Sagarika, apart from delving into serious research work, she has written numerous fiction/poetry for various on line and print media, and is an avid salsa enthusiast. This is her first book put forth to Womanhood.- “A Calendar Too Crowded” – An Interview.
A corporate lawyer, to a freelance researcher, to a management professional and a writer – tell us how to connect all these facets of life?
I strongly believe that where there’s passion for life, there’s time to do everything. We all have one life and I do not want to rely on my karma and wait for reincarnation.
Also, to be frank each of these facets has a common tying point – the thinker in me that defines my existence. I have always done what I wanted to do – dad’s desire to make me an engineer did not work with me, the prediction of the family astrologer regarding my early marriage did not come true and a friend’s threat that leading such a recluse life will distance me from all did not deter me. I am extremely passionate about the life I lead thus I do not see anything that I do as work. For me to relax is to write an article and also to work is to meet people in the corporate setting and grow. They all provide me the thinking fodder and thus are inter woven in a thick mesh!
Do you think it’s easy to be called a “writer”?
If that comes in with the questions “So, what is your age?” and “What do you write on?” it is indeed a very difficult question for me. I write on a genre that has barely seen people of my age group – I am the deviant one in the group. I am looked with skepticism because my life timeline does not show many an event which people think I should experience before I write about them. I do not write an easy language that would make a book for a 2 hour flight and neither do I wish to price my book low. My book doesn’t have colloquial language and it is not for an auto wallah to read and enjoy (no offence meant, please don’t pounce on me saying that I do not encourage literacy in all sections of society!), hence for me being a writer evokes quite an emotional turmoil and the tag still hasn’t sunk in.
Tell us about A Calendar Too Crowded and your thoughts behind penning down the book?
A Calendar Too Crowded is a collection of short stories and poems woven around different days of the calendar that are often highlighted in red. The concept is to look beyond the “gift your mother” mails on Mother’s Day or the “why you should be proud to be a woman” SMS on Women’s Day and actually be aware of the cause. It is an attempt to delve deeper into the anti thesis that surrounds us and the drudgery we seek to ignore under the garb of celebration.
I am an observer and a keen one, so it has always been people who have urged me to pen down this book. My main motive was to bring out to the people the news they hear every day or the stories the fourth estate brings before them in a different way so that it is not lost over a night’s sleep. A Calendar Too Crowded is my first step to making a difference to the world I live in and the first step
is always to engage in a conversation right?
Do you always write with a theme in your head? What drives you?
No I don’t always write with a theme in my head, unless I am working on a manuscript. I am a methodical person when it comes to work – I’ll have my to-do lists, my markers, my pens and tags all in place when I have to research and work on a script. However, when it comes to letting my hair down I go with what the pen has in mind.
My biggest motivating factor is the face in the mirror and the photographs on my bedside table – of my mother, grandmother and my man! Each of the three faces scream out every morning that I have oodles left to do and that the dream run has just started. Also, my passion to live life to the fullest drives me – I hate sleeping thus, lest I miss out on hours when I can pen down something nice.
What if you wake up one day and realize that you have nothing to say or write about?
I do worry about this – what if I am living a writing boom and then I wake up to realize the bubble has been burst and there’s nothing more to write about. Ah well, as my man would say that I shall write about déjà vu, I shall write about how it feels to not have anything to write – connect it to gender studies and then make a research paper out of it! Phew! He knows me too well!
When writing did you worry about what others will think/judge what you wrote?
It would be a blatant lie to say that I never did. I did and a lot many times. In my book I have covered a myriad of sensitive topics and almost all stories have a personal connect. There are living people whose stories I have used for inspiration – thus there was a fear all the more to protect their identity. I wondered often aloud if anyone would read my book. If it would create more spite than faith, then decided that it can either be a go ahead or tearing up of the script. I told myself that it is better to try out my genre my way and face the wrath than to put it off and then 40 years later wish I had the guts to take life by the horns and turn tables around.
What do you think of the boom in the Indian publishing industry? Are you happy with it?
I read an article once called “Yesterday a best-seller, today a nobody” and somewhere the title resonates so well with the Indian publishing industry. India has seen a foray of Indian books in the last 3 years which it has not seen in the last 30 almost! With self publishing and low cost publishing houses hitting the market in words of my friend “there are writers in the market, who should be readers for a long time before they pick up the pen”.
Having said so they might be saying the same thing about myself – but then at least I am glad about the fact that I have my grammar in place, the correct price and yes my topics are not run off the mill. I hope I never fall into the “fitting in” game which the industry trends are showing and hope that soon my lost faith on ratings and listings of books will be restored. Good books still take a lot of rejects before they see the light of the day and that’s my only solace that not all is lost.
Why India, doesn’t the decision to not award a Pulitzer this year rattle a few brain cells?
Are you considering taking up writing as a full time profession? Has your decision got anything to do with the aspect of monetary benefits the profession brings in?
I love writing but never see it as a job – to me it is more of an outlet for thinker in me! Also, I need a lot of corporate exposure to meet new people and spin stories – after all the social carpet is my genre and that means knowing the world around well, both at home and at work.
With regard to monetary benefits, I feel like laughing aloud when people tell me “Why do you need a job, you can live of royalties right?” I feel like screaming out to them in Font 72, bold, underlined and thickened letters “WRONG”! Royalties mean only millions after you have won a Pulitzer and a Nobel, and for writers like us, we spend more from our own pockets for marketing the book than we earn. Find me a writer who says he became a millionaire after 2 books and I promise I shall Chinese torture out his secrets!
Are you a people’s person in your real life?
Absolutely No! I am a proud recluse whom the self keeps company. I often think of going for Vipasana but then think I might just run out of topics to talk to myself about! However, you need to be close to me to know this – for outwardly I am the true Gemini. I am a chatterbox, bubbly, full of life and mischief but then you shall never know what’s happening in my life or going on in my mind.
Those who are my close friends know how to pull me out of my shell and actually get things out of me. As for others, I let them form their own premonitions and go for my mother taught me to live with a people who make it to the priority list, and treat the rest as guests. However, to those who do stick by I stick to them till the end, till they have had enough of me in this life.
This book is dedicated to your mother. What does your mother think of your writing? Tell us about your relationship with her.
Ma is the reason why I picked up a pen in the first place – I couldn’t have asked for a greater source of inspiration. She loves my writing but at times feels that while researching I get too involved in people’s life and refuse to admit that there are things beyond my control. I love sharing my observations with her and debating with her on a lot of topics.
In fact the story filed under the month of March and spun around Women’s Day, titled “A life in my mind” is actually an outcome of a debate with her on how generation gaps have affected the thinking on the position of women in the social strata.
Ma is my best friend and this is not a cliché line. There’s nothing under the sun I haven’t’ and cannot discuss with her. From exam fears to heart breaks, from shopping trips to girly time pub hopping we stick together like friends. We fight, we crib, we cry but then at night curl up and hug each other and drift to sleep. We can make out how the other person is feeling through a simple hello over the phone and no matter which corner of the world I live in, the first thing I need to do in the morning is to give her a call with my eyes half closed – hearing her voice assures me that the world is a nice place to start the day!
Do you see yourself as a mother 10 years down the line?
Yes, yes yes! I love kids – I can spend days with them without feeling that I am tired. However, I can’t assure you that all the kids will be my womb-connect, for I want my children to be more than that, they’ll be my soul-born and heart-connects. Sitting with them I plan to ask a certain somebody to guess which are my own and which are adopted – yet another issue I hold close to my heart.
Feeling sad for my man? Don’t! I know he’ll smile reading this!
Parting words on to all readers?
We all were born because our parents wished we should, we were educated because the society demanded formal education, we worked because the financial responsibilities asked us to – however, we should dream because that’s what our heart says. Not only dream, but believe in them – dreams do come true, but nothing in the world happens by chance. You have to set your own goals and stick to them, in the process you will win some and lose some but if you think it’s all worth it in the end just believe in the person in the mirror and follow your heart. When to live is the biggest risk, why be scared of the other ones that might come our way?