Desi Tales

Indirom, a new online publication, offers quick-read romances written for the South Asian audience.

Naheed Hassan had always been an avid reader and enjoyed writing. She had a successful career as a management consultant and freelance writer in Africa, but it was while reading that Hassan felt true fulfillment. She was, however, weary of the standard Western novels about "beautiful blondes netting handsome Italian millionaires". She began a search for Indian and South Asian stories that she could really connect to.

It was this search for "desi romance" that led her to launch Indirom an online publishing company in collaboration with like-minded Shanti Dominic. The duo built a vision of an online platform where readers could find stories that were relevant to South Asian culture. On February 14, the vision took form when Indirom's website was launched with the first batch of novellas by over 40 new authors from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

One such writer is Pune-based Sarita Varma who had previously written for the Chicken Soup series and freelanced for other online projects. Her story, Girl from Fatehpur, is among the first novellas featured on the website. The story follows a small-town girl's move to a big city, where she eventually falls in love. "The ideas of romance in India and in the west are very different. I may sound old-fashioned, but aakhon aakhon me abhi bhi bohot batein hoti hain," she says. Where a story is based also changes the culture and environment that the story portrays, says Varma. "In India, there are still towns where there are no cafes. The story could begin at a chaiwallah's cart.

The ethos is South Asian and the stories become more relevant to us," she adds.

While Hassan is now based in Boston and Dominic lives in Johannesburg, all operations will be managed online by them. They hope to cater to young professionals between 18 and 45 of age, who usually only have time to read when on a flight, commuting or in a waiting room. Accordingly, the stories are all 100-150 page novellas, priced at Rs 50 to 99, and can be read easily on electronic devices such as smart phones and tablet PCs.

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