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A Piece of Cake; An Excerpt

An alumna of Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi, and an MBA from IIM Calcutta, Swati Kaushal is the bestselling author of five highly acclaimed novels. Her book, Piece of Cake, is a romantic comedy set in the corridors of corporate intrigue with a heroine and a plot sparkling with mischief and a ton of attitude
Here’s an excerpt from this ‘desi Bridget Jones’ novel.
I’m not really your manicure-pedicure-facial kind of girl, but the past few days of sun and sand had been rather hard on the epidermis, and my face was ready to give up on me.
God bless the folks at Femina and their compulsive sampling; the ‘Mud spa treatment five-minute masque’ (with natural papaya, grapefruit and cucumber) that came with last month’s issue seemed just the thing. I smothered the pistachio green paste all over my face and neck and waited for ‘new and improved’ ancient science to work its wonders. An encouraging coolness spread across my features, followed by a promising firmness. No wonder women swore by the stuff; it sure beat sticking your head in the fridge and pulling at your cheeks, besides being a lot cheaper than a visit to a spa too! (I remember going to one of those beauty boutiques a couple of months ago with Radha; she’d paid five hundred rupees for one hour with the ‘special thermal pack’; a lava-like substance that had solidified in many crusty layers on her face and had come off whole, like a hollow Egyptian mummy.)
I studied my face in the mirror as I waited for the masque to do its stuff. A guy in Class 11 had once told me I was beautiful. I’m assuming it was hormones, or my Chemistry notes.
It’s not that I’m ugly; in fact I like most of the way I look. It’s just that I wish I didn’t have a big forehead, long nose and extra wide lips in that slightly non-Julia Roberts kind of way. And also my sideburns. I could definitely do without them. I turned my head sideways to check their current length, winced, and turned my head back around again.
At least I had good eyes. On the bigger side like everything else, but intelligent; and they looked especially arresting popping out from the green icing around them. And my eyebrows, and the way they never need threading; I especially like that. In fact not bad, all told, if only there were something I could do with the ears. I squeezed out the last of the green paste from the sample sachet and quickly covered them with it.
My ears are a social embarrassment and cause for deep personal anguish. I have no lobes.
I remember a visit to an ear-piercing salon, many years ago, when the entire staff had buzzed excitedly about my ears, in the manner of scientists around a rare specimen measuring and marking with special finely calibrated rulers to find a spot to pierce. In the end they’d recommended I forget the whole idea.
I’m assuming God used up so much material super-sizing the rest of me that he ran out of stuff to throw on the ears, so he just sort of wrapped up the job with comical miniatures, tucked them behind manly sideburns and hoped no one would notice. Of course, it didn’t work. People notice all the time; my ears are bigger draws than cleavage.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just a case of size and appearance. What really distresses me is that I am also tone-deaf. I love music, but my ears just don’t get it. Ever noticed how musicians tend to have nice, big ears with extra-large ear lobes that hang and quiver delicately at the ends, like they were specially designed to pick up variations on even a hundredth of a note? Well, mine have yet to acknowledge the differences between a do, re and mi and I have watched The Sound of Music a thousand times. And I’m sure things would have worked out with Rajiv, back in Class 12, if it hadn’t been for the time I got carried away and tried to sing ‘With a little help from my friends’ in his ear..

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