Acclaimed author Falguni Kothari had a very different childhood in Mumbai than her two children did in the Greenburgh hamlet of Edgemont. “I think my daughter was appalled when I told her, ‘Yes, your dad and I met about a week before we got engaged.’ She said: ‘Are you kidding me?! You barely knew him for a week?!’ I told her that I got to know him after the engagement,” she muses with a quiet chuckle.
When her husband’s job in brand marketing at a jewelry company transferred him to New York City, she knew exactly where she wanted to wind up. With family in Scarsdale, Kothari felt that Edgemont offered the proximity to the city and the connectivity she craved. Even more simply put: “I love the people of the town,” she shares.
Education was also paramount. “When we moved in 2001, my son was already in first grade, so I needed a school system to move to. Edgemont was perfect because it matched the checklist that we had for where [we wanted to be].” Since then, the fiction-fantasy-romance novelist has come to love her community for combining her Indian heritage and sensibility with a wonderful lifestyle for her children, one of whom is now an engineer living in the city and the other a student studying engineering at a top-tier university.
Though the upbringing and family dynamics in India are inherently different from those in the United States, Kothari says she was lucky to have been raised with some degree of freedom. She was able — encouraged, even — to think and do things outside the box, in a way that was not entirely standard for her culture. She adds that the US has allowed her to create a life for her daughter and son rooted in these same principles but offers her and her family even more freedom of thought than she had in Mumbai.
The creativity that was fostered in her childhood has served her well since. As she self-identifies as having never worked outside the home, writing is the perfect career for her. Her books, including her most recent, My Last Love Story, and her upcoming novel, The Object of Your Affections, which comes out this month, feature powerful female protagonists (for each of whom she has a real fondness, she says) and interesting feministic male characters who play pivotal roles in the plotlines.
Of her stories, she says she is careful to always take real life into consideration. “I deal with contemporary conflicts, contemporary issues, and I think the more human I can make the characters, the more relatable, the more resonant to the reader, the better it is.” In fact, she has one source of inspiration that never seems to tire: eavesdropping. “I think the most important thing is that when I started writing, I learned how to eavesdrop on people’s stories, because, oh my God, humans are amazing. The simplest things can become such huge issues. There’s no shortage of inspiration in this world.”
Westchester, for its part, also helps inspire her and other writers with creative events and support systems that Kothari has found integral to her lifestyle here. The Greenburgh Library, where Kothari spends much of her time, offers a writing program for locals some Wednesday evenings; similarly, the nearby Scarsdale Library hosts a semi-regular event series called the Scarsdale Salon, at Bronx River Books, in which local authors conduct readings and meet-and-greets. She’s also found a network of peers, who have become friends, to lean on. “I belong to the Romance Writers of America and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and there is a big enough group of us in the area that we can get together and make our own support systems.” Often, they frequent Village Social in Mount Kisco and the Eastchester Barnes & Noble, to talk shop over coffee.
Kothari attends a signing of her novel, My Last Love Story.
Kothari credits her move to the States as the pivotal moment in her life, one that allowed her to begin writing. “If we still lived in India, I don’t think I would have ever turned to writing, because my life over there was so completely full with social things. We have massive families around us, so someone’s either having a baby or getting married or dying, and there’s always something happening. For my writing, I need to be by myself for long periods of time to get anything productive done, and in India, that wasn’t possible.”
It wasn’t until the early aughts that Kothari began writing professionally, yet she was always passionate about stories. “I would read 24/7 if you allowed me to,” she declares of her passion. Her favorite latest-read books include Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Prophecy and Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale. (“Oh my gosh, it blew me over!”) Most recently, in a book club she organizes, she read Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows.
On her other interests, Kothari enjoys the authentically delicious Indian food at Masala Kraft, getting together with friends at Chat American Grill — she insists that the pizza with jalapenõs is a must-try — and she’s also a semi-competitive dancer, frequenting Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Hartsdale. “I’m reasonably good because I’ve been a dancer all my life,” she admits with discernible humility. “I sometimes take part in the competitions they have, the professional ones.”
To Kothari and her family, Edgemont is the perfect combination of that magical diversity and sense of Indian camaraderie. “The school flies flags to show the number of countries that the student body represents,” she says. And it’s not just an impressive talking point; Kothari can actually feel it. “When you move to another country, you want to feel comfortable and accepted,” she says. “The sense of community in Edgemont is huge. There are a lot of events that you can do as a broader community and as an Indian community. Even just to have that little bit of India with you, where you feel connected to your roots, it’s lovely.”
She predicts that feeling isn’t going to change anytime soon. “After my daughter graduated high school, we briefly considered moving into the city,” Kothari shares. “But I need a car; I need a backyard; I need birds chirping in the morning. We still live in the same house we’ve been living in since 2004. We’re so happy right where we are. It’s a lovely feeling to live in Edgemont.”
Daisy is a freelance fashion and lifestyle writer based just over the border in Fairfield County.