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On the screen I saw tanks rolling through dusty streets, and fallen buildings, and forests of unfamiliar trees into which East Pakistani refugees had fled, seeking safety over the Indian border.
It's easy to set a story anywhere if you get a good guidebook and get some basic street names, and some descriptions, but, for me, yes, I am indebted to my travels to India for several of the stories.
Interpreter of Maladies is the title of one of the stories in the book. And the phrase itself was something I thought of before I even wrote that story.
I've seen novels that have grown out of one story in a collection. But it hasn't occurred to me to take any of those stories and build on them. They seem very finished for me, so I don't feel like going back and dredging them up.
I've never had Internet access. Actually, I have looked at things on other people's computers as a bystander. A few times in my life I've opened email accounts, twice actually, but it's something I don't want in my life right now.
I've inherited a sense of that loss from my parents because it was so palpable all the time while I was growing up, the sense of what my parents had sacrificed in moving to the United States, and yet at the same time, building a life here and all that that entailed.
I would not send a first story anywhere. I would give myself time to write a number of stories.
I can't tell you exactly how I found it. It was just a process of writing a lot of stories and reading a lot of stories that I admired and just working and working until the sentences sounded right and I was satisfied with them.
He told me he was working as an interpreter in a doctor's office in Brookline, Massachusetts, where I was living at the time, and he was translating for a doctor who had a number of Russian patients. On my way home, after running into him, I just heard this phrase in my head.
For years, I sort of would try to write a story that somehow fit the title. And I don't think it happened for maybe another four years that I actually thought of a story, the plot of a story that corresponded to that phrase.
For that story, I took as my subject a young woman whom I got to know over the course of a couple of visits. I never saw her having any health problems - but I knew she wanted to be married.
At 6:30, which was when the national news began, my father raised the volume and adjusted the antennas. Usually I occupied myself with a book, but that night my father insisted that I pay attention.
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