Q&A with new English teacher, Neha Kamdar


Maeve McAuley

Neha Kamdar, Branson’s newest English teacher, teaching her class.

By Ava Carlson

Neha Kamdar is Branson’s newest addition to the English department. A former teacher at Boston University, she joins the Branson community, teaching two sections of sophomore English as well as the Graphic Narratives English elective. I got to chat with her recently about her favorite books, her cats and her experience during the pandemic:

What were you doing before you came to teach at Branson?

I was completing my novel.

That is very cool! I’ve never met someone who has written a book before.

Yeah, I mean it’s hard, but I’m really glad that I get to do it, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to study writing and to be able to continue writing.

If you could only read four books for the rest of your life, what would they be?

I would read… okay, if it’s a quadrilogy, can I count it as one book?

Yeah, you can count it, definitely.

So I would read Elena Ferrante’s “Neapolitan” quadrilogy.

I’ve heard about Elena Ferrante! I have some of her books on my to-be-read list.

Her books are amazing — I love her, and her style of storytelling. For the three other books, I would probably read “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoevsky. I would maybe read something by Henry James, I really like “Portrait of a Lady” … what else … This is a really hard question! I think I would read one of Salman Rushdie’s early books, not his later work but the early stuff that he wrote, probably “Midnight’s Children.”

What’s your favorite song you’ve heard lately?

Something good I’ve heard lately… I do enjoy Dua Lipa’s latest album, “Future Nostalgia.” I’m enjoying that album. Music is one of those things where I have to admit I don’t really keep up with the latest, but sometimes I’ll just let Spotify play whatever it wants for me. I think she’s [Dua Lipa] really evolving as a singer, and I like her new stuff.

What text are you the most excited to teach at Branson?

I am really enjoying some of the texts that I am teaching for my Graphic Narratives elective. I love “Persepolis,” which the students are reading right now, and I think it’s brilliant. There is this film that I’m going to show them in the Graphic Narratives class called “Waltz with Bashir.” That’s something I’m really excited about because I don’t think any of my students have seen it before, so I’m looking forward to showing it to them and seeing their reactions. In my sophomore English classes, I’m teaching “The Great Gatsby,” which I read many years ago, and now that I’m teaching it, I’m taking a very close look at it, like I have never done before. It’s putting a different lens on the book, sort of sitting down with the lines and annotating them. I’m a bit of a nerd like that. I enjoy it. I really enjoy doing that, so that’s been fun.

What’s your favorite season and why?

I’m one of those people who loves winter. I’m a huge fan of winter. In fact, I love living in California, but if there was one thing I could change about it, it would be getting a little bit of snow. Short of that, I really love the fall. I think the fall is beautiful everywhere, no matter where you go, which part of the country you’re in — the fall is amazing.

I agree 100%. What kept you going during the pandemic? 

I used the pandemic to just work on my own writing. I got to really use that as dedicated time because a lot of the distractions had been cut off for me; it’s not like I had a choice in the matter. So I tried to keep up with that. Then my partner started working from home, and that was really nice to get to be together all the time, although we were both working. Also, I adopted a pair of cats during the pandemic, which has been absolutely amazing. They’re still kittens, but getting bigger and bigger every day. They’re adorable, and I love them.

What’s your favorite place you’ve been (state, country, town, store)?

I got to spend some time in the south of Spain on a fellowship, and it was really amazing. There’s something about it — the weather is so perfect, the food is really delicious, there’s some really, really stunning architecture in the area, and they have some amazing museums, so it was really nice to be able to do that.

All right, Lightning Round!

Cats or dogs?


Tea or coffee?

Oh, tea. I’ve never had coffee in my life. Never tasted it.

Vanilla or chocolate?


Morning person or night owl?

Night owl, but since I started working here I’m being forced to become a morning person.