April 25, 2010


Author, teacher, screenwriter, blogger, and it-girl Anisha Lakhani (Columbia College and Teachers College graduate) gained national recognition for Schooled, her debut novel inspired by her own experiences as an English teacher turned private tutor at the Dalton School on the Upper East Side. After spending nearly a decade in academia (she rose to be chair of the Middle School English department), Anisha left Dalton in 2006 to further pursue her greatest passion, writing. She was approached by online fashion magazine Pink Memo editor Katrina Szish, who "knew Anisha liked to write" and offered her the position of New York Scene Editor, where she fittingly covers some of NYC's most fabulous events. Anisha has also contributed to Vogue India and The New York Post, as well as Q and Quest magazines.  More recently, she started her own blog, Back to A, on which she realizes her new-found love for home-decorating by documenting her journey to redesign her Upper East Side one-bedroom apartment. It's an unusual decor blog, and we can't help but wonder if Anisha is using it as inspiration for her next book?

Anisha's charm, passion, and exuberance ensures she'll live a fun and successful life enjoying what she does best: write. And keep your eyes peeled for Schooled the movie--we hear the rights were optioned by actress Lorraine Bracco and Anisha wrote the adaptation herself.

What inspired Schooled? 
I loved being a teacher and a tutor, and one of the greatest misconceptions with regard to my book is that it is a scathing 'tell all.'  I wrote it to make people laugh, and certainly along the way edify because I do believe there are improvements that can be made within the basic structure of schooling. 

When did you decide that your experiences were book-worthy? 
One of my tutoring clients told me that they did not want to hire a tutor for their 7th grade daughter.  She was a bright, focused young girl! However, since 3/4 of her class was receiving help from tutors after school, no matter how late she stayed up or how hard she worked, her writing was not able to compete with the, er, more 'polished' works turned in by her peers.  When parents are paying upwards of $30,000 for their child's education, and then feel obliged to dish out another $1,000 a week (tutors can charge upwards of $250 an hour), I believed that the system needed to be explored and had not been done so until I wrote Schooled. 

Is there another book in the works? 
Yes, I'm always thinking of my next book.

Best part of working with middle-schoolers: 
There is no job in the world that rivals working with children--they made me laugh every single day, they downloaded the newest and best songs on my itunes, and they reminded me of a time in life when everything is new and fresh and worth being ecstatic about.  Kids aren't jaded; being around them is like discovering the fountain of youth. 

I found that some of the pressures placed upon these kids by their parents made some of them high-strung, nervous, and prone to anxiety; I never found anything the "worst" about teaching, but when I saw examples of this it made me sad. Harvard Sch-marvard.  Let them eat cake! 

One thing that never changes from middle school: 
The constant life-long question, Hamlet style....to conform or not to conform. To be the first to venture into new, undiscovered territory--whether it's as superficial as a fashion trend or as bold as speaking one's mind even when it goes against the current.  

One thing that does change: 
I think that as we grow and mature into adulthood, we become more comfortable in our skins and begin to genuinely discover who we are and what makes us happy, and that becomes increasingly defined by our own hearts and minds and not be those around us.  However, it remains a battle how public we go with these daily discoveries.  I am still discovering myself. 

Describe the craziest parent of a tutoring client: 
One parent offered to pay me $1,000 to read a book so I could "summarize it orally" to the student I was tutoring.

Would you ever go back to teaching? 
Absolutely. I think it is the best and most meaningful profession on earth. But I also think there are different types of teaching. I think writing a book with a message you believe in is a form of teaching.

Why Pink Memo? 
Taking on the position of New York Scene Editor was a natural extension for me--I could write about the events in Manhattan that I attended. Obviously now that I have to cover the events for PinkMemo, I have to be more cognizant of details, take pictures, and focus on delivering content. 

Why did you decide to start blogging?
I decided to start my blog only about ten days ago.  I think that the internet is increasingly becoming a space people turn to for entertainment and information and that ultimately it will replace standard print. It's a forum that allows you to publish your thoughts and ideas immediately, and without anyone's permission.  There's a freedom about that I like.  But I also felt for the first time that I was undergoing a transition in my life that I wanted to remember and take note of, and perhaps one day turn into a novel.  Back to A is about this time in my life. The decorating and furnishing tips and ideas--while hopefully informative--are an overarching metaphor for an "Awakening" I am experiencing in my early 30s.  Kate Chopin style, but a century later. 

Favorite blog: 
I really like Nina Freudenberger's The Cultivated Home--it offers daily updates on the best and most innovative items and design techniques for the home..I'm incredibly into home decor right now. I also love Life in a Venti Cup and Material GirlsIkea Hacker is also a very cool blog--essentially teaches you how to "hack" standard Ikea furniture and make it look more expensive! 

Your real life role model: 
My parents. 

Your greatest indulgence: 
I refuse to blow dry my own hair. A blow out is like a cashmere sweater--once experienced, you can never go back. 

Most prized possession: 
My dog, Harold Moscowitz. 

Best perk of your career path: 
I get to write all the time--I'm a lover of words.  I never cease to be fascinated by how letters--mere symbols, really--can, if positioned just so, convey a human sentiment.  They're like the science of emotion. 

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 
Modesty. I'm over it. 

Your idea of perfect happiness: 
My life right now. 

Your motto: 
I carve my own path. 

Best part about being a writer in NYC: 
Writing and living in the greatest city on Earth.  We are Caesar's Rome.

1 comment:

  1. I loved Schooled!! I can't wait for the movie!!!