It's been a fun-filled, action paced life...and the written result is beinmg published this July by Revenge Ink. This is the book of my life. My Wikipedia entry says I am an international convicted con woman. I am also a mother, a journalist and writer, an art dealer and an advocate for women in prison. How much of me do you really know? Do you want to know? Can you believe anything I tell you? So much has been said and written about me, I have never refuted or accepted any of it. I was waiting for the quiet moment when I could tell my truth. The story begins at the beginning. I was born into a “happy” middle-class sub-continental, Asian family, to an alcoholic father and a narcissistic mother in Uganda. We left before the imposed exodus after I was kidnapped. This part of the story ends after I was released from prison, having served 21 months of a three and a half year sentence, for assorted counts of theft and perverting the course of justice, aged 40. . It’s a story of not belonging, of searching for a sense of self and where I could belong in all the wrong places, through sex, men, bad relationships, cocaine and alcohol. Mine isn’t a story of an innocent Indobrit chic who falls into bad episodes, I was driven by the urge to self-annihilate, not to feel any pain. I was sexually abused when I was 8 and raped when I was 12. Neither incident was ever discussed by my parents, with me. I buried them and they festered. I refused to see myself as a victim and acted out on the hurt and the anger I felt on whatever man tried to come close. By creating chaos, I distracted myself and those around me from what was going on inside me. By presenting myself as perfectly packaged, coiffed and shoed, I began to fit into something of a phantasy, the image of me I wanted the world to see. I started to believe it. I was living in the dangerous, schizophrenic gap of hating myself and huge arrogance. My life has been touched by incredible genius, people like Peter Beard, the bad-boy celebrity photographer, who claimed to have found Somalian-born model Iman in the Kenyan bush was a great friend. I was encouraged to become an art dealer by the champion of the Abstract Expressionists, Clement Greenberg. Icons in contemporary culture (Bianca Jagger, Lee Radziwill, Margaux Hemmingway) became part of my everyday New York experiences, along with being a suspect in an unsolved murder case, by the Manhattan DA’s office. My experiences of being in the sex selling trade as a manager for one of New York’s most prolific Escort Agencies has coloured my perception of “love” as nothing more than a commodity. My return to London marked the beginning of the end. I started a leading lifestyle magazine and got increasingly into debt. Instead of asking for help, and there were many prominent Asian businessmen who loved the magazine and what we were doing, I started to steal. I retained Imran Khan, the Human Rights solicitor and buried my head in the sand as to why I had ended up where I had. I wanted to accept no responsibility for my stealing and my lies. There were well-documented affairs with a Sunday Supplement magazine editor and a travel writer. I was trapped in the midst of media-luvvie London, a rising star and I couldn’t stand myself or my life. Crime was a way to nuke it all back to ground zero, I knew I would get caught, there wasn’t any great skill in the things I did. Today, having served a 21 month sentence and had a long hard look at my life, I have faced up to what mine and I own it. Prison afforded the time to write it all down. The story is a journey that starts in Africa, comes to London and then to India. It is about redemption and finding a space where I could fit, my definition of me, not one prescribed by other people, particularly men, in my life. It’s part Twenty-First century cautionary tale but it’s also a story which transcends cultural boundaries and national borders. . It’s every woman’s voyage to meet herself and look at the person she sees in the morning in her mirror and say, “Hello, I like you.” There is a lot the British Asian community would like to keep in the dark but we have our litany of problems with alcoholism and incest, with denial and the desire to “fit” into the guest shaped hole the host country has made for us. Asian women are meant to be subservient, receptacles of sperm, wisdom and the reflected glory of the man who happens to have chosen them. But we want the freedom the west offers as well, the chance to create our own identities. It’s an uncomfortable paradigm. This is the first book by an Asian woman, or indeed any contemporary female writer which spans the painful journey home and addresses taboo issues such as sex, relationships and the media in a stark, truthful way. I have held nothing back. The truth, according to the narrator in a recent episode of Desparate Housewives is simply a previously agreed upon set of lies. This is my truth.
Freedom. Kabbalah. Spirituality. Writing
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