BANGALORE: India in Love: Marriage and Sexuality in the 21st Century is Ira Trivedi’s first foray into the world of non-fiction. A sweeping look at the sexual revolution that’s stirring through the various landscapes of the country, India in Love makes for an exhaustive read.
She explores the institution of marriage, the dating and mating habits of India’s younger generations, the changing face of Indian pornography and prostitution, India’s gay revolution and much more.
We caught up with Ira Trivedi over e-mail to find out more.
What made you write India in Love? Was there a specific incident that made you realise there was a need for a book like this?
I first realised that there may be a need for a book like this when the articles that I was writing on love, sexuality and marriage started getting a lot of traction and generated a lot of discussion.
When I began my research, I realised how much change our country was going through (a sexual revolution) and how vast it was. As I researched and wrote, I was encouraged more than anything else (despite the difficulty of my task at hand) by the fact that India really needed this book.
How long did it take you to research the book? Did it ever get frustrating?
The book took me about four years to complete. I spent the first six months just trying to figure out if I had one book, two books, or three since my topic was so vast! I went to 15 cities and interviewed 600 people, and yes at many points it got frustrating. But one always has to plodder on, which is exactly what I did.
You've managed to write about your own experiences in the book? Were you ever scared or worried about sharing these details?
I was. I remember when I got the first copy of the book, I felt pangs of fear more than anything else. I had been brave and written the book, but was I brave enough to have the world read it? It took me some time to muster up that courage, but even now I constantly have to remind myself of the importance of freedom and non judgement (especially of the self) when writing.
I’ve always been brazen about my writing, ever since my first book, so I guess this should come easy, but often it does not.
How has writing this book changed you as a person, as a writer?
As a writer, the book has transformed me. You can see that difference in my previous three (all novels) and this book.
I really had to learn and practice the craft of non-fiction, and I was a student of writing as I wrote this book.
For four years this book was my life, not just my work life, but also my personal and social life. This book transformed me in many ways, especially being a young Indian woman and the way I thought about my own marriage and sexuality.
You've talked about everything from porn to sex toys to abortions to gay sex to Love Commandos and much, much more. Was there ever a point while you were researching the book that you had to stop yourself from talking about too many things? Did you have to exclude any topic at some point?
Yes, this was a constant struggle. My first draft was close to 700 pages! More than half the book has been cut down. I did have a very good proposal (that I spent 6 months on) which gave me a very clear and solid road map to work on. Yes, I did exclude a third of the book, which was on the history of love in India and how it evolved. I also excluded a lot of research I had done on Bollywood. Something had to go after all.
You've talked in length about the extent of porn viewership in our country and how it's only growing. Is there any specific reason for this growth in porn viewership?
There are a few reasons. First is the growth in technology and easy access — Internet, cellphones. Then there is the fact that there is more curiosity — due to TV, movies, media, and the like, so people WANT to check out porn.
Then there is access to sex and women. In India, there is still limited access to women for most men, and very limited access to sex (though this is increasing) so that drives a lot of men to watch porn. The stats are alarming — India has one of the largest viewers of porn in the world.
Finally, what's next? Are you already working on any other book?
Yes, there are a few things in the pipeline. But I do want to take a little break before I start the next project.
At the moment I am completely inundated by book promos, but I am really looking forward to writing my next book, which will be on arranged marriage (non-fiction) but will be a little less literary and for a younger audience.