News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Getahead » 'Nothing shocks me about Indian relationships'

'Nothing shocks me about Indian relationships'

Last updated on: March 02, 2024 23:52 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

'Nobody really talks about the middle of relationships or the mundane parts... (When the end comes) we think, "Wow, this is the worst time of my life. This is horrible. It's never been worse". But actually, I feel the endings are what makes us who we are.'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shenaz Treasury/Instagram

Real conversations, aka non-Bollywood ones, in India about breakups, or potential relationship splits, are usually the stuff of agony aunt columns, guru chats and news articles, when often rejected partners slip into long dark periods of depression, or terribly worse commit suicide.

Those stories and voices are full of anguish. So much sadness too. And sometimes longing:

My 3-year BF broke up with me because his parents didn't approve of me. He regrets his decision and wants me back again after 1 month. What should I do?'

'Three years back I found my wife cheating on me and having an affair with her old classmate. Please help me in this case. What l should do?'

'Woman Dies By Suicide After Boyfriend Blocks Her On WhatsApp'.

Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/

Shenaz Treasury, no stranger to partings herself, takes a delicate, sensitive topic like breakups and in her just-published book All He Left Me Was A Recipe: Lessons From My Breakups, repackages it into light, frothy, rollicking material, setting herself up to be the new Shobhaa De of a novel sexy Indian breakup genre.

She presents tale after tale about a quintessential Mumbai girl's exciting foray into love and, each time, how the young woman beats a prudent but jaldi exit, with the amusing life lessons/recipes tacked on at the end of each episode being the wise undercurrent.

The book, unusually, celebrates the freedom of ended relationships and the maturity and colour it can add to your life experience. And why not?

Too often in India dating is so monogamous, limited and one-date-for-a-lifetime occurrences. Gaining wide experience dating multiple people is not considered by many youngsters because possessing it is tantamount to owning easy virtue, instead of it being looked at as a valuable rite of passage.

The animal called 'a series of relationships' is frowned upon and everyone's first love affair is often meant to be their final, happily-forevermore one too. The shock with which actor Deepika Padukone's candid confessions on Koffee With Karan was greeted, about her open relationship with Ranveer, before marriage, is testimony to that.

Treasury's accounts of the exploits of the Bombay girl are too tantalisingly real for us to be completely conned into believing it is mostly fiction, as the introduction to the book carefully declares.

These don't feel like spun fables from a fictional everybody-is-hooking-up-with-everyone world of revolving-door dating, like the affairs in popular, romantic Western television miniseries or films like Kissing Booth, Gossip Girl or Sex/Life. Much of it comes across fairly authentic and Indian.

It's no surprise that when Shenaz's mom discovered and read a portion of the unfinished manuscript about first adventurous bouts of sex happening in the parents' bed, she and Shenaz's dad were rather distressed with the content, believing that was actually what their daughter had been up to, that Shenaz even considered dropping the book.

Since the encounters give off a strong whiff of being rooted in real life, that's the burning question at the top of your mind when you head out to interview Shenaz at her newly-renovated flat in a quiet, quaint neigbourhood of Bandra, north west Mumbai, where she lives on her own -- how much is fiction and how much is real and could it be that Treasury is a sharp reporter of societal trends rather than a imaginative storyteller.

Shenaz -- who you would remember having seen in Gold Spot commercials in the 1990s, or subsequently as a telegenic, vivacious VJ on MTV, or essaying her best-remembered Bollywood role as Alisha Sahay in Ishq Vishq in 2003 or more recently as a glam travel vlogger jetting off to the Maldives, Hungary and other exotic spots -- laughingly refuses to disclose the fact-fiction quotient.

"I can't really say. That's for you to guess. It's part fact, part fiction. Basically, it's a story of a girl, of her life, from when she's four to 40. Each chapter is when she meets a different guy. And the impression that guy leaves on her. She's left with a life lesson... You are always grateful to that person about something.

"Even if the relationship ended badly there is something to be thankful for... It's all taken from real life experiences. Most of them are mine. But I have embellished them. I have taken it from here there. Sometimes I have taken it from friends."

Face to face, dressed in a fetching flowery frock, she's a bubbly, liberated young woman, who has a sort of permanent cute college girl charm/air about her. She laughs musically and giggles a lot. With her pertness, chirpiness, charms, she seems to pop right out of her own book or so your over-active imagination believes.

Treasury speaks, soberly, at length about the importance of understanding the less fairytale middle and end of a relationship. Her wisdom, you can't help believe, seems to be tinged with a tad bit of slightly sad but very real and welcome pragmatism. But not cynicism.

"People, movies, film, television ads, books are all romanticising the beginning of relationships. Nobody really talks about the middle of relationships or the mundane parts... (When the end comes) we think, 'Wow, this is the worst time of my life. This is horrible. It's never been worse'. But actually, I feel the endings are what makes us who we are."

Hear more about what Shenaz has to say about breakups and their value in your life:

Videos: Rajesh Karkera/

Are relationships in India becoming as multi-species as they are in many other parts of the world -- with so many permutation-combinations and with as many tags or varieties as a 31-flavour Baskin Robbins ice cream parlour?

Ethical non-monogamous. Exclusive. Open. Polyamorous. Etc etc.

Is Shenaz also astonished at how astonished India was to hear Deepika Padukone speak about open relationships? Or have they come of age in India? And those commenting are just a bunch of mealy mouths?

This is Shenaz's take:


When you read the accounts of the various love affairs Shenaz writes about in her book, some much more raunchy than others, you wonder too if these are the kind of hookups happening next door or in your corner of the world and about their prevalence. Shenaz announces that there is nothing about the Indian dating scene that surprises her or is too spicy to digest. Here is her view:


Racy books focusing on sexual relationships, affairs, breakups are not so common in the Indian publishing world. Shenaz's offering, which she says is doing very well on Amazon, joins that genre. Her inspiration in choosing to write about dating and relationships as her first novel/book:


Shenaz, whose Instagram profile has the subtitle 'Travel, Romance, Smiles' and describes her also as a 'Wellness & Happiness Influencer. I collect Smiles', believes urban Indians now have quite different reasons to look for partners. It's no longer necessarily about family obligations or seeking financial security, since both men and women earn.

"People are marrying just for love. And they are trying to find everything in that partner. They want that person to be their emotional companion, stimulating them mentally, physically attractive and have a good physical chemistry. Plus you need to have shared values, the same thoughts, the same religious and political ideaologies, especially political these days. There's so much stress -- it's very very hard."

Through the various steamy liasons the character in All He Left Me Was A Recipe has, Shenaz, by default, imparts a bunch of practical knowledge about looking for a partner and what to expect or not be surprised by in a relationship.

Part 2: 'Online dating is so much work'

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: