Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Behind the Scenes at an Indian Wedding by @SimiKRao

Simi K. RaoAbout the Author
You can connect with the author and read more of her work at:   @SimiKRao

Simi K. Rao was born in India and has been living in the United States for several years. Milan (A WeddingStory) is her third novel. Her previous novels are titled: Inconvenient Relations and The Accidental Wife. The inspiration for this book, and her other projects, comes from her own experience with cross-cultural traditions, lifestyles and familial relationships, as well as stories and anecdotes collected from friends, family and acquaintances within the immigrant community.
Rao enjoys exploring the dynamics of contemporary American culture blended with Indian customs and heritage to reflect the challenges and opportunities many Indian-American women face in real life.  Much of Rao’s down time is devoted to creative pursuits, including writing fiction, poetry and photography. She is an avid traveler and has visited many locations around the world.  A practicing physician, Rao lives in Denver. with her family.

‘Behind the scenes at an Indian Wedding’

Indians in general are deeply rooted in tradition. Our culture gives us our identity. Most of us (especially those living away from the homeland) cling to it, even though several aspects in these particularly modern times, make no sense at all. Why do we do so? Perhaps because it brings us together as a community and provides us comfort in a foreign environment. The same I think applies to immigrants from all over the globe.

Marriages in India, in particular Hindu marriages are long drawn intricate affairs fraught with age old tradition. Little has changed over the centuries except for certain embellishments due to modernization. To non-Indians these ceremonies appear just that—elaborate colorful rituals flavored with plenty of pomp and show.

In the following story I take my readers on a ‘behind the scenes' tour at a traditional Indian wedding. I’ve tried to illustrate the proceedings from engagement to the wedding ceremony with “generalized” Indians---my characters, and have also made an attempt to expound on the emotional upheavals that occur in the background and often aren’t spoken out loud. Milan is more of a ‘short story’ concept where it shows the before/during and after of an event than it is a ‘long novel’ about characters with hopes and dreams and goals. And its purpose is exactly that, to show the emotions Indian couples go through during the process of a wedding. This story may help the reader get a better insight into the culture of marriage in India.

The Setting of MILAN:

Whenever I travel back to my homeland, I prepare for a culture shock. The crowds, the noise, the pollution have all increased several fold as the country races forward at breakneck speed to catch up with the rest of the world. There are very places left where it still seems like life goes on as it did a few decades ago, where people are laid back and nature is not at war with mankind.

MILAN is set in one such place; Coonoor-- a hill town located in the Nilgiri Hills, about 56 kms from the Coimbatore Airport, in the southern Indian State of Tamil Nadu. It is part way from its more well-known cousin Ooty. I spent some time there during my last trip and was so enchanted that I chose to use it as a setting for my story. Known for its tea plantations, Coonoor is a lovely, rustic little town. With its abundance of greenery and quaint architecture it is a throwback to India as it used to be. The temperate climate and serene environment help the restless soul to relax and take a few breaths of peace. When you are there, don't forget to take a ride on the Nilgiris meter gauge train, as well as a personalized tour of the tea estates.

I want to thank Debdatta for giving me this opportunity to express myself and for hosting this blog tour. I also want to thank all the bloggers who are participating in this tour and have made space for my book on their blog. Your time and generosity is much appreciated. Please visit my website for more info on me and my work. You can also connect with me on Facebook and twitter

Happy Reading!

Simi K. Rao

Inconvenient Relations (Arranged Match #1)

Inconvenient Relations

Shaan Ahuja found himself bowing to tradition and agreeing to an arranged marriage to the beautiful Ruhi Sharma. He went through the motions but had no intention of carrying through on his vows. His last foray into matters of the heart with an American girl had left him scarred and unwilling to try again. Thoroughly disillusioned and disgruntled he wasted no time in making his intentions clear to Ruhi on their wedding night. But, he was completely unprepared for what his new wife had in mind.

Publication date: December 23, 2014
Formats: Paperback, Digital Ebook
ISBN-13: 978-1505694581

Inconvenient Relations, Kando Books, is found at your favorite book retailers:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers

“In Rao’s debut novel, an arranged Indian marriage sets the stage for an intimate look at the exasperating madness of love.... An often intoxicating...will-they-or-won’t-they tale.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Sassy desi romance—5 stars!”
—Rachelle Ayala, bestselling author of Michal’s window

“A mixture of contemporary romance, coming of age tale and multicultural fiction, Simi K.
Rao’s An Incurable Insanity is a wonderful debut novel.”
—Maria of Queen of All She Reads

“As a whole this was a brilliant novel. Rao walks the line between traditional Indian culture and all that is Hollywood to create a tale that will pull at your heartstrings and keep you captivated throughout.” —Jonel Boyko

“To read An Incurable Insanity is to be completely immersed in another world, a culture that originates in deep roots and clashes with the world I’m familiar with. It’s fascinating.” —Laura of Prism Book Tours

“A well balanced novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.”
—Debdatta Sahay of Book Reviews

The Accidental Wife

The Accidental Wife

Dr. Rihaan Mehta is a brilliant young neurosurgeon who has no inclination for love or marriage. According to him wives and girlfriends are annoying accessories that one can do without. But when his mother dangles the sword over his head in classic Bollywood style, he succumbs, and sets in search of a bride who would fit his ‘requirements’. But he could never have prepared himself for what awaits him.

Publication date: March 5, 2015
Formats: Paperback, Digital Ebook
ISBN-13: 978-1508757054

The Accidental Wife, Kando Books, is found at your favorite book retailers:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers

“The Accidental Wife is an intriguing tale of the best-laid plans gone awry but set straight by the humbling hand of destiny. A delightful novel.”

—Shobhan Bantwal, best-selling author of The Dowry Bride and other books
“A traditional love story in a non-traditional setting. I loved it. It had all the markings of a romance…boy meets girl, boy does something stupid and loses girl, boy comes to his senses, problems happen, boy gets girl. But nothing else follows pattern. The story takes a nationality that often has arranged marriages and turns it on its head. The Indian culture is fascinating and this story takes all that is best and mixes it in. It is the perfect read for romance. I give this story 5 out of 5 clouds.”
—Dreamer2229 (Amazon Reviewer)

“Another amazing book by Simi. I love her books and the Indian culture in them. Being a nurse, it was fun with the medical aspect of it too. I can’t wait for her next book!” —D S (Amazon Reviewer)

“This a great read for anyone who wants a small insight into the Indian life. It’s a story of two very unlikely people who would have never crossed path had it not been for fate. It’s a story about the best laid plans that get turned upside down because it involves the matter of hearts. It’s a story of infallible human spirit that will fight to return to the arms of a loved one. It’s a story about the power of love and its power to heal. It’s a great story that grips your heart as you take the journey with Rihaan and Naina.” —Reshma Dave (Amazon Reviewer)

Milan (A Wedding Story)

Milan (A Wedding Story)

When a daughter turns marriageable age, what should a responsible father do? Easy—wed her to the most suitable boy who comes knocking on the door. Jai Bharadwaj, Mili’s father and owner of The Serenity Tea Estate in the idyllic Nilgiris would’ve probably liked to do the same, but being who he was, he had to ask her first. What would she say?

Publication date: August 31, 2015
Formats: Paperback, Digital Ebook
ISBN-13: 978-1517142865

Milan (A Wedding Story), Kando Books, is found at your favorite book retailers:
Coming soon to:
Barnes & Noble Booksellers

“A captivating look into the developing relationship of a young couple falling in love for the first time while honoring family traditions. Throughout the wedding planning, the bride-to-be is in a constant state of nervous excitement and total confusion that will keep you guessing until the very end. An absolute joy to read.”

—Yvette Klobuchar, bridal dress designer and author of Brides Unveiled
“Milan is an interesting combination of today and yesterday in India, ultimately bringing Mili, twenty-four but innocent and immature for her age, together with Ahaan, a bit older but more in tune with the customs of their country. This story of their arranged marriage, (still practiced in their country), goes through the accepted steps of bringing their union to fruition. The story follows through the Roka (unofficial engagement), the Sagai (formal engagement ceremony) and other preparations for the magnificent wedding which her father insists on, taking the reader along for all the rituals and experiencing all Mili’s continuing uncertainties as she leaves her childhood home to make her new life with her husband’s family.”
—Nancy Sweetland, author of The House On the Dunes

“In Milan, Simi K. Rao has created a delightful story and a glimpse into of an enduring part of Indian culture. Mili’s family wants her to marry Ahaan, an old acquaintance, but as a modern young woman, Mili is reluctant, fearing that she’ll be forced to abandon her career in music. But fortunately, Mili isn’t the only modern person in the pair, and the two embark on a journey that includes old traditions and a promise from the groom that guarantees Mili her own passions in life. But the best part of the story is the realization for Mili that Ahaan appears to be much more than a husband chosen for her. Despite her initial resistance, she might fall in love. Rao writes with flair and includes the colors and scents and sounds that many of us associate with modern India. Without being the slightest bit didactic, Rao educates us, too, about Hindu traditions and the beauty of language describing the bonds and promises of love and marriage.”
—Virginia McCullough, award-winning author of Amber Light and The Jacks of Her Heart