Up Close and Personal
Jha, one of SWM's
most popular columnists is an incorrigible humourist. Life
can be a drag and marriage can be quite a trying phenomenon.
But Richa manages to dissect relationships into their most
hilarious basics, poking fun at disgruntled husbands and
neurotic wives, giving us a glimpse of the lighter side
of life. With her mischievous jabs at human frailty she
never fails to make her readers smile. But just who is Richa
Jha? SWM's exclusive on the columnist tries to unfold the
did you come to be a columnist for SWM?
I remember calling up Aasha when I was barely a fortnight
old in Dhaka (early April 2002), expressing my interest in
writing for SWM. The initial enthusiasm notwithstanding, I
disappeared from her radar! Part inertia, part pre-occupation
with setting up my home in this new place, it took six months
of persistent nagging (he prefers a more respectable 'motivating')
from my husband to re-establish contacts with the SWM team.
I did a few light pieces for the magazine, and then things
moved on from there.
is your background as a writer? How did you start writing?
To answer the second part of the question first, vocational
writing was never a priority in life. Yes, I had toyed with
the possibility, but never got around to putting pen to paper.
But once I did start writing, and eventually quit my full-time
job for it, I found it satisfying and fulfilling, apart from
just good fun!
been writing for several newspapers and magazines in India
for six years. Over the years, I've worked on feature articles,
pieces for websites, essays, commentaries, travelogues, short
stories, book reviews, film-reviews and the like. I am still
experimenting, so am quite open about venturing into new genres.
you have plans to write a novel? What will it be about?
I saw this one coming! No, none that I can think of at the
moment. I did start one the previous year, but a virus attack
ensured that my efforts and intentions were consigned to the
depths of cyberspace. But yes, if ever I do write one and
every writer dreams about writing the ultimate magnumopus,
it will be something funny, and Dhaka is sure to feature in
has your experience been living and working in Dhaka?
Great, and getting better by the day. I have been hard-selling
Dhaka to my friends and family back home for brief holidays.
In fact, the editors of several Indian publications are tired
of receiving countless Bangladesh-specific story ideas from
me! Dhaka's biggest strength is its people, and I too, am
an amiable person. Everyone is so unfailingly polite and courteous,
that the sheer meeting up is joy.
the things you write about from first hand experience? In
other words, is the hubby you write about your own hubby?
There're few experiential inputs in the Slice pieces. The
more substantial chunk comes from observing, and feeling strongly
about certain things. The situations in nearly all pieces
are concocted, written representations of the constant signals
being picked up from people around me-- acquainted or otherwise.
Stray observations, then, get a contextual framework within
The Hubby and The Wifey's world. No, they don't exist outside
the Slice pages, though the context often does.
is such an adorable character! And he is just that -- a character.
Friends who know my husband know that The Hubby is not my
husband, but that still doesn't save him from getting ragged
at his place of work and outside! But then, I'm sure there
are traces of his that trickle down to the Slice pages. Specifics?
the other hand, aren't most men a bit like The Hubby: self
absorbed, all-knowing, opinionated, and glowing in their male-ness!
They practise selective hearing when women speak, and believe
that they have been sent on earth to shepherd the women folk.
some of your pieces you write from a man's point of view.
How do you view men in general? Are they all sexist, wife-weary
individuals who think women are just either too dumb or too
manipulative to take seriously?
I don't believe
men consider women dumb; it is their pursuits they may term
trivial – be it chatting over the phone for hours, gossip,
shopping frenzy, mulling the vital differences between a shade
of violet and a shade of mauve for clothing (most men just
wouldn't know the difference) or just re-arranging the home
every other month! Yes, deep down, every man is still a chauvinist,
but in these days of political correctness, they are more
watchful with their words. The last thing the modern man wants
to be penalised for is messing up his pronouns! He may say
'she' rules, but we know the reluctance with which that extra
alphabet has found its way in.
Not necessarily. We are wearier of our husbands than they
are of us, only, they are too absent-minded to pick up these
What are the qualities you would look for in your
Ideal man, or ideal husband? If it is the former, then I am
lucky to have him for my husband. He's sensitive, forthright,
transparent, gentle (I don't like aggressive behaviour), witty,
well read, and a travel freak. His not being a TV addict,
always pushing me to out-excel myself, and usually putting
my interest first nearly earns him a 'demi-ideal-husband'
sobriquet, but that's about where this encomium should end.
There isn't, and indeed, cannot be, such a creature as the
ideal husband. And if there was, it would take away most of
the spice from our lives!
DOPE ON MYSELF:
l At 30, I feel I still haven't experienced a fraction of
what life has to offer.
l My husband and I are indefatigable travellers. I wish I
could keep travelling all my life.
l In Dhaka, you could spot me at: supermarkets, libraries,
walking tracks, swimming pools, any busy intersection clicking
photographs, Wonderland Park.
l At home, you'll find me: reading; preparing scrap books;
playing with my child; reading aloud to him, and to other
children interested in books; filling up the walls of my child's
play room imaginatively; entertaining; making travel plans;
cuddling up with my husband and child– we call it 'family
No motivation, or threat, works better for her than getting
Aasha's call on a Saturday afternoon: 'where is the piece
for the next week?' And presto, the cobwebs and idea-blocks
that have been the permanent excuse for the past week are
cleared, and the keyboards start dancing! So there, ignore
any pretensions of inspiration that she may claim, it is the
simple threat of a deadline that works.
seasoned party animal, Richa is on her toes every Thursday