This portrait captures one of the happiest times in my life. My husband Llew took it while he, my daughter Chriselle and I were traveling in Central Europe. I’m seated in the English Country style gardens of Wavel Castle in Krakow, Poland, in August 2005.
But the story of my life did not begin in Poland. Nor did it begin in the United States of America where I have lived for the past 18 years. My adventures began on the opposite side of the planet in the teeming metropolitan city of Bombay, India, where my parents Robert and Edith D’Souza make their home.
It was fun growing up in Bombay with my two younger brothers, Russel and Roger. As a family, we traveled extensively over the length and breath of India, literally from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Cambay to Calcutta. I was well and truly bitten by the travel bug long before I reached my teens. I loved reading and writing at St. Agnes’ High School in Byculla from where I graduated, so it’s not surprising that I chose to major in English Literature with a minor in French at Elphinstone College, Bombay. I adored my college years in Bombay that exposed me to the brightest minds, allowed my creativity and imagination to soar and fuelled my ambition to become a professor.
My daughter Chriselle was born while I was working towards my Master of Arts degree. Upon its completion, my teaching career began at Jai Hind College in Churchgate, where, as a professor in the English Department of the Senior College, I spent some of my most fulfilling years earning my Master of Philosophy degree in English and reading towards my Ph. D.
Enter The British Council, Bombay. Thanks to their very generous academic grant, I went to Oxford to undertake doctoral research while registered for graduate courses at Exeter College. This was the turning point in my life. Not only was Oxford’s academic discipline superbly stimulating, but my first visit overseas and exposure to Western Europe and the British Isles through the vast travels I undertook, opened my mind to the world of possibility that lay ahead of me. I felt the kind of intellectual exhilaration that has remained with me ever since. I developed a lifelong interest in Art History that I continue to study today through my work as a Docent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. While in London, I had the unique opportunity of meeting and working with the late Indo-British novelist Kamala Markandaya on whom my doctoral dissertation was based.
In 1989, I moved to the United States of America to work on a post-doctoral degree in English at St. John’s University while teaching Writing as a Grad Assistant. There I met, dated and married my husband Llewellyn Almeida, a kind and humorous banker. I earned a Doctor of Arts degree in Multi-Ethnic Literature and soon began teaching at New York University where I am currently a full-time Master Teacher of South Asian Studies in Global Cultures. In the course of my research activity, I published two scholarly books of literary criticism–Originality and Imitation: Indianness in the Novels of Kamala Markandaya and The Politics of Mourning: Grief-Management in Cross-Cultural Fiction.
In 1996, we left New York City to live in a colonial home in Southport, an hour away on the Connecticut coastline. We’ve immersed ourselves fully in community life as volunteers at our local Pequot Library and parish church. The delight of the changing seasons and the beauty it brings into our lives never fail to charm us. Following her graduation with a major in Acting from the University of Connecticut, Chriselle moved to Manhattan. Today, she pursues a career as an actor and model while holding a ‘regular’ job in Telecommunications.
Today, my teaching schedule leaves ample time for individual research and independent writing. After cutting my teeth on journalistic and academic publication, I finally have the leisure to pursue creative writing and have only recently begun publishing short fiction. I divide my time between the USA and India. Through these pages, it is my pleasure to introduce you to some of the people who have most influenced my life and my tastes. Join me now as I take you through the fun times I share with friends in our pursuit of Books, Food and Film. You will find information about my Book Clubs and suggestions for books to read, menus and recipes for entertaining evenings and recommendations for films with which you can curl up delightedly. I can’t wait to share it all with you.
So go ahead, take your pick…then feel free to recommend ideas that will contribute to our mutual enjoyment.