could see their stunned expressions. It wasn’t their fault. I never made anything before except the occasional late-night Maggi.
“OK,” as seconds ticked away Mom finally found her voice.
Within a few minutes I came back to the room with the tea and a plate of chocolate biscuits and found everyone sitting around the sofa with curiosity as if for the first time in their lives they were going to see tea. As I poured a cup of tea for Dad and another cup for Mom, I could feel their eyes boring into my head. They were shocked beyond words.
“What’s the matter, Maya?” Mom asked suspiciously as I handed her a cup.
She was one intelligent woman. No befooling her.
“Nothing,” I smiled nervously.
The moment of revelation had arrived and I could feel my heart palpitating and my palms sweating.
“You said you wanted to talk about something,” Mom carried on her inspection as Dad looked at me over the brim of the cup. By his expression I could tell that he had smelt a rat.
“I have got a job. It’s with a magazine in Mumbai,” the words rushed out of my mouth.
“What?” she placed the tea back on the table and folded her hands in her lap.
“Wow! Have you gone mad?” Payal laughed. “What do you need a job for?” She asked haughtily.
“You better stay out of it. Nobody asked for your precious opinion,” I gnawed.
“Maya, your sister is right. What do you need a job for? Your dad earns well, you have a roof over your head and if I am not wrong then we have always fulfilled your demands, small or big. I don’t think you need a job. At this point all you should be thinking about is finding a decent husband,” she said sternly.
“But, Mom…” before I could complete my sentence, she cut me off.
“This topic doesn’t need to be dragged. You are not taking the job and that’s that,” she made her decision. I felt my heart sinking. I couldn’t let it happen. This job was my one and only chance to get out of here.
“Sunanda, let her speak at least,” Dad intervened.
“What is there to speak about?” Mom thundered.
“Sunanda, I never come between you and the girls, but this is about Maya’s future. We should help her make the right decision,” he said sternly and I could see Mom’s face turning scarlet with anger.
“I am her mother and who do you think is more concerned about her future than me?” she balked with anger.
“Mom, I want to be someone more than a trophy wife to some rich, useless man,” I said to Mom. From the corner of my eye I could see Payal’s jaw dropping to the floor. She had totally taken offence to my declaration.
“Is it? And what’s that someone you want to be?” she folded her hands across her chest and glared at me.
“Mom, I want to make my own identity. I want to work and be successful,” I pleaded.
“And do you think that being successful will give you a better future than marrying a man who can give economic and social security and the comforts of life?” she was nowhere near giving up and neither was I.
“Yes.” I said with more confidence than I actually felt.
“These are not your words, neither your own thoughts. It’s the result of all those stupid Western movies and serials you watch. Those Western women do nothing more than drink, have babies without marriage and parade around TV screens showing off their skin. Years back I told your father to disconnect the cable but nobody listens to me in this house any more. I have spent my entire life trying to raise you girls properly and this is what I get as the reward? Hayo rabba!Aisa ki kidda main?” tears started to pour from her eyes.
“Sunanda, please stop crying. You are creating unnecessary drama. Our Maya is a very intelligent and responsible girl. She is not one to be influenced by some stupid movie or TV program. If she wants a job then what’s wrong with it? Rather we should be proud of her. She has got a job in such a big city,” he consoled Mom, but she refused to stop crying.
“Big city? No one who goes there ever comes back,” she said between sobs.
“Mom, it’s Mumbai, not a death valley,” I was this close to losing my calm. All this hayo rabba nonsense was getting just too much to handle.
“Mrs. Parekh’s daughter, Anita, went there for some interior design course and see what happened. She sent her wedding card to her parents last week and Mrs. Aggarwal told me that Anita is getting married to some south Indian. Becharre Mr. and Mrs. Parekh have stopped going out of their house out of shame,” her sobs were getting louder.
“Mom, if I was so interested in getting married than I wouldn’t want to go to Mumbai. Trust me,” I said matter-of-factly.
“Sunanda, ab chup bhi ho jao and just say yes to her,” Dad put his hands around Mom’s shoulders.
“If this is what she wants then fine, but if something inappropriate happens in the future be ready to bear the consequences of your doing,” she said icily to me.
“Mom, I would never do anything to shame you, I promise,” I smiled widely at the same time as Payal let out the disgusted sigh.
 “I don’t trust your promises. The girl who can go against her own family can never be trusted,” she said sternly.


Three days later I packed all of my belongings in two suitcases and was driven to the bus station by dad. Mom and Payal came along too. As Payal rolled her eyes the whole way, Dad instructed me about safety and other things and made me promise that I would call him every day and come visit once in three months. When we reached the station, I hugged Dad tightly and air kissed Payal who smiled stiffly at me.
I reached for Mom to hug her and she whispered in my hair, “You have ruined your life. One day you will regret your decision.”

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Until next time! xx 


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